Looking for Accelerated Spanish? We've rebranded!

Click here to learn more.

Preocupar and Preocuparse

Don’t worry! After this episode you’ll know how to talk about worrying in Spanish. Let’s practice the Spanish verbs Preocupar and Preocuparse, and we’ll get lots of spoken practice using these verbs in real-life Spanish sentence contexts.

Full Podcast Episode


No te preocupes.

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 continue working on the verbs Gustar and Importar, and we’ll also learn one other verb that works the same way as these verbs.

As we explored yesterday, these verbs tend to be used specifically along with indirect objects, not direct objects. For example:

These things matter to him.

Le importan estas cosas.

And also, the subject and object tend to be flipped from what we expect in English. So instead of “I like something”, the grammar changes to “to me is pleasing something”. For example:

I like their dogs.

Me gustan sus perros.

Let’s do a quick mini-quiz to review how to use Gustar and Importar in the present tense before we start exploring the other common conjugations of these verbs.

I don’t care if you have six.

No me importa si tienes seis.

I don’t like that word.

No me gusta esa palabra.

She doesn’t like me, but she likes you.

No le gusto, pero le gustas tú.

They matter to her because she likes them.

Le importan porque le gustan.

Our friends like us.

Les gustamos a nuestros amigos.

I care about you because you’re my friend(m).

Me importas porque eres mi amigo.

OK, now let’s start conjugating Gustar and Importar in the past. For both verbs, the imperfect is very common, since liking something or caring about something is often an ongoing thing, not a one-time event. And remember that these verbs are conjugated just like Hablar, so the imperfect forms will be based on gustaba and importaba. For example:

I liked that place.

Me gustaba ese lugar.

I cared about my parents.

Me importaban mis padres.

Let’s practice these.

She used to like you and that’s why you mattered to her.

Le gustabas y por eso le importabas.

She didn’t like those five things.

No le gustaban esas cinco cosas.

I used to like that phone.

Me gustaba ese teléfono.

She didn’t care about your friend(m).

No le importaba tu amigo.

Now for Gustar specifically, the preterite is also used on occasion, because sometimes what you liked was a one-time event. For example:

I saw her house and I liked it.

Vi su casa y me gustó.

Literally, “I saw her house and it pleased me” or maybe “I saw her house and it was pleasing to me.”

Here’s a fairly long sentence example that uses the plural to refer to “things”:

I liked those things that day.

Me gustaron esas cosas ese día.

Let’s practice gustó and gustaron.

We liked the party.

Nos gustó la fiesta.

They liked the plan you had that day.

Les gustó el plan que tenías ese día.

She liked the houses she saw.

Le gustaron las casas que vio.

I realized that I didn’t like the food at the party.

Me di cuenta de que no me gustó la comida en la fiesta.

You liked all the places that time.

Te gustaron todos los lugares esa vez.

Also for both verbs, the conditional is pretty common as well. Check out these sentence examples:

I would like some food.

Me gustaría algo de comida.

Those things would matter to me.

Me importarían esas cosas.

Let’s practice these.

Really, I would like to go.

De veras, me gustaría ir.

I think she would like them.

Creo que le gustarían.

I would care about them, but we aren’t friends(m).

Me importarían, pero no somos amigos.

I realized that I would like to be there with them.

Me di cuenta de que me gustaría estar ahí con ellos.

It would matter to him if he were my friend.

Le importaría si él fuera mi amigo.

There are only a few more forms that are really commonly used. First of all, there’s the simple future tense. For example:

You will like the party, I’m sure.

Te gustará la fiesta, estoy seguro.

No, we won’t care about that.

No, no nos importará eso.

And then of course there’s the subjunctive. For example:

I hope they like the house.

Espero que les guste la casa.

I don’t think she cares about that.

No creo que le importe eso.

And then the participle is particularly common for Gustar. For example:

Have you liked being here?

¿Te ha gustado estar aquí?

Let’s practice gustará, importará, guste, importe, and gustado.

He has to pretend that he will like it.

