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Why in Spanish do we use a word like “menudo” to make things bigger or more often?

The word ‘menudo’ did not come out and you tried to explain to us in Spanish that you liked the concert of the Botanical Nights of Madrid saying in Spanglish is “big, great, little or small… concert! And, of course, it sounded inexplicable and quite contradictory. However, the contradiction and your face, which said it all, made us realize that the word that did not come out in Spanish was… “menudo” (what a…)!

The Spanish language has those things: words like ‘menudo/a’ and expressions like ‘a menudo’ (often) that are one thing and say another.

As an adjective “menudo/a” , singular or plural, they mean small or  thin. But when it goes before a noun what it does is, on the one hand, intensify and, on the other, save words to transmit everything that is meant about that noun. Other times, we use ‘¡a menudo!’ almost as an interjection.

For example, we say: ¡menuda fiesta tenía Olga en casa! (what a party Olga had at home!) and in fact what we are saying is that tenía una fiesta estupenda o una gran fiesta o una fiesta muy animada (she had a great party or a big party or a very lively party). That is to say, “a great party”. Or, we say ¡menuda bronca!  (what a anger!) and we do not say that “the anger was little” but quite the opposite: that it was a big fight. So too what a cold is very cold and what a people is that the people we talk about are worse than bad.

With ‘a menudo’ (often) it happens very similar. When we say I get angry often, we are saying that we get angry many times or very often. We do not say that I get angry a little or a little bit. Or, when we say he faint often, we do not say that he faints just a little but he loses consciousness many times.

The adverbial phrase ‘a menudo’ (often) accompanies a verb and can go before or behind it according to the meaning of the idea that is to be expressed. For example: we say a menudo canta en la ducha (he often sings in the shower) or canta, a menudo, en la ducha (he sings, often, in the shower) or canta en la ducha a menudo (he sings in the shower often) and we are always saying the same thing: that he sings many times or frequently in the shower.

As in the rest of my post, here I leave you 14 phrases to differentiate both uses and an MP3 so that you practice and train your pronunciation:

¡Menudo! (what a…)
¡En menudo lío me has metido! (me has metido en un lío muy grande) – In what a mess-up you have put me! (You have put me in a very big mess)

¡Menudo calor hace! (hace mucho calor) – What a heat it is! (it is very hot)

¡Menudo fín de semana! (fue un fin de semana… bueno o malo según lo que venga detrás) – What a weekend! (it was a weekend … good or bad depending on what comes after)

¡Menuda cara! (es un o una caradura) – What a face! (he or she is a cheeky)

¡Menudo susto nos has dado! (nos has dado un gran susto) –  What a fright you gave us! (You have given us a big scare)

¡Menuda gentuza la que conocí ayer! (ayer conocí gente poco recomendable) –  What a rabble I met yesterday! (yesterday I met people not to be recommended)

¡Menuda paella tan rica! (la paella estaba exquisita) –
What a delicious paella! (The paella was exquisite)

¡Menudo gol ha metido! (ha metido un gol espectacular) – What a goal he has scored! (he has scored a spectacular goal)

A menudo (often)
Los aviones esquivan ovnis a menudo (esquivan con frecuencia objetos voladores no identificados) – Planes often dodge UFOs (planes frequently dodge unidentified flying objects)

Voy a menudo al cine (voy con frecuencia al cine) – I often go to the cinema (I frequently go to the cinema)

Aquí no llueve muy a menudo (aquí no llueve con mucha frecuencia) –
Here it does not rain very often (here it does not frequently rain)

Trump tuitea a menudo (Trump tuitea con frecuencia) – Trump tweets often (Trump tweets frequently)

Le duele a menudo la cabeza (le duele la cabeza muchas veces) – He often has headaches  (he has headaches many times)

Escribe poesía a menudo (escribe poesía con frecuencia) – He often writes poetry (he writes poetry frequently)

A menudo recurre al diccionario (usa el diccionario muchas veces) –
He often resorts to the dictionary (he uses the dictionary many times)


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