Using the Verb 'Caer'

Meanings Include 'To Fall' and 'To Succumb'

flower in rain
La lluvia cae sobre la flor. (The rain is falling on the flower.). Photo by Sarai licensed via Creative Commons.

The Spanish verb caer usually carries the idea of "to fall" and can be used in a variety of situations. While many of its uses can be translated using the English verb "fall," a few cannot.

Here are the most common uses of caer:

Meaning "to fall," "to drop" or "to fall over": Here are some examples of everyday usage:

  • El avión cayó en el océano. The plane fell into the ocean.
  • Si del cielo te caen limones, aprende a hacer limonada. If lemons fall to you from the sky, learn to make lemonade.
  • Los barcos cayeron por las cataratas del Niágara. The boats dropped over Niagara Falls.
  • El joven sufrió un grave accidente al caer desde el tejado de la fábrica. The youth had a serious accident when he fell from the factory's roof.
  • El coche cayó por el barranco por causas que se desconocen. The car fell over the cliff for unknown reasons.
  • El tanque se cayó de un puente. The tank fell off a bridge.

The same meaning can be applied figuratively:

  • Exportaciones colombianas cayeron en 18,7 por ciento. Colombian exports fell 18.7 percent.
  • El turismo en Bolivia cayó por la gripe. Bolivian tourism declined because of the flu.

Also when speaking of weather:

  • Las lluvias fuertes y prolongadas cayeron sobre Cuenca. The strong and long-lasting rains fell on  Cuenca.
  • La extraordinaria belleza de la nieve que caía le provocaba más alegría. The extraordinary beauty of the snow that fell made him more joyful.

    To convey the idea of succumbing: Caer is frequently used to indicate the idea of succumbing or being overtaken by a force of some sort, or to fall into an error. The translation can vary with the context.

    • La cantante confesó que cayó en la anorexia y la bulimia. The singer admitted that she sank into anorexia and bulimia.
    • Caí en la tentación de ser infiel. I succumbed to the temptation of being unfaithful.
    • El hombre cayó en la trampa del FBI. The man fell into the FBI's trap.
    • No caigas en el error de prometer lo que no puedes conseguir. Don't make the mistake of making promises you cannot keep.
    • París cayó bajo los tanques nazis. Paris fell to the Nazi tanks.
    • Tras padecer un cáncer, caí en depresión. After suffering from cancer, I fell into depression.

    To "fall on" a certain date: Este año mi cumpleaños cae en jueves. This year my birthday falls on a Thursday.

    To indicate "getting along with": Caer can be used with an indirect-object pronoun to suggest the idea of "to get along with" or "to be OK with." The translation varies with context; often, a translation of "to like" or "dislike" will do.

    • Me caen bien tus amigos. I like your friends. (Or, I get along with your friends.)
    • No me cayó bien la decisión. I didn't like the decision. (Or, the decision wasn't fine with me.)
    • Ese desodorante le cae mal a mi piel. That deodorant bothers my skin.
    • ¿Que profesores te caían mejor? Which teachers did you like best?
    • Me cayó mal la comida. The meal disagreed with me.

    Remember that caer is conjugated irregularly.

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    Erichsen, Gerald. "Using the Verb 'Caer'." ThoughtCo, Aug. 23, 2016, thoughtco.com/using-the-verb-caer-3079788. Erichsen, Gerald. (2016, August 23). Using the Verb 'Caer'. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/using-the-verb-caer-3079788 Erichsen, Gerald. "Using the Verb 'Caer'." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/using-the-verb-caer-3079788 (accessed November 21, 2017).