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Perder and Perderse

Let’s explore the Spanish verb for “to lose” and “to get lost”. We’ll get a lot of practice using Perder and Perderse in a variety of Spanish sentences.

Full Podcast Episode


¡No te pierdas esto!

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

The Spanish verb Perder means “to lose”. Just like in English, this can refer to losing some sort of competition or to losing an object. Here are a couple of examples that use the infinitive, perder, and the participle, perdido.

I don’t like this game, I know I’m going to lose.

No me gusta este juego, sé que voy a perder.

Yikes, I’ve lost my phone.

Ay, he perdido mi teléfono.

So in general, this verb likes to take direct objects. Here’s another situation in which Perder takes a direct object:

I don’t want to lose this opportunity.

No quiero perder esta oportunidad.

But this is a bit weird in English, because normally we don’t talk about “losing” an opportunity; instead we refer to “missing” an opportunity. But the English verb “to miss” means more than one thing: It can mean “to miss”, as in to be sad or nostalgic about the absence of something, or it can mean “to miss” as in to let something pass you by, such as an opportunity. Perder can only have that latter meaning.

Let’s go ahead and practice using perder and perdido in situations where this verb means “to lose” or “to miss”.

You can’t lose it because he had already lost it before.

No lo puedes perder porque él ya lo había perdido antes.

We can’t lose that opportunity, it’s unique.

No podemos perder esa oportunidad, es única.

We have lost the blue one (m) before, we can’t lose it anew.

Hemos perdido el azul antes, no lo podemos perder de nuevo.

From my point of view, they have already lost those opportunities.

Bajo mi punto de vista, ya han perdido esas oportunidades.

Are you sure they are not going to lose the thirty-one things?

¿Estás seguro de que no van a perder las treinta y una cosas?

All right, now let’s learn how to conjugate Perder. This verb has a stem change when the stem is stressed, and it’s just like the stem change of Sentir. So instead of “perdo” we have pierdo, instead of “perde” we have pierde, and so on. The only regular one in the present tense is perdemos. So for example:

You always lose your things.

Siempre pierdes tus cosas.

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

We’re thirty-five, but we always lose things.

Tenemos treinta y cinco, pero siempre perdemos cosas.

Do I have your attention? I know you and you always lose everything.

¿Tengo tu atención? Te conozco y siempre pierdes todo.

(formal) You never lose anything, but he loses everything.

Usted nunca pierde nada, pero él pierde todo.

I lose my things, but they always lose those opportunities.

Pierdo mis cosas, pero ellos siempre pierden esas oportunidades.

The preterite forms are all conjugated exactly like Deber. So we have perdí, perdió, perdiste,

perdieron, and perdimos. Let’s practice these.

I don’t know how it’s possible, but I lost thirty-one books.

No sé cómo es posible, pero perdí treinta y un libros.

Did you lose the red ones(m)? I know he didn’t lose them.

¿Tú perdiste los rojos? Sé que él no los perdió.

Yesterday we lost, but they also lost.

Ayer perdimos, pero ellos también perdieron.

The subjunctive forms have the same stem change that the present tense forms have. So we have pierda, pierdas, pierdan, and then perdamos, which is regular. So for example:

I don’t want you to lose.

No quiero que pierdas.

And then the imperatives are all based on forms you already know. To tell someone to lose or miss something, in an informal voice, you’ll use pierde. The formal is pierda. And then to tell someone not to lose or miss something, you’ll use no pierdas. So for example:

Don’t lose my phone, lose yours.

No pierdas mi teléfono, pierde el tuyo.

Let’s practice the subjunctives and imperatives.

Don’t lose anything, please.

No pierdas nada, por favor.

Lose that! They can’t find us with those things.

¡Pierde eso! No nos pueden encontrar con esas cosas.

He has thirty-two things and I don’t want him to lose any.

Tiene treinta y dos cosas y no quiero que pierda ninguna.

(formal) Lose the blue books! We can only have the red ones.

¡Pierda los libros azules! Solo podemos tener los rojos.

I’m thirty-four and they don’t want me to lose that opportunity.

Tengo treinta y cuatro años y no quieren que pierda esa oportunidad.

We’re going to do all that so that you don’t lose it (f).

Vamos a hacer todo eso para que no la pierdas.

The last important form to learn is the gerund, perdiendo, which is perfectly regular. Here’s a situation where you might use it:

I’m missing a good opportunity.

