Which form is more common "¿Cómo se dice?" o "¿Qué quiere decir?" | SpanishDict Answers
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7 Vote

When a Spanish speaker says the equivalent of "How do you say X in English?" are they more likely to say "¿Cómo se dice X en Ingles?" or "¿Qué quiere decir X en Ingles?"

  • Posted Mar 9, 2012
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9 Answers

6 Vote

I've always thought,

¿Cómo se dice "horse" in español? - How does one say horse in Spanish?

¿Qué quiere decir "caballo"? - What does "caballo" mean?

4 Vote

I've always used ¿Cómo se dice? when I wanted to know a word in Spanish. I can definitely see where ¿Qué quiere decir? would give you the same type of response. I believe the person is looking for a meaning or a word that they can't really express with the latter question. What do you want to say? is implying, to me at least, the person might not have the right words for the conversation and needs some help or just needs a word or two. I did see where people posted and said that it was common in their area to use ¿Qué quiere decir? to get a word. That's the great thing about language (I'm from the south but live in the Northeast now)....dialect and word usage does vary and that's a great thing!! smile Hope this helps and have a great day, I'm off to work!!

3 Vote

It is "how do you say" something vs. "what does this mean". I would say "qué quiere decir" is more synonymous with "qué significa" than "cómo se dice".

3 Vote

There is a clear difference between the two. ¿Cómo se dice? means exactly....How do you say? ¿Qué quiere decir? means literally ...what do you want to say?

  • ya got my vote - albert-fabri Mar 10, 2012 flag
  • 'Querer decir' is a verb for 'to mean' . In this context, I would not translate it as "what do you want to say", yet what does the word "want" to say. (What does the word mean) - Beatrice-Cod Mar 10, 2012 flag
2 Vote
  • I would use ¿Cómo se dice? when asking how to say something in Spanish. Like this: ¿Cómo se dice "ice cream" en español?
  • While I would use ¿Qué quiere decir? to ask someone to clarify what they meant to say when I don't understand what they said.. Like this: Person 1: Vivo en el mar. Person 2: ¿Qué quiere decir? ¿Que vive a orilla del mar o algo diferente?

Thus I would use them for different purposes.

2 Vote

They´re related, but really 2 different things, so I don´t think you can say one is more common than the other. One means ¨How do you say¨ and the other means ¨what does something mean¨ Just depends on which you really mean to say. i.e. you´ll probably find yourself frequently using both, once you really think about it.

2 Vote

Hi lagarto,

¿Cómo se dice X en español?- How do you say X in Spanish?

¿Cómo se dice : "Why do some people ask the same question all the time" in Spanish?

¿Que quiere decir? What do you (usted) want to say?

1 Vote

Where I live in Texas, USA, "¿Qué quiere decir X en Ingles?" is more common.

1 Vote

There is a clear difference between the two. ¿Cómo se dice? means exactly....How do you say? ¿Qué quiere decir? means literally ...what do you want to say?

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