What’s the difference between Mirar and Ver? And how do you know whether to use Necesitar, Deber, or Tener Que? Let’s practice these verbs in real Spanish sentences.
Necesitas mirar esto.
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 work on two new verbs that are very easy to learn.
Let’s start with Necesitar, which means “to need”. As you can probably tell, it’s related to the English word “necessity”. Here’s a simple example:
You’re going to need this.
Vas a necesitar esto.
This infinitive is a bit of a mouthful, with four syllables, but if you remember to stress the last syllable, “tar”, you should be able to handle it: necesitar. It’s almost like saying “necessity”, but then putting a strong “tar” at the end.
Try it yourself in this next example:
I’m going to need your help.
Voy a necesitar tu ayuda.
To conjugate this in the present tense, we have to change the stress for most of these forms. This verb is conjugated just like Hablar, and we did the same thing with that verb; remember that the stress moved to the second-to-last syllable for the forms hablo, habla, hablas, and hablan. So the corresponding present-tense forms of Necesitar are necesito, necesita, necesitas, and necesitan. And then of course there’s necesitamos.
Let’s practice these forms.
I need your help now.
Necesito tu ayuda ahora.
She needs you for this.
Te necesita para esto.
I don’t need this.
No necesito esto.
You (formal) need this today, not last week.
Usted necesita esto hoy, no la semana pasada.
They need it and you also need it.
Lo necesitan y tú también lo necesitas.
We don’t need them.
No los necesitamos.
All right, now check out this example:
I need to do this now.
Necesito hacer esto ahora.
So here we’re putting Necesitar right before the infinitive of another verb. Compare that to these next examples:
I have to do this now.
Tengo que hacer esto ahora.
I must do this now.
Debo hacer esto ahora.
I should do this now.
Debería hacer esto ahora.
So in Spanish, just like in English, there’s a subtle difference between “having” to do something, “needing” to do something, and then of course “must” and “should”. Normally for obligation you’ll either use Tener que or some version of Deber. But sometimes Necesitar is used in these situations, specifically when the English equivalent is “need”.
Let’s practice choosing between these verbs based on whether the English is “need”, “have to”, “must”, or “should”.
You must work until late today.
Debes trabajar hasta tarde hoy.
You (formal) shouldn’t be with the coffee in bed.
Usted no debería estar con el café en la cama.
She needs to be with her family.
Necesita estar con su familia.
I must go with you.
Debo ir contigo.
You have to go and I should leave.
Tienes que ir y yo debería irme.
I don’t need to have that and they don’t need to be at home.
Yo no necesito tener eso y ellos no necesitan estar en casa.
We don’t need to go because he is fast.
No necesitamos ir porque él es rápido.
You need to do it.
They have to be there with their friends.
Tienen que estar ahí con sus amigos.
Let’s look briefly at some other forms of Necesitar. In general, this verb is pretty easy since it’s conjugated just like Hablar. For this verb, the most common tense other than the present tense is the imperfect. All these forms are based on necesitaba. For example:
We needed something else.
Necesitábamos algo más.
Let’s go ahead and practice all the imperfect forms.
They needed to talk to you quietly.
Necesitaban hablar contigo bajo.
You didn’t need it, but she needed it.
Tú no lo necesitabas, pero ella lo necesitaba.
You (formal) needed to be the first to do it.
Usted necesitaba ser el primero en hacerlo.
I didn’t need it, we needed it.
Yo no lo necesitaba, nosotros lo necesitábamos.
To wrap up Necesitar, check out this construction:
I need you to do this now.
Necesito que hagas esto ahora.
So when someone needs someone else to do something, this implies a subjunctive; it’s an example of an intention that someone else do something.
Let’s practice this with just a few examples.
We need him to leave.
Necesitamos que él se vaya.
They need you to have this.
Necesitan que tengas esto.
You(plural) need me to have your things?
¿Ustedes necesitan que yo tenga sus cosas?
Now let’s go ahead and move on to another verb: Mirar means “to watch” or “to look at”. For example:
I had to watch him.
Lo tuve que mirar.
Now of course, in what it means, this verb is very similar to Ver, which means “to see”. Think about it this way: In English, what’s the difference between “seeing” something versus “looking at” something versus “watching” something? It’s a bit tricky. I mean normally the difference is the amount of attention you’re giving it, or how long you’re looking at it. But the lines are very blurred, and it’s really a case-by-case thing.
For example, compare the following English sentences:
We’re going to see a movie.
We’re going to look at a movie.
We’re going to watch a movie.
Obviously, you wouldn’t say “look at” a movie. But now how about this one:
We’re going to see a house.
We’re going to look at a house.
We’re going to watch a house.
So in English, you can “see” or “watch” a movie, but you wouldn’t “look at” a movie. And you can “see” or “look at” a house, but you wouldn’t “watch” a house. We just know this because we’ve used English enough that we know what does or doesn’t sound natural.
