Both words broma and chiste translate to the English word joke. What's the difference between these two Spanish words, and how do I know when to use each one?
The main difference that comes to my mind is that chiste can be something witty that you tell, like a joke. For example, the "three guys walk into a bar..." thing.
While broma is a joke that you play on someone, such as putting a sign at the wrong place.
A broma inocente is a joke played on someone that makes the "victim" laugh together with the ones who did the joke, something light; while a broma pesada is a joke that went a little too far.
If we go worse than that, then we're talking about a burla.
Chiste is a relatively simple concept as explained in the other answers. The thing is that broma is a complex word that has many meanings:
- Bulla, algazara, diversión.
- Chanza, burla.
- Persona o cosa pesada y molesta.
You need many words in english to explain what broma really is: to make fun of, to mock, to kid around, to have fun.
A "broma" can be an innocent practical joke that you pull on a person or something less innocent, but not as malicious as a "burla." In any case, it may not be funny to the other person and might cause embarrassment.
"Chiste," on the other hand refers to a joke in the sense of a humorous story, not told a someone's expense.