8
votes
1answer
995 views

Rules applied to the separation of syllables

As a native speaker it's natural for me to know how a word is separated in its constituent syllables. But I want to know if there are any established rules to know how a word is separated into its ...
3
votes
2answers
721 views

What is the most common way to end a phone call?

Similar to my other question, what is the most universal way of ending a phone call in Spanish (the last thing you'd say after ending your conversation before hanging up)? In English, we'd say things ...
5
votes
3answers
357 views

What is the imperative without pronoun of 'Saber'? Why?

Okay so I suddenly have no idea how to say the imperative of saber. This was my reasoning until arriving to a comical dead end: Ir = Ve Comer = Come Ser = Sé Saber = Se? Sabé? ...
4
votes
1answer
107 views

Gender illusions?

This is a multiple question about genders. Recently I just wondered about this subject while writing and thought: Why is juez or concejal considered masculine while agente and detective are not? ...
4
votes
2answers
613 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? ...
10
votes
3answers
3k 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?
7
votes
2answers
210 views

What's the function of “mismo” in this sentence?

What's the exact function of "mismo" in the following sentence? For example: Se llevo a cabo la ceremonia y el mismo presidente le entrego la medalla al soldado. I'm a native speaker and I ...
-3
votes
1answer
12k 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
105 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
403 views

Why is a comma used before a “y” in some cases?

I was taught that a comma must be used this way. One (of many other uses) is when you want to enumerate a list of items you have to use the comma and before the last element of the list the comma ...
11
votes
3answers
472 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
104 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
415 views

Pluralize words ending in a tonic vowel

I'm a native speaker. I'm pretty sure that the plural of tabú is tabúes, I've seen it used in writing, in the press. For similar reasons that the plural of marroquí is marroquíes. I argued with ...
10
votes
1answer
501 views

Plural form of compound words

The plural form of compound words in Spanish is not an easy matter. If the compound word already has its final element in plural form, then the plural form is the same as the singular one: for ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

What's the best way to say “perífrasis verbal” in English?

"Perífrasis verbal" seems to be used pretty consistently at least in some references to refer to grammatical constructions like ir a. But I'm not sure if it's a set grammatical or linguistic term, ...
2
votes
1answer
336 views

Are there other “feminine only” adjectives in Spanish besides “embarazada”?

In most if not all Spanish dictionaries I've checked, embarazada is only ever listed in its feminine form unlike all other adjectives I can think of. Is this semantic because it's considered that ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Article usage before country names

I have heard several countries expressed in Spanish with a definite article before the country name (e.g. los Estados Unidos, la Argentina, la India). Is there a rule for when this occurs and when it ...
5
votes
2answers
188 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?
3
votes
1answer
568 views

Debuccalization of /s/ to [h]

What is meant in Spanish phonology by the debuccalization of /s/ to [h]? What dialects does this phenomenon primarily occur in? In those dialects, does it take place in all cases or only in some ...
10
votes
1answer
4k views

What are the accentuation rules in Spanish?

Many native Spanish speakers have trouble determining when accent marks (tildes) should be used and where. What are the rules for accent placement in Spanish? How do you determine whether the vowel on ...
12
votes
6answers
3k views

What are the main differences between Spanish in Spain and Spanish in Latin America? [closed]

A good analogy is that the difference is like those in British and American English, but what are those differences exactly? Is Spanish in Latin America a branch from that in Spain?
6
votes
3answers
6k 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
6k views

Origin of the mexican expression “güey/buey”

The common Mexican informal expression "güey/buey" (written as "wey" in text). Where did it come from? Since when did it become a common expression? Examples: A que güey estás. (You are so ...
7
votes
4answers
1k 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. ...
4
votes
5answers
3k views

“¿Qué te interesa?” or “¿Qué te interesan?”

To ask somebody about their interests in Spanish I understand you should say: ¿Qué te interesa? Would it ever be appropriate to say: ¿Qué te interesan? As if I was to ask such a general ...
2
votes
1answer
273 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
5k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
3k views

Difference between “hay”, “ay” and “ahí”

These are commonly misused when writing, and can be very confusing for someone that is learning Spanish. These three words have a very different meaning and they are used in a very different context. ...
5
votes
5answers
744 views

Is there a colloquial Spanish equivalent for “to get it” in the sense of grasping a concept?

