Aguardar vs Esperar


Aguardar and Esperar are often used synonymously to mean ‘to wait’, ‘to wait for ‘ or ‘to await’.


Waiting, looking at watch



Rae – Aguardar

Rae – Esperar


The choice between the two often seems to be regional.


For example ‘esperar’ is commonly used in many Spanish speaking countries including Spain, where you’ll hear expressions like ¡espérame! (wait for me!) or ¡espera un momento! (wait a minute!)


But in at least parts of Mexico and a few Central America countries, you may also hear ‘aguardar ‘ being used in the same way. ¡aguárdame! (wait for me!) or ¡aguarda un momento! (wait a minute!)


As aguardar is probably the least common of the two verbs, here are some example sentences found online that illustrate its use.


You’ll notice that the phrase ‘aguarda con interés’ can be translated as ‘looking forward to something’ – a phrase that you might find useful.


Also, in the last example you can see that at times it’s handy to have these both of these verbs, for example when your sentence includes both ‘waiting’ and ‘hoping’ .  This allows you avoid repeating the same verb twice.




La gente aguardaba el permiso de tránsito haciendo fila durante el día y la noche.

People waited for their transit permits standing in line, day and night.


Comprendí el porvenir que le aguardaba a mi amigo.

I understood the future awaiting my friend.


En 2005, se ordenó a los servicios competentes liberar a los detenidos extranjeros que aguardaran ser deportados, con el fin de que pudieran acceder al proceso de regularización.


In 2005, the competent services were ordered to release foreign detainees awaiting expulsion, in order for them to benefit from the regularization procedure.


Antes de terminar, deseo decir unas pocas palabras sobre el trabajo que nos aguarda.

Before I conclude, I would like to say a brief word on the work ahead.


Un grupo de 250 doctores y enfermeros de la Guardia Nacional de Puerto Rico todavía aguarda autorización de las autoridades de Nueva York.


A unit of 250 doctors and nurses from the Puerto Rico National Guard is still waiting for authorization from New York authorities.


Su delegación aguarda con interés la posibilidad de contribuir a esos esfuerzos.

His delegation looked forward to contributing to those efforts.


Hasta entonces, Yusuf y Sarah tendrán que aguardar y esperar que todo salga bien.

Until then Yusuf and Sarah will have to wait and hope for the best.



A note on whether to use aguardar with a direct or indirect object:


Being a transitive verb you would logically expect that when aguardar had an object it would be a direct object (lo, la etc) and technically you would be right, having said this you will sometimes see or hear it used with the indirect objects (le, les etc) instead.


In their book ‘A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish’, Benjamin and Butt shed a little light on this phenomenon and they make this comment, “a number of verbs take le/les when their subject is inanimate’. And they give these examples using aguardar.


With a person ..


Yo la aguardé.


I waited for her. I awaited her.


but – with the inanimate subject ‘fate’


No sabe la suerte que le aguarda.


He/She doesn’t know the fate that awaits her/him.