34

In English, we often add "-ish" to the end of a word to make it less exact.

Here are some examples:

I'll be there at 5:00ish.
The shirt was a reddish color.
The woman appeared to be 50ish.

See WikiDefinition for -ish for more information.

Is there a way to translate this to Spanish without using a long phrase such as "más o menos" or "aproximadamente"?

27

No. There's not a single way of translating it, hence the need for different options. I'm also from Spain and these are the most common ways of expressing it. The first one of each list is the most popular way of saying it.

Time

Example: I'll be there at 5:00ish

Translations:

  • Llegaré sobre las cinco. [One of the most common ways of saying it.]

  • Llegaré a las cinco y pico. [This actually means AFTER 5.]

  • Llegaré a eso de las cinco.

  • Llegaré hacia las cinco.

  • Llegaré más o menos a las cinco.

  • Llegaré alrededor de las cinco.

  • Llegaré aproximadamente a las cinco.

  • Llegaré a las 5, minutos más minutos menos. [not used in Spain, see comments].

Color

Example: The shirt was a reddish colour

Translations:

  • La camiseta tenía un color rojizo* [Definitely the most used way of saying it.]

  • La camiseta era de un color tirando a rojo

  • La camiseta era de un color más o menos rojo

  • La camiseta era de un color parecido al rojo [It implies that actually it wasn't red.]

*Each color has a termination. As shared by Blas Soriano and grouped by termination group: Azulado, Rosado, Anaranjado; Grisáceo, Violáceo; Parduzco, Negruzco, Verduzco/Verdoso, Blancuzco/Blanquecino; Purpúreo, Cerúleo; Rojizo; Amarillento. There's also a picture.

Age

Example: The woman appeared to be 50ish

Translations (note that some require "años" and some can have that omitted):

  • La mujer tendría cincuenta y pico.

  • La mujer tendría unos cincuenta.

  • La mujer tendría alrededor de cincuenta años.

  • La mujer tendría cuarenta y muchos. [late fourties]

  • La mujer tendría cincuenta y pocos. [early fifties]

  • La mujer estaría sobre los cincuenta.

  • La mujer tendría más o menos cincuenta años.

  • 1
    Esta debería ser una respuesta canónica! Solo agregaría alrededor de para cantidades enumerables (dinero, objetos hora) este tipo de construcción no aplicaría para colores por ejemplo: El taxi llegará alrededor de las cinco Nos quedan en cuenta alrededor de 300 pesos Ella tiene alrededor de 20 años Esa manada tiene alrededor de 20 bisontes – hlecuanda Jun 2 '17 at 3:28
  • Otra construcción se puede hacer usando al final de la oración algo como [unidad de medida] más, [unidad de medida] menos que es equivalente y muy comprensible para los angloparlantes con su give or take al final de una oración por ejemplo: El taxi llegará a las 5; minutos más, minutos menos Nos quedan en cuenta 500 pesos, centavos más, centavos menos Etc... – hlecuanda Jun 2 '17 at 3:29
  • 1
    @hlecuanda especifico que soy de España porque suponía que habría casos como este. Aquí nunca usaríamos esa expresión en los ejemplos que pones, la añado de todas formas con una nota. – Francisco Presencia Jun 2 '17 at 7:42
  • 1
    Gracias, Francisco! La forma en que estructuraste la respuesta resulta bastante clara y concisa,. Por lo que agregar algunos regionalismos claramente indicados como lo has hecho, hace quer tu excelente respuesta, sea todavía mejor. Muchas gracias por incluir mis sugerencias. – hlecuanda Jun 2 '17 at 8:04
  • Para el ejemplo de la edad, yo añadiría el (creo que más común, al menos en España) "cincuenta y tantos" – Jorge Urreta Jun 2 '17 at 8:21
15

The way I've heard it said in Nicaragua is with y pico. In fact, the WordReference page for pico almost exactly matches your examples:

tiene 50 y pico de años: she's fifty odd or fifty something (colloq)

son las dos y pico: it's past or gone two

WordReference doesn't mark it as a regionalism, so I assume it's fairly universal. As far as I know this only works with numerical values though, not with things like colors.

