Mastering Affective Verbs: The Key to Fluent Spanish Expression

Virginia Orozco
May 8, 2023
Mastering Affective Verbs: The Key to Fluent Spanish Expression

Affective verbs (verbos afectivos) are an important part of the Spanish language and can be used to express a wide range of emotions and feelings. By understanding and using these verbs, we can add depth and nuance to our communications and connect with others on a deeper level. Whether we are expressing our own emotions or describing the emotions of others, affective verbs play a fundamental role in our daily interactions in Spanish, thus are key to fluency.


They are a fundamental part of the Spanish language and can be used to add nuance and depth to our communications. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common affective verbs in Spanish and how they can be used in different contexts.


Why are they “affective”?


They are “affective” because they affect someone, thus, the object/person that creates that become the subject of the sentence. For this reason, these verbs are always conjugated with the third person, singular or plural.


Moreover, these verbs always need objective pronouns before the verbs to indicate the who is being affected, so these will be: me(yo), te(tú), le (él/ella/usted), nos (nosotros/as), os (vosotros/as), les (ellos/ellas/ustedes).


The most popular verbos afectivos


The first affective verb that we’ll explore is ‘gustar’, which is often translated as ‘to like’. However, ‘gustar’ is not used in the same way as the English verb ‘like’. In Spanish, ‘gustar’ is used to express what pleases us or what we find enjoyable.


So, for instance, if I say that I like chocolate, it means that I am “affected” by it; the chocolate is responsible for causing that endless desire in me, therefore, it will be the protagonist: “Me gusta el chocolate” (I like chocolate) not “Yo gusta chocolate”. And let’s add another passion of mine in plural: cats. “Me gustan los gatos”. (I like cats). See how the verb changes not because of me but because of those furry wonderful creatures?


Another common affective verb is “encantar”, which is used to express that we love or are enchanted by something. For example, ‘me encanta la música’ (I love music) or ‘nos encanta la playa’ (We love the beach).


The verb ‘ponerse’ is another affective verb in Spanish that is used to express a change in emotional state. This verb is often used to describe sudden emotional changes, such as becoming angry, upset, or excited. For example, “se puso furioso cuando le dije la verdad” (he got angry when I told him the truth) or “me puse muy emocionado cuando vi a mi familia después de tanto tiempo’ (I became very excited when I saw my family after so long).


Also, we have the verb “molestar”, which is not what I know you’re thinking… chill. This verb actually means to bother or to get angry; and since there are certain things or people who disturb our peace and “affect” us, this verb is also part of that list, and it’s conjugated like all affective verbs: “te molesta que la gente sea tan grosera” (it bothers you when people are so rude); “nos molestan los mosquitos en el verano” (the mosquitos bother us during the summer).


Other affective verbs that are very common in Spanish are preocupar, interesar, fascinar, sorprender, ocurrir, pasar, disgustar, doler, aburrir, alegrar e importar; and they are all conjugated in third person because they “affect” us.


There you have them, by mastering this art of affective verbs in Spanish, now you are going to be able to become more fluent and confident when expressing yourself in Spanish.

Always remember, practice and repetition are key, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes and practice daily with your WorldsAcross 1 on 1 classes, and with our Group Sessions, we’re here to help you master Spanish faster and more effectively.

What are you wating for? Learn the real Spanish!

Virginia Orozco

Virginia Orozco

BA in Modern Languages and Political Scientist. Spanish-English-French Translator. Copywriter. Linguistics and Arts Enthusiast.

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