Spanish verbs: Servir

servir spanish verbs 1

When learning a new language things might get confusing when we see or hear words that have several meanings.

In English, for example, verbs like turn, break, and take may change their meaning depending on the context and what we try to say.

In Spanish, something similar happens with “servir”. The Spanish verb “servir” is a very versatile word as we can use it in multiple situations.

Its direct English translation is “to serve”. Nonetheless, Spanish speakers generally use it to express how things work.

In this short explanation, we will show you three uses of the verb “servir” and what you can do to make the most of this fantastic Spanish word.

How to use “servir”

First things first. In order to learn how to use “servir”, you must know that it’s an irregular verb. So, when conjugating “servir”, the verb’s root will change.

The root of “servir” would be “serv-“ but it changes to “sirv-“ in some cases when we conjugate it using the present, past, or future tenses.

Here, we will only teach you how to conjugate “servir” in the simple present tense. It’s because, otherwise, this would be a really boring article as you will spend hours reading only conjugations and that’s not our main objective.

Yet, you should learn how to conjugate “servir” in other tenses as it will help you to express your opinions in any situation.

Please, look at servir’s present tense conjugations below:

Verb conjugation
Servir To serve
Yo sirvo I serve
Tú sirves You serve
Él/Ella/Usted sirve He/She/It/You (formal) serves/serve
Nosotros servirnos We serve
Vosotros servís You (plural) serve
Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes sirven They/You (plural) serve

Please note that the conjugations for “nosotros” and “vosotros” use the root “serv-“ but the others don’t.

The meaning of “servir” will change depending on the way we structure the sentence. If you add the preposition para” after servir”, it indicates usability. If you add a noun, it would mean “to serve”.

How to use “servir” + “para”

The structure “servir para” is typically used by Spanish speakers in almost any situation. As we said, it indicates usability and this is the way native speakers frequently use the verb “servir”.

The formula shown below will help you build sentences using this structure:

Subject + “servir” (conjugated) + “para” + complement.

The subject in these sentences could be a noun, pronoun, or proper name.

Let’s look at the following examples and get a better idea of how we build servir para” sentences:

Mi móvil me sirve para estar en contacto en las redes sociales.

My phone helps me stay in touch on social networks.

No todos servimos para todo, pero todos servimos para algo.

We are not all good at everything, but we are all good at something.

Las vitaminas sirven para la adecuada función del cuerpo humano.

Vitamins serve for the proper function of the human body.

Esta clase sirve para alumnos con discapacidades graves.

This class serves students with severe disabilities.

No sirve para nada.

It’s not helpful for anything.

Please note that if you want to build a negative sentence, you should add the word “no” before the verb, unless you use “todos” as the subject. In that case, you should add “no” before “todos”. Let’s take for example sentence #2.

“Servir” + IO/DO pronouns

When want to use “servir” to express that we are “serving someone”, we use “servir” + IO/DO pronouns. If you don’t know what these are, you should waste no time and learn how to use them.

They are easy to use and help us keep a simple vocabulary. As a result, we can communicate comfortably.

In this context, “servir” frequently refers “to serve food”. Thus, we often use it at home or in a restaurant. Still, we can use it in other situations that involve helping someone or something.

Let’s look at the examples below to get a clearer picture:

El mesero puso azúcar en las tazas e inmediatamente nos sirvió el té

The waiter put sugar in the cups and immediately served us tea.

Me serví un vaso de agua porque tenía sed.

I poured myself a glass of water because I was thirsty.

¿Quiere que le sirva un postre de merienda?

Do you want me to serve you a dessert for a snack?

¿Dónde se sirve el desayuno?

Where is breakfast served?

Mi abuelo sirvió en el ejército durante la guerra.

My grandfather served in the army during the war.

¿En qué puedo servirte?

How can I help you?

As you may see, DO and IO pronouns replace IO and DO complements and we place them before the verb servir”. On the other hand, when “servir” refers to helping someone, it’s often followed by prepositions like “a” and “en”.

We can omit DO and IO pronouns as they are not essential in that scenario.

Using IO and DO pronouns isn’t mandatory. Thus, it’s all up to you if you want to use them or not. However, we recommend their use as they avoid building too long and complex sentences.

How to use “servir” in a Sports context

Some sports like Ping-pong, tennis, and volleyball use the English verb “to serve” to indicate the movement with a ball to start a game. Similarly, in Spanish, we use the verb “servir”.

In some cases, we also use the word “saque” or “sacar”

Te toca sacar a tí.

It’s your turn to serve.

El saque de Roger Federer es uno de los mejores del mundo.

Roger Federer’s serve is one of the best in the world.

Debes servir la pelota antes de empezar a jugar.

You must serve the ball before you start to play.

Si un jugador sirvió fuera de su turno, ese juego queda anulado.

If a player served out of turn, that game is forfeited.

Spanish verbs

In conclusion, “servir” is a Spanish verb that will definitely be in your top 10 most used words.

Don’t forget that it has irregular conjugations and sometimes the root “serv-“ changes to “sirv-“. Likewise, if you want to use it to express usability, you must use the structure “servir” + “para”.

On the contrary, you should use “servir” + IO/DO pronoun if you will use it in a “serving food” context.

In situations involving helping a cause, something, or someone, using prepositions like “a” and “en” will help you get the job done. And, if you’re a sports individual, you now know that “servir” is also helpful in this context.

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