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.

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Erichsen, Gerald. "Using the Spanish Verb 'Dar'." ThoughtCo, May. 17, 2017, Erichsen, Gerald. (2017, May 17). Using the Spanish Verb 'Dar'. Retrieved from Erichsen, Gerald. "Using the Spanish Verb 'Dar'." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 20, 2018).