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Quick answer
"Echar" is a transitive verb which is often translated as "to throw", and "echarse a" is a pronominal verb phrase which is often translated as "to begin to". Learn more about the difference between "echar" and "echarse a" below.
A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object (e.g. I bought a book.).
1. (to propel)
a. to throw
Esta comida ya está caducada. Échala en la basura.This food is spoiled. Throw it in the garbage.
b. to cast
Un pescador echó el sedal desde el muelle para pescar.A fisherman cast a line from the pier to fish.
2. (to add)
a. to put
¿Cuánta gasolina le echas al coche?How much gas do you put in the car?
3. (to oust)
a. to throw out
Lo echaron del bar por no pagar su cuenta.He was thrown out of the bar for not paying his tab.
b. to expel
Echaron al estudiante de la universidad por razones disciplinarias.The student was expelled from the university for disciplinary reasons.
4. (to serve)
a. to pour
¿Serías tan amable de echarme más vino?Please be so good as to pour me some more wine.
5. (to release)
a. to give off
El guiso está echando un aroma delicioso que me está dando hambre.The stew is giving off a delicious aroma that is making me hungry.
b. to emit
El tubo de escape de un coche echa gases cuando está parado en funcionamiento.The exhaust pipe of the car emits gases when it is idle.
6. (to produce)
a. to sprout
En primavera, los árboles de mi jardín echan hojas nuevas.In the spring, the trees of my garden sprout new leaves.
7. (to give)
a. to give
Papá le echó la bronca a mi hermano por mentir.Dad gave my brother a dressing-down for lying.
8. (to send)
a. to mail
Regionalism used in the United States
(United States)
Voy a la oficina de correos para comprar sellos para echar esta carta.I'm going to the post office to buy stamps to mail this letter.
b. to post (United Kingdom)
¿Cuánto cuesta echar este paquete a Alemania?How much does it cost to post this parcel to Germany?
9. (to estimate)
a. to reckon
¿Cuánto tiempo tiene que cocer el pollo? - Échale dos horas.How long does the chicken need to cook? - I reckon two hours.
b. to think
Le echaba a tu hermana menos años que a ti.I thought your sister was younger than you.
10. (indicating an action)
a. to give
¿Puedes echarme una mano con las bolsas de la compra?Can you give me a hand with the shopping bags?
b. to have
Anoche, mis amigos y yo nos echamos unas risas en la cena.Last night, my friends and I had a good laugh over dinner.
11. (to move)
a. to push
Echa la mesa a un lado para hacer más sitio para la fiesta.Push the table aside to make more room for the party.
12. (to lay off)
a. to fire
Me echaron del trabajo por no cumplir con mis responsabilidades.I was fired from a job for not fulfilling my duties.
b. to sack (United Kingdom)
Lo echaron porque nunca completaba sus proyectos.They sacked him because he never completed his projects.
An intransitive verb is one that does not require a direct object (e.g. The man sneezed.).
13. (to commence)
a. to start
El ladrón se echó a correr cuando vio que la policía se acercaba a él.The thief started running when he saw the police coming toward him.
b. to begin
Mi hijo se echó a llorar cuando la enfermera le clavó la aguja en el brazo.My son began to cry when the nurse stuck the needle in his arm.
A reflexive verb is a verb that indicates that the subject performs an action on itself (e.g. Miguel se lava.).
14. (to propel oneself)
a. to throw oneself
Intentó suicidarse echándose al agua desde el puente.He tried to commit suicide throwing himself into the water from the bridge.
15. (to recline)
a. to lie down
Solo tienes que echarte y disfrutar del masaje.Just lie down and enjoy your massage.
16. (to apply)
a. to put
Me eché protector solar antes de ir a la playa, pero me quemé.I put on sunscreen before going to the beach, but I got sunburned.
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echarse a(
A pronominal verb phrase combines a verb with a preposition or other particle and always uses a reflexive pronoun. (e.g. Se dio cuenta del problema.)
pronominal verb phrase
1. (general)
a. to begin to
Su hermana lo llamó tonto, y él se echó a llorar.Her sister called him stupid, and he began to cry.
b. to start
Cuando les dije que nosotros ganaríamos el partido, se echaron a reír.When I told them we would win the game, they started laughing.
c. to burst into
Cada vez que sus padres le decían que no a algo, la niña se echaba a llorar.Every time their parents said no to something, the girl would burst into tears.
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