Spanish Language Blog

What are “family verbs”? Posted by on Oct 20, 2012 in Spanish Vocabulary

So I don’t know if the term “family verbs” exists, but I used it to show you that there are some verbs in Spanish that change their prefixes and have the same verb root, like tener, volver, decir, venir, traer, formar, and hacer (among others) and make other verbs, related in meaning.

So let’s start with tener (to have) and the verbs that are related to it:

abstener, abstenerse – to abstain
atenerse – to abide by, to heed
contener – to contain
detener – to detain, to arrest, to deter
entretener – to entertain
mantener – to maintain, to support
obtener – to obtain, to get
retener – to retain
sostener – to sustain, to defend

Volver = to come/go back

devolver – to return, to give back
envolver – to wrap, to envelop
revolver – to stir, to stir up

Venir – to come

avenir – to reconcile
contravenir – to infringe, to violate
convenir – to be suitable, to agree on
devenir – to become
intervenir – to intervene, to take part in
prevenir – to prevent, to warn
provenir – to come from
sobrevenir – to strike, to happen all of a sudden

Decir – to say

bendecir – to bless
contradecir to contradict
desdecir – to deny
maldecir – to speak ill of, to curse
predecir – to predict, to foretell

Formar – to form

conformar – to form, to shape
conformarse – to be satisfied
deformar – to distort, to deform
informar – to inform
reformar – to reform, to remodel

Hacer – to do

contrahacer – to forge, to counterfeit
deshacer – to undo, to untie, to get rid of
rehacer – to redo

This is it for today, have a great Saturday!

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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.


  1. kevin:

    This is great! I think the term is ‘compound verbs’, but family verbs is a really good way of looking at them