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Old 6th October 2008, 03:58 PM   #1
joyella819
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Default ensenar vs. mostrar AND entender vs. comprender

Is there a difference in usage between the following verbs (i.e., is one in each pair below used in certain situations and not others/more formal, etc., or, are they completely interchangeable?) :
  • ensenar vs. mostrar (both meaning 'to show')
  • entender vs. comprender (both meaning 'to understand')
Thanks for your help!!
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Old 6th October 2008, 06:06 PM   #2
greytop
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Originally Posted by joyella819 View Post
Is there a difference in usage between the following verbs (i.e., is one in each pair below used in certain situations and not others/more formal, etc., or, are they completely interchangeable?) :
  • enseñar vs. mostrar (both meaning 'to show')
  • entender vs. comprender (both meaning 'to understand')
Thanks for your help!!
Enseñar means to teach whereas mostrar merely means to show something
So I might show (mostrar) you a machine but teach (enseñar) you how to operate it.

I usually treat the others as similar but a native speaker might enlighten us! Entenderse, the reflexive form also means to communicate (se entienden en español). But you can't do the same with comprender AFAIK
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Old 6th October 2008, 06:34 PM   #3
Acosta
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Originally Posted by joyella819 View Post
Is there a difference in usage between the following verbs (i.e., is one in each pair below used in certain situations and not others/more formal, etc., or, are they completely interchangeable?) :
  • entender vs. comprender (both meaning 'to understand')
Thanks for your help!!
I am not sure but is the difference that one applies to people and the other to subjects etc?
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Old 6th October 2008, 07:45 PM   #4
Beckett
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Here's my take on enseñar, mostrar: They both mean "to show" and the nuance between them is at times so subtle, it's not worth it to get worked up about.

Enseñar does mean to teach but it also means to show. This gets a little complicated to explain in a brief manner but here goes...Enseñar can mean "to show" in the sense of providing an example or a warning of something, to say something by using signs or gestures, or pointing something out to someone. For example, Un hombre muy amable me enseñó el camino cuando me perdí ayer.(A very nice man showed me the way when I got lost yesterday.) In the stores in Spain, you might hear the clerk say "¿Quiere que le enseñe?/¿Quieres que te enseñe?" which means, "Do you want me to show it to you?"

Mostrar also means to show but more in the sense of to display or to teach somebody how to do something or use something through a demonstration. For example, a person shows an emotion, or somebody can show you (or demonstrate to you) how to fix a flat tire. Mostrar would be the ideal verb in those cases.

In any case, the bottom line is that if you use these two verbs interchangeably, you will be understood, no problems. This isn't a situation where you'll be committing some kind of huge error if you use them interchangeably, so go right ahead.

Regarding entender and comprender, these are easier to explain.
You entender with your ears but comprender with your brain. Think of "entender" as general understanding and "comprender" as understanding concepts/ideas or understanding the significance of something. For example, let's say you go to a party and start chatting with a guy who just so happens to be a nuclear scientist. You ask him about his work. Initially you understand (entender) what he is telling you, but as the description of his work gets more and more technical and complicated you find yourself unable to comprehend (comprender) what the heck he's talking about, even though he's speaking to you in English, or whatever your native language is.

There's also the meaning that Acosta mentioned, that you "comprender" a person. It's like you "get" or you understand where that person is coming from. Like your best friend wants to quit his job because he's frustrated and burned out in the position. You could say that "lo comprendo", that you understand him, understand his frustration, etc. ¿Me explico?

Last edited by Beckett; 6th October 2008 at 08:33 PM.
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Old 6th October 2008, 08:30 PM   #5
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Many thanks for the great explanation!
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Old 8th October 2008, 03:55 PM   #6
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Just as an addition to Beckett's great explanation of the verbs mostrar and enseñar I think that it also worth pointing out that if you are ever in doubt of which one to use then go for ENSEÑAR as it is far more generic and can be used for most situations.You could actually go your whole life only ever using enseñar if you wanted .(according to a native friend of mine).
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Old 8th October 2008, 09:05 PM   #7
joyella819
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beckett View Post
Here's my take on enseñar, mostrar: They both mean "to show" and the nuance between them is at times so subtle, it's not worth it to get worked up about.

Enseñar does mean to teach but it also means to show. This gets a little complicated to explain in a brief manner but here goes...Enseñar can mean "to show" in the sense of providing an example or a warning of something, to say something by using signs or gestures, or pointing something out to someone. For example, Un hombre muy amable me enseñó el camino cuando me perdí ayer.(A very nice man showed me the way when I got lost yesterday.) In the stores in Spain, you might hear the clerk say "¿Quiere que le enseñe?/¿Quieres que te enseñe?" which means, "Do you want me to show it to you?"

