It doesn’t work that way (har har) in Spanish

Ok, what I mean is that the Spanish language, unlike English, doesn’t use one single word for all the various meanings that “way” can have in English.  I’ll cover the three most common meanings of “way” in English and how to say them in Spanish.  I’ll also include plenty of real-life examples so you’ll know how to use each word or phrase correctly.  Let’s get started pinpointing the three most common meanings that “way” can have in English, then I’ll tell you how to say each one in Spanish.

  1. Direction or path on which something moves in space or time, e.g. “My house is that way past the third castle on the left, between the gladiator arena and the brothel.”  It is a noun here.
  2. Manner in which an action is performed, e.g. “The way the Swedish man in the video below shoots tequila is incorrect.  You’re supposed to throw the salt over your shoulder (for good luck), then squirt the lime in your eye (wakes you up), and finally shoot the tequila (helps with the pain from the lime juice).” Again, it is a noun in this context.
  3. By a long distance, very much, too much, e.g. “You’ve had way too much coffee.”  It functions as an adverb here.

How to say “way” in Spanish correctly, based on the intended meaning

Spanish has three different words/expressions for expressing those three common meanings of the English word, “way”, and we’re going to briefly cover them now:

1. A direction or path:

  • “por ahí” (“by there”), e.g. “Se fue por ahí con alguien.” (“He went that way with someone.”)
  • “por allá” (“by there”), e.g. “No, creo que es por allá.” (“No, I think it’s that way”)
  • “en esa dirección” (“in that direction”), e.g. “Creo que vamos en esa dirección.” (“I think we’re heading that way”)
  • “por ese camino” (“by that road/path”), e.g. “Son unas pocas millas abajo por ese camino, nos están esperando.” (“They’re a few miles below that way, they’re waiting for us”)
  • “hacía alla” (“towards there”), e.g. “El metro queda a dos calles hacia allá.” (“The subway is two streets that way”).

Yes, lots of different manners of saying this but they all pretty much amount to the same thing: “that way/direction”.  Check out the results page on Reverso Context for “go that way” to see lots more real-life examples so that you can see it used in-context (most of those come from movie scripts, books, news reports, etc. that were written/spoken by and for native speakers so they’re good examples to go off of).

2. Manner in which an action is performed:

  • “manera” (“manner”), e.g. “Ojalá hubiera alguna manera de evitarlo.” (“I wish there were a way to avoid it”)
  • “forma” (“form”), e.g. “La única forma de bajar es con paracaídas.” (“The only way down is with parachutes”)
  • “modo” (“mode”), e.g. “Es gracioso el modo en que a veces resultan las cosas.” (“It’s funny the way things work out sometimes”)

3. Too much, a lot:

  • There’s really only one way to say this: “demasiado”, e.g. “Es demasiado pronto para tus intrigas.” (“It’s way too early for your shennanigans”)

If you’re learning Spanish…

As you know and I’ve mentioned elsewhere, conversing with native speakers is crucial and has to be done sooner or later.  A great way to do this is via online classes where the native speaker is the teacher.  I personally can recommend a service called GoSpanish (this is my review of them), having tried it myself.  You can get unlimited classes with them (online, via a video call using a Skype-like system) for as little as $39 per month – that’s insane.  You could take multiple one-hour long classes every day and just pay $39 a month for it if you wanted.  They also guarantee you won’t have more than about five students per class, and in my experience it was less than that (sometimes it was just me and the teacher). 

Also, I wrote a book about how to learn Spanish from popular media (movies, TV shows, music, etc.) that you can get on Amazon in Kindle or paperback format.  If that interests you and especially if you’d like to support my work, I’d really appreciate if you could check it out here on Amazon, it’s called The Telenovela Method.

Hope that helps, please consider subscribing to my emails (sidebar on the right) or at least push notifications for when I put up new blog posts.  My social media accounts are on the slidey thing on the left (I’m active on YouTube, Instagram, Tiktok, Pintrest, Facebook, and Twitter).



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