How To Use the Spanish ‘Parecer’

Verb used to express opinions and perceptions

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Nada es lo que parece. (Nothing is what it seems.) Photo taken at a park in Cádiz, Spain.

Emilio J. Rodríguez-Posada / Creative Commons.

Parecer is a common verb that has as its basic meaning "to seem" or "to seem like." It can also be used in a variety of ways to express opinions or make judgments. It is an etymological cousin of the English word "appear," which can be used in a similar way, as in the phrase "it appears that."

Using Parecer With Descriptions

In its most straightforward usage, parecer is used to describe what something is or seems like:

  • Un gobierno de unidad nacional parece difícil de lograrse. (A national unity government seems difficult to accomplish.)
  • Lo que parece ser la verdad para nosotros no necesariamente parecerá ser la verdad para otros. (What seems to be the truth for us will not necessarily seem to be the truth for others.)
  • Tengo una chupa que parece de cuero y es de plastiquete. (I have a jacket that is like leather and is made of plastic material.)
  • El agua tibia parece caliente si tocamos primero el agua fría. (Lukewarm water seems hot if we feel cold water first.)
  • Usted no parece saber mucho del trastorno. (You don't seem to know much about the disorder.)

Using Parecer Impersonally

It is very common to use parecer as an impersonal verb followed by que. The verb that follows is typically in the indicative mood, although the subjunctive mood follows no parecer. The indicative mood is used with parecer in its positive form because it is used to indicate how something is perceived, not to express doubt as "seem" often does in English. An exception is in a sentence such as "Parece mentira que hayan pasado 15 años" (It seems impossible that 15 years have gone by), because there doubt and/or an emotional reaction is expressed.

  • Parece que este enlace está roto. (It looks like this link is broken.)
  • No parece que vaya a llover. (It doesn't look like it's going to rain.)
  • De momento parece que no se sabe nada del lanzamiento del producto en Europa. (For now it appears that nothing is known about the product's launch in Europe.)
  • Parecía que nada podía mejorarse. (It seemed like nothing could get better.)
  • Katrina no parece que tenga frío. (Katrina doesn't seem like she's cold.)
  • Parecerá que la computadora se reinicia. (It will look like the computer is rebooting.)

Using Parecer With an Indirect Object

It is very common for parecer to be accompanied by an indirect-object pronoun to indicate how a particular person or persons perceives something to be. Such sentences might translated literally using phrases such as "it seems to her," although the sense of such sentences might be more accurately conveyed using "think" or some of the other translations given in the following samples:

  • Me parece que el presidente es un fraude. (I think the president is a fraud.)
  • Me parece que algo no está bien. (I feel that something isn't right.)
  • ¿Te parezco triste? (Do I look sad to you?)
  • ¿Por qué el metal nos parece frío y la lana caliente? (Why does metal feel cold to us and wool warm?)
  • Le parece que está aumentando la actividad sísmica. (He thinks that seismic activity is increasing.)
  • ¿Qué os parece el nuevo iPhone? (What do you think of the new iPhone?)
  • No nos parece que éste sea el momento oportuno. (We don't think this is the opportune time.)
  • Me parecía que no era importante. (I didn't think it was important.)

Using Parecer Reflexively

In the reflexive form, parecerse can be used to indicate that two or more persons or things are alike in some way:

  • Algunas veces nos parecemos a nuestros padres. (Sometimes we're like our parents.)
  • Según los últimos estudios, los animales se parecen a las personas mucho más de lo que imaginamos. (According to the latest studies, animals are much more like people than we imagine.)
  • Los saltasaurinos se parecían a los elefantes y se alimentaban de plantas. (Sauropods were like elephants and nourished themselves on plants.)

Parecer as an Infinitive Noun

As a noun, the infinitive parecer usually means "opinion":

  • Es el mejor restaurante a mi parecer en Madrid. (In my opinion it's the best restaurant in Madrid.)
  • Es importante que tu parecer sea oído y valorado en el grupo. (It is importante that your opinion is heard and is valued in the group.)
  • Necesitamos los pareceres de otras autoridades científicas. (We need the opinions of other scientific authorities.)

Conjugation of Parecer

Keep in mind that parecer is irregularly conjugated, following the pattern of conocer. All irregular forms are shown below in boldface:

Present indicative: parezco, pareces, parece, parecemos, parecéis, parecen (I seem, you seem, etc.).

Present subjunctive: que parezca, que parezcas, que parezca, que parezcamos, que parezcáis, que parezcan (that I seem, that you seem, etc.).

Affirmative imperative: parece tú, parezca usted, parezcamos nosotros/as, pareced vosotros/as, parezcan ustedes (seem).

Negative imperative: no parezca usted, no parezcas tú, no parezcamos nosotros/as, no parezcáis vosotros/as, que parezcan ustedes (don't seem).

Key Takeaways

  • The basic meaning of parecer is "to seem," and it can be used in descriptions as well as for expressing opinions and observations.
  • Parecer is often used with an indirect object to state the opinion held by the person represented by the indirect object.
  • Parecer is conjugated in the same way as conocer.