Faltar y Hacer falta

The expressions faltar and hacer falta are related in meaning since both indicate the absence of something (an action or a thing); however, their uses are quite different in Spanish. Let’s take a look:


(a) One of the main uses of faltar is to indicate the absence of something. In this sense, faltar simply means “there isn’t / there aren’t”:

  • No faltaron voces que denunciaran la manipulación de los resultados por el dictador. There wasn’t a shortage of voices to denounce the dictator’s manipulation of the results.

(b) When combined with time markers, faltar can also be used to point out the proximity of an event:

  • Faltando pocos días para su inicio, las olimpiadas de Beijing representan una ocasión de festejo para todos los deportes. A few days shy of their opening, the Beijing Olimpics represent a cause for celebration for all sports.

(c) Faltar can also be used as an equivalent for “not to attend” or “not to appear”:

  • El jugador faltó a la práctica. The player didn’t show up for practice.



The expression hace falta is always used to indicate a need. It can either be:

(a) The need for a certain action to take place:

  1. No hace falta decir que el equipo que marque más goles durante el partido resulta ganador. It’s not necessary to state that the team that scores more goals during the match will be the winner.

(b) Or, the need for an object, thing, or person:

Dado este auge mundial, hacía falta un organismo central que coordinara el deporte en el plano internacional. Due to this world-wide growth, it was necessary to create a central organization to coordinate sport at global level.

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