Conseguir vs alcanzar vs lograr: What’s the Difference?

CONSEGUIR vs ALCANZAR vs LOGRAR: What’s the Difference?

MAURA
¡Alex! ¿Me ayudas? Que no alcanzo.
(Alex! Can you help me? I can’t reach.)

ALEX
¿Que no qué?
(You can’t what?)

MAURA
Que no alcanzo.
(I can’t reach.)

Let’s take a break for a second. The truth is that the verbs “alcanzar,” “conseguir,” and “lograr” overlap for a moment, but they don’t mean the same thing.

I am Maura, from Spring Spanish. Today we’re going to review what’s going on with these verbs and how to use them like a native. Let’s get started!

1. Alcanzar (To reach, to be enough, to manage)

Alcanzar” is the broadest of the three verbs. So let’s start with this one.

MAURA
“Alcanzar” puede usarse para hablar de cosas que están dentro o fuera de tu alcance. Por eso digo “no alcanzo”. Y significa lo mismo que “no llego”. ¿Tú cómo usas “alcanzar”?
(“Alcanzar” can be used to talk about things that are within or beyond your reach. That’s why I say “no alcanzo”. And it means the same thing as “no llego”. How do you use “alcanzar”?)

ALEX
Para decir que “no alcanzo el autobús” por ejemplo.
(To say “I can’t catch the bus” for example.)

MAURA
Exacto, también. Puedes usarlo con cualquier cosa que pueda estar dentro o fuera de tu alcance.
(Exactly, that too. You can use it with anything that might be in or out of your reach.)

ALEX
Por eso también decimos: quiero alcanzar mis sueños.
(That’s why we also say: I want to reach my dreams.)

MAURA
Tal cual. Además de eso, también se usa para decir si algo es suficiente, como: la comida alcanza para cinco personas. Y para hablar de temperatura.
(Exactly. Besides that, it is also used to say if something is enough, like: the food reaches enough for five people. And to talk about temperature.)

ALEX
Es verdad. Las noticias siempre dicen: las temperaturas en España alcanzarán los cuarenta grados centígrados.
(It is true. The news always says: temperatures in Spain will reach 40º Celsius.)

For everyone’s convenience, let’s separate these uses into categories and look at more examples.

  • Alcanzar = things that may be within or outside of your reach (to reach)
    • ¿Me pasas el libro? No alcanzo. (Can you pass me the book? I can’t reach it.)
    • Alcánzame la sal, por fa. (Pass me the salt, please.): this use allows you to use “alcanzar” as a synonym for “pásame.” We could say “pásame la sal, por fa” and it would be the same.
    • Ella es muy bajita y no alcanza nada. (She is very short and can’t reach anything.)
  • Alcanzar = (to be enough)
    • No me alcanza el dinero para comprar las entradas. (I don’t have enough money to buy the tickets.):
    • If you use “alcanzar” in money contexts, it doesn’t mean that you have to say “el dinero” (the money). We could say “no me alcanza para comprar las entradas” (I don’t have enough to buy the tickets) and everyone would know that we are talking about money.
    • Alcanza para que comamos todos y sobre. (It is enough for all of us to eat and have leftovers.): It is also very common to use it in terms of food.
    • La pintura alcanzó para pintar toda la sala. (The paint was enough to paint the entire room.)
  • Alcanzar = (to manage, to achieve)
conseguir alcanzar lograr explained by female teacher

This is where the three verbs overlap. Only when it comes to goals can we use any of the three.

  • Hay que luchar para alcanzar tus sueños. ( You have to fight to reach your dreams.):
    • Hay que luchar para lograr tus sueños. (You have to fight to manage your dreams.)
    • Hay que luchar para conseguir tus sueños. (You have to fight to achieve your dreams.)
  • Este año se alcanzaron todas las metas anuales. (This year all annual goals were reached.)
    • Este año se lograron todas las metas anuales. (This year all annual goals were achieved.)
    • Este año se consiguieron todas las metas anuales. (This year all annual goals were achieved.)
  • Corre que no alcanzamos a llegar al tren. (Run or we won’t reach the train in time.):
    Alcanzar a llegar” is the idea you would use when it’s about time. And since “arriving on time” is a goal in itself, we could also say “conseguir llegar” or “lograr llegar” without the “a.”
  • For example:
    • Si salimos ya, logramos llegar antes de que empiece la película. (If we leave now, we will manage to get there before the movie starts.)
    • Al final no conseguimos llegar a tiempo. (At the end we didn’t manage to get there on time.)

CHUNK ALERT!

“Alcánzame si puedes.” (”Reach me if you can.”)
Alcanzar” really does many more things than the others. Another way we could use this verb is to get to where someone else is, to reach their level.

  • Alcánzame si puedes. (Reach me if you can.): It could be that you’re running and you say this to the other person. Or it could be that you’re reading a book and want the other person to try to get to where you are in the book.
  • Adelántate, yo te alcanzo. (Go ahead, I’ll reach you.): This is very common. Use it to say: go ahead and I’ll arrive later.

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2. Conseguir (To find, to achieve)

ALEX
¿Y por qué dices que se confunde con “conseguir”?
(And why do you say it is confused with “conseguir”?)

MAURA
Bueno, porque puedes usar “alcanzar” o “conseguir” con metas y sería lo mismo.
(Well, because you can use “alcanzar” or “conseguir” with goals and it would be the same thing.)

ALEX
O sea, puedo decir “conseguir” mis sueños. En lugar de “alcanzar” mis sueños.
(In other words, I can say “conseguir” my dreams. Instead of “alcanzar” my dreams.)

