Faltar in Spanish

The Spanish verb Faltar means to be missed, to be lacked, or to be needed. This free audio lesson is about FALTAR in Spanish. 

Faltar is one of those Spanish words that convey shades of meaning that don’t exist in English, it can't be translated literally into its equivalent English meaning. 

Faltar might seem quite complicated at first! However, you will encounter it often enough that you should invest some time in understanding it. You may feel less confused if you do not try to translate it literally. Rather, get used to how it's used and the contexts in which you hear it.

All about Faltar in Spanish

In English, the meaning conveyed by the verb Faltar would usually have a person or people as the subject. For example:

  • I’m missing Y.

In Spanish, however, what would have been the direct object in the English sentence (Y) becomes the subject, while the person (I) becomes the indirect object.

  • Y is missed by me.

Sound confusing? Perhaps the examples below will help clarify things.

You will find the verb faltar to be a very useful tool as you talk about what you miss, lack, or need. For example, if you want to say that you miss having your own room, you might say,

  • Me hace falta tener mi propio cuarto.

If you want to say that you’re missing a toothbrush, you can say,

  • Me falta un cepillo de dientes.

It is difficult to pin down the difference between “hacer falta” and “faltar.” Usually, they can be used interchangeably.

Por ejemplo:

Me hace falta estar con mi familia

I miss being with my family.

Me falta un vestido para el baile.

I don’t have a dress for the dance.

Me faltan los últimos dos certificados.

I’m lacking the last two certificates.

Me hace falta tomar café contigo.

I miss drinking coffee with you.

Notice that, in the above examples, "estar con mi familia", “un vestido”, etc are actually the subjects of the sentences. However, rather than coming first, they will nearly always come after the verb. If you are constructing a sentence using faltar, put the elements of the sentence in the following order:

  • indirect pronoun + conjugated verb + subject
You may wish to use the handy table below. Choose one pronoun from the first column and the correct form of faltar from one of the other two columns, depending on the tense and the quantity of what is being missed. (If what you miss is a verb, like running or cooking, then use the singular form of faltar followed by the infinitive form of the verb.) Remember that the correct form of the verb does NOT follow from the pronoun, but rather from what is being missed. 
Pronoun Present Past (preterite)
Me, te, le falta faltó
Nos, os, les faltan faltaron

Me hace falta un auto.

I need (or am lacking) a car.

Por falta de estudiar no pasé el examen.

For lack of studying, I didn’t pass the exam.

Other verbs without English equivalents


The table below gives examples of Spanish verbs without direct English equivalents. Their usage follows that of Faltar as described above.
Verb Meaning Por ejemplo Everyday meaning / Literal translation
encantar to delight or enchant Me encanta la música latina. I love Latin music. / Latin music delights me.
faltar to be missed, to be lacked, to be needed Me falta dinero para comer. I don’t have enough money to eat. / Money is lacking for me to eat.
fascinar to fascinate Me fascinó la pe lícula. I was fascinated by the movie. / The movie fascinated me.
gustar to be pleasing to, to be liked Me gusta oír tu voz. I like to hear your voice. / Your voice is pleasing to me.
importar to be important to; to be cared about No me importa nada. I don’t care about anything. / Nothing is important to me.
interesar to interest, to be interesting Me interesa la política. I’m interested in politics. / Politics is interesting to me.
molestar to annoy, to bother Me molestan los mosquitos. The mosquitoes annoy me.
quedar to fit, to suit Me Me quedó el vestido. The dress suited me.

You will find the verbs above in the third person singular and plural forms almost exclusively, and they always be accompanied by an indirect object pronoun.

Por ejemplo:

¿No te interesa ver la televisión conmigo?

Aren’t you interested in watching television with me?

Juanita siempre me molesta cuando estoy intentando trabajar.

Juanita always bothers me when I’m trying to work.

A ella le encanta pasar por las huertas botánicas.

She loves to walk through the botanical gardens.


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