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Quick answer
"Espiar" is a transitive verb which is often translated as "to spy on", and "acosar" is a transitive verb which is often translated as "to harass". Learn more about the difference between "espiar" and "acosar" 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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acosar(
ah
-
koh
-
sahr
)
A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object (e.g. I bought a book.).
1. (to hassle)
a. to harass
Mi amiga Cecilia demandó a su jefe por acosarla de forma persistente.My friend Cecilia sued her boss for constantly harassing her.
b. to pester
No quiero acosarte o ser un fastidio, pero te seguiré llamando hasta que me des una respuesta.I don't want to pester you or become a nuisance, but I will keep calling you until you give me an answer.
c. to hound
La actriz estaba cansada de tener a los paparazzi acosándola a toda hora.The actress was tired of being hounded by the paparazzi all the time.
2. (to persecute)
a. to hound
Los cazadores acosaron al oso hasta que el animal, cansado y asustado, buscó refugio en un árbol.The hunters hounded the bear until the animal, exhausted and frightened, sought refuge in a tree.
b. to pursue relentlessly
El dictador acosó a sus oponentes hasta que se vieron obligados a salir al exilio.The dictator pursued his opponents until they were forced to go into exile.
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