Determining the best possible word to express a concept among several choices.

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5
votes
2answers
2k views

When does sólo have an accent?

When does the word solo have an accent (tilde) on the first o (sólo)? When does it not?
2
votes
1answer
849 views

reserva vs. reservación

What is the difference between reserva and reservación (as in a reservation that you would make at a restaurant)? Do the two words mean the same thing? Which is used in what parts of the ...
0
votes
1answer
172 views

caja vs. cajón vs. estuche

"Box" in English can be translated into Spanish as caja, cajón, or estuche. What exactly is the difference between these three words? What types of boxes are translated as each? Which would best ...
7
votes
3answers
875 views

When to use “tratar de” and when to use “intentar” for “to try to”?

Spanish has three words that can translate to English to try. Probar is easy to remember because it's used for sample or taste, like: Have you ever tried tacos el pastor? But I never know when ...
2
votes
2answers
6k views

Most common translation of “Happy New Year!”

Is "Happy New Year!" more commonly translated as "¡Feliz Año Nuevo!" or "¡Próspero Año Nuevo!"? Are the two basically synonyms, or is there a difference between the two?
3
votes
1answer
545 views

se pronoun in “no fault constructions”

One page I recently ran across discusses the concept of "no fault constructions" or verbs that use se in such a way to describe an action as taking place apart from the person who caused the action. ...
2
votes
2answers
4k views

Equivalent of “To whom it may concern:”

When writing formal letters in English where there is no named recipient (for example, a job application sent to a Human Resources department, or a letter sent to an organization in general as opposed ...
2
votes
3answers
415 views

Translating “Thanks in advance”

In letters or emails, I often end by saying "Thanks in advance," thanking the recipient in advance for whatever I am requesting. Is there an equivalent phrase in Spanish that is used in the same way?
7
votes
4answers
328 views

What is the difference between “a partir de” y “desde”?

Which one is correct? A partir de ahora, voy a hablar en español. or Desde ahora, voy a hablar en español. In meaning I think both are close to "from." Are there any specific instances ...
2
votes
1answer
483 views

Translating “I don't trust you” (said casually)

I have heard that confiar is a strong word, implying trust and confidence in someone or something. What then is the right way to translate more casual uses of the word "trust"? For example, let's say ...
0
votes
1answer
194 views

Packing material vocabulary

In English, there are quite a few words to describe materials used to pad and insulate packages that are being shipped from one place to another: packing peanuts or foam peanuts are individual ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the difference between “enfrente” and “frente”?

I was writing today and while editing I stumbled with this problem. Both words can be used but then again I didn't know the difference between them. When should I use one over the other and ...
4
votes
5answers
2k views

Expressing past belief (creí vs. creía vs. pensé vs. pensaba)

When expressing in Spanish something that you believed or thought in the past, there are four options: Creí que ... Creía que ... Pensé que ... Pensaba que ... I learned that creía que was the ...
0
votes
2answers
682 views

Translating “Me la paso pensándote”

In Wisin y Yandel's "Estoy Enamorado," the chorus contains the following line: Me la paso pensándote, nunca voy a soltarte What does "Me la paso pensándote" mean? Is "me" a reflexive or indirect ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

What does the “lo” in “pasarlo bien” refer to?

The phrase pasarlo bien means something like "to have a good time" in sentences like, "Lo pasamos muy bien anoche." What does the "lo" in this phrase refer to? Does it replace an actual noun, or is it ...
3
votes
1answer
4k views

“pensando en ti” vs. “pensando de ti” vs. “pensándote”

When using the verb pensar to describe thinking about a person, there are at least three options: Estoy pensando en ti. Estoy pensando de ti. Estoy pensándote. What are the differences between ...
0
votes
2answers
168 views

Words for “grave”: tumba vs. sepultura

English has several words for burial places, many of which have specific, distinct meanings: grave tomb vault crypt mausoleum sepulcher As far as I know, Spanish has at least two words for ...
2
votes
1answer
95 views

