Yeah, yeah. We all know that tocar means "to touch", but it has many other uses as well. Even if you think you know everything there is to know about tocar, you should continue reading because this is one of the most important verbs to master in order to sound more natural when speaking Spanish.
Let's see what other meanings the verb tocar has.
While in English we play a musical instrument or a piece of music, in Spanish we use the verb tocar for this purpose.
This verb is one of the most common ways that we use to express obligation or necessity, especially when it's something that we don't want to do. Using tocar in this way shows a lack of enthuisiasm about the obligation in question.
Following the same grammatical structure - indirect object + verb + subject, when talking about distributing something between recipients, we use the verb tocar as an equivalent to the English "to get".
For example, if we have eight pieces of pizza and there are four people, we could say:
Some more examples:
Tocar can be used to talk about not only distributing physical items like pieces of pizza, but also to indicate distribution of turns, whether in a game, a waiting list, or anything else. As a result, in Spanish if you wanted to say "it's my turn", you would say "me toca".
For example, in a waiting room, the receptionist might say something like:
This is another very common use of the verb tocar. Actions like "knocking at the door", "honking the horn", "ringing the doorbell", etc translate to "tocar la puerta", "tocar la bocina" y "tocar el timbre", respectively.
What all of these expressions have in common is that the actions and sounds that they refer to are in general produced by one's hand making contact with something, although there are exceptions, such as "tocar el silbato" (to blow the whistle).
Another use of tocar that translates quite easily to English is to bring up or discuss some topic, but not at length or in detail, like "to touch on a topic".
Here are some examples:
This works just like the expression "knock on wood" in English.
In Spanish, however, "tocar madera" is sometimes used to express hope that something bad doesn't happen, which is a bit different from how "knock on wood" is used in English:
Now that you have a better understanding of the verb tocar, les toca practicar! Check out our podcast to work on your listening skills and learn about traditional games in Colombia.