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Sentar and Sentarse

Today we’ll learn how to say “sit” or “sit down” in Spanish, and we’ll get lots of spoken practice using Sentar (and Sentarse) in real sentence contexts.

Full Podcast Episode


Por favor, siéntate.

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

Today we’ll learn the verb for “sit” in Spanish. The simple infinitive is Sentar. But Sentar doesn’t mean to “sit” or to “sit down”; it actually means “to seat”, as in to give someone a seat. For example:

I’m going to seat them here.

Los voy a sentar aquí.

So you’ll use sentar when one person is seating another person. But for simply sitting down, or seating one’s self, you’ll use Sentarse, the pronominal version of this verb. So you’ll pick a reflexive object to go with it. For example:

I’m going to sit down here.

Me voy a sentar aquí.

The participle is sentado. So for example:

Have you seated them(f)?

¿Las has sentado?

I haven’t even sat down yet.

Ni siquiera me he sentado todavía.

Let’s go ahead and get some practice with sentar and sentado. Remember to use a reflexive pronoun any time someone is simply sitting or sitting down, meaning that they’re seating themselves. But we’ll also throw in some examples of Sentar used with a direct object.

I want to sit down.

Me quiero sentar.

We have to seat the kids.

Tenemos que sentar a los chicos.

Do you want to sit down? They have already sat down.

¿Te quieres sentar? Ellos ya se han sentado.

There are eleven boys and we have seated them all.

Hay once chicos y los hemos sentado a todos.

Why have you sat down? They feel that they need you.

¿Por qué te has sentado? Ellos sienten que te necesitan.

Now let’s learn the present-tense forms of this verb. This verb has a stem change whenever the first syllable is stressed. So for example, the word for “he/she seats” is not “senta”, but sienta. For example:

She sits down and waits.

Se sienta y espera.

And here are some more examples, using various present-tense conjugations:

They never sit here.

Nunca se sientan aquí.

Why do you sit down?

¿Por qué te sientas?

I sit down here now.

Me siento aquí ahora.

Notice that this word, siento, looks and sounds exactly the same as the equivalent form of Sentir, the word for “I feel”, siento. But from context you can generally tell whether the speaker is saying “I seat” or “I feel”. Here’s another example that uses both of these words.

I’m sorry, I won’t sit here.

Lo siento, no me siento aquí.

Of course, this is literally “I’m sorry, I don’t sit here”, but very often in Spanish the present tense is used to indicate something that’s about to happen in the future.

Let’s go ahead and get some practice with all the present-tense forms of Sentar.

We sit down where they always sit down.

Nos sentamos donde ellos siempre se sientan.

He sits down first, so I always seat the little boy.

Él se sienta primero, así que yo siempre siento al niño.

Do you seat those thirteen people in the other place?

¿Tú sientas a esas trece personas en el otro lugar?

Do you sit down where I sit down?

¿Te sientas donde yo me siento?

Now, there’s an important difference between the verb for “sitting” in English versus Sentarse in Spanish. Check out this English sentence:

She is sitting over there.

So in English, we’re saying “is sitting”, which seems to imply se está sentando. But in Spanish, the verb Sentar doesn’t refer to the state of sitting down for a length of time; it only refers to the action of first sitting down. So if the sentence were “she sits down over there”, describing the action of first taking a seat, you would say se sienta allí. But the sentence is instead “she is sitting over there”, and in Spanish, here’s how you say that:

Ella está sentada allí.

So this word, sentada, is an adjective that means “seated” or “sitting down”. It’s related to the participle, sentado, but it changes based on the number and gender of the noun it describes. Try it yourself in this next example:

The boys are sitting at that table.

Los chicos están sentados en esa mesa.

All right, let’s move on to the past tense. Since sitting down tends to be a one-time action, the preterite is common for this verb. All the preterite forms of Sentar are conjugated exactly like the preterite forms of Hablar. So for example:

They sat down together.

Se sentaron juntos.

Try it yourself with this next one:

Did she sit down where I sat down?

¿Ella se sentó donde yo me senté?

Let’s do a mini-quiz to practice all the preterite forms of Sentar. In this quiz, I’m going to throw in a few examples that actually use the adjective sentado rather than the verb Sentarse, so watch for that!

You sat down where they sat down.

Te sentaste donde ellos se sentaron.

The fifteen girls were sitting at that table.

Las quince chicas estaban sentadas en esa mesa.

We sat down where he was sitting.

Nos sentamos donde él estaba sentado.

Were you(f) sitting there? I’m sorry, I didn’t see you.

¿Estabas sentada ahí? Lo siento, no te vi.

He sat down far from where I sat down.

Se sentó lejos de donde yo me senté.

The subjunctive forms of Sentar are siente, sientes, sienten, and sentemos. It’s kind of weird because siente is also a conjugation of Sentir, meaning “he/she feels”. But it’s usually pretty easy to tell from context whether siente is a form of Sentir or is a subjunctive form of Sentar. For example, check out this sentence:

I want them to sit together.

Quiero que se sienten juntos.

