Both appear to mean ‘to close’. But when do you use one vs the other?
Yes, they are synonyms, but encerrar steps it up a bit in terms of intensity, as if you were really firmly closing or sealing something.
As per common usage, fechar can and is applied to anything. To close a door, to close a box, to close a bank account, to close a deal, to close your hands, etc. Encerrar is not so much used for the very straightforward act of physically closing something, but more in other contexts where there’s also the idea of ending something, such as closing a bank account, closing a store for the day (it goes beyond closing the door - the whole business is shut down), closing a company, closing a case or closing a session.
Because of how final encerrar sounds, you can say “fechar um negócio” (close a deal) to mean that you just got it, but if you say “encerrar um negócio”, it’s most likely all over. Someone or something that’s locked in a place presumably for a long time can also be “encerrado(a)”. “Encerrado numa jaula” (locked in a cage), “encerrado no quarto” (locked in the bedroom), and so on.
Here’s another pair: Regressar, Voltar - synonyms, or is there a subtle difference?
When used in the sense of coming back or returning, they’re synonyms. But “voltar” can have additional uses, such as “to turn” or “to do something again”.
- Eu não volto a fazer isso. (I won’t do that again)
- Quando é que tu voltas a visitar-nos? (When will you visit us again?)
- Eles voltaram-me as costas. (They turned their backs on me)
- Todas as atenções voltam-se para ti. (Everyone’s attention turns to you)
<warning… thread drift …>
How do voltar and virar relate then?
Also possible synonyms. It just depends on the context where ‘voltar’ is used. In some contexts, ‘voltar’ is a synonym of ‘regressar’ (to return), while in others, it’s a synoym of ‘virar’ (to turn). It has multiple meanings