Using the Spanish Verb Bastar

Photo by Juantiagues; licensed via Creative Commons.

Bastar is a fairly common Spanish verb that means "to suffice" — or, less formally, "to be enough." Its use can seem less than straightforward to learners of Spanish, however, because it is often used in different sentence structures than when similar thoughts are expressed in English.

The Most Common Uses of the Verb Bastar

Impersonal bastar con: Con is the most common preposition to follow forms of bastar, usually in the impersonal third-person phrase basta con. (Other tenses, such as bastaba and bastará, can also be used.) Although this phrase could literally be translated as "it is sufficient with," you need not (and shouldn't!) use such an awkward phrase in English. The phrase is typically followed by a noun or an infinitive:

  • No basta con cerrar el campo de concentración. It isn't enough to close the concentration camp.
  • Tengo muy baja tolerancia al alcohol: me basta con comer un bombón con licor y ya no conozco ni a mi madre. I have very low tolerance to alcohol; for me, it is enough to eat a liquor bonbon and I don't even know my mother.
  • Me bastaba con un mínimo de 6 gigas. A minimum of 6 gigabytes was enough for me.
  • No basta con una semana descubrir la riqueza histórica del país. A week isn't enough to discover the country's rich history.
  • Te basta con mi gracia. My grace is sufficient for you.
  • Me basta con estudiar un poco la noche antes del examen. It's enough for me to study a little bit the night before the test.

Note that as in some of the examples, bastar can take an object pronoun. The difference between "me basta con un día" and "basta con un día" is the difference between "a day is enough for me" and "a day is enough."

Bastar para: When bastar has a stated or implied subject (in other words, when it's not used impersonally, as in the examples above), it can be followed by para and an infinitive:

  • Una sentencia de culpabilidad no basta para hacer justicia. A guilty verdict is not enough to do justice.
  • Una sola comida con grasas saturadas basta para obstruir las arterias. A single meal with saturated fat is enough to obstruct the arteries.

Bastar (a): With a stated or implied subject, bastar can also take direct objects. The direct object is the person for which the stated thing or condition is sufficient:

  • Los planes no le bastan al presidente. The plans aren't enough for the president.
  • Me bastarían 50 km/hora. Fifty kilometers an hour would be (fast) enough for me.

Bastarse: In the reflexive form, bastarse carries the idea of self-sufficiency:

  • James se basta para desquiciar a los Spurs. James alone can get the Spurs unhinged.
  • Nadie podemos decir que nos bastamos a nosotros mismos. Nobody can say that we can do it all by ourselves.

Basta as an interjection: Either alone or with other words, basta can be used in exclamations to indicate having had enough of something:

  • ¡Basta de racismo! Down with racism!
  • ¡Basta de coches enormes! Enough with big cars!
  • ¡Basta! Enough!
  • ¡Basta ya! Enough already!
  • ¿Basta de todo en TV? Had enough of everything on TV?
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Your Citation
Erichsen, Gerald. "Using the Spanish Verb Bastar." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Erichsen, Gerald. (2020, August 27). Using the Spanish Verb Bastar. Retrieved from Erichsen, Gerald. "Using the Spanish Verb Bastar." ThoughtCo. (accessed February 8, 2023).