Have you ever heard someone use the expression, o sea? Chances are you have because this is a very popular and useful expression in both Spain and Latin America. Let's see how to use it.
The expression, o sea, is generally used to introduce an explanation or consequence of something one has already said. If you think about it, the meaning is quite literal: The phrase is made up of the disjunctive conjunction, o ("or"), and the word, sea ("would be"), the third person present subjunctive form of the verb, ser ("to be"). Let's look at some examples.
Porque Barcelona no aburre nunca. O sea, siempre hay actividades,
Because Barcelona is never boring. I mean, there are always activities,
Captions 41-42, Escuela BCNLIP Presentación de la directora - Part 2Play Caption
Nos lo hemos pasado muy bien, muy bien. -Qué bien, o sea que buenísimas vacaciones.
We had a great time, great. -How nice, I mean, an amazing vacation.
Captions 48-49, El Aula Azul Conversación: Vacaciones recientesPlay Caption
You can also think of o sea as an equivalent of the English expression, "in other words":
O sea que ¿el tipo de hoy era Wilson Ríos?
In other words, the guy from today was Wilson Rios?Play Caption
Sometimes, the word, que ("that"), is added after o sea without altering its meaning:
Sé surfear, ¿no? O sea que tengo una profesión ahora.
I can surf, right? I mean, I have a profession now.Play Caption
Be careful, however: The combination "o + sea" can sometimes have a totally different meaning, so always pay close attention to the context:
...sea bueno o sea malo.
...whether it's good or whether it's bad.
Caption 34, Club de las ideas - Intuición - Part 1Play Caption
In Latin America, there is another use of o sea that is very popular among upper/middle-class youngsters, some of whom are considered snobby and superficial. In this case, o sea is used as a sarcastic remark that can be translated as "obviously," "duh," "come on," "give me a break," or "I mean," depending on the context. Let's observe that use in action:
¡Ay pues, obvio que va a querer! ¡Porque nadie le dice que no a una chica popular, o sea!
Oh well, [it's] obvious that he is going to want to! Because no one says no to a popular girl, duh!
Captions 21-22, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 10Play Caption
You may also notice that in colloquial speech, o sea is sometimes used incessantly among certain groups or individuals as a filler word in the same way that certain English-speakers (e.g. Valley girls, etc.) constantly use the word, “like.”
Finally, keep in mind that the expression, o sea, is written as two words, and it is incorrect to write it as a single word (osea means "bony"!). Furthermore, it is sometimes used as an alternative for the expression o séase, which should be also avoided.
That's all for today. We invite you to incorporate this useful expression into your vocabulary, and don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions.