Usually when you study Spanish, you only learn the literal meaning of the verbs, but in fact, there are many cases where the verbs have other uses and can be applied to several contexts. This is the case of the verb “caer” in Spanish, which is very common in Colombia. Let’s talk about a real case…
When Kristie’s (from Australia) Colombian best friend asked, “¿Vas a caer a la fiesta este viernes?”, she literally understood the question as “are you going to fall in the party this Friday?” Surprised and offended, she replied, “Why am I going to fall if I don’t dance as badly as you?” However, the situation was more confusing when at the party, another boy became interested in her and decided to invite her to dance a couple of times. Again, her friend said to her, “muy bien, creo que ese chico te está cayendo.” “This guy is falling on me?” What is the obsession with the verb “caer” (to fall) and why are there so many meanings?” I decided to write this article then, since her face of dismay was so much that, despite having an advanced level of Spanish, she was very confused after the party (and it was not because of alcohol).
To begin, “caer” is a verb that, when not reflexive, has two meanings: to fall and others that are part of the local jargon of Colombians. Here are some expressions and examples of their uses
|Expression with “caer”||Meaning||Ejemplo||Expresión en español estándar|
|Caer +a + lugar|
Caer + expresión de tiempo
|To arrive||“Yo caigo al bar a las 10:00”(I arrive to the bar at 10:00)“Mariana y yo caemos tarde porque tenemos otro compromiso”(Mariana and I arrive later)||Llegar|
|Caer +a + persona||To fall in love||“Últimamente Danilo es muy amable con Julia, creo que le está cayendo”||Conquistar, enamorar, seducir|
|Caer + en cuenta||To realize||“Ahora caigo en cuenta del problema”||Notar, percibir|
In addition, there is another use of the verb “caer” in Spanish that works with the same logic of the verb “gustar”, that is, the conjugation is different and is used to talk about people that we like or even when we have stomach pain. These expressions are more widespread in Latin America and Spain.
Finally, there are many idiomatic expressions that have this same structure. Some examples are:
- “Caer como anillo al dedo”. The literal translation is “to fall like ring to finger”, but in English, the equivalent is “it fits like a glove”)
- “Caer gordo/a”. The literal translation is “fall fat”, but the actual translation is “to dislike someone”
- After knowing so many uses of “to fall,” I hope you won’t fall into a mistake again. Now… let’s check it out!
Audio to practice
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Written by Camilo, profesor at Whee.