Spanish verbs: “Decir…”, “contar…”, “hablar…”, “conversar…”

spanish verbs hablar decir contar 1

In Spanish, some verbs like hablar, decir, contar, and conversar can have similar meanings. For that reason, Spanish learners tend to get confused and don’t know when they should use one or another. With this article, you will be able to realize when to use them much better.

These verbs serve to express ideas related to the act of communicating, but they do not have exactly the same meaning. Each of them composes a different action. We have to recognize these nuances and use them in the right way.

In this brief explanation, we will tell you the main differences between “hablar”, “decir”, “contar”, and “conversar”. So, you will expand your vocabulary and stand out when speaking Spanish.

How to use “decir 

“Decir” is a verb that means to express or communicate our beliefs or our thoughts. We can use it as a synonym for holding an opinion. “Decir” is the Spanish equivalent of the English verb “to say”. We can use it in different situations. Therefore, we can either use “decir” to build singular sentences or plural sentences. We can use the verb “decir” as a transitive, intransitive, or pronominal verb.

The general formula we use to build sentences would look like the following:

Subject/ Pronoun + decir + noun + complement.

Let’s see a few examples.

Él dice que tu mamá esta trabajando.

He says your mom is working.

Dime como vamos a comprar una casa nueva.

Tell me how we’re going to buy a new house.

Dijeron muchas cosas pero a su vez no dijeron nada.

They said many things but in turn, they said nothing.

As you may see, just like any other Spanish verb, we can conjugate “decir” in different tenses. In the first example above, we use “que” as a conjunction so the sentence does not lose its meaning. Since we can combine “decir” with other verbs like “querer”, using “decir” in the infinitive form is also possible.

For example:

Quisiera decir tres cosas.

I would like to say three things.

From the example above, we can make a formula like this.

Verb + decir + noun.

Please note that the formula above will only apply when we have auxiliary verbs like “poder”, “querer”, and “deber” which combined with other verbs can help us express our ideas or wishes. Of course, if you are using the present perfect or the pluperfect past tense to express any idea, you’ll need to use “decir” in its past participle form.

Take a look at some examples below.

Yo les he dicho antes que no iba a asistir.

I have told them before that I was not going to attend.

Yo ya te había dicho que me gustabas.

I had already told you that I liked you.

“Decir” is an irregular verb in Spanish. As a result, most of its conjugations will have different roots. To understand it better, here is an example.

“Nosotros le diremos al profesor, puedes descansar.”

“We will tell the teacher, you can rest.”

Remember that “decir”’s root would be “dec-”.

How to use “contar

“Contar” is a single verb that has different meanings in Spanish. First, we can use it when we want to determine the number of anything. Second, we can use it when we can lean on someone or they have our support. And third, we can use it when we want to tell something like, for example, a story.

Don’t be discouraged if you still don’t get it, using “contar” is very simple. We will show you some examples to differentiate the ways of saying it.

Sabes que puedes contar conmigo para lo que sea. 

You know you can count on me for anything.

Contamos los días para irnos de vacaciones.

We count the days to go on vacation.

Cuéntanos cómo te fue en tu primera cita.

Tell us how your first date went.

“Contar” in Spanish is fantastic when we want to express ourselves, it works in many ways as you have seen. Learning how to use “contar” will lead you to keep it on your top 5 most used Spanish verbs.

In countries like Venezuela, people use “contar” frequently during daily conversations as well as expressions like “cuenta con eso” = “count on it”. That common expression may have different meanings depending on the context and speaking tone. Sometimes, Venezuelans use it sarcastically. Consequently, we must be aware of the scenario when we use “contar”.

How to use “hablar” and “conversar

To begin with, we have to know what each verb means and why they differ from each other. When we speak of “hablar”, we refer to the act of articulating words. Although, it doesn’t require to be another person, only the one who is speaking. In this way, we can say that “conversar” refers to the exchange of words and ideas between two or more people. “Conversar” implies an interaction while “hablar” doesn’t demand interaction.

To explain it better, “to speak” is the English word for “hablar”, and “to talk” to “conversar”. But to avoid misunderstandings, here we have some examples to give you a clear idea.

Las abuelas conversaron por horas acerca de sus nietos.

The grandmothers chatted for hours about their grandchildren.

Jorge y su esposa conversaron acerca de sus planes para el retiro.

George and his wife talked about their retirement plans.

Los bebés comienzan a hablar a los 18 meses.

Babies start speaking at around 18 months.

Escucho a alguien hablando, pero no sé de dónde viene.

I can hear someone talking, but I don’t know where it’s coming from.

“Hablar” can be like a monologue, where you can talk to yourself, or have a person in front of you without having to answer. Instead of “conversar”, where there must be an exchange of opinions. It must be reciprocal so that the dialogue can exist with the other person.

Sometimes, “hablar” can involve two people exchanging ideas and opinions but it’s more like in an implicit way. For example, if we say “hablé con tu hermana y me dijo que compraramos los boletos ahora”, we express an opinion exchange between two people.

If we want to make a negative sentence with “hablar” and “conversar”, we only have to put a “no” before the verb.

Here are some other examples.

No quiero conversar más contigo.

I do not want to talk to you anymore.

Jennie no quiere hablar más.

Jennie doesn’t want to speak anymore.

