Posted by: janecronin | September 5, 2011

Spanish/English translation – it’s easy, it’s difficult

I expect a lot of you will have been in a situation where a Spanish person (workman, bank manager, civil servant) has shaken his or her head gravely and said “it’s difficult” or “es difícil”.   If we understand this word in the literal English way of “difficult” we will certainly get the gist, just as we will understand “es fácil” or “it’s easy” when someone is talking about something in a positive way.

However, you might not realise that what they are really saying is “it’s unlikely” (es difícil) and it’s likely or probable (es fácil).  There is a shade of difference there and sometimes it can be important – but either way “es difícil” is generally bad news if you’re trying to get someone to do something for you!


  1. This remind me of when we shop locally and if something is not in stock we are told ‘No existe.; This doesn’t mean literally, as in English, that it doesn’t exist, but we haven’t actually got it at the moment. We will have some more in tomorrow!

  2. John, your comment has reminded me of something else. In the death notices in the village where I lived in Asturias often said “so-and-so ha dejado de existir” (has ceased to exist). I always thought that was odd for a traditional death notice with a cross and DEP (descansa en paz). Maybe the funeral director was an atheist!

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