All of that is to say that in Spanish, the difference between Ver and Mirar is a bit tricky. Mirar does tend to imply a little bit more attention or duration, but not always in every single case. As one example, the most common way to say “look!” is by using the imperative, mira; for example:
Look, she’s still there!
¡Mira, ella todavía está allí!
So that’s one example of asking for someone’s attention. But when you want someone to “look” at something together with you, you’re more likely to use the idiom a ver. For example:
Let’s see, where are they?
A ver, ¿dónde están?
So choosing between Mirar and Ver can be pretty tricky. As a VERY general rule, the word “see” will translate as Ver, and the word “watch” will translate as Mirar. And then the word “look” is normally going to be Mirar, but we’ll point out some exceptions over time.
All right, let’s work on the present tense forms of this verb. It’s conjugated exactly like Hablar, so we have miro, mira, miras, miran, and miramos. For example:
We look at those(m) every day.
Miramos esos todos los días.
So notice that even when Mirar translates as “look at”, there is no “at” in the Spanish; instead you just use a direct object. But also remember that when the direct object is a named person, you’ll put the preposition a before the person; for example:
I watch her brother do those things.
Miro a su hermano hacer esas cosas.
Let’s practice the present-tense forms of Mirar. In this first one, you’ll see the personal a before “the dog”, because pets tend to get the personal a, although not all animals do. Try predicting the Spanish:
She is looking at the dog, but I’m not looking at it.
Ella mira al perro, pero yo no lo miro.
Are you looking at the clear water?
¿Miras el agua clara?
They are looking at the same thing we are looking at.
Miran lo mismo que miramos.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s also very common to use this verb as an imperative when you want someone to look at something. So as the informal singular second person, we have mira. For example:
Look what I can do!
¡Mira lo que puedo hacer!
If you’re talking to a group of people, you’ll use miren. For example:
Look at the dog!
¡Miren al perro!
And then the formal is mire, which is also the subjunctive form. For example:
Look(formal), I have it right here.
Mire, lo tengo justo aquí.
And then here’s an example of a negative imperative:
Don’t look at those people like that.
No mires a esas personas así.
And a very common imperative contraction is mírame. For example:
Please, look at me when I’m talking.
Por favor, mírame cuando estoy hablando.
Let’s practice using a bunch of different imperative and subjunctive forms of Mirar.
Don’t look at the question!
¡No mires la pregunta!
(Formal) Look! He was the first.
¡Mire! Él fue el primero.
(Plural) Look at those houses!
¡Miren esas casas!
I need her to look at this.
Necesito que ella mire esto.
Look! That dude is very tall!
¡Mira! ¡Ese tipo es muy alto!
(Formal) Don’t look at it if you don’t want to.
No lo mire si no quiere.
(Plural) Don’t look at the dogs(pets)!
¡No miren a los perros!
It’s also very common to use the gerund, mirando, as well as the participle, mirado. For example:
Look at how they’re looking at each other!
¡Mira cómo se están mirando!
It’s been a long time since he’s looked at me that way.
Hace mucho que no me ha mirado así.
Let’s get some more practice with the different ways you can use Mirar.
He has looked at the girl before.
Ha mirado a la chica antes.
Look! - Well, you don’t have to look if you don’t want to.
¡Mira! - Bueno, no tienes que mirar si no quieres.
(plural) Look at my phone!
¡Miren mi teléfono!
I’m not looking at the short person.
No estoy mirando a la persona baja.
He is looking at it now because he hadn’t looked at it.
Lo está mirando ahora porque no lo había mirado.
For more practice with any of this, feel free to dig deeper at LCSPodcast.com/121. Or if you’re ready, let’s go on to today’s final quiz.
Look at me! I’m ready(m)!
¡Mírame! ¡Estoy listo!
They don’t need it the same way that you needed it.
No lo necesitan igual que tú lo necesitabas.
Don’t look at them as goods!
¡No los mires como bienes!
I hope he doesn’t look under the bed.
Espero que no mire bajo la cama.
He needs them to look at him.
Necesita que lo miren.
I thought about what I needed.
Pensé en lo que necesitaba.
In any case, he needed to be fair.
De todas formas, necesitaba ser justo.
Believe that we need you!
¡Cree que te necesitamos!
You look at the fire, but you don’t need to look at it.
Miras el fuego, pero no necesitas mirarlo.
I might need you to look at me.
Puedo necesitar que me mires.
They look at the thing that is high.
Miran la cosa que está alta.
Look! I need your help now!
¡Mira! ¡Necesito tu ayuda ahora!
Do you think this weapon is the same?
¿Crees que esta arma es igual?
I believe it if I look at it.
Lo creo si lo miro.
She looks at the fire.
Mira el fuego.
He believes the weather is not going to be good, because he is looking outside.
Cree que el tiempo no va a ser bueno, porque está mirando afuera.
For more practice with all of this, go to LCSPodcast.com/121.
In tomorrow’s episode, we’ll learn the Spanish verb for “live”.
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.