Tiene que hacer de cuenta que le gustará.

It won’t matter to her because she hasn’t liked it.

No le importará porque no le ha gustado.

I don’t think he likes it.

No creo que le guste.

I’ll tell you the truth when it matters to you.

Te diré la verdad cuando te importe.

I hope she likes it.

Espero que le guste.

All right, we’re going to get lots of practice with all the important forms of Gustar and Importar on today’s final quiz. But first, let’s actually learn another verb.

The verb is Preocupar, which means *something* like “to worry”. It’s related to the English verb “preoccupy”. So here’s one way that the Spanish and English kind of get along:

Those things preoccupy her.

Le preocupan esas cosas.

But of course, in normal English, we don’t use the verb “preoccupy” nearly as much as we use the verb “worry”. So see if you can predict how this would be translated:

His dog worries me.

Me preocupa su perro.

Literally, “to me preoccupies his dog”. Remember to use indirect objects, not direct objects, when using this verb. Try this next one:

Those problems worry them.

Les preocupan esos problemas.

Incidentally, there’s a technical term for these verbs that take indirect objects: Gustar, Importar, and Preocupar are all called “affective verbs”, because they describe the *affect* that something has on someone.

For the verb Preocupar, I’m not going to go over all the important tenses and moods one by one; instead, I’m just going to give you a quiz to try to predict how to use it in a variety of circumstances. The quiz is going to get progressively more and more complicated, but you’ve already basically been practicing this because you’ve been practicing Gustar and Importar. Let’s dive in.

This problem worries me.

Me preocupa este problema.

Your friends worry you.

Te preocupan tus amigos.

What I said to them worries them.

Les preocupa lo que les dije.

It worries us that we don’t have time.

Nos preocupa que no tengamos tiempo.

They worry her, but it’s not her fault.

Le preocupan, pero no es su culpa.

You worry me because you’re not here.

Me preocupas porque no estás aquí.

Her house has worried her for a while.

Le ha preocupado su casa por un tiempo.

Those seven people have worried me.

Me han preocupado esas siete personas.

It would worry you if you knew our problems.

Te preocuparía si supieras nuestros problemas.

That wouldn’t worry us.

No nos preocuparía eso.

There’s one other important thing that the verb Preocupar does. See if you can make sense of this sentence:

Ella se preocupa mucho.

OK so literally this is “she worries herself a lot”. But what we’re using here is the pronominal verb Preocuparse. When Preocupar is used reflexively, it changes meaning: Instead of describing how something worries someone else, it now simply means “to be worried”. So here is the English of that sentence:

She is worried a lot.

Ella se preocupa mucho.

Here’s another example:

I worry a lot about this.

Me preocupo mucho por esto.

So in this case, I’m actually describing what I’m worried about, but I’m using por to do it. Literally “I worry myself a lot because of this”, although this is not a correct translation; me preocupo properly translates into English as “I worry”. Let’s practice this construction a bit with a few examples; in all of these cases, use reflexives plus por.

Do you worry about the party?

¿Te preocupas por la fiesta?

I’m worried about my friend(f).

Me preocupo por mi amiga.

My parents don’t worry about the money.

Mis padres no se preocupan por el dinero.

He worries about what happened yesterday.

Se preocupa por lo que pasó ayer.

But probably the most common way to use this verb is in imperatives. Why is that? Well, check out this example:

Don’t worry, I’ll do it.

No te preocupes, lo haré.

So telling someone not to worry is very common in Spanish just like it is in English. Try it yourself — in this one you’re talking to a group of people, so you’ll use preocupen.

Don’t worry(plural) about those things.

No se preocupen por esas cosas.

OK, now try this one, in a formal voice.

Don’t worry, ma’am, that’s not going to happen.

No se preocupe, señora, eso no va a pasar.

