Spanish verbs for beginnings and endings: “empezar”, “terminar”…

Empezar, Terminar and other Spanish Verbs for Beginnings and Endings

Welcome to our grammar lesson on Spanish verbs for beginnings and endings, such as empezar and terminar.

In this lesson we will study the verbs we can use to express the beginning and the end of an action.

Two sentences with Spanish verbs for beginnings and endings
Two sentences with verbs for beginnings and endings

We will see how to use these verbs with many example sentences.

Let’s get to it!

Spanish verbs for beginnings

The most frequent verbs for beginnings are:

  • empezar
  • comenzar
  • ponerse a…

The following table shows their conjugations in Present Tense:

 empezarcomenzarponerse a...
yoempiezocomienzome pongo a...
empiezascomienzaste pones a...
élempiezacomienzase pone a...
nosotrosempezamoscomenzamosnos ponemos a...
vosotrosempezáiscomenzáisos ponéis a...
ellosempiezancomienzanse ponen a...


Let’s learn how to use each verb, with example sentences:

empezar – comenzar

empezar and comenzar are the two most important verbs to talk about beginnings.

They both have they same meaning: “to start, to begin”.

Examples:

Las vacaciones empiezan el viernes.
Holidays start on Friday.

¿A qué hora empiezas?
What time to you start?

Yo comienzo mañana.
I start tomorrow.

La película comienza pronto.
The movie starts soon.


Sometimes these verbs are followed by the preposition a and another verb in the infinitive:

Los niños empiezan a jugar.
The children begin to play.

Empieza a llover.
It starts raining.

Nosotros comenzamos a trabajar.
We start working.

Yo comienzo a hacer mis tareas.
I start to do my homework.


ponerse a…

ponerse a… also expresses the beginning of an action.

This verb in particular emphasizes the spontaneous nature of the action.

With this meaning, ponerse is always followed by the preposition a and another verb in the infinitive:

Yo me pongo a ver la tele.
I start to watch TV. (spontaneously)

Mis padres se ponen a discutir.
My parents start arguing. (spontaneously)

Spanish verbs for endings

The most frequent verbs for endings are:

  • terminar
  • acabar
  • dejar de…

The following table shows their conjugations in Present Tense:

 terminaracabardejar de...
yoterminoacabodejo de...
terminasacabasdejas de...
élterminaacabadeja de...
nosotrosterminamosacabamosdejamos...
vosotrostermináisacabáisdejáis de...
ellosterminanacabandejan de...


Let’s now review each verb, with example sentences:

terminar – acabar

terminar and acabar are the two most important verbs to talk about endings. They both have they same meaning: “to end, to finish”.

Example sentences:

La historia termina bien.
The story ends well.

Yo termino el crucigrama.
I finish the crossword.

Nosotros acabamos.
We finish.

Ellos acaban la carrera.
They finish the race.


Sometimes these verbs are followed by the preposition de and another verb in the infinitive:

Yo termino de trabajar.
I finish working.

Vosotros termináis de escribir la carta.
You guys finish writing the letter.

¿A qué hora acabas de comer?
What time do you finish eating?

Los atletas acaban de entrenar a las cuatro.
The athletes finish training at four.


dejar de…

dejar de… also expresses the end of an action.

The difference is, it means “to stop doing something”, rather than “to finish”.

With this meaning, “dejar” is always followed by the preposition de and another verb in the infinitive:

Yo dejo de fumar.
I stop smoking.

Vosotros dejáis de hablar.
You guys stop talking.

Beginnings and endings in past tenses

When we are talking about the past, verbs for beginnings and endings tend to be conjugated in Preterite Tense:

Él empezó a llorar.
He started crying.

Ayer dejé de fumar.
Yesterday I quit smoking.

Or in Present Perfect Tense:

La película ha empezado.
The film has started.

Hemos acabado la lección.
We have finished the lesson.

They are very rarely conjugated in Imperfect Tense, because the Imperfect is a tense for ongoing situations. Beginnings and endings are moments, not ongoing situations.