Close

español for Gringos

False friends.

librería


What a Gringo thinks it means... library.

What it really means... bookstore.

Biblioteca means “library.”

sin embargo

What a Gringo thinks it means... booze and drugs prohibited.

What it really means in Spanish... however or nevertheless.

A Spanish word for “sin” is pecado.

dispuesto

What a Gringo thinks it means... tossed out or disposed of.

What it really means... ready, willing or prepared.

Cuando el presidente quería atacar, la nación estaba dispuesta.  When the president wanted to attack, the nation was willing.

Movie titles.

Translate back to the original English the following movie titles in Spanish....

Para Quien Tañe la Campana
.
.
.
.
.
.
For Whom the Bell Tolls

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El Bueno, El Malo y El Feo
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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Buscando a Señor Barra Buena
.
.
.
.
.
.
Looking For Mister Goodbar

False friends.

rehusar


What a Gringo thinks it means... to use repeatedly.

What it really means... to refuse.

débil


What a Gringo thinks it means... a nasty guy dressed in red tights who is the CEO in Hell.... May have a tail except when portrayed by Al Pacino.

What it really means... weak.

fácil

What a Gringo thinks it means... stony remnant of prehistoric eras.

What it really means... easy.

False friends.

toalla


What a Gringo thinks it means... the direction Muslims face when praying.

What it really means... towel.  Pronounced:  toh-AH-yah

agrio

What a Gringo thinks it means... I agree.

What it really means... sour.

Famous place in Ecuador:  Lago Agrio (sour lake), aka Nueva Loja.  AH-gree-oh

The word for “bitter” is amargo.

entendido

What a Gringo thinks it means... intended.

What it really means... understood.

False friends.

alocar


What a Gringo thinks it means... allocate.

What it really means... to drive mad.  Associated with loco which means crazy.

con

What a Gringo thinks it means... convict or confidence scheme.

What it means in Spanish... with.

Llegué con mis amigos.  I arrived with my friends.

mime

What a Gringo thinks it means... a non-speaking public performer.

What it means in Spanish... indulge, spoil or fuss over -- imperative form of verb mimar.

No mime a mi sobrino.  Don’t fuss over my nephew.

Pronounced MEE-may.

False friends.

ten


What a Gringo thinks it means... the sum of six and four.

What it really means... have (imperative form).
From the root verb tener.

Ten paciencia.  Have patience.
Ten un buen dia.  Have a good day.

hoy -- pronounced oy.

What a Gringo thinks it means... Yiddish word meaning "oh no."

What it really means... today.

quite


What a Gringo thinks it means... very.

What it means in Spanish... take off, or remove. (imperative)
Pronounced KEE-tay.  From the root verb quitar.

Quite su sombrero en la iglesia.  Take off your hat in the church.

Imperative/informal:  quita.
Quita tu sombrero en la iglesia.
  Take off your hat in the church.

False friends.

se vende


What a Gringo thinks it means... a number between 69 and 71.

What it really means... for sale.

pero

What a Gringo thinks it means... country just south of Ecuador.

What it really means... but.

Llegué tarde, pero mi novia llegó aún más tarde.
I arrived late, but my girlfriend arrived even later.

arma

What a Gringo thinks it means... a person’s arm.

What it really means... weapon.

The word for “arm” (part of body) is brazo.

You may also see/hear arma blanca which is used to mean a knife or bladed weapon as opposed to a firearm or arma de fuego.

False friends.

mundo


What a Gringo thinks it means... mound.

What it really means... world.

A common word for “mound” is montículo.

tormenta

What a Gringo thinks it means... torture.

What it really means... storm.

A word meaning “to torture” is torturar.

pluma

What a Gringo thinks it means... plume of smoke.

What it really means... pen.

Esfero means ballpoint pen.

Pluma also can mean feather, the pen meaning is from the days of quill pens and still carries over to today.  You may also hear bolígrafo for a pen or a ballpoint pen.

In addition to tormenta you may also hear

chubasco  - downpour, squall

aguacero  - hard downpour, usually brief

tronada  - thunderstorm

trueno  - thunder

rayo, relámpago  - lightning

brisa, brisita - breeze, little breeze but can also mean a light drizzle

llovizna  - light drizzle, light rain

neblina  - mist, fog

granizo  - hail

False friends.

leer


What a Gringo thinks it means... to look at, lustfully.

