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Let’s learn the Spanish verb Decir, which means “to say” or “to tell”. We’ll get lots of practice using Decir out loud in a variety of sentences, with both direct and indirect objects!

Full Podcast Episode


¡Ya habrá muchas cosas que podremos decir!

Intro: Join us on a rigorous, step-by-step journey to fluency. I’m Timothy and this is LearnCraft Spanish.

Today we’re learning the verb Decir, which means “to say” or “to tell”. This is super exciting, because this verb will let us start talking about saying things in Spanish, and it will also give us lots of opportunities to put basically all of our sentence templates entirely in Spanish, because this verb is strongly associated with both direct and indirect objects.

The infinitive is decir, spelled d-e-c-i-r. This can mean either “to say” or “to tell”. For example:

I want to say it now.

Lo quiero decir ahora.

I want to tell her now.

Le quiero decir ahora.

So as a very general rule, in English, we use “say” with direct objects, emphasizing what it is that we’re saying, and we use “tell” with indirect objects, emphasizing who it is that we’re telling something. In Spanish, both of these verbs translate as Decir.

The participle of Decir is dicho. For example:

They haven’t said it.

No lo han dicho.

This is different from most participles that we’ve learned, because participles usually end with DO, such as sido, estado, and tenido. This one, dicho, is a lot like Hacer’s participle, hecho, but there aren’t too many other participles that end with C-H-O.

The gerund is pretty normal: It’s diciendo. For example:

That’s what I’m saying.

Eso es lo que estoy diciendo.

Let’s practice decir, dicho, and diciendo.

My mom is telling the truth.

Mi mamá está diciendo la verdad.

You have to tell me what he has told you.

Me tienes que decir lo que él te ha dicho.

Can you tell me if the cat is on the table?

¿Me puedes decir si the cat está sobre the table?

¿Me puedes decir si el gato está sobre la mesa?

I’ve told you this is the place where we met.

Te he dicho que este es el lugar donde we met.

Te he dicho que este es el lugar donde nos conocimos.

Now let’s start conjugating this verb so that we can say “I say”, “she says”, and so on. The word for “we say” is quite regular: It’s decimos, which is like decir, but ending with mos. For example:

We don’t say that.

No decimos eso.

But the word for “he/she/usted says” is a little bit strange: It’s dice, spelled d-i-c-e. We would expect it to begin with d-e-c, just like the infinitive, decir, but the vowel has changed. Here’s an example:

He tells her that they are here.

Él le dice que están aquí.

Let’s practice using decimos and dice.

From now on we are telling them everything.

Desde ya les decimos todo.

(Formal) You say this, but she says something else.

Usted dice esto, pero ella dice algo más.

We’re telling you that it’s under the bed.

Te decimos que está bajo the bed.

Te decimos que está bajo la cama.

The words for “you say” and “they say” are based on dice. So we have dices and dicen. For example:

You say what they don’t say?

¿Tú dices lo que ellos no dicen?

And then the word for “I say” is the most irregular: It’s digo, with a strange letter G appearing in there, kind of like in the words hago and tengo. For example:

Yes, I say that sometimes.

Sí, digo eso a veces.

Let’s practice all of the present-tense forms.

The boy tells the truth.

El niño dice la verdad.

They say that they aren’t going.

Dicen que no van.

I always tell that to people.

Siempre le digo eso a la gente.

We tell our daughter what she has to know.

Le decimos a nuestra hija lo que tiene que saber.

You say that this thing is not his?

¿Dices que esta cosa no es suya?

I’m telling you this and the family is telling me that.

Te digo esto y la familia me dice eso.

All right, let’s start using this verb in some of our more tricky sentence templates. One way that Decir can be used is to tell someone to do something. To do this, simply use Decir with an indirect object, and then a que phrase with a subjunctive. Here’s a simple example:

I tell them to do that.

Les digo que hagan eso.

She tells me to be her friend(f).

Me dice que sea su amiga.

Let’s practice this.

He always tells me to go with him.

Siempre me dice que vaya con él.

Are you telling me to be there?

¿Me dices que esté ahí?

(Formal) You tell them to go towards that place.

Usted les dice que vayan hacia ese lugar.

Dad hadn’t told her to do that.

Papá no le había dicho que hiciera eso.

I’m telling you to do it now.

Te estoy diciendo que lo hagas ahora.

They are telling the little girl to be a doctor.

Le dicen a la niña que sea doctor.

Le dicen a la niña que sea doctora.

We are telling our father to go where I say.

