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Published on: Grammar Bites

Verbal phrase ‘acabar de’ + infinitive

We use the verbal phrase ‘acabar de’ + verb in the infinitive (non-conjugated) to express an action that took place or ended in a recent past:

  • El tren acaba de llegar. The train just arrived.
  • Acabaron de hacer la tarea justo antes de cenar. They finished doing their homework just before dinner.
  • Acababa de abrir la puerta cuando el teléfono empezó a sonar. I had just opened the door when the phone started ringing.

We can also use this verbal phrase to substitute the pretérito perfecto de indicativo, as long as the verb ‘acabar’ in conjugated in the presente de indicativo:

  • Nosotros hemos llegado a la ciudad hace unos días. –> Nosotros acabamos de llegar a la ciudad.
  • We’ve arrived a few days ago. –> We’ve just arrived.
  • Tú te has graduado de la universidad recientemente. –> Tú acabas de graduarte de la universidad.
  • You’ve graduated recently. –> You’ve just graduated.
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