What it means in Spanish... to read.

Pronounced lay-AIR.

papel

What a Gringo thinks it means... of or pertaining to the Pope.

What it really means... paper.

How to say “the Pope” in Spanish:  el Papa.  Pronounced PAH-pah.

bigote

What a Gringo thinks it means... racially-prejudiced person.

What it really means... moustache.

Pronounced big-OH-tay.

False friends.

mitin


What a Gringo thinks it means... cold-weather hand covering.

What it really means... a rally, such as a political rally.

Pronounced similar to the English word “meeting”:  MEET-in.

placer

What a Gringo thinks it means... a horse that usually finishes in second place.

What it means in Spanish... a pleasure.

amarillo

What a Gringo thinks it means... a long-tailed animal that has leathery body armour.

What it really means... yellow.

The animal mentioned above is an armadillo.

False friends.

por

What a Gringo thinks it means... impoverished.

What it really means... for.

Estoy dejando este libro por Estefanía.  I’m leaving this book for Estefanía.

adinerado

What a Gringo thinks it means... dining room.

What it really means... moneyed or wealthy.

La familia de Alejandro es una parte de sociedad adinerada en esta ciudad. 
Alejandro’s family is part of moneyed society in this city.

A word for “dining room” is comedor.

rico

What a Gringo thinks it means... statute by which the authorities jailed the Dapper Don and other “wise guys.”

What it really means... rich.

puerto rico -- rich port.

Rico is also used to describe food, or anything good.  Related are sabroso and its diminutive sabrosito, both from the root saber which can mean to taste of as well as to know.

Did you like the food?
It was delicious.
¿Le gustó la comida?
Fue muy rica.
or just Muy rica.

The breakfast was tasty.
El desayuno fue sabroso.

The salad has a nice taste - it tastes of cilantro.
La ensalada tiene buen sabor - sabe de cilantro.

The diminutive can be used for emphasis, it means the same:
The weather here is very agreeable, really pleasant.
El clima aquí es muy agradable, muy sabrosito.

Using the superlative for rico:
We spent a nice, but really nice, weekend there.
Pasamos un fin de semana muy rico, pero riquísimo, allá.

False friends.

rodilla


What a Gringo thinks it means... Godzilla’s kid brother / reptilian monster.

What it really means... a knee.

zona de estar

What a Gringo thinks it means... guest star’s dressing room.

What it really means... den (room in a house).

A word for 'actor’s dressing room’ is camerino.

A word for ‘star’ -- heavenly object or famous person -- is estrella.

Other phrases for ‘den’ -- the room -- are sala de estar and cuarto de estar.

factible

What a Gringo thinks it means... provable by facts.

What it really means... feasible or possible.

Pronounced fahk-TEE-blay.

False friends.

cementario


What a Gringo thinks it means... cement factory.

What it really means... cemetary.

silla

What a Gringo thinks it means... window sill.

What it really means... a seat or chair.

carne

What a Gringo thinks it means... a carnival.

What it really means... meat.

Getting around in South America.

How many of these verbs do you know?



to go          ir (highly irregular verb)

Voy a Ipiales mañana por la mañana.
I (will) go to Ipiales tomorrow in the morning.

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to move (to a new country or new place, for instance)        mudarse

Me mudé de Nueva York a Machala, Ecuador, durante el año pasado.
I moved from New York to Machala, Ecuador, in the past year.

--------

to drive       manejar

Manejo este coche con mucho cuidado.
I drive this car very carefully.

--------

to travel       viajar

Viajan de Quito a Cuenca.
They travel (or traveled) from Quito to Cuenca.

--------

Also ‘volar’ : to fly ... ‘jinetear’:  to ride (a horse) .. and ‘zarpar’:  to set sail.

Princely distinctions.

English term on the left....

prince (member of royalty)                príncipe (accent 1st syllable)

principal (adj. meaning “chief”)          principal
(same spelling in English and Spanish, accent on final syllable in español)

principle (noun meaning “tenet”         principio  prin-SIP-ee-oh)
     or “basic point”)

As much as I like the people down here in South America, some have a funny habit of asking nosey questions of a foreigner.

For reasons of security or privacy, I usually attempt to deflect such questions rather than blurt out No es de tu incumbencia.  (None of your business.)


Top Ten Nosy Questions I Prefer to Deflect in South America


10.  Taxi driver asking me about my condo:

What floor do you live on?

