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 Jul 10 '13 at 5:48
  • 2
    Keep in mind that Mexican Spanish and U.S. Spanish are distinct dialects. – Flimzy Jul 10 '13 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) – Joze Jul 10 '13 at 9:07
  • Does he call his truck a camión or a troca? – Walter Mitty Jul 10 '13 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 Jul 11 '13 at 10:05

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,

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

In México you say "alfombra". Greetings

| improve this answer | |

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)

| improve this answer | |
  • an area rug is a tapete. a carpet can be wall to wall or an area rug in English. – Lambie Jun 21 '19 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.

| improve this answer | |
  • 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. – Alfredo Osorio Jul 10 '13 at 18:59

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.

| improve this answer | |
  • carpeta is also a folder. – Lambie Jun 21 '19 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.

| improve this answer | |

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'.

| improve this answer | |
  • Mexican Spanish is not a dialect. – c.p. Jul 26 '13 at 17:26
  • @c.p. Unless you want to argue that it's instead a collection of dialects, you're completely wrong. – Michael Wolf May 9 '14 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. May 11 '14 at 8:31
  • So is troca Spanglish? – Lambie Jun 21 '19 at 22:37

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.

| improve this answer | |
  • Well, a mat is also una estera. – Lambie Jun 21 '19 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.

| improve this answer | |
  • @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 ... – aparente001 Jun 20 '19 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. – aparente001 Jun 20 '19 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? – aparente001 Jun 20 '19 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 ... – aparente001 Jun 20 '19 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. – aparente001 Jun 20 '19 at 22:32

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.