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How to use “escoger” and “elegir” Posted by on Aug 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

Hello, there!

I got an e-mail from a reader asking me when to use verbs escoger and elegir, because they both mean “to choose”.

Some Spanish students get a little upset with synonyms because they can’t seem to use the right one, but hey, in English we can “choose” or “pick” something, right?

The Rules

1. Escoger

Escoger means “to choose”, in a very broad way

Puedes escoger el libro que quieras del montón. = You can choose any book you want from the pile. (this is a non-specific kind of choice)

Han escogido a esta candidata en la empresa. = They have chosen this applicant at the company. (we don’t know what for)

No hemos escogido todavía el menú de la boda. = We haven’t chosen the wedding menu yet.

Puedes escoger entre té o café. It’s up to you. = You can choose between tea and coffee. Te toca a tí.

We have collocations with escoger:

escoger bien = to choose well
escoger mal = to choose badly
escoger entre … y … = to choose between … and …

2. Elegir

We use elegir when we choose someone or something for a specific purpose.

Aún no ha elegido el traje. = She still hasn’t chosen her outfit. (to wear at the party)
Eligieron al delegado por votación. = They chose the delegate/representative by voting. (the delegate has a specific role)

Some collocations:

a elegir = to be selected, to be chosen
si me diera a elegir = if I had a choice
tengo donde elegir = I have choices
uno a elegir = choose one

In Everyday Spanish

In everyday Spanish we tend to use escoger and elegir interchangeably, except when we talk about elections – use elegir in this case.

A golden tip is to pay attention to when you find these verbs in texts, interviews, movies, etc. Try to remember the context and repeat the original sentence.

Nos vemos prontito.

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About the Author: Adir

English / Spanish teacher and translator for over 20 years. I have been blogging since 2007 and I am also a professional singer in my spare time.