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

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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
153 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
188 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
89 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
348 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
2k 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
166 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?
6
votes
1answer
501 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
821 views

Why is Usted sometimes abbreviated as Vd. instead of Ud.? Is there any difference in usage between the two?

I've noticed that the word Usted can be abbreviated at least 2 ways, the most common of which being Ud. and Vd. to my knowledge. I see how Ud. makes perfect sense, but why is a V used instead of a U ...
2
votes
1answer
164 views

Different words for “sign”

Spanish has several words that could be translated "sign" in English: letrero rótulo señal indicio cartel pancarta seña What are the differences between these words? In what situations can each be ...
5
votes
2answers
179 views

Different words for “hole”

Spanish has several words that could be translated "hole" in English: hoyo agujero hueco bache boquete brecha madriguera What are the differences between these words? In what situations can each ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

Words for strong or weak rain (sprinkling, drizzling, pouring)

This question on English.StackExchange made me wonder about words for rain in Spanish. In English, a light rain can be a drizzle, sprinkle, or mist and a heavy rain can be a deluge, downpour, or ...
11
votes
2answers
734 views

“Aún” vs. “todavía”, what's the difference?

Somebody just asked me to correct something, and I found that I changed one of their instances of todavía to aún. I didn't do this because todavía wouldn't have worked in the sentence, but rather ...
5
votes
2answers
176 views

How would you build the spanish counterpart of “truthiness”?

I stumbled upon the English term Truthiness "truth" that a person claims to know intuitively "from the gut" in that it "feels right" without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or ...
9
votes
3answers
191 views

idioma, lengua and lenguaje

The words idioma, lengua and lenguaje can all be translated as "language". Are they interchangeable? If not, what are the differences among them? When to use which?
2
votes
2answers
150 views

Greetings for presents and cards

What phrases and greetings can you use for christmas presents / cards? Are there "general purpose" phrases which can be used for presents which are used the whole year, like an iPod? For example: ...
5
votes
3answers
413 views

Translating “I'm bad with [remembering] something”

In English, you can say: I'm horrible with names. I'm bad with faces. I'm really bad with directions. What is the most natural way in Spanish of expressing that you are bad at remembering ...
3
votes
3answers
8k views

Responding to an apology (no problem, don't worry about it, etc.)

What are the common ways of responding to an apology? In English, if someone says "Sorry I didn't/couldn't do (whatever)" (or simply bumps into you accidentally and says "sorry") we'd say things like: ...
4
votes
5answers
237 views

“Fall in love with” (non-romantic)

English: In English, you can use the phrase "to fall in love with" with people who you aren't literally in love with. For example, when talking about children, you might say: You just fall in ...
5
votes
6answers
294 views

Use of “¿A cómo está […]?” to ask for a price

The Diccionario panhispánico de dudas does not offer a suggestion regarding the use of cómo to ask for the price of something (item, service, or currency). I am familiar with the variants ¿a cómo ...
7
votes
1answer
364 views

When is “mitad” appropriate?

Another thing I'm often corrected on is my apparent overuse of the word medio. What are the proper uses of the words mitad (and la mitad) and medio (and el medio)?
17
votes
6answers
708 views

“vaso de agua” or “vaso con agua”? Which is correct?

English What's the correct way to express that something "serves as a container for something else"? Example: ¿Quieres un vaso de/con agua? Should we use de or con? Are both correct? Why? If ...
7
votes
4answers
367 views

Translating “I hear (that)…”

How do you translate the phrase "I hear (that)..." as in: I hear that you just got back from your vacation. I hear that it rained all last week in Seattle. I hear you got an A on your history final. ...
9
votes
3answers
465 views

“De donde fue” instead of “De donde estaba”

In Nicaragua, addresses are usually given as directions from a landmark, for example: From the stadium, go 5 blocks south, then 3 blocks east Sometimes the landmark is a place that used to be ...
6
votes
2answers
106 views

Analog to “sustainability”

I asked a question on english synonyms of "sustainability" alrady on ELU. In Spanish, dictionaries and ngrams give out several options: Comparing with the english ngrams chart I conclude la ...
25
votes
10answers
5k views

How should I ask someone to repeat something they've said?

When I learned Spanish in school, I was taught to never say ¿Qué? when I needed someone to repeat something they just said. Rather I was taught to say ¿Cómo? Later, my wife taught me to say ¿Mande? ...
7
votes
3answers
771 views

Translation of “contact info”

What is the best way to say contact info in Spanish (as in a list of phone numbers, email addresses, postal addresses, etc. of a person or business)?
9
votes
3answers
2k views

Translating “looking forward to”

In English, we often used the phrase looking forward to when we are excited about something in the future: I'm looking forward to seeing you next week! I'm really looking forward to finals ...
3
votes
3answers
289 views

Various translations of “ticket”

The English word ticket (that is, a slip of paper used to grant access to something) can be translated several different ways in Spanish: boleto pasaje billete ticket entrada resguardo What are ...
11
votes
4answers
151 views

Is there any subtle difference between the two forms of the imperfect subjuntive?

