Phrasal verbs in Spanish (perífrasis verbales) are groups of verbs (usually two) that provide nuances of aspect and modality to the verbal action. These constructions are used because the regular conjugation does not offer those meanings.

Regarding their construction, phrasal verbs in Spanish usually have two verbal forms, the first of them works as an auxiliary form (with aspect and modality meanings), and the other one is the main verb (providing the semantic sense). The auxiliary verb is a personal form (with endings of person, number and tense). However, the main verb is non-personal (infinitive, gerund or past participle). Furthermore, both forms are often linked by a connector (prepositions or conjuctions).

Today, on we’ll learn some of the most common phrasal verbs in Spanish.

Phrasal verbs in Spanish to express obligation

As the tittle says, these phrasal verbs express obligation, an action that must be completed by the subject.

  • Tener que + infinitive: Tengo que estudiar más para aprobar el examen DELE
  • Deber + infinitive: Si quieres viajar a Estados Unidos debes llevar tu pasaporte.
  • Haber que + infinitive: Hay que limpiar la casa, que está todo sucio.


Expressing the beginning of an action

In addition to obligation, we use these perífrasis to express an action that is going to start.

  • Estar a punto de + infinitive: La película está a punto de comenzar (its beginning is about to happen).
  • Empezar / comenzar a + infinitive: Justo cuando salí de casa, empezó a llover.
  • Ponerse / Echarse a + infinitive: Cuando le pregunté por su novia, se echó a llorar.

Expressing the end of an action

However, beside the beginning, we can also express the end of those actions.

  • Dejar de + infitinive: Tanto tabaco no era sano, así que he dejado de fumar (he quits smoking).
  • Acabar de + infinitive: Acabo de tener mi clase de conversación de español (the lesson has just finished).
  • Terminar de + infinitive: Si terminas de estudiar pronto, podremos ver la peli.

Phrasal verbs in Spanish to express duration

Let’s continue with the meaning of duration, that it’s also one of the most common.

  • Estar + gerund: Estoy trabajando en un proyecto secreto.
  • Llevar + gerund: Llevo estudiando español dos años.
  • Seguir / continuar + gerund: ¿Y tu hermano? ¿No sigue viviendo en Madrid?

Phrasal verbs in Spanish to express results

Finally, it’s time to express the results of an action.

  • Llevar + participle: Los jugadores del equipo llevan jugados veinte partidos.
  • Tener + participle: ¿Todavía no tienes hecha la inscripción en
  • Quedar + participle: Todos nuestros problemas quedaron solucionados.

These phrasal verbs in Spanish are only a brief example of what you can learn on our Spanish for Different Levels Course on Our teachers will build a context for all of these perífrasis, and many more, and you will have to use them in real situations. Learning phrasal verbs in Spanish you will sound much more natural. Reserve a trial lesson and figure it out!