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How To Use 'Internar'

Verb Carries Idea of Entry to Place

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World Cup stadium

Internaron al futbolista en un hospital. (They admitted the soccer player to a hospital.)

Photo by A C Moraes; licensed via Creative Commons.

As you might be able to guess because of its similarity to "internal," the Spanish verb internar is related to the concept of going into a place. Although it isn't a particularly common verb, it is used under a broad set of circumstances.

Perhaps the most common meaning of internar refers to the admitting of someone to a hospital or other institution where someone is confined, or to keeping that person there:

  • Internaron al futbolista en un hospital. They admitted the soccer player to a hospital.
  • Para evitar la prisión, Hernández se internó en una clínica psiquiátrica. In order to avoid prison, Hernandez checked himself into a psychiatric clinic.
  • Se empeñaban en la creación de escuelas residenciales donde podrían internar y controlar a los indígenas. They insisted on the creation of residential schools where they could confine and control the natives.
  • El cantante se internó en centro de rehabilitación. The singer admitted himself into a rehab center.

Internar can also refer to physical entry into a building or territory. It often, but not always, has a military usage.

  • Las tropas se internaron por sólo cinco kilómetros en territorio alemán. The troops entered only five kilometers into German territory.
  • El barco llegó al puerto y los ocupantes se internaron el país. The boat arrived at the port and the occupants entered the country.
  • Si se van a internar más allá de la franja fronteriza, tendrán que tramitar una I-94 en la frontera. If they're going to go beyond the border zone, they will need to take care of the I-94 paperwork at the border.

A less common meaning of the reflexive form, internarse, is to delve deeply into something to gain understanding. Fue también un humanista que se internó en el estudio de la historia. He was also a humanist who got deep into the study of history.

Use of interno: The only closely related word in everyday use is the noun interno (feminine form interna), which usually refers to a patient, prisoner or someone who is confined under the first definition above of internar.

  • En el programa individualizado de tratamiento se asignan a cada interno o interna dos niveles de actividades. In the individualized treatment program, each patient is assigned two levels of activities.

In parts of Latin America, interno or interna can also refer to a student intern.

El interno is also a noun meaning "interior."

  • El interno de la casa está dividido en dos ambientes principales, una sala de estar y el dormitorio. The interior of the house is divided into two main living areas, a living room and the bedroom.
Usage of Other Verbs

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