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My boyfriend is Spanish. He's been messaging another girl constantly and he has said 'guapa' to her quite a lot.

When I confronted him about this, he said that 'guapa' does mean "pretty"/"beautiful" but that all Spanish people use it in a generic way and he doesn't actually mean to call her beautiful. Is that so?

Can 'guapa' be used in a friendly way only? Or does using it imply some kind of hitting on?

  • yes, it can but more context is needed to be able to understand meaning and intention – DGaleano Jan 20 '19 at 20:14
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    Yes, words such as "guapa" or "preciosa" or similar ones can be used in a friendly way. I've used them with friends I've never had the intention to flirt with. But that's just the answer to your linguistic question. With this information I suggest you to ask in the Interpersonal skills site about what to do about your relationship to solve the question you are really concerned about. – Charlie Jan 20 '19 at 22:28
  • What region in Spain does he live in? As @DGaleano said, could you provide some more context on the sentences? – fedorqui 'SO stop harming' Jan 21 '19 at 8:44
  • ¿De dónde es Ud?, ¿es el español su lengua nativa? Entiendo que su novio es de España, de cuál región y/o ciudad? viven actualmente Uds. en España? El contexto es importante para poder determinar cuál es la intención; ¿el novio usa la palabra guapa cuando saluda a toda mujer? o solo cuando habla con alguna(s) en particular? El asunto como lo plantea deja de ser semántico y es más un asunto de relaciones interpersonales y de pareja. En películas hechas en España he escuchado con frecuencia la expresión guapa para saludar amistosamente a una mujer sin más connotaciones. – alvalongo Jan 21 '19 at 14:35
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"Guapa", in its more common sense, means "pretty", beautiful" and it is indeed used as a compliment. As such, it can be used in several ways.

  • It can be used in a friendly way. I myself use it with my female friends now and then just to cheer them up, especially when first greeting them:

    (FRIEND)—¡Hola walen! Dile a tu mujer que ayer se dejó aquí el chaquetón. (ME)—¡Hola guapa! Claro, se lo diré. ¡Gracias!
    (FRIEND)—Hi walen! Tell your wife she left her coat here yesterday. (ME)—Hi pretty! Sure, I'll tell her. Thanks!

       In this sense, it is maybe akin to "honey", as in "Hi honey!", though I'm not sure if that's considered "friendly" either in e.g. US culture.

  • It can be used in a neutral way, i.e. literally tell someone that she is beautiful:

    —¿Qué tal me queda este vestido? —Muy bien, estás muy guapa.
    —How do I look in this dress? —Very good, you look beautiful.

    —No sé si pasaré la audición. —Seguro que sí: eres guapa, cantas realmente bien... Se pelearán por ti.
    — I don't know if I'll pass the audition. —Sure you'll do: you're beautiful, you sing really good... They'll fight over you.

       (Notice that we say "estás guapa" to mean someone looks beautiful, or "eres guapa" to mean someone is beautiful.)

  • And of course, it can be used to hit on someone:

    —¡Hola! ¿Qué hace una chica tan guapa aquí sola?
    —Hi! What's such a beautiful girl doing here all alone?

    —Ayer estabas muy guapa, no se me va tu imagen de la cabeza.
    —You looked very beautiful last night, I can't get your image out of my head.

So, to answer your question: yes, "guapa" can be used in a friendly way, but that is not the only way it is used.

Sadly, the intention behind a compliment is kind of outside the scope of this forum.

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Sure, "guapa" is a friendly way to speak with anybody. But I think only when they have had a long friendship.

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