Using 'Sentir' and 'Sentirse'

Verb Typically Means 'To Feel'

Hispanic female teacher in front of blackboard
Terry Vine Getty

Sentir is a very common verb that typically means "to feel." It usually refers to feeling emotions, but it can also refer to physical sensations.

The Difference Between Sentir and Senterise

Sentir commonly appears in the reflexive form sentirse. The difference in using sentir and sentirse is that sentir is typically followed by a noun, while sentirse is followed by an adjective or adverb describing how a person feels. Otherwise their meanings are essentially the same.

Here are some examples of sentir used to describe emotional feelings:

  • El atleta dijo que sentía alegría y satisfacción por el logro del campeonato. The athlete said he felt joyful and satisfied about attaining the championship.
  • Siento pena y tristeza por ello. I feel shameful and sad about it.
  • Se siente feliz por ser abuela. She feels happy about being a grandmother.
  • Me siento enojada y frustrada. I feel angry and frustrated.

Here are examples of sentir being used with physical sensations. Although in most of these cases you could probably translate sentir as "to sense," usually it would be better to translate based on the context:

  • Puedo sentir pasos en la azotea. I can hear footsteps on the roof.
  • Él me dijo que sentía olor a muerte. He told me he smelled death.

When sentirse de refers to a body part, it usually indicates the sensation of pain: Me siento de la cabeza. I have a headache.

Standing by itself, sentir can indicate sorrow or regret: Lo siento mucho. I'm very sorry.

Sentir also can be used as a noun to refer to feelings or sentiments:

  • El sentir y el pensar son dos funciones de la mente. Feeling and thinking are two functions of the mind.
  • El presidente representa el sentir del pueblo. The president represents the feelings of the people.
  • Tenía una vida dedicada a la promoción del sentir indígena. He had a life dedicated to the promotion of indigenous sentiment.
  • Las almas no nos permitieron matar sin sentir. Our souls did not allow us to kill unfeelingly.
  • Entiende muy bien el sentir de la calle. He understands very well the feelings on the street.