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Ocurrir and Dormir

Today we’ll learn the verb Ocurrir, which means something like “to occur”, as well as Dormir, which means “to sleep”. We’ll get lots of spoken practice with both Ocurrir and Dormir in real sentence contexts. Practice along out loud!

Full Podcast Episode


¡No te duermas!

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 Spanish verbs that end with I-R, and let’s start with the verb Ocurrir, which means something like “to occur”. This is spelled with only one C: o-c-u-r-r-i-r. Ocurrir.

Now, one meaning of this verb is “to occur” as in “to happen”. In this sense it can be a synonym for both Pasar and Suceder. So for example, the sentence “these things happen sometimes” could be translated any of the following ways:

Estas cosas pasan a veces.

Estas cosas suceden a veces.

Estas cosas ocurren a veces.

However, in our quizzing, we’re generally going to translate “happen” as Pasar and “occur” as Suceder.

But what’s handy about the verb Ocurrir, specifically, is that it can mean “occur” in a different sense. Note that in English we use the verb “occur” in two different ways. In one sense, we can say “that occurred yesterday”, where “occurred” is a synonym for “happened”. But what about this use:

Something strange occurred to me.

In this sentence, “occurred” doesn’t mean “happened”; what we actually mean here is that I realized something or came up with something. Now, we already know that the Spanish idiom for “realized” is darse cuenta. But we’ll use that idiom when we specifically use the term “realize” in English. For “occurring”, we’re going to use a different idiom, specifically an idiom that uses the pronominal version of Ocurrir. Check this sentence out:

Se me ocurrió algo extraño.

So this is a bit tricky. We’re basically using se ocurrió, literally “it occurred itself”. But we’re also using me as an indirect object to say that it occurred itself to me. We’re using both a reflexive object and an indirect object, and we always put the reflexive object before the indirect object. Here’s another example:

He came up with something new.

Se le ocurrió algo nuevo.

So again, we’re starting with the reflexive object, then the indirect object le for “to him”, then the verb ocurrió. And in these sentences, the subject tends to happen after the verb.

Try it yourself in this next one:

The truth occurred to us.

Se nos ocurrió la verdad.

All right, now let’s start using other forms of this verb. The good news is that it’s conjugated exactly like Vivir. So ocurrió rhymes with vivió, and ocurrieron rhymes with vivieron. And also, we really don’t have to practice too many forms, because it’s almost always used in the third person, either singular or plural. So some of the most common forms are ocurre, ocurren, and ocurrió. You’ll also often run into the unconjugated forms, ocurrir, ocurrido, and ocurriendo, as well as the subjunctive form ocurra. Here are a couple of examples:

Sometimes these things occur to me a little late.

A veces se me ocurren estas cosas un poco tarde.

We’ll do it (f) when he comes up with that.

La haremos cuando se le ocurra eso.

So in that one, we said “comes up with”. In English, this idiom, to come up with something, is basically a synonym for when something occurs to you, although in English one version seems a bit more active and the other seems more passive. In Spanish, both of them translate to Ocurrir. Try it yourself in this next example:

Did you come up with something?

¿Se te ocurre algo?

Let’s get some practice with a bunch of different forms of Ocurrir. In all of these examples, remember to use se, and then an indirect object pronoun, and then the conjugation of Ocurrir.

A new idea has occurred to me.

Se me ha ocurrido una nueva idea.

I always come up with good ideas.

Siempre se me ocurren buenas ideas.

We might come up with something for the party.

Se nos puede ocurrir algo para la fiesta.

When he comes up with something, we can go.

Cuando se le ocurra algo, podemos ir.

We’re coming up with a great idea.

Se nos está ocurriendo una gran idea.

She’ll come up with something, don’t worry.

Se le ocurrirá algo, no te preocupes.

He came up with a new name with different letters.

Se le ocurrió un nombre nuevo con letras diferentes.

Our next verb is Dormir, which means “to sleep”. For example:

My dog likes to sleep during parties.

A mi perro le gusta dormir durante las fiestas.

Note that this verb gets a stem change, just like Poder and Morir: When the stem is stressed, it changes to “duerm”. So instead of “dormo”, “dorme”, and so on, we have duermo, duerme, duermes, duermen, and then dormimos, which is regular. Here are a couple of examples:

I sleep better in my own bed.

Duermo mejor en mi propia cama.

My parents sleep until 9.

Mis padres duermen hasta las 9.

Let’s practice Dormir a bit.

I haven’t slept much today.

No he dormido mucho hoy.

I sleep 7 hours every day.

Duermo 7 horas todos los días.

She wants me to sleep.

Ella quiere que yo duerma.

We sleep in different bedrooms.

Dormimos en habitaciones diferentes.

She sleeps with those clothes.

