Abajo, debajo, and bajo are confusing help? | SpanishDict Answers
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6 Vote

Can you write some sentences so I can understand the difference between abajo, debajo and bajo? For example says abajo de -> below, under but im still confused

  • Posted Oct 19, 2010
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  • This would make for an excellent game along the same lines as the ones Marie-Claire has created, but it would need an administrator to monitor it. - sagiia Oct 22, 2010 flag

9 Answers

5 Vote

adding to KevinB excellent answer

Abajo. En el español de América, en registros coloquiales o populares, no es infrecuente que abajo vaya seguido de un complemento con de: .«El puente peatonal [...] se incendió cuando el avión pasó por abajo de él» (Expreso [Perú] 1.8.87). ****Pero**, en general, es uso rechazado por los hablantes cultos y se recomienda evitarlo en el habla esmerada; en esos casos debe emplearse debajo**

Diccionario panhispánico de dudas ©2005 Real Academia Española © Todos los derechos reservados

4 Vote

bajo = low, Los precios son bajos = The prices are low
abajo de = below, Los peces nadan abajo de la superficie = Fish swim below the surface
debajo de = underneath, El gato está debajo de la mesa = The cat is underneath the table

Abajo de and debajo de can be confusing, depending on the situation. I've read that it really depends on where you are. Spain seems to use debajo de where people from the Americas would use abajo de. Plus abajo can be used by itself, whereas you rarely debajo without por or de. I'll let some native speakers clear that part up.

Edit: Now I'm seeing references that say that bajo de, abajo de, and debajo de are interchangeable. I've typed too much to delete all this. Please stand by for expert help.

  • note: ´abajo de´ would be grammatically incorrect , that makes it confusing - mediterrunio Oct 21, 2010 flag
  • The dictionary here uses abajo de - "abajo de = below, under (Am) " - KevinB Oct 21, 2010 flag
  • I agree with Mediterrunio, "abajo de" is not unheard of, and it may even be common in some areas, but sounds really jarring. - bill1111 Oct 24, 2010 flag
2 Vote

There's many differences between those words, these are just the highlights:

"Debajo" is an adverb, and is used when you want to say that something is under something else; in other words, you need reference in a higher plane to compare it to, either in a real or figurative sense. If can be translated as under, below and even underneath, depending on the case.

eg: "Las zapatillas están debajo de la cama" > "The slippers are under the bed".

"La carretera pasa por debajo del puente" > "The road goes under the bridge".

"Está por debajo de sus posibilidades" > "He's performing below expectations"

"Bajo" can be many things (adjective, preposition or adverb), and as a preposition it's similar to "debajo", although it would probably be used more often than "debajo" to translate beneath/underneath.

eg: "Este coche tiene un motor muy potente bajo el capó" > "This car has a powerful engine under the hood" (notice that in English the common expression is 'under the hood', but the engine is really hidden or covered by it)

"Bajo esa máscara se oculta un asesino mortal" > "Underneath that mask hides a deadly assassin" 'debajo de' or 'detrás de' would fit fine here as well, but not in the following ones

"Los trabajos se desarrollan bajo un sol abrasador" > "Work proceeds under a scorching sun"

"Está trabajando bajo presión" > "He is working under pressure"

"Abajo" is not a preposition, it's an adverb that means "down", so depending on the preposition you put in front of it (if any), it can have different meanings.

eg: "No mires hacia abajo" > "Don't look down"

"Está muy abajo para poder rescatarle sin cuerda" > "He's too far below to rescue him without a rope"

"Este coche sólo va rápido cuesta abajo" > "This car only runs fast downhill"

"¿Dónde está? En el piso de abajo" > "Where is he? Downstairs"

"¿Qué camisa prefieres? La de abajo" "Which shirt do you like? The lower one."

1 Vote

Tras, atrás, and detrás can also be confusing. It is easy to understand these words when reading or hearing them, but how does a non-native speaker know which one to use when speaking or writing? I really hope someone will come along with a helpful answer.

1 Vote

Well, this link might be of some help: http://spanish.about.com/od/adverbs/qt/detras_atras.htm

  • This was very helpful indeed, although different than what you wrtoe in your previous post. - sagiia Oct 22, 2010 flag
  • Yes, but they said that :In parts of Latin America, it is common to use atrás de where detrás de might be normally used", which makes it all even more complex :/ - bomberapolac Oct 24, 2010 flag
1 Vote

Abajo is used more for something you know have a low position.

