ACORDARSE VS RECORDAR

Make a big difference in your Spanish by avoiding small errors. Starting now.

Read the following sentence in Spanish. There is a mistake committed by Spanish students (but never native speakers). Can you spot it?

You want to say, ‘I don’t remember the address of your house’:
You: No me recuerdo la dirección de tu casa

If you can’t, that’s a good thing because that means we can fix it right now! And if you saw it, well then, you’re a superstar ;).

The problem is the mixing up of two words which mean the same thing in Spanish – acordarse vs recordar.  They both mean to remember, but one is used reflexively and the other is not. Here is the correct way to say the above sentence; there are two options:

I don’t remember the address of your house:
No me acuerdo de la dirección de tu casa.
No recuerdo la dirección de tu casa.

 

Which is which?

When we talk about remembering something, acordarse is reflexive while recordar is not:

You can use either one of these options, but you can’t mix them up.  In addition, acordarse is always followed by the preposition ‘de‘. Here are a few more examples to make sure you’ve got it:

ACORDARSE (de) algo – TO REMEMBER (about) something
¿Te acuerdas de mi prima Nuria? = Do you remember my cousin Nuria?
Mis amigos nunca se acuerdan de mi cumpleaños = My friends never remember my birthday
Lucas no se acuerda muy bien de aquel día. = Lucas doesn’t remember that day very well

RECORDAR algo – TO REMEMBER something
¿De verdad no recuerdas nada de la noche pasada? = Do you really not remember anything from last night?
Marta recuerda con cariño su vieja casa = Marta remembers fondly her old house
Vosotros no podéis recordar ese número de teléfono = You all can’t remember that telephone number

 

Which is more correct?

They both have exactly the same meaning and can be used interchangeably. If there is a difference, you could say native speakers most often use acordarse before recordar, and recordar appears more in literary contexts. But feel free to use either one, just use them correctly.

 

Three rules to help you remember

Here are the main points to remember so you don’t confuse the two verbs:
1. Acordarse is reflexive. There is a non-reflexive form, but it has a different meaning (acordar means to agree)
2. You must always use the preposition ‘de’ after acordarse
3. Recordar is only non-reflexive; there is no reflexive form (recordarse doesn’t exist)

 

One last point of confusion to avoid

I know you would never, but just in case, don’t confuse the yo conjugation of acordarse which is me acuerdo with the common phrase de acuerdo. which simply means to be in agreement.

See the examples below:

ME ACUERDO – I remember
¿Sabes quién es el profesor de matemáticas del año pasado? = Do you know last year’s math teacher?
¡Sí! ¡Me acuerdo de él! = I remember him

DE ACUERDO – OK / Agreed
Nos vemos a las 7:00 en la estación de tren. = See you (we’ll see each other) at 7:00 at the train station
¡De acuerdo! = OK!

Listening Practice

 

The very first time I heard acordarse was in reference to the famous book Don Quijote by Cervantes. The very first line, which is very well known and worth remembering, starts:

En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme …

In a place called La Mancha, of whose name I do not want to remember …

The video below features a few of the first paragraphs from the book to give you an introduction. Spend some time with it and use it as listening practice thanks to the transcript and translations provided. Also read along out loud if you want to practice you accent and speaking fluidity, as well as your reading aloud speed.

The original Spanish version of Don Quijote is a challenging read even for advanced Spanish speakers because of it’s old-world text and words. There are many words in ‘Don Quijote’ that are not used by Spanish speakers today. We’ve provided our own translation to be more faithful to the individual words as well as a traditional English translation you may find in many published books that uses more flexible translations.

Spanish & English

En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme, no ha mucho tiempo que vivía un hidalgo de los de lanza en astillero, adarga antigua, rocín flaco y galgo corredor.

Una olla de algo más vaca que carnero,salpicón las más noches, duelos y quebrantos los sábados, lentejas los viernes, y algún palomino de añadidura los domingos, consumían las tres partes de su hacienda.

Frisaba la edad de nuestro hidalgo con los cincuenta años, era de complexión recia, seco de carnes, enjuto de rostro; gran madrugador y amigo de la caza.

Es, pues, de saber, que este sobredicho hidalgo, los ratos que estaba ocioso (que eran los más del año) se daba a leer libros de caballerías con tanta afición y gusto, que olvidó casi de todo punto el ejercicio de la caza, y aun la administración de su hacienda; y llegó a tanto su curiosidad y desatino en esto, que vendió muchas hanegas de tierra de sembradura, para comprar libros de caballerías en que leer.

In a place called La Mancha, of whose name I do not want to remember, not long ago lived a nobleman, one of those with a lance in its rack, an antique shield, a thin old horse (nag) and a racing greyhound.

An olla (dish in a clay pot) of something more cow than sheep, meat salad the majority of nights, traditional egg and chorizo meal on Saturdays, lentils on Fridays, and some pigeon to top it all off on Sundays, consumed three-fourths of his estate (income).

The approximate age of our nobleman was about fifty years old, he of a strong build, lean (like dry meat), thin-faced, an early riser and great hunter (friend of the hunt).

It is, so, you should know, that this above mentioned nobleman, the times that he was free (which were the majority of the year) were given to reading books about chivalry with so much zeal and enthusiasm, that he almost completely forgot the pursuing of hunting, and even the administration of his estate; and it happened with so much curiosity and foolishness in this, that he sold many hectares of cropland to buy books about chivalry to read.

Don Quijote - The Book

En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme, no ha mucho tiempo que vivía un hidalgo de los de lanza en astillero, adarga antigua, rocín flaco y galgo corredor.

Una olla de algo más vaca que carnero, salpicón las más noches, duelos y quebrantoslos sábados, lentejas los viernes, y algún palomino de añadidura los domingos, consumían las tres partes de su hacienda.

Frisaba la edad de nuestro hidalgo con los cincuenta años, era de complexión recia, seco de carnes, enjuto de rostro; gran madrugador y amigo de la caza.

Es, pues, de saber, que este sobredicho hidalgo, los ratos que estaba ocioso (que eran los más del año) se daba a leer libros de caballerías con tanta afición y gusto, que olvidó casi de todo punto el ejercicio de la caza, y aun la administración de su hacienda; y llegó a tanto su curiosidad y desatino en esto, que vendió muchas hanegas de tierra de sembradura, para comprar libros de caballerías en que leer.

In a village of La Mancha, the name of which I have no desire to call to mind, there lived not long since one of those gentlemen that keep a lance in the lance-rack, an old buckler, a lean hack, and a greyhound for coursing. 

An olla of rather more beef than mutton, a salad on most nights, scraps on Saturdays, lentils on Fridays, and a pigeon or so extra on Sundays, made away with three-quarters of his income

The age of this gentleman of ours was bordering on fifty; he was of a hardy habit, spare, gaunt-featured, a very early riser and a great sportsman.

You must know, then, that the above-named gentleman whenever he was at leisure (which was mostly all the year round) gave himself up to reading books of chivalry with such ardour and avidity that he almost entirely neglected the pursuit of his field-sports, and even the management of his property; and to such a pitch did his eagerness and infatuation go that he sold many an acre of tillageland to buy books of chivalry to read

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