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Quick answer
"Espiar" is a transitive verb which is often translated as "to spy on", and "acechar" is a transitive verb which is often translated as "to stalk". Learn more about the difference between "espiar" and "acechar" below.
espiar(
ehs
-
pyahr
)
A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object (e.g. I bought a book.).
1. (to watch)
a. to spy on
Se pasó el día entero espiando a sus vecinos con unos binoculares.He spent the whole day spying on his neighbors with a set of binoculars.
b. to keep watch on
La policía sospechaba de él y espiaba sus movimientos.The police suspected him and was keeping watch on his actions.
c. to keep a watch on
Era una situación terrible, en la que todos espiaban a todos.It was a terrible situation, where everyone kept a watch on everyone else.
An intransitive verb is one that does not require a direct object (e.g. The man sneezed.).
2. (to watch)
a. to spy
Durante la Guerra Fría, espió para ambos bandos.She spied for both sides during the Cold War.
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acechar(
ah
-
seh
-
chahr
)
A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object (e.g. I bought a book.).
1. (to observe stealthily)
a. to stalk
Los leones acechan a su presa antes de atacar.Lions stalk their prey before attacking.
b. to watch
El ladrón acechó a la mujer por varias noches antes de entrar a robar.The thief watched the woman for several nights before breaking into her house.
c. to spy on
El detective acechó al hombre en cada uno de sus movimientos para comprobar si decía la verdad.The detective spied on the man's every move to check if he had told the truth.
2. (to await in expectation)
a. to lie in wait for
No estábamos preparados para hacer frente a los peligros que nos acechaban.We were not ready to confront the dangers that lay in wait for us.
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