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Things that surprise you about Spanish


Not sure which category this should be in but ....

What surprises you about the Spanish language?

I will start with a simple one.

It surprises me that is there no one word for "toes" in Spanish.

After several 1000 years I would think one would have "appeared". grin grin

While I am at it how does one say "big toe" in Spanish?

updated FEB 11, 2011
edited by ian-hill
posted by ian-hill
pulgar del pie o dedo gordo del pie - juluque, FEB 16, 2010
The anatomical terms for the toes were not created until the 90's and came from translating This Little Piggy to Latin. - lorenzo9, FEB 11, 2011

8 Answers


I started learning Spanish about 5 years ago with a few books and a CD and took to it like duck to water. I still remember opening the book at the first chapter - "pronunciation". I was surprised... no...amazed at how simple it was.

Incidentally - 6 months later I took some lessons with an amateur teacher from Lima, Peru. She was surprised that I had already learned how to pronounce the words.

"How do you know that !?!?" she asked

"I read it on page 7" I replied LOL

We all moan about the grammar but - let's be honest - Spanish orthography could hardly be easier. That's what still surprises me about Spanish.

updated FEB 11, 2011
posted by patch
hehe... page 7 - MeEncantanCarasSonrisas, FEB 16, 2010

What surprises me (or stumped me when I first started learning) is that you use ser when describing the location of an event ie. "El concierto es en ese teatro." and estar when describing the location of a building. It would seem the location of an event is much less permanent than the location of a building... smile

updated FEB 11, 2011
posted by zarazara
You should have a conversation with Lazarus about rules. He can enlighten you on that topic. - LiveUnsheathed, FEB 10, 2011
Yeah, that's what suprises me too. Funny. - bomberapolaca, FEB 11, 2011

By the way, Ian-hill and MeEncanta, would any of you tell me the names of the five fingers? In Spanish, these are:

Pulgar (el gordo)

Indice (el que señala)

Corazón (el del medio)

Anular (donde colocamos el anillo)

Meñique (el pequeño)


updated FEB 11, 2011
posted by RicardoP
thumb (pulgar), index finger (indice), middle finger (corazón), ring finger (anular) and pinky [finger] (meñique) - MeEncantanCarasSonrisas, FEB 16, 2010
Muchas gracias - RicardoP, FEB 16, 2010
in argentina we know the midle finger as (Medio) never heard corazón. - juluque, FEB 16, 2010
Good to know that :) - bomberapolaca, FEB 11, 2011

What surprised me was the fact that "amor" is a noun instead of a verb.

Big toe: dedo gordo del pie.... And while I'm at it- little toe: meñique del pie

*"meñique" means "pinky"

updated FEB 11, 2011
posted by MeEncantanCarasSonrisas
Learn something new every day. Pinkie - very good. - ian-hill, FEB 16, 2010
Amor is a noun but Amar is the verb "to love". - zarazara, FEB 10, 2011

The word "cabrahigar", even though it does come more or less directly from Latin. The next surprise was when google translated it to "sycamores". question

updated FEB 11, 2011
posted by lorenzo9

All the syllables. It’s as if the longer the word the more they like it. English is full of one syllable words. They seem rare in Spanish. My favorite so far is traffic jam: el embotellamiento.

updated FEB 11, 2011
posted by chull
Aw man! I can't say it with out taking 2 seconds per syllable... It's just like the word "meteorológico" - MeEncantanCarasSonrisas, FEB 16, 2010
Let me specify... I can't say the word "embotellamiento" - MeEncantanCarasSonrisas, FEB 16, 2010
The same for parking lot! "Estacionamiento", is such a mouthful! - zarazara, FEB 10, 2011
Trancón in Colombia, much more easierer... - afowen, FEB 11, 2011

Es muy increible como algunas palabras polacas y espa?olas se parecen. En polaco hay un verbo "firmowa?" que también significa "to sign with your name" Por supuesto hay muchas semejanzas entre espa?ol e ingles, claro. Pero Polonia esta mas lejos de Espa?a que Inglaterra. No conozco muchas palabras espa?oles pero hay mucho más tal palabras como por ejemplo: las pantuflas, la fábrica. La cultura espa?ola es totalmente diferente de la polaca pero cuando veo tan casos tengo mis dudas acerca de esta afirmación. Disculpad mis errores de espa?ol.

updated MAR 1, 2010
posted by bomberapolaca
¿estàs segura que sos ´beginner´ en español?! Yo de polaco sólo sé decir Tomasewski :-) - mediterrunio, FEB 16, 2010
Si, si, estoy segura, sin duda. Este gran apellido se escribe Tomaszewski :) Y no conoces Kubica o Radwańska? ;P - bomberapolaca, FEB 17, 2010

I will try


Index finger

Middle finger

Ring finger

Little finger (or pinky)

updated FEB 16, 2010
posted by ian-hill
Muchas gracias - RicardoP, FEB 16, 2010
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