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Expresiones

When in Spanish the verb “cantar” is used for something more than singing the “Do-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol” (C-D-E-F-G)

By Pía Valls / Don’t be surprised by the headline. In the Spanish of Spain, the verb “cantar” (to sing) is used for something more than to sing the Do-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol (C-D-E-F-G)… Although the first meaning that the RAE grants to this intransitive verb is to produce melodious sounds with the voice , forming words or without forming them (we say: “canta como un ruiseñor”) , we have also coined other expressions, which are not so melodic, but are quite popular such as “los números (o las cifras) cantan”, le cantó las cuarenta”, “es otro cantar”, “es coser y cantar” or “cantó la Traviata”.

In Spain, we use the expression “los números cantan” when we want to mean that something is incontestable; we say “le cantó las cuarenta” (as in the well-known card or card game, Tute) to make things clear to someone even if it bothers them. We talk about “es otro cantar” when someone changes the subject. We affirm that something is “coser y cantar” when it seems easy to do or we say “cantó la Traviata” when someone confessed everything they knew.

The verb “cantar” is still more versatile. Please read carefully. If we say that something “te canta”, we aren’t saying that someone dedicates a song to you at that precise moment, but that something of yours (a smell, a dress, the color of the hair, or any accessory…) seems striking or unpleasant to us. For example, when we say ” cantaba mucho el sombrero”, we actually express out loud the opinion that in our opinion there was plenty of it. And if someone says “le cantaba el alerón”, they actually say he had deodorant problems. I mean, it smelled bad.

As you see all these expressions, especially the latter, have little to do with the musical scale or Verdi’s opera. However, I hope to hear you “cantar alabanzas” or, in other words, rave about PracticaEspañol, once again. Thanks in advance.

Practica Español

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