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Llamar and Parecer

Let’s learn the Spanish verbs for “call” and “seem”. We’ll get lots of practice with all the common uses of Llamar, Llamarse, and Parecer.

Full Podcast Episode


¿Cómo te llamas?

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

Today we’re going to learn two new verbs, but fortunately we don’t have many conjugations to memorize, so we’ll get to spend most of our time just practicing.

Our first verb is Llamar, which means “to call”. This is spelled l-l-a-m-a-r. Remember that in Spanish, two Ls together sound like “y”. So this is llamar. Here’s an example where Llamar takes a direct object:

I’m going to call him tomorrow.

Lo voy a llamar mañana.

Try it yourself with this next example:

He meant to call her yesterday.

La quiso llamar ayer.

Now, you’ll very often see direct object pronouns with this verb, but also, as we’ve learned before, when the direct object is a person who is mentioned in the sentence, you’ll put an extra preposition a before the person. Compare the following two examples:

She is going to call her.

La va a llamar.

She is going to call the police officer(f).

Va a llamar a la policía.

Now let’s start learning more forms of this verb. It’s conjugated exactly like Hablar. So here are a few examples:

My parents call me every evening.

Mis padres me llaman todas las noches.

You didn’t know that I called you?

¿No sabías que te llamé?

Of course, I’ll call them.

Por supuesto, los llamaré.

At this point on our journey, we’ve had a LOT of practice conjugating many different regular verbs that end with A-R, so I’m actually not going to go over the conjugations at all. Instead, let’s just do a quiz with some very simple examples, and it’ll include a bunch of different forms of Llamar.

They call me every day.

Me llaman todos los días.

She called him yesterday.

Lo llamó ayer.

If you call me, we’ll talk.

Si me llamas, hablaremos.

She hasn’t called the doctor yet.

No ha llamado al doctor aún.

I never call him because he never calls me.

Nunca lo llamo porque nunca me llama.

Call me tomorrow!

¡Llámame mañana!

I’ll call you if I have to call you.

Te llamaré si te tengo que llamar.

Now let’s learn an idiom that uses this verb. In Spanish, when you indicate that someone is knocking on the door, you actually literally say that they “call to the door”, or llamar a la puerta. For example:

You didn’t realize that she knocked at the door?

¿No te diste cuenta de que llamó a la puerta?

Try it yourself with this example:

First I’ll knock at the door.

Primero llamaré a la puerta.

OK now let’s learn the pronominal version of this verb, Llamarse. See if you can tell what’s happening in this next example.

Me llamo Michael.

So this is literally “I call myself Michael.” But that’s not a perfect translation. This could actually properly be translated as “I am called Michael.”

The thing is, when Llamar is used reflexively, it actually changes meaning to refer to what something is called. For example, check out this next example:

My dog is called Pedro.

Mi perro se llama Pedro.

So, as far as we know, the dog isn’t calling himself anything, even though you might literally translate it that way. But a better way to think about this is that this verb just has a different meaning when it’s reflexive. It refers to what something “is called” or what someone’s name is.

Let’s practice this.

My name is Ana.

Me llamo Ana.

She is called María and they are called José and Marcos.

Ella se llama María y ellos se llaman José y Marcos.

If your name is Juan, you can’t go.

Si te llamas Juan, no puedes ir.

The party was called ‘the best party’.

La fiesta se llamó ‘la mejor fiesta’.

In this next one, you’ll see the adverb así being used to refer to how someone is called. Try to predict the Spanish:

I’ve been called that my whole life.

Me he llamado así toda mi vida.

So literally, “I have called myself that way”, but this is correctly translated into English as “I have been called that”.

All right, next we’re going to learn the verb Parecer, which means “to seem”. You use this verb to describe how something seems to someone. For example:

His house seems old to me.

Su casa me parece vieja.

This verb tends to take an indirect object to indicate who it seems that way to. Here’s another example:

It seems to them like a problem.

Les parece un problema.

In this example, the word “like” in English disappears, so it’s literally “to them it seems a problem”. Try it yourself in this next example.

It seems to me like a good plan.

Me parece un buen plan.

Now this verb, Parecer, is extremely frequently used, but the conjugation parece is the only form that you’ll definitely encounter every day. So let’s go ahead and practice just using this form in a bunch of different ways.

