Parecer and parecerse a both mean “to resemble” or “to look like” but they cannot be used interchangeably. Parecer is used to describe the appearance of something, such as “He looks like a teacher” while parecerse is used to compare between items, such as “He looks like my teacher Mr. Sanchez.” or to give an opinion such as “It looks to me like it is going to rain.”
When do you use Parecer or Parecerse?
So the set up looks like this:
Parecer + noun without an article
Parecer + noun preceded by an indefinite article
Parecerse + a name or pronoun
Parecerse + noun preceded by a definite article.
Parecer and Parecerse examples:
1. Esa mujer parece famosa (una artista o una celebridad)
That woman looks like a celebrity.
2. Esa mujer se parece a Jennifer Aniston
That woman looks like Jennifer Aniston.
The first sentence uses parecer because there is no comparison made; it is only a description. The second sentence mentions a specific comparison, so it is necessary to use parecerse.
1. Tus pantalones parecen un leopardo.
Your pants look like a leopard.
2. Tus pantalones se parecen al leopardo que vi en el zoológico.
Your pants look like the leopard I saw in the zoo.
Once again, the first sentence is only descriptive of the pants, while the second sentence makes a comparison of the pants with the leopard in the zoo.
Parecer and Parecerse Quick quiz
Can you fill in the blanks with the correct use of either parecer or parecerse a?
1. Tu vestido ______________ al traje de baño de María.
Your dress looks like María’s bathing suit.
2. Tu vestido ______________ un traje de baño.
Your dress looks like a bathing suit.
3. ______________ que nuestro equipo va a ganar este sábado.
Looks like our team is going to win this Saturday. OR It looks to me that our team is going to win this Saturday.
Anwsers: 1. se parece 2. parece 3. parece
This post is part of the series Warming up for El Día E: Posts to Improve Your Spanish. El Día E is a world-wide celebration of the Spanish Language that will take place on June 23th, 2012.
Posts in this series to celebrate El Día E:
1. Join the Celebration of El Día E
2. To Ask for Something or To Ask a Question: PEDIR and PREGUNTAR
3. The Spanish Words for TO KNOW: SABER versus CONOCER
4. The Many Ways to Move in Spanish: MOVERSE, MUDARSE, TRASLADAR
5. How to Translate the Conjunction BUT to Spanish: PERO and SINO/SINO QUE
6. The Distinction Between PARECER and PARECERSE
7. Using the Verb HACER to Express Periods of Time
8. 4 Ways to Use the Preposition CON in Spanish
9. 13 Cool and Interesting Facts About the Spanish Language
Check out these other articles about Spanish Lessons.