11 Different Ways to Say Stop in Spanish: from alto to calmáte (with examples)

You’re out for a leisurely stroll in a Spanish-speaking city when you see a child carelessly running into the street, unaware of the oncoming traffic. Your heart races as you desperately try to shout a warning, but your mind goes blank – you can’t remember how to say stop in Spanish. You’re frozen!

Thankfully, this was just a hypothetical situation, but it highlights the importance of knowing how to communicate effectively emergencies. Learn Spanish Daily has a short but valuable explanatory video on this problem:

In this blog post, you’ll learn 11 different ways to say stop in Spanish from polite requests to urgent commands. Click on any of these expressions to learn more about them!

SpanishEnglishUse Case
DetenerTo stopThe most common and general way to say “stop”.
PararTo stopAlso very common and used similarly to “detener”.
BastaEnoughUsed to indicate that something is enough or to stop an action.
AltoStopCommonly used in emergency situations or to stop a vehicle.
CeseCeaseA more formal way, used in formal or legal contexts.
DejarTo letUsed to indicate that something should be stopped.
FrenarTo brakeSpecifically used to stop a moving vehicle.
Ya es suficienteThat’s enough / Enough alreadyMeans “that’s enough” or “enough already”.
No sigasDon’t continueLiterally means “don’t continue”.
CortaStopSlang term used in some Spanish-speaking regions to mean “stop”.
CálmateCalm down / StopUsed to tell someone to calm down or stop what they are doing.

1. Detener (To stop)

The Spanish verb detener means “to stop” or “to halt.” It’s a regular verb that follows the typical conjugation patterns in Spanish. This verb can be used in various contexts to talk about stopping an action or movement. It has a formal tone and can be used in professional or official settings.

For example:

  • Detén el carro ahora mismo. (Stop the car right now.)

Detener is a transitive verb. This means it requires a direct object. It can be used with people, objects, or actions as the direct object. You could detener a person (detener a alguien), a vehicle (detener un coche), or an activity (detener una actividad).

2. Parar (To stop)

The verb parar is another way to say “to stop” in Spanish.

It’s also a regular verb that can be used in different contexts, from stopping an action or movement to stopping someone from doing something. This verb has a more informal and casual tone compared to detener.

Let’s say:

  • Para de hablar y escúchame. (Stop talking and listen to me.)

Like detener, parar is a transitive verb, so it needs a direct object. It’s also commonly used with the preposition de followed by an infinitive verb to indicate stopping a specific action. Let’ explore these examples like, parar de fumar (to stop smoking), parar de llorar (to stop crying).

3. Basta (Enough)

While not a verb, ¡basta! is a common Spanish expression that means “enough!” or “stop!” It’s an interjection used to demand that someone or something stops immediately. This expression is quite informal and can be seen as rude or aggressive depending on the context and tone.

For instance:

  • ¡Basta ya! No quiero escuchar más. (Enough already! I don’t want to hear any more.)

¡Basta! is often used when someone has had enough of a particular situation or behavior and wants it to stop right away. It’s a forceful way to say stop in Spanish and is typically used in informal or heated situations.

4. Alto (Stop)

Alto is the literal Spanish translation of the English word “stop.” It can be used as an interjection, a noun, or an adjective, all depending on the context. It’s quite a direct way to tell someone or something to stop immediately.

To illustrate:

  • ¡Alto! No te muevas. (Stop! Don’t move.)

When used as a noun, alto refers to a stop or a halt, as in “hacer un alto” (to make a stop). As an adjective, it means “tall” or “high,” but it can also describe something that has stopped, as in “el tráfico está alto” (the traffic has stopped).

5. Cese (Cease)

The noun cese means “cessation” or “stopping,” and it’s derived from the verb cesar, which means “to cease” or “to stop.” This word has a formal and official tone. With this in mind, it is often used in legal or bureaucratic contexts.

Let’s suppose:

  • El cese de hostilidades es necesario para lograr la paz. (The cessation of hostilities is necessary to achieve peace.)

While cese is a noun, it can be used with the verb hacer (to make) to create a command or request for something to stop. Like this, “hacer cesar el fuego” (to cease fire) or “hacer cesar las protestas” (to stop the protests).