Translating “paying one's (final) respects”

In English, if someone visits a grave or goes to a funeral of someone who has died, we can say he is going "to pay his respects" or "to pay his last respects." While it's hard to explain what this ...
6
votes
2answers
840 views

Different words for “stop”

In English, we have a fairly generic verb "to stop" that can be used in many different contexts. For example: Stop talking to me! The driver saw the red light and stopped his car. You really need to ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Choosing between 'sobre' and 'acerca de'

Is there a significant difference between "sobre" and "acerca de", when the intent is to describe the topic of something? Where is "acerca de" a better choice than "sobre", and vice-versa?
1
vote
1answer
315 views

Indicative vs. subjunctive in “no importa qué dice el destino”

If I'm hearing it correctly, there's a line in Carlos Baute's "Colgando En Tus Manos" that says: No importa qué dice el destino. I thought that sentence should be expressed: No importa qué ...
4
votes
1answer
204 views

Translating “break” (during work)

In the US, it is common for workers to take a half-hour or hour lunch break in the middle of the day, plus two ten or fifteen minute breaks in the morning and afternoon. Spanish has many words that ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Translating “How long does it take to get from <here> to <there>?”

What is the most natural and common way to ask how much time it takes to get from one location to another? For example: How long does it take to get from Guadalajara to Mexico City? How long does it ...
7
votes
1answer
717 views

Difference between “tener que …” and “necesitar …”?

If I have to say something like I gotta leave in Spanish, I'd use a phrase like: Tengo que irme But I realize that I could also say: Necesito irme What is the difference? You would ...
8
votes
2answers
339 views

Differences between “aun”, “hasta”, and “incluso” to indicate extremes?

When referring to an extreme example for comparison, English seems to have just one word, even: Even an idiot could do it. But Spanish seems to have three: aun hasta incluso I had always ...
5
votes
2answers
478 views

Difference between 'trabajar para' and 'trabajar por'

I know the difference between por and para, but I'm confused by these particular usages. I've seen both of them in various places. 'Trabajar para' seems to mean to work for, whereas 'trabajar por' ...
5
votes
5answers
388 views

Computer science, software engineer/developer, and programmer

When visiting Spanish-speaking countries, I've been told various ways to translate these terms: Computer Science (as in a university degree program) Software Engineer Software Developer Programmer ...
7
votes
3answers
6k views

Are there any differences between “de nada” and “por nada”?

Most of the time in all the Spanish speaking countries I've been in I've heard de nada as the reply to gracias or the equivalent of English you're welcome etc. But after a while I became conscious ...
13
votes
4answers
2k views

I forgot how to say “I forgot”

Okay, so I didn't really forget how to say it... I just wanted a clever question title. In my Spanish class I was taught that olvidarse is reflexive: Me olvidé (de la cita). Me olvidé (las ...
6
votes
2answers
416 views

Origin and use of “echar de menos”

I've always found peculiar that the phrase echar de menos is synonymous of the verb extrañar. For example: Te echaré de menos. is equivalent to: Te extrañaré. Based on TV, its use is most ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

Translating “young man” and “young woman”

In English, we use the phrases "young man" and "young woman" to refer to a person (usually an adolescent) who is older than a "boy" or "girl" but younger than an "adult." It generally indicates ...
4
votes
2answers
118 views

Usage of “millar” vs “millón”

First the context. There are two similar words that cannot be confused: Millar  →  Conjunto de mil unidades.  →  Set of one thousand elements. Millón ...
17
votes
5answers
1k views

What's the difference between “dentro” and “adentro”?

English: How can I tell whether I should be using Dentro vs. Adentro? I've read that they both mean 'inside' and looked at some examples, but I still can't always figure out which one to use. Are ...
13
votes
5answers
1k views

Why is 'estar muerto' used instead of 'ser muerto'?

