Quick answer
"De forma" is a phrase which is often translated as "shape", and "de fondo" is a phrase which is often translated as "in the background". Learn more about the difference between "de forma" and "de fondo" below.
de forma
A phrase is a group of words commonly used together (e.g once upon a time).
phrase
1. (used to refer to shape)
a. shape
Las amebas cambian de forma para poder desplazarse.Amoebas change shape to move around.
b.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
Las hojas de estos árboles son de forma acorazonada.The leaves of these trees are heart-shaped.
Sobre la mesa, había una cajita de forma hexagonal.There was a small hexagonal box on the table.
2. (used to refer to style)
a. of form
En mi opinión, el poema no funciona, y no por una cuestión de contenido, sino de forma.In my opinion, the poem doesn't work, and it's not a question of content, but one of form.
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de fondo
A phrase is a group of words commonly used together (e.g once upon a time).
phrase
1. (used to refer to images)
a. in the background (as an adverb)
Esta es una foto de mis padres en los Alpes con el Mont Blanc de fondo.This is a picture of my parents in the Alps with the Mont Blanc in the background.
b. background (as an adjective)
Se trata de uno de los autorretratos del pintor. El paisaje de fondo bien podría ser algún lugar de la Toscana.It's one of the painter's self-portraits. The background landscape could well be a place in Tuscany.
c.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
Ludweg pintó un cuadro muy sencillo de fondo completamente azul.Ludweg painted a very simple painting on a completely blue background.
Los dibujos del caricaturista son siempre de fondo blanco.The cartoonist drawings always have a white background.
2. (used to refer to sounds)
a. in the background (as an adverb)
De fondo se oye el sonido de una radio.There's the sound of a radio in the background.
b. background (as an adjective)
Habla más alto, por favor. Hay mucho ruido de fondo y no te oigo.Speak louder please. There's a lot of background noise and I can't hear you.
3. (used to refer to a dimension or measure)
a. deep
¿Cuánto tiene de fondo la piscina?How deep is the swimming pool?
b. in depth
El niño cayó en un pozo de unos diez metros de fondo.The child fell into a well of about ten meters in depth.
4. (most important)
a. underlying
Davis se queja de las condiciones de trabajo, pero aquí la cuestión de fondo es el dinero.Davis complains about working conditions, but money is the underlying issue here.
b. fundamental
Coincidimos en algunas cuestiones, pero entre nuestros dos partidos hay grandes diferencias de fondo.We agree on some issues but there are fundamental differences between our two parties.
c. basic
La falta de preparación de parte del personal es uno de los problemas de fondo de la empresa.The lack of skills of some of the staff is one of the basic problems of the company.
5. (sports)
a. long-distance (track and field)
Camila se especializó en la maratón y otras carreras de fondo.Camila specialized in the marathon and other long-distance races.
b. cross-country (skiing)
Los escandinavos son grandes esquiadores de fondo.Scandinavians are great cross-country skiers.
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