OK, let’s practice all of our uses of Preocupar and Preocuparse. And I’ll try to make this pretty simple for you. In real life, there are no hard-and-fast rules about how to translate a sentence like this: “I’m worried about the party.” This could use either Preocuparse or Preocupar; it could be me preocupo por la fiesta, or it could be me preocupa la fiesta. But to make this easy for you, in this quiz, I’ll always use the word “about” when you’re expected to use Preocuparse and then the preposition por. For other examples, where you’re expected to use an indirect object pronoun, I’ll word it more like “the party worries me”.

Let’s try this.

They say that I worry them.

Dicen que les preocupo.

Don’t worry about the house, darling.

No te preocupes por la casa, cariño.

That dog worries me.

Me preocupa ese perro.

Don’t worry(formal) about us.

No se preocupe por nosotros.

They’re worried about their things.

Se preocupan por sus cosas.

You haven’t worried about that?

¿No te has preocupado por eso?

She’s going to worry about him.

Ella va a preocuparse por él.

Don’t worry(plural).

No se preocupen.

You don’t have to worry about her.

No tienes que preocuparte por ella.

You worry me when you do that.

Me preocupas cuando haces eso.

For more practice with any of this, feel free to dig deeper at LCSPodcast.com/127. Or if you’re ready, let’s go on to today’s final quiz.

Really, she didn’t like that at all.

De veras, no le gustó eso para nada.

In the first place, I think she has liked it.

En primer lugar, creo que le ha gustado.

That’s his best memory because he is sure of himself.

Ese es su mejor recuerdo porque es seguro de sí mismo.

I’m worried about having four accounts.

Me preocupo por tener cuatro cuentas.

She would like to be here at seven o’clock.

Le gustaría estar aquí a las siete en punto.

He doesn’t like me, but it’s all the same to me.

No le gusto, pero me da igual.

Yes, they can talk among themselves, I would like it.

Sí, pueden hablar entre sí, me gustaría.

She has to realize that six don’t worry me.

Tiene que darse cuenta que seis no me preocupan.

I used to like those places where they talked among themselves.

Me gustaban esos lugares donde hablaban entre sí.

I hope she likes it so that she cares about it.

Espero que le guste para que le importe.

She didn’t like me before because she thought it was my fault.

No le gustaba antes porque creía que era mi culpa.

My friends have worried and I don’t like it.

Mis amigos se han preocupado y no me gusta.

In the first place, don’t worry about it, I already have six.

En primer lugar, no te preocupes, ya tengo seis.

It won’t matter to her if it doesn’t make sense.

No le importará si no tiene sentido.

It might be that we’re there at four o’clock.

Puede ser que estemos ahí a las cuatro en punto.

I get worried when what you say doesn’t make sense.

Me preocupo cuando lo que dices no tiene sentido.

She has to pretend that she is sure of herself.

Tiene que hacer de cuenta que es segura de sí misma.

Are you going to get worried about that?

¿Te vas a preocupar por eso?

You worry when you don’t have a plan.

Te preocupas cuando no tienes un plan.

(Plural) Don’t worry! That wasn’t an important memory.

¡No se preocupen! Ese no era un recuerdo importante.

Really, you have to pretend it doesn’t worry you.

De veras, tienes que hacer de cuenta que no te preocupa.

(Formal) Don’t worry! We care about it.

¡No se preocupe! Nos importa.

I would matter to him if I had five accounts.

Le importaría si tuviera cinco cuentas.

Really, I think she’ll like this word.

De veras, creo que le gustará esta palabra.

She didn’t care about the things you like.

No le importaban las cosas que te gustan.

She used to like it when she had five of those.

Le gustaba cuando tenía cinco de esos.

It might be that she has seven now, but it’s all the same to me.

Puede ser que tenga siete ahora, pero me da igual.

It would matter to me if you did that.

Me importaría si hicieras eso.

For more practice with all of this, go to LCSPodcast.com/127.

In tomorrow’s episode, we’ll learn some fun new adjectives, including the words for “old”, “young”, “together”, “important”, and “awesome”.

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.

Get the Free Podcast Materials
Sign up for instant access to the free course that goes with the podcast!
Access the Free Materials