Ella duerme con esa ropa.

Do you sleep 8 hours every night?

¿Duermes 8 horas todas las noches?

His degree program is too difficult and that’s why he can’t sleep.

Su carrera es demasiado difícil y por eso no puede dormir.

Now let’s talk about the preterite forms of Dormir. We would expect these forms to be “dormí”, “dormió”, “dormiste”, “dormieron”, and “dormimos”. But two of the forms are slightly irregular; it’s just like the verb Morir: When the letter I isn’t stressed after “dorm”, the stem changes from “dorm” to “durm”. So remember that we had murió and murieron. For Dormir, it’s durmió and durmieron. The rest of the preterite forms are normal: dormí, dormiste, and dormimos. Also note that the gerund is not “dormiendo”, but instead durmiendo.

Let’s practice these.

We slept a lot after the race.

Dormimos mucho después de la carrera.

He didn’t sleep well for ninety-one nights.

No durmió bien por noventa y una noches.

They slept 9 hours, but you only slept 5.

Ellos durmieron 9 horas, pero tú solo dormiste 5.

I didn’t sleep, but on the other hand, he is still sleeping.

Yo no dormí, pero por otro lado, él todavía está durmiendo.

Before we go on to the final quiz, let’s also practice one more use of Dormir. When it’s used pronominally, it refers to the act of falling asleep. For example:

I fell asleep at the party.

Me dormí en la fiesta.

So this is different from simply saying dormí en la fiesta, which would be something more like “I slept at the party”. When you use Dormirse, the pronominal version of the verb, you’re putting emphasis on the event of falling asleep.

Incidentally, this is one situation where the negative imperative, duermas, might be useful:

Don’t fall asleep!

¡No te duermas!

Let’s practice this a bit.

He always falls asleep.

Siempre se duerme.

I fall asleep with a book.

Me duermo con un libro.

He’s falling asleep, talk to him.

Se está durmiendo, habla con él.

They have fallen asleep listening to those lyrics.

Se han dormido escuchando esa letra.

Don’t fall asleep! I have a surprise for you.

¡No te duermas! Te tengo una sorpresa.

He fell asleep ninety-three times at work.

Se durmió noventa y tres veces en el trabajo.

For more practice with any of this, feel free to dig deeper at LCSPodcast.com/206. Or if you’re ready, let’s go on to today’s final quiz.

We didn’t sleep much before the wedding.

No dormimos mucho antes de la boda.

To her surprise, I have a career in music.

Para su sorpresa, tengo una carrera en música.

He sleeps early because he is ninety-four years old.

Duerme temprano porque tiene noventa y cuatro años.

There have been eighty-six attacks in this mission.

Ha habido ochenta y seis ataques en esta misión.

There were eighty-five mistakes in that song.

Había ochenta y cinco errores en esa canción.

He’s sleeping after his accident.

Está durmiendo después de su accidente.

We don’t sleep if we are in a fight.

No dormimos si estamos en una pelea.

I only sleep after eating.

Solo duermo después de comer.

He might come up with a good idea.

Se le puede ocurrir una buena idea.

He never comes up with anything good, but yesterday he came up with something brilliant.

Nunca se le ocurre nada bueno, pero ayer se le ocurrió algo genial.

We might have success if she comes up with more good projects.

Podemos tener éxito si se le ocurren más proyectos buenos.

You can’t sleep more, you already slept 10 hours.

No puedes dormir más, ya dormiste 10 horas.

You’ll come up with a good idea while you sleep.

Se te ocurrirá una buena idea mientras duermes.

We’ve had eighty-one meetings this year, not ninety-seven.

Hemos tenido ochenta y una reuniones este año, no noventa y siete.

Don’t fall asleep during our meeting!

¡No te duermas durante nuestra reunión!

He’s coming up with a good plan for our business.

Se le está ocurriendo un buen plan para nuestro negocio.

He hasn’t slept because he hasn’t come up with anything.

No ha dormido porque no se le ha ocurrido nada.

You can give me just any thing, I already have eighty-two.

Puedes darme una cosa cualquiera, ya tengo ochenta y dos.

I want him to come up with a task for me.

Quiero que se le ocurra una tarea para mí.

He has ninety-one businesses, so I don’t think he sleeps a lot.

Tiene noventa y un negocios, entonces no creo que duerma mucho.

He wants me to sleep and I want you to sleep.

Él quiere que yo duerma y yo quiero que tú duermas.

Needless to say, he slept, but I didn’t sleep.

Está por demás decir que él durmió, pero yo no dormí.

For more practice with all of this, go to LCSPodcast.com/206.

This show is brought to you by LearnCraftSpanish.com. The Spanish voice in this episode was our coach Ximena Lama-Rondón. 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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