Let’s learn the Spanish verb Valer. We’ll look at how it’s used in all kinds of contexts, in all its common forms, and we’ll get lots of spoken practice.
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Today we’re learning a Spanish verb that’s very common but that doesn’t have any simple translation into English. The verb is Valer, which in general means “to be valuable” or “to be worth” something. Here’s a simple example:
This car is worth a lot.
Este auto vale mucho.
So here we’re describing the car and what it’s worth, specifically mucho, or a lot. Here’s a similar example, but a negative one:
What he said isn’t worth anything.
Lo que dijo no vale nada.
So this example was more abstract. “What he said” probably doesn’t have a monetary value, but we’re still talking about what it is or isn’t worth, perhaps socially. Try it yourself in this next example:
He’s worth much more than that!
¡Él vale mucho más que eso!
Now let’s talk about conjugating this verb. For the most part, it’s conjugated just like the verb Deber, except that there’s an extra G in some conjugations, particularly the first person indicative. So for example:
I’m worth much more than that!
¡Valgo mucho más que eso!
So the present-tense forms are valgo, vale, vales, valen, and valemos.
Here’s another example:
We’re worth a lot to them.
Valemos mucho para ellos.
So you might expect this verb to take indirect objects; in that case, “we’re worth a lot to them” would be les valemos mucho. But for some reason, Valer doesn’t tend to take indirect objects; instead, it tends to be used with para and then the person that the thing is valuable to. Here’s another example of that:
You’re worth a lot to my parents.
Vales mucho para mis padres.
Let’s go ahead and get some practice with the present-tense forms of Valer.
You’re worth a lot, that’s true.
Vales mucho, eso es cierto.
He’s worth his weight in gold.
Vale su peso en oro.
They’re worth as much as we are worth.
Valen tanto como nosotros valemos.
They say I’m not worth anything, but I don’t think it’s personal.
Dicen que no valgo nada, pero no creo que sea personal.
All right, so far, we’ve been using Valer along with some sort of amount; for example vale mucho or no vale nada. A very common idiom that uses this word is vale la pena, which literally means something like “it’s worth the shame”, but this is how you translate the English phrase “it’s worth it”. So for example:
This work is worth it.
Este trabajo vale la pena.
As we continue practicing this verb, we’re also going to start throwing in some other conjugations. The preterite forms of Valer are conjugated just like the preterite forms of Deber. So for example:
Those things were worth it.
Esas cosas valieron la pena.
And then there’s one imperfect form that’s also commonly used, valía. For example:
I used to go there every week, it was worth it.
Iba allí todas las semanas, valía la pena.
And the subjunctive forms all have the extra G in them that valgo has. So for example:
I hope it’s worth it.
Espero que valga la pena.
Let’s get some practice.
This seat isn’t worth it.
Este asiento no vale la pena.
Those games weren’t worth it.
Esos juegos no valieron la pena.
They said that it was trash and that it wasn’t worth anything.
Dijeron que era basura y que no valía nada.
It was worth it in order to have the official one(m).
Valió la pena para tener el oficial.
I hope this is worth something some day, it has to be worth it.
Espero que esto valga algo algún día, tiene que valer la pena.
Now, sometimes, Valer is used without something after it, simply to say something is or isn’t valuable or valid. Here’s an example where maybe you’re talking about a ticket or a form of ID:
I wasn’t able to enter; they told me it isn’t valid anymore.
No pude entrar; me dijeron que ya no vale.
And actually, in Spain, the conjugation vale is used pretty often all by itself, almost as an interjection, in response to what someone else says. Here’s an example where one person is responding to another:
We can’t leave until she gets here. // Sure.
No nos podemos ir hasta que ella llegue. // Vale.
There’s no literal translation of vale in situations like this, other than something like “OK” or “sure”. But what it means is an acknowledgment that what the other person has said is valid. Try it yourself in this next example:
I don’t want to be here long. // Sure, we’ll leave soon.
No quiero estar aquí mucho tiempo. // Vale, nos iremos pronto.
Again, this is pretty specific to Spain; most of the world just says claro or dale. But in our quizzing today, choose the word vale whenever we say “sure” in situations like this in English.
For more practice with any of this, feel free to dig deeper at LCSPodcast.com/192. Or if you’re ready, let’s go on to today’s final quiz.
Those things weren't worth the trouble.
Esas cosas no valieron la pena.
Sure, I’ll count the money and give you the change.
Vale, contaré el dinero y te daré el vuelto.
I want my dog(f) to sit on this bench.
Quiero que mi perra se siente en este banco.
She is counting the gold and she knows it’s worth a lot.
Cuenta el oro y sabe que vale mucho.
I don’t like the change, so tell me what happened.
No me gusta el cambio, así que cuéntame qué pasó.
She doesn’t want him to count the cash.
Ella no quiere que él cuente el efectivo.
It had a lot of salt, but it was worth it.
Tenía mucha sal, pero valió la pena.
She is counting most of the money.
Está contando la mayor parte del dinero.
Count everything! Even the ones that are different.
¡Cuenta todo! Hasta los que son diferentes.
He didn’t count all the dollars, so he doesn’t know how much they are worth.
No contó todos los dólares, entonces no sabe cuánto valen.
I counted this, but she had already counted it.
Yo conté esto, pero ella ya lo había contado.
I’m worth a lot and you can count on me.
Valgo mucho y puedes contar conmigo.
I’m counting the boxes and they are worth a lot.
Cuento las cajas y valen mucho.
You have to go to the back door, the next one.
Tienes que ir a la puerta trasera, la próxima.
You’re worth a lot and I know I can count on you.
Vales mucho y sé que puedo contar contigo.
This chair is worth a lot of money, but I don’t think it’s worth it.
Esta silla vale mucho dinero, pero yo no creo que valga la pena.
If you tell a story, tell a true one.
Si cuentas una historia, cuenta una verdadera.
(Formal) Tell the following story, please.
Cuente la siguiente historia, por favor.
This suit used to be worth a lot of money.
Este traje valía mucho dinero.
We are worth our own weight in gold.
Valemos nuestro propio peso en oro.
Sure, he wants me to tell the story.
Vale, él quiere que yo cuente la historia.
This isn’t worth anything.
Esto no vale nada.
For more practice with all of this, go to LCSPodcast.com/192.
In tomorrow’s episode, we’ll work on more numbers and more ways you can use them.
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.