Debido a razones de seguridad, es probable que no debo reveler tal información.
For security reasons, I probably shouldn’t give out that info.

9.  Taxi driver:

How much did you pay for the condo?

Me costó un brazo y una pierna.
Cost me an arm and a leg.

8.  Casino supervisor in Ipiales:

What is your name, sir?

Se usa mi apodo, que es Comodín.
Use my nickname, which is Comodín (Wild Card).

7.  Really, sir, what is your name?

Jaime Ortega Villanueva Izquierda el Tercer.

6.  How much are you paying to stay at this hotel?

No demasiado mucho.
Not too much

5.  How long will you be in this city?

Vamos a ver.
We’ll see.

4.  How old are you?

Todavía no he alcanzado noventa y nueve años.
I haven’t yet reached 99 years old.

3.  Do you have family here in Ecuador / Colombia / South America?

Mi familia no puede hablar español.
My family can’t speak Spanish.

2.  When are you interested in visiting the coast?

Tan pronto que reabran las casinos allí.
As soon as they re-open the casinos there.

1.  How much did you pay for your car?

¿Estás conectado con la fiscalía?  Sólo contestaría tal pregunta en una interrogación con el fiscal.
Are you with the D.A.’s office?  I would answer such a question only in an interrogation with the District Attorney.

False friends.

sujetar
-- pronounced soo-heh-TAHR

What a Gringo thinks it means... a woolen garment worn over a shirt in cold-weather venues.

What it really means... to hold.

Los arbitros castigaron a los Gigantes por sujetando.  El resultado es una pérdida de diez yardas.
The refs penalized the Giants for holding.  The result is a loss of ten yards.

Acérquete.  Quisiera sujetarte.
Come close.  I want to hold you.

miel

What a Gringo thinks it means... sitting down for food three times a day.

What it really means... honey, as in 'milk and honey'. 
Pronounced MYAYL.

The word la comida means “a meal.”  Comida on its own means “food."

gaseosa

What a Gringo thinks it means... gassy or filled with gas.

What it really means... soda water, or .. a carbonated soft drink.

¿Cuál gaseosa prefieres -- o Coke o Pepsi?
Which soft drink do you prefer -- Coke or Pepsi?

What’s the difference?

What’s the difference between pasto, pesco and principesco?

Answer below....
,
,
,
,
,
,
,
,
,
,
Pasto means “grass” or “pasture.”

Pesco means “I fish” -- from the root verb pescar, to fish.

Principesco means “princely.”  A príncipe is a “prince.”  PRIN-sih-pay

False friends.

red


What a Gringo thinks it means... the first color in a rainbow.

What it means in Spanish... network.

The Spanish word meaning “red” is rojo -- ROH-hoh -- or roja.

CNN es mi favorita red para noticias.  CNN is my favorite network for news.

mejor

What a Gringo thinks it means... a high-ranking military officer.

What it really means... better.  may-HAWR

A common word for “major,” the military rank .. is comandante.
koh-mahn-DAHN-tay

sonrisa

What a Gringo thinks it means... sunrise.

What it really means... a smile.

A Spanish word for “sunrise” is amanecer.

False friends -- tastes-like-chicken edition....

pollo

What a Gringo thinks it means... a public-opinion survey.

What it really means... chicken.

The Spanish word encuesta means “poll” (noun).

gallo

What a Gringo thinks it means... California wine-producing company.

What it really means... rooster.

gallina

What a Gringo thinks it means... measure of volume for gasoline at the pump.

What it really means... hen (female chicken).

False friends.

gusta


What a Gringo thinks it means... a gust of wind.

What it really means... pleases, mostly commonly used to say that someone “likes” something or somebody.

Me gusta nadar.  I like to swim.  Literally, "(it) pleases me to swim."

Nos gusta nadar.  We like to swim.

A Carla le gusta nadar.  Carla likes to swim.

dicho

What a Gringo thinks it means... a large hole in the ground.

What it really means....
    (noun) a saying.

Varios dichos de Ben Franklin son famosos.  Many of Ben Franklin’s sayings are famous.

Also used as a form of the verb decir, to say....

Ya te he dicho a no molestarme antes de las nueve de la mañana.
I’ve already told you not to both me before 9 a.m.

soler

What a Gringo thinks it means... pertaining to the sun.

What it really means... to be accustomed (to), or usually.

