Using doler to say that something hurts

In Spanish to express that "something hurts" we use the verb doler in El Presente.

Have a look at these examples:

Me duele la pierna.My leg hurts.

Te duele la pierna.Your leg hurts.

While in English it is a very straightforward sentence:

subject + verb

My leg / hurts

Your leg / hurts

in Spanish the word order is different:

verb + subject

Me duele / la pierna

Te duele / la pierna

Notice that in front of the verb there is a personal pronoun (me, te). It is as if we are saying "something hurts me/you".

We use the personal pronouns to indicate who has the pain. They are always placed in front of the verb.

[personal pronoun] + duele + [what hurts]

Have a look at these other examples and notice how duele changes to duelen:

Me duelen los pies.My feet hurt.

Te duelen las rodillas.Your knees hurt.

Me duelen los oídos.My ears hurt.

In the sentences above, what hurts is plural, therefore duele changes to duelenThe verb needs to agree with the subject.

[personal pronoun] + duelen + [what hurts in plural]

If you see all the examples above, they are not using possessive pronouns (mi, tu...=my, your...) when saying what is hurting, like you do in English: "My leg hurts"; we use articles el, la, los, las

"Me duele la pierna"

To ask someone if something hurts, the same rule applies, you just need the question marks. For example:

¿Te duele la cabeza?Does your head hurt? (Do you have a headache?)

¿Te duelen las muelas?Do your teeth hurt?

To learn more about personal pronouns have a look at Pronombre de complemento indirecto.
See also Verb list: Stem-changing verbs: present tense (o > ue)

Want to make sure your Spanish sounds confident? We’ll map your knowledge and give you free lessons to focus on your gaps and mistakes. Start your Braimap today »

Examples and resources

Te duele la pierna.Your leg hurts.
¿Te duelen las muelas?Do your teeth hurt?
Me duele la pierna.My leg hurts.
Me duelen los oídos.My ears hurt.
Te duelen las rodillas.Your knees hurt.
Me duelen los pies.My feet hurt.
¿Te duele la cabeza?Does your head hurt? (Do you have a headache?)
Thinking...