6. Dejar (To let)

The verb dejar can also be used to express the idea of stopping or ceasing an action. When used with the preposition de followed by an infinitive verb, it means “to stop” or “to quit” doing something.

In an everyday situation:

  • Dejé de fumar el año pasado. (I stopped smoking last year.)

This construction with dejar de is a common way to talk about quitting or stopping a habit or activity. It has a neutral tone and can be used in both formal and informal contexts.

7. Frenar (To brake)

While frenar literally means “to brake,” it can also be used figuratively to mean “to stop” or “to halt” an action or movement. This verb is often used in the context of vehicles or transportation, but it can also be applied to other situations where something needs to be stopped or slowed down.

In a typical Spanish conversation:

  • Es necesario frenar la propagación del virus. (It’s necessary to stop the spread of the virus.)

Frenar has a more intense or forceful meaning than some other verbs on this list. It shows a sudden or abrupt stopping of an action.

8. Ya es suficiente (Enough already)

This phrase literally translates to “enough already”. We can say this is common way to tell someone to stop doing something in Spanish. It’s an informal and to some extent, forceful expression that expresses a sense of frustration or even impatience with a particular behavior.

It could be like this:

  • Ya es suficiente, deja de molestar a tu hermana. (Enough already, stop bothering your sister.)

Like ¡basta!, ya es suficiente is a direct way to demand that someone stops an undesirable actionimmediately.

9. No sigas (Don’t continue)

The phrase no sigas is a more polite way to tell someone to stop doing something in Spanish. It translates to “don’t continue” and is a command that asks the person to cease the action they’re engaged in.

It could be like this:

  • No sigas hablando, es mi turno. (Don’t continue talking, it’s my turn.)

This expression has a less forceful tone than some of the other options on this list. It can be considered a bit more diplomatic way to ask someone to stop without being overly aggressive or rude. Still, pay attention when you use it!

10. Corta (Stop)

Corta is a shortened version of the imperative form of the verb cortar, which means “to cut” or “to stop.” When used as a command, it’s a direct way to tell someone to stop what they’re doing immediately!

This is how it would sound:

  • ¡Corta ya! Me estás hartando. (Stop it already! You’re getting on my nerves.)

While corta is a informal and somewhat abrupt way to say “stop,” it’s not quite as forceful or aggressive as options like ¡basta! (pay attention to this one!) or ¡alto!. Its tone falls somewhere in the middle in terms of intensity.

11. Cálmate (Calm down)

The phrase cálmate literally means “calm down,” but it’s often used to tell someone to stop a behavior that’s seen as inappropriate. It’s a way to ask someone to regain control or composure. You might even remember Cristiano Ronaldo saying Calma to some fans after he score and important goal – this is the phrase he used.

In a real-life case:

  • Cálmate y explícame qué pasó. (Calm down and explain to me what happened.)

While cálmate doesn’t directly translate to “stop,” it’s still used often to indirectly ask someone to stop whatever it is they’re doing that’s causing them to be agitated or out of control. It has a somewhat informal edge for it. Depending on the tone you’re using, it can sound rude!

Practice Worksheet – How to say stop in Spanish

Fill in the blanks with the correct Spanish term based on the context given. The English translations are provided for reference.

If you want to practice more Spanish, click the button now!

Translate with confidence: learn more Spanish and different ways to say stop in Spanish with Conversation Based Chunking

While individual words like “alto” or “parar” are certainly useful, being able to learn entire phrases and expressions like “¡basta ya!” or “no sigas” can truly make your Spanish communication skills better.

This is where the concept of Conversation Based Chunking comes into play. If you learn common phrases and chunks within their natural contexts, you’ll not only expand your vocabulary but also develop an intuitive understanding of when and how to use these natural building blocks of the language appropriately.

Whether you need to firmly halt someone’s actions or politely request it, having these conversational chunks in your vocabulary, this will enable you to speak in real-life situations with fluency.

Sign up now and feel the power of Conversation Based Chunking. Soon, you’ll find yourself using these “stop” expressions in your Spanish conversations.

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