Quick answer
"Dudar" is a transitive verb which is often translated as "to doubt", and "vacilar" is an intransitive verb which is often translated as "to hesitate". Learn more about the difference between "dudar" and "vacilar" below.
dudar(
doo
-
dahr
)
A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object (e.g. I bought a book.).
1. (to be unsure about)
a. to doubt
Dudamos que mucha gente vaya a asistir al seminario.We doubt that many people will attend the seminar.
An intransitive verb is one that does not require a direct object (e.g. The man sneezed.).
2. (to disbelieve)
a. to doubt
No dudo de su carácter, pero sí de su ética laboral.I don't doubt his character, but I do doubt his work ethic.
3. (to waver)
a. to hesitate
No dude en comunicarse conmigo en cualquier momento si tiene alguna pregunta.Don't hesitate to get in touch with me at any time if you have questions.
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vacilar(
bah
-
see
-
lahr
)
An intransitive verb is one that does not require a direct object (e.g. The man sneezed.).
1. (to doubt)
a. to hesitate
El teniente vaciló por un momento, pero al final llevó a cabo las órdenes del general.The lieutenant hesitated for a moment, but in the end he carried out the general's orders.
Las noticias recientes sobre el candidato hicieron vacilar a sus simpatizantes cuando fueron a votar.The recent news about the candidate made his supporters hesitate when they went to vote.
b. to dither
El trampolín no es tan alto. ¡Deja de vacilar y salta ya!The diving board isn't that high. Stop dithering and jump already!
c. to waver
La lealtad de sus discípulos no vaciló ni siquiera durante su persecución.Even during his persecution, his disciples' loyalty didn't waver.
2. (to stutter)
a. to stammer
He always stammers when speaking with his boss.Siempre vacila al hablar con su jefe.
3. (to walk unsteadily)
a. to stagger
La herida a su rodilla causó que vacilara mientras caminaba.Her knee injury made her stagger as she walked.
b. to sway
Vaciló emborrachado todo el camino a casa.He swayed drunkinly the whole way home.
c. to totter
Mi papá vaciló unas semanas después de que le reemplazaron la cadera.My dad tottered for a few weeks after they replaced his hip.
4. (to be unstable)
a. to wobble (furniture)
Siempre tenía miedo de que la estantería se cayera porque vacilaba demasiado.She was always afraid that the bookcase would fall because it wobbled so much.
b. to flicker (light)
La luz de las velas vacilaba cuando alguien abría la puerta de la iglesia.The light from the candles would flicker whenever someone would open the church door.
5. (to crack jokes)
Regionalism used in Mexico
(Mexico)
Regionalism used in Spain
(Spain)
a. to joke
Cuando tus amigos vacilan, son muy malintencionados.Whenever your friends joke, they are pretty mean-spirited.
b. to kid
Por favor, no te molestes. Solo vacilábamos.Please don't get upset. We were only kidding.
c. to fool around
La profesora lo regañó por tercera vez por vacilar en clase.The teacher told him off for the third time for fooling around in class.
6.
A word or phrase that is commonly used in conversational speech (e.g. skinny, grandma).
(colloquial)
(to enjoy oneself)
Regionalism used in Latin America: all the countries in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Does not include Spain.
(Latin America)
a. to have fun
Este barrio parece bastante tranquilo. ¿Qué hacen para vacilar?This neighborhood seems pretty quiet. What do you do to have fun?
7.
A word or phrase that is commonly used in conversational speech (e.g. skinny, grandma).
(colloquial)
(to brag)
Regionalism used in Spain
(Spain)
a. to show off
Cada vez que le pagan, compra ropa nueva para poder vacilar cuando sale.Every time he gets paid, he buys new clothes so that he can show off when he goes out.
b. to swank
En cada oportunidad que se le presentó, vaciló de los logros de su hijo.He swanked about his son's accomplishments every chance he got.
8.
A word or phrase that is commonly used in conversational speech (e.g. skinny, grandma).
(colloquial)
(to hook up with)
Regionalism used in Ecuador
(Ecuador)
a. to make out
A word or phrase that is commonly used in conversational speech (e.g. skinny, grandma).
(colloquial)
Anoche vi a la Diana vacilando con mi ñaño en la disco.Last night I saw Diana making out with my brother at the club.
A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object (e.g. I bought a book.).
9.
A word or phrase that is commonly used in conversational speech (e.g. skinny, grandma).
(colloquial)
(to poke fun at)
Regionalism used in Mexico
(Mexico)
Regionalism used in Spain
(Spain)
a. to make fun of
Mi hermana mayor no dejó de vacilarme cuando me pusieron los frenos.My older sister wouldn't stop making fun of me when I got braces.
b. to tease
Durante su infancia, sus compañeros de clase siempre la vacilaban por su aspecto.During her childhood, her classmates always teased her about her appearance.
c. to pull somebody's leg
Solo lo estaba vacilando cuando le dije que Ana quería salir con él.I was only pulling his leg when I told him Ana wanted to go out with him.
10. (to deceive)
Regionalism used in Central America: Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama
(Central America)
a. to trick
Sus amigos la vacilaron con enmarcar una carta falsa de su cantante favorito.Her friends tricked her into framing a fake letter from her favorite singer.
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