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Some English Words Just Don’t Translate!


All the world’s languages are equally rich in the ways that their speakers can fully express themselves. Sometimes expressions or words can be directly translated between languages, and some times not. Sometimes a single word may require several in translation, in order to better define a concept that might not exist in the other language. Other times you might end up with a translation that leads you to an uncommon and rarely used word. With so many different cultures and languages around the world, it isn’t surprising.


Here are some examples of English words that don’t always translate directly into Spanish:

*Common usage: Dictionary translation:


excited emocionado / entusiasmado


I’m very excited to go to the lake.

*Tengo muchas ganas de ir al lago.

*Qué ganas que tengo de ir al lago.

*No veo la hora de ir al lago.


exciting emocionante


Last weekend was very exciting.

*El fin de semana pasado fue estupendo / genial / buenísimo.

*El fin de semana pasado lo/la pasamos fenomenal / muy bien.


It’s an exciting opportunity to experience a new culture.

*Es una oportunidad fantástica/magnífica para experimentar otra cultura.


refill rellenar, recargar


Have you had enough coffee or would you like a refill?

*¿Estás bien así o quieres otra taza de café?

*¿Te sirvo más café?

eye-rolling girar los ojos, desviar la mirada

Don't roll your eyes at me.

*No me pongas esa cara.

*No me hagas ese gesto.

*No hagas los ojos así.


overreact reaccionar exageradamente


Don’t overreact.

*No exageres.

*No te pases.


sore dolorido, adolorido


I'm sore, I went to the gym yesterday.

*Me duele todo, ayer fui al gimnasio.


uneventful sin acontecimientos notables


It was an uneventful day.

*Fue un día tranquilo.

*Fue un día sin novedades.


roommate compañero de casa/habitación


This is Laura, she is my roommate.

*Te presento a Laura, vivimos juntas / ella vive conmigo.

*Ella es Laura, vivimos en el mismo piso/cuarto, etc.


morning person enérgico a la mañana, madrugador


He is a morning person, he makes jokes very early.

*Se levanta con todo, desde temprano está haciendo chistes.


outnumber sobrepasar en número

We lost only because they outnumbered us.

*Perdimos solo porque ellos eran más que nosotros.


hang out pasar el rato, pasar el tiempo


Since he got a girlfriend he stopped hanging out with his friends.

*Desde que tiene novia ya no sale con sus amigos / no se junta con sus amigos.


I'm just hanging out at home.

*Solo estoy en casa sin hacer nada/sin hacer mucho/pasando el rato.

*Estoy en casa nomás/nada más. / Nomás estoy en casa.


scary aterrador / temible


Last night's experience was very scary for us.

*La experiencia de anoche nos dio mucho miedo.

*Tuvimos mucho miedo anoche.


That clown is scary!

*¡Ese payaso (me) da miedo!

*¡Qué miedo ese payaso!


These are a few examples of how cultures and languages may express themselves differently. I hope these examples will help you to sound a bit more natural in Spanish. Maybe you know some more words that don’t translate directly, if you do, let me know! We will be looking at Spanish words that don’t have a direct translation into English in a following post.



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~I’m a Spanish teacher based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since 2007 I have been teaching Spanish to people from all over the world. Whether looking for an online Spanish tutor, or in person while visiting Buenos Aires, please reach out to me with any questions you might have!~

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