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Quick answer
"Ultimar" is a transitive verb which is often translated as "to finalize", and "acabar" is a transitive verb which is often translated as "to finish". Learn more about the difference between "ultimar" and "acabar" below.
ultimar
A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object (e.g. I bought a book.).
1. (to conclude)
a. to finalize
Regionalism used in the United States
(United States)
Los obreros están ultimando el proyecto de refacción.The workers are finalizing the restoration project.
b. to finalise (United Kingdom)
El pintor se tomó un descanso antes de ultimar el mural.The painter took a break before finalising the mural.
c. to complete
Ya ultimamos los preparativos para el desfile.We've completed the arrangements for the parade.
d. to put the final touches to
Los actores están ultimando los detalles para la función de esta noche.The actors are putting the final touches to tonight's performance.
e. to put the finishing touches to
La compositora alemana está ultimando su nuevo disco.The German composer is putting the finishing touches to her new album.
2. (to slay)
Regionalism used in Latin America: all the countries in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Does not include Spain.
(Latin America)
a. to kill
La víctima le quitó la pistola al ladrón y lo ultimó.The victim took the robber's handgun and killed him.
b. to murder
No se pagó el rescate y los secuestradores ultimaron al rehén.The ransom was not paid and the kidnappers murdered the hostage.
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acabar(
ah
-
kah
-
bahr
)
A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object (e.g. I bought a book.).
1. (to complete)
a. to finish
Yo acabo mis clases en junio.I finish my classes in June.
An intransitive verb is one that does not require a direct object (e.g. The man sneezed.).
2. (to come to an end)
a. to end
Te llamaré después de que acabe la película.I'll call you after the movie ends.
3.
A word or phrase that is commonly used in conversational speech (e.g. skinny, grandma).
(colloquial)
(to achieve sexual climax)
Regionalism used in Latin America: all the countries in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Does not include Spain.
(Latin America)
a. come
A word or phrase that is commonly used in conversational speech (e.g. skinny, grandma).
(colloquial)
Si tienes problemas para acabar, deberías consultar con el médico.If you have problems coming, you should see a doctor.
acabarse
A pronominal verb always uses a reflexive pronoun. (e.g. Te ves cansado.).
4. (to be used up)
a. to run out
Se acabó la leche y no puedo hacer mi café mañanero.The milk has run out and I can't make my morning coffee.
5. (to run its course)
a. to end
Siguieron bailando aun después de que se acabara la música.They kept dancing even after the music ended.
b. to finish
La película se acabó temprano.The movie finished early.
A reflexive verb is a verb that indicates that the subject performs an action on itself (e.g. Miguel se lava.).
6. (to perish)
a. to die
Se acabó tres días después de haber sido herido en el campo de batalla.He died three days after having been wounded on the battlefield.
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