Today we’ll learn the verb Sentir, which is how you say “feel” in Spanish. We’ll also explore Sentirse and how it is different from Sentir, and we’ll get lots of spoken practice in real sentence contexts. Practice along out loud!
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Let’s learn the Spanish verb for “feeling”, so that we can say things like “did you feel that?” and “I feel happy”.
The infinitive is sentir. So for example:
Am I going to feel something?
¿Voy a sentir algo?
The participle is exactly what you would expect, sentido. So for example:
I haven’t felt it in a long time.
No lo he sentido en mucho tiempo.
And then the gerund is slightly irregular; it’s sintiendo. So we would expect it to be “sentiendo”, which is simply sentir but replacing the R with “endo”. But for some reason, the E in the stem gets changed to I. So we have sintiendo. For example:
Is it just me or are you feeling that?
¿Soy sólo yo o estás sintiendo eso?
Notice that in the first half of the sentence, to say “is it just me”, we say soy sólo yo, literally “am I just I”.
Let’s go ahead and get some practice with sentir, sentido, and sintiendo.
I haven’t felt it yet.
No lo he sentido aún.
She doesn’t want to feel what she is feeling.
No quiere sentir lo que está sintiendo.
You had felt that before.
Habías sentido eso antes.
I can’t feel what you’re feeling.
No puedo sentir lo que estás sintiendo.
Now let’s learn the present-tense forms of Sentir. Most of these forms have a stem change, so instead of “sento” we have siento. For example:
I don’t feel it.
No lo siento.
We also have siente, sientes, and sienten. And then the form for “we feel” is normal: sentimos. So for example:
You all don’t feel what we feel?
¿Ustedes no sienten lo que nosotros sentimos?
Incidentally, the phrase lo siento, literally “I feel it”, is the most common way to say “I’m sorry” in Spanish. For example:
I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that.
Lo siento, no debí hacer eso.
So it’s kind of like saying “I feel sorrow” or “I feel remorse”, but you literally just say “I feel it”.
Let’s go ahead and get some practice with the present-tense forms, including the idiom lo siento.
We don’t feel anything.
No sentimos nada.
I don’t feel that, but they feel it.
No siento eso, pero ellos lo sienten.
I’m sorry, I saw fourteen, but there were fifteen.
Lo siento, vi catorce, pero había quince.
You don’t feel what she feels.
No sientes lo que ella siente.
I’m sorry, but she doesn’t feel anything.
Lo siento, pero ella no siente nada.
I want to know what you feel.
Quiero saber lo que sientes.
Now before we learn any more forms of Sentir, let’s start exploring some of the more nuanced ways this verb can be used. Here’s an interesting one. See if you can tell what’s going on in this sentence:
I feel like nothing actually happened.
Siento que en verdad no pasó nada.
So here we used siento que, which means “I feel that”, and then we stated something that we feel is the case. In English, we typically say “I feel like”, but in Spanish you simply say “I feel that”. Try it yourself in this next example:
Do you feel like someone is watching us?
¿Sientes que alguien nos está mirando?
So in this case, and in all the sentence examples we’ve used so far in this episode, we’re using Sentir along with some kind of direct object. Remember that a que phrase can serve as a direct object. But what if you want to say something like:
I feel happy.
In this sentence, the word “happy” isn’t technically a direct object; instead it’s an adjective, not a noun. In cases like this, you’ll actually use the pronominal version of Sentir. So here’s the Spanish.
Me siento feliz.
This literally seems to say “I feel myself happy”. But this is how the pronominal verb Sentirse is used: To describe how you feel, typically with some sort of adjective. Try it yourself with this next one:
We feel sad.
Nos sentimos tristes.
So as a general rule, you’ll use Sentir without a reflexive pronoun when you’re using a direct object or to say that you feel like something is the case. But you’ll use Sentirse to describe how you’re feeling, typically with an adjective.
Let’s get some practice with these various uses of Sentir and Sentirse.
We feel like they feel sad.
Sentimos que ellos se sienten tristes.
You feel something, but she doesn’t feel the same.
Sientes algo, pero ella no siente lo mismo.
She is sleepy and she is feeling it.
Tiene sueño y lo está sintiendo.
They feel like they should be here at eleven.
Sienten que deberían estar aquí a las once.
I feel lonely (f), but she feels happy.
Me siento sola, pero ella se siente feliz.
I feel like we feel happy.
Siento que nos sentimos felices.
The subjunctive forms of Sentir are pretty simple; most of them are based on sienta. For example:
He doesn’t want you to feel lonely(m).
Él no quiere que te sientas solo.
Let’s get a little practice with sienta and sientas.
When I feel something, I’ll tell you.
Cuando sienta algo, te lo diré.
I want you to feel happy.
Quiero que te sientas feliz.
Maybe I feel sad because of the lack of food.
Quizás me sienta triste por la falta de comida.
Maybe she feels like nobody wants to be with her.
