I heard the following sentence in the Narcos TV series:

Gacha siempre se ponía paranoico cuando las cosas estaban en calma.

Could I use the adjective "calmas" instead of "en calma" here? Is there any difference in meaning? Is one of them more usual when used as predicative, as in this sentence?

  • "En calma" is prepositional phrase functioning as an adverb here. (It's not an adjective.) Here's something similar: Si pones las cosas en el refri, no se echarán a perder. (If you put the purchases in the fridge, they won't go bad.) // I'm not familiar with "calmas" as an adjective. Did you find that in a dictionary? Dec 17 '19 at 5:26
  • @aparente001 it is the feminine plural of wordreference.com/es/en/translation.asp?spen=calmo Dec 17 '19 at 13:41
  • I see, thanks. Okay. If you want to use calmo as an adjective, then you'd have "Las cosas estaban calmas" (which I was able to find with Google Books) -- similar to "Las cosas estaban tranquilas" (which would be much more common). Dec 17 '19 at 19:22

The adjective calmo is correct but seems to be uncommon in Spain and (according to aparente001's comment) in Mexico. The adverbial phrase en calma is much more common. When used purely as an adjective (i.e., when not separated from its noun by ser or estar), calmado or tranquilo are also more common than calmo:

Era una situación calmada/tranquila

  • Thanks for the answer! Is "calmado" more usual than "calmo" for any noun? I'm aware that Google search is not a reference, but "un día calmo" returns more results than "un día calmado". Dec 17 '19 at 14:27
  • @AlanEvangelista that is because "un dia calmo" is also a valid sentence in Portuguese... many of the Google results are in Portuguese.
    – wimi
    Dec 17 '19 at 15:40
  • The translation of "un día calmo" to Portuguese is "um dia calmo". That is why I added the article to the search. Dec 17 '19 at 18:11
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    @alan true, I had searched without quotes (""), so I was getting also the Portuguese results. With quotes, I get 5900 vs 6040 results, a small difference. Maybe the version "calmo" is more common in literature, as many of the first results are in books. In everyday speech, I never hear "calmo".
    – wimi
    Dec 17 '19 at 18:26
  • AFAIK "tranquila", as "calmada", would be more usual than "calma" as a qualitative adjective in your example sentence. I think it'd be nice to mention it in your answer. Dec 17 '19 at 19:25

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