Suelo salir con solamente las chicas las mas hermosas.  I usually date only the most beautiful girls.

Note that salir has another common meaning, “to leave.”
Quisiera salir de inmediato de este departamento.  I’d like to leave this apartment right away.

False friends.

boca


What a Gringo thinks it means...  resort city where Junior Soprano vacationed with his girlfriend.

What it means in Spanish... mouth.  Also inlet as in ‘inlet off the bay’.

Boca Raton, Florida is the full name of the resort city favored by some Sopranos on the legendary TV show.



cárcel

What a Gringo thinks it means... mobile phone in an automobile.

What it really means... jail.

Rock de la Cárcel is the Spanish-language version of Elvis Presley’s famous “Jailhouse Rock.”


pines

What a Gringo thinks it means... 20th century hotel-resort in upstate New York’s ‘Borscht Belt’.

What it means in Spanish... badges or pins, including stick-pins and bank pin codes.

Singular:  pines  -- pronounced PEE-nace.

False friends.

norma


What a Gringo thinks it means... an adjective meaning ordinary.

What it really means... a noun meaning a rule, regulation or norm.

armario

What a Gringo thinks it means... military armory (where guns/arms are stored).

What it really means... closet or armoire.

Another Spanish word for “the closet” is el clóset.

To say “armory” in Spanish, the word arsenal can be used.

quiso

What a Gringo thinks it means... brief test of knowledge, sometimes hosted by Groucho Marx.

What it really means...he or she wanted.

Juanita quiso un sánduche con tocino, lechuga y tomate.  Juanita wanted a bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwich.

Also, idiomatically....

Carlos quiso decir que llegaría a las dos.  Carlos meant that he would arrive at 2 o’clock.

False friends.

tuna


What a Gringo thinks it is... a fish known as the chicken of the sea.

What it means in Spanish... prickly pear (cactus).  Also can mean “musical group."

True fact:  to make the common Spanish word for “tuna,” scramble the letters T-U-N-A.  The word is atún. -- ah-TOON

sano

What a Gringo thinks it means... sane.

What it really means... healthy.  SAH-no

A common word for “sane” is cuerdo.

estrechar

What a Gringo thinks it means... to stretch.

What it really means... to narrow.

Esta avenida estrecha al otro lado del pueblo.   This avenue narrows on the other side of town.

A word for “stretch” is estirar.

False friends.

chocar
  -- cho-CAR

What a Gringo thinks it means... to choke.

What it really means... to strike or collide.

A common word for “to choke” is ahogar.

delito

What a Gringo thinks it means... a delight.

What it really means... crime or felony.

A couple of words meaning “a delight” are deleite and delicia.

soportar

What a Gringo thinks it means... to support*.

What it really means... to put up with.

No puedo soportar tan much ruido durante la madrugada.  I can’t stand so much noise during the overnight hours.

A word meaning “to support” is apoyar.

* Correction: Soportar can also mean “to support,” as in “bear the weight of,” according to word reference.com .... Thanks to Brother Archer (posting below) for the heads-up on this.

It's worth exploring the differences and similarities among soportar, aguantar and apoyar.

They can all mean to support in the sense of holding something up, both literally and figuratively.  Soportar and aguantar can also mean to put up with or to stand.
First, literally:
Las vigas aguantan el techo.  The beams hold up/support the roof.
Las columnas soportan el puente.  The columns hold up/support the bridge.
Las paredes de la iglesia se apoyan en contrafuertes.  The cathedral walls are supported by buttresses.

And figuratively:
El es muy arrogante, no soporto más.  He's quite arrogant, I'm not putting up with (it) any more.
Nunca dice la verdad, no aguanto más mentiras.  She never tells the truth, I can't stand/will not stand any more lies.
Gracias por apoyarme, no pude aguantar más.  Thanks for supporting me, I couldn't take (it) any more.

As nouns you can use soporte and apoyo to mean both literal and figurative support:
El soporte del estante es muy débil.  The support/bracket for the shelf is very weak.
Esa teoria no tiene soporte.  That theory has no support/basis.
Le agradezco mucho su apoyo en la elección.  I'm very grateful for your support in the election.
Usó la mesa como apoyo para levantarse.  She used the table as support to stand up.

Hi,
        I have followed you for a year or so and find these types of posts extremely informative. Please keep it up and thank you very much.
Shamus

OsageArcher :

It's worth exploring the differences and similarities among soportar, aguantar and apoyar.