MAURA
Exacto, pero “conseguir” tiene otros usos que no tienen nada que ver.
(Exactly, but “conseguir” has other uses that have nothing to do with it.)

ALEX
Sí, como “no consigo mi teléfono”. Ahí no podría usar “alcanzar”, ¿no?
(Yes, like “I don’t find my phone.” I couldn’t use “alcanzar” there, could I?)

MAURA
No. “No consigo mi teléfono” significa que no sé dónde está. Pero “no alcanzo mi teléfono”, significa que está lejos y no llego.
(No. “I don’t find my phone” means I don’t know where it is. But “I don’t reach my phone,” means it’s far away and I can’t reach it.)

ALEX
O sea que, “conseguir” puede usarse como “alcanzar” en cuanto a las metas. Y también como “encontrar”, para hablar de cosas que no sé dónde están.
(In other words, “conseguir” can be used as “alcanzar” in terms of goals. And also as “to find”, to talk about things that I don’t know where they are.)

MAURA
Eso. Lo único otro para lo que puedes usar “conseguir” es para toparte con alguien. Como: ayer me conseguí a Carla en el súper.
(That’s it. The only other thing you can use “conseguir” for is to bump into someone. Like: yesterday I bumped into Carla at the supermarket.)

“Conseguir” is a bit more limited than “alcanzar” as it has fewer uses. We can divide it into three categories:

  • Conseguir = to find
    • ¿Conseguiste las llaves? (Did you find the keys?)
    • No consigo solución para este problema. (I don’t find the solution to this problem.)
  • Conseguir = bump into someone
    • Cada vez que salgo me consigo a algún conocido. (Every time I go out I bump into some acquaintance.)
    • Ten cuidado y te consigues a tu ex en esa fiesta. (Careful bumping into your ex at that party.)
  • Conseguir = achieve, manage
conseguir alcanzar lograr example explained

This is when the three overlap. More examples would be:

  • Nos van a dar un bono porque se consiguieron todos los objetivos de este trimestre. (We are going to get a bonus because all the objectives for this trimester were achieved.)
  • Esta vez queremos conseguir resultados. (This time we want to achieve results.)
  • Al final, conseguimos llegar a tiempo. (In the end, we managed to make it on time.): For example:
    • Al final, alcanzamos a llegar a tiempo. (In the end, we managed to make it on time.)
    • Al final, logramos llegar a tiempo. (In the end, we managed to make it in time.)

3. Lograr (To manage, to achieve)

ALEX
Entonces, si hablo de objetivos, metas, sueños y ese tipo de cosas, ¿puedo usar “alcanzar, conseguir y lograr” por igual?
(So, if I talk about objectives, goals, dreams and that sort of thing, can I use “alcanzar, conseguir y lograr” equally?)

MAURA
Exactamente. Ese es el único significado que comparten las tres. Y cada una tiene otros usos aparte.
(Exactly. That is the only meaning shared by all 3. And each one has other uses separately.)

ALEX
Vale. Pero “lograr” solo se usa con metas y esas cosas, ¿no? ¿Para qué más puede servir “lograr”?
(Okay. But “lograr” is only used with goals and stuff, right? What else can “lograr” be good for?)

MAURA
Para más nada. “Lograr” es el más simple de todos.
(For nothing else. “Lograr” is the simplest of all.)

Simple no, lo siguiente.” (Not just simple, the next level.)

Have you heard this expression before? It’s very Spanish. In Madrid, they say it all the time. It means that it’s more than simple. It’s super simple. You can change “simple” and say other things like:

Cansada no, lo siguiente.” (Not just tired, the next level.)

And by that, you mean that you are exhausted.

Lograr” really only means to achieve or reach a goal or objective. So for all the following examples, any of the three verbs can be used: alcanzar, conseguir, lograr.

Like:

  • Hemos logrado muy buenos resultados con este método. (We have achieved very good results with this method.)
  • Menos mal que logramos llegar a la función. (Thank goodness we managed to make it to the function.)
  • Espero que logres todo lo que te propones. (I hope you achieve everything you set out to do.)
conseguir alcanzar lograr example explained with sentences by female teacher

4. Escoge entre Alcanzar, Conseguir y Lograr

Let’s do a little review. Try to choose between the options to complete the sentence:

  1. Por fa, ____________ ese cojín. (Please, reach me that cushion.)
  • Lógrame
  • Alcánzame
  • Consígueme

Respuesta: Por fa, alcánzame ese cojín.

2***. No ____________ la otra media.*** (I can’t find the other sock.)

  • Alcanzo
  • Consigo
  • Logro

Respuesta: No consigo la otra media.

Podrías decir “no alcanzo la otra media”, pero no estarías buscándola, estarías tratando de llegar a ella.

  1. _____________ llegar antes que el resto. (We managed getting there before the rest.)
  • Logramos
  • Conseguimos
  • Alcanzamos

Answer: “Logramos llegar antes que el resto” or “Conseguimos llegar antes que el resto.” (We managed to arrive before the rest.)

Here there is a bit of a trick because “alcanzar” also means the same thing, but I wanted you to see that the chunk with “alcanzar” needs an “a”: “Alcanzamos a llegar antes que el resto.” (We managed to get there before the rest.)

I hope that with this you have managed (conseguido), achieved (logrado), and reached (alcanzado) your goal of understanding the difference between these three verbs. So that you can continue achieving goals and understanding verbs, click here to go to our list of videos about verbs.

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