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Say I'm walking and I want the attention of someone. What do I say/shout? I'm especially looking for situations where the person is a stranger, but I would like to be polite. In English, you would use Sir, Ma'am, Miss, etc.

What are some ways in Spanish? The ones I've heard are varón, señor, and señora. Are those appropriate words? Are there other better or different ones?

  • @Flimzy I have now edited my answer to make it more specific. – gnarlybracket Oct 3 '14 at 13:38
  • Good improvement! – Flimzy Oct 3 '14 at 16:46
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For men I would use caballero or señor :

Perdone caballero, me permite una pregunta?

or

Disculpe señor, sabe donde esta esta calle?

For women I would use Señora or Señorita. The first is used to married women, and the second for (younger) unmarried ones. Since yo can't tell, unless they are blatantly old I would go with Señorita (middle aged women won't mind to be addressed like Señorita, trust me).

If you want to be informal (e.g., your work buddies or friends, in a relaxed environment) you could use tío or colega.

Tío, me acaba de decir el jefe que nos doblan el sueldo.

Eso no te lo crees ni tú, colega.

If you want to go even more informal than that, you could use tronco.

Dame un cigarro tronco, que me he dejado el paquete en casa.

Don't use varón, because that is Spanish for male (And you don't say "Excuse male, what's the time?, do you?)

  • Tio? Por que? "Tio", la hermano de tu padre o madre? No comprendo. O otra palabra? – Thomas Stringer Oct 1 '14 at 0:35
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    Sí, la misma palabra. No estoy seguro del origen, pero es como una forma cariñosa de incluir a alguien en la familia (crear familiaridad, como si tus hijos llamasen a tu mejor amigo "Tío Jack" por ejemplo, aunque no sea tu hermano, or similar to call somebody Bro in English). De ahí la forma de emplear la palabra fue evolucionando y ahora con "tío" tienes el significado no solo de "uncle" sino también de "dude", "man" o "bro". Ej: "Eh Tío, mira! No es ese el tío ese que dices que te debe 50 euros? Pídeselos ahora!" – Diego Oct 1 '14 at 0:47
  • Perfecta explicacion. Gracias, Diego! Y +1. – Thomas Stringer Oct 1 '14 at 0:52
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    Creo que faltan algunas comas, delante de caballero, señor y tronco, como en "Disculpe, caballero". En inglés no se pone coma ahí pero sí en español. – Lucas Oct 1 '14 at 10:31
  • I disagree with your señora / señorita recommendation. Nowadays, at least in Spain, señorita is considered quite old fashioned or even sexist (you haven't got a specific word for an unmarried men, after all), unless for a very young woman. Señora is considered the neutral form, equivalent to señor. – Gorpik Oct 1 '14 at 12:20
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Oiga is nice and pretty universal.

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This is for Mexico:

If you are talking to an elder man you say:

Disculpe señor.

Señor.

Oiga, señor.

Señor, disculpe.

Yes, pretty much the same but those are the options.

For an elder woman:

Disculpe, señora.

Oiga, señora.

Señora.

Señora disculpe.

For some one under fourties, but not a kid:

Disculpa.

Chavo.

Oye chavo.

And if you are elder than this person that could be a teen:

Oiga, disculpe joven.

Disculpe.

Joven.

Muchacho.

Niño. (This sounds derogative but can works)

If you are talking to a friend:

Ey

Oye

Ey güey [Just very close friends and make sure your friend says that word, and just guy-guy or woman-woman, guy-woman most of the tomes is not ok]

Varón can't be used in this case.

  • I think you're a little bit wrong. If you find someone under forties, but not a kid is common to use jóven instead of chavo-. _Chavo is more suitable if you're elder that that person and that person is a teen or around 20's. Also, there is young people that with another young people but not close friends use güey. – Aradnix Oct 1 '14 at 17:00
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If you want to catch the attention of some one the more commonly ways are:

Disculpá (informal)

Disculpame (nethier formal or informal)

Perdon (neither formal or informal)

Discúlpeme (formal)

Disculpe (formal)

Perdoneme (formal)

but if you want to reffer to their gender you can say:

Chico/a, ... (kids or teenagers)

Joven, ... (young people)

Señor/a, ... (adults)

And also you can mix both like you do in English of course.

The only two that doesn't sound so good if you mix are Disculpá and Disculpame, but the others you can mix the way you want and the order doesn't matter (also, like in english).

For example, it's almost the same to say Sir, Excuse me or Excuse me, Sir and in spanish it's also the same saying Señor, Disculpe or Disculpe Señor.

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