Estoy perdiendo una buena oportunidad.

However, the gerund isn’t super common with direct objects; it’s probably easier to use in situations we’re about to describe, where Perder is used with reflexive pronouns. The pronominal version, Perderse, changes the meaning from “to lose” to something like “to get lost” or “to be lost”. For example:

She’s getting lost in the city.

Ella se está perdiendo en la ciudad.

Here’s an example that uses a preterite:

I meant to arrive earlier, but I got lost.

Quise llegar antes, pero me perdí.

So literally “I meant to arrive beforehand, but I lost myself.” But the correct translation of a reflexive use of Perder is “to get lost” or “to be lost”.

Let’s practice Perderse with a variety of forms of this verb.

He’s going to get lost in thirty-eight cities.

Se va a perder en treinta y ocho ciudades.

They were talking very fast about that issue and I got lost.

Hablaban muy rápido de ese asunto y me perdí.

We're getting lost; we have to see where we are.

Nos estamos perdiendo, tenemos que ver dónde estamos.

He gets lost every time he goes to that city.

Él se pierde cada vez que va a esa ciudad.

She got lost after you got lost.

Ella se perdió después de que tú te perdiste.

They had gotten lost near the green house.

Se habían perdido cerca de la casa verde.

Now, to make things even more complicated, Perderse is also often used to talk about missing out on something. Check out this example:

I don’t want to miss out on this opportunity.

No me quiero perder esta oportunidad.

This sentence is exactly like one we saw earlier except that it uses the pronominal version of Perder. So instead of no quiero perder esta oportunidad, we use no me quiero perder esta oportunidad. This is actually very common, even though in this case it means roughly the same thing as the non-pronominal version. It’s kind of like the difference in English between “missing” an opportunity versus “missing out on” an opportunity; all we’ve done is add some words that don’t really change the meaning. In general, in our quizzing, we’ll translate “miss” or “lose” as Perder and “miss out” as Perderse. Let’s practice with just a few examples.

They have already missed out on this.

Ya se han perdido esto.

We have missed out on the red one(m).

Nos hemos perdido el rojo.

We can’t miss out on that opportunity.

No nos podemos perder esa oportunidad.

For more practice with any of this, feel free to dig deeper at LCSPodcast.com/176. Or if you’re ready, let’s go on to today’s final quiz.

If we lose that information, we’ll have a difficult situation.

Si perdemos esa información, tendremos una situación difícil.

You can’t get lost there! Haven’t you seen the red house?

¡No te puedes perder ahí! ¿No has visto la casa roja?

We have thirty-seven, but we don't want you to lose any.

Tenemos treinta y siete, pero no queremos que pierdas ninguno.

They got lost in the thirty-three cities.

Se perdieron en las treinta y tres ciudades.

Lose it! The thirty-six people don’t want us to have it.

¡Piérdelo! Las treinta y seis personas no quieren que lo tengamos.

I know he’s missing that opportunity, but he doesn't know it.

Sé que está perdiendo esa oportunidad, pero él no lo sabe.

You never lose anything, but he already lost everything.

Nunca pierdes nada, pero él ya perdió todo.

Don’t lose it! We already lost it and it was a problem.

¡No lo pierdas! Nosotros ya lo perdimos y fue un problema.

You need my permission so that it doesn’t get lost.

Necesitas mi permiso para que no se pierda.

I don’t get lost because I’m near the green cars.

No me pierdo porque estoy cerca de los autos verdes.

(formal) Lose those! We have thirty-nine, but we can only have thirty-one.

¡Pierda esos! Tenemos treinta y nueve, pero solo podemos tener treinta y uno.

Even though they are thirty years old, they always lose their things.

Aunque tienen treinta años, siempre pierden sus cosas.

I missed out on the opportunity of having that view in the room.

Me perdí la oportunidad de tener esa vista en la habitación.

He gets lost because he didn’t see my message.

Se pierde porque no vio mi mensaje.

You already lost what I gave you yesterday?

¿Ya perdiste lo que te di ayer?

They have missed out on that opportunity before and they don’t want me to miss out on it.

Se han perdido esa oportunidad antes y no quieren que yo me la pierda.

For more practice with all of this, go to LCSPodcast.com/176.

Tomorrow we’re going to learn two new verbs, including the verb for “to eat”.

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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