7 English words that are impossible to translate into Spanish Sometimes you have a word in English, and you realise you haven’t learned that word in Spanish, and you think (a bit too late) you should have…as it is a popular word, but calm down it might not be you haven’t learned, or you forgot, it might be that we do not have that word in Spanish…

Hola, y bienvenidos de nuevo “welcome back”, if you are a usual reader and “bienvenido” “welcome” if you are a newbie, I have a great post for today as like you will now, I am always talking about the complications, twists, and hard things to learn in Spanish but…surprise! Today I will mention that English is quite a complex language too, and quire rich indeed vocabulary ways, so today I will mention some of your tricky words, or no tricky but your own words that we, Spaniards don’t have, and how you can say them, because I bet a lot of time you have stopped half way to a conversation wanting to make a point or express something but…blank! You have the English word in your head, it is such a common word too, but you can’t find the Spanish equivalent, keep breathing…it might be that word does not exist, or at least no exactly.

So today here you are 7 English words that are impossible to translate into Spanish


7 English words that are impossible to translate into Spanish

7 English words that are impossible to translate into Spanish



I guess for all of you learning Spanish, this is one you are familiar with, in Spanish we do not have just one word, we call them “tarjetas de memoria”o “tarjeta educativa” in a simple way, because I heard people referring to them as “tarjeta mnemotécnica o de ayuda pedagógica”. I think “tarjeta educative is good enough…

So if you want to explain you are using a new app to learn Spanish and it uses  flashcards, and you are quite happy with it

To  express it in Spanish you will need to say “Estoy aprendiendo español con una nueva aplicación, que usa tarjetas educativas, y estoy muy contento”


2-to fundraise-recaudar fondos-

A lot of the charitiy events in the English speaking countires are in order to fundraise, in Spanish speakers country are “para recaudar fondos”, again overcomplicating things and making them longer..

I am running this weekend in a race fundraise money for kids-“Voy a corer una carrera este fin de semana para recaudar fondos para los niños”

Or if your company is fundraising money for cancer research “tu compañia está recaudando dinero para la investigación del cancer.”



3-To realise-

I love this one, do not ask me why, it is so simple in English and it has a Spanish false friend that you have probably used “realizar”, but the meaning is not even close realizar means “to make” or “to carry out”, the real translation for realize, again a reflexive verbs guys…is “darse cuenta”

I am sorry I closed the door I did not realize you were coming behind me, “Lo siento, cerré la puerta, no me di cuenta de que venías detrás de mí”



this is a funny one, at least for me, English speakers have a word for toe…strange!… Spanish speakers  just take the word finger, dedo and add “del pie”, simple… but yeah, longer.

So in English you hurt your toe, in Spanish “te haces daño en el dedo del pie.”




Again quite funny that a simple action has not have a exact translation, Spaniards will say “comprobar de nuevo”, “comprobar otra vez”or “volver a comprobar”I guess we could just use  “aseguarse” as a synonymous

but that in English will be “to make sure” so not quite right either…

So if you want to make sure “asegurarte” that your friend has double checked something like

Can you double check you do not have my socks in your drawer? In Spanish you will ask them “¿Puedes comprobar de nuevo que no tienes mis clacetines en tu cajón?” , aye. sometimes happens 🙂



closing to the finish line we find this word (damn!) It has so much meaning itself, so it is difficult to exactly translate it into just one word…it is someone who is pretentious is not it? In Spanish we do not have an adjective, noun for it, we use, guess what? A verb, “darse de entendido”in other words someone who pretends understand about something (but most of the time doesn’t) Do not panic, snob is understood in Spanish as well although it looses part of its meaning.

If your friend is a music snob,I do not know if she really knows… “tu amiga se las da de entendida en música, pero no estoy segura de que ella sepa…”


And the last one is

7-to pin-

quite a fashionable word now with all the social media, specially if you are using pinterest, is the word to use, well….in Spanish we will have a problem…we do not have that word…what do we have instead? “sujetar con alfileres”yeah, that actually means hold with pins…I know…wonders of the Spanish language…But nowadays is getting more popular to use the English term “to pin”, as it is shorter, and Spaniards love to cut efforts…:)

If you go to the taylor so she can fix your trouser, in an English speaker country she will first pin them 🙂 but if you go to la modista (taylor) in Spain ella los sujetará con alfileres-she will hold them with pins


TIP- we can use the expression “llevar/tener algo con alfileres” to refer something we do not have/get it quite right,

If you have an exam at uni and you haven’t go deep into one of the subjects, you will say I hope they do not ask anything from unit 6 I did not have time to revise it- “Espero que no pregunten nada del tema 6, lo llevo con alfileres…”

Same if you have a meeting and you are nervous as you haven’t prepared it properly

“estoy bastante nervioso porque lo llevo con alfileres”- I am quite nervous as I did not prepared it well”


Ok amigos, as everyweek that is all for now-eso es todo por ahora , time to finish the post (oh…..sad face)

I hope you enjoyed the article and you learned something new.

This article is just a selection but there are so many words out there, so keep your eyes open for a second part , but  in the meanwhile …



The homework for this week is to write a sentences in English (easy) with one (or more-you know what they say, the more the merrier-) and translate it/them into Spanish, (try not to look at the post when doing that) to see if you come up with explanations for these words, or you just the “closest meaning”.

I would love you to practice and to have accountability always helps so I invite you to leave your sentences in the comments below so you can double check “comprobar” that you got the meaning and you are using it right, so do not be shy,  I am here to help you and I am looking forward to your sentences.


Now… it is your turn,  if you have a friend who can learn from this post, do not keep it as a secret, spread the Spanish joy-word around J Also, I would love to hear from you, did you know these words? Can you think about other ones that don’t have a exactly Spanish translation too?  Leave a comment below I am sure they will help someone.


Feliz día-happy day!

!Hasta pronto!


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5 Responses to “7 English words that are impossible to translate into Spanish”

  1. Ben

    I remember when I first wanted to say flashcards – didn’t even know “tarjetas” so I said “cartas … de flash?” ! It’s funny how quickly you get used to thinking with these expressions, though – I’ve been in Madrid for two months now and use “darse cuenta” almost every day.

  2. Alvaro

    Interesting explanarions, but maybe a bit limited.

    TOE: Dedo del pie.

    Each toe has a name. The innermost toe is the ‘Dedo Gordo.” In fact, I just hit my Dedo Gordo on a step while I was shoeless and its nail has turned turned blue from the blow.
    The other toes are the Segundo dedo del pie; Tercer dedo del pie, and Cuarto dedo del pie. Finally, the Little Finger is the Dedo menique.
    Therefore, there is a specific word for each one of the toes.

    • blancadt

      Gracias, tienes razón, cada dedo del pie tiene un nombre igual que los de las manos, pero pensé en hacerlo un poco más general para no complicar. Gracias por tu comentario, siempre

  3. Cathy

    Another English word that my students have trouble with is “become”. Do you want to write about that one?

    • blancadt

      haha that is definitely a “hard” one for Spanish students too 🙂 Good idea! It is an interesting subject so I will write about it in one of my future blog. ¡Gracias por la idea Cathy! 🙂


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