Do you feel like you’re always saying the same words over and over in Spanish? Then spice up your speech with Spanish synonyms!
When you first start learning Spanish (or any language, for that matter), it can be easy to fall into a vocabulary rut. You’ve memorised the most common words, and you can get your point across… but it’s not the exact way you would’ve said it in your native language. You want to say something is “striking”, but you don’t know that word, so you say “pretty”. You want to say you’re “irritated”, but instead say “angry”. The meaning is somewhat close — but not exactly what you wanted to say.
Of course, saying anything in your target language is a fantastic first step. Speaking from day 1 is the way to succeed at speaking in Spanish. But, at some point, you need to take the time to grow your vocabulary and learn synonyms! This way, you can say things in Spanish in a more natural way, like you would in your native language. Your speech will flow easier, and you can express yourself on a deeper level.
Tips for Expanding Your Vocab with Spanish Synonyms
Before we get started, I wanted to share some tips to memorise these new words. Plus, how to keep the momentum going from here on.
When learning Spanish synonyms, try to create a story or thread that connects each new word with the common one you know. If you learn them as a set, it will be easier to memorise them. One way to do this is to create a memory palace. You weave the vocabulary into a place or a story. Then, when you go to say “pretty”, you’ll also remember the words for beautiful, striking, gorgeous, cute, and more. That way you can recall fast the word that has the nuance you’re looking for!
You can also use alliteration or rhyming as a memory hack. Using words that have the same first letter, or sound similar, can help you remember the new vocabulary. In English, this would be something like “pretty princess” or “irritated iguana”… The sillier, the better!
Now, we’re talking about Spanish synonyms. But learning synonyms and antonyms in pairs is an excellent way to expand your vocabulary, too. So with any new vocab lists you put together, look for opposites you could add.
Also, make sure to change the word endings to match the gender. For instance, I listed bonita below, which is feminine, but you can also say bonito for the masculine form.
Spanish Synonyms to Spice Up Your Descriptions
Let’s start with some descriptive words, the words we use to talk about characteristics or personality. How about we start with that word I kept using as an example above? “Pretty” in Spanish is bonita. But we could also say bella for “beautiful”, or belleza sorprendente for “striking beauty”. How about linda (“lovely”) or guapo (“handsome”)? Someone could be atractivo (“attractive”), fascinante (“bewitching”), or even radiante (“radiant”).
If someone is “nice”, we can say simpático. But we could also use agradable, amable, bueno, which all mean “nice” or “kind”. We could even say encantador (“charming”) or amistoso (“friendly”).
But what if they’re ”mean”? Then they would be desagradable. We could also describe them as “unpleasant”, or antipático, or ruda for “rude”. There’s also malo for “bad” and difícil for “difficult”.
How about that word we all too often say we are: “busy”. That’s ocupado in Spanish, but you might say you’re “swamped” or inundado. Maybe you’re absorto, or “absorbed” or “engrossed” in your work. Or what you really want to say is your work is abrumador — “overwhelming”. If you’re feeling cansado (“tired”) from work, you could say agotado (“exhausted”) or desgastado (“worn out”).
On the opposite side of that, if you’re not busy, then you’re libre (“free”). You could be feeling perezoso, “lazy”, or tranquilo, “calm” or “chill” in Spanish.
In English, there are many ways to say “cool”. In Spanish, “cool” is guay. But you could also say something is estupendo (“stupendous” — used much more often in Spanish than English), increíble for “amazing”, or genial for “great”. If you’re describing someone, you could also use suave to say someone or something is “smooth”.
Spanish Synonyms for Expressing Deeper Emotions
When you want to express your emotions in Spanish, you’ve got to know more than “happy” and “sad”! If you’re feeling happy, you could say feliz, but it’s more common to say contento (“content”). You could also say you’re feeling bien, which is “good”, or maravilloso for “wonderful”.
Sad is triste, but let’s spice it up. Maybe you’re melancólico or “gloomy” like old Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. “Lonely” in Spanish is solitario, while “unhappy” is infeliz — easy to remember if you know feliz is “happy”.
