Every week we’ll be releasing blog posts and videos looking at topics Spanish students find difficult and explaining them in a way that is easy to understand, allowing students to overcome these obstacles without spending hours studying them in textbooks.
In our first of these posts, we’re going to look at a common phrase in English which doesn’t translate how we think it might into Spanish. That phrase is “the same thing”.
I use this phrase all the time in English, and I’m sure many of you do too. It is used when we are talking about something that hasn’t been mentioned previously and can refer to an object or an action. Some examples of sentences in which you might use this are:
- We do the same thing every Saturday: we go to the cinema
- The same thing happened yesterday | when I was walking to the station
- John always has the same thing for lunch
Now, you probably think the best way to translate “the same thing” would be:
La misma cosa
This is what I thought, and was how I used the phrase through my first seven years of learning Spanish. Unfortunately, this is WRONG, which I found out when I was living in Barcelona.
While living there, I did a language exchange with my housemate from Alicante (first, we would spend an hour speaking English and I’d help him improve, then we would speak Spanish for an hour and he would help me). One day, during one of our Spanish sessions, I said ‘la misma cosa’ one too many times, and he stopped me in my tracks.
Saying ‘la misma cosa’ is, of course, a direct translation of the English phrase, but my housemate told me that the correct way of translating it into Spanish would be:
So when we’re looking at translating our three English sentences above, the correct translation would be:
- Hacemos lo mismo cada sábado: vamos al cine
- Lo mismo pasó ayer cuando yo caminaba a la estación
- Juan siempre almuerza lo mismo
This may seem like a small nuance, but it is a useful phrase to know. Knowing this will also take you a step further in your journey from sounding like a non-native Spanish speaker to people believing you’re South American or Spanish and that English is your second language! 😉