Now that we know all their meanings, we can think of different words associated with these verbs. Remember that to make it easier for you to remember the vocabulary. It is simpler to associate the verbs with other words in which they usually go together. In this way, you will be able to remember the expression and the meaning of its application.

“Digo”, “cuento”, “hablo” o “converso”?

Although there are many differences between the verbs “decir” and “contar”, we can say that “decir” is to express something. It must be real even if it is subjective, while “contar” can be real or fictitious, thus the saying of the matter.

When it’s about “hablar” and “conversar”, you only need to remember that “hablar” doesn’t demand two people in the act since you can “hablar” with yourself. Don’t waste time and start practicing ASAP. That way, empezarás a hablar Spanish like a pro.

 

Related Posts

AP Spanish Language Practice

Looking to improve your Spanish skills to take your AP exam? Getting the highest score is just a click away! Find the best AP Spanish

English vs Spanish Language

Are you an English speaker and looking to learn Spanish? As siblings descended from Romance languages, they naturally share similarities. Check them out in our

French and Spanish Language Comparison

Do you wanna know how the two most passionate languages are similar? Let’s talk about the differences and similarities between these romance languages! Welcome to

When did Kobe Learn Spanish

Loving father, ideal husband, amazing man, successful Lakers player, businessman, and he also speaks Spanish! Do you know who he is? How could he do

ALTA Spanish Language Test Questions

Are you taking your ALTA language exam? Don’t let it catch you off guard. Check out the ALTA Spanish Language Test Questions for your high

I Hate the Spanish Language

Do you think Spanish is a beautiful and linguistically rich language? What about the negative opinions that hinder your choice to learn it as a

Get a Certificate in French Language

If you ask yourself why should you take the certification course in French, we’ll help you decide in which cases is useful and in which

What does “Doux” mean in French?

Discover the meaning of “doux” in French and its various uses. Learn how to use this common word in everyday conversation and improve your French

Need in French: Avoir Besoin

It’s in the human need to have needs, right? Learning how to express your needs in French is by all means an important step in

German riddles

Looking for some fun ways to practice your German language skills? Check out our collection of German riddles and tongue twisters! Test your wit and

Cheers in French: 8 happy ways to say it

Celebrate in French style! This blog showcases 8 happy ways to say “cheers” in French, perfect for impressing your French-speaking friends. Santé! How to say

Different Ways to Use Fois in French

Fois is a very common French word, used in different contexts. English speakers oftentimes confuse it with the word “temps”. In this lesson, you’ll learn

Funniest French jokes

In this article, we will share some of the funniest French jokes  that will have you laughing out loud. Let’s get started! Funniest French jokes

Funniest Spanish jokes

¡Hola! You’re in for a treat if you love to laugh and speak Spanish. We’ve compiled a list of the funniest Spanish jokes that will

Jokes about French

In this article, we’ll explore the humorous side of French culture through a collection of jokes about French. Let’s get started! Jokes about French Welcome

News in French: free resources

In this article, we will explore a variety of websites, podcasts, TV channels, and other resources that you can use to stay informed about news

Short German jokes

Laugh your way through language learning with our collection of short German jokes. Discover the funniest puns, one-liners, and more in our guide! German humor

The basic Spanish hand gestures

In this blog post, we will explore the most important Spanish hand gestures, and their meanings, providing a guide to effectively communicate with Spanish speakers

Beautiful French words with meaning

Discover the beauty of the French language by learning its meanings. Learn the beautiful French words and its meaning. Beautiful French words A lot of

How do you say “good” in French?

Learn how to say “good” in French with our easy guide. Perfect for beginners and travelers looking to improve their language skills. “Good” in French

How to say “Cat” in French

How to say cat in French? What’s the word for a kitten in French? Learn more about the basic terminologies of our favorite fur pet

Learn French with PDF resources

Do you know that you can learn French with PDF resources? In this article, we will explore the advantages of using PDF resources to learn

Funny French jokes

Welcome to our article on Funny French jokes! Are you ready to simultaneously laugh and learn a little bit about French culture? French humor can

Funny German jokes

Welcome to our article on Funny German jokes! Get ready to chuckle at some of the funniest German jokes. German jokes Germany has a rich

Quotes in France by famous people

In this article, we will explore some of the most memorable and inspiring quotes in France from French people that have been passed down through

Quotes in Spain by famous people

In today’s post, you’ll learn some famous quotes in Spain by famous people. Quotes in Spain Spain has a rich cultural history and has produced

Best German proverbs

This article will explore some of the most popular German proverbs and delve into their meanings and origins. Check this out! German proverbs German proverbs

French Riddles

Learning some French riddles and playing with a French-speaking friend are great ways to practice if you know a little French. French riddles A good

How to translate Good Evening in French

Welcome to our article on translating “Good Evening” into French! Suppose you’re planning a trip to a French-speaking country or want to impress your friends

Some facts about the French mafia

Let’s discover some facts about the French mafia. facts about the French mafia The French Mafia is one of the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations.

Some facts about the Spanish mafia

Let’s discover some facts about the Spanish mafia. Facts about the Spanish mafia The Spanish mafia is one of the most active and widespread criminal

Some facts about the German mafia

Let’s discover some facts about the German mafia.  Facts about the German mafia The German Mafia (; Maffia; from Italian mafiusi, “clan”) is a criminal