Trouble with faltar conjugation? Learn it with CHUNKS, and never forget it !

Trouble with FALTAR? Learn it with CHUNKS, never forget it again!

CARLA
¿Quién falta por tomarse la foto?
(Who is left to take the picture?)

MAURA
¡Falto yo! ¡Voy!
(I’m left! I’m coming!)

So, what’s up with faltar conjugation? I see this verb creating havoc in students all the time. It’s a weird verb indeed. Also, it’s irregular and it can be reflexive! Not to worry, though, because you can take all the chunks from this lesson and start using it right now.

I’m Maura, from Spring Spanish and I’m ready to help you start using this verb with confidence. ¡Empecemos!

1. Faltar conjugation with Yo

MAURA
Carla, falta poco para salir. ¿Cómo vas?
(Carla, not long till we have to leave. How’s it going?)

CARLA
¡No me falta nada! Pero no consigo mis zarcillos.
(There is nothing left to do! But I can’t find my earrings.)

MAURA
Agarra unos de mi gaveta.
(Grab some from my drawer.)

CARLA
Es que tengo uno, pero me falta el otro y no sé dónde está.
(It’s just that I have one, but I’m missing the other one and I don’t know where it is.)

So, the main idea with “faltar” is that something or someone is missing.

That’s why you can hear things like:

  • Por fa pasa por el súper porque me faltan un montón de cosas para la cena. (Please stop by the supermarket because I’m missing a lot of things for dinner.)
  • Me falta un zarcillo. (I’m missing an earring.)

We can talk about time in this way, too. As a matter of fact, this is our quintessential verb to say things like:

  • Me falta poco. (I have little left to do.): this will always refer to how much more time someone needs to finish or to be ready.
  • Me faltan horas de camino aún, así que llegaré tarde. (I’m still hours away, so I’ll be late.) Notice how “falta” is singular and “faltan” is plural. The conjugation for “faltar” isn’t all that crazy. We’ll go over a little table at the end of the lesson so you’ll see it more clearly.

CHUNK ALERT!

How would you use “¿cómo vas?”. Let’s see it again in the dialogue. This little chunk has, at least, three different meanings. It can mean:

  • ¿Qué tal Maura? ¿Cómo vas? (What’s up Maura? How is it going?): here it basically means “how are you?”.
  • Yo creo que me voy en taxi, ¿tú cómo vas? (I think I’ll take a cab, how are you going?): here it means “how are you getting to some place?”.
  • Yo estoy casi lista, ¿tú cómo vas? (I’m almost ready, how are you doing?): here it’s like in the dialogue. It means “how is your process going?”. The process of getting ready in this case.

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2. Faltar conjugation with

MAURA
Si te falta un zarcillo, te faltan los dos porque no te vas a poner uno solo. Agarra de los míos.
(If you’re missing one earring, you’re missing both because you’re not going to wear just one. Grab one of mine.)

CARLA
Lo que te faltaba, ahora aparte de nerviosa te vas a estresar.
(This is the last thing that was missing, now apart from nervous you’re going to stress out.)

MAURA
¡Cállate! Es que tú siempre te tardas y a mí me falta paciencia para eso.
(Shut up! It’s just that you’re always late and I lack the patience for that.)

CARLA
Yo sé. Igual tienes razón, no está bien llegar tarde.
(I know. You’re right anyway, it’s not ok to be late.)

Think about feelings as also things you might lack with “faltar”. You can say:

  • Te faltan ganas para lidiar con esta situación, por eso lo estás evitando. (You lack the desire to deal with this situation, that’s why you are avoiding it.)
  • Yo no creo que seas mala en tenis, solo te falta experiencia. (I don’t think you’re bad at tennis, you just lack experience.)

Alex said “lo que te faltaba” (this is the last thing that was missing), it would take serious insider knowledge to get what this means. Especially because the English translation doesn’t help that much. This chunk will usually be a type of complaint and the meaning is kind of negative. It’s always about “things were already hard and now this.”

“Falta poco” is a great chunk to learn with “faltar” because we use it in many, many situations that are all super common. For example:

  • Falta poco para salir, apúrate. (Not long till we have to leave, hurry up.)
  • Hacer un máster no es fácil, pero ya falta poco. (Doing a master’s degree is not easy, but it won’t be long now.)
  • Yo sé que tienen hambre. Aguanten que falta poco. (I know you’re hungry. Hold on, it won’t be long now.)

3. Faltar conjugation with Él/Ella/Usted/Eso

CARLA
Amanda me dice que la reserva es para seis, pero falta alguien, ¿no?
(Amanda tells me that the reservation is for 6, but someone is missing, right?)

MAURA
¿Qué? ¿Por qué?
(What? Why?)

CARLA
O sea, tú, yo, ellos tres y ¿quién es la sexta persona?
(That is, you, me, the three of them and who is the sixth person?)

MAURA
Falta que sea el tipo con el que está saliendo.
(The last thing that’s missing is that it’s the guy she’s dating.)

CARLA
¡Claro! ¿Y qué importa?
(Of course! And what does it matter?)

MAURA
Que ese tipo no habla español ni mucho inglés. Yo no sé en qué idioma vamos a hablar en esa mesa.
(That that guy doesn’t speak Spanish and doesn’t speak much English. I don’t know what language we are going to speak at that table.)

  • Falta que sea el tipo con el que está saliendo (It’s missing that it’s the guy she’s dating.): this is a great example of what we were discussing in the previous section. Again, this “falta” helps you complain about a situation that was already unfavourable and now it’s gotten worse.

