The day before yesterday, we had a debate on whether Spanish speakers use the expressions “cruzarse la raya” and “pasarse de la raya” correctly and whether they always have the same meaning or sense, that is, whether they say the same thing or, suggest different ideas depending on the context. I thought it was an interesting topic to bring to this vocabulary space. I’m sure you will hear both from any Spanish speaker. There were opinions for all tastes. Some were more well-founded than others. Until the erudite member of the interdisciplinary group gave a lecture and concluded that we must pay attention to the general Spanish language, which “pasarse de la raya” means “going too far” or “overstep the mark”. Therefore, I agreed, it is the same as “¡pasarse!” or the popular expression “¡pasarse varios pueblos!” We wondered, then, whether this overstepping the mark or going too far should always imply an implicit negative perception that touches the receiver emotionally (of an offence, disrespect, disobedience, rudeness or bad manners, for example), something that we didn’t necessarily find in “cruzar la raya” when talk about going beyond, crossing the limit or crossing the boundaries (and, especially one’s own, overstepping) or also crossing the red line. Yes, we did find it, when it is preceded by the verb “pasar” in the sense of transgressing (“¡te has pasado de la raya!”). We will have to go back to the context to really know what is being saying, but you should bear in mind that, in general, in one case as in another, the existence of opponents seems inherent to the more extended meaning, understanding the limits as such.
The Diccionario de la Lengua Española by RAE gives the meaning of “pasarse de la raya” as “going too far” or “overstepping” any mark and the Diccionario de modismos mexicanos by Jorge García-Robles as meaning “to overstep limits and respect”, according to the Mexican Academy of the Language.
There are colloquial expressions that may seem but have nothing to do with “”pasarse de la raya.” I mean “tener a raya”, “mantener a raya”, “poner a raya” or also “¡rayarse!”
The expressions “tener a raya”, “mantener a raya” or “poner a raya” have to do with the verbs to contain, to control, to discipline, while “¡rayarse!” can mean to get fed up or angry, according to the Diccionario Panhispánico de Dudas.
All of them are written with the letter “y” of the Spanish alphabet, never with the digraph “ll”. However, when you talk about “rallar queso”, or “queso rallado”, or “la ralladura de un limón” you use the verb “rallar”, that means “to shred something with a grater” (RAE).
Now, I invite you to practice with these phrases:
1.- ¡Que no se pase de la raya o se las verá conmigo! (Don’t overstep the mark or you will have to deal with me!)
2.- Cruzó la raya que se había impuesto. (He / she crossed the line he had set for himself/herself)
3.- Dime las veces que se pasó de la raya con sus compañeros. (Tell me the times he/ she crossed the line with his / her teammates)
4.- El coche se pasó de la raya y multaron al conductor. (The car went out of line and the driver was fined)
5.- ¿Crees que me pasé de la raya? (Do you think I went too far?)
6.- Si bebes, no te pases de la raya. (If you drink, don’t overdo it)
7.- Solo podrán cruzar la raya invisible. (They can only cross the invisible line)
8.- ¡No me ralles más pan! (Grate me no more bread! / Don’t grate me more bread!)
9.- Estaba rayado y empezó de cero. (He was driving crazy and he started from scratch)
10.- Fue el primero en cruzar la raya de la meta. (He was the first to cross the finish line)