I was listening to a conversation and heard the question, '¿Donde se crió?', and the reflexive caught me by surprise. Checking my dictionary didn't help much. Although 'criar' and 'criarse' are both listed, the latter definition is listed as 'breed' whereas the former is 'to grow up, etc'. I'm pretty sure the speaker was asking where they grew up and nothing about breeding. :). Is this a miss on the dictionary? It seems redundant to make a verb about growing up reflexive but there are plenty of examples that are similar so I wouldn't be surprised. In the end, which is correct and how should they be used? Thanks!

2 Answers 2


It's a mistake from the dictionary.

"Criar" is to breed:

3 tr. Alimentar, cuidar y cebar aves u otros animales.

Yo crío vacas y pollos en mi granja.

"Criarse" is to grow up:

13 pronominal. Dicho de un ser vivo: Desarrollarse, crecer. La niña se ha criado muy sana.

Yo me crié en un pequeño pueblo en la montaña, pero ahora vivo en la ciudad.

  • Gracias! I figured the dictionary might be wrong. Time to find a good offline resource.
    – McArthey
    Jul 9, 2012 at 23:39

Well... At least in Spain, if you ask

¿Dónde crió?

to someone, that someone will immediately ask you

¿Dónde crió qué?

because "criar" can be used also as growing something (criar patatas: Growing potatoes). So if you want to talk about the person object of the question, you'll have to use the reflexive form. (Something like Where did he grow himself up?)

You can check "criar" in the Diccionario Panhispánico de dudas. There's a brief explanation about it.

  • To me, this is similar to what I do to my kids all the time when they ask, 'Do you know what time it is?' or 'Can I go?'. Sometimes the jokes are just for me.
    – McArthey
    Jul 9, 2012 at 23:39

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