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In my oppinion, both forms are correct, but if there is only correct meaning, which is which?

How is called this phenomenon of having a verb, that is the inverse of itself? That is,

Rento un departamento a mi tío.


Mi tío me renta un departamento.

have the same meaning after inverting subject and indirect object.

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Nice question, related to: How to avoid ambiguity in “I am renting an apartment in New York”?. – Alfredo Osorio Jul 19 '13 at 17:17
Ya veo. Preguntaba, porque en Campeche he oido "¿Te presto cien pesos?" (¿mañosamente?) y lo que realmente se pregunta es "¿Me prestas cien pesos?". En Yucatán, "vendo" es sinónimo de "compro", en casos. Raro e interesante, ¿no? – c.p. Jul 19 '13 at 17:23
up vote 6 down vote accepted

This in Spanish is called enantiosemia (from greek "enantíos" contrary and "sema" meaning) also called autoantónimo (from the English autoantonym). Both "rentar" and "alquilar" have this property.

Se llama enantiosemia a un tipo de polisemia en el que una palabra tiene dos sentidos opuestos. La oposición entre los significados puede ser de distintos tipos: complementariedad, antonimia graduable, antonimia por reversión o antonimia por conversión [explicar].

A las palabras con enantiosemia también se las llama autoantónimos (en alemán este fenómeno es llamado Gegensinn, y en inglés contronymy).

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+1 Hay que decir que este caso de polisemia (verbos que invierten la dirección sujeto-objeto) es bastante rara. – leonbloy Jul 22 '13 at 15:29

El fenómeno se llama enantiosemia, como aquí se dijo.

Sinónimos que puedes usar son: alquilar, rentar y arrendar (viene de "arriendo"). En Chile es preferible usar el verbo arrendar por simplementer ser el verbo más usado, y es considerado incorrecto usar el resto por esnobismo/siutiquería.

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I confirm that arrendar is used in Chile. – dusan Jul 23 '13 at 2:24

In Spain we do not use the verb rentar, but we use alquilar with exactly the same meaning. About the verb alquilar, the R.A.E. dictionary says:


  1. Dar a alguien algo, especialmente una finca urbana, un animal o un mueble, para que use de ello por el tiempo que se determine y mediante el pago de la cantidad convenida.
  2. Tomar de alguien algo para este fin y con tal condición.

So it can clearly mean both. And I think you can apply this to the verb rentar in Latin America...

That said, and this is just a personal opinion, if I heard "Alquilo apartamento", I would think firstly in someone offering a flat to rent. And if I wanted to say that I live in a rented flat I'd say:

Vivo de alquiler.
Tengo un apartamento alquilado.

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+1 Same in Argentina – leonbloy Jul 19 '13 at 20:53
"alquilar" is not used in Mexico. – Alfredo Osorio Jul 19 '13 at 22:00
@AlfredoOsorio, I said that it's so in Spain... anyway I guess you can apply the same explanation to the verb rentar in Mexico, can't you? – MikO Jul 19 '13 at 22:10
@MikO take it easy, just wanted to point out that in Mexico is not used. – Alfredo Osorio Jul 19 '13 at 22:40
@AlfredoOsorio, yes I understood you only wanted to point that out, actually I just wanted to ask you if you can really apply this to the verb rentar, because in fact it's something I'm not sure about... Sorry if I sounded rude or something like that, but not at all ;) – MikO Jul 19 '13 at 22:44

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