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Quick answer
"Espantar" is a transitive verb which is often translated as "to frighten", and "asustar" is a transitive verb which is also often translated as "to frighten". Learn more about the difference between "espantar" and "asustar" below.
espantar(
ehs
-
pahn
-
tahr
)
A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object (e.g. I bought a book.).
1. (to make afraid)
a. to frighten
Los truenos espantaron a los niños.The thunder frightened the kids.
b. to scare
Aquel ruido tan fuerte nos espantó.That loud noise scared us.
2. (to drive away)
a. to frighten away
Estas velas sirven para espantar a los mosquitos.These candles frighten away mosquitoes.
3. (to horrify)
a. to appall
Los asesinatos espantaron a la opinión pública.Public opinion was appalled by the murders.
An intransitive verb is one that does not require a direct object (e.g. The man sneezed.).
4. (to make afraid)
a. to be frightening
La vieja mansión espantaba.The old mansion was frightening.
b. to be scary
Espanta pensar lo que podría haber ocurrido en aquel sótano.It's scary to think what might have happened in that basement.
espantarse
A pronominal verb always uses a reflexive pronoun. (e.g. Te ves cansado.).
5. (to be afraid)
a. to get frightened
El perro se espantó con los fuegos artificiales.The dog got frightened by the fireworks.
6. (to be driven away)
a. to be frightened away
¡Estas moscas no se espantan fácilmente!These flies are not easily frightened away!
7. (to be horrified)
a. to be appalled
Vas a espantarte cuando veas el estado de la cocina.You'll be appalled when you see the state the kitchen is in.
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asustar(
ah
-
soos
-
tahr
)
A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object (e.g. I bought a book.).
1. (to cause fear)
a. to frighten
El perro asustó a los niños.The dog frightened the children.
b. to scare
Enciende una vela para asustar a los demonios.Light a candle to scare the demons.
2. (to alarm)
a. to startle
Un grito espeluznante la asustó mientras dormía.A bloodcurdling scream startled her awake.
asustarse
A pronominal verb always uses a reflexive pronoun. (e.g. Te ves cansado.).
3. (to experience fear)
a. to get frightened
Nos asustamos muchísimo con la explosión de la bomba.We got terribly frightened when the bomb went off.
b. to be frightened
¡No te asustes! Son solo truenos.Don't be frightened! It's just thunder.
4. (to experience concern)
a. to get worried
Me asusté cuando me di cuenta de que era tarde y María todavía no había llegado.I got worried when I realized that it was late, and María had not arrived yet.
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