It seems like a good idea to him.

Le parece una buena idea.

It seems wrong to them.

Les parece mal.

It seems to us that she wouldn’t like it.

Nos parece que no le gustaría.

It seems to me that she is 10 years old.

Me parece que tiene 10 años.

It seems to you that they aren’t here.

Te parece que no están aquí.

Now let’s learn just a few other forms of this verb. Parecer is conjugated like Deber for the most part. So for example, here’s a use of the plural present tense form parecen:

The houses seem kind of good to me.

Las casas me parecen medio buenas.

And then this one uses the informal second person:

You don’t seem so old(f) to me.

No me pareces tan vieja.

The most common imperfect form is parecía. For example:

He seemed very mean to us.

Nos parecía muy malo.

Here’s a preterite use:

The party seemed very crazy to us, so we left.

La fiesta nos pareció muy loca, así que nos fuimos.

And then this one uses the participle, parecido.

To me it has seemed like enough.

Me ha parecido suficiente.

Now for an odd form. The subjunctive is not exactly what you would expect it to be for a regular ER verb. Remember that the most common subjunctive form of Deber was deba, with an A. The corresponding subjunctive form of Parecer *should* theoretically be something like “paresa”, but actually it’s parezca, spelled p-a-r-e-z-c-a. Here’s an example:

I don’t want it to seem mean to them.

No quiero que les parezca malo.

Try it yourself in this next example:

I’ll be there when it seems safe to me.

Estaré allí cuando me parezca seguro.

Let’s practice all of these forms of Parecer. In some of these examples, including the first one, there won’t be an indirect object; that means that something just “seems” that way in general. Try it:

She seemed like the queen.

Parecía la reina.

I don’t think she seems old.

No creo que parezca vieja.

It has seemed that way for a while.

Ha parecido así por un tiempo.

I want her to seem like my friend.

Quiero que parezca mi amiga.

They seem like the most clever children.

Parecen los niños más listos.

It seemed to her like it was a problem.

Le pareció que era un problema.

She doesn’t seem like that, but you seem like that.

Ella no parece así, pero tú pareces así.

For more practice with any of this, feel free to dig deeper at LCSPodcast.com/131. Or if you’re ready, let’s go on to today’s final quiz.

Don’t worry, I’m going to knock on the door.

No te preocupes, voy a llamar a la puerta.

The kids seem unwell to the teacher(m).

Los niños le parecen mal al maestro.

The police officer seems to us like the boss.

El policía nos parece el jefe.

Call the agent tomorrow.

Llama al agente mañana.

They seemed sad and the king knows it.

Parecen tristes y el rey lo sabe.

The teacher is 6 years old, so he IS young!

¡El maestro tiene seis años, así que sí es joven!

You seem old, what’s your name?

Pareces viejo, ¿cómo te llamas?

It seems like they call you every day.

Parece que te llaman todos los días.

My name is Antonio and my sister’s name is Julia.

Me llamo Antonio y mi hermana se llama Julia.

It has seemed to me that she didn’t call.

Me ha parecido que no llamó.

You never call because you’re young and mean.

Nunca llamas porque eres joven y malo.

She was named Esperanza, but we don’t care.

Se llamó Esperanza, pero no nos importa.

I would like to go, even if it looks like we are together.

Me gustaría ir, aunque parezca que estamos juntos.

If I don’t call you today, I will call you tomorrow.

Si no te llamo hoy, te llamaré mañana.

The professor looks like a student.

El profesor parece un estudiante.

It seemed strange that she hadn’t called.

Parecía extraño que no hubiera llamado.

It seemed to me like it was the president.

Me pareció que era el presidente.

I would like to call the doctor, it’s important.

Me gustaría llamar al doctor, es importante.

He has been named that his whole life.

Se ha llamado así toda su vida.

It seems like he is crazy.

Parece que está loco.

We’re going to be named ‘the young ones’ and we like it.

Nos vamos a llamar ‘los jóvenes’ y nos gusta.

I hope it looks like we are 7 years old.

Espero que parezca que tenemos siete años.

They are both called José, and it might seem great.

Los dos se llaman José y puede parecer genial.

For more practice with all of this, go to LCSPodcast.com/131.

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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