Spanish Lessons


Abbreviated Expressions in Spanish

Let's learn a few abbreviated expressions and words in Spanish. They are really useful to make your Spanish sound more natural:

Entre nos comes from entre nosotros (between us). It's used to indicate that what you are about to say should not be shared with anyone else, it's between you and your interlocutor:

Aquí entre nos, quien sí me importa es Leo.
Between you and me, the one that does matter to me is Leo.

 Instead of por favor, you can simply say porfa:


Tranquilo, tranquilo.

Calm down, calm down.

-Tranquilo, pibe, tranquilo. -Gardel, porfa... -Pero...

-Calm down, boy, calm down. -Gardel, please... -But...

Caption 55, Yago - 11 Prisión

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Some people prefer to use porfis for a more playful or silly tone:


Porfis, porfis, reporfis.

Pretty please, pretty please, extra pretty please.

Caption 58, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso

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As in English, there are many words that are usually abbreviated in Spanish. For example most people say bici instead of bicicleta (bicycle), moto instead of motocicleta (motorcycle), refri instead of refrigerador (fridge), conge instead of congelador (freezer), compa instead of compadre (buddy), depa instead of departamento (apartment), or peli instead of película (movie). 


A mí que ni me busquen, compa

For me, don't even look, buddy

Caption 51, DJ Bitman - El Diablo

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y ahí nos mo'... nos movíamos en bici,

and from there we mo'... we would move around by bike,

Caption 4, Blanca y Mariona - Proyectos para el verano

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Another classic example of an abbreviated expression in Spanish is the use of buenas as a greeting instead of buenas tardes, buenas noches, or buenos días:


¡Muy buenas, Mar! -Encantada. -Soy de 75 Minutos.

Very good afternoon, Mar! -Delighted. -I'm from 75 Minutes.

Caption 5, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos

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It's also common to use abbreviated versions of names and titles. For example you can use abue instead of abuela (grandmother), ma or pa instead of mamá (mother) and papá (father), poli instead of policía (police, cop), profe instead of profesor (teacher), secre instead of secretaria (secretary), dire instead of director (principal), ñor and ñora instead of señor (sir) and señora (madam) [or seño instead of both], peques instead of pequeños (the little ones, kids), etc. 


Felipe López. -Yo lo planché ahorita. -Acá, profe.

Felipe Lopez. -I'll iron it right now. -Here, Teach.

Caption 43, Misión Chef - 2 - Pruebas

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When Nada (Nothing) is Todo (Everything)

In one of our videos we hear a chef using the Spanish expression ante todo

Yo espero que el estudiante que pretenda ser un chef profesional, ante todo que sea un buen cocinero.

I hope that the student who is trying to be a professional chef, first and foremost is a good cook.

Captions 55-56, Misión Chef - 2 - Pruebas - Part 2

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A close translation of ante todo is "above all." As you can see in the previous example, this expression is also commonly translated as "first and foremost." Similar expressions in Spanish are: en primer lugar (in the first place), ante todas las cosas (above all things), primero (first), primeramente (primarily), principalmente (mainly), etc. Let's see another example:

Y ante todo sos una chica que tenés derecho a soñar con todo lo que quieras.

And above all you're a girl who has the right to dream about everything you want.

Caption 13, Muñeca Brava - 44 El encuentro - Part 7

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More interesting than these phrases are other Spanish expressions that are also synonyms of ante todo, and yet make use of the word nada (nothing, anything), which means exactly the opposite of todo (everything). These expressions are primero que nada and antes que nada or antes de nada, and they can be translated as "first and foremost." You can use them to replace ante todo in the previous examples:

Yo espero que el estudiante que pretenda ser un chef profesional, primero que nada que sea un buen cocinero.
I hope that the student who is trying to be a professional chef, first and foremost is a good cook.

antes que nada sos una chica que tenés derecho a soñar con todo lo que quieras.
And above all you're a girl who has the right to dream about everything you want.

Just be careful, because these expressions containing the word nada (nothing) can also have a different use, which is not really equivalent to ante todo (above all)Depending on the context, both phrases antes de nada (or antes que nada) and primero que nada are adverbs of time that can mean "before anything":

Pero antes, antes de nada, [vamos a] conocer nuestro destino de hoy.

But before, before anything, [let's] get to know our destination for today.

Captions 18-19, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli - Part 1

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Primero que nada also means "before anything," although a more literal translation is "first of anything else," which is a rather uncommon phrase in English. We used that literal translation in the following example:

Entonces este... primero que nada queremos saber ... de dónde eres.

Well then... first of anything else [before we do anything] we want to know ... where you're from.

Captions 6-8, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 1

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Spanish also uses primero que todo (first of all) and antes de todo (before all), as equivalents of primero que nada (first of anything else / before anything else) and antes de nada (before anything else). Of course, in English you can alternate between the use of "before all" and "before anything," as well. The interesting thing here is that Spanish makes use of the antonyms todo (everything) and nada (nothing, anything) for phrases that are equivalent.


And now you know why in Spanish sometimes nada (nothing, anything) is todo (everything). Thank you for reading! 

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