HomeQ&AIf more than one word in Spanish mean the same thing, how do I know which word to use in any given situation?

If more than one word in Spanish mean the same thing, how do I know which word to use in any given situation?

1
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Okay, bailar & danzar both mean to dance. How do I know which one to use?

6347 views
updated MAR 15, 2010
posted by spanishlearnerd

5 Answers

1
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I often read the entire entry in a dictionary such as my Gran Diccionario Oxford in which good examples are given of various usages to indicate sometimes subtle shades of meaning.

The unabridged Cambridge is also good and available in electronic form for the desktop.

In fact, you will find a number of good sentence examples in the Chambers-Harrap and Velazquez employed here at Span¡shD!ct.com.

Here is an example in which it is clear that for some meanings of "danzar", "bailar" might not be a synonym at all.

danzar intransitive verb1. to dance (bailar); to run about (figurative) (ir de un sitio a otro)

or from Velazquez

danzar [dan-thar’] 2b) to cite or to oblige one to take part in any business

  1. to make public the share which a person has taken in a business.
  2. To introduce oneself into any business. (Colloquial) (n)
updated MAR 14, 2010
posted by Janice
Thank you:) - spanishlearnerd, MAR 14, 2010
1
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Hi Spanishlearn,

Well there is such a thing in language as the "synonym" , i.e. words that mean the same thing. It's often up to the speaker to choose the one they like best for this situation. (For instance, the English word anger.)

In the case of bailar and danzar, I think you'll find that bailar is a far more commonly used word.

updated MAR 14, 2010
edited by Goyo
posted by Goyo
Thank you:) - spanishlearnerd, MAR 14, 2010
0
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In my opinion this problem is more acute in English.

English has about twice as many words as Spanish (over 1,000,000).

Many of them are adjectives. Try explaining the difference between "small" and "little" and you will see the problem.

Spanish speakers learning English really need a Thesaurus to help them out.

Of course a good dictionary helps all of us..

updated MAR 15, 2010
posted by ian-hill
The usual number given for English is 500,000 but this also depends on how one counts/defines "words". - samdie, MAR 14, 2010
The Oxford dictionary lists over 1M - ian-hill, MAR 14, 2010
It is generally stated (although authorities differ) that English has around 250,000 to 300,000 words when obsolete words (which still exist in some unabridged dictionaries) aren't counted. There is one count that puts the English vocabulary at about 1 mi - ian-hill, MAR 15, 2010
The above from About.com - ian-hill, MAR 15, 2010
0
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Sometimes there are subtle differences that you just have to learn as you go along. See bailar vs. danzar comprender vs. entender. When in doubt ask the forum. wink

updated MAR 14, 2010
posted by alba3
0
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You have to see each single case in particular, to see which is the more apropiate word.

In this case: the most correct word is "bailar". "danzar" is "to dance" but in a more technical or poetic way.

updated MAR 14, 2010
posted by ismarodri_uy
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