Learn how to use the expression dar de in Spanish
The verb dar is used in the following structure to express "to feed someone/an animal" or to "give a drink to someone/an animal"
dar [a alguien] de + infinitive (with verbs related to food/drink)
There is no equivalent idiom in English for this expression;
Have a look at these examples:
Tengo que darles de comer a mis hijos. Tienen mucha hambreI need to feed my children. They are very hungry.
Tendrás que darle de beber a la abuela. Ella no puede coger el vaso.You'll have to help grandma drink/with her drink. She can't hold the glass.
Ayer, después de darles de cenar a los pequeños, me puse a ver la tele.Yesterday, after serving dinner to the little ones, I started watching TV.
Papá, ¿cuándo me vas a dar de merendar?Dad, when are you going to give me my afternoon snack?
La mamá estaba dándole de mamar al bebé.The mother was breastfeeding the baby.
¡Se me ha olvidado darle de comer al perro!I forgot to feed the dog!
Sometimes it has a more abstract meaning of "feeding":
La cooperativa de aceite le ha dado de comer a medio pueblo; ha creado más de quinientos puestos de trabajo para la gente local.The oil cooperative has put food on the table for half the town; it has created more than five hundred jobs for locals.
Indirect object pronouns with dar de
Notice how the person who is given food or drink is the indirect object of the verb and it needs to be reflected with an indirect object pronoun:
me, te, le, nos, os, les
Le di de comer al mendigo porque sentí pena por él.I gave the beggar some food because I felt sorry for him.
Nos han dado de beber porque estábamos exhaustos y sedientos.They gave us a drink because we were exhausted and thirsty.
- Le refers to the beggar.
- Nos refers to us.
If the person is named, the most natural way to use this structure is by using both indirect objects, e.g. le and al mendigo
Omitting "le" is not incorrect but it sounds less natural:
Di de comer al mendigo.
Le di de comer al mendigo. (more commonly used/more natural)
Remember to match the pronoun depending on if it is singular or plural:
Le di de comer al mendigo.
Les di de comer a los mendigos.
We always need the preposition "a" before the person/people/animal (a la abuela, a María, a mis hijos, a mi gato,...)
See also Repetition of indirect object pronouns with verbs in Spanish (general)
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 Brainmap today »