7 Spanish Translators to Make Sure You Never Get Lost in Translation
Some say that translation jobs will be nonexistent in a few years because of the creation of better and better machine translation software.
But here’s the tea: They will not.
Machines can do a pretty good job sometimes, but translation is not one of the fields they excel at.
Languages are alive, and only a human brain is capable of really understanding all the nuances and different meanings words can have.
That being said, machine translators are a great help for learners of a new language!
Translators might not be the best thing ever created by the human race, but I can honestly say they are tools that can make your learning faster, your vocabulary richer and your writing skills better.
After so many years of teaching languages, and being a freelance translator myself, I have seen a whole lot of online translators, some good, some miserably bad and some marvelously great. This post contains seven translators pertaining to the last category.
Get ready to learn a lot about each translator, so that by the end of the post you are able to choose which one(s) is the best to fill your needs.
How to Use a Spanish Translator
Bear in mind that when you learn a foreign language, you normally do not need to translate big chunks of specialized text, but rather single words, short expressions and the odd full sentence.
And for that, my friends, online translators are the best.
Maybe you are one of the few who, like me, still uses paper dictionaries when looking up a new word.
Maybe, just like me as well, you have a couple of favorite online dictionaries you go to every time you are lost in translation.
But maybe you are at a level in your learning process where you need something else, something more comprehensive and complex. That is when a good online translator can become your new best friend.
Before you head over to the Spanish translation tools I have hand-picked for you, there are some things you should keep in mind about them:
Do not expect a translator to always be perfect. You will (probably) not be able to use one to fool your friends with perfectly written Spanish.
Do not even think you will get the information you need 100% of the time. Sometimes it will take a bit more searching to find exactly what you are looking for.
But a good translator will be able to roughly translate that long, subordinate Spanish clause you have been trying to make sense of for the past 15 minutes.
It will most likely tell you the meaning of that obscure phrasal verb you have no way of understanding.
It will even help you write the first draft for that important assignment you have to hand in on Friday.
In other words, you can use a Spanish translator to get a basic understanding of something, often better than with a regular dictionary but not quite perfect.
You will often need to double-check that you have the answer you were looking for. You can do this by searching for the same thing in a number of translators, or by finding your target phrase or word in an authentic resource like FluentU.
How can FluentU help?
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
So find that term you could not figure out, see it used in a number of different videos and contexts then make sure you learn it thoroughly through adaptive testing. It just could not get any better!
Let’s discover some excellent Spanish translators you will wish you had known sooner!
7 Spanish Translators to Make Sure You Never Get Lost in Translation
Do not expect beautiful, grammatically-perfect Spanish translations from this one: When I wrote a whole sentence, all I got was a word-for-word translation with each word on a separate line.
But for single word definitions, this is an excellent resource. I fell in love in one second!
Enter one word and you get all its different meanings. The dictionary will even separate entries if the word can be included in different word categories.
But the reason why I now love this translator is that it also gives you collocations and expressions for the word you entered and a long list of full-sentence examples with their translations. (You will need to scroll down a little until you find the “Examples” section or click on “Examples” right next to “Dictionary.”)
It even lets a robot (yeah, still a robot, sorry) read the sentences out loud! The Spanish pronunciation is that of a South American robot, which for me is very curious, but if you are looking for perfect pronunciation, look somewhere else.
What’s more, the SpanishDict translator offers translations from three different sources (Curiosity Media Inc, Harrap Publishers Limited and HarperCollins Publishers), so you are three times as likely to find the information you need.
But what if you want to translate something longer than a word?
For short sentences, SpanishDict uses three translators: Microsoft, SLD and PROMT. If you want to translate a simple, not-very-long sentence, you will most of the times get a good translation. But the longer the sentence, the bigger the possibility of getting errors.
In a Nutshell: Use this resource for single words and simple sentences when you are in a hurry or just need a quick check.
This is going to sound a bit cheap, but the Lexicool website is actually very cool.
Think of it as the biggest, most comprehensive resource directory available online. You can find any kind of dictionary you could think of in any language pair imaginable. You can even search for dictionaries by subject or buy language courses.
The translator aspect of the website uses five different sources: Google, Microsoft, Yandex, Reverso and Systran.
Simply write the word or sentence you want translated, choose the desired language pair and click on “Translate.” This will open a new tab for each one of the translators you decide to use, and there you will find your original sentence and its translation.
You can use all five translation resources then compare them for accuracy. Some will be more accurate than others, but if you see a pattern in the translations, it is most likely correct (or very close to being correct).
The biggest drawback of this method for me is that Lexicool does not use its own translator, which means that there are no additional functions you can use to get a little bit more context or information about a word, expression or sentence.
In a Nutshell: Use this one if you are interested in comparative translation and want to check if your previously-made translation is accurate.
A lot of my colleagues dislike the eTranslator because truth be told, it is just the same as using the Google Translate tool.
Yes, eTranslator is powered by Google Translate, but there are a couple of reasons why I prefer using this page instead.
First of all, you have a list of 27 languages (English and 26 others) at the top of the page. Just click on the language you want to have the whole interface translated (they are working on including 47 more languages in the future).
Secondly—and this is very useful for English native speakers—you can translate all those 26 languages to and from English. There is no need to choose a language pair. English will always be selected and you just click on the second language (in this case, Spanish). If you want to revert the translation direction, just select “Switch”!
Last but not least, I consider this website more user-friendly than the Google version. I am not saying you should not use Google Translate if that is what you want, but personally, I think eTranslator is easier to use and nicer on the eyes.