Le decimos a nuestro padre que vaya adónde digo.

It’s not my job. Do you mean to tell me to do yours?

No es mi trabajo. ¿Quieres decirme que haga el tuyo?

Now for some more of our tricky sentence templates. Remember that when you use both a direct object pronoun and an indirect object pronoun, you need to put the indirect one before the direct one. For example:

They tell me it.

Me lo dicen.

You’re not telling it to us?

¿No nos lo dices?

And then remember that when you name an indirect object, you have to include the le or les as well as the person who is the recipient of what you’re telling. Here are a couple of examples:

He tells your mom.

Le dice a tu mamá.

We tell three people.

Les decimos a tres personas.

Now here’s a really tricky one, where we’re using the direct object lo as well as a named indirect object, so we have to use se lo.

I don’t say it to the man.

No se lo digo al hombre.

Let’s practice these tricky uses of Decir with both direct and indirect objects.

You tell us it.

Nos lo dices.

They haven’t told me it.

No me lo han dicho.

The girls tell you it.

Las chicas te lo dicen.

I say that to the girl.

Le digo eso a la chica.

We’re telling that to the boys.

Les estamos diciendo eso a los chicos.

She says something to her dad.

Le dice algo a su papá.

We tell them it.

Se lo decimos.

You(formal) don’t tell it to us?

¿Usted no nos lo dice?

We want to say it to both people.

Se lo queremos decir a las dos personas.

Remember that you can always dive into any of this more deeply at LCSPodcast.com/81.

Now, before we go on to today’s final quiz, there’s something to be aware of about using Decir to mean “tell” rather than “say”. In English, we use the word “tell” a little bit more broadly than it’s used in Spanish. For example, we can tell someone a fact, or we can tell a story. In Spanish, there’s actually another verb for telling stories. So you might think it would make sense to use Decir along with the noun historia, but you actually can’t do that in Spanish. Decir is specifically for telling facts or saying short things; for telling an entire story, there’s a different verb, which we’ll learn soon.

All right, if you feel ready, let’s go on to today’s final quiz.

Whatever it is, she has to tell it to her husband.

Sea lo que sea, se lo tiene que decir a su esposo.

I’ve told you I want my sandwich without veggies.

Te he dicho que quiero mi sandwich sin veggies.

Te he dicho que quiero mi sándwich sin vegetales.

I’m telling you that he did that during the game.

Te estoy diciendo que hizo eso durante the game.

Te estoy diciendo que hizo eso durante el juego.

They are telling me to be there at three.

Me dicen que esté ahí a las tres.

You just say what you have to say.

Solo dices lo que tienes que decir.

They say she isn’t their sister.

Dicen que ella no es su hermana.

She says it was two years ago.

Dice que fue hace dos años.

I’m telling you to go with me.

Te digo que vayas conmigo.

I’m not telling him the truth.

No le digo la verdad.

They say we can do whatever I want.

Dicen que podemos hacer lo que yo quiera.

My brother says it’s from the restaurant to the plaza.

Mi hermano dice que es desde the restaurant hasta the plaza.

Mi hermano dice que es desde el restaurante hasta la plaza.

I’m not going to tell him it all, I mean, only the good parts.

No se lo voy a decir todo, o sea, solo las partes buenas.

As far as I know, her mother is against that.

Que yo sepa, su madre está contra eso.

I’ve said that the baby(m) is hers.

He dicho que el bebé es suyo.

They are saying that he isn’t his son, he’s mine.

Están diciendo que él no es su hijo, es mío.

We’re telling you that we aren’t against you.

Te decimos que no estamos en tu contra.

I say that we have to go there, especially because of the big houses.

Yo digo que tenemos que ir ahí, sobre todo por las casas grandes.

Where do you say the dude went?

¿Adónde dices que fue el tipo?

His wife says it’s between those places.

Su esposa dice que está entre esos lugares.

You aren’t telling the truth.

No dices la verdad.

We’re telling you that we have already said it.

Te decimos que ya lo hemos dicho.

For more practice with all of this, go to LCSPodcast.com/81.

In tomorrow’s episode we’ll learn the rest of the conjugations of Decir, including the future, past, and subjunctive.

This show is brought to you by LearnCraftSpanish.com. The Spanish voice in this episode was our coach Michael Agudelo. Our music was performed by the Seattle Marimba Quartet, and I’m Timothy, encouraging you to do the hard work of learning Spanish. Acquiring a second language is one of the most fulfilling things you can do, so start your fluency journey today at LCSPodcast.com.

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