Quick answer
"Dolor" is a noun which is often translated as "pain", and "pena" is a noun which is often translated as "pity". Learn more about the difference between "dolor" and "pena" below.
dolor(
doh
-
lohr
)
A masculine noun is used with masculine articles and adjectives (e.g. el hombre guapo, el sol amarillo).
1. (physical discomfort)
a. pain
Tengo un dolor fuerte en la pierna derecha.I have an intense pain in my right leg.
b. ache
Ya llevo más de una semana con un dolor sordo en el cuello.I've had this dull ache in my neck for over a week now.
2. (mental anguish)
a. sorrow
Sentimos un dolor profundo cuando se murió mi abuela.We felt great sorrow when my grandmother passed away.
b. grief
Ana no ha superado el dolor causado por la muerte de su perro.Ana hasn't gotten over the grief caused by her dog's death.
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pena(
peh
-
nah
)
A feminine noun is almost always used with feminine articles and adjectives (e.g. la mujer bonita, la luna llena).
1. (sympathy)
a. pity
¡Qué pena que no lo conozcas!What a pity you haven't met him!
b. shame
Es una pena que no podamos acompañarte.It is a shame we cannot go with you.
c. sad (adjective)
Sentí mucha pena cuando se murió mi actor preferido.I felt really sad when my favorite actor died.
Me da mucha pena verlos partir.It makes me so sad to see them leave.
2. (sadness)
a. sorrow
Comparto la pena de los afectados por el terrorismo.I share the sorrow of those affected by terrorism.
3. (trouble)
a. problem
Vamos, cuéntame todas tus penas.Come on, tell me about all your problems.
4. (legal)
a. sentence
Le impusieron una pena de dos años de cárcel.He was sentenced to two years in prison.
5. (effort)
a. trouble
No vale la pena su libro nuevo.His new book is not worth the trouble.
6. (humiliation)
Regionalism used in the Caribbean: Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico
(Caribbean)
Regionalism used in Central America: Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama
(Central America)
Regionalism used in Colombia
(Colombia)
Regionalism used in Mexico
(Mexico)
a. embarrassment
Me da pena salir vestida así.I am embarrassed to go out dressed like this.
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