Someone in Spain corrected me recently when I used the word línea instead of cola. But today I heard a Spanish speaker doing the same thing, using línea to mean line of people. Is this a Latin American thing?

  • Normally, in Spain we translate "queue" as "cola". – Behind The Sciences Apr 16 '16 at 7:07
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    A «línea» of people is accepted by the DRAE so it must be normal somewhere, but in the Peninsula I've heard «cola» much more often, followed by «fila» (the latter with a sense of formation more than of waiting turn, e.g. school children). – guillem Apr 16 '16 at 9:29
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    I didn't know línea could be a valid translation and thought it was a Spanglish word, but after @guillem 's comment I see DRAE indeed accepts it (dle.rae.es/?id=NMmmxZf 10th definition) – fedorqui 'SO stop harming' Apr 16 '16 at 13:03
  • In México it's usually "fila". "Cola" has negative connotations in much of Latin America. I've used línea a few times in Mexico, but it seems like an overly literal translation from English. – Flimzy Apr 16 '16 at 14:40
  • Here in Spain, fila and cola are right in this context. Nobody use línea to refer a "queue" of people. – user11977 Apr 16 '16 at 21:00

Hacer cola o estar en la cola dan la idea de estar esperando turno para ser atendidos o para entrar. Se puede aún estar en la cola en un consultorio médico sin estar parados o haciendo fila, estás en una lista de espera, estás en la cola, sentado.

Si la línea no implica esperar turno, se suele decir hacer fila o estar en fila, como cuando alguien instruye caminemos en fila india, o formen cuatro filas. No se usaría cola para esto.

Línea es más general, sólo describiendo que las personas están una tras otra, pero pierde las ideas de turno o de formación. El uso de línea en lugar de cola me parece un anglicismo por cierto muy común.

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  • Just to add that line in this sense is a North American usage, in the UK we say queue, but I agree it is probably an anglicism. – mdewey Apr 17 '16 at 17:01

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