  • 2
    So true, I totally forgot about that one, it is also quite common in Mexico and I've also heard it in Argentina. – Sergio Romero May 9 '12 at 18:03
  • Pico is used almost everywhere in latin america, but Pico is used only for numbers just like the example mentioned by jrdioko – user983248 May 10 '12 at 0:37
  • Yes, in Spain is also y pico, but not with age though. – JoulSauron May 10 '12 at 18:36
  • @JoulSauron In Spain y pico is used with age too. – Pablo May 10 '12 at 20:20
  • 1
    @Pablo you are right, shame on me. The problem is that the phrase jrdioko used didn't seem well to me, the way I would say is: "tiene 50 y pico años" or "50 años y pico". – JoulSauron May 10 '12 at 21:44
14

There are a lot of ways to translate -ish and, I'm afraid, it's going to be one of those "a thousand regionalisms" answer, I'm form Spain. It really depends on the example:

  • I'll be there at 5:00ish --> Estaré allí (llegaré) hacia/más o menos sobre/sobre las cinco.
  • The shirt was a reddish colour --> La camiseta era de color rojizo/de un tono rojo/tirando a rojo/más o menos rojo
  • The woman appeared to be 50ish --> La mujer parecía tener unos cincuenta/ estar sobre los cincuenta/ cuarenta y muchos cincuenta y pocos/más o menos cincuenta.

The more general maybe is más o menos and I think it's always safe to use, sometimes could sound forced but it'll be understood.

  • 3
    For colours, it depends on the colour: rojizo, verdoso, azulado, amarillento. If you don't know this, you can use what @Laura say: "tirando a rojo/verde/azul/amarillo". – JoulSauron May 9 '12 at 7:16
  • -1 The question specifically asks for a way to translate the -ish without a long phrase like the ones you propose. – Sergio Romero May 9 '12 at 14:35
  • @SergioRomero No, he is asking IF THERE IS a way, and there isn't. wordreference.com/es/translation.asp?tranword=-ish – JoulSauron May 9 '12 at 14:45
  • 3
    For the time, another way is "a eso de las cinco". – JoulSauron May 9 '12 at 14:47
  • 2
    @SergioRomero first of all I suggest a few that are not "long sentences" such "hacia" or "sobre". Maybe you're right and it's just a long way to answer "no". If more people suggest it as a bad answer I'll delete it, no problem. – Laura May 9 '12 at 16:20
7

I've seen a very common use of the -ón termination, sometimes used with the word algo (some), like so:

El color de la camisa era algo rojón 
La camisa era algo rojona.
La mujer era cincuentona.
Juan es algo preocupón.

However, I do not know if these are good uses or regionalisms.

Another approach I've seen, probably taken from scientific naming of substances, are terminations -ico, -ato, -oso, -ito:

La camisa era rojosa.
La mujer aparentaba ser cincuentosa. (I still prefer "cincuentona" in here)

I'm sure there are more correct ways to express these, but they get the grip of the -ish approach.

  • 5
    I've never heard -ón for that, nor any of the sentences you wrote in Spain. For age, we use "cuarentón" and "cincuentón" (just with 40 and 50) to express middle-aged adults, usually in a pejoyaritve way for "in his/her fifties". The way to say it is: "es UN cuarentón", not "es cuarentón". About colours, never heard "rojón". I said in the other answer that each colour has it's own way to say "-ish", and that's the way we use at least in Spain. I would like to hear more opinions about Latin-American Spanish-speakers on this. – JoulSauron May 11 '12 at 7:58
  • 1
    I'm sure I've heard them. Thanks, you confirmed to me that they are, at the very least, regionalisms. – Alpha May 12 '12 at 1:47
  • Never ever heard "rojón" ... "rojizo/a" is pretty common – Dr. belisarius May 14 '12 at 18:20
  • The suffix is unrelated – hlecuanda Jun 4 '17 at 1:40
5

Even when there can be many translations and the following one will probably not be the best one from an academical point of view, I'd choose "como" (or optionally "como ~ o así") in the following way:

I'll be there at 5:00ish. => Estaré como a las cinco / Estaré como a las cinco o así.

The shirt was a reddish color. => La camiseta era como roja / La camiseta era como roja o asi

The woman appeared to be 50ish. => La mujer parecía tener como cincuenta / La mujer parecía tener como cincuenta o así

  • I am a native mexican spanish speaker and I think this is the reply that better answers the question. At least in Mexico "como" is very common. – Dante Sep 6 '12 at 15:52
1

For completness i should mention a rather common construction (used in Argentina) that has the same colloquial meaning for somewhat, proximity or likeness) that -ish* does have (with only a single word applied)

tipo [ to imply the same that 'más o menos', or 'por ahí de' would do ]

So that

I'll be there at 5:00ish

The shirt was a reddish color.

The woman appeared to be 50ish.

Could equivalently be said here as

Estaré ahí tipo 5:00

La remera era de un color tipo rojo

La mujer aparentaba tener tipo unos cincuenta años

  • Good to know -- I've never heard this! – aparente001 Sep 19 at 2:58
0

Another option:

por ahí de

Example:

Voy a llegar por ahí de las 11.

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