Leçons Espagnol

Thèmes

Jalar and more: Different ways to pull

Pero la calle lo siguió jalando
[Caption 21, La Secta > Consejo]

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The verb jalar means "to pull" and its use is common in many parts of Latin America. Miami-based La Secta, in their music video Consejo (which means "advice"), uses the verb in the phrase above, "But the street kept pulling him back."

If jalar means "to pull," why have we seen the
command hale, with an h, printed on doors in countries like Venezuela and Mexico? Well, it turns out that halar also means "to pull," and when we boil down the evidence it seems that halar is basically the same verb, more or less, as jalar, but spelled with an h up front. Which spelling came first, which is more "correct," etc., seems to be up for debate, and also a matter of regional preference.

In Spain, we are like
ly to see tirar (which can mean "to pull") printed on one side of a door, and in Argentina we are likely to see the indicative form, tire. (By the way, most of these countries tend to agree that empuje or empujar, "to push," goes on the other side of these doors.)

Folks in Spain pretty much never use jalar for "to pull," however they do use it for "to eat," but only in very informal settings -- it can be considered a bit crude.

¿Quién se ha jalado todo el jamón?
"Who has wolfed down all the ham?"

Vamos a jalar. ¿Vienes con nosotros?
"Let's go eat. You coming with us?"


In parts of Central America, such as Nicaragua and Costa Rica, jalar can be used to mean "going out" or "dating."

Él y ella estan jalando.
"He and she are dating
."

 

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You can read a long discussion on the regional uses of jalar, halar and tirar here.

Vocabulary

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