The carpet I am referring to is a large cloth that spans the entire room. It is not an area rug.


I have a Mexican contractor that is renovating my house. When referring to carpet, I always say to him alfombra, but he always says back to me carpeta. It sounds like a spinoff of the English equivalent. It is strange that Google translator says carpeta is not carpet but rather a folder. Am I saying carpet wrong or is my contractor saying it wrong?

  • 4
    Carpeta sounds like a rip-off from English to me. In Spain, we call it moqueta. The RAE dictionary says moqueta is a kind of cloth used for carpets, but we certainly use it to mean a "whole room carpet".
    – MikMik
    Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 5:48
  • 2
    Keep in mind that Mexican Spanish and U.S. Spanish are distinct dialects.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 6:36
  • I don't think there is a specific term in mexican spanish for that. I have heard moqueta and alfombra. I haven't lived in mexico though so I'm not in a position to know. @Flimzy should know! :O)
    – Jose Luis
    Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 9:07
  • Does he call his truck a camión or a troca? Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 12:20
  • @WalterMitty, I've heard the Spanglish term Vacunar la carpeta to mean Vacuum the carpet (not vaccinate the folder which is what it would mean in Spanish), among NYC Puerto Ricans.
    – deStrangis
    Commented Jul 11, 2013 at 10:05

9 Answers 9


The only usual word for "carpet" in Mexican Spanish is alfombra.

I think that if any Mexican Spanish speaker says carpeta is beacause either he lives in the North border or he's been raised in a multicultural enviroment, in this case with American culture.

So, there are many "words" Mexican people from borders or people living in USA which they use in their daily life adapting English words to Spanish and such words are actually wrong said:

Parkear or parquear To park the car
Troca Pick up

These would be typical examples,

  • No, the word for what is asking would be "moqueta", spanning the entire room.
    – JoulSauron
    Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 8:48
  • 3
    I never heard that word in my life, not in 3 mexican places I've lived for 21 years since I was born Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 13:46
  • 2
    @JoulSauron I've never heard moqueta. Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 20:24
  • 1
    "moqueta" is used (wrongly) in some parts of Spain. Commented Jul 13, 2013 at 18:02
  • Interesting! Where exactly @LeonardoHerrera? Andalucía? Commented Jul 13, 2013 at 18:39

In México you say "alfombra". Greetings


Besides alfombra it's not uncommon in northern Mexico (at least in Chihuahua) to use tapete (while that mostly refers to rug it's also a valid word for carpet)

  • an area rug is a tapete. a carpet can be wall to wall or an area rug in English.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 21, 2019 at 22:40

I believe the term carpeta is used primarily in the U.S., and likely in northern regions of Mexico. Alfombra is the preferred term in most of Mexico.

  • 4
    I am from Monterrey a northern city of Mexico and the preferred term is "alfombra". "carpeta" is used as a synonym of a folder. Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 18:59

The language used by your contractor is not Spanish (be it Mexican Spanish or a dialect), but rather Spanglish.

In fact this is the very example used in BBC article describing the phenomenon.

'Tienes que vacuumclinear la carpeta en la yarda porque tiene un damage'.

  • Mexican Spanish is not a dialect.
    – c.p.
    Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 17:26
  • @c.p. Unless you want to argue that it's instead a collection of dialects, you're completely wrong. Commented May 9, 2014 at 22:37
  • @MichaelWolf You're quite funny :D (I should consider the possibility you're statement is serious, though. In that case, care for providing the list of dialects you think there exist?)
    – c.p.
    Commented May 11, 2014 at 8:31
  • So is troca Spanglish?
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 21, 2019 at 22:37

Carpet = alfombra

I am Mexican and grew up in Tijuana. I have been living in USA for about 8 years and found out that a lot of Mexican people use carpeta to refer to a carpet. But that's wrong....

Carpeta in Mexico is a binder.

  • carpeta is also a folder.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 21, 2019 at 22:36

In the state of Veracruz, alfombra is used less than tapete. Tapete is thinner and more affordable. Alfombra is thicker and more luxurious. It is probably more elegant looking and the tapete is more rustic looking. Also, the tapete is probably smaller than the alfombra.

I never heard carpeta. It may be that this workman picked it up from other workmen. He might have gotten it from a so-called bilingual employee at the local Home Depot. He might have gotten in the habit of using it because it made communicating with anglo clients easier. Maybe he's from a region in Mexico where that term is generally used for carpets and rugs.


I lived for 20 plus years in Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua. From what I remember "carpeta" was the three-ring binder (not the "folder". In Juarez the "folder" was just called a "folder"). "Alfrombra" it was given to both the "carpet" and "area rug". But DarkAjax is right. In Chihuahua the "area rug" can also be called "tapete". At the same time the "welcome mat" or "doormat" was also called "tapete". Like I said before, that was back when I lived in Cd. Juarez......Damn, I didn't know it was this hard to be bilingual.

  • Well, a mat is also una estera.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 21, 2019 at 22:38

I've heard "carpeta" (yes, literally "folder," but used to mean wall-to-wall carpet) commonly in the Denver area. I'd consider it to be a Spanglish term, typical not just among contractors, but maybe any at-home-Spanish-speakers who live someplace in the USA where wall-to-wall carpet is popular. For what it's worth, "alfombra" seems to sound like "rug" to some Spanish-speakers around here. To some extent, usage defines meaning, in my opinion, as much as I dislike certain trends.

  • @walen - Denver, CO, is the only Denver I've every heard of. Is there another one somewhere else? At any rate, I think OP's point of view was similar -- OP seemed to be living in the US, communicating with someone who was born and raised in Mexico. By the way, I used to think of certain areas, including Colorado, as places that had a particularly large population of latinos, but nowadays I'm getting the feeling latinos are everywhere! For example, I am in upstate New York; dairy farming is now employing lots of ... Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 3:42
  • ... latinos. And what makes that type of work particularly tough is the isolation and the long hours. 12-hour shifts or more. Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 3:43
  • @Churri - Never heard of any of those places! How about you? // Does the size of any of them come remotely close to the commonly known one? Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 6:01
  • @walen - I doubt he'd have omitted the state if it had been any other Denver. // I got the distinct feeling from the post that this person is in the US. It's hard to give you specific evidence that gave me this intuition, though. I looked at a recent gardening post to see if my guess was off and found a mention of being in a certain hardiness zone in California. // I think I owe you an apology about something, that much is clear, but I don't know what bothered you. I think my rambling comment was mainly intended to convey my impression that one could currently throw a dart at a map of ... Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 22:30
  • ... the US and find well-meaning anglos and patient latinos muddling along in communication attempts -- as opposed to twenty years ago, when I think the latino population distribution was patchier than now. But I haven't looked at data. Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 22:32

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