Posted by: janecronin | February 24, 2019


Most foreigners who come to live in Spain assimilate the verb “vender” unconsciously because of the proliferation of the sign “se vende” which of course means “for sale”.  If we were to be over-literal about its meaning we could say that it means “one sells” or even “it sells itself” both of which sound rather ridiculous.  This is because the word “vende” is the third person singular of the present tense of “vender”, therefore meaning “he, she or it sells”.  The word “se” in front gives it the impersonal sense of “one” or the reflexive sense of “oneself”.  That is about as well as I can explain it at the moment.

“Vender” itself is a good solid regular verb with very little to say about it grammatically speaking.  In other words, it does all the same things you would expect from any common or garden “-er” verb. Going back to “for sale” signs for a moment, you can come across variations on a theme from time to time.  For example, I have seen “me venden” (they are selling me) often on some rather sad looking car or motorbike that has outlived its usefulness.  Also, you can find “vendo” I sell, this could be followed by “huevos” (eggs); “melons” (melons) or “miel” (honey) among many other things.  Occasionally you may also see “en venta” which is closer to our English phrase “on (or for) sale” – “venta” being the noun “sale” derived from “vender”.

When we come to the people involved is the act of selling, we have the word “vendedor” (salesman) which has the feminine form “vendedora” (saleswoman) or as we would usually now say in English for both genders “sales person”.  Sometimes in villages you see the sign “Prohibido vendedores ambulantes”.  This has nothing to do with ambulances, as in fact “ambulante” means “moving” or “travelling” so what the village is prohibiting are basically door-to-door or street sellers who, if they want to come and sell their wares, should apply to the town hall for a stall in the local street market.

Ambling away from “vender” for a while, you may be interested to know that the word for an Out-patients’ hospital in Spain is “ambulatorio”.  I think this is because people arrive and leave of their own accord and don’t stay the night, in other words they are moving.  I used to think that it literally meant that people walked in and out, but of course this is not always the case.

An adjective from “vender” is “vendible”, that is “sellable” or “saleable” and from this comes the other noun, apart from “venta”, that is “vendibilidad” (saleability).  I’m not sure how often we would use that word in Spanish or English, but there it is.

Finally, another use of the word “venta” is a rather old-fashioned word for an “inn”.  These would often be points of sale in rural areas providing food, drink and accommodation as well as selling basic provisions.


  1. Good morning Jane Your posts are excellent reading, I like the complete explanation of the  whole word and all it’s different meanings. Many thanks. Cheers Colin

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone

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