Nada o todo?

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¿Cómo se dice correctamente esta': "Primero que nada o Primero que todo" Right now, I think "Primero que todo" is better - makes more sense.

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updated FEB 11, 2009
posted by Ken-Smith

9 Answers

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lazarus1907 said:

"Antes que" comes from the Latin comparative conjunction "antequam", and because of some similarities with this language, in modern Spanish, "que" can follow some comparative adverbs, nouns and adjectives, but it cannot be used otherwise, like in "primero", otherwise we'd be able to add "que" to all other adverbs freely, and we can't. "First of all" could be reasonably well translated word by word into Spanish by saying "Lo primero de todo", and not "Lo primero que todo", since "que" does not have that function in Spanish, and even those who say that aberration, wouldn't connect other words using "que" instead of "de". As I said, it is a bad translation done by people with low linguistic skills.How would it sound to you if someone translated "Antes que nada" as "Before that nothing" in English, and they claimed that it is English? What would you think of their ability to translate and use your language? Or shall we call it evolution?


You are "right on" concerning the weird literal translation I worked out with "Antes de/que nada." It makes no sense (to me anyway) when literally translated to English. But, as I said, I wasn't sure of either the literal translation - and regardless of what that might be - the preferred way to say the phrase among native Spanish speakers. Maybe this is a tiny sample of language evolution in progress. Thanks for the thorough explanations.

updated FEB 11, 2009
posted by Ken-Smith
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antes que nada

updated FEB 11, 2009
posted by Martin-Rizzi
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"Antes que" comes from the Latin comparative conjunction "antequam", and because of some similarities with this language, in modern Spanish, "que" can follow some comparative adverbs, nouns and adjectives, but it cannot be used otherwise, like in "primero", otherwise we'd be able to add "que" to all other adverbs freely, and we can't. "First of all" could be reasonably well translated word by word into Spanish by saying "Lo primero de todo", and not "Lo primero que todo", since "que" does not have that function in Spanish, and even those who say that aberration, wouldn't connect other words using "que" instead of "de". As I said, it is a bad translation done by people with low linguistic skills.

How would it sound to you if someone translated "Antes que nada" as "Before that nothing" in English, and they claimed that it is English? What would you think of their ability to translate and use your language? Or shall we call it evolution'

updated FEB 11, 2009
posted by lazarus1907
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If anybody read my previous post (now deleted), please ignore it, because I just realized that I misunderstood what Ken was saying. I thought he was saying that "antes que nada" means "before anything," rather than "first of all," but upon rereading his post I don't think that's what he meant (although I'm still not sure).

updated FEB 11, 2009
posted by 00bacfba
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Would the phrases which start with "Antes" be something close to "Before anything/everything" ? Frankly, I find "Antes de/que nada" difficult to analyze grammatically to render the intended meaning. I found these two similar phrases (in my question) which begin with "Primero" in one Spanish language periodical - in articles by separate authors. It's a small difference in semantics, no doubt, but would think the more accurate translation to English would be something close to "First of all" rather than "Before anything." I also think "de" rather than "que" would be the better choice. But, I realize also, that people often write and say phrases that do not follow - sometimes defy - the rules and preferred constructions, yet serve very well in communicating ideas which is, after all, what language is all about. And I also realize that I am the mistaken one far too often. As always, thanks for your responses.

updated FEB 11, 2009
posted by Ken-Smith
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James Santiago said:

By the way, I looked at WR and see that quite a few natives, from both South America and Spain, suggested "primero que nada" for this English.

Maybe they have translated it word by word, which is what people with poor education tend to do, and even incorporated it into their language, as a common sentence, but to me it sounds completely foreign, and it is grammatically incorrect (in Spanish, of course).

updated FEB 11, 2009
posted by lazarus1907
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Assuming you are trying to say "First of all," you can also say "En primer lugar."

By the way, I looked at WR and see that quite a few natives, from both South America and Spain, suggested "primero que nada" for this English. I've never heard it, and Lazarus and Sally don't seem to approve of it, but maybe it is used.

updated FEB 11, 2009
posted by 00bacfba
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Antes de nada
Antes que nada

updated FEB 11, 2009
posted by lazarus1907
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Give us more context Ken.
My first thought is "Antes que nada."

updated FEB 11, 2009
posted by Sally