Posted by: janecronin | October 8, 2017


One of the most useful verbs in the entire Spanish language is “pasar”.  It has three basic meanings which we can apply to everyday life immediately.  One is “to pass” in the physical sense of the word.  Therefore, when we give or receive directions we say: “pasar el supermercado” (pass, or go past, the supermarket) and also “pasar la rotunda” (go past the roundabout) which always seems a safer instruction than the English “go straight over the roundabout”.  You will have heard the command “pasa” many times in your daily life.  When a group of people are blocking the pavement, and seem completely oblivious of the fact, they will say a friendly “pasa” once they’ve noticed you want to go by.  You can also use it in the supermarket when you have a trolley full of shopping and someone joins the queue behind you with a loaf of bread and we all hope that in the opposite situation, the trolley person will say “pasa” to us.

The other basic use of “pasar” is “to happen” or “to occur”.  We hear this in the question “¿Qué pasa?”  which means “What’s happening?”  “What’s going on?” or “What’s the matter?”.  Once again notice how much more complicated English is than Spanish!  When nothing is the matter we can respond “No pasa nada” (Nothing is happening. Nothing’s the matter).  If you apologise in a shop for offering too big a note for a small purchase, or in a thousand other small situations where you feel an apology is in order, you will often be reassured by a friendly “no pasa nada”.

The third basic meaning of “pasar” is “to spend”, but only in reference to time, not money.  “Este verano he pasado mis vacaciones en Benidorm” (This summer I have spent my holidays in Benidorm).  To have a good time is “pasarlo bien” (literally “to pass it well”). When someone is going away we can wish them a good time by saying “pásalo bien” or “que lo pases bien”.  The word for a pastime is “pasatiempo” as you will see written over the Sudoku puzzles in the newspaper.

Another meaning of “pasar” is “not to care”.  To describe someone who just lets everything go over their head we say “pasa de todo” and a “pasota” is translated in my dictionary by the wonderful word “slaphappy”.


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