2 Vote

What does "leer las cartillas" mean ? A native speaker was trying to explain the expression, but he lost me completely. Please can anyone show an example of how it's used ?

I have been told this is an idiomatic expression. A native speaker would know it. This is roughly what happened: During a friendly game of tennis doubles, one player was coughing and spluttering throughout the game. Then someone from the opposite side started to remark about his coughing and spluttering ( I think in a light-hearted way, as the match was only a friendly). Then the expression "leer las cartillas" cropped up. When I said I didn't have a clue what "leer las cartillas" meant, he tried to explain it to me, but unfortunately I am none the wiser as I tend to have problems understanding native speakers talking rapidly.

12 Answers

2 Vote

I looked it up on "wikcionario" and the translation of their definition would have it "to severely reprimand someone". Would this make sense in the context of the tennis match? It occurs to me that it might be an equivalent of "to read someone the riot act".

  • I also found it in wikcionario. I just don't know. What i need to do is to ask the same person to explain the saying again next time I see him, and slowly. - peterpierre2 Feb 7, 2010 flag
  • I agree with mountaingirl...it sounds like "reading the riot act." - gadjetman Feb 24, 2010 flag
  • great answer, that is it - 00494d19 Feb 25, 2010 flag
1 Vote

Without further context we have no idea what a cartilla is. Look at our dictionary's definitions. It could be anything from a Dick and Jane primer to military discharge papers.

The verb infinitive is commonly used as a gerund in Spanish and translated as an "ing" verb form so your phrase could be:

Reading the ....and whichever definition of cartillas fits your context.


1 Vote

I echo the need for context Qfreed brings up. But my first thought was maybe it was similar to "the writing on the wall"

  • Think "the writing on the wall" is a distinct possibility as it may fit the scenario. - peterpierre2 Feb 7, 2010 flag
1 Vote

I googled the phrase "leer las cartillas" and the main context where it was used, in English, would be something like: "read the rules" or "read the fine print"

Leer las cartillas de las prepagas

se utiliza para revisar la visión en niños y adultos que no pueden leer las cartillas de visión

In the context of your tennis match, I bet someone was saying: "go read the rules"

0 Vote

That will be give somebody a warning, a reprimand. When the childs misbehave you "le lees la cartilla", is like give somebody a ticking off; remind somebody of their duties.

Not often used on adults though but on the context is pretty much safe to say that person was reprimanded for his awful conduct and reminded of the contest rules.

0 Vote

Collins gives "leer la cartilla a alguien", note the singular use, as "to take somebody to task" or "to give somebody a severe ticking off", just as bluedivas has said.

0 Vote

Efectively leer las cartillas doesn't exist, the expression is leer la cartilla, and it's a reprimenda to someone.

but don't forget, it's "leer la cartilla". leer las cartillas sound a bit funny. The reprimenda is one cartilla, you can imagine if it were several cartillas.

  • The native speaker who used the phrase actually said "leer las cartillas" not "leer la cartilla". So either he made a mistake or the expression is more flexible than one imagines. - peterpierre2 Feb 25, 2010 flag
0 Vote

"to severely reprimand someone".

that is it!

The native speaker who used the phrase actually said "leer las cartillas" not "leer la cartilla". So either he made a mistake or the expression is more flexible than one imagines. - peterpierre2

HI Peter, where is the guy from? I would not know outside Spain, but the expression is definitely used in singular.

  • Hi, he's from the Canary Islands. I'll ask him about the phrase when I see him, which is about once every 3 or 4 months when someone arranges a game of tennis doubles. - peterpierre2 Feb 25, 2010 flag
0 Vote

Maybe the English expression "to read someone the riot act"?

0 Vote

"La cartilla" may be "La cartilla del guardia civil", the booklet with the regulations every Civil Guard had in his pocket during the nineteenth century. It is funny to imagine a semi-literate Civil Guard reading the hunting regulations to a typical illiterate poacher

0 Vote

To lecture somebody, particularly kids, with rules and how to behave.

0 Vote

to reprimand someone

Answer this Question