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Terminar vs. Acabar

Why does Spanish have two verbs that mean “to finish”? Today we’ll explore the verb Terminar and how it’s used differently from Acabar. We’ll also get lots of spoken practice using Terminar in real sentence contexts.

Full Podcast Episode


Casi termino.

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

The Spanish verb Terminar means “to finish” or “to end up”. Of course, we already learned the verb Acabar, which *can* mean “to finish”, but it more often means “to have just done something”. Terminar is a more common term for finishing.

Here are a couple of simple examples, using the infinitive, terminar, and the participle, terminado:

When are you going to finish that?

¿Cuándo vas a terminar eso?

Have they finished the work?

¿Han terminado el trabajo?

In both of these cases, Terminar is simply taking a direct object. Try it yourself in this next example:

She hasn’t finished it, but she’s going to finish it.

No lo ha terminado, pero lo va a terminar.

When you want to talk about finishing doing something, you’ll use Terminar and then de and then an infinitive. For example:

I haven’t finished doing those things.

No he terminado de hacer esas cosas.

You might notice that this is a lot like Dejar, because, for example, to say “I haven’t stopped doing those things”, you’d say no he dejado de hacer esas cosas. The Spanish difference between Dejar and Terminar is basically the same as the English difference between “stopping” doing something and “finishing” doing something.

Let’s get some practice using Terminar. I’m going to throw quite a few forms at you, but you should be able to figure it all out because this verb is conjugated exactly like Hablar. Remember that when you’re just finishing something, you’ll use a direct object, but when you’re finishing doing something, you’ll use Terminar and then de and then an infinitive.

She finished doing her work.

Terminó de hacer su trabajo.

She wants me to finish it.

Quiere que lo termine.

She always finishes working at seven.

Siempre termina de trabajar a las siete.

I finished watching the movie.

Terminé de ver la película.

If I finish it, I’ll have twenty-seven.

Si lo termino, tendré veintisiete.

He will finish talking with the group soon.

Terminará de hablar con el grupo pronto.

I finished number twenty-four.

Terminé el número veinticuatro.

We’re finishing working now; afterwards we’ll go around the corner.

Terminamos de trabajar ahora; después iremos a la vuelta de la esquina.

Now let’s learn a couple more uses of this verb. Sometimes Terminar is used without either a direct object or de, simply to indicate that something finishes or ends. For example:

We’ll leave after the film ends.

Nos iremos después de que termine la película.

Try it yourself in this next example:

The music ended after we left.

La música terminó después de que nos fuimos.

And then another meaning of this verb is “to end up”. When it’s used this way, it tends to be followed by a gerund. Check this out:

She wanted to be a doctor, but she ended up being a teacher.

Quería ser doctora, pero terminó siendo maestra.

So in this way, Terminar is kind of similar to Seguir — it’s a verb that isn’t Estar but still likes to have gerunds after it. Try it yourself in this next example:

I ended up going out without her.

Terminé saliendo sin ella.

Let’s practice these two uses of Terminar.

The movie didn’t end well.

La película no terminó bien.

I don’t want her to end up working there.

No quiero que termine trabajando allí.

He always ends up talking with his friends.

Siempre termina hablando con sus amigos.

We ended up going to the party in front of the hotel.

Terminamos yendo a la fiesta al frente del hotel.

I don’t want you to end up doing something you don’t want.

No quiero que termines haciendo algo que no quieres.

The twenty-three books ended with a happy ending.

Los veintitrés libros terminaron con un final feliz.

I won’t end up doing this when I’m twenty-eight years of age.

No terminaré haciendo esto cuando tenga veintiocho años de edad.

For more practice with any of this, feel free to dig deeper at LCSPodcast.com/167. Or if you’re ready, let’s go on to today’s final quiz. We’re going to continue practicing Terminar, but we’ll also get a bunch more practice with Seguir, the verb we learned yesterday.

She doesn’t want us to end up in the corner.

No quiere que terminemos en la esquina.

I continue working, but I’m almost done.

Sigo trabajando, pero ya casi termino.

They continue going south; this hasn’t ended.

Siguen yendo hacia el sur, esto no ha terminado.

(Plural) Keep working until you finish!

¡Sigan trabajando hasta que terminen!

I want her to continue working there until she’s twenty-five.

Quiero que siga trabajando ahí hasta que tenga veinticinco.

Keep talking! She already finished.

¡Sigue hablando! Ella ya terminó. 

They are following him online.

Lo están siguiendo en línea.

Let’s keep going north; our path will end soon.

Sigamos yendo hacia el norte, nuestro camino terminará pronto.

Maybe I’ll end up working with my friends.

Quizás termine trabajando con mis amigos.

You didn’t finish your work, so finish it!

No terminaste tu trabajo, ¡entonces termínalo!

We always finish our work at six.

Siempre terminamos nuestro trabajo a las seis.

She continues working until she finishes.

Sigue trabajando hasta que termina.

Don’t finish the movie yet! We continue watching it.

¡No termines la película aún! Nosotros la seguimos viendo.

We continued until we had twenty-nine things.

Seguimos hasta que tuvimos veintinueve cosas.

We finished school when we were twenty-two.

Terminamos la escuela cuando teníamos veintidós años.

You have to follow the line until it ends.

Tienes que seguir la línea hasta que termine.

I have continued working, but they finished.

He seguido trabajando, pero ellos terminaron.

She wants me to continue west, but I’ll go toward the center.

Ella quiere que yo siga hacia el oeste, pero iré hacia el centro.

(Formal) Keep going this way and you’ll see the queue.

Siga por este camino y verá la fila.

I hope they continue until they are twenty-one.

Espero que sigan hasta que tengan veintiún años.

When you finish your work, you’ll have the position.

Cuando termines tu trabajo, tendrás el puesto.

You continue here even though you’re twenty-six.

Sigues aquí aunque tienes veintiséis años.

I ended up in the east, when I wanted to end up in the west.

Terminé en el este, cuando quería terminar en el oeste.

For more practice with all of this, go to LCSPodcast.com/167.

In tomorrow’s episode, we’ll learn a bunch of new adjectives, including our first colors!

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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