How many different ways can you say the same thing?
What number of methods can you use to communicate the same idea?
What is the count of the total varieties of phrases you can use to disseminate the same information?
In your native language, chances are that you can come up with multiple different words to communicate any idea you have.
That is because all languages have plenty of synonyms, which are words with the same or extremely similar meanings.
Sure, some words are more common than their synonyms. You are more likely to hear “I LOLed” than “I burst out in a paroxysm of laughter.”
In fact, there is a nearly endless array of synonyms depending on context. Here are 24 of the most common sets of Spanish synonyms that you are likely to encounter, and the nuanced differences in their meanings.
How Can a Spanish Synonyms List Improve Your Language Skills?
One reason to learn Spanish synonyms is that variety is the spice of life. Particularly with frequently used words, it is nice to have a different way to say something. After all, using the same handful of words each day could get old fast.
Plus, studying synonyms in groups can help you mentally connect words with similar meanings. Just like with studying Spanish antonyms, studying synonyms can be an easy way to connect related words in your mind.
This way, when you need to use one of the synonyms in each set, you will be able to come up with several different options.
Knowing synonyms is also a key component of clear communication. Synonyms often have slightly different meanings, and these nuances can make a big difference when you are trying to express yourself clearly.
For example, although “to watch” and “to observe” mean basically the same thing, they have slightly different connotations and this tiny shift in meaning can make the difference between saying “I watched your dog” (meaning, “I looked over your dog”—that is nice of you!) and “I observed your dog” (meaning, “I closely scrutinized your dog”—maybe he was doing something wrong?).
That is a surprisingly big difference for such a seemingly small change!
The Spanish Synonyms List for Clear Communication
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Talking Back: Responses and Pleasantries
Okay: Vale | Bueno | Bien | De acuerdo
Vale, bueno, bien and de acuerdo can all be used to express agreement, much like the English words “okay” and “alright.”
Vale is used predominantly in Spain.
The literal meanings are a bit more nuanced: bueno usually means “good,” bien means “well” and de acuerdo literally means “of agreement.” However, they can all be used to simply say “okay”!
Maybe: Tal vez | Quizás | Quizá
Tal vez, quizás and quizá mean “maybe,” “perhaps” and “possibly,” respectively.
Of course: Por supuesto | Ciertamente | Por cierto | Claro | Desde luego | ¿Cómo no?
There are clearly quite a few ways to say “of course,” aren’t there?
Por supuesto most directly translates to “of course” while ciertamente is closer in meaning to “certainly.”
Por cierto can mean “certainly” or “indeed,” though it can also mean “by the way.”
Claro can be used for the saucier “clearly.”
Desde luego can mean “of course” or “certainly.”
¿Cómo no? directly translates to “how/why not?”, but it is used like “of course” or “sure.”
Nice to meet you: Encantado | Es un placer | Mucho gusto
These are all acceptable to say to someone you are meeting for the first time.
Encantado literally means “enchanted” or “delighted.”
Es un placer means “It’s a pleasure.”
Mucho gusto literally means “much pleasure,” though since gusto can mean “taste,” it could also mean “much taste”—a clever pun in the making if you ever meet a chef!
Adding Some Color: Descriptive Words
Cool: Guay | Chévere | Suave | Genial
These can all mean “cool,” though there are many, many more words you can use, too.
Guay is used mostly in Spain, while chévere is Latin American.
Although suave literally means “smooth,” it can also mean “cool” in the right context (think of the English word “suave”).
Genial literally means “great” but it can also be used to mean “cool.”
Beautiful: Bello | Guapo | Precioso | Bonito | Lindo | Maravilloso
Just like in English, there are plenty of ways to praise someone or something’s appearance in Spanish. This set of synonyms is used to express that something is “beautiful,” “gorgeous” or “pretty.” There are some slight differences between all the words, though!
Bello means “beautiful” (generally used to refer to women) and guapo is “good looking” (usually used for men).
It is easy to associate precioso with “precious,” but it is also used to mean “beautiful” or “gorgeous.”
Bonito is similar to “pretty.”
Lindo means “pretty,” “lovely” or “cute” and is usually reserved for more feminine things.
Maravilloso usually translates to “marvelous” or “wonderful” but when referencing appearances, it can also mean “beautiful.”
Remember: When you are referring to a male, use the words with an -o ending. But if you want to call a woman beautiful, you will need to change the ending to -a (and the same rule generally applies to other adjectives that end in -o on this list!).
