In the "Mi Vida Loca" BBC episodes (a nice intro to Spanish), I came across the sentence:

Hombre, ¿qué tal?

and it was translated to:

Hey, how are you?

I though hombre meant "man": can it also mean "hey"?

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    I don't think I've ever heard anyone say, exactly, "Hombre, ¿qué tal?" but if someone did say that, and I wanted to translate it, I think I'd more likely say, "Hey, man, how are you?" // Note, normally, hombre is a way of adding some emotion to whatever is being said. It could add an extra feeling of friendliness, or a feeling of, Hey, what's the matter with you, the thing I'm telling you should be obvious. Just as a couple of examples. Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 1:04

4 Answers 4


Here 'hombre' is being used just as a greeting, not in the literal sense, so translating it like "man" would make less sense —just like you wouldn't translate "What's up?" to "Qué hay arriba?".

You could easily find examples like "¡Hombre, María! ¿Qué tal?" where it is more or less clear that 'hombre' does not refer to 'María'.

So translating it like "Hey" is OK.

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    I would say it's more like "Dude!" when used like that.
    – James
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 15:49
  • @walen that depends a bit on where you're at. Both the word "hombre" and "dude" can have varying levels of formality/respect. Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 0:21
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    @walen - I'll yield to you on when to use, and when not to use, tío! But I want to reassure you about "dude." It's rarely offensive. Example: Dude, long time no see! And recently I saw a young man in the grocery store with his three-year-old daughter. She was doing some nonsense in the grocery cart and her father, thinking she might fall and hurt herself, admonished her with a simple "Dude!" Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 13:31

In this sentence "man" is just an expression, it does not refer to the actual gender.

Therefore "Hey, how are you?" is an acceptable translation.

You could also use "Buddy, how are you?".


Well, "man" can also be used as "hey bro" or another type of greeting. Spanish is not the same as English: Spanish sometimes uses words that refer not to their literal sense.

Although it may be a bit confusing, it's true. Thanks for asking!


Not really. You should just grow accustomed to the fact, that English has Germanic roots, and Spanish is part of the Romance languages. There are things which cannot be directly translated word for word.

Hey, how are you?

Would be in a direct translation:

¡Ay!, ¿Cómo estás?

¡Ay!, ¿Cómo está (usted)?

also contextually correct:

¡Ay!, ¿Qué tal estás?

¡Ay!, ¿Qué tal está (usted)?

¡Ay!, ¿Qué hay de ti?

¡Ay!, ¿Qué hay de usted?

and about a dozen more such phrases.

And even more such phrases in the English speaking countries if you take a glance once in a while at urbandictionary, or travel or consume global, English media.

Hombre means man, transcending more than just one singular contextual usage scenario, just like in English.

Sometimes it is important to keep and guard the cultural idiosyncrasies and sometimes not. At the time of entertainment you might strip them.

At the time of certain studies such a translating document for the European Parliament, you may be doing a disservice. As words are power, shape minds, shape people, shape peoples up to the point of shaping cultures. And culture implies social evolution. And the human rights lay out equality for all, and that equality therefore also has to do with our language.

I hope, you understand what I am trying to say, and that the SE community can forgive my divulgence at the end.

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    Welcome to the Spanish.Se community! Please, stick around. I', looking forward to seeing more of your contributions!
    – Diego
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 20:28
  • I wouldn't say that usage of hombre/man is different because of Romance/Germanic languages. In German, it's common to use "Mensch" in the way "Hombre" is used in the question.
    – Pere
    Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 13:55
  • @Pere. I agree. I feel like I stated that as well: Hombre means man, transcending more than just one singular contextual usage scenario, just like in English Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 12:47

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