Leçons Espagnol

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Using O Sea in Spanish

Have you ever heard someone use the expression, o sea? Chances are you have because this is a very popular and useful expression in both Spain and Latin America. Let's see how to use it.

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How to Use O Sea in Spanish

The expression, o sea, is generally used to introduce an explanation or consequence of something one has already said. If you think about it, the meaning is quite literal: The phrase is made up of the disjunctive conjunction, o ("or"), and the word, sea ("would be"), the third person present subjunctive form of the verb, ser ("to be"). Let's look at some examples.

 

Porque Barcelona no aburre nunca. O sea, siempre hay actividades,

Because Barcelona is never boring. I mean, there are always activities,

Captions 41-42, Escuela BCNLIP Presentación de la directora - Part 2

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Nos lo hemos pasado muy bien, muy bien. -Qué bien, o sea que buenísimas vacaciones.

We had a great time, great. -How nice, I mean, an amazing vacation.

Captions 48-49, El Aula Azul Conversación: Vacaciones recientes

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You can also think of o sea as an equivalent of the English expression, "in other words":

 

O sea que ¿el tipo de hoy era Wilson Ríos?

In other words, the guy from today was Wilson Rios?

Caption 33, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 1 - Part 6

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Sometimes, the word, que ("that"), is added after o sea without altering its meaning:
 

Sé surfear, ¿no? O sea que tengo una profesión ahora.

I can surf, right? I mean, I have a profession now.

Caption 43, Costa Azul Surf Shop Hablando con los Empleados Del Surf - Part 2

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Be careful, however: The combination "o + sea" can sometimes have a totally different meaning, so always pay close attention to the context:

 

...sea bueno o sea malo.

...whether it's good or whether it's bad.

Caption 34, Club de las ideas - Intuición - Part 1

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Using O Sea as "Duh" or "Like"

In Latin America, there is another use of o sea that is very popular among upper/middle-class youngsters, some of whom are considered snobby and superficial. In this case, o sea is used as a sarcastic remark that can be translated as "obviously," "duh," "come on," "give me a break," or "I mean," depending on the context. Let's observe that use in action:

 

¡Ay pues, obvio que va a querer! ¡Porque nadie le dice que no a una chica popular, o sea!

Oh well, [it's] obvious that he is going to want to! Because no one says no to a popular girl, duh!

Captions 21-22, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 10

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You may also notice that in colloquial speech, o sea is sometimes used incessantly among certain groups or individuals as a filler word in the same way that certain English-speakers (e.g. Valley girls, etc.) constantly use the word, “like.”

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O Sea Should Be Two Words!

Finally, keep in mind that the expression, o sea, is written as two words, and it is incorrect to write it as a single word (osea means "bony"!). Furthermore, it is sometimes used as an alternative for the expression o séase, which should be also avoided. 


That's all for today. We invite you to incorporate this useful expression into your vocabulary, and don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions

 

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