Quick answer
"Wait for" is a transitive verb phrase which is often translated as "esperar", and "wait on" is a transitive verb phrase which is often translated as "atender". Learn more about the difference between "wait for" and "wait on" below.
wait for
A transitive verb phrase is a phrase that combines a verb with a preposition or other particle and requires a direct object (e.g. Take out the trash.).
transitive verb phrase
1. (to await)
a. esperar
Go get the milk. I'll wait for you here.Anda a comprar la leche. Te espero aquí.
A phrase is a group of words commonly used together (e.g once upon a time).
phrase
2. (imperative)
a. espera
A word of phrase used to refer to the second person informal “tú” by their conjugation or implied context (e.g. How are you?).
(informal)
(singular)
Wait for me! I'll be there soon!¡Espérame! ¡Llegaré dentro de poco!
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wait on
A transitive verb phrase is a phrase that combines a verb with a preposition or other particle and requires a direct object (e.g. Take out the trash.).
transitive verb phrase
1. (to serve)
a. atender
The gentleman who waited on us at the restaurant was fantastic.El señor que nos atendió en el restaurante era estupendo.
b. servir
The server who waited on them said they left a measly tip.El mesero que los sirvió dijo que dejaron una propina irrisoria.
2. (to wait for)
Regionalism used in the United States
(United States)
a. esperar
We've been waiting on you for over an hour. Can we go now?Llevamos más de una hora esperándote. ¿Nos podemos ir ya?
3. (to await)
a. esperar
The sergeant was waiting on orders from his superior.El sargento esperaba órdenes de su superior.
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