Posted by: janecronin | May 12, 2019


We are going to look at three verbs which have the same root but different prefixes.  The first one is “progresar”, followed by “ingresar” and “regresar”.  You might be forgiven for thinking that there is not a lot to say about “progresar” as it means what it looks like, that is, “to progress” and the formation of the verb is completely regular.  However, if you’ve realised one thing about me through these articles, it is that I can always find something to say about verbs!  Just to give one or two examples of this verb in a sentence, we might say “He progresado mucho con mi español” (I have progressed a lot with my Spanish) and “Espero progresar aun más en el futuro” (I hope to progress even more in the future).

When talking about “making progress” we often use the noun “progreso” and combine it with the verb “hacer” – in this case, “to make”.  The previous sentence about having progressed with Spanish could also be expressed: “He hecho mucho progreso con mi español”. Other words that derive from “progresar” are “progresivo” (progressive) which is an adjective, and the adverb which comes from this “progresivamente”.

Apart from these obvious, general uses of “progresar”, the Spanish often apply the word to a political context.  The noun “progresista” is used to describe a person who believes in changing society and is the opposite of “conservador”.  A ”progresista” is generally associated with the left of the political spectrum and a “conservador” with the right.   Most left-wing people will tell you that they are proud to be called “progresistas” however the term is often abbreviated to “progre” (“los progres”) by their critics and used in a disrespectful way.

The second verb in this group is “ingresar” with means to “pay in” or “to enter” and other related ideas depending on the context.  If we say that a person “está ingresado” or “ingresada” we specifically mean that they are in hospital, although someone can also “ingresar en prisión” (go to gaol).  We also use this verb for paying money into the bank: “Quiero ingresar 100 euros en mi cuenta”.  The noun from this is “ingreso” which usually refers to “income”.

Our third verb is “regresar” which is an alternative to “volver”, that is, “to return”.  The noun “the return” is “el regreso” used in the same way as “vuelta”, in other words meaning a physical return from somewhere.  The film title “Back to the Future” is “Regreso al Futuro”. There is also the word “regresión” which means the same as in English, in other words a psychological term for returning to some previous mental state.

Finally, there is the more unusual verb “egresar” which is specifically used to refer to the graduation of students from university.   Technically it is the opposite of “ingresar” although used in a different context – university rather than hospitals.   Another word for graduate is “egresado” which in the plural “egresados” also translates as “alumni”.

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