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Preterite vs. Imperfect 
Cheat Sheet
A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object (e.g. I bought a book.).
transitive verb
1. (to complete)
a. to finish
Yo acabo mis clases en junio.I finish my classes in June.
2. (to exhaust supplies of)
a. to finish
¿Quién acabó la leche?Who finished the milk?
b. to use up
Deberíamos acabar estas sobras en vez de cocinar hoy.We should use up these leftovers rather than cook today.
An intransitive verb is one that does not require a direct object (e.g. The man sneezed.).
intransitive verb
3. (to come to an end)
a. to end
Te llamaré después de que acabe la película.I'll call you after the movie ends.
b. to be over
Ya descansaremos cuando acabe el proyecto.We can rest when the project is over.
c. to be done
Acabaremos cuando acabemos.We'll be done when we're done.
A word or phrase that is commonly used in conversational speech (e.g., skinny, grandma).
(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).
Si tienes problemas para acabar, deberías consultar el médico.If you have problems coming, you should see a doctor.
A pronominal verb always uses a reflexive pronoun. (e.g. Te ves cansado.).
pronominal verb
5. (to be used up)
a. to run out
Se le acabaron las barras de pan a la panadería.The bakery's run out of baguettes.
6. (to consume completely)
a. to finish
Voy a acabarme el café y luego nos vamos.I'm going to finish my coffee and then we can go.
7. (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.
c. to be over
Cuando se acabe todo esto, tendremos que darnos algún capricho.When all this is over, we'll have to treat ourselves to something.
d. to be done
Será un alivio cuando se acaben las obras.It will be a relief when the building work is done.
8. (to perish)
a. to die
Se acabó tres días después de haber sido herido en el campo de batalla.He died three days after being wounded on the battlefield.
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A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object (e.g. I bought a book.).
transitive verb
1. (terminar)
a. to finish
2. (consumir; provisiones, dinero)
a. to use up
hemos acabado el trabajowe've finished the work
acabó sus días en el exiliohe ended his days in exile
An intransitive verb is one that does not require a direct object (e.g. The man sneezed.).
intransitive verb
3. (terminar)
a. to finish, to end
el asunto acabó malthe affair finished o ended badly
acabar biento have a happy ending
cuando acabes, avísametell me when you've finished
acabar de trabajar/comerto finish working/eating
el cuchillo acaba en puntathe knife ends in a point
4. (colloquial)
¡acabáramos!at last!, about time!
acabar de hacer algoto have just done something
acabo de llegarI've just arrived
acabar conto put an end to
acabaron con todas las provisionesthey used up all the provisions
acabar con la paciencia de alguiento exhaust somebody's patience
acabar con alguiento kill somebody
ese niño va a acabar conmigothat boy will be the death of me!
acabar por hacer algoto end up doing something
acabarán por llamar o llamandothey'll call eventually o sooner or later
5. (tener un fin determinado)
a. to end up
acabar locoto end up (going) mad
ese acabará en la cárcelhe'll end up in jail
no acabo de entenderloI can't quite understand it
no acaba de gustarme del todoI just don't really like it
de nunca acabarnever-ending
este proyecto es el cuento de nunca acabarthis project just seems to go on and on
A pronominal verb always uses a reflexive pronoun. (e.g. Te ves cansado.).
pronominal verb
6. (agotarse)
a. to be used up, to be gone
se ha acabado la comidathere's no more food left
se (nos) ha acabado la lechethe milk has run out, we've run out of milk
7. (terminar; guerra, película)
a. to finish, to be over
8. (consumir; comida)
a. to eat up
¡acábatelo todo y no dejes ni una miga!make sure you eat it all up!
¡se acabó!that's enough!
¡cómprate uno nuevo y se acabó!buy a new one and have done with it
Copyright © 2006 Harrap Publishers Limited
transitive verb
1 (terminar) [+actividad, trabajo] (gen) to finish; (dar el toque final a) to finish off
¿habéis acabado la instalación de la antena? have you finished installing the aerial?
el ama de casa nunca acaba su trabajo Velazquez acabó el cuadro en 1745
me falta poco para acabar el jersey I've nearly finished the jumper; me quedan solo un par de horas para acabar este cuadro it'll only take me another couple of hours to finish off this painting; acabó sus días en prisión he ended his days in prison
2 (consumir) to finish
ya hemos acabado el aceite we've used up o finished the oil; cuando acabe esta cerveza me voy when I've finished this beer I'm going
3 (Latinoamérica) (hablar mal de)
acabar a algn to speak ill of sb
intransitive verb
1 (terminar) to finish; end
¿te falta mucho para acabar? are you nearly finished?; have you got long to go?; la crisis lleva años y no acaba the recession has been going on for years and there's no sign of it ending; es cosa de nunca acabar there's no end to it
acabáramos, ¿así que se trata de tu hijo? oh, I see, so it's your son, then?
