that rings a bell in spanishAwkward title, but accurately descriptive.  We’re going to talk about the ways you can say essentially the same thing in Spanish: “That rings a bell” or “That sounds/looks familiar”.

This is going to revolve around two verbs: “sonar” and “resultar”, primarily “sonar”.

The way Spanish-speakers principally say this is “Me suena ___” where ____ is whatever it is that rings a bell or sounds familiar, e.g. “Tu cara me suena” (also the name of a Spanish TV show) is how you would say “Your face rings a bell for me” or, slightly better translation, “Your face looks familiar to me”.  Literally what that sentence means is “Your face to me rings”, as “sonar” literally means “to ring”.

Some more examples:

  • Does that name ring a bell? – “¿Te suena ese nombre?”
  • That rings a bell – “Eso me suena.”
  • That sounds vaguely familiar – “Me suena ligeramente” [lit. “It rings lightly to me”]

Another way: “resultar”

You can also use the verb “resultar” (litarally: “to result”) in basically the same way to mean the same thing, e.g.

  • Her voice sounds familiar – “Su voz me resulta familiar” (lit. “Her voice to me results familiar”)
  • I’ve heard that name before, it sounds familiar – “He oído antes ese nombre, me resulta familiar.”
  • Does this face look familiar to you? – “¿Te resulta familiar esta cara?”

But you can always just…

Use “parecer”, of course, which means “to appear”, e.g. “Me parece similar” (that looks similar), “Me parece lo mismo” (that looks the same to me), “Me parece familiar” (that looks familiar), etc.

Most of you already knew this, however, it was kind of the obvious one, which is why I barely felt it worth mentioning and emphasized the other two.

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