Quick answer
"Devolver" is a transitive verb which is often translated as "to give back", and "volver" is an intransitive verb which is often translated as "to return". Learn more about the difference between "devolver" and "volver" below.
devolver(
deh
-
bohl
-
behr
)
A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object (e.g. I bought a book.).
1. (to restore)
a. to give back
¿Podrías devolver estos libros a la bibliotecaria?Could you give these books back to the librarian?
b. to return
Como no le gustaron los zapatos, los devolvió.As he didn't like the shoes, he returned them.
c. to take back
¿Has devuelto la película al videoclub?Have you taken the movie back to the video store?
d. to send back
Devolvieron al prisionero a la cárcel tras haberse escapado.The prisoner was sent back to prison after having escaped.
2. (economics)
a. to give back
Me tienen que devolver dos dólares porque pagué diez y valía ocho.They have to give me back two dollars because I paid ten, and it cost eight.
b. to refund
Si el vendedor no le devuelve el dinero, puede presentar una demanda.If the vendor does not refund your money, you can file a complaint.
c. to return
Devolvieron el cheque porque no había suficientes fondos.They returned the check because there were insufficient funds.
3. (to compensate)
a. to return
En cuanto pueda, le devuelvo el favor.As soon as I can, I will return the favor.
4. (to vomit)
a. to throw up
Miles tiene gripa; por eso está devolviendo todo lo que come.Miles has got the flu; that's why he's throwing up everything he eats.
b. to bring up
El perro estaba enfermo y devolvió la comida que había comido.The dog was sick and brought up the food he'd eaten.
An intransitive verb is one that does not require a direct object (e.g. The man sneezed.).
5. (to vomit)
a. to throw up
Varias personas devolvieron en el barco.Several people threw up on the boat.
b. to be sick
Creo que voy a devolver.I think I'm going to be sick.
devolverse
A pronominal verb always uses a reflexive pronoun. (e.g. Te ves cansado.).
6. (to go back)
Regionalism used in Latin America: all the countries in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Does not include Spain.
(Latin America)
a. to turn back
Se devolvió por el mismo camino.She turned back along the same road.
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volver(
bohl
-
behr
)
An intransitive verb is one that does not require a direct object (e.g. The man sneezed.).
1. (to be back)
a. to return
Vuelve con el recibo si quieres un crédito en la tienda.Return with the receipt if you want store credit.
b. to come back
Odio tener que volver al trabajo.I hate having to come back to work.
c. to go back
Solo llevo una semana de vuelta pero ya quiero volver a España.I've only been back a week and I already want to go back to Spain.
2. (to do again)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
¡Tengo que volver a limpiarlo todo!I have to clean everything again!
Volverá a llover este fin de semana.It will rain again this weekend.
A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object (e.g. I bought a book.).
3. (to swivel)
a. to turn
Volvió la cabeza y allí estaba ella.He turned his head and there she was.
4. (to grow to be)
a. to turn
Los años la volvieron cínica y amargada.The years have turned her cynical and bitter.
volverse
A reflexive verb is a verb that indicates that the subject performs an action on itself (e.g. Miguel se lava.).
5. (to change into)
a. to become
Andrés se volvió un poco difícil durante la adolescencia.Andres became a little difficult in adolescence.
b. to get
Te has vuelto flaquito desde que comenzaste la dieta.You've gotten skinny since you started the diet.
c. to turn into
La bruja hechizó al príncipe y se volvió rana.The witch cast a spell on the prince and he turned into a frog.
A pronominal verb always uses a reflexive pronoun. (e.g. Te ves cansado.).
6. (to be back)
a. to return
Se volvió a España porque no encontró trabajo acá.He returned to Spain because he couldn't find a job here.
b. to come back
Vuélvanse antes de que los agarre la tormenta.Come back before you get caught in the storm.
c. to go back
Me tuve que volver temprano para sacar al perro.I had to go back early to take the dog out.
7. (to turn to face in the opposite direction)
a. to turn around
Me volví para enfrentar a los que me estaban insultando.I turned around to face those who were insulting me.
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