Spanish Verbs Followed by ‘De’ and an Infinitive

Grammatical construction has no English equivalent

statue of Simón Bolívar
This statue of South American revolutionary Simón Bolívar is found on the Venezuelan island of Isla Margarita.

Philippe TURPIN / Getty Images

One common way of connecting verbs in Spanish that has no full equivalent in English is to follow the verb with the preposition de and an infinitive. A simple example would be a sentence such as "Dejaron de fumar," where a conjugated form of the verb dejar (here meaning "to give up" or "to quit") is followed by de and the infinitive fumar (meaning "to smoke"). This sentence would typically be translated as "They quit smoking"; although the infinitive after de is translated to English as a gerund, that isn't true in all cases where a verb and de are followed by an infinitive.

Note that with most of these verbs, de isn't translated as "of" or "from" but gains its meaning as part of a unit with the verb.

Commonly Used Verbs Followed by De

Following are some of the verbs most commonly followed by de and an infinitive, along with examples of their usage. Note that many of the verbs have to do with ending an action.

  • acabar de (to finish, usually recently): Acabo de leer la biografía de Simón Bolívar. (I just read Simon Bolivar's biography.)
  • debo de (to have to, to be obligated to): ¿Qué medicamentos debo de tomar? (What medications do I have to take?)
  • dejar de (to quit, to abandon): Mi esposa quiere dejar de trabajar para cuidar a nuestro bebé. (My wife wants to quit working in order to take care of our baby.)
  • depender de (to depend on): El futuro de nuestra sociedad depende de ganar la lucha al crimen organizado. (The future of our society depends on winning the fight against organized crime.)
  • disuadir de (to dissuade from): La disuadí de ir sola. (I talked her out of going alone.)
  • haber de (should): Todos hemos de aprender a abrazar a los necesitados. (All of us should learn to embrace the needy.)
  • parar de (to stop): Los aficionados no pararon de gritar durante todo el partido. (The fans didn't stop shouting for the entire game.)
  • pensar de (to think about): Pienso de salir entre la 2 y 3 por la tarde. (I'm thinking about leaving between 2 and 3 p.m.)
  • terminar de (to quit, to stop): He terminado de creer en la humanidad. (I have quit believing in humanity.)
  • tratar de (to try to): Trata de ser feliz con lo que tienes. (Try to be happy with what you have.)

Reflexive Verbs Followed by De

Many of the reflexive verbs followed by de and an infinitive involve mental processes and/or actions based on emotions:

  • acordarse de (to remember): No me acuerdo de ver a nadie sacando fotos. (I don't remember seeing anyone taking pictures.)
  • alegrarse de (to be happy to): Se alegra de haber realizado el cambio y afirma que eso era la carrera que estaba buscando. (He is happy to have made the change and says that was the career he was looking for.)
  • arrepentirse de (to regret, to repent of): Mi hija se arrepintió de subir el video de su novio a YouTube. (My daughter regretted uploading the video of her boyfriend to YouTube.)
  • cansarse de (to tire of): Nunca me canso de verte. (I never get tired of seeing you.)
  • jactarse de (to boast about): El presidente se jactó de que la economía estaba estableciendo récords. (The president bragged that the economy was setting records.)
  • olvidarse de (to forget): Me olvidé de comprar leche. (I forgot to buy milk.)
  • preocuparse de (to worry about): Como no me he preocupado de nacer, no me preocupo de morir. (cita de Federico García Lorca) (Just as I haven't worried about being born, I don't worry about dying. (quote from Federico García Lorca))
  • quejarse de (to complain about): Muchas personas se quejan de trabajar mucho, pero yo les digo que demos gracias a Dios de tener un trabajo. (Many people complain about working a lot, but I tell them let's give thanks to God for having a job.)

Key Takeaways

  • Some Spanish verbs are typically followed by de and an infinitive. The combination of the verb and de can be thought of as having a meaning in itself, so that the de usually isn't translated as "of" or "from."
  • Many of the "verb + de" combinations involve the ceasing of action.
  • Many of the "reflexive verb + de" combinations involve mental actions.