6 Hand-picked Spanish to English Tools That Offer More Than Just Translations
Having too many options can be overwhelming.
That is what it is like to look for a good Spanish translation tool. If you Google “Spanish to English resources,” you get a mind-blowing 212 million results!
Which resources can really help you?
I have been working as a Spanish teacher and freelance translator for over 17 years, and nowadays I use about a dozen trusted websites exclusively.
Let me tell you about six free online translation resources that I use daily.
Each learner has their own way of learning new words, grammar rules and sentence construction.
Some prefer listening to podcasts, others make their own flashcards and there are those who just jump in the deep end and take an immersion program in a Spanish speaking country.
However you learn best, a good translation tool can be your best friend.
Finding the right online resources can be daunting if you do not know where to look for them or what exactly they are supposed to do for you.
The following six online tools have been chosen to help you with your Spanish to English translation troubles. They may not be the only ones out there, but they are certainly the top of the top.
Make the most of them and see your Spanish level go up like a rocket!
They say appearances are deceptive, and I must confess that I let appearances fool me here.
When I found Tomísimo some 10 years ago I thought it was some kind of amateur impossible project that would disappear in a matter of weeks. Fast-forward to today and I do not think there is a single day without me using it several times.
Tomísimo is much more than just a Spanish dictionary. It is a community and a family.
Indeed, the dictionary tool is great. You write a word in the search bar and you get all its different translations as well as every word that begins with the word you have searched for—have a look at the simple hola (hello) to see what I mean.
You can even feed your inner nerd as I do by writing a couple of letters and browsing a list of all the words starting with those letters. I personally love this!
However, as I mentioned before, Tomísimo is much more than a dictionary.
You can access the free blog and read super interesting stuff related to languages and translation. If you are the kind of person who enjoys reading about dictionaries, the subjunctive or punctuation, you are going to love this blog.
Finally, you also have free access to the forums, a place where I can easily spend five hours without even realizing. The different forums are organized thematically and cover topics like vocabulary, grammar, translation and homework practice.
If you ever have a Spanish-related query, this is the place you will want to visit first.
Excuse the easy joke, but Lexicool is actually pretty cool! Not only does it include over 8,000 references to free online dictionaries, but it also contains other useful tools.
The feature I use the most in the online dictionary. I love the fact that I can simply introduce a word and choose the dictionary I want the translation from.
If you scroll down a few inches, you will find the translator. Enter any text you need translated and choose the online translator you prefer (remember that this is still machine translation and it is, thus, imperfect!).
Do you prefer using a context dictionary? No problem! Scroll down yet another couple of inches and you will find a green box designed specifically for that (more on my favorite context dictionary later on).
But wait, there’s more! Do you need a Spanish keyboard, a reverse Spanish dictionary or a dictionary of Spanish collocations? All this and much more can be found below the context dictionary box, under the name “Spanish Language Resources.” You are welcome!
ProZ is one of the best translation-specific communities I am a part of. I will not bore you with the great opportunities it can offer to freelance translators if you subscribe, but let me tell you about the free search option.
ProZ has a section devoted to difficult translation terms where the users volunteer and help each other find the best translation. All the questions asked in that section get saved into a humongous online dictionary that includes words in many languages and covers many different topics.
Enter the word you want to translate, choose your language pair (Spanish to English) and get ready for the magic to happen in front of your eyes. You will get not just a simple translation, but a list of all the entries containing that word.
Click on the translation that suits you most and another tab will open where you can see a discussion related to that term with links to back the translation.
Users are professional translators who know what they are talking about, so one thing is certain: you can be sure the translations are 100% accurate.
InterActive Terminology for Europe (IATE)
The InterActive Terminology for Europe website could easily become your next best friend.
It is true that this terminology database is somewhat specialized and will be more useful to advanced students, but it is a project worth mentioning anyway.
IATE compiles the translations of all the official documents of the countries in the European Union. The EU requires every document to be translated into all the languages of the Union, so there are literally millions upon millions of terms included in the database.
You can find any kind of word or expression related to almost any topic in the world but, as I said before, the more specialized and advanced your search is, the bigger your chance for success.
One of the greatest features of this site is that you get different translations grouped thematically, so you can always know if the term you want to use is appropriate for the context in which you want to use it.
If you already know WordReference, you know I am not exaggerating when I say it is one of the best online resources in the history of the internet.
It would be impossible to describe it in a few lines. It needs a whole book!
WordReference seems like a normal dictionary when you visit its homepage. You enter a word in the search bar and that is when the craziness starts to happen.
The new tab that opens includes so many things that it can be a little overwhelming the first few times.
You first have an audio of the word you have entered and its phonetic transcription. Then you have all (and I mean all) the different translations of the word, together with any collocation or expression that contains it.
You can choose one of three dictionaries to get your translation and at the end of the page you will find all the forum topics related to your search—and yes, there are also super active forums where you can ask literally anything, or help other people improve their language skills.
WordReference also includes a lot of useful tools that may be ignored (unintentionally) if you get lost in the vast ocean of information you will be getting all at once.
If you go back up to the word’s audio and take a look under it, you will discover links to amazing features such as a definition of your word, Spanish and English conjugators, synonyms, collocations and even a context and image search option (which generates a Google word search and an Google image search, respectively).
WordReference is, undoubtedly, one of the most comprehensive Spanish to English websites you will ever have access to.
I have left the tool I use the most for last. Linguee is without any doubt the best context dictionary to be found online.
It gives you translations for the words and sentences you look up. Additionally, it includes real-life samples of online texts that include your word(s).
It is a great tool if you want to make sure you are going to write or say a string of grammatically correct words, which may help you build your confidence (since you know what you are going to say is correct in Spanish).
What I love the most about Linguee is that every time you search a word, you get tons of examples of that word used in context and a translation of the whole excerpt. The majority of translations you get are public translations made by translators, so there is no need to worry about any machine translation disaster.
Linguee can be used for any purpose and at any level of Spanish, but it is one of those tools advanced learners can get the most of.
It is also a must-have on your phone if you plan on traveling to a Spanish-speaking country or boast about your great language skills!
With these six resources, you can be sure you have everything you need in order to cover your language needs and push them to the next level.
Through doing a lot of translating, you might find yourself remembering words and phrases that you translate often.
If you’re picking up a bit of a language already, you might want to take it a step further and take an online Spanish course or study with a language learning app.
You can use an app like FluentU to learn Spanish through authentic native content like like music videos, movie trailers and DIY videos. The videos on FluentU have interactive captions so you can look up translations for words and phrases while you watch.
We know learning a new language is a long process that requires a lot of work on our part, so any kind of external help is more than welcome. Thanks to the Spanish to English tools above, being lost in translation will be something unknown to you.
Visit the websites and explore the different options each of them has to offer. Progress in your journey to fluency with the click of a button!
Remember to stay curious. Happy learning!