Quick answer
"Despertarse" is a reflexive verb which is often translated as "to wake up", and "espabilarse" is a pronominal verb which is also often translated as "to wake up". Learn more about the difference between "despertarse" and "espabilarse" below.
despertarse(
dehs
-
pehr
-
tahr
-
seh
)
A reflexive verb is a verb that indicates that the subject performs an action on itself (e.g. Miguel se lava.).
1. (to awake from sleep)
a. to wake up
Despiértame antes de irte.Wake me up before you go.
despertar
A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object (e.g. I bought a book.).
2. (to awake from sleep)
a. to wake up
La policía vino y despertó a todo el edificio.The police came and woke up the whole building.
3. (to stimulate)
a. to arouse
Por donde quiera que vaya despierta simpatías.Wherever he goes he arouses sympathy.
4. (to conjure)
a. to awaken
Los olores despertaron viejos recuerdos de la infancia.The smells awakened old childhood memories.
A masculine noun is used with masculine articles and adjectives (e.g. el hombre guapo, el sol amarillo).
5. (start)
a. awakening
Con el despertar de la naturaleza en primavera, florecen muchas flores hermosas.With the awakening of nature in spring, many beautiful flowers bloom.
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espabilarse
A pronominal verb always uses a reflexive pronoun. (e.g. Te ves cansado.).
1. (to awaken)
a. to wake up
Me costó espabilarme porque no había dormido mucho la noche anterior.I had a hard time waking up because I hadn't slept much the night before.
b. to wake oneself up
Salí a caminar a la mañana para espabilarme.I went out for a morning walk to wake myself up.
2. (to smarten up)
a. to get it together
A word or phrase that is commonly used in conversational speech (e.g. skinny, grandma).
(colloquial)
Los zapatos que quieres están en liquidación. Espabílate y cómpralos antes de que se agoten.The shoes you want are on sale. Get it together and buy them before they sell out.
b. to get one's act together
A word or phrase that is commonly used in conversational speech (e.g. skinny, grandma).
(colloquial)
Si no te espabilas, le ofrecerán el puesto a otra persona.If you don't get your act together, they will offer the position to somebody else.
c. to wise up
La reunión abordará el diseño sustentable. Tengo que leer sobre el tema para espabilarme.The meeting will be about sustainable design. I have to read about the subject to wise up.
d. to wake up
Le gustas a Emilia. ¡Espabílate e invítala a una cita!Emilia likes you. Wake up and ask her out on a date!
3. (to be hasty)
a. to hurry up
Espabílate y no te olvides de cerrar la puerta de entrada con llave.Hurry up and don't forget to lock the front door.
b. to get a move on
¡Espabílate! En media hora tienes la cita con el dentista.Get a move on! Your appointment with the dentist is in half an hour.
espabilar
A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object (e.g. I bought a book.).
4. (to awaken)
a. to wake up
Si tienes sueño, prueba con un poco de café: te espabilará.If you feel drowsy, try some coffee - it will wake you up.
5. (to smarten up)
a. to open someone's eyes
A phrase used as a figure of speech or a word that is symbolic in meaning; metaphorical (e.g. carrot, bean).
(figurative)
Mi padre me espabiló e hizo que me diera cuenta de que mi socio me estaba estafando.My father opened my eyes and made me realize that my associate was ripping me off.
An intransitive verb is one that does not require a direct object (e.g. The man sneezed.).
6. (to awaken)
a. to wake up
Los granjeros espabilan para empezar a trabajar antes del amanecer.The farmers wake up to get to work before sunrise.
b. to perk up
A word or phrase that is commonly used in conversational speech (e.g. skinny, grandma).
(colloquial)
Hacer ejercicios de estiramiento por la mañana te ayuda a espabilar.Stretching in the morning helps you perk up.
7. (to smarten up)
a. to open one's eyes
A phrase used as a figure of speech or a word that is symbolic in meaning; metaphorical (e.g. carrot, bean).
(figurative)
Es la única oportunidad que tienes para marcar la diferencia. ¡Espabila o te la perderás!This is the only opportunity you have to make a difference. Open your eyes or you'll miss it!
b. to get one's act together
A word or phrase that is commonly used in conversational speech (e.g. skinny, grandma).
(colloquial)
Los adolescentes son revoltosos y rebeldes. Espabila o tus alumnos te pasarán por encima.Teenagers are rowdy and unruly. Get your act together or your students will walk over you.
c. to wise up
Espabilé y dejé de juntarme con ese grupo de gente. Solo me estaban usando.I wised up and stopped hanging out with that group of people. They were just using me.
d. to wake up
Tardé años en espabilar y darme cuenta de que ya tengo todo lo que necesito para ser feliz.It took me years to wake up and realize that I already have everything I need to live a happy life.
8. (to be quick)
a. to hurry up
¡Espabila or perderemos el tren!Hurry up or we'll miss the train!
b. to get a move on
Tenemos que armar la tienda de campaña antes de que caiga el sol. ¡Espabila!We need to put up the tent before the sun comes down. Get a move on!
9. (to bat one's eyes)
Regionalism used in Venezuela
(Venezuela)
a. to blink
Miré la escena sin espabilar. No podría creer lo que estaba viendo.I watched the scene without blinking. I couldn't believe what I was watching.
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