bad timing

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In my Spanish class last week, I was talking about how the recent economic trouble in the US had come at an inopportune moment for John McCain (a candidate for US president), right before the first debate, and I wanted to say "It was bad timing for him," but I couldn't think how to say it. I asked the teacher, but she couldn't think of anything, either.

I know I could say that the economic downturn "vino en un momento inoportuno," or "No le vino bien," but do those have the same nuance? How about "¡Qué mal momento!"?

Here are some ways we might use this in English, to help you understand how it is used.

  • I got there with my wife just as my ex-wife was leaving.
  • Wow, that was bad timing.

(on the phone)
- Hi, can I come over to see you?
- Ah, that's kind of bad timing right now.

  • My tire blew out just when I was leaving for the ceremony.
  • What bad timing!

We also use this in the opposite meaning with good/perfect timing. For example, when dinner guests arrive late, but just as we are sitting down to eat, we might say "Perfect timing!"

Any suggestions'

8409 views
updated SEP 29, 2008
posted by 00bacfba

9 Answers

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También muy coloquial:

Me pillas en mal momento.

¿Puedo ir a verte?
Vaya...ando muy pillado en este momento...

updated SEP 29, 2008
posted by 00494d19
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CalvoViejo said:

Sorry, I just have to jump in here. wink The word is spelled "tire" in the US. And, yes: "spelled" not "spelt"

I too was surprised to learn that you're taking Spanish classes. At first I thought you were the teacher. Maybe I can find something similar in Idaho when I get back from Colombia.


"spelt" is still acceptable. "spell" is one of a fairly large number of what are called "strong verbs" (which traditionally had an irregular past tense/participle) e.g. lit/wrote/snuck/ran/swum/smote. Gradually (as English evolves) these forms are being replaced by the more regular "-ed" (lighted/sneaked/spelled/smited) but it's an ongoing process and for many both forms coexist.

updated SEP 29, 2008
posted by samdie
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Sorry, I just have to jump in here. wink

The word is spelled "tire" in the US. And, yes: "spelled" not "spelt"

I too was surprised to learn that you're taking Spanish classes. At first I thought you were the teacher. Maybe I can find something similar in Idaho when I get back from Colombia.

updated SEP 29, 2008
posted by CalvoViejo
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Hi James
I know where you are coming from since I too attend Spanish conversation classes, no English whatsoever. My problem is we do very little grammar, just chat and like your class, she varies the lessons with games and quizes. Sometimes it's pretty hard going talking about the ozone layer, CFC's and the like, whilst other times it can be fun. Again there are pupils of differing levels and interesting enough, one chap who has just obtained a degree in Spanish, knows the written language inside out but can hardly string four words together. Our teacher is from Seville but having been in England for about thirty years, it is funny when she forgets certain words and has to ask the class to see if anyone knows.

updated SEP 29, 2008
posted by Eddy
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James Santiago said:

I take it that llanta is not used in Spain, right? You used "iba" for "leaving," but I would have said "me iba" or "salía." Is there a specific reason for your choice, and would my choices have been incorrect?

I know in America "llanta" is used for tyre, but in Spain this word is only the metallic rim. The word in any case comes from French "jante", meaning "rim". I don't know how it ended up meaning "tyre".

"Me iba" would have been a more accurate translation for "was leaving". My mistake.

updated SEP 29, 2008
posted by lazarus1907
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Natasha said:

Yes, where did you find this class, James? I would love to take a class but (hopefully this is not too arrogant) I have my doubts about how much I would learn in a run-of-the-mill college course taught by a non-native speaker.

It's a local adult school. It's called Spanish II, which follows Spanish I-A to I-D, and is taught exclusively in Spanish. The level of the students varies considerably, but it gives me a chance to practice speaking, and it's fun to get out of the house and speak Spanish. We do activities and games in Spanish. This Thursday, for example, I have to choose a famous person and give the class clues to who I am, and they have to ask questions and guess my identity.

updated SEP 29, 2008
posted by 00bacfba
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Thank you, Lazarus. Those sound like good options.

Two follow-up questions:

El neumático reventó justo cuando iba a la ceremonia.

I take it that llanta is not used in Spain, right?
You used "iba" for "leaving," but I would have said "me iba" or "salía." Is there a specific reason for your choice, and would my choices have been incorrect?

Are you really taking classes of Spanish? There is very little you can learn from a teacherat this stage.

Yes, and you vastly overestimate my abilities. {blush} Actually, I attend mainly because I need practice speaking, as I have very few opportunities to use my spoken Spanish. And I do indeed learn something in each class. But my teacher, who is a costariquense who has lived in the US for decades, has a habit of forgetting how to say things in "real" Spanish and using anglicisms instead. And she also has the disconcerting habit of asking me for confirmation when she has doubts in class, which makes me less than popular among my fellow students. (I have taken many classes from her, so we know each other well.)

updated SEP 29, 2008
posted by 00bacfba
0
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Yes, where did you find this class, James? I would love to take a class but (hopefully this is not too arrogant) I have my doubts about how much I would learn in a run-of-the-mill college course taught by a non-native speaker.

updated SEP 29, 2008
posted by Natasha
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In general I'd say "en mal momento", "no... en un momento oportuno", or equivalent. My suggestions:

Llegué con mi mujer justo cuando mi ex novia se iba.
¡Vaya! ¡Qué mala suerte! / ¡Qué inoportuno! / ¡Qué coincidencia más mala! / ....

Hola. ¿Puedo ir a verte?
Bueno, me coges en un mal momento ahora mismo. (this "coger" usage is not good for every country, of course) / Bueno, ahora no es el mejor momento (para venir).

El neumático reventó justo cuando iba a la ceremonia.
¡Qué inoportuno! / ¡Precisamente en ese momento! / ¡Qué mala suerte! / ...

Are you really taking classes of Spanish? There is very little you can learn from a teacherat this stage.

updated SEP 29, 2008
posted by lazarus1907