ID-100302835Some of our Spanish students have doubts about when they have to use “al + infinitive” in Spanish, so today we’ll go over this issue. First of all, you need to know that in this case “al” is not the contraction of “a + el” but rather an indicator of action in progress (normally in English the equivalent is created by using the prepositions “by”, “when” or “upon” + the “ing” form of the verb). Let’s see an easy example: Al jugar = When we play.


Let’s see other examples using “al + infinitive”:

  • Nos equivocamos al actuar sin pensar = We make mistakes by acting without thinking.
  • Nos ensuciamos al comer = We get dirty when we eat.
  • Te haces daño al saltar = You hurt yourself by jumping.
  • Me pongo triste al pensar en mi abuela = I get sad when I think of my grandmother.
  • ID-10034436Se hacen daño al jugar sin zapatos = They hurt themselves by playing without shoes.
  • Me puse nerviosa al ver al perro con su crías = I became nervous upon seeing the dog with his cubs.
  • Al confesarle la verdad, María le dio la posibilidad de evaluar la situación = By telling the truth, María gave him the opportunity to assess the situation.
  • Al escuchar el himno nacional todas las personas se quitarán el sombrero = On hearing the national anthem, all the people will take off their hats.
  • Al dejar a aquel hombre, Patricia pudo comenzar una nueva vida = By leaving that man, Patricia could start a new life.
  • Al recibir clases de conversación, mejorarás tu español = By taking conversation classes, you will improve your Spanish level.

So, remember that the use of the contraction “al” followed by an infinitive is a very common way of indicating when something happens. Do you have any other doubt? We could help you! Go ahead and take a free trial class with us (20 minutes). It’s fun (and very effective!!!).

Images courtesy of africa and Stuart Miles at