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¿Cuánto vale? Add it up!

¿Cuánto vale? literally means “How much is it worth?” but you will find that it can be used interchangeably with ¿Cuánto cuesta? which literally means “How much does it cost?” Patrons of Casa Panchos in Burgos, Spain, often use this phrase when deciding on a fine wine:

Cillar de Silos. Muy bueno.

Cillar de Silos. Very good.

-¿Cuánto vale?

-How much is it?

Captions 65-66, Casa Pancho - vinos y pinchos

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But be careful if you hear the impersonal expression se vale. This has nothing to do with worthiness; rather it is used to express that something is just or fair. The land dwellers in Atenco use the phrase in the negative form:

Todo lo hicieron por debajo del agua, ¿eh?

They did everything under the table, eh?

Y eso no está bien. No se vale eso.

And that's not right. That's not fair.

Captions 23-24, ¡Tierra, Sí! Atenco

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La cuenta, as anyone who’s ever ventured to a Spanish speaking country can tell you, is “the check” or bill you get at the end your meal. Hacer la cuenta is to prepare the check for the customer. However, replace la with de and we obtain a totally different meaning. Hacer de cuenta has nothing to do with invoicing a customer, but rather means “to pretend.” 


Haz de cuenta de que ya yo no existo, no te resisto.

Pretend I no longer exist, I can't stand you any longer.

Caption 48, Dante Spinetta - Donde

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The verb sumar means “to add.” The adjective sumo means “high” or “great”, for example sumo sacerdote gives us “high priest.” A lo sumo is a common saying that means “at most.” You may have heard it in our popular telenovela Muñeca Brava, uttered by Rocky, the chauffeur, when he explains that he's done his best not to gossip.


A lo sumo se me escapó lo de la hija de Ramón.

What I disclosed, at most, was the issue about Ramon's daughter.

Caption 59, Muñeca Brava - 44 El encuentro

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The adverb sumamente means “extremely,” as we hear from Andrea, Ivo’s fiance, also in Muñeca Brava:


Oh, sumamente inteligente, ¿verdad? -Lo sé. Lo sé.

Oh, extremely intelligent, right? -I know. I know.

Captions 28-30, Muñeca Brava - 43 La reunión

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We hope you’ve found this sumamente interesting! For comments or questions email us at
Further reading from past lessons:
Valer la pena and probar
Contar: Counting and Recounting



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