Today we are going to learn how to properly use the Spanish verb doler. Our Spanish school, El Rincón del Tándem, provides you with a short clear explanation. Take a look at it!

The Spanish verb doler belongs to the list of those Spanish verbs that every student needs to know to express him/herself in ordinary situations.

Despite people who study Spanish get familiar with it as soon as they start learning the language, they usually make some mistakes when using this verb.

The Spanish verb doler is normally translated into English as “hurt”. More precisely, it means “cause pain to”.

The confusion in the use of this verb is due to the pattern we have to follow to make sentences with it, that is quite similar to the one we use with gustar.

Besides that, unlike with English “to hurt”, we cannot use possessive adjectives when naming the part of the body that hurts.

Therefore, it would be incorrect to say “me duele mi garganta” (correct: “me duele la garganta”).

Firstly, as for gustar, this verb can be only used in 3rd person, singular or plural.

Secondly, the verb must be preceded by an indirect object pronoun. The pronoun indicates the person whose part of the body is hurting. That is, the person who feels the pain. Besides that, the preposition A + noun of the person is placed before the pronoun.

Let’s see the whole pattern:

  • Indirect Object: The person who feel the pain, expressed by the preposition A + noun
  • Indirect Object pronoun: me/te/le/nos/os/les
  • Verb DOLER in 3rd plural or singular person
  • Subject = the part of the body that hurts


  • Me duele la pierna = My leg hurts
  • A Manuel le duele la cabeza = Manuel’s head hurts
  • Hemos comido demasiado. Nos duele el estómago = We have eaten too much. Our stomach hurts

IMPORTANT: Remember that the subject of the sentence is not the person but the part of the body that hurts. Therefore, the verb must agree with it.

Besides physical pain, the verb doler can also express distress and sorrow.

  • Me dolieron tus palabras = Your words hurt me
  • Me dolió mucho verlo tan triste = Seeing him so sad hurt me

Lastly, we can replace the Spanish verb doler with the expression “tener dolor de”.

  • A Pilar le duelen las muelas = Pilar tiene dolor de muelas
    (Pilar has toothache)

When using the expression “tener dolor de”, the subject is the person who feel the pain (not the part of the body).

We really hope our post on the Spanish verb doler is helpful to you 😊

As usual, we invite you to expand your knowledge of Spanish verbs during Spanish lessons and practicing your Spanish every day, inside and outside the school.

Finally, our Spanish school El Rincón del Tándem would be happy to teach you Spanish here in Valencia, providing a cosy place where you can learn by having fun.

Have a good day!