Te Quiero - Spanish words with no translation

Spanish words that have no English translation

When I was preparing to move to Arequipa with embarrassingly little Spanish last year, I remember reading in a guidebook that most businesses would have someone who spoke English. I can confirm that this is a massive lie; if you’re going to live here, you’d better get stuck into Spanish or consign yourself to a life of mime! Along the way, we’ve discovered some interesting Spanish words with no English translation. Here are some of our favourites.


When everyone has finished eating but they are still at the table talking and enjoying each other’s company. The waiters probably want to give your table away, but you’re having way too much fun to notice. HOOPsters engage in ‘sobremesa’ pretty regularly!


To wear something for the first time. When it’s finally time to wear your new handmade jewellery, or show off your new alpaca jumper.


Someone who is really sensitive to cold. Now it’s winter in Arequipa, often you’ll see the locals bundled up in scarves, thick jumpers, coats, fluffy socks… meanwhile we’re walking around in t-shirts wondering what the fuss is about! I am definitely the opposite of ‘friolento!’


To feel lethargic and overcome with sweetness after indulging in too many sugary treats. We don’t really blame anyone for experiencing this, because Peruvians do cake incredibly well!


In a similar vein, this handy word describes being overcome with how spicy something is. This has happened to us several times with rocoto relleno!


Simply means ‘the day before yesterday’. Why use four words when you could use one?

Te quiero

More powerful than ‘I like you’ but not as romantic as ‘I love you’ or ‘Te amo.’ You can use it to describe platonic love for your family and friends. Les quiero, HOOPsters!


A person with one eye. A very useful word if you read a lot of pirate stories.


To wake up early. The fact that we teach in the afternoons means this is something most of us don’t do very often!


A group of people gathered to socialise and drink alcohol in an open air space.


To have an afternoon snack. Definitely something we like to do, particularly churros!

Pena ajena

To feel embarrassed for someone else, even if they aren’t embarrassed themselves.

Imagine having these words at your disposal and finding they just don’t have a translation in other languages! We think you should try to use these as much as possible. Bonus points for using more than one in a sentence. If you know any more, why don’t you let us know?

Words by Misha Zala

Photo By Jenna Rae


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