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Some Verbs Commonly Followed by 'En' and an Infinitive

Infinitive May Be Translated as '-ing' Verb

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In a construction that has no real equivalent in English, some Spanish verbs are followed by the preposition en and an infinitive. An example that may be familiar to you is pensar, where the phrase pensar en followed by an infinitive can be used to indicate that someone is thinking about doing something: Pienso en estudiar gastronomía en un futuro cercano. I am thinking about studying gastronomy in the near future.

As in the above example, the Spanish infinitive is usually translated as the English gerund, but it doesn't have to be. Note also that these phrases don't have to be followed by infinitives — most are often followed by nouns or sometimes by que and a verb.

Here are some of the most common phrases made up of a verb followed by en and an infinitive:

consentir en (to consent to): La compañía consiente en pagar a 108 empleados más de $193.000 en salarios atrasados. The company consents to paying 108 employees more than $193,000 in back pay.

consistir en (to consist of): El éxito consiste en obtener lo que se desea. Success consists of obtaining what is desired.

convenir en (to agree to): Como padres, el domingo convenimos en hacer las siguientes cosas con nuestros hijos. As parents, on Sunday we agreed to do the following things with our children.

esforzarse en (to strive to, to make an effort to): Me esfuerzo en conocer a mis compañeros de trabajo. I am making an effort to get to know the people I work with. (The phrase esforzarse por can also be used with little change in meaning.)

insistir en (to insist on): El canciller de Argentina insistió en retomar las negociaciones con Gran Bretaña. The Argentine chancellor insisted on restarting negotiations with Great Britain. (The verb phrases empeñarse en and empecinarse en, although less common, can be used with much the same meaning.)

interesarse en (to interest in): Me intereso en comprar autos usados en más o menos buen estado. I am interested in buying used cars in more or less good condition.

molestarse en (to bother to): Nunca me molesté en leer más de esos pocos libros. I never went to the bother of reading more than those few books.

obstinarse en (to adamantly insist on): La derecha se obstina en combatir un pasado que ya no existe mientras la izquierda se obstina en llorar por un pasado que, afortunadamente, ya no volverá. The right insists on fighting a past that still does not exist while the left insists on crying for a past that, fortunately, still won't come.

pensar en (to consider): Pensaré en trabajar en algún tipo de proyecto escolar. I will think about working on some kind of school project.

persistir en (to persist in): Mi amigo persiste en gastar más de lo que gana. My friend keeps on spending more than he earns.

quedar en (to agree to): Quedamos en salir a los ocho con sus amigas y su hermano. We agreed to leave at 8 with her friends and her brother. (In some regions, quedar de is preferred.)

tardar en (to be late in) La policía noruega admitió que tardó demasiado en llegar a la isla el día de la masacre. The Norwegian police admitted that they were too late in arriving on the island the day of the massacre.

vacilar en (to hesitate in) Los granjeros no vacilaban en comprar tierras irrigadas. The farmers didn't hesitate in buying irrigated land.


Sources: Sample sentences are adapted from a variety of sources, usually the writings of native speakers. Among the sources consulted for this lesson were: Imchef.com, StarMedia, Departamento de Trabajo de EE.UU., Trovit.cl, Jordi Mir García, Alfredo Pastor, Creandotuvirtualideal.com, Instituto Mora, jProger.com, Mforos.com.

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  8. Spanish Verbs Followed by En and an Infinitive — Spanish Grammar

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