For those who don’t know me, I am Blanca, and I have been teaching Spanish for several years now. Along my Spanish teaching journey I have found learners to make several common mistakes which, at least sometimes, can be avoided. If you are a Spanish student, I guess you will now be shouting “How?” Well, it’s easy!
Most of the time, people make mistakes because they translate every single word in a sentence. So, this is the key: stop translating everything.
Every language has its own twists, in which cases translations just do not work. Though they might sometimes, most of them unfortunately do not. So, I thought that today I would give you a few everyday Spanish sentences that you do not need to translate literally from your language. All that you need to do is understand, study and practice them so in order to master them. Let’s dive in!
I know it seems impossible to learn every single sentence, but you can use this article as a “cheat sheet” which you can come back to again and again to refresh these sentences. It also has an extra benefit; you will learn what kind of person will benefit from these sentences the best in order to pick the most useful one depending on your personality.
So, today I will be talking to you about the importance of not translating everything. As I said, every language has its own personality and common day to day sentences: those in your language might not have an exact Spanish translation, so it is easy to make “the translation mistake”, as I like to called it. This is because a lot of learners do not know that this is such a common mistake when they start learning. Unless you’ve got a Spanish friend helping you out, you live in Spain or you are a super geek fan of Spanish movies/books, you wouldn’t know.
I will be sharing with you some of the most common sentences in English conversation along with their Spanish equivalent. You just need to learn them… but once you do that, you will be closer to Spanish fluency!
So, here are a few typical Spanish sentences of common use worth to keeping in mind in your next Spanish tandems.
¿Con qué frecuencia? (How often?)
This is such a popular sentence, but one that a lot of people I know still struggle with every time I ask them con qué frecuencia hacen algo? (how often do they do things?)
So, get your notebook and write this one down: it’s a must to be able to answer when someone asks you the following question:
¿Con qué frecuencia tienes clases de español? (How often do you have Spanish lessons?)
This is a good sentences for all those who do a lot of activities and make people wonder how they have the time to do it all.
De ninguna manera (No way)
Again, this is quite a typical one. When there is no way that something will happen, for example if there is no way you are going to visit your in-laws during your weekend off…
De ninguna manera vas a hacerlo (No way you will do it)
Keep this in mind when you want to express total denial… aka “a no-no-no” overall, if you are a person who like to do his own thing.
De todas maneras/formas (Anyway)
A lot of the time people get stuck when they have taken a break from speaking, realize that they have lost the plot and want to come back to their main point. Imagine you are planning a trip with some friends and you are talking about transport but some of them starting to talk about everything they want to see at your destination.
In English, it is easy to bring things back to the original point; and it’s easy in Spanish too!
De todas las maneras como te estaba diciendo, creo que viajar en tren es mejor (Anyway as I was telling you I think travelling by train is better)
We also use this to express that, in spite of something not going according to plan, the result was the one expected. Imagine a party where there were not a lot of people in attendance and it finished quite early, but it was a good party anyway and you enjoyed it; you will say something like the following:
Había mucha gente en la fiesta y terminó bastante pronto, pero de todas las maneras fue una buena fiesta(There were so many people and it finished quite earlier but it was a good party anyway)
This is an important one if you get distracted easily during the normal course of a conversation or you just like to talk about a bit of everything, keep it in mind in order to get back to the main point.
No importa/da igual (Never mind)
Use this to show that something is not important. If you go to see a friend for a coffee but they are busy and can not make it, they will apologize; if it is not a big deal for you, you would say:
No importa, quedamos otro día solo he pasado porque estaba cerca (Never mind, we will meet another day, I just passed by because I was close)
This is important for those people who have friends who take everything to heart. Let them know without a shadow of a doubt that everything is fine: no importa.
Note:sometimes we can also use no pasa nada (nothing happens) instead.
Lo consultaré con la almohada (I will sleep on it)
This is pretty much the same in English (you will sleep on it) as in Spanish (we consult it with the pillow).
If you have an important decision to make, and you are unable to make a decision at that moment, you can ask for more time by saying:
Vale, dame un poco más de tiempo, lo consultaré con la almohada (Ok give me some time I will sleep on it)
Who is this sentences important for? If you are not a risk taker and need time to value the options, or for all those who like me can never make up their minds.
¿Cuál es el truco? (What’s the catch?)
If someone is telling you something that sounds too good to be true, you will ask:
¿Cuál es la trampa? Es imposible que algo sea tan bueno. (What is the catch? It is impossible something is that good)
The people who will benefit for this sentences are… the suspicious ones.
Cuanto antes mejor (The sooner the better)
This phrase is for those situations in which you want to get something done because it is annoying you, it will take time and you can not stop thinking about it:
cuanto antes lo hagas mejor (the sooner you do it, the better)
And yeah… you guessed it: f you are an impatient person, you better write this one down.
Cara o cruz (Heads or tails)
Here is a good one for the players and those who like to gamble.
If you are at home with your flatmates on a Sunday afternoon, you need something from the supermarket and you are too lazy to go, you could play cara o cruz (heads or tails) to see who the unluckiest one is.
Aprender de memoria (Learn by heart)
This is a good example to describe what you need to do with these sentences.
So people who is this for? Everyone who is studying: at some point you always need to learn something de memoria (by heart)!
Que yo sepa (As far as I know)
This is useful if you want to give your opinion but you are not quite sure about something:
Que yo sepa el restaurante cierra a las 8, pero podemos ir (As far as I know the restaurant closes at 8, but we can go)
Those who like to give their own opinion, even when they are not sure, can cover their back using this sentence.
If you meet someone you like and he is quicker than you saying “nice to meet you”, instead of “nice to meet you too” you can save time and say:
This one is for people who would rather use fewer words, but who are always meeting new people.
No lo aguanto(I can’t stand it)
When something or someone is not your cup of tea, or worse, you can’t stand it… time to use no le aguanto.
This one is for everyone: I am pretty sure that at some point we have met someone who wasn’t exactly our cup of tea.
And finally, last but not least...
!Cuánto tiempo sin verte! (Long time no see!)
I think examples are not needed here. As long as you haven’t seen someone in a long time, go for it and use it!
This is a must for everyone, because we do not always see people as much as we would like to.
And, that is all ladies and gentlemen! I will write you again soon, so hopefully you won’t need to use this last sentence with me.
I know I know… there are always more and more sentense, and I will keep giving them to you. But, for this week, I think you have enough study material.
But anyways. De todas maneras, if you have a burning sentences you use it in English so much and it is not on the list, feel free to ask it on the comments and I will give you the equivalent in Spanish. In the meanwhile, enjoy and learn some Spanish.
And before you leave this article, here is an activity for you...
Practice! Because, as I said, every language is different, with its own twists, and there is no way to master a language if you haven’t lived in the country, have constant contact with the language, or have a weekly dose of Spanish to read and take action.
Reading is good (until you forget), that is why practice becomes an important tool in the learning process. This is why I would love you to leave a comment below and tell us which one is going to be your golden sentence, according to your personality. Or, tell us about a situation in which you would use any of the sentences above.
Looking forward to reading all of them!
!Feliz día! Hablamos pronto. (Have a great day! We will speak soon.)