Different: Diferente | Distinto
These both look pretty familiar, don’t they? You might even say they are… different and distinct. Spanish-English cognates are pretty awesome!
Kind: Amable | Agradable | Simpático | Cariñoso | Bueno
Amable, agradable and simpático most directly translate as “kind” or “nice.”
Cariñoso more literally means “affectionate” or “warm.”
Bueno literally means “good,” but it can also be used to describe something or someone as “nice.”
Unpleasant: Desagradable | Antipático
Desagradable and antipático both mean “unpleasant,” as in an unpleasant person. Desagradable can also be used to refer to anything that is “disagreeable,” like a bad smell or taste.
Difficult: Duro | Difícil
Duro and difícil can both be used to mean “hard” or “difficult,” though duro can also be used to describe something (like food, material or people) as “tough”: huevos duros, for instance, is the Spanish term for hard-boiled eggs.
Large: Grande | Gran | Fuerte
All these words can all mean “big” or “large.”
However, while fuerte can be used to mean “big,” it is more often used to mean “strong.”
Grande literally means “big” but gran is closer in meaning to “grand” and can be used more metaphorically—like a grand gesture.
Small: Pequeño | Minúsculo | Diminuto | Chico
All these words are used to describe something that is “small,” “little” or “tiny.”
However, it is important to note that chico can also mean “kid” or “boy.”
Now: Ahora | Actualmente | Hoy día | Al presente
If you want to refer to something as happening “now,” you have your choice of these words.
Ahora most literally means “now.” In some areas of Latin America, you might hear the diminutive version of this, ahorita, to mean “right now.”
Actualmente translates more as “at the moment” or “currently.”
Hoy día literally means “today,” while al presente means “at the present.”
Similar Stuff: Nouns
Language: Lengua | Idioma
Lengua and idioma can both be used to refer to language. While lengua can be used to speak about a “tongue” (as in, a language), it can also refer to the anatomical “tongue.”
Student: Estudiante | Alumno
Either word can refer to a “student” or “pupil.”
Job: Trabajo | Empleo | Tarea
Empleo refers predominantly to someone’s employment.
Trabajo can be used to speak about an employment position, a particular task or “work” in general.
Tarea usually refers to a smaller amount of work, like a “task” or “assignment.” It is the word you would use for a school child’s homework.
Office: Oficina | Despacho
Oficina and despacho are both used to mean “office.”
Clothes: Ropa | Vestido
Ropa and vestido both mean “clothes” or “clothing,” although vestido can also mean “dress.”
Glasses: Gafas | Anteojos | Lentes
All of these words can mean “glasses,” though each has some other possible meanings.
For instance, gafas can also mean “goggles” or “clamp.” Anteojos can also refer to “binoculars” or “telescopes.” Lentes can refer to “lenses” or “contact lenses.”
You will generally hear gafas in Spain, while lentes is more common in Latin America—in Spain, lentes is used in a more technical sense to mean “lens,” like the kind in a microscope.
And if you add “de sol” to any of these words, you turn glasses into sunglasses!
Getting Things Done: Verbs
To send: Mandar | Enviar
Mandar can also mean “to order,” while enviar more directly means “to ship” or “to mail.”
To walk: Caminar | Andar | Pasear | Recorrer | Marchar
When used to mean “to walk,” caminar, andar and marchar are fairly direct—they simply refer to the act of walking on foot.
Pasear and recorrer are a bit more specific: Pasear is more similar to the English “to stroll,” while recorrer is similar to “to travel/walk around.”
To choose: Elegir | Escoger | Seleccionar
Elegir and escoger can also mean “to elect” (such as voting in an election), while seleccionar can also mean “to select.”
To say: Decir | Afirmar | Expresar
Although these all mean “to say,” they have varying degrees of intensity: Decir means “to say” or “to tell,” afirmar means “to assert” or “to declare” and expresar more directly translates as “to express.”
To watch / To see: Ver | Mirar | Observar | Contemplar
Ver is usually used to mean “to see” or “to watch.”
Mirar is used as “to look at” or “to watch,” as in mirar televisión (to watch TV).
Observar means, you guessed it, “to observe.”
Contemplar more literally means “to gaze at” or “to consider,” close to the word it resembles in English: “to contemplate.”
When you are looking for the perfect thing to say, the ideal statement to make or the most excellent proclamation to declare, try out these Spanish synonyms!
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