What would be the correct way to translate into Spanish the idiom: "to miss the point"?

I'm often tempted to write "perder el punto", but it doesn't sound quite right.

For example: "To bring headphones to a concert is like missing the point".


6 Answers 6


As a native Spanish speaker I really like the English expression to miss the point but unfortunately there's no direct translation. In the context of an argument, you can use:

  • Eso no viene a cuento / al caso / al tema

  • Estás desviando la conversación / no cambies el tema

  • Estás desvariando (warning: sounds harsh)

  • ¿Eso qué tiene que ver? (harsh, too)

In the context of the given example ("To bring headphones to a concert is like missing the point"):

  • Eso no tiene mucho sentido

  • Eso es más bien paradójico

  • ¿Es que, para qué vas a ir a un concierto si vas a llevar auriculares? (This rhetorical question is actually the most used idiom - as I said there's no translation for this one.)

  • +1 for stating the harsh versions! Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 21:28
  • Still, none of these translate very well. They sound more like "you're getting off track". I agree that it's a nice expression.
    – Javier
    Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 21:43
  • And this can work too: "Eso no tiene nada que ver" o "No tiene nada que ver" Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 21:56
  • It doesn't for Juan's example, correct for the general case though
    – deprecated
    Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 21:57

I'd use "no tiene sentido" in your example:

Llevar audífonos a un concierto no tiene sentido

But the translation is more close to "doesn't make any sense"

  • +1. This is the perfect fit for the headphone example. Maybe not as a general translation for "miss the point".
    – Markust
    Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 16:12

What about Te vas por las ramas?

  • I'm also not quite sure if this is the meaning I'm looking for. Please see my updated example. Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 21:34
  • 1
    I've heard it similarly as "andar por las ramas"
    – Paul
    Commented Jan 3, 2015 at 3:17

I would translate it to:

Está fuera de lugar.


I agree with @RomanLittleStork that to truly convey the effect achieved with "what's the point?" one has to go on the offensive.

For your particular example, where you want to critically question someone's judgment in bringing headphones to a concert:

¿Audífonos? ¿Para qué, hombre?

The word "hombre" shows you think the other person is doing something stupid/dumb.

¿Audífonos? ¡Oye, maestro! ¿En serio?

Here, I've used "maestro" (teacher) sarcastically, again, to show I'm questioning the person's judgment.

More generally, I usually use "grano" or "chiste" in situations where, in English, I would use the word "point." Examples:

  1. My son is rambling on and on. He forgot to give me the topic before he started. I might say:

LLegas al grano, por favor. | Could you get to the point, please?

Note, I've used a strange quasi-imperative here, which is one notch softer than a true imperative, but not as soft as a question (¿Llegas al grano?).

  1. If I'm describing the headphones at a concert guy to someone else, I might say:

Había un tipo en el concierto anoche que llevó audífonos. Digo, ¿cuál es el chiste de ir a un concierto de rock, si no vas a entrar de lleno en la experiencia, y hacerte un poco de daño a los oídos? | There was a guy at the concert last night who brought headphones. Jeez, what's the point of going to a rock concert, if you're not going to go whole hog, and do a little damage to your hearing?

No guarantees any of the above would work outside Mexico, though.


To tell someone they are missing the point, you would best make an explicit accusation such as : Oyes, ¡te andas perdido! Which means: "Hey, you are lost!" meaning they are clueless.

In this scenario, in the Mexican Border region, you usually razz them by explicitly aiming the statement at them. Sorta like calling them down on the carpet in front of everyone, so to speak. In the Mexican Border culture, it is customary to make an example of someone's mistake so they don't make the same mistake again.

The word "oyes" means "listen up" or "hear what I say". Oyes is always used to drive a point home. In our culture, we like to "catch" each other off guard and show off in front of others. It is a cultural thing and all done in good fun. It is an integral part of "La Vida Loca".

  • What does "our culture" refer to? I take it does not refer to the Spanish-speaking world, does it?
    – CesarGon
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 21:21
  • @CesarGon - Roman Little Stork is an expert on the language and culture of the "El Valle" region which is technically part of the United States, near the river called "Río Grande" (US) and "Río Bravo" (Mexico). Commented May 3, 2018 at 13:53
  • @Diego - Apparently "te andas perdido" is a set phrase, at least in the author's region. Perhaps it has a connection to Náhuatl. See page 422 of Grammar of the Mexican Language (1645): sup.org/books/title/?id=1843. (Preview available in Amazon.) Commented May 3, 2018 at 13:55

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