4
votes
1answer
259 views

Airport baggage vocabulary

On a recent trip to a Spanish-speaking country, I realized I don't know most of the terms involved in the process of retrieving luggage at a destination airport. I thought it would make sense to ...
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 ...
7
votes
6answers
1k views

¿“Septiembre” or “setiembre”?

Setiembre is only used in Peru, AFAIK, but I wonder if there are any other countries where setiembre, as opposed to septiembre, is also valid. RAE links the definition of setiembre to the definition ...
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?
2
votes
2answers
442 views

Plurals of numbers

Is there an easy way to translate the plurals of numbers? Some seem pretty straight forward. For instance two sixes → dos seises. But what about when the number is already plural, or when ...
4
votes
2answers
646 views

Origin of “vos” pronoun

How did the vos personal pronoun come to be? Is it etymologically related to vosotros in any way? Did it develop before or after the other personal pronouns used today (tú, usted, vosotros, etc)? Was ...
3
votes
1answer
764 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. ...
3
votes
2answers
543 views

What exactly are the “passive se” and “impersonal se”?

Many materials for learning Spanish, discuss the "impersonal se" (e.g. ¿Se puede tocar esto?) and "passive se" (e.g. Se habla español.). What exactly are these forms grammatically? Is the se in both ...
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
637 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?
6
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the symbol “&” called in Spanish?

The symbol & is a representation of the Latin word et (see DPD, Appendix 4). Wikipedia claims that the symbol itself is called et; however, the DRAE's entry for et doesn't list the symbol as a ...
2
votes
2answers
560 views

Spanish names for preterite and imperfect tenses

In school, I learned that the Spanish past tenses were called preterite and imperfect in English, and preterito and imperfecto in Spanish. However, in talking to native speakers I've run across other ...
7
votes
4answers
429 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
113 views

Ordinary, regular, run-of-the-mill, average, etc

In English, there are a lot of ways to express that someone or something is standard and not particularly special or extraordinary. For example: Ordinary people like you and me can sometimes ...
2
votes
3answers
117 views

Translating “preferences” and “settings”

What is the standard way in Spanish to translate "preferences" (a menu option in computer programs where you can adjust program settings)? What is the standard way to translate "settings" (an ...
2
votes
1answer
616 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
228 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
498 views

What's the function of the letter h?

What's the function of the letter h in Spanish? Even though it's not pronounced there must be a reason of its existence. Update: What I mean is the case when the letter h it's not accompanied by the ...
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
800 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
188 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
884 views

“Te va (a) encantar” - is “a” necessary?

Is the "a" necessary when using "ir a" to convey future meaning? Google gives 17m results for "te va a encantar" but also 1.5m for "te va encantar". Does this rule vary according to formality?
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
3answers
202 views

Translating “aquaponics”

In English, aquaponics describes a system combining aquaculture with hydroponics in a symbiotic relationship. I haven't been able to find this word in any Spanish-English dictionary, and the Wikipedia ...
2
votes
1answer
468 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

When is “ello” used?

A long time ago in Spanish class, we were taught that "it" was literally ello but is rarely translated that way. I was thinking about the word recently, and realized I don't know if I've ever (at ...
6
votes
3answers
172 views

Why is 'estoy' used when saying “I'm related to”

I understand I'm related to David, he's my grandad. translates as Estoy relacionado con David, él es mi abuelo. Why is estoy used and not soy? It seems to me that the relationship is ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

How can I distinguish between “girlfriend,” “fiancée” and “bride”, which are all “novia”?

I am a native Portuguese speaker, where noiva means "bride" or "fiancée." So I was very confused when someone asked me if a girl was my novia, since she didn't have an engagement ring (thank goodness ...
4
votes
5answers
493 views

How can I translate the expression “sour grapes” to Spanish?

From the Oxford dictionary: sour grapes used to refer to an attitude in which someone adopts a negative attitude to something because they cannot have it themselves: government officials ...
4
votes
1answer
310 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
4k views

Spanish etymology resources [closed]

Many questions on this site have been about the etymology of a particular word or phrase. For English, resources like the Oxford English Dictionary often give researched etymologies full of details ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

bastante: enough or too much?

I have seen bastante translated as enough, plenty, or even too much. What range of meanings does bastante have? How can you determine whether it means just enough or too much?
6
votes
2answers
697 views

Why does the preterite of “traducir” transform into “tradujo”?

As you will see below the preterite suffers from an odd transformation. Even native speakers make the mistake of conjugating the preterite of traducir wrong. For instance instead of traduje they ...
7
votes
1answer
548 views

What's the origin of the word “chido”?

What's the origin of the word "chido"? When did it become popular in Mexico? Examples: Qué chido esta tu carro. Estaría bien chido si ganara la lotería. RAE: chido, da. adj. ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Dash and hyphen usage in Spanish

English uses at least two types of dashes (en dash and em dash) along with hyphens, and there are (fairly complex, in my opinion) rules on when and how each should be used. What types of dashes or ...
4
votes
1answer
851 views

Quotation mark usage in Spanish

In English, we have double quotation marks (") and single quotation marks ('). Spanish adds angular quotation marks (« »). What is the official rule for which type of mark should be used when in ...
5
votes
2answers
472 views

Usage of “ver(se)” for “to seem/look” (te ves, se te ve, te veo, etc.)

The verb ver can be used in a few different constructions to convey how something looks or seems: Te ves bonita. Se te ve mal. Te veo bien. For the reflexive constructions, the WordReference entry ...
5
votes
1answer
102 views

What is an expression in parentheses in the middle of a phrase called?

While I was reading the newspaper today I stumbled against something that is quite common and a bit obscure in writing in spanish. It comes from this opinion column. (The opinion and debate exposed ...
4
votes
3answers
703 views

Proper response to ¿Qué onda?

In parts of the Spanish-speaking world, "¿Qué onda?" is used to ask something along the lines of "What's up?". What are the possible responses to this question? Should it be answered with a bien/mal, ...
8
votes
1answer
175 views

Is it acceptable to leave out the inverted punctuation marks?

Is it acceptable to leave out inverted question marks and exclamation points (¿ ¡) from questions and exclamatory sentences? I ask this because some computers and other devices I use won't let me add ...
13
votes
3answers
5k views

Why isn't “good morning” “buenas mañanas”?

"Good afternoon" is "buenas tardes", and "Good night/evening" is "buenas noches". Then why isn't "good morning" "buenas mañanas" instead of "buenos días"?
8
votes
2answers
43k views

When is it appropriate to say “buenos días”?

It looks like "buenos días" is most commonly translated as "good morning," although apparently it can mean "good day" as well (like a literal translation would suggest). Is it appropriate to greet ...
9
votes
2answers
910 views

Is there a Spanish equivalent to Ms.?

As far as I can tell, the honorifics to address a woman are: Señora (Sra.) which is equivalent to "Mrs." and is used to address a married woman; Señorita (Srta.) which is equivalent to "Miss" and is ...
14
votes
6answers
3k views

Is there a difference between “español” and “castellano”?

English I always thought the two could be used interchangeably (meaning "the Spanish language"). But I recently got into an argument with someone where they insisted there was a difference (although ...
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 ...

15 30 50 per page