Posted by: janecronin | January 6, 2019


There is one form of this verb that should belong to your list of absolute basics, and that is “repite” which is the basic command “repeat”.  On its own, that does sound rather blunt and abrupt, but it can always be said in a friendly voice with a querying tone and we could also add “por favor” for good measure.  What we don’t need to bother doing is saying a full translation of “Could you repeat that, please” or “I wonder if you would be so kind as to repeat that please”.  In English, the more polite we wish to sound, the more words we add to a sentence, but in Spanish often one word will do the trick, provided it is said in a friendly way.  Another matter is whether you understand what is said the second time, but at least you’ve shown willing.

“Repetir” is a root-changing “e to i” verb, which means that the present tense forms are: “repito, repites, repite, repetimos, repetís, repiten”.  As with other similar verb we have looked at, we also change the root to an “i” in the gerund “repitiendo” and in the third person singular and plural of the preterite tense: “repitió” (he or she repeated) and “repitieron” (they repeated).  From these forms we can extrapolate the subjunctives, but I will leave that to those readers who know what I’m talking about!

For once “repetir” only has one basic meaning, although it can have a wider application.  For example, when you want to have what was always called “seconds” in my family, that is a second serving of food, we always use this verb.  So if someone asks you at a meal table “¿Quieres repetir?” they do not mean that you look as though you need to burp.

The verb “repetir” really comes into its own in the context of schooling.  In Spain there is a system whereby students who fail certain school years, and after being given the chance of a re-take examination still fail the year, then they have to “repetir el curso” (repeat the school year).  Notice incidentally that a school year is referred to as “curso” and not “año”.  This sector of the school population is referred to as “repetidores” (repeaters).    This is not such a bad idea in some cases, although it can cause problems once you start mixing disaffected 14 and 15 year olds with diligent 12 and 13 year olds, which was a problem I had to face with one of my daughter’s classes.

The adjective from “repetir” is “repetitivo” (repetitive).  This applies to a lot of pop music these days (says Jane, instantly sounding like her grandmother).  It also describes certain kinds of people and conversations, not to mention most people’s jobs, unless they are exceptionally lucky.   Another adjective is based on the past particple of “repetir”, namely “repetido” (repeated) and from “repetido” we get the adverb “repetidamente” which means “repeatedly”.


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