Ex: "Se ha ido calle abajo",( not possible "Se ha ido calle debajo")

Abajo de la calle-> is the end of the street (in low position).

Debajo de la calle-> under street ( underground)

In a lot of other expressions they are interchangeables:

"Los peces nadan por abajo/debajo de la superficie"

1 Vote

I think I understand now, but would someone please check these sentences to see if I've got it right. Thank you very much.

Johnny Cash tenía una voz de bajo. Johnny Cash had a low voice.

Napoleón fue bajo. Napoleon was short.

Soy más bajo que mi hermano. I am shorter than my brother.

El precio de estos pendientes es muy bajo. The price of these earrings is very low.

El techo de esta casa está muy bajo. The ceiling in this house is very low.

El botón cayó debajo de la mesa. The button fell under the table.

Los maestros trabajan mucho pero reciben salarios bajos. Teachers work very hard but receive low salaries.

El cielo arriba y el mar abajo. Heaven above and the sea below.

El ático está arriba y el sótano está abajo. The attic is upstairs and the basement is downstairs.

Máma está abajo en el sótano de lavar ropa. Mom is down in the basement washing clothes.

Creo que el guisante se esconde debajo de la tercera cáscara de coco. I think the pea is hiding under the third coconut shell.

El rango de un teniente es mas bajo que el de un capitán.(o es inferior al un de capitán.) The rank of a liuetenant is lower than a captain.

En póquer, una escalera de color es más bajo que una flor imperial. (o es menor que) In poker, a straight flush is lower than a royal flush.

Vuele por abajo cuadriga linda que viene para llevarme a casa. Swing low sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home.

Papas crecen debajo de la tierra. Potatoes grow underneath the ground.

En invierno, las tortugas se arrastran bajo el lodo en el fondo del estanque e hibernan. In winter, turtles crawl under the mud at the bottom of the pond and hibernate. (I thought that this would be abajo or debajo de, but when I tried running it through a translator that I trust it kept coming up bajo, even when I typed in underneath. I think bajo is working as an adverb in this sentence modifying arrastrarse. Translating from Spanish to English, debajo del lodo or abajo por el lodo also worked.)

Here is something new I discovered: La mariposa deposita sus huevos en el envés de la hoja. The butterfly lays her eggs on the underside of the leaf. ![alt text][1] This beauty is a giant swallowtail butterfly.

[1]: http://shasoc.net/Photo of a Giant Swallowtail Butterfly and Chrysalis.gif

  • "Envés" is the opposition side of something, only in botany is underside. - kawalero Oct 22, 2010 flag
  • Thank you for the clarification Kawalero. I was excited to learn that because i have a strong interest in botany, especially medicinal plants. Can you please tell me if the sentences I wrote are correct? - sagiia Oct 22, 2010 flag
  • I think is ok, but i think as well is necessary other opinion (i'm native spanish speaker but beginner in english). And is better "El techo de esta casa está muy bajo", "...más bajo que el de un capitán" or "...inferior al de un capitán", "...una flor.." - kawalero Oct 23, 2010 flag
  • "...estanque e hibernan" - kawalero Oct 23, 2010 flag
  • Gracias por las correcciones. Gracias por las correcciones. Al parecer, mi uso del bajo, abajo y debajo estaba en lo cierto? - sagiia Oct 23, 2010 flag
0 Vote

Good question. I also have some problems with that. When I was in Mexico they told me the following: frente a alg. = enfrente de = in front of atrás de = means behind something/somebody detrás de - means behind something/somebody that is in motion

Sadly, that's all I can share with you :/

  • So, el carro rojo está parqueado atrás de la casa, pero Estoy manejando detrás de un carro azul, ?? - sagiia Oct 22, 2010 flag
  • After having a look at the link posted above I'd say exactly the opposite... - bomberapolac Oct 24, 2010 flag
  • What I just learned in class (I'm in Mexico) is, like bomberapolac said, the opposite--that the prefix "a" (e.g., in atrás) indicates motion. - Soninmyeyes Oct 24, 2010 flag
0 Vote

Gracias Sagiia por tus oraciones comentadas previamente. Having looked at all the answers given I've arrived at the following conclusion: 1. you can either say "abajo" or "debajo de una cosa" (so, in this second example you should provide an object that something/somebody is located behind); I think it's like "below" and "under the" 2. "bajo" or "de bajo" (i.e. in your sentence with J.Cash) mean adjectives and not prepositions

Might it be right or is it kind of oversimplifiaction? confused

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