San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Dejar, Quedar & Hacer: 3 Big ‘Catchall’ Verbs

As I have indicated before, there are verbs in any given language that end up being “catchalls” – that is, they cover a wide variety of meanings and are replete with idioms. Here are three big ones in Spanish.

Dejar means “to let,” “to allow,” “to leave” and even “to quit,” while its reflexive form, dejarse, means “to let oneself go” or “to allow oneself to.” Here are some expressions with dejar.

dejar aparte: to leave aside

dejar atrás: to leave behind

dejar caer: (to let fall) to drop, let go of

dejar con la boca abierta: (to leave with the mouth open) to stun, astonish

dejar de: (to leave of) to stop, quit

dejar el paso libre: (to leave the pass free) to let pass

dejar en blanco: (to leave in white) to leave blank

dejar en paz: (to leave in peace) to leave alone

dejar plantado: (to leave planted) to stand up

dejarse de rodeos: (to leave of roundabouts) to stop beating around the bush

dejarse llevar de: (to allow oneself to carry of) to get carried away with

dejarse ver: (to allow oneself to see) to show up, put in an appearance

Quedar means “to remain” or “to stay.” It also means “to be” (location), “to be left over,” “to end up” and even “to choose.” Let’s take a look at some of the idioms using quedar.

quedar bien/mal: (to remain well/badly) to come out well/badly, to look good/bad (appearance), to make a hit or not make a hit

quedar con el clavo: (to remain with the nail) to be left with the doubt

quedar en los huesos: (to remain in the bones) to be skin and bones

quedar en paz: (to remain in peace) to be even, to be square

quedar en: (to remain in) to agree

quedarse con: (to remain with) to take (a purchase), to buy, to choose, to keep

quedarse para vestir santos: (to remain for dressing saints) to become an old maid (The Catholic church puts women of the church in charge of clothing its statues. The implication is that old maids have no one else to care for.)

quedarse sin santo y sin limosna: (to remain without saint and without alms) to lose everything

quedarse sin: (to remain without) to run out of

Hacer means “to make” or “to do.” In many ways, it is used just like in English. For example, you can make someone or something do something with hacer: Mi padre les hizo salir (My father made them leave). In its reflexive form, hacerse, it is one of several ways of saying “to become. ”There are various expressions using hacer, and some of these are also similar or equal to English.

hace frío, calor, etc.: (it makes coldness, heat, etc.) it is cold, hot, etc. (weather)

hace mucho (tiempo): (it makes much [time]) a long time ago

hace poco (tiempo): (it makes little [time]) a little while ago

hacer (alguien/algo) a un lado: (to make someone/something at a side) to put aside (someone/something), to dismiss

hacer burla de: to make fun of

hacer cara/frente a: (to make face/forehead to) to face, confront

hacer caso de: (to make case of) to pay attention to

hacer conocer: (to make know) to make acquainted with

hacer daño: to do damage

hacer de: (to make of) to act as, serve as

hacer el amor: to make (the) love

hacer el papel de: (to do the role of) to play the role of

hacer escala: (to make scale) to stop over, make a scheduled stop

hacer falta: (to make lack) to lack, to need, to miss

hacer fila: (to make line) to form a line, to get in line

hacer gracia: (to make charm) to strike as funny, to amuse

hacer juego: (to make a set) to match, to go well with

hacer la boca agua: (to make the mouth water) to make envious

hacer la fuerza/fuercita: (to make the force/little force) to make an effort

hacer la guerra: to make (the) war

hacer la paz/las paces: to make (the) peace, reconcile, make up

hacer la vista gorda: (to make the fat sight) to look the other way, pretend not to see

hacer leña: (to make firewood) to destroy

hacer mandados: to do chores

hacer ojitos: (to make little eyes) to wink,   to flirt

hacer pedazos: (to make pieces) to destroy, break into pieces

hacer que: (to do that) to pretend

hacer recados: to do errands

hacer saber: (to make know) to let know

hacer sombra: (to make shadow) to cast a shadow

hacer sus necesidades: (to do one’s necessities) to go to the bathroom

hacer una apuesta: to make a bet

hacer una maleta: (to make a suitcase) to pack a suitcase

hacer una pregunta: (to make a question) to ask a question

hacer una visita: to make a visit

hacerse a un lado: (to make oneself at a side) to step aside

hacerse atrás: to move back

hacerse la vida: (to make oneself the life) to earn one’s living

hacerse tarde: (to make oneself late) to be late

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