They can all mean to support in the sense of holding something up, both literally and figuratively.  Soportar and aguantar can also mean to put up with or to stand.

Good catch. :top:   I’ve posted a correction on my earlier post that included soportar.
  -- cccmedia

What’s the difference?

What’s the difference between sala, bala y mala?
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

sala

This word means living room, hall or (in the context of a courthouse) a courtroom.

bala means bullet.

mala (or malo -- depending on what is being described) -- means bad or evil.

Mientras tanto, al tribunal, la mala acusada entró en la sala y disparó dos balas de su pistola hacia el juez.  Se falló.

Meanwhile, back at the courthouse, the evil defendant entered the courtroom and shot two bullets from her gun toward the judge.  She missed.

False friends.

caspa
     

What a Gringo thinks it means... a friendly ghost.

What it really means... a vulgar person -- lowlife, trash, ne’er-do-well.

denegar

What a Gringo thinks it means... to put down or denigrate.

What it really means... to refuse.

poder

What a Gringo thinks it means... white chalky substance you sprinkle on your feet.

What it really means... 1. (verb) to be able .. 2.  (noun) power.

No puedo denegarle.  Él tiene demasiado poder.   I can’t  refuse him.  He has too much power.

A word for “powder” is polvo.

What’s the difference?

What’s the difference between...

     gracias .. graciosa .. y grasa.
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.
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gracias means “thank you.”

graciosa means “funny” or “amusing.”  The masculine form is gracioso.

grasa (noun) means “fat,” for instance: animal fat.

The adjective often used to describe a fat person is gordo/gorda.

What’s the difference?

What’s the difference between niño, pino y peregrino.

A niño is a boy.

A pino is a pine tree or a bowling pin.

A peregrino is a pilgrim -- for instance, someone making a pilgrimage  .. or a traveler being greeted by John Wayne in the movies.

A peregrinaje is a “pilgrimage.”   peh-reh-gree-NAH-hay

Miles de fanáticos de Elvis hacen un peregrinaje a su casa -- Graceland -- todos los años.
Thousands of Elvis fans make a pilgrimage to his home -- Graceland -- every year.

What’s the difference?

What’s the difference between rosquilla, cosquillas y mantequilla?
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.
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.
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rosquilla means “doughnut."  Another word for doughnut is dona.

cosquillas is “tickling.”

mantequilla means “butter."

False friends.

lectora


What a Gringo thinks it means ... a professor’s presentation to the class.

What it really means ... a person who reads.

A word meaning college or school “lecture” is lección.

Esa lección me decepcionó.  Fue aburrida.  That lecture disappointed me.  It was boring.

recordar

What a Gringo thinks it means... to make a recording.

What it really means... to remember.

The word grabar means to record or tape something.

fingir

What a Gringo thinks it means... one of five digits on a hand.

What it really means... to pretend.

Usualmente, creo que este tipo es confiable, pero esta vez estoy seguro que él está fingiendo.
Usually, I believe that this guy is trustworthy, but this time I’m sure he’s pretending.

False friends.

forastero
   

What a Gringo thinks it means... forest ranger.

What it really means... foreigner, stranger or outsider.

A word for “forest” is bosque.  BOHS-kay

bicho

What a Gringo thinks it means... a dog with an attitude.

What it really means... bug or insect.

Another word for “insect” is insecto.

A word for “female dog” is perra.

fanstasma

What a Gringo thinks it means... fantastic.

What it really means... a ghost.

A word for “fantastic” is fantástico.

False friends.

pan
  pronounced PAHN

What a Gringo thinks it means... vessel for frying eggs.

What it means in Spanish ... bread.

The word sartén means “frying pan” or “bowl.”
El Súper Tazón is the Super Bowl.

pan de molde  MOHL-day

What a Gringo thinks it means... moldy bread.

What it really means... sliced bread or sandwich bread.

tripulación

What a Gringo thinks it means... a three-base hit.

What it really means... a crew.

Solo hay mujeres en la tripulación de este avión.
There’s only women on this plane’s crew.

What’s the difference?

What’s the difference between muelle, muela y mullo?

muelle (noun, masculine) is a loading dock, pier or wharf.

muela is a molar or grinding tooth.

mullo is mullet, a type of fish.  Also can be called mújol.

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