Citar vs Citarse

What is the difference between ‘citar’ and ‘citarse’?
If you want to speak of just generally  ‘arranging to meet someone’ you can’t go wrong with citarse as this is its only basic meaning.
Eg.  En un día como este, hubiera sido mejor que nos hubiéramos citado en un lugar cerrado.
On a day like this it might have been better to meet under cover.
Citarse is often used with ‘con’ and it can also be translated as ‘to rendezvous’ as they say in ‘français’ 🙂
Una época en la cual Puerto Príncipe se daba cita con la jet-set americana.
An era when Port-au-Prince was a rendez-vous for theAmerican jet-set. 
Citar, on the otherhand, can mean ‘to make an appointment with’ which isn’t too far removed from ‘arranging to meet’ or ‘to rendezvous’ but as you can see in the two examples
given above citarse is sometimes the better option.
Here are some more examples using ‘citar’ and some of its possible meanings.   
1.   To make an appointment with.  To set a date. 
¿Está usted citado?   Do you have an appointment. 
La citaron a las dos de la tarde =
She was given an appointment for two in the afternoon.  
NB:  When using ‘citar’ to mean, ‘make an appointment’ in Spain you generally ‘concertar’ una cita’ whereas in Latin America you would ‘hacer cita’.
Me gustaría concertar una cita para….  (Spain)
I would like to make an appointment to …
Voy a hacer cita con el médico.   (Latin America)  
I’m going to make an appointment with a doctor.
2.   To quote, cite or give examples.
citar como ejemplo = cite + as an example
citar mal = misquote
digno de citarse = quotable
Este documento se cita con frecuencia en otras publicaciones . 
This paper is often cited in other publications.
Permítanme citar dos ejemplos.
Allow me to give you two examples.
If you want to talk about quoting ‘someone’ you often add ‘sus palabras’.
Me limito a citar sus palabras.
I can only quote him.
3.   To mention, name.
A este respecto, quisiera citar dos ejemplos concretos.
On this point, I would like to mention two actual examples.
Podría citar países, pero no lo haré.
I could name some countries, but I will not.
4.   To summon or summons (to court, a meeting etc.), to subpoena
El jurado la citó para las once.


The jury summoned her at eleven o’clock.

Te he citado a esta reunión debido a que necesito decirte esta información personalmente
I have summonsed you to this meeting, because I need to give you this information in person 

El contador, al parecer, lo citó para decirle que ….
The accountant allegedly summonsed him (ie. called him into his office) to tell him that  …
(PS.  Yes both summon and summons are verbs with summoned and summonsed being their respective past tense forms 😉 )
Don’t get caught out when things get tricky!
Now I’m not sure if you spotted it, but perhaps some of you looked at at least one of the example sentences under ‘citar’ and said “hang on, that’s a case of citarse not citar, isn’t it?’.
Eg. Este documento se cita con frecuencia en otras publicaciones . 
This paper is often cited in other publications.
But one must remember that the Spanish ‘se’ has many, many uses – being the reflexive pronoun of a pronominal verb such as ‘citarse’ is just one.
You will also come across citar and ‘se’ as in this case with impersonal contructions.  This is where an action is referred to but who is doing the action is not stated, because it’s not important, or not known, or it’s just a generalization.  Someone obviously does the quoting but we aren’t saying who they may be so we just say –  ‘se cita’ = ‘it is quoted’.
So don’t get caught out just because you see a ‘se’ with a ‘citar’ nearby as it’s often a case of ‘citar’ with an impersonal ‘se’.
Final Note


It seems to me, and this is just a personal observation, that while both citar and citarse can be used to refer to meeting with someone, citar seems more time specific, whereas with citarse the time doesn’t seem so important, but rather the focus is just on the meeting up itself.  But as I say, this is just my take with no grammar rule that I know of to back it up. 😉