I know it is rather rude to think of it this way and I don't want to offend anyone religiously, but being dead is usually thought of as a very permanent condition in the United States. So why does ...
4
votes
2answers
280 views

Understanding “desde ya”

I have heard the phrase "desde ya" used to mean "in advance." Literally, it means "since already." How is it understood to mean "in advance," or is it simply an idiom with a nonsense literal meaning? ...
11
votes
3answers
195 views

Is there a Spanish equivalent for “OP”?

The English abbreviation OP for the term Original Poster is widely used over the internet. Do the abbreviation and/or the term have widely used equivalents in Spanish?
7
votes
1answer
130 views

“Liking” a musician or other artist

The verb gustar, when used with people, conveys a romantic interest (e.g. Ella me gusta. -> I have a crush on her.). How then, can you convey that you like a musician's music or an artist's paintings, ...
1
vote
1answer
589 views

Translating “how is …?” and “how was …?”

What are the options for translating the phrase "how is" or "how was," as in: How's the steak? How is your day so far? How is the traffic today? and How was your vacation? How was the meeting? ...
8
votes
3answers
760 views

Difference between “broma” and “chiste”

Both words broma and chiste translate to the English word joke. What's the difference between these two Spanish words, and how do I know when to use each one?
-4
votes
1answer
3k views

Why does “no sé” mean “I don't know?” [closed]

If "no" means "no", and if "se" means "is", why does "no sé" mean "I don't know"? This has been a bit of stumbling block for me as I learn the language. I as learn how to learn, I like to know the ...
3
votes
1answer
97 views

Counterpart of “gutter language”

In German we use Gossensprache, in English gutter language seems to be the most common synonym, but my dictionaries don't show me a spanish word for the language/jargon (often vulgar) spoken by ...
7
votes
2answers
148 views

“to feel ashamed for an unknown person” or a cringe-worthy experience

Since the upcoming of talk- and music-casting shows in Ger & US TV in the last two decades, Germans created the compound verb fremdschämen, e.g., when somebody is embarrassing in his actions or ...
3
votes
1answer
97 views

judging something as poor (objectively) , bad (emotionally)

In GLU we had a question on difference between schlimm-schlecht (bad-poor). My rule of thumb was: use bad if something feels bad, affects you emotionally in a negative sense use poor to judge ...
5
votes
3answers
167 views

“Habría” or “Hubiera”

Given the following sentence: Si lo hubieran anotado, después no les hubiera (habría) costado tanto recordarlo. we see that the first use of hubieran is well used, but the second one is ...
6
votes
1answer
88 views

Referring to a specific “bisabuelo(a)”

When talking about grandparents, you can add "materno(a)/paterno(a)" to refer to a specific one. Example: abuelo paterno. Is there a way to refer to a particular "bisabuelo(a)" (great-grandparent)?
9
votes
3answers
2k views

Spanish abbreviation for the United States of America

What is (or are?) the suggested abbreviation(s) for the United States of America in Spanish? I've seen: E.E.U.U. EE.UU. EEUU EUA USA (And only the last two actually makes any sense to me!)
11
votes
3answers
320 views

adjectives for “same thing” vs. “same kind of thing”

In German, das gleiche refers to We both read the same (das gleiche) book (everyone has its own, but they look exactly the same) while das selbe refers to We both read the same book ...
15
votes
4answers
1k views

Is “¿Qué hora es?” or “¿Qué horas son?” preferred?

Admittedly, it has been a very long time since I've studied Spanish, but I distinctly recall that we always used "¿Que hora es?" for "what time is it?". However, on a trip to the Dominican Republic, ...
5
votes
2answers
163 views

Counterpart of “John Doe, Joe Public”?

In English these names are used as a substitute for the average guy. Or as a specimen when filling out a passport form. What names/expressions are used in Spanish for this purpose?
5
votes
1answer
420 views

“Perdón”, “permiso”, “disculpa”, … ?

I always struggle with the correct usage of the various ways one could say the equivalent of I'm sorry or Excuse me. Of course there are many reasons I would say these things and I was often looking ...