Spanish verbs for beginnings and endings: «empezar», «terminar»…

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

In this lesson, we will learn how to use these verbs and read many example sentences.

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

Let’s start!

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:

empezar / comenzar

empezar and comenzar are the two most common verbs to talk about beginnings. They both have they same meaning: «to start, to begin»:

Las vacaciones empiezan el viernes.
Vacation starts 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.


These verbs can be 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 to rain.

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, but it emphasizes its spontaneous nature.

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)

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 learn how to use each verb:

terminar / acabar

terminar and acabar are the two most common verbs to talk about endings. They both have they same meaning: «to finish, to end»:

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.


These verbs can be 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. But it means «to stop or quit 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 quit 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 either in Preterite Tense or in Present Perfect:

Él empezó a llorar.
He started crying. (Preterite Tense)

Ayer dejé de fumar.
Yesterday I quit smoking. (Preterite Tense)

La película ha empezado.
The film has started. (Present Perfect)

Hemos acabado de estudiar.
We have finished studying. (Present Perfect)

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