Learning Spanish: How nouns can become verbs

Learning Spanish: How nouns can become verbs

Has learning Spanish ever seemed daunting at times? It may seem this way because Spanish has so many diverse grammar concepts such as preterite vs imperfect, ser vs estar, and tons of subjective forms, but you can learn Spanish easier by identifying patterns. In a previous post, I mentioned that you likely know some Spanish already due to cognates. Some cognates include tion-ción words like liberación but to learn Spanish easily, it is important to realize many verbs have noun variations in Spanish.

Verbs that begin with A

I can hug you with one condition

One pattern I have noticed through my years of learning Spanish is that many verbs that begin with an A have a noun variation. Since A means to in Spanish, many of these verbs refer to actions against someone. For example, apuñalar, means to stab and has a noun version, puñal or dagger. On a kinder note, the verb Abrazar means to hug while its verb form, abrazo, drum roll please… means hug. Abrazar is also a double whammy when it comes to nouns because brazo is the Spanish term for Arm. Lastly, the verb aconsejar is to advise in Spanish and consejo is advice.

Em-noun Verbs

breaded fish.. yummy

Through experience and my love of Hispanic foods (hello street tacos!), I have noticed verbs that begin with EM generally involve food and beverage. Many Spanish learners know that pan is the Spanish term for bread. One phrase that incorporates bread is pescado empanizado, or breaded fish. Another example of this is the term, embotellar, to bottle with botella meaning bottle. On a related note, emborracharse, is to get drunk while borracho is a double whammy either meaning I’m drunk (estoy borracho), or he is a drunk (es un borracho).

Here are some other examples of verbs that can become nouns:


Ser is one way that means “to be” as a verb and its noun form sere means being”.

Los seres humanos are “human beings”.


Estar is another definition that means  “to be” and is commonly used to describe temporary conditions such as illness or state of mind.

For example, el bienestar, is literally “the well-being”of someone.


Saber means “to know”  and el saber refers to someone’s knowledge. Another close variant is sabio, which means “wise.” Another definition of this is la sabiduría.


Poder  signifies to be able to do. El poder simply is “power”.

Some other related variants of poder are poderoso/a “powerful” and omnipotente “omnipotent”.

Other Verbs become Nouns Examples

English uses the gerund or ing verbs and Spanish has this tense too (either ando or iendo if its an AR or ER/IR, respectively). For example, the phrase “being drunk is unacceptable” is grammatically correct in English. The Spanish translation of this phrase or estar borracho es inaceptable is gramatically correct. Many Spanish learners, especially native English speakers could try to impose their language rules onto the second language, which is known as grammatical language interference. In simple terms a native English Speaker learning Spanish will likely use estando borracho.

It is important to realize that when you are using a verb as a noun, you use the infinitive and only use a conjugated form like the gerund/progressive “-ing” form when you’re conjugating something.The Verb will remain in the infinitive because conjugation implies that  a previous action someone already did.

Although Spanish can be perceived as complex, useful patterns can make learning easier. By reading this article, you learned that many Spanish verbs that begin with A and Em have noun relatives. Many Em verbs are related to food and drink which will make life easier when ordering delicious Hispanic foods. You also learned about other common verbs that have noun versions. What other Spanish patterns have you noticed while learning Spanish? Please post below!

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