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Perder

Its Meaning and Use

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The fairly common Spanish verb perder most often means "to lose," but it has related meanings that go beyond mere loss. It can, for example, refer to the "loss" of something one never had, or to refer to emotional states as well as objects.

Like many other common verbs, perder is conjugated irregularly, in its case following the same pattern as entender. In other words, the perd- stem becomes pierd- when stressed: pierdo (I lose) but perdí (I lost); and pierdes (you lose) but perdiste (you lost).

Here are some of the common meanings of perder with examples of their usage:

To lose (a thing):

  • Perdió las llaves de su coche. He lost his car keys.
  • Perdí el perro de mi amiga que ella me dio para que lo cuide. I lost my friend's dog that she gave to me to take care of.
  • ¡No pierda los calcetines! Don't lose your socks!
  • Se me perdió el celular otra vez. My cell phone got lost again.
  • My amigo perdió el coraje y se puso a llorar. My friend lost his courage and began to cry.
To get lost: In this case, the reflexive form (perderse is typically used). As in the final example below, the reflexive form can also be used figuratively.
  • Me perdí cuando salí del hotel para ir al teatro.. I got lost when I left the hotel to go to the theater.
  • Se perdieron los datos. The data got lost.
  • Espero que no se pierda el hábito de escribir cartas a mano. I hope the habit of writing letters by hand doesn't get lost.
  • El equipo perdió la concentración en los primeros 20 minutos del juego. The team lost its concentration in the first 20 minutes of the game.
  • Me perdí en el hechizo de tus lindos ojos. I got lost in the charm of your beautiful eyes.
To lose (a competition):
  • Los Jazz perdieron ante los Hornets. The Jazz lost to the Hornets.
  • El equipo perdió la final contra el equipo de la Ciudad de Downey.The team lost the final to the Downey City team.
  • El candidato joven perdió la elección primaria. The young candidate lost the primary election.
To miss (not get):
  • Perdí el bus de las 3.30. I missed the 3:30 bus.
  • Pedro perdió la posibilidad de ser campeón del mundo. Pedro lost the chance of becoming world champion.
  • Perdimos el avión de vuelta y nos quedamos casi sin dinero. We missed the plane flight and were left with hardly any money.
  • Perdí la oportunidad de ser rico. I missed the chance to be rich.
To be lost without benefit: Various translations are possible, depending on the context.
  • Pierdo tiempo pensando en ti. I am wasting time thinking about you.
  • El coche perdía agua del radiador. The car was leaking water from the radiator.
  • Venezuela perdió $540 millones en inversión extranjera directa. Venezuela lost $540 million in direct foreign investment.
To deteriorate, to become ruined:
  • Lo echó todo a perder, incluso su vida. She let it all go to ruin, including her life.
  • Cuando la vida de la familia se desintegra, la nación está perdida. When family life disintegrates, the nation is ruined.

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