Using 'Nacer' in Spanish

Verb Usually Means 'To Be Born'

Nació recién. (She was born recently.). Photo by Gabi Menashe, licensed via Creative Commons.

The verb nacer can be a bit confusing at first because its meaning isn't the equivalent of a single English word, but of a phrase, "to be born." Otherwise, its use is straightforward:

  • No nací ayer. I wasn't born yesterday.
  • ¿Cuándo nació? When was she born?
  • El inicio del trabajo de parto es la señal de que su hijo va a nacer. The start of labor is the sign that your child is going be born.

To say someone was born on a particular date, no preposition is needed: Emiliano nació el 8 de agosto de 1879.

Emiliano was born on Aug. 8, 1879. Note that the "on" in this English sentence is left untranslated in Spanish.

The preposition en is used, however, to indicate that someone was born at or in a particular place. Emiliano nació en San Miguel Anenecuilco. Emiliano was born in San Miguel Anenecuilco.

To say that someone was born to do something or to be something, you can use the preposition para:

  • Nací para cantar. I was born to sing.
  • Nació para líder. She was born to be a leader.
  • Los hombres no se nacieron para ser prisioneros. Men weren't born to be prisoners.

Nacer can be used figuratively or to apply to things that aren't animals or people. Sometimes it requires a translation other than "to be born":

  • En Andalucía nació el amor. Love was born in Andalusia.
  • Las hojas nacen en las ramas. The leaves sprout on the branches.
  • Los dientes de perritos nacen entre los 18 y los 25 días. Puppies' teeth begin to grow between 18 and 25 days.
  • Es la primera revolución que nació con Internet. It's the first revolution that had its start with the Internet.
  • Normalmente los pollitos nacen sin problemas. Normally the chicks hatch without any problems.
  • La idea nació hace un año. The idea was hatched a year ago.

The most common way to say "to give birth" is dar luz: La reina dio luz a gemelos.

The queen gave birth to twins. The phrase can also be used figuratively, as in referring to the birth of an idea.

Nacer is conjugated in the same way as conocer.

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Erichsen, Gerald. "Using 'Nacer' in Spanish." ThoughtCo, May. 24, 2017, Erichsen, Gerald. (2017, May 24). Using 'Nacer' in Spanish. Retrieved from Erichsen, Gerald. "Using 'Nacer' in Spanish." ThoughtCo. (accessed December 17, 2017).