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I was just writing in our chat room that I didn't "get" what one of the other questions was trying to ask.

But I was writing in the chat room in Spanish and realized I didn't know how to say "get" in this very informal sense and had to leave it in English with scare quotes.

So is there a slang or colloquial way to express this in Spanish or do I have to resort to going back to vanilla language and using something colourless like "understand" or "comprehend" instead?

If you think slang and colloquial language is bad and should be avoided, imagine you are translating dialogue in fiction, subtitles for a movie, or an actual quote uttered by a famous person. There are plenty of times you want to translate for the highest fidelity.

(But of course sometimes two languages don't have slang or informal terms for all the same things.)

  • In face to face conversation, you can also say, "¡¿Cómo?!" but watch out, it's a little bit rude. – aparente001 Sep 11 at 4:45
  • @aparente001: Yes that works for "I don't get it" but not for other uses like "I'm not sure I get it" or "do you get it?". In Mexico "mande" is also really common. – hippietrail Sep 11 at 6:16
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    Right. The Cómo option is definitely a shoot-from-the-hip response. "Mande" is very common and doesn't have the rudeness problem that "Cómo" does; but it also doesn't pack the punch that "Cómo" does. "¡¿Cómo?!" is the equivalent to "What in blazes are you talking about?". Note, "Mande" can mean "I didn't hear you; would you mind repeating?" or "Yes, I'm here, what can I do for you?" // For "I'm not sure I get it" and "Do you get it?" I guess I'd go for "No estoy segur@ si capto tu idea" and "¿Captaste mi idea?". (I don't ask my children that because they ALWAYS say (cont.) – aparente001 Sep 11 at 15:20
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    ... yes, regardless of whether they were paying attention or not. So, instead, I say, "[Dime,] ¿qué captaste?" but that would be a bit rude in general. // With a friend or colleague (slightly informal setting), there's "¿Agarraste mi idea?". In a more formal setting, I'd avoid "agarrar," and also shift it to passive, e.g. "¿La idea quedó clara?" or if the person is looking totally blank I could say, "¿Me entendió Ud.?" – aparente001 Sep 11 at 15:21
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En Guatemala se utiliza (de manera muy informal):

No agarré la onda

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    Ah that would work even better for the even more informal English variant "to catch the drift". – hippietrail Nov 29 '11 at 15:19
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    También es una expresion utilizada en México. – Alfredo Osorio Nov 30 '11 at 18:05
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In Chile we say:

  • No entiendo.
  • No capto. (very informal)
  • No cacho. (very informal)
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    Those would probably be understood in Mexico too, at least in the north. Getting it would be 'ya capté' or 'ya caché' – frozenkoi Dec 1 '11 at 2:11
  • In Mexico you could say, "No capté tu idea." – aparente001 Sep 11 at 4:44
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In Spain we usually use "No lo pillo" or "No lo he pillado" so you can use "pillar". Another one, but it's getting out of use, is "no me enter", "no me he enterado". Please be aware that both are very informal.

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    "no me he enterado" (or "no me entero") is not really usual in Colombia (although everyone would get it); "no lo pillo" is the most colloquial expression around here. – Gonzalo Medina Nov 28 '11 at 16:30
  • Aha I'm sure I've heard or read "no me entero" / "no me he enterado" before and didn't get what it meant (-: – hippietrail Nov 28 '11 at 18:52
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    In Spain, you can also use the verb coger as "No lo cojo"/"No lo he cogido", though in America the verb coger is not used in the same way as in Spain :D – Javi Nov 28 '11 at 19:12
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    In Ecuador "no me entero" is very used and if used against one can be offensive "El no se entera de nada!!!" +1 @GonzaloMedina we use a lot "no lo pillo" in Colombia – Joze Nov 29 '11 at 7:41
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    In Cuba we use "caer" (to fall): "no caigo" or "el no ha caido". The phrase comes from "caer de la mata" (like a fruit that falls from a tree when is ripe). – yms Dec 5 '11 at 19:01
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Please be aware that you are asking for slang terms, so usual idioms localization apply. A native Spanish speaker probably will understand expressions from another country/region, but they may sound odd.

Here are several ways to say "I don't get it" that will be understood by Argentinean speakers. As for how frequently they are used, YMMV.

The more usual ones are NOT slang (and were pointed out in other answers)

No te entiendo
No entiendo

As for the slang :(Warning very informal expressions ahead)

No te cacho (as in Chile)
No te pesco
Lo qué? (bad construct, showing disdain)
Non capisco (from Italian)
Ye ne compré pá (from French "je ne comprends pas")
(Old, almost not used now) Yo no compro pan (as a joke on the previous one)
(Also old, mostly unused) No te manyo (from the Italian “mangiare la foglia”)

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Agrego que en Argentina hay otras modalidades que son sinónimos de entender, algunos bastante comunes como el verbo "caer" ("ah... ahora caigo..., con razón no quería aparecer más por aquí") Caer se usa también en el mismo sentido asociado a la caida de una ficha, (que cual máquina tragamoneda presenta una demora hasta que lo ingresado hace efecto: "recién me cae la ficha de que esto estaba preparado de antemano")

Otra forma corriente —en el Noroeste argentino— es "cazar" ("¿cazás ahora por qué vino solo?")

  • "cazar" no se limita al NOA. En Buenos Aires se oye (u oía) bastante: No cazo una. (= No entiendo nada.) – Gustavson Sep 10 at 20:08
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I would just use:

  • No te entiendo.
  • No entiendo.
  • No comprendo. (Hardly used in México)
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    I also think simple is best here. Add a "hmm..." or simplemente in front for color. – Kevin K. Nov 28 '11 at 20:21
  • Comprender is used in Mexico at least in the playful slang expression ¿Me comprendes, Méndez? – hippietrail Nov 29 '11 at 2:25
  • I'm not sure whether this answers the actual question which is the existence of a slang or colloquial term or idiom. It seems rather to be personal opinion or preference not to use slang or colloquialism generally. The other interpretation is that this answer might be saying "No such colloquial term exists", being unaware of Laura's and Dusan's suggestions. – hippietrail Nov 29 '11 at 2:29

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