Leçons Espagnol


Not Exactly the Same

This lesson explores some expressions that exist both in English and Spanish. By comparing their resemblances and differences you can make them leave a distinctive mark on your memory and eventually brag about them with your friends as new acquisitions in your Spanish lexicon.


Talking about leaving a mark on the memory, Spanish also uses the expression dejar una marca en la memoria (to leave a mark in the memory). There are, however, other alternatives. You can use the word recuerdo (remembrance), for example: dejaste una marca en mi recuerdo (you left a mark on my memory).

Spanish makes a clear distinction between the words memoria and recuerdo, even when sometimes it uses them indistinctly. La memoria (the memory) refers to the brain's ability to retain information, while el recuerdo (the remembrance), is used to talk about a more complex type of memory, one that usually involves feelings. The following example is self-explanatory. Our English translation avoids the use of "remembrance," uncommon in everyday speech, and uses the plural form of "memory" instead:


Siempre quedará en mi recuerdo y en mi memoria.

Will always remain in my memories and in my mind.

Caption 24, David Bisbal - Haciendo Premonición Live

 Play Caption


Ten en mente (keep in mind) that it's also very common to use the verbs escribir (to write), grabar (to engrave), tatuar (to tattoo), or even imprimir (to print), instead of marcar (to mark). In Spanish, a common trope in love declarations, poems, and songs is: te llevo grabado en mi recuerdo (I have you engraved in my memory). The verb grabar (to engrave) also combines very well with the words piel (skin), or mente (mind). So you can say te llevo grabado (or tatuado) en la piel, meaning "I have you engraved (or tattooed) on my skin," a phrase that's usually figurative, but that could be made literal... we guess. Otherwise, maybe you'd rather say: llevo tu recuerdo grabado en la piel (I carry the memory of you engraved on my skin) to leave no room for a literal interpretation.

Surely some purists would advise to dejar al corazón para las cosas del corazón (leave the heart for the matters of the heart):

Leería mi nombre marcado para siempre en tu corazón.
She would read my name written over your heart forever.

And since we just bumped into the expression "leaving no room for interpretation," know that no dejar lugar a interpretaciones also exists in Spanish.  No dejar lugar a dudas (leave no room for doubt), however, is much more common.

Another expression. In our new video about Otavalo, a city in Ecuador, Natalia says:

...han logrado llevar sus productos y sus expresiones artísticas a otros rincones del planeta.

...have managed to bring their products and their artistic expressions to other corners of the planet.

Captions 21-22, Otavalo - El mercado de artesanías de Otavalo

 Play Caption

Spanish has two words for "corner:" rincón and esquina. The word rincón is used to denote the idea of a remote location, or even a small special place in a given location:


Mi rincón favorito de Madrid es el templo de Debod.

My favorite nook in Madrid is the Debod Temple.

Caption 42, Álvaro - Arquitecto Español en Londres

 Play Caption

Rincón can also can mean a hideout or a hidden place, even if you speak just figuratively. You can use it in expressions such as en un rincón de mi cabeza (in the back of my mind) or en un rincón de tu corazón (in a corner of your heart). Or you can use the verb arrinconar (to corner) in expressions such as  me siento arrinconado (I feel cornered) or me tienes arrinconado (you have me cornered).

The word esquina, on the other handis more specific. You use it to talk about the intersection of two walls, or,—a classic example—two streets. In the following example, take note of the figurative use of the Spanish verb doblar (to fold):

Me dijo dobla en la esquina, iremos hasta mi casa.
She told me turn at the corner, we'll go to my place.

Nice, don't you think? Of course, you can easily use the verb voltear (to turn) as well: voltea en la esquina (turn at the corner). Or just say da vuelta en la esquina (make a turn at the corner). Going back to esquina, we recommend that you learn the participle esquinado (cornered). It could be used as an adjective to describe the position or direction of something, for example: pon la mesa de forma esquinada (place the table right next to the corner), or even, the RAE tells us, the prickly temperament of a person (someone with many angles or "corners"). Another keeper is the word esquinero (corner shelf), which is used as an adjective too: mesa esquinera (corner table), farol esquinero (corner lamppost), etc. 

To wrap it up... there is an impolite expression that is used exactly the same way in both languages: vete a tu esquina (go to your corner). Try not to use if too often, if possible. There are, anyway, more productive ways to use this word. Take for example the evocative lyrics of the famous Tinta roja (Red Ink) tango song, which Gardel (a character in our series Yago Pasión Morena) quotes when he feels lost upon arriving in his Buenos Aires arrabal:

¿Dónde estará mi arrabal? Con un borrón, pintó la esquina.

Where would my neighborhood be? With a blot, it painted the corner.

Captions 42-43, Yago - 6 Mentiras

 Play Caption



Here you can read the entire lyrics of Tinta roja and a translation.


The Word Vez... Otra Vez

Notice how singing sensation David Bisbal uses the expression a la vez to express “at the same time”:


Es una canción dura pero... pero a la vez gratificante, ¿no?

It is a tough song but... but at the same time rewarding, right?

Caption 32, David Bisbal - Haciendo Premonición Live

 Play Caption



Don’t mix up this word with a veces, which means “at times,” “occasionally”, or “sometimes.” Dany, our Venezuelan chef, demonstrates perfectly:


Entonces a veces habrá que voltearla un par de veces más antes de terminarla.

So, sometimes it would be necessary to flip it a couple of times more before finishing it.

Caption 44, Dany - Arepas

 Play Caption
In the biography of Muñeca Brava's star Natalia Oreiro, we encounter the phrase de vez en cuando, which means “from time to time” or “once in a while.”

Quieras o no, era un sueldito que de vez en cuando venía bien.

Like it or not, it was a little wage that from time to time came in handy.

Captions 55-56, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro

 Play Caption


Una vez means "once", dos veces means "twice", tres veces means "three times"... etc. You hear an example when Bárbara Muñoz sings Miénteme:

Miénteme una vez

Lie to me once

Caption 13, Bárbara Muñoz - Miénteme

 Play Caption
As fans of our popular Telenovela, Muñeca Brava, will know, de una vez means “at once”:

¿Por qué no te acostás de una vez y apagás la luz?

Why don't you get in bed at once and turn off the light?

Caption 35, Muñeca Brava - 18 - La Apuesta

 Play Caption


If you add por todas (or para siempre), the meaning changes to “once and for all.” This becomes evident when you watch our other popular Telenovela, Yago (Pasion Morena):


No, uh, no, no, este, quiero a ver si me entendés de una vez por todas.

No, oh, no, no, um, I want to see if you understand me once and for all.

Caption 51, Yago - 2 El puma

 Play Caption


Do you find these lesson useful? We suggest you keep them at hand la próxima vez (the next time) you put your Spanish to use.


Further reading from our archives:
Una vez (One more time)
Telling the tale (Once upon a time) 
Ahora/Ya (Learning “now”)



Vous aimerez aussi