Mostrar also means to show but more in the sense of to display or to teach somebody how to do something or use something through a demonstration. For example, a person shows an emotion, or somebody can show you (or demonstrate to you) how to fix a flat tire. Mostrar would be the ideal verb in those cases.

In any case, the bottom line is that if you use these two verbs interchangeably, you will be understood, no problems. This isn't a situation where you'll be committing some kind of huge error if you use them interchangeably, so go right ahead.

Regarding entender and comprender, these are easier to explain.
You entender with your ears but comprender with your brain. Think of "entender" as general understanding and "comprender" as understanding concepts/ideas or understanding the significance of something. For example, let's say you go to a party and start chatting with a guy who just so happens to be a nuclear scientist. You ask him about his work. Initially you understand (entender) what he is telling you, but as the description of his work gets more and more technical and complicated you find yourself unable to comprehend (comprender) what the heck he's talking about, even though he's speaking to you in English, or whatever your native language is.

There's also the meaning that Acosta mentioned, that you "comprender" a person. It's like you "get" or you understand where that person is coming from. Like your best friend wants to quit his job because he's frustrated and burned out in the position. You could say that "lo comprendo", that you understand him, understand his frustration, etc. ¿Me explico?

So sorry for the delayed reply. Thank you sooo much for taking the time to give me such a detailed and complete response. I have never seen any grammar book explain the differences as well as you have. In fact, they never even addressed it. Your explanation was very easy to understand and you helped even more by providing examples. I love it!! I wish I had teachers who taught as clearly as you do. This site is so helpful and the people on it are just amazing. I love it when I can learn something new in Spanish - it's becoming my new obsession.

Thanks for all the other replys as well =)
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Old 9th October 2008, 02:39 AM   #8
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I have heard and read native speakers use mostrar mostly in the reflexive, as in "se mostró muy amable conmigo", "se mostró enfadado", etc. "he showed himself to be XX" where XX is some emotional state or comportment. A topical use:
Ninguno de los dos candidatos se apartó de sus respectivos libretos, pero Obama se mostró mas suelto y más seguro que McCain.
Enseñar is much the most common verb where you mean something like the English "show"
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Old 10th October 2008, 02:17 PM   #9
Beckett
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joyella819 View Post
So sorry for the delayed reply. Thank you sooo much for taking the time to give me such a detailed and complete response. I have never seen any grammar book explain the differences as well as you have. In fact, they never even addressed it. Your explanation was very easy to understand and you helped even more by providing examples. I love it!! I wish I had teachers who taught as clearly as you do. This site is so helpful and the people on it are just amazing. I love it when I can learn something new in Spanish - it's becoming my new obsession.

Thanks for all the other replys as well =)
De nada, Joyella. And also ¡gracias! to you for the huge compliment! And yes, getting hooked on Spanish can definitely become a healthy obsession. I speak from experience.
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Old 15th February 2010, 10:13 PM   #10
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Beckett's explanation was great, and the words themselves serve as a reminder for me:

Enseñar is built from "seña", english "sign", which sounds similar and is actually etymologically linked. Sure enough, Beckett talks about "using signs or gestures" in his explanation, and we can see the sort of "signyness" of the examples he gives. Mostrar is etymologically linked to "demonstrate" in english, sounds similar, and indeed Beckett talks about "demonstration" in his explanation, and we can see the sort of "demonstratyness" of the examples he gives.

If there's an etymological link, there's often going to be a cognitive link--not always, but often. It's not too ridiculous or pedantic to cover this stuff because, for example, any native spanish speaker knows the word "seña", and understands that enseñar is built from seña, just like a native english speaker understands that "entangle" is built from "tangle", "enrage" is built from "rage", etc, even if we never make a point to mention or make explicit notice of it. The form of the word itself is often of more use than we avail ourselves of when learning a language. (at least within a language family such as our indo-european one)

Also what xan says has correlations to english too. If you look up "demonstrate" at dictionary.com you see the 3rd and 4th definitions are related to "demonstrating thoughts or emotion". Anyone who's studied or worked in psychology, psychotherapy, medicine etc. has heard the use of the word "demonstrate" in this way, as in "the client/patient demonstrated" such and such.
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Old 19th February 2010, 10:14 PM   #11
yunouguaramin
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Default ah bueno vale

ahora le encuentro mas sentido a esa frase mas o menos popular que dice 'te entiendo, pero no te comprendo'.
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