My computer based Spanish course just served up a lesson where they translated cruzar to mean to turn when giving directions (and did so on multiple occasions).
This confused me as I understood cruzar to mean to cross, and expected girar to be used for turning. And two online dictionaries and my paper dictionary do not seem to mention any usage of cruzar have anything to do with turning.

Yet when I went to google, it translated both

usted debe cruzar a la derecha


usted debe girar a la derecha

as the same thing:

You should turn right

What am I missing in the use of cruzar overlapping girar?

In my language course continues to use cruzar as to turn. The following is some dialog from the lesson I am doing now:

(...) y luego vas a cruzar a la derecha (...) En la calle treinta cruzas a la derecha y caminas media cuadra

and their translation:

(...) And then you're going to turn right (...) In street Thirty you'll turn right and walk half a block.

I did what I should have done and went to the website of my language course, where someone else has asked the exact same question. There was a comment that indicated:

this verb seems to be only used to say "to turn" in some parts of Colombia, and in Venezuela

Can anyone confirm this?

  • 1
    That is interesting. The Diccionario de americanismos doesn't have this usage and they have a lot of regional meanings for cruzar. They really ought to change the course to use girar or doblar which are the two most common terms. Commented Dec 21, 2014 at 15:22
  • @guifa I agree with you, but on the commercial side of things I'd say it is impractical ($$$) for them do this at this time (it's multiple voice actors, DVD production and everything). Interestingly the main teacher for the spanish course is apparently from Venezuela - so that may explain the bias, but not excuse not using the most common forms.
    – Peter M
    Commented Dec 21, 2014 at 15:45
  • I would just keep going use what they want you to use, but know that there are other words that are far more common. It's true that sometimes the word choices in books can be a bit odd (every book has a questionable choice or two), but sometimes it's best for students if they choose one word and stick with it whatever it is (while perhaps mentioning in a footnote major regional variations). Consider a word like "computer" that can be either el computador, la computadora or el ordenador. It'll confuse students if it uses all three early on. Commented Dec 21, 2014 at 16:06
  • @guifa I am forced to continue the way they want, otherwise I'd never complete the exercises correctly. However I have a lot of history with the common use of cruzar prior to this course - so I am more irked now!
    – Peter M
    Commented Dec 21, 2014 at 16:14

4 Answers 4


Quizá sea una fusión de: «En el siguiente cruce gire a la derecha». O una manera resumida de decir «cruzar situándose en el lado derecho».

Estas dos palabras (cruzar, girar) significan principalmente lo que has dicho. Yo no creo haber oído la expresión «cruzar a la derecha», pero, si realmente se usa, si no se trata de lo que te he dicho en el primer párrafo -algo entendible por el contexto-, creo que no te estás perdiendo nada.

  • Mi clase de español se sigue utilizando cruzar para girar. Mire mi nuevo ejemplo. No entiendo por qué!
    – Peter M
    Commented Dec 21, 2014 at 14:38

You are correct because I learned that cruzar means to cross and girar means to turn. I also checked on google translate and wrote "You should cross right" and it translated saying "usted debe cruzar a la derecha". Then I wrote "You should turn right" and translated saying "usted debe girar a la derecha".


El mapa me dio instrucciones y me dijo que girar a la izquierda

In English is saying:The map gave me directions and told me to turn left.

El mapa me dio instrucciones y me dijo que cruzar la calle

In English is saying: The map gave me directions and told me to cross the street

  • 3
    Good answer, but instead of "girar" and "cruzar" you should have used "girara" or "girase" (same with cruzar).
    – Diego
    Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 3:07
  • @Diego why is this the case?
    – TanMath
    Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 18:43
  • @TAbraham, because right now it means something closer to "You should to cross right; You should to turn right". You don't want to use the infinitive form there, you want to decline it to convey that you were told or suggested to perform an action, and the subjunctive mood introduces that inflection. You are welcome to post a question about it if is still unclear. Probably you will get a better explanation of which tenses can or should be used and why (a comment can be very limiting!).
    – Diego
    Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 20:00
  • While I agree with you it doesn't seem to answer my question.
    – Peter M
    Commented Dec 21, 2014 at 14:32

Supongo que se refiere a girar cuando no vas a tener que pasar por encima de la carretera (no "cruzas" nada), es decir, vas por la acera de la derecha y giras a la derecha continuando por la misma acera.

Sin embargo si vas por la acera de la izquierda y quieres ir a la derecha debes cruzar la carretera, luego no sonaría mal decir "cruza a la derecha".

  • La razón de mi explicación anterior es que una frase muy utilizada es "cruza la carretera".
    – Dahnark
    Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 4:29
  • Estoy de acuerdo contigo. Entonces, dado que en la cultura latina manejamos por la derecha, habría que pensar que solo es posible "cruzar" si estamos girando a la izquierda.
    – Rodrigo
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 14:00

Sigh. I tried six online dictionaries and none of them included this expression. Yet, when I google the exact phrase cruzar a la derecha I get tons of hits, authentic articles.

Here's just one example from El Tiempo (Columbia):

Varios lectores de Vehículos escribieron a esta redacción preguntando si hacer el cruce a la derecha mientras la luz del semáforo está en rojo es una acción prohibida

It seems that at least in Columbia this is a reasonable way to talk.

I noticed that one of the dictionary definitions speaks of a farmer plowing in a criss-cross pattern. This gave me the idea that whenever there's a concept of perpendicularity, cruzar can be used. Well, when you turn right, you are making a 90 degree angle (perpendicular). Hopefully this connection will make the phrase feel more comfortable for you.

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