So theoretically this COULD be mistranslated as “I want them to feel together”, but that wouldn’t really make any sense. Plus, since we have quiero que at the beginning, we know that the verb that follows it has to be subjunctive. So quiero que se sienten juntos clearly means “I want them to sit together”.

Let’s practice the subjunctive forms of Sentar.

I want them to sit nearby.

Quiero que ellos se sienten cerca.

He wants me to sit with him to watch the movie.

Quiere que me siente con él para ver la película.

We want him to sit there and you to sit here.

Queremos que él se siente ahí y que tú te sientes aquí.

I understand they are going to be here soon so that we sit together.

Entiendo que van a estar aquí pronto para que nos sentemos juntos.

Next let’s learn the imperatives. One of the most common ways to use this verb is to say “sit down!”

The informal singular version of that is siéntate. For example:

Sit down! Let’s talk.

¡Siéntate! Hablemos.

The formal version is siéntese, which is the same as the subjunctive plus se. For example:

(formal) Sit down! We want you to listen to this.

¡Siéntese! Queremos que usted escuche esto.

And then if you’re talking to a group of people, you’ll say siéntense, which is the plural subjunctive plus se. For example:

Please sit down, children!

¡Por favor siéntense, niños!

So all of these imperatives, siéntate, siéntese, and siéntense, are contractions. In general, with a pronominal verb like Sentarse, contractions involving reflexives are very common. In fact, the infinitive very often gets contracted with the reflexives; the forms sentarse, sentarme, sentarte, and sentarnos are all in common use. For example:

We came here to sit down.

Vinimos aquí para sentarnos.

You worked a lot before sitting down.

Trabajaste mucho antes de sentarte.

Let’s practice the imperatives and these contractions.

Sit down! I can sit alone(m).

¡Siéntate! Yo puedo sentarme solo.

(plural) Sit down! It's already time for us to sit down.

¡Siéntense! Ya es hora de sentarnos.

We felt that you didn’t want to sit with us.

Sentimos que no querías sentarte con nosotros.

(formal) Sit down! You know we have to talk.

¡Siéntese! Usted sabe que tenemos que hablar.

Please, sit down. I’m sleepy and I don’t want to go anywhere.

Por favor, siéntate. Tengo sueño y no quiero ir a ningún lugar.

I don’t want you to feel like he doesn’t want to sit with you.

No quiero que sientas que él no quiere sentarse contigo.

For more practice with any of this, feel free to dig deeper at LCSPodcast.com/147. Or if you’re ready, let’s go on to today’s final quiz.

We always sit down at the same time, but today we sat down later.

Siempre nos sentamos a la misma hora, pero hoy nos sentamos más tarde.

She is in need of knowing that three times three equals nine.

Le hace falta saber que tres por tres es igual a nueve.

I sat where she sat.

Me senté donde ella se sentó.

We want him to feel that he can talk with his fourteen friends.

Queremos que sienta que puede hablar con sus catorce amigos.

Do you understand that I felt like he’s in need of something?

¿Entiendes que yo sentí que le hace falta algo?

I’m sorry, I know you felt bad because of what I did.

Lo siento, sé que te sentiste mal por lo que hice.

I’d like to feel like I’m not sleepy, but it’s not like that.

Me gustaría sentir que no tengo sueño, pero no es así.

How do you want me to feel like it’s not an order?

¿Cómo quieres que no sienta que es una orden?

They have felt the same (thing) that I feel.

Han sentido lo mismo que yo siento.

She thinks it’s a curse because he died at twelve o’clock.

Ella cree que es una maldición porque él murió a las doce en punto.

I felt like he didn’t want to be with me; he always sits far away.

Sentía que no quería estar conmigo, siempre se sienta lejos.

Why do you say that you feel like you’re going to die?

¿Por qué dices que sientes que vas a morir?

We felt what she said she was feeling.

Sentimos lo que ella dijo que sentía.

Do you seat the kids where their parents seat them?

¿Sientas a los chicos donde sus padres los sientan?

She feels like she doesn’t understand what you’re saying.

Ella siente que no entiende lo que dices.

You sat down far from where they sat down.

Te sentaste lejos de donde ellos se sentaron.

(formal) Sit down! You know you have to sit down.

¡Siéntese! Usted sabe que tiene que sentarse.

I want us to sit together and for them to sit far away.

Quiero que nos sentemos juntos y que ellos se sienten lejos.

(plural) Sit down now! I’m going to sit down later.

¡Siéntense ahora! Yo voy a sentarme más tarde.

We’re going to sit down where you want to sit down.

Vamos a sentarnos donde tú quieres sentarte.

We have seated the children a few hours ago and they’re still sitting there.

Hemos sentado a los niños hace unas horas y todavía están sentados ahí.

I want her to sit where I sit.

Quiero que ella se siente donde yo me siento.

Sit down! Why are you there if you know I want you to sit down?

¡Siéntate! ¿Por qué estás ahí si sabes que quiero que te sientes?

The boy likes to sit far from everyone.

Al chico le gusta sentarse lejos de todos.

For more practice with all of this, go to LCSPodcast.com/147.

In tomorrow’s episode, we’ll learn some new adjectives that describe which of something you’re talking about, including the words for “left” and “right”.

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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