You don’t need to put those little “me”, “te”, “le” in front of “faltar” every time. The most common time when you won’t need them, is when you’re talking in general about someone or something missing. Meaning, when saying who’s missing the thing isn’t important. For example:

  • ¡Falta Mauricio! (We’re missing Mauricio!): we don’t need to say that is us who are missing Mauricio, so you can use “falta” by itself.
  • Falta azúcar (Sugar is missing): here we just know we need sugar for something. The something isn’t important. If I say: le falta azúcar (this is missing sugar) you would need to know what’s missing sugar specifically. Like something we’re cooking, for example.

Though it might feel weird, don’t hesitate to use this about people, like we did in the dialogue:

  • ¿Quién falta? (Who’s missing?): another common chunk to use, for example, when something’s being distributed (like cake at a birthday party). If you want to know who doesn’t have cake yet, you can ask “¿quién falta?”

4. Faltar conjugation with Nosotros/nosotras

MAURA (on the phone)
¡Hola! ¿Tú crees que puedas llevar el vino por nosotras y te transfiero el dinero? Es que todavía nos falta un poquito para salir.
(Hi! Do you think you can bring the wine for us and I’ll transfer you the money? It’s just that we still have a little bit to go.)

AMANDA (on the phone)
Faltaba más, ¡claro! Justo iba a comprar lo que yo iba a llevar. Así que sin problema.
(Certainly, of course! I was about to go buy what I was going to bring. So no problem.)

MAURA (on the phone)
¡Buenísimo! Mil gracias. Yo no sé cómo se nos hizo tan tarde. Y mira que faltamos a clases de yoga para tener suficiente tiempo.
(Very nice! Thank you very much. I don’t know how it got so late. And consider that we even missed yoga classes to have enough time.)

AMANDA (on the phone)
Por eso es que se confiaron. Eso siempre pasa.
(That’s why you got overconfident. That always happens.)

That “faltaba más” from the dialogue is impossible to translate. Think about it as a very emphatic “of course!” we can use when we are being asked for a favor.

Another thing “faltar” is the quintessential verb for is saying that you skipped a class. Things like:

  • Nosotras nunca faltamos a clases de chiquitas. (We never missed classes when we were little girls.)
  • Siempre que faltamos a yoga nos sentimos culpables. (Whenever we miss yoga we always feel guilty.)

Notice how, to talk about missing classes, we don’t use the reflexive “faltar”. So, you wouldn’t need “nos”, “me”, “te” or any of those pronouns for this use.

5. Faltar conjugation with Ustedes/Ellos/Ellas

MAURA
¿Ya lista? Amanda dice: si ustedes faltan, yo me voy.
(Are you ready? Amanda says: If you miss it, I’m leaving.)

CARLA
¡No! Jaja, qué loca. Ya estoy, ya estoy. Diez minutos tarde nada más. Tampoco es una gran falta.
(No! Haha, how crazy. I’m ready, I’m ready. It’s only 10 minutes late. It’s not a big foul either.)

MAURA
Es verdad, pero nos tuviste en tensión hasta el último minuto.
(True, but you kept us on edge until the last minute.)

CARLA
Lo sé, lo siento. Falta llamar al taxi y ya. ¡Yo lo hago!
(I know, I’m sorry. We just need to call the cab and that’s it. I’ll do it!)

The last thing that you should know is that “ una falta” (a foul) can also be a noun. It can work as a synonym for “error” (mistake). Actually, it’s probably one of the most common words you’ll hear at a football game too. Not that I would know, though.

6. Tablas para faltar (Tables for faltar conjugation)

Now for those little tables you’re only supposed to use as a guide. Take into account that with “faltar” you do have two different options, either reflexive or non-reflexive. Here’s the non-reflexive table:

PronounNon reflexiveChunk example
Yo (I)Falto¡Yo falto por torta!
(I’m still to get cake!)
(You)FaltasTú faltas por pedir.  (You are still to order.)
Él, Ella, Usted, Eso (He, She, Formal You, It)FaltaFalta esa pared por pintar.
(That wall is still to be painted.)
Nosotros, Nosotras (We)FaltamosFaltamos a clases una sola vez.
(We missed classes only once.)
Ustedes, Ellas, Ellos (Plural You, They)Faltan¡Llegamos! Solo faltan ustedes, apúrense. (We are here! Only you are missing, hurry up.)

And another table for conjugating the reflexive version of “faltar”:

PronounNon reflexiveChunk example
Yo (I)Falto¡Yo falto por torta!
(I’m still to get cake!)
(You)FaltasTú faltas por pedir.  (You are still to order.)
Él, Ella, Usted, Eso (He, She, Formal You, It)FaltaFalta esa pared por pintar.
(That wall is still to be painted.)
Nosotros, Nosotras (We)FaltamosFaltamos a clases una sola vez.
(We missed classes only once.)
Ustedes, Ellas, Ellos (Plural You, They)Faltan¡Llegamos! Solo faltan ustedes, apúrense. (We are here! Only you are missing, hurry up.)

Summary on how you can use faltar conjugation with chunks

Let’s review all of the uses we covered in this lesson with some examples:

  • “Faltar” for time:
    • Ya casi, falta poco. (Almost there, it’s not long now.)
  • “Faltar” to mean missing or lacking:
    • A esto le falta sal. (This lacks salt.)
  • “Faltar” with people:
    • Nos falta una persona para completar el equipo. (We are missing one person to complete the team.)
  • “Faltar” for classes or things you attend regularly:
    • Yo nunca falto a clases. (I never miss classes.)

There are many more confusing verbs in Spanish. Luckily, we’ve made an entire playlist of the verbs we’ve covered for you to have them all in one place! Click here and continue deciphering Spanish verbs with us.

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