Quick answer
"Dar en el clavo" is an intransitive verb phrase which is often translated as "to hit the nail on the head", and "atinar" is an intransitive verb which is often translated as "to hit the target". Learn more about the difference between "dar en el clavo" and "atinar" below.
dar en el clavo
An intransitive verb phrase is a phrase that combines a verb with a preposition or other particle and does not require a direct object (e.g. Everybody please stand up.).
intransitive verb phrase
1. (idiom) (to ascertain exactly a cause)
a. to hit the nail on the head
Diste en el clavo cuando dijiste que su actitud de superioridad ocultaba su falta de confianza.You hit the nail on the head when you said that her superiority attitude hid beneath it a lack of confidence.
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An intransitive verb is one that does not require a direct object (e.g. The man sneezed.).
1. (to hit the mark)
a. to hit the target
El arquero atinó, con lo que demostró su gran puntería.The archer hit the target, demonstrating his impressive aim.
2. (to guess correctly; used with "con" or "en")
a. to guess right
Si atinas en qué estoy pensando, te doy un dólar.If you can guess right what I am thinking about, I'll give you a dollar.
b. to hit upon
A word or phrase that is commonly used in conversational speech (e.g. skinny, grandma).
No me gusta este juego porque nunca atino en las soluciones.I don't like this game because I never hit upon the solutions.
c. to come up with
Si atinas con el resultado de esta ecuación, tu profesor de matemáticas estará orgulloso.If you come up with the result of this equation, your math teacher will be proud.
3. (to locate)
a. to find
Atiné con la casa a pesar de no tener la dirección exacta.I found the house even though I didn't have the exact address.
4. (to achieve)
a. to manage to
No atiné a encestar y mi equipo perdió el partido por un punto.I didn't manage to score a basket, and my team lost the match by one point.
b. to succeed in
María nunca atina a acordarse del nombre de la gente.Maria never succeeds in remembering people's names.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
No atino a hacer nada hoy: ¡tengo muchísimo sueño!I can't seem to do anything today - I'm terribly sleepy!
Juan estaba tan borracho que no atinaba a meter la llave en la cerradura.Juan was so drunk he couldn't put the key in the keyhole.
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