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“Recordar” or “acordarse”?

In English the verb remember express these two meanings. Both of them mean ‘bear something on mind’, but their argument structure, which refers to the complements that accompany them, it’s completely different.

On the one hand, recordar is a transitive verb, which means that it appears accompanied by a direct complement, replaceable by the pronouns lo/la; some examples to observe its structure:

Recuerdo el día que te conocí (Lo recuerdo) / I remember the day I met you (I remember that)

No recuerdo qué comí ayer (No lo recuerdo) / I don’t remember what I ate yesterday (I don’t remember that)

The verb recordar also is applied to a person with a meaning of command or request, in the sense of ‘make someone to remind something’. In these constructions an indirect complement is employed too, which refers to the same person whom is based the action:

Te recuerdo que tienes que hacer los ejercicios (Te lo recuerdo) – I remember you that you have to do the exercises (I remember that to you)


On the other hand, the verb acordarse can work as a remember synonym, although with significant differences. This is a pronominal verb, it means that it’s formed with reflexive pronouns (me, te, se), which don’t have a syntactic role and agree with the verb; other pronominal verbs are despertarse, levantarse, casarse

But in addition, acordarse is an intransitive verb, that is, it doesn’t admit a direct complement and always need a prepositional complement introduced by de:

¿Te acuerdas de cuando éramos jóvenes? / Do you remember when we were young?

No me acuerdo de lo que hice ayer / I don’t remember what I did yesterday

For a long time the preposition has been omitted in the colloquial language, but in educated language it’s recommended to keep it; you can see the difference in the following examples:

*Me acuerdo que fuimos a la playa el verano pasado / Me acuerdo de que fuimos a la playa el verano pasado (I remember that we went to beach last summer)

Be careful! The verb acordar can be constructed without prepositional complement and reflexive pronouns, but in these cases it has a completely different meaning, because it’s transitive (it admits a direct complement) and it means ‘to agree’:

Acordaron dejar la reunión para mañana (Lo acordaron/Acordaron eso) / They agreed to leave the meeting for tomorrow.

María Eugenia Boccanera – Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
Máster en Lengua Española: Investigación y Prácticas Profesionales


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