Acabar vs. terminar

what is the difference between terminar and acabar?

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Olá, @kateevans00. These words are close synonyms, for the most part :slight_smile: One exception comes to mind, which is when we use the verb acabar as the English word just (in one of its uses):

  • She’s just arrived. = Ela acabou de chegar
  • I’ve just said that. = Eu acabei de dizer isso.

Also, even when used similarly, acabar sounds equally natural when paired with verbs (linked by the preposition de) or with nouns (linked by a suitable definite or indefinite article), while terminar is better paired with nouns only, at least in my opinion.

Acabar

  • Nós acabámos o projeto. = We’ve completed the project. (sounds fine)
  • Nós acabámos de trabalhar no projeto. = We’ve finished working on the project. (sounds fine)

Terminar

  • Nós terminámos o projeto. = We’ve completed the project. (sounds fine)
  • Nós terminámos de trabalhar no projeto. = We’ve finished working on the project. (grammatically possible, but sounds awkward to me)
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Obrigado Joseph, for this explanation. I was also wondering what the difference between terminar and acabar is.

Which verb do you use to say you have finished your meal?

You’re welcome! You can use either one, but being mindful of whether you’re using a noun or a verb afterwards:

With verbs, preferably (for me), only acabar:

  • Acabei de comer (I’ve finished eating)
  • Acabei de jantar (I’ve finished having dinner)
  • Acabei de tomar o pequeno-almoço (I’ve finished having breakfast)

With nouns, both acabar and terminar are fine:

  • Acabei/Terminei o prato (I’ve finished my dish)
  • Acabei/terminei a refeição (I’ve finished my meal)
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