Posted by: janecronin | April 28, 2019


We are looking at the verb “cansar” even though one of its derivatives, namely “descansar” is actually more commonly heard.  “Cansar” means “to tire” and is probably more familiar in its adjectival form “cansado” (tired).  Usually when we learn the word “cansado” we have to be careful not to mix it up with “casado” meaning “married”.  Anyway, “descansar” is the opposite of “cansar” and therefore means “to rest”, that is to “untire”.

There is nothing of importance to say about the conjugation of “cansar” as it does all the things that a well-behaved “-ar” verb should do, and therefore “descansar” works in the same way.  So, just going back a second to the word “cansado”, it is usually used with the verb “estar” – “estoy cansada” (I am tired – in the feminine form)  “¿Estás cansado? (Are you tired? – I am addressing you as a man).  “No están cansadas” (they are not tired – this time we are talking about more than one female).

As well as referring to physical tiredness, “cansar” can also mean “to irritate” or “wear out”.  “Estoy cansada de tu comportamiento” (I’m tired of your behaviour).  We can say exactly the same thing using “cansar” in its verbal form “Tu comportamiento me cansa” (your behaviour tires, or is tiring, me).    “Cansar” can also appear in the reflexive form “cansarse”.  This is usually translated into English by using the ubiquitous word “get”.  “Me estoy cansando” (I am getting tired).

The noun from “cansar” is “cansancio” (tiredness) and there is also another adjective which I find very expressive “cansino”.  “Cansino” means “tiresome” or “tedious” and can be used to describe something that is long-winded and repetitive.   An alternative to “cansino” is “cansador” which is simply “tiring” but doesn´t express the same sense of tedium as “cansino”.

The prefix “des-“expresses an opposite in the same way as “un-“ does in English.  Therefore if “descansar” means “to rest”, “descansado” means “rested”.  Perhaps after a break away, or a good night’s sleep, we might say “me siento descansado” (I feel rested).  If you drive much around Spain you may have noticed the sign “área de descanso” (rest area).  A “descanso” is also used for a break, perhaps in a meeting or some kind of performance.  “Vamos a tomar un descanso” would be the sentence to signal that it’s time to go to the loo or have a coffee or cigarette before returning to a meeting.

There is an area of some houses called a “descansillo”.  The suffix “-illo” makes something smaller, so the word literally means “a little resting place”.  If you haven´t worked out where that might be, I will tell you, it actually means “landing”, that is either the passage way at the top of the stairs or that little square space at the point where your stairs turn a corner.  I think “descansillo” is more expressive that “landing” which makes us all sound like aircraft.   Ya estoy cansada, y no quiero ser cansina, así que voy a descansar.

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