With Germaín de la Fuente's old-style crooning in the song "Como Quisiera Decirte," you just know he's gotta be singing about heartache. But what is he saying exactly?
Y así va pasando el tiempo
And thus, time goes by
Sin atinar a decirte
Without my being able to tell you
Lo que a diario voy sintiendo
What I'm feeling daily
Captions 18-20, Los Tetas - Como Quisiera DecirtePlay Caption
You see, the verb atinar is translated as "being able to" / "to be able to." But there's an added dose of longing and frustration attached to atinar, compared to, say, poder or even ser capaz de. Atinar often appears as part of the phrase atinar a decir and suggests the need to speak up to resolve a pressured situation -una situación de presión. One synonym is lograr, in the sense of "to manage to." Dictionaries also suggest: acertar [a], dar [en el blanco], conseguir, hallar and encontrar.
It has been suggested that atinar shares roots with the verb adivinar, "to divine or guess correctly." However, most linguists would agree that there's no easy direct translation into English for this verb, which takes on many meanings and variations that non-natives will tend to absorb naturally as they encounter them in context.
Se fue tan rápido que no atiné a decirle que se olvidó sus maletas.
He left so fast that I didn't have the chance to tell him he forgot his suitcases.
Esta fue una inversión atinada, ganamos mucho dinero.
This was a good (smart) investment; we earned a lot of money.
El examen es "multiple choice." Espero poder atinar las respuestas.
The exam is multiple choice. I hope I can guess the right answers.
An aside: This is not Germaín de la Fuente's first brush with rap. The Chilean singer's romantic warbling has also appeared in songs by the Beastie Boys and Jay-Z.