Using 'Decir' in Spanish

Verb Usually Means 'To Say' or 'To Tell'

Buenos Aires airport
¿Cómo se dice "airport" en español? (How do you say "airport" in Spanish?). Photo by Flavio Ensiki; licensed via Creative Commons.

Decir is the Spanish verb for "to say" or "to tell" and can usually be used in the same way as the English verbs. Note that decir is conjugated irregularly.

  • ¿Qué dices? What do you say?
  • Ella me dijo que iba a volver. She told me she was going to return.
  • El presidente dice que su misión central es relanzar la economía. The president says his prime mission is to relaunch the economy.
  • Yo digo que nuestro sistema de justicia es un cachondeo. I say that our justice system is a joke.
  • A decir verdad no me gusta. To tell the truth, I don't like it.
  • Nos decimos que nos amamos. We're telling ourselves we love each other.
  • ¿Cómo se dice "airport" en español? How do you say "airport" in Spanish?
  • ¿Por qué decimos sí cuando queremos decir no? Why do we say yes when we want to say no?

When someone is told something, the person to whom something is told is represented by an indirect-object pronoun:

  • Le dije adiós. I told him goodbye.
  • ¿Qué le vamos a decir a la gente? What are we going to tell the people?
  • Les decimos que no están solos. We're telling them that they are not alone.

"Se dice que" or "dicen que" can be used for the equivalent of "it is said that" or "they say that":

  • Dicen que nadie es perfecto. They say nobody's perfect.
  • Se dice que hay hadas en este bosque. It is said that there are fairies in this forest.

Spanish has several verbs based on decir that are conjugated in the same way. Among the most common are contradecir (to contract) and bendecir (to bless).