As you become more familiar with the structure of Spanish sentences, you’ll see how useful the verb parecer is for practising your Spanish.
Parecer describes how things appear, how two things are similar, and how you feel about a situation. We can also find parecer in all three Spanish verb structures.
In addition, parecer also appears in the top twenty most frequently used verbs in the Spanish language.
All this, of course, makes parecer an important verb to study and understand well.
In this post, you will discover everything you need to know about this useful Spanish verb, including how to use it in all three sentence structures, and in each of its five common uses.
The grammar forms of parecer
Before we get into the usage examples of parecer below, let’s take a look at the sentences structures you can use it in.
In Spanish, there are three basic verb sentence structures:
- Normal verbs
- Verbs like gustar
- Pronominal verbs
Normal verbs form the most simple sentence structures. These are sentences that follow the basic ‘subject-verb-object’ pattern. For example:
English: I want chocolate.
Español: Yo quiero chocolate.
Then there are verbs like gustar, which are verbs that reverse the normal structure as follows:
English: It seems strange to me.
Español: Me parece extraño.
I love this last example because ‘to seem’ is one of the very few verbs in English that behaves like its Spanish counterpart using this structure. In this example, the subject of the sentence, ‘it’, is acting on ‘me’. Or, in other words, I am not doing the ‘seeming’ the object is ‘seeming’ to me.
The last type of verb structure is pronominal verbs. Pronominal verbs are either reciprocal or reflexive. I cover this in more detail in this post, but for now, here is a quick summary:
English: They kiss each other.
Español: Ellos se besan.
Reciprocal verbs apply when two subjects are performing the same action on each other.
English: I call myself Andrew.
Español: Me llamo Andrew.
Reflexive verbs apply when the subject of the sentence is also the object of the sentence. In English, this occurs every time you find a sentence with ‘myself’, ‘yourself’, ‘himself’ etc.
As I mentioned earlier, for parecer what makes it so special is that it regularly appears in all three Spanish structures.
So with this in mind, let’s look at the contexts we can use parecer in and some examples of each.
Use 1. For appearances
For the first use of parecer, think of how something would ‘look’ in English.
When someone or something ‘looks’ a certain way, then you can use parecer in Spanish to express your observation.
English: She looks tired.
Español: Ella parece cansada.
English: Jose looks younger than he is.
Español: Jose parece más joven de lo que es.
Notice how you form this use of parecer using the normal sentence structure.
Use 2. To point out similarities
If you want to highlight the similarities between two people then you need to use parecer in its pronominal form.
Take care here because parecer gets used as a reflexive and reciprocal verb in this usage.
As a reciprocal verb, you can point out the similarities between two people. Here is a really common saying in Spanish:
English: They are like two peas in a pod. (two drops of water)
Español: Se parecen como dos gotas de agua.
You can also use parecer in reflexive form to draw a comparison from one person to another. This is different from the previous example because now you are comparing one person to another as opposed to two people to each other.
English: I’m a lot like my father in character.
Español: Me parezco mucho a mi padre en el carácter.
English: He looks like a friend of mine.
Español: Se parece a un amigo mío.
Use 3. To ask for or give opinions
The next use of parecer is for stating your opinion about something, or asking others what they think.
For this use of parecer, you will form the sentence like you would with the Spanish verb gustar.
Here are a few examples:
English: What do you think about the movie?
Español: ¿Qué te parece la película?
English: What do you think (of that)?
Español: ¿Qué te parece?
English: I think it is very entertaining but a bit long.
Español: Me parece muy entretenida pero un poco larga.
Use 4. To seem
Looks can be deceiving.
If you are deceived by the appearance of something, then just like the English verb ‘to seem’, parecer can be used in the same way.
Here are a few examples:
English: The work seemed easy, but it was complicated.
Español: El trabajo parecía fácil, pero era complicado.
English: It seemed like a good idea at the time!
Español: ¡Parecía una buena idea en ese momento!
Notice here that parecer is used in the normal verb structure.
Use 5. Parecer [bien/mal]
The last use of parecer is for stating opinions in the positive or negative.
Does something seem like right or wrong to you? If so, you can use parecer in combination with the adverbs bien and mal to voice your approval or disapproval.
Here are some examples:
English: It doesn’t seem right to me what they said.
Español: No me parece bien lo que han dicho.
English: Is it all right with you if we have some ice cream?
Español: ¿Te parece bien si nos tomamos un helado?
How does parecer seem to you?
Does it seem like a hard verb to get used to? Or does it seem like something you will have no troubles with?
Try out some of the uses in this article this week. See if you can use one of each of the sentence structure forms of parecer, either as a normal verb, or as a verb like gustar, or the pronominal form. Why not start practising by putting one of your practice sentences below in the comments!
What Spanish sentences can you form with parecer?