Is there any difference between the words? "Real life" examples:

  • El hombre se detuvo.
  • El coche se paró.

For instance, can one exchange them?

  • El hombre se paró.
  • El coche se detuvo.

1 Answer 1


They have the same meaning. In fact, the DLE defines "detenerse" as:

  1. prnl. Pararse, cesar en el movimiento o en la acción.

However, "detenerse" is more formal. In spoken Spanish, "pararse" is usually preferred (police agents that want you to know they mean business may choose "detenerse", but that's about it). I'm not sure this part holds for all variants of Spanish, but it does for European Spanish.

"Detener" and "parar", without the enclitic pronoun, are similarly interchangeable most of the time, except that "detener" can also mean "to arrest".

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