I was just writing in our chat room that I didn't "get" what one of the other questions was trying to ask. But I was writing in the chat room in Spanish and realized I didn't know how to say "get" in ...
9
votes
3answers
841 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?
4
votes
3answers
436 views

Etymological origin of “false friends” between Spanish and English

Is there an etymological origin that can be called the main one that has created the list of "false friends" between Spanish and English? I'm constantly stumbling upon a new "false friend" when ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

Is it bad to address a young male as “señor”?

I was recently in Mallorca, at a restaurant I address the waiter as "señor". He was probably in his early 30's, he said that I should not use señor, but another word (which I unfortunately don't ...
2
votes
2answers
169 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
1answer
186 views

Usage of “donde la espalda cambia de nombre”

In this answer to this previous question of mine, the answerer used the phrase Antonio se hirió donde la espalda cambia de nombre. as an example of a milder version of Antonio se hirió en ...
8
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
111 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

How to translate “It's for the best”?

How does the phrase "to be for the best" translate into Spanish? My first thought was "es para lo mejor", but as this is fairly idiomatic in English I figured the translation might not be that ...
4
votes
1answer
163 views

What is the origin of the word “tascalate”?

Another unusual Spanish word I collected in my travels is tascalate. It's a drink in Chiapas, Mexico and there are Wikipedia articles about it in English and in Spanish. But it's not in Wiktionary ...
5
votes
1answer
103 views

What does the Mexican term “predialazo” refer to?

There's a word whose definition has been requested on Wiktionary (perhaps by me but I can't remember) that seems to be mostly used in Mexico if you Google for it: predialazo But it's not in the ...
3
votes
1answer
494 views

What does “tracatera” mean?

I've been collecting unusual Spanish words for years. I've been going through them to find any that are not in my dictionaries and found this one: tracatera f It's not in the DRAE, it's not in ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

How does portuñol work and how effective is it? [closed]

I've briefly read about Portuñol, which is supposedly a code switching method for Spanish and Portuguese. How does it function, and what sounds are switched? Also, is it an effective method of ...
7
votes
4answers
1k 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! ...
8
votes
2answers
164 views

Are there any true nouns containing a hyphen in the Spanish language?

In this Spanish Wikipedia: about Guion ortográfico I found mentioned Separar algunas palabras compuestas. but there are no examples given. Are these foreign words or are there proper examples ...
7
votes
1answer
684 views

How to Explain the use of vosotros to refer to an individual in the movie, “El Laberinto del Fauno” (Pan's Labyrinth)?

The movie "El Laberinto del Fauno" by Guillermo del Toro was set in Spain, with actors well-known in Spanish film, but was created by a Mexican crew (del Toro is Mexican). In the movie, a Faun often ...
8
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
786 views

What are some terms of endearment for a girlfriend/wife? [closed]

What are some Spanish terms of enderment you could use for a girlfriend or a wife? In English I'm thinking things like sweetheart, sweetie, darling, cutie, babe, etc.. Any others that are unique to ...
8
votes
2answers
791 views

What makes a question in Spanish rhetorical?

In German, the placement or usage of single words shifts the meaning of a rhetorical question, in English, additionally distinct marker phrases are common for this purpose. Are there specific ...
4
votes
2answers
263 views

How widespread was (or is) the phrase “La mamá de Tarzán”?

I came across the phrase "La mamá de Tarzán" when reading Los años con Laura Díaz by top Mexican author Carlos Fuentes. The part of the book was set in the early part of the 20th century if I recall ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

When should you use the preterite or the imperfect to express past time?

There are two ways to express simple past time actions and conditions in Spanish. One is the preterite, Comí tacos. (I ate tacos.) Besé a una chica. (I kissed a girl.) and the other is the ...
6
votes
1answer
221 views

Are there regions or dialects which use both “tú” and “vos”?

In my experience most places use either "tú" or "vos" for the second person singular intimate/informal pronoun. But I haven't been to every Spanish speaking country and area. Are there places which ...

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