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The verb “pillar” and its meanings plus some expressions

The verb “pillar” is other of (many) Spanish verbs that has multiple meanings, in today’s blog I am going to teach you some of them. And also, I will comment some expressions with this verb, “pillar”, because as you have probably guess, are quite common too.

1-Alcanzarto reach/ atraparto catch

Normally something that is moving.

El ladrón echo a correr y la policía no lo pudo pillar-the thief started to run and the police could not catch him.

In this meaning I would like to mention the game for kids “pillar” that is “tag” when someone runs trying to catch the rest.

It is also very popular to follow a kid around saying “que te pillo, que te pillo” – I am going to catch you, I am going to catch you. And once we have them, we say “te pillé” –I caught you.

We also use it when we call someone and we want to make sure it is the right time to reach (find) them, for example I can call a friend and ask.

¿Te pillo en un buen momento? –  Is this a good moment?

And she could reply

Me pillas super ocupada, te llamo luego. – I am very busy, I will phone you later.

2-sorprender en el acto-to catch someone in the act / descubrir-to find out

Pillaron a Juan robando en la panadería-Juan was caught stealing in the bakery.

A Carla la pillaron copiando en el examen de matemáticas-They caught Carla copying in the maths exam.

We can also use it for just sorprender/to surprise.

La noticia me pillo por sorpresa, no estaba preparada– The news surprised me, I was not ready.

3-contagiarse – to catch/to become infected

El fin de semana pasado pillé un resfriado y no pude ir al cumpleaños de Miguel-Last weekend I caught a cold, and I could not go to Miguel’s birthday.

4-entender-to understand

If someone tells us a joke and we don’t see the funny thing we can say

No lo pillo-I don’t get it

5-coger-to get

If you are about to jump in the bus and your mother call you you can say

Estoy a punto de pillar el bus, te llamo enseguida-I am about to get the bus, I will call you soon.


No tengo planes para esta noche, así que creo que voy a pillar una pizza y ver una peli-I don’t have plans for tonight, so I think I am going to get a pizza and watch a movie.

6-atropellar-to run over/to hit

El otro día Juan pilló a un ciervo con su coche-Juan ran over a deer with his car the other day.

Now, I want to see some expressions that use the verb “pillar”, but first I would like to explain the verb pillar as reflexive, pillarse.

-pillarse means to fall for someone

Carlos estás muy pillado por Marta, le envia flores cada semana-Carlos has totally fallen  for Marta, he sends her flowers every week.

-pillar el toro-to run out of time

Vístete, que tenemos que llegar al cine en 20 minutos, nos va a pillar el toro.- Get dressed, we need to get to the cinema in 20 minutes, we are going to run of time.

-pillar de camino-to be on one’s way

No te preocupes, yo recojo la tarta, la tienda me pilla de camino-Don’t worry I will pick up the cake, the shop is on my way.

-pillar con las manos en la masa-to be caught with the hand in the cookie jar.

Lo pillaron con las manos en la masa-they caught hime read handed.

The caught him exactly when he was doing something. It is similar to number 2, to be catch in the act, but this one is more literal.

That is it! The verb pillar, some of its meaning and some expressions.

Now, remember, that if you want to listen to this lesson in Spanish, you can watch it on my YouTube channel here:

And before you leave don’t forget to write a comment and let me know

-if you know any other meanings or expressions with pillar,

-and write a sentence with one of the meanings of the verb pillar we have seen today.

Have a great day! And I will see you next time!


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