What’s the difference between recordar and acordarse?

Introduction

The verbs recordar and acordarse are interchangeable in their meaning; they are both translated into English as remember. However, they are grammatically different, meaning that using them correctly in a sentence can be tricky for learners. Learn how to use recordar and acordarse correctly in a sentence with Lingolia’s quick and easy examples, then put your knowledge to the test in the exercise.

—¿A dónde vamos de vacaciones este año? ¿A las Canarias?

—¡Ya hemos estado allí! ¿No te acuerdas de nuestro viaje?

—Pues no... ¡no lo recuerdo!

—¿No recuerdas el Teide?

—¡Ah, sí! Me acuerdo de un volcán muy, muy grande.

recordar

The verb recordar has the following characteristics:

  • it is a transitive verb; it cannot exist alone. Recordar is always used together with a direct object (complemento directo);
    Examples:
    —¿No recuerdas el Teide?–You don’t remember Teide?
    —Pues no... ¡no lo recuerdo!–Well no ... I don’t remember it!
  • unlike acordarse, recordar can also mean remind, and can be combined with an indirect object (complemento indirecto);
    Example:
    Recuérdame dónde hemos estado de vacaciones.Remind me where we went on holiday.
  • it does not take a preposition;
    Example:
    ¿No recuerdas el Teide?Don’t you remember Teide?

If recordar does appear with a preposition, it belongs to the object not to the verb.

Example:
¿Recuerdas en qué islas hemos estado? (estar en)Do you remember which islands we’ve been to?

acordarse

The verb acordarse has the following characteristics:

  • it is an intransitive verb; it is never followed immediately by a direct object (complemento directo);
    Example:
    ¿Te acuerdas de nuestro viaje?Do you remember our trip?

    not: ¿te lo acuerdas?

  • it cannot be combined with an indirect object;
    Example:
    Acuérdame en qué islas hemos estado.
  • if we want to combine acordarse with an object, we must use the preposition de: acordarse de algo o de alguien;
    Example:
    Me acuerdo de un volcán muy, muy grande.I remember a very, very big volcano.
  • acordarse is a reflexive verb, which means it always appears with the corresponding reflexive pronoun;
    Example:
    ¿Te acuerdas de nuestro viaje?Do you remember our trip?

Without a reflexive pronoun, acordar means agree.

Example:
Los compradores acordaron un precio con el negociador.The buyers agreed a price with the negotiator.

3 rules to avoid common mistakes

Learn these three handy rules to avoid the most common grammatical mistakes with recordar and acordarse.

  1. Use a reflexive pronoun with acordarse but not with recordar:
    Example:
    Me acuerdo. / Lo recuerdo.I remember. / I remember (it).
    not: Me recuerdo.
  2. Use the preposition de after acordarse but do not use a preposition with recordar:
    Example:
    Me acuerdo de un volcán muy grande. / Recuerdo un volcán muy grande.I remember a very big volcano.
    not: Recuerdo de un volcán muy grande.
  3. Always use a direct object with recordar (recordar algo):
    Example:
    ¡No lo recuerdo!I don’t remember it.
    not: ¡No recuerdo!

Table of comparison

The table below gives an overview of the different characteristics of the verbs recordar and acordarse.

Direct Object? Indirect Object? Preposition? Reflexive Verb?
recordar yes yes no no
acordarse no no yes: de yes

How to conjugate recordar and acordarse

Below are the present, past and future conjugations of the verbs recordar and acordarse. Use the conjugator to see the conjugations of these verbs in all tenses in both the indicative and subjunctive moods. Note that both verbs are irregular.

RECORDAR present imperfect preterite future
yo recuerdo recordaba recordé recordaré
recuerdas recordabas recordaste recordarás
él, ella, usted recuerda recordaba recordó recordará
nosotros/-as recordamos recordábamos recordamos recordaremos
vosotros/-as recordáis recordabais recordasteis recordaréis
ellos/-as, ustedes recuerdan recordaban recordaron recordarán
ACORDARSE present imperfect preterite future
yo me acuerdo me acordaba me acordé me acordaré
te acuerdas te acordabas te acordaste te acordarás
él, ella, usted se acuerda se acordaba se acordó se acordará
nosotros/-as nos acordamos nos acordábamos nos acordamos nos acordaremos
vosotros/-as os acordáis os acordabais os acordasteis os acordaréis
ellos/-as, ustedes se acuerdan se acordaban se acordaron se acordarán