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If I find something I lost, should I use 'hallar'?

For example, I found missing keys and said to my wife '¡Hallé las llaves!' she replied '¿Las encontraste?' Then a discussion about Hallar vs Encontrar began.

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

My knowledge of Spanish is old school so I have found that the meaning of some things have changed. "Hallar" and "Encontrar" are basically synonyms but in the most proper Mexican Spanish. "Hallar" implies knowing where something is where "Encontrar" means you have what you where looking for. Exp:

"¡Hallé mis llaves! Se las llevo María." (I found my keys, Mary took them.)

"¡Encontré mis llaves! Estaban en el sofá." (I found my keys, they were in the sofa.)

"Halla" and Hallar" have the same root so you say

"Hallé una nube que parece un pato." (I found a cloud that looks like a duck.)

"Encontré" can be used but properly because the clouds are at a distance "Hallar" is more fitting.

If I misspelled something plz make a note:

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No misspelling but you could use some line breaks. Just enter two spaces before hitting enter. – Petruza Jan 10 '12 at 2:01
Thank you I will work on proper formatting. It does look much better. – Fortunato Jan 10 '12 at 20:52
One fix: 'Se las llevó María' – Petruza Jan 10 '12 at 21:42

In Argentine Spanish, hallar and encontrar are exact synonyms, although hallar is not used often, just formally, as in news or papers.
Hallazgo is used though, meaning finding (as noun)

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From my experience, I'd that hallar means to find (as result of searching), while encontrar wider meaning, it's more like to find including finding by chance or to encounter, as in the meaning to meet someone. However, random finding would be still described as hallazgo.

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You are correct *hallar" implied that you where searching where "Encontre" does not." "Allazgo" still works because it suggest something you have always wanted. I forgot to put this in my answer. Good catch. – Fortunato Jan 10 '12 at 22:11

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