Posted by: janecronin | January 13, 2019


“Subir” is a slightly strange verb for English speakers and others, because it means the opposite of what it appears.  The “sub” bit seems to be telling us something to do with “under” or “below” but actually the opposite is true: “subir” actually means “to rise” or “to go up”.  In case you are wondering, the verb meaning “to lower” or “to go down” is “bajar”.  So there you have it.  You could go up and down the stairs saying “subir” on the way up and “bajar” on the way down, if you needed a physical way of remembering the difference.

For once there is nothing of interest to say about the formation of “subir” as it is completely regular in all tenses and other forms, such as the gerund “subiendo” and the past participle “subido”, so if you know what to do with standard verbs like “vivir”, then “subir” works in exactly the same way.

As already mentioned, we would use “subir” in reference to stairs, so “subir la escalera” is “to go upstairs”.  Once you´re up there, the word for “upstairs” is “arriba”.  “Subir” is also used to embark on or get into various means of transport.  “Get into the car” is Spanish is “sube al coche”, which no doubt comes from the days when cars were generally higher up from the ground than they are today.  Likewise, we “subir al autobús” as well as “al tren”.  Needless to say, we have to “bajar” when we get off again.

We also use “subir” when referring to volume as it would be to “turn up” the volume of something.  Anything else you can think of that “goes up” will probably also need “subir”, such as the price, the level of unemployment and even your tone of voice.  A common use of “subir” these days is for when we “upload” something onto the Internet, as in “subir un video a Youtube”.  I realise I am now addressing a readership under a certain age of IT literacy.    It´s getting a bit tedious to keep saying so, but yes, “to download” is “bajar” del Internet.  Whilst we`re talking about the relationship between these two verbs, you might like to know that “subibaja” means “ups and downs”.  Apparently, it literally means “seesaw” in south American Spanish, although due to my extensive experience of children´s parks in Spain, I know that the word most used in these here parts for “seesaw” is “balancín”.

There are one or two nouns from the word “subir” one of which is “subida” meaning “increase”.  A sudden or dramatic increase in something is referred to as a “subidón”.  We might get a “subidón de adrenalina” after doing something adventurous or particularly exciting.  If you haven´t had a “subidón de adrenalina” lately, you might want to take a look at your lifestyle and stir things up a bit. You don´t have to skydive – reciting a poem on stage can have the same effect!

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