I talked about that “irritated iguana” earlier. Well, “irritated” is irritado. If you’re fed up, you’re estoy harto. And for furiously angry, you’re feeling furioso.
If you love someone or something, you’re enamorado or “enamoured”. You could also feel passionate about something, apasionado. But the opposite is odio, or “hate”. You can also detesto (“detest”), or despreciar (“despise”).
Spanish Synonyms for Greetings and Replies
Hola and sí can get old, fast. So why not change it up? Instead of ”hello”, you could say ¿Qué tal? for “What’s up?” You could also use ¿Cómo andas? to say “how are you?” as a greeting. For a casual “hey!”, you could just say ¡Oye!
And instead of sí for “yes”, how about vale for “okay”? Or, use Vale, suena bien for “Alright, sounds good.” You could also use vale as a response to ¿Cómo andas?, as well as bien (“good”) or más o menos (“so-so”).
Instead of no, you could say por supuesto no for “of course not”, or claro que no for “clearly not”. You can say “No way!” like ¡De veras! (“No way!” as a surprise), or ¡De ninguna manera! (“No way!” as in, “No way I’m doing that!”).
And if you’re unsure, say No lo sé… for “I don’t know…” or tal vez or quizá for “maybe”.
Spanish Synonyms for Everyday Things
Are you using the same words to describe the nouns around you? For instance, I’m sure you learned that “clothes” in Spanish is ropa. But you could also say vestido!
Another common word we learn early on in our Spanish journey: libro, or “book”. But sometimes, we want to be more specific. If you’re reading a novel, you could say novela. If you want to talk about the story, we would use historia.
Even “languages” can be said in different ways. We can use idioma, lengua, or even habla to talk about “speech” and “language”. And “travel” could be both viaje or recorrido.
What about your job? A job is trabajo, but you can also say ocupación for “occupation” or “profesión”. And if you’re heading out to the “office”, both oficina or despacho would work.
Certain job titles, too, can have synonyms. “Doctor” could be both doctor or médico. A student could be estudiante or alumno. A writer could be called escritor or autor (“author”).
Spanish Synonyms for Everyday Actions
Verbs are easy to get hung up on. Do you stick to the same few to get your point across? It works — but, you could more accurately describe your actions if you only knew the right words!
Let’s take to study for example. That’s estudiar in Spanish, but what if we’re not studying right now? What if we want to say we’re “learning” something? Then we would want to know aprender. The meaning is almost the same, but the nuance is different.
Or how about “to see” versus “to watch”, “to look”, or “to notice”? When we “see” something, the verb is ver. But mirar is to look or watch, and notar is to notice something. Again, almost the same meaning. But there’s a much clearer meaning to “I noticed” instead of “I saw”.
To “go” is ir. But we could also use viajar for “travel”, recorrer to “roam”, moverse for “move” or llegar to arrive. We could even say we “wander” (vagar) or “explore” (explorar) to give our action a more adventurous tone!
Let’s look at one more. We talk a lot about speaking from day one around here. But how else can we talk about talking? You know hablar is the verb to “talk” or “speak”. But we could also say charlar for “chat”. How about comunicar for “to communicate” or decir for “to tell”?
Get creative with how you express yourself. Just because the basic, most common verb will do doesn’t mean you have to stick with it forever!
Stop Saying the Same Thing in Spanish
Take these Spanish synonyms and spice up your speech. Any time you find yourself saying the same word all the time… Well, look up some synonyms to change it up. Not only will it help you expand your Spanish vocabulary faster, but you’ll sound more natural. You’ll be able to express yourself in a concise way like you would in your native language. Then, add them to your SRS flashcard app so you don’t forget them!
What other Spanish synonyms have you learned to change things up? What words do you find yourself repeating often? Share with me in the comments!
And finally... One of the best ways to learn a new language is with podcasts. Read more about how to use podcasts to learn a language.