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In English it's quite easy to do this — you simply add a to in front of the noun and you suddenly have a verb. Add a y and you have an adjective.

For example:

fox -> to fox -> foxy

What does to fox mean? I don't know, but it works linguisticly and invites you to play with language.

How do you do this in Spanish? For example with búho?

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    I know that this is a Spanish language forum, but I can't resist referencing the cartoon Calvin and Hobbes which has the classic line "Verbing weirds language" /s
    – Peter M
    Commented Feb 17 at 15:40

1 Answer 1

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In English it is not always the case that, by just adding "to" or using a noun as a verb, you get a verb. For example, you don't say "to revolution" but "to revolutionIZE". Nor is it always the case that the result will be a meaningful verb.

However, we do come across cases in Spanish where, by just adding the ending, or changing it to "-ar", "-er", "-ir", we get a verb. The noun and the verb are two different words, that is, we do not, from a lexical point of view, necessarily consider one to derive from the other:

  • brillo (brightness) / brillar (to shine)
  • temor (fear) / temer (to be afraid)
  • suba (increase) / subir (to rise)

In Spanish, noun-to-verb transformations will always require the addition of a suffix at the end. We don't have a verb for "búho", but we do have one for "lechuza", at least in River Plate Spanish, which is "lechucear", used to refer to a way of watching similar to that of owls. It is also used to mean "wish somebody bad luck".

Here is a list of Spanish suffixes. The most productive suffix to convert nouns into verbs is:

-ear: agujero (hole) -> agujerear (make a hole) / gol (goal) -> golear (score a goal)

Another conversion process involves the addition of a prefix (as well as the verbal suffix -ecer), either to a noun or an adjective, for example:

  • orgullo (pride) / enorgullecer (make sb proud)
  • rico (rich) / enriquecer (make sb or sth richer)
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    I'd say adding -ear is by far the most common and acceptable way to create a verb out of just about any word that doesn't have one. Especially if it's just spoken. Commented Feb 20 at 20:51
  • Golear is a regular verb, but it usually means one team scored a lot of goles against the other team, and not to score a goal. El Bayern goleó al Barcelona 8 a 2.
    – jachguate
    Commented May 18 at 5:39

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