Tratar de Vs Tratarse de

¡Hola queridos estudiantes! Soy yo Andrés. Today, we delve into the nuances of two expressions that often confuse learners: “tratar de” and “tratarse de”. Though they may appear similar at first glance, understanding the subtle differences between them can significantly boost your proficiency in Spanish. So, whether you’re just starting out or looking to refine your skills, this post is crafted to demystify these expressions, making their usage clear and straightforward. Join me as we explore these phrases together, enhancing your Spanish grammar with each step.

Understanding “Tratar de” vs “Tratarse de”

In Spanish, both “tratar de” and “tratarse de” are expressions that can cause confusion due to their similar sounds. However, their usage and meaning differ significantly. This post will help you understand these differences clearly and quickly.

What Does “Tratar de” Mean?

Tratar de is used when discussing the theme or subject of something, like a movie, a book, or a conversation. Think of it as equivalent to “to be about” in the sense of “the main topic is”. It points to what the subject matter is.

Example: “La película trata de una niña que puede volar.”

(The movie is about a girl who can fly.) Here, “tratar de” is used to describe the plot or main theme of the movie.

What Does “Tratarse de” Mean?

On the other hand, tratarse de is often used in a similar context but it is more general. Literally it means it is about or to make it even clearer; it consists of. As a consequence, it can be used in various contexts to explain the essence of something and not just a movie or book.

Example: “Se trata de entender las emociones humanas.”

(It’s about understanding human emotions.) In this sentence, “tratarse de” discusses the general theme or subject matter in an abstract or general sense.

Quick Application

To decide which expression to use, ask yourself if you’re describing the main subject or theme of something (use “tratar de”). If you’re talking in a more general sense, particularly in more formal or impersonal expressions, you might lean towards “tratarse de” in most cases.


Remember, practice makes perfect. Try to use both expressions in your daily conversations to get familiar with their usage.


Selecciona tratar de o tratarse de  para completar cada frase correctamente.

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