Different meanings of the verb contar

The Spanish verb contar has different meanings depending on the context. 

1. Contarto count = numbers or things

Miguelito, ¿tú sabes contar del 1 al 50? Miguelito, can you count from 1 to 50?

Lo mejor que puedes hacer para dormirte pronto es contar ovejitas.The best you can do to fall asleep quickly is to count sheep.

Voy a contar las monedas de 1 euro que tengo.I am going to count [all] the 1 euro coins I have.

Here it is a transitive verb using no prepositions at all before the object.

2. Contarto tell / to narrate

We use the verb contar to recount/tell things or to tell a story (e.g. narrating).

Verónica siempre cuenta mentiras.Veronica is always telling lies.

Mi padre me contó ayer que la vecina tiene un amante.My dad told me yesterday that the neighbour has a lover.

-¿Es verdad que te mudas a Madrid? -No, ¿quién te ha contado eso?-Is it true that you are moving to Madrid? -No, who told you that?

 3. Contarto count = having a value, taking into consideration

Los resultados de este examen no contarán para la nota a final de curso.The results of this exam won't count towards the end-of-year grade.

-Yo debería recibir el premio porque he terminado el dibujo antes. -Eso no cuenta.-I should receive the prize because I finished the drawing first. -That doesn't count.

Vamos a pedir la opinión de los maestros. Los maestros en práctica no cuentan.We are going to ask the teachers for their opinion. The trainee teachers don't count.

 4. Contar/Contar con to talk about age

We can use contar or contar con followed by someone's age to say how old someone is/was. This is more often used in written Spanish and it is considered a lot more formal than the more common "tener ... años"

Cuando yo contaba diez años, mi familia y yo nos trasladamos a Alemania.When I was ten years old, my family and I moved to Germany.

La señora, que cuenta con 55 años de edad, ya tiene 10 nietos.The lady, who is 55 years of age, already has 10 grandchildren.

Using the preposition con is optional here.

5. Contar con to say what someone or something has

El hotel cuenta con piscina climatizada y gimnasio.The hotel has a heated indoor pool and a gymnasium.

Todas nuestras habitaciones cuentan con aire acondicionado y caja fuerte.All our rooms have air-conditioning and a safe.

Nuestra empresa cuenta con personal muy especializado.Our company has specialized staff.

 6. Contar con alguiento count on someone

Cuenta conmigo para lo que necesites.Count on me for whatever you need.

-Necesito que colaboréis en mi proyecto. -Puedes contar con nosotros.-I need your help with my project. -You can count on us.

Note that some meanings of contar don't use any preposition and others use "con".

Remember that the verb contar is irregular in the present tense (o > ue), see: Conjugate stem-changing -ar verbs (o > ue) in El Presente (present tense)

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Examples and resources

El hotel cuenta con piscina climatizada y gimnasio.The hotel has a heated indoor pool and a gymnasium.
Miguelito, ¿tú sabes contar del 1 al 50? Miguelito, can you count from 1 to 50?
Cuenta conmigo para lo que necesites.Count on me for whatever you need.
-¿Es verdad que te mudas a Madrid? -No, ¿quién te ha contado eso?-Is it true that you are moving to Madrid? -No, who told you that?
Vamos a pedir la opinión de los maestros. Los maestros en práctica no cuentan.We are going to ask the teachers for their opinion. The trainee teachers don't count.
Nuestra empresa cuenta con personal muy especializado.Our company has specialized staff.
Mi padre me contó ayer que la vecina tiene un amante.My dad told me yesterday that the neighbour has a lover.
Los resultados de este examen no contarán para la nota a final de curso.The results of this exam won't count towards the end-of-year grade.
La señora, que cuenta con 55 años de edad, ya tiene 10 nietos.The lady, who is 55 years of age, already has 10 grandchildren.
Verónica siempre cuenta mentiras.Veronica is always telling lies.
Lo mejor que puedes hacer para dormirte pronto es contar ovejitas.The best you can do to fall asleep quickly is to count sheep.
Cuando yo contaba diez años, mi familia y yo nos trasladamos a Alemania.When I was ten years old, my family and I moved to Germany.
Todas nuestras habitaciones cuentan con aire acondicionado y caja fuerte.All our rooms have air-conditioning and a safe.
Voy a contar las monedas de 1 euro que tengo.I am going to count [all] the 1 euro coins I have.
-Necesito que colaboréis en mi proyecto. -Puedes contar con nosotros.-I need your help with my project. -You can count on us.
-Yo debería recibir el premio porque he terminado el dibujo antes. -Eso no cuenta.-I should receive the prize because I finished the drawing first. -That doesn't count.
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