How to Talk about the Temperature in Spanish
Learning how to talk about la temperatura, or the temperature, in Spanish can be tricky for many reasons. In this article, we’ll show you how best to ask what temperature it is and we’ll also cover the difference between the American system for calculating temperature (Fahrenheit) and the system that all other Spanish-speaking countries use (Celsius).
Hot or Cold?
Before we begin talking about temperature in terms of degrees, let’s start with the basics. Below you’ll fine the most common way to ask what temperature it is out.
In the response, people might give you the temperature down to the degree. Other times, they’ll just say hace frío (it’s cold) or hace calor (it’s hot). Remember that when we use the verb hacer, we are literally saying it makes cold or it makes heat, which is why we use the nouns frío and calor in these responses.
In the Andes of Ecuador, many of the phrases that the locals use come from Quechua, the language of the indigenous culture in the region. Many quiteños (locals from Quito) will use the expression ¡Achachay! when they want to express how cold they feel or how cold it is outside. There isn’t a word-for-word translation for this expression, other than Brrr. You’ll also want to reserve this expression only for instances where you alone are reacting to the temperature, not as a response to someone asking you how cold it is.
28° in Summer
Ever looked at the temperature on a hot summer day in a Spanish-speaking country, only to see that it’s 28° outside? This is no mistake. Outside the United States, most countries calculate temperature on a different scale. Whereas we us grados Fahrenheit (degrees Fahrenheit) in the U.S., most other countries use grados centígrados (degrees Celsius). With Fahrenheit, the boiling point of water is at 212°F and the freezing point of water is 32°F. Celsius is a bit more straightforward because it’s scaled with the freezing point and the boiling point of water in mind; in Celsius, the freezing point of water is 0°C and the boiling point of water is 100°C.
Converting between these two measurements of temperature can get a little tricky since a degree Celsius and a degree Fahrenheit scale differently. Below we’ve put together a table with some key temperatures and their conversions for you to use as a cheat sheet.
|°C||Spanish Pronunciation||Converted into °F|
Looking for an easy way to convert degrees Celsius to Fahrenheit? One way is to multiply the degrees in celsius by 9/5ths and then add 32 to the product. For example:
|10°C x 9/5 = 18°|
|18° + 32° = 50°F|