The imperfect subjuntive has two forms. For example: Ojalá viniera. Ojalá viniese. I think both has the same meaning. However, is there any subtle difference?
11
votes
3answers
2k views

Bueno as hello or greeting?

In the US State I live in, I sometimes hear Spanish speakers greet one another by simply staying "Bueno". I didn't hear this when I was recently in Mexico, although I realize I may just have not ...
8
votes
2answers
444 views

Best translation of “just wanted to”

In English, I often use "just wanted to" to soften the force of a question or statement: I just wanted to ask if it was okay with you. I just wanted to make sure you were coming to the meeting ...
6
votes
5answers
913 views

Definition of escuela and colegio

Spanish has two generic words for school: escuela and colegio. I have heard different explanations for what phases of schooling each word refers to. For example, I've been told that colegio refers ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

Age range of niño, chico, muchacho, joven, etc

Spanish has several words for referring to children: niño/niña chico/chica muchacho/muchacha joven Some dialects add others like chavo or chavalo. What are the approximate age ranges these words ...
8
votes
3answers
605 views

Are there any subtle differences between “de nuevo” and “otra vez”?

There are two very common ways in Spanish to say the equivalent of "again": de nuevo otra vez But I use them pretty randomly because I've never been able to pick up on any differences in how ...
14
votes
4answers
3k views

When to use “igual” and “lo mismo”?

English I often get corrected when using either the word igual or mismo, and haven't really figured out when to use which yet. What are the rules for when and how to use igual, and when and how to ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

Words for “East” and “West” in Spanish?

The words I learned when beginning Spanish for east and west are este and oeste, which are basically cognates of their English equivalents. But I've been told that there are other words to denote ...
5
votes
1answer
105 views

How are «parecer», «semejante», and «similar» used to express sameness?

What is the difference between different ways of expressing similarity? I see things like, La niña parece a su hermana. Compró dos vestidos semejantes. Quiere una fiesta de cumpleaños similar a la ...
9
votes
1answer
165 views

Usage of “llevar a trabajar” vs “llevar al trabajo”

I have found this example (which is counterintuitive, in my opinion) in "Uso de la gramática española. Elemental", Francisca Castro, Edelsa 2000: Yo no llevo el coche a trabajar normalmente. Why ...
8
votes
5answers
744 views

What is the diminutive of “pan” (meaning bread)?

Is it: pansito panesito panito panecino panecillo (Although this one has most of the time another meaning...) Why? I know short question, but seemingly difficult for me. Is there a definitive ...
13
votes
3answers
197 views

Is the use of @ instead of 'a' or 'o' in order to refer to both masculine and femenine accepted?

I have seen several times the use of @ instead of 'a' or 'o' for refering masculine and femenine words at the same time. For example: Hola a tod@s. Is this an accepted use?
9
votes
4answers
3k views

“ir a «infinitive»” vs. future tense

There are two ways to indicate a future action, ir a «infinitive» and the future tense. How do I decide which to use when? Is one form more common when spoken or in writing? Is there a regional ...
4
votes
1answer
190 views

Do “alborada”, “amanecer”, and “madrugada” refer to the same thing?

In English we have the two words "dawn" and "sunrise". But in Spanish there are three words, "alborada", "amanecer", and "madrugada". Do the three Spanish words refer to the same thing? Or is one ...
9
votes
4answers
701 views

How to decide between “ahora” and “ya” for the sense “now”?

I know that ya has additional meanings besides simply now, such as already. But considering just the sense of ya which does mean now, when should I use it and when should I use ahora, which only has ...
5
votes
2answers
207 views

How to choose between “carecer” and “faltar”?

I've always used "faltar" to mean "to lack, to be missing". But in my reading I find that "carecer" seems to mean exactly the same. When should I use the one or the other? Are there some ...
8
votes
2answers
165 views

How can I tell someone what I'm reading about?

I was reading a book, and someone asked me, "¿Qué estás leyendo?" I answered, "Estoy leyendo sobre ..." The person looked at me funny, but seemed to understand what I said. Looking back, it makes ...
6
votes
2answers
410 views

How should we translate “everything but the kitchen sink” or “the whole enchilada”?

There is an idiom that is popular (and old) in English that states "everything but the kitchen sink". This is a phrase that means "everything that could be conceived". Som examples: "I realized ...
7
votes
4answers
500 views

Why should we use estar over ser for being old or fat?

I can understand why we would use estar for temporary states. But there are conditions that people have that are not temporary, such as being old (or for some people, being fat). ¡qué gordo está! ...