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Using 'Mostrar'

Verb Conveys Idea of Showing

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Mostrar is one of those handy little verbs that you'll come across more often than you'd think you might. A cousin of the English verb "to demonstrate" with the basic meaning of "to show," it is used in situations that involve the conveying of information or feelings.

Perhaps the most common use of mostrar is used to refer to teaching or explaining:

  • El profesor nos mostró los senos, los cosenos y las tangentes. The teacher explained sines, cosines and tangents to us.
  • Muéstrame cómo puedo ser como tú. Show me how I can be like you.
  • Nuestro vecino nos mostró el funcionamiento de su tablet nuevo. Our neighbor explained to us the functioning of his new tablet.
  • Le mostré cómo su elección había sido motivada por su tristeza. I explained to him how his choice had been motivated by his sadness.

Mostrar can similarly be used to refer to the display of something:

  • En este mismo evento Apple también mostró al mundo el esperado iPad Mini. At this same event, Apple also showed the world the awaited iPad Mini.
  • Es una foto de un hermoso pavo real que muestra plumas de colores. It is a photo of a beautiful peacock displaying its colorful feathers.
  • El app muestra los resultados que tienen más de 60 días en un color diferente. The app displays the results more than 60 days old in a different color.

Mostrar can also refer to displays or showing in a figurative sense:

  • Los viejos rockeros mostraron ayer su lado más solidario en un concierto benéfico. The aging rockers demonstrated their more caring side yesterday in a benefit concert.
  • Desde niño, Ricardo mostraba interés en el piano. Since he was a boy, Ricardo showed interest in the piano.
  • Sin embargo sus ojos no me mostraron felicidad, sino agresividad. Nevertheless, to me his eyes did not indicate happiness, but rather aggression.

The reflexive form, mostrarse, often is used to refer to how someone appears or acts:

  • El alcalde se mostró feliz por el cierre de la planta de Agrosuper. The mayor appeared happy about the closure of the Agrosuper plant.
  • La actriz se mostró junto a su novio. The actress appeared together with her boyfriend.
  • Al final de la entrevista la cantante se muestra enfadada con el periodista por no ponerle preguntas adecuadas. At the end of the interview, the singer showed anger with the journalist for not asking her appropriate questions.
  • Las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia se mostraron optimistas por avances en proceso de paz. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia seemed optimistic about progress in the peace process.

A related verb, demostrar, is often used as a synonym for its English cognate, "to demonstrate," when it means "to prove": Los estudiantes jovenes demostraron que tienen mucho talento. The young students demonstrated that they have a lot of talent.

However, demostrar should not be used to refer to a protest; manifestarse is usually the best choice. Miles de personas se manifestaron hoy por el centro de Madrid. Thousands of people demonstrated today in downtown Madrid.

As can be seen in the examples, mostrar is conjugated irregularly. As with contar, the o changes to ue when stressed.

Usage of Other Spanish Verbs

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