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Published on: Grammar Bites

Are “atender” and “asistir” the Spanish equivalents of “to attend”?

Are “atender” and “asistir” the Spanish equivalents of “to attend”? Are they synonyms?  Not exactly; let’s take a look at each of them:


1) The Spanish equivalent of “to attend” is “asistir”.

  • Ellos asisten a clases todos los días. They attend classes everyday.
  • Viajó a NY para asistir a una conferencia. He traveled to NY to attend a conference.
  • Mary está enferma y no puede asistir a la fiesta. Mary is sick and she can’t attend the party.


2) On the other hand, “atender” is what we call a “false friend”: it looks and sounds like “to attend”, but it has a different meaning. Atender can mean various things, such as:

a) to pay attention:

  • Pedro no atiende en clase, por eso le va mal en los exámenes. Pedro doesn’t pay attention in class, that’s why he does poorly in his exams.

b) to take care of something or someone:

  • Juan se encargó de atender la tienda, mientras sus padres estaban de vacaciones. Juan took care of the store while his parents were on vacation.

c) to consider someone’s wishes or advices:

  • Si atiendes mis consejos, te irá mejor la próxima vez. If you listen to my advice, you’ll do better next time.