Apart from these three reasons, I choose to use eTranslator because I love learning new things and there are plenty of new things to learn here!
Scroll down past the sponsored ads to find the number of speakers of the language you have chosen, the country or countries where that language is spoken, some information about the family of languages it belongs to and a link to the Wikipedia article that covers that language.
With this resource, you can take a break from learning Spanish and learn about Spanish!
In a Nutshell: If you are curious and like learning new facts about different languages in between translations, this is the place to go.
As a language lover, I must confess the Collins translator is my favorite (but do not tell anybody!).
You might think that I would avoid online translators if I want to consider myself a good human translator. You are partially right: Good human translators tend to avoid online translators, but sometimes we have to use one.
When I do have to use an online translator, my first option is always the Collins translator, and here is why:
First of all, it works with over 30 languages—this might not be as important to you as a Spanish learner, but to a translator it is excellent!
Second of all, it is super easy to use, user-friendly, intuitive and (why not) so simple it is even pretty.
Third of all, you can copy your translation with just one click! See those two pieces of paper on the lower right corner of the right box? Click on them and your whole translation will be automatically copied.
And lastly, and this is how Collins claimed my heart forever: When you translate a sentence, a third box will open below with a word-for-word translation.
But this is no ordinary word-to-word translation: You will get a brief grammatical explanation if needed, different translations for each word with its main collocations and a lot of sample sentences that use the word, along with their translations.
If that is still not enough for you, you can click on any of the words in that third box to see the word’s entry in the super complete Collins online dictionary. There, you will find all the different translations of the word with examples, common phrases and expressions that use the word and a graph showing its usage word during the past 300 years!
It really does not get better than this (at least for now).
In a Nutshell: If you are anywhere near my level of language adoration, or if you want to know everything about every word you are trying to translate, use this!
Lexilogos is like Lexicool’s twin brother. I have decided to include it here because it has an additional function I am sure a lot of you will love: webpage translation.
Simply copy the link of the webpage you want to translate into the box, then scroll down to choose the translator you want to use and the desired language pair. When you click on the appropriate language pair, a new tab will open.
You will see the page layout exactly as it is on the original page, but the whole text will be translated into the language you selected.
Needless to say, you cannot forget this is still machine work and some of the translations can sound weird, to say the least, but if want to get a basic idea about a website or maybe buy a product on some Spanish website and cannot find your way around it, this will be your savior.
In a Nutshell: This tool is useful when you want to translate a whole website for personal purposes.
The Paralink translator is another one of my all-time favs because it is very complete and easy to use.
Even though it uses the PROMT, Google and Microsoft translators (something you need to accept will happen most of the time with any online translator), it also includes direct links to another dictionary (ImDictionary) and to another translator (ImTranslator—which we also include below).
Choose your language pair and enter the text you want to translate. You can copy, paste and edit it, use the decoder if you know how decoding works, choose a special keyboard for those characters you may be missing on your own keyboard and even run the spellcheck function.
All this, ladies and gentlemen, even before translating!
When the text you want to translate is ready, press “Translate” and you will get a translation below.
You can choose to see three different translations: just click on the PROMT, Microsoft or Google tabs.
Do you want more? I have more!
You can edit the translation any way you want, and after that, you can print it and even email it! This is very useful if you just wanted to translate a short email to send to one of your Spanish friends.
Besides this, you can listen to both the original text and its translation. Just click on the speaker icon on the left side of the text boxes and the TTS Voice function will appear. Choose the voice speed and the language and click on “Say it.”
The Spanish reader is actually very useful (and impressive!) because it has good pronunciation and a passable accent. You can tell it is not a human voice, but that robot sure knows how to read in Spanish.
But there’s more!
Have you noticed the “Back Translation” option under the translation box? Click on it and you will get your translation translated back into your original language.
I know you may think this is not useful at all (you know English, after all!), but from the point of view of a translator, this is a great asset. It allows you to see how accurate the translation is and how it translates back into English, and it lets you decide if there is anything you need to change in your translation so that it sounds more natural.
If you ever decide to have a career in translation, you come to see back translation as a fountain of information! But even as a language learner I am sure you will find it useful in seeing how well something is translated.
In a Nutshell: If you want to have an all-in-one place to go, this is it.
This translator has another very cool feature, but I have left it for last because it can be considered a translator inside a translator. I talk about it in the next section.
This tool deserves a separate entry because of its usefulness.
Whether you access the imTranslator from the Paralink website or directly, it does not matter. Once you have the translator in front of you, just enter the original text, choose the desired language pair and click on “Translate.”
You will be given three different translations side-by-side so you can compare them and decide which one is the most appropriate for you.
Once again, what you are being given is the PROMT, Microsoft and Google translations, but this site allows you to have all of them together for you to compare. You can also click on the “Back Translation” button and get all three translations back into English.
It is like having a mini Paralink website inside the original one!
In a Nutshell: If comparison and contrast between translations is what you are looking for, this is the site you need.
I have my favorite among these, but that is because it works for me. Depending on your needs and the amount of information you want, you will find your own favorite among these Spanish translation resources.
I recommend using all of them at least once in order to really see them “in action.” You can then choose the one that suits you most.
I hope this review has been of help to you.
See you next time!
Francisco J. Vare loves teaching and writing about grammar. He’s a proud language nerd, and you’ll normally find him learning languages, teaching students or reading. He’s been writing for FluentU for many years and is one of their staff writers.