Using the Spanish Verb 'Dar'

Meanings Go Far Beyond 'To Give'

View through window of Valparaíso, Chile.
La ventana da a la ciudad de Valparaíso. (The window overlooks the city of Valparaíso.). Photo by Pilar Alfaro; licensed via Creative Commons.

Although dar is a common verb meaning "to give," it can be used in many more ways than the English verb. Here is a list of some of the most common phrases in which dar is used, along with sample sentences.

Note that in usage alguien would be replaced by reference to a person, while algo would be replaced by reference to a thing.

  • dar algo a alguien — to give something to someone — Dieron un carro a su hijo. They gave a car to their son.
  • dar con algo (o a alguien) — to find something (or someone) — Di con mi lápiz en la escuela. I found my pencil in the school.
  • a alguien dar por (o en) (infinitivo) — to decide to (verb) — Me di por (o en) salir. I decided to leave.
  • dar a lugar — to look over a place — La ventana da a la ciudad. The window overlooks the city.
  • dar luz, dar a luz — to give birth — María dio luz a Jesús. Mary gave birth to Jesus.
  • dar de cabeza — to fall on one's head — Dio de cabeza en el gimnasio. He fell on his head in the gymnasium.
  • dar de narices — to fall flat on one's face — La chica dio de narices. The girl fell flat on her face.
  • dar lo mismo — to make no difference — Comió mucho, pero lo mismo dio. She ate a lot, but it didn't make a difference.
  • darse a algo — to give or devote oneself (to something) — Se da a su trabajo. He gives himself to his work.
  • dar a alguién (o algo) por (adjectivo) o (participio) — to assume or consider someone to be (adjective or participle) — La dieron por feliz. Doy la lucha por concluido. — She was considered to be happy. I consider the fight to be over.
  • darse cuenta de — to realize — Me di cuenta que ella estaba aquí. — I realized she was here.

Even when it isn't part of a set phrase, dar is one of the most flexible verbs in Spanish, having a wide range of figurative uses broadly based on the concept of giving. Some examples, most of which can be figured out if you know what the nouns mean:

  • El sol da luz. The sun shines.
  • El reloj dio las tres. The clock struck three.
  • Dieron golpes a mi hijo. They hit my son.
  • Te damos gracias. We thank you.
  • Darse a conocer. To make oneself known.
  • Me dio un abrazo. She hugged me.
  • Dar la mano. To shake hands.
  • Dar un paseo. To take a walk.
  • Darse vuelta. To turn.
  • Darse prisa. To hurry.
  • Darse a la vela. To set sail.
  • Darse a entender. To suggest.
  • Darse de comer. To feed.
  • Darse fin. To finish.

Keep in mind that dar is conjugated irregularly, especially in the preterite form.