Viernes de Vocabulario: Understanding, Not Understanding, and Not Knowing

Here at ICO, we hope that you’ll learn just how much fun Spanish can be.  Like any language, Spanish is full of colorful slang expressions.  On Fridays, we’ll be teaching you a combination of useful everyday words and fun common colloquialisms.

*

When you’re just learning a language, it can be hard for others to know if you understand them, or for you to know if others have understood you.  So you might think you would want to know this word:

¿Entendiste?                Did you understand? (tú)
¿Entendió?                   Did you understand? (usted)

However, many (although not all) Spanish speakers consider this a rude questionThose who find this rude thinks that it places the blame on the person listening for not understanding, and prefer to place the blame on themselves.  So instead of asking someone if they understood, you would ask this:

¿Me explico?                Do I explain myself?  Do I make myself clear?

Of course, just knowing how to ask politely is only have the battle.  Sometimes you’ll have to tell someone that you didn’t understand, or that you don’t know, or that you’ve forgotten something or gotten confused.  For this, we have three more useful phrases:

Me quedé en blanco.    I drew a blank.
Perdí el hilo.                  I lost the thread (of the conversation)
Se me fue el avión.       I lost my train of thought.

These three phrases have different uses.  When someone asks you a question and you can’t remember the answer, you’d say, me quedé en blanco.  If someone’s talking too fast or you zone out in the middle of the conversation, the appropriate phrase is something like, es que perdí el hilo. And when you get tripped up in the middle of a sentence, you’d say, se me fue el avión.

Why is thought a train in English and an airplane in Spanish?  That may be one of the great mysteries of language learning.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s