Ganar: Conjugation & Translation

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

This lesson covers the meanings of the Spanish verb 'ganar,' which has three different equivalent verbs in English: gain, win, and earn. We'll also learn how to conjugate it in the present tense while talking to a very lucky person.

One Verb for Three Different Verbs

When was the last time you won a prize? Are you happy with what you earn in your job? Do you gain access to good benefits at work or at school? These three different verbs (win, earn, and gain) have a single equivalent verb in Spanish: ganar (gah-NAHR). This certainly simplifies things for you since you only have to learn this verb in order to answer all the questions above. Let's learn the present tense of the verb ganar.

Translation: Lorena and Ana always win the 100 meters sprint at the university.
superunner

Conjugation of Ganar

The present tense of ganar is used to talk about habitual actions and facts mostly. For example, a habitual action can be found in the following sentence:

  • Yo siempre gano cuando juego Monopolio con mi hermano. (I always win when I play Monopolio with my brother.)

A fact can be found here:

  • Generalmente, los médicos ganan buen dinero en su profesión. (Generally, doctors earn good money in their profession.)

We often see facts in the news with the verb ganar in the present tense. This chart shows you all the possible conjugations of ganar in this tense:

Verb ganar (gah-NAHR) - to win / to earn / to gain

Subject
Pronoun
Ganar Conjugation Pronunciation Translation
yo gano GAH-noh I win / earn/ gain
ganas GAH-nahs you (singular/informal) win / earn/ gain
él/ella
usted
gana GAH-nah he/she/you (singular/formal) win(s) / earn(s) / gain(s)
nosotros
nosotras
ganamos gah-NAH-mohs we win / earn/ gain
vosotros
vosotras
ganáis gah-NAH-ees you (plural/informal) win / earn/ gain
ellos/ellas
ustedes
ganan GAH-nahn they/you (plural/formal) win / earn/ gain

Translation: My sister earns good money in her job as a systems engineer.
engineer

People who Win, Earn, and Gain

Luisa is a writer from Argentina. She writes books for children and has become so famous that now some of her stories for children are going to be made into movies. This week, we see this great news in the press:

  • Luisa gana el Premio Mundial de Historias Infantiles. (Luisa wins the World Prize for Children's Stories.)

Let's ask Luisa about this:

  • ¿Es éste el primer premio literario que ganas? (Is this the first literary prize you're winning?)

Luisa: Sí, es la primera vez que gano un premio literario. (Yes, this is the first time I'm winning a literary prize.)

  • Cuéntanos, ¿Qué ganan los escritores con este premio? (Tell us, what do writers earn with this prize?)

Luisa: Los escritores ganamos mucho dinero y prestigio,. (We writers earn a lot of money and prestige.)

This interesting interview shows us a couple uses of the verb ganar. Let's look at some common expressions with this verb.

Common Expressions with Ganar

Aside from the expressions you already know--ganar dinero, ganar un premio, ganar prestigio (to earn money, to win a prize, to gain prestige)--these are some other expressions you might find useful:

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