acabáramos, así que se trata de tu hijo? pues entonces no hay problema De la familia del lenguado y del rodaballo, acabáramos,haber empezado por ahí Lo que no podía seguir así era la huelga de médicos. Acabáramos.Una huelga que ha concluido como acabará la presidencia de
acabar con
[+comida] to finish off; [+injusticia] to put an end to; stop; [+relación] to end; [+reservas] to exhaust; use up; [+esperanzas] to put paid to
acabó con el plato de lentejas en cinco minutos
acabaron con la tarta en un minuto they finished off the cake within a minute; ¿todavía no has acabado con la carta? haven't you finished the letter yet?; hay que acabar con tanto desorden we must put an end to all this confusion; hemos acabado con todas las provisiones we've exhausted o used up all our supplies
[+persona] (atender) to finish with; (matar) to do away with
cuando acabe con ella, te lavo la cabeza when I'm done o finished with her, I'll wash your hair; ¡acabemos con él! let's do away with him! (familiar); esto acabará conmigo this will be the end of me
acabar de hacer algo
(cuando se ha terminado)
acabo de verle acababa de hacerlo
acabo de llamarla por teléfono I have just phoned her; acababa de entrar cuando sonó el teléfono I had just come in when the phone rang
(cuando se está haciendo)
cuando acabemos de pagarlo when we finish paying for it
ayer acabé de pintar la valla
para acabar de arreglarlo
para acabar de arreglarlo, se fue sin despedirse on top of everything, she left without even saying goodbye
¡acaba de parir! spit it out! (familiar)
no acabo de entender por qué lo hizo I just can't understand why she did it
no acabo de entender este concepto I just can't seem to understand this concept; ese candidato no me acaba de convencer I'm not too sure about that candidate
Berlusconi no acaba de convencer a nadie Berlusconi ha asegurado que no incluirá ministros fascistas en su Gobierno, pero su promesa no termina de convencer un jefe de la oposición que no acaba de convencer a otros muchos un texto que no acaba de convencer y en el que se han deslizado numerosas erratas
4 (con complemento de modo)
la película acaba bien the film has a happy ending; su relación acabó mal their relationship came to an unhappy end; si sigues así vas a acabar mal if you carry on like that you'll come to a sticky end; acabé harto de tantas fiestas I ended up getting fed up of all those parties; la palabra acaba con o por "z" the word ends in a "z"
acabar en algo to end in sth
espero que no acabe en tragedia I hope it won't end in tragedy; el palo acaba en punta the stick ends in a point; unos zapatos que acaban en punta a pair of pointed shoes; la fiesta acabó en un baile the party ended with everyone dancing; después de tanto hablar, todo acabó en nada after all that talk, it all came to nothing
acabar haciendo algoacabar por hacer algo to end up doing sth
acabó aceptándolo he ended up accepting it
6 (en una relación) to finish; split up
hemos acabado we've finished; we've split up; ¿cuánto hace que acabaste con ella? how long is it since you split up with o finished with her?
7 (Latinoamérica) (eyacular) to come (vulgar)
pronominal verb
1 (terminarse) [+acto, reunión] to finish; come to an end; [+reservas] to run out
la impresora te avisa cuando se acaba el papel the printer tells you when the paper runs out; todo se acabó para él he's had it (familiar); ¡se acabó! that's it!; ¡un minuto más y se acabó! one more minute and that will be it!; ¡te quedas aquí y se acabó! you're staying here and that's that!; le das el dinero y se acabó just give her the money and be done with it
... y (san) se acabó ... and that's the end of the matter
2 (con complemento indirecto)
se me ha acabado el tabaco I'm out of cigarettes; pronto se nos acabará la gasolina we'll soon be out of petrol; se me acabó la paciencia my patience is exhausted o at an end; I've run out of patience
3 (con valor enfático)
acábate el café y nos vamos drink your coffee up and we'll go
4 [+persona] (morir) to die; especialmente (Latinoamérica) (cansarse) to wear o.s. out
Collins Complete Spanish Electronic Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers 2011
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