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

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7
votes
5answers
32k views

Where did “pico de gallo” get its name?

Does pico de gallo (the type of salsa) literally translate as "rooster's beak"? If so, where did it get that name, and how does that describe the salsa?
0
votes
4answers
338 views

What is the best way to refer to those of Spanish descent or language?

In English there are several ways to refer to people who speak Spanish or are from a Spanish-speaking country: Hispanic, Latin, Latino, Chicano, Spanish-speaking, etc. What equivalent terms exist in ...
5
votes
1answer
729 views

Words for “size”

I know there are multiple words for size in Spanish, but I'm quite fuzzy on when to use them. The two most common seem to be tamaño and talla, although in some contexts (like shoes), número seems ...
1
vote
2answers
286 views

Spanish words for cap, cover, lid, etc

What Spanish words can be used to describe a cap, cover, lid, or top (in other words, something placed on top of something, usually to close an opening)? What is the difference between tapa and tapón? ...
3
votes
1answer
137 views

Is there a name for the inner part of the elbow?

Is there a name in Spanish for the inner part of the elbow (on the opposite side of the part we call "elbow")? If not, how would it best be described?
2
votes
1answer
229 views

Translation of “range” (as in age range)

Is there a simple translation of the English "range" as in the phrase "age range"? If not, how would "age range" best be translated?
0
votes
2answers
274 views

Translation of “a simple vista”

What is the most idiomatic English translation of the Spanish phrase a simple vista? Does it mean "at first glance," or does another expression fit better?
2
votes
1answer
144 views

Translation of “contra viento y marea”

What is the most idiomatic English translation of the Spanish phrase contra viento y marea?
3
votes
2answers
18k views

Translation of “ni modo”

The phrase ni modo is used in many varieties of Spanish to mean many different things. What are its possible meanings? Which meaning is most common (i.e. which meaning would you assume if ni modo was ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the difference between 'hallar' and 'encontrar'?

If I find something I lost, should I use 'hallar'? For example, I found missing keys and said to my wife '¡Hallé las llaves!' she replied '¿Las encontraste?' Then a discussion about Hallar vs ...
4
votes
1answer
11k views

¿Cómo se dice, “a caso” o “acaso”?

En español, cual de las dos siguiente es la forma correcta para hacer la pregunta: ¿A caso estuviste ahí? o se debe de decir: ¿Acaso estuviste ahí?
4
votes
2answers
792 views

Translation of “to talk behind someone's back”

What is the typical Spanish translation of the English idiom "to talk behind someone's back" (as in saying something bad about another person to others instead of to them directly)?
1
vote
2answers
124 views

Translation of “to play favorites”

What is the best Spanish translation of the English idiom "to play favorites" (as in favoring individuals in a group instead of treating everyone equally)?
2
votes
2answers
495 views

Proper response to “con permiso”

When someone says con permiso, for example when squeezing through a crowd, what is the appropriate response? For example, in English we might say something like "sorry" or "go ahead."
2
votes
2answers
127 views

Why is “por” prefered to “para” in the example within?

From Shakira's Suerte: Yo puedo escalar los Andes solo Por ir a contar tus lunares Why is por preferable to para in this case. If one translation of para is roughly "for the purpose of", ...
4
votes
1answer
454 views

Names of mythical beings/creatures

Another question I asked made me realize that English has many names for mythical beings. Many of these can refer to both a historical myth or superstition as well as a more modern definition (in ...
2
votes
3answers
102 views

video vs. grabación

What is the difference between video and grabación? In other words, what types of "videos" does each describe? Which of the two would best describe a video recorded using a home video recorder or ...
2
votes
1answer
169 views

Translating “wait until” or “wait for”

How do you translate phrases involving wait until or wait for: Wait until I call you before you leave for the restaurant. Wait for me to come home before you buy the tickets. You should ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

“Vegetable”: verdura vs. vegetal

What is the difference between verduras and vegetales? In what situations can one be used as a translation for "vegetables" and the other cannot?
2
votes
1answer
915 views

Speakers' location in determining venir vs. ir

In English, we use the word "come" very loosely (at least in day-to-day spoken English): Want to come over to my place later? Can I come over to your house for New Years'? Can you come meet me at ...
2
votes
2answers
12k views

Translating “I'm sorry for your loss”

What is the most natural way in Spanish to say "I'm sorry for your loss," as in what you would say to someone grieving over a departed relative or friend (or even the loss of a job)?
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Other spanish synonyms to “Banana”

I remember reading in high school that the word la banana is actually a different word in several different countries. Is this true? If so what are the other similar/equivalent Spanish words for la ...
0
votes
1answer
1k views

Translating “for the rest of the day”

What is the best way to translate the phrase "for the rest of the day" into Spanish, as in the following examples: I'm tired, I think I want to stay home for the rest of the day. Do you think it ...
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
1k 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
203 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
1k 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
758 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
8k 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
628 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
425 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
613 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
226 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
799 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
5k 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
187 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
132 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
1k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
3k 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?
2
votes
1answer
466 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
309 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
2k 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
893 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
489 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
719 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
665 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 ...