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De Repente: Suddenly or Maybe

Our four new video clips deliver more than fifteen minutes of spoken Spanish -- subtitled and translated -- to your computer. To learn all you can from the rapid-fire banter, check out Yabla's "slow play" feature. (To activate, simply click SLOW on the Yabla Player). By taking the pace down a notch, you might notice some nuances that could otherwise elude you.


One subtlety we noted in the eighth installment of our chat with actress Natalia Oreiro was that she and her father use the phrase "de repente" in different ways. First, let's listen to Natalia describe seeing herself on TV in her first starring role:


Y mirando Canal Nueve... el estreno y de repente aparezco yo... tah, tah...

And watching Channel Nine... the premiere and suddenly I appear... tah, tah...

Captions 64-65, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro - Part 8

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The word "repente" on its own means "fit" or "burst." But in everyday spoken Spanish, it's often heard in the idiom "de repente" which primarily means "all of a sudden" or "suddenly." That's how Natalia uses it here, when she was surprised to see her own image on the TV screen.

But just a few lines later, we hear from Natalia's dad. He's obviously not a professional actor and he
, well, hesitates on camera more than his daughter, explaining:


...pierdo la continuidad de... de... de... de repente de escucharla.

...I lose the habit of... of... of... maybe of listening to her.

Caption 77, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro - Part 8

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In the Oreiro family's native Uruguay (as well as in Venezuela), de repente can also mean "maybe," according to the Diccionario de la lengua española from the Real Academia Española. Another translation of de repente (although it doesn't fit here) is "spontaneously," i.e., without premeditation. Who would have guessed?

Cuando lo vi con esa mujer me dio un repente de furia.
When I saw him with that woman, I went into a fit of rage.


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