Quizás ella sienta que nadie quiere estar con ella.
As soon as you feel like you have to be here, come here.
Tan pronto como sientas que tienes que estar aquí, ven aquí.
Next let’s learn the preterite forms of Sentir. Most of these are regular. For example, “I felt” is sentí, “you felt” is sentiste, and “we felt” is sentimos. Let’s go ahead and practice these.
I didn’t feel anything.
No sentí nada.
At twelve o’clock we felt happy.
A las doce en punto nos sentimos felices.
You felt good after going there.
Te sentiste bien después de ir ahí.
We felt peace after that.
Sentimos paz después de eso.
I felt sad when I knew you didn’t feel anything.
Me sentí triste cuando supe que no sentiste nada.
The other two preterite forms are a little bit irregular. To say “he/she felt”, the word is sintió rather than “sentió”. And the word for “they felt” is sintieron. Here’s an example:
They didn’t feel what she felt.
No sintieron lo que ella sintió.
Now, why is it that these two particular conjugations are irregular? Well, there’s actually a reason, and this is pretty obscure, but some of you may find this interesting. Remember that when we learned the verb Morir, something similar happened, where specifically the third person forms turned into murió and murieron. Here’s the pattern: For some slightly irregular verbs like these, the stem itself changes, only for the forms that don’t have a stress on the vowel right after the stem. I know that sounds really technical, but check this out: The stem of morir is “mor”, and the stem of sentir is “sent”. For the yo preterite forms, we have morí and sentí, where the stress is *right* after the syllable “mor” or “sent”. Morí. Sentí. That’s also true for moriste and sentiste, and for morimos and sentimos. But in the case of murió and sintió, the stress occurs in a diphthong, which somehow makes it easier to kind of blend the vowel of the stem itself, modifying “morió” into murió and “sentio” into sintió. So this is because the stress is a little bit further away from the stem. That’s also the case for murieron and sintieron.
If all of that is too nerdy and obscure for you, don’t worry about it; the main point is that for Sentir, just like for Morir, the third-person forms get a slightly irregular change. So we have sintió and sintieron, which incidentally is a lot like sintiendo, the gerund.
Let’s go ahead and practice all the preterite forms.
You didn’t feel love when they felt happy.
No sentiste amor cuando ellos se sintieron felices.
They felt like they were in need of help.
Sintieron que les hacía falta ayuda.
I felt lonely that time, but he felt happy.
Me sentí solo esa vez, pero él se sintió feliz.
He felt an opportunity when he saw that.
Sintió una oportunidad cuando vio eso.
The last forms to learn for this verb are the imperfect forms, which are all based on sentía. And actually, the preterite forms of Sentir are a little more common than the imperfect forms, so for now we’ll only get a little bit of practice with sentía. See if you can predict the Spanish.
She always felt like nobody was there for her.
Sentía que nadie estaba ahí para ella.
I used to feel sad all the time.
Me sentía triste todo el tiempo.
He felt ready for anything.
Se sentía listo para cualquier cosa.
I used to feel peace when I saw the number thirteen.
Sentía paz cuando veía el número trece.
For more practice with any of this, feel free to dig deeper at LCSPodcast.com/146. Or if you’re ready, let’s go on to today’s final quiz. In this first example, the idiom “love for her” is amor por ella, literally “love because of her”.
When he was fifteen he felt love for her.
Cuando tenía quince años sintió amor por ella.
We don’t feel happy when that happens.
No nos sentimos felices cuando eso pasa.
You don’t have to feel like this, I want you to feel happy.
No te tienes que sentir así, quiero que te sientas feliz.
I have felt this eleven times.
He sentido esto once veces.
She is feeling crazy because she feels like she has a curse.
Se siente loca porque siente que tiene una maldición.
I feel like six times two is twelve.
Siento que seis por dos son doce.
They don’t feel the same thing she used to feel.
No sienten lo mismo que ella sentía.
I’m sorry, I didn’t know she was feeling sad.
Lo siento, no sabía que se sentía mal.
I think you don’t feel what I’m feeling.
Creo que no sientes lo que estoy sintiendo.
I felt sad and you felt lonely, but now we feel well.
Me sentí triste y tú te sentiste solo, pero ahora nos sentimos bien.
They felt something bad, but we didn’t feel it.
Sintieron algo malo, pero nosotros no lo sentimos.
I’m sorry, I didn’t know you wanted fourteen, I only have thirteen.
Lo siento, no sabía que querías catorce, solo tengo trece.
I don’t feel well.
No me siento bien.
She wants me to have dreams and to feel happy.
Ella quiere que yo tenga sueños y que me sienta feliz.
I’m sorry, but I can’t feel anything, maybe she feels it.
Lo siento, pero no puedo sentir nada, quizás ella lo sienta.
For more practice with all of this, go to LCSPodcast.com/146.
In tomorrow’s episode, we’ll learn the Spanish verb for “sitting”.
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.