While in English we use the word “to save” to refer to many different things, there are 4 basic Spanish words to cover the different meanings.
1. Save in Spanish: Salvar
Salvar means to rescue, to recover or to save from extinction. For example:
El hombre salvó al niño que estaba ahogando.
The man saved the boy who was drowning.
La organización quiere salvar a las ballenas que quedan.
The organization wants to save the remaining whales.
2. Save in Spanish: Guardar
Guardar is used when saving things, setting them aside, or keeping things. For example:
El maestro guardó el celular hasta el fin de clase.
The teacher kept the cell phone until the end of class.
Yo guardo el café en el refrigerador.
I keep the coffee in the refrigerator.
Guardé el documento en la misma carpeta.
I saved the document in the same file.
Tan pronto llegues, guarda un asiento para mi.
As soon as you get there, save a seat for me.
3. Save in Spanish: Ahorrar
Ahorrar refers to saving up, setting aside, or conserving. It is most often used when referring to money. For example:
Ellos ahorran todo su dinero, casi nunca van de compras.
They save all their money, they almost never go shopping.
4. Save in Spanish: Proteger
Proteger refers to saving in the sense of protecting something from harm. For example:
Es importante proteger los recursos naturales.
It is important to protect natural resources.
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