The Latin culture is very famous around the world because of its food, soccer, fruits, tropical weather, and especially for the warmth of its people. People smile when they greet you, hug among friends when their favorite team scores a goal, and couples hold hands walking through the street. And so, expressing affection in Spanish is in our blood, it’s part of our essence, culture, and way of communicating.
Our warmth and affection are one of the reasons why once you reach any corner of Latin America, you feel at home, and in many cases, it becomes your home forever and a part of you. at is why today, I want to explain how you can do it!
Me gustas vs. me caes bien
“Me gustas”, “Me gusta Maria”, “Me gusta pedro”; you have probably heard these expressions before. If not, and you are trying to translate it right now, you will find the meaning “I like”, and at this point is when it can become a little confusing. In Spanish, when you are talking about a person: “I like Pedro” = “me gusta pedro” you can only say it to a person who you have a romantic interest in; that is the reason why the literal translation doesn’t work and why it can create misunderstandings. If you don’t want to express it in a romantic way, but rather just talking about getting along with the person, you can say “me cae bien” which means “he/she seems nice”, or even “to make a good impression”.
I remember a personal experience with one of my close friends. He is a foreigner and we were chatting an afternoon and he told me “me gusta Isabella” in Spanish (he was learning at that time). I was kind of surprised because he had a girlfriend, and I said: “really?” “what about your girlfriend”? He was shocked and he wasn’t able to understand what was going on, and after that, he tried to explain himself in English. But we had another problem: my broken English from that time did not allow me to understand the situation, because for me, the translation of “I like Isabella” was “me gusta Isabella”, and as I told you before, it expresses a romantic intention. After a lot of effort, we were able to understand the difference between the two words. Obviously, he wanted to express “I get along with Isabella” or “Isabella seems nice”. We laughed for hours around some beers and what I didn’t know was that I was going to remember that afternoon forever in my classroom through the curious questions of my students.
What about if there is someone you can’t stand? You need to memorize these sentences:
Me cae mal – Me cae gordo: This a very useful saying, but at the same time, it’s very confusing for foreigners because the literal translation doesn’t make any sense, as “caer”, according to the dictionary, means “to fall” and “gordo” is “fat”. So, this expression doesn’t have any translation because it’s an idiomatic expression, which means you can’t stand or you don’t like a person. Was someone impolite with you? Is anyone annoying? Now you can use this for expressing your feelings towards that person.
Isn’t it funny how can you play with our language? Now you are a master and you can express affection in Spanish or any other different feelings with these colloquial expressions. You will certainly sound like a native when you use them!
Audio to practice
If you want to go further on the topic, check How to express love and affection in Spanish?
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Written by Lorena, profesora at Whee.