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Spanish Usage Questions: How to Say "Ahead"

written by: Eric W. Vogt • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 2/14/2012

When going from English to Spanish, usage questions involve an understanding of the nuances of the source language and the consequences they have on choices in the target language.

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    Sorting it Out

    A quick look in a bilingual dictionary will reveal that there are a number of translations of the word ahead in Spanish. However, unless you are an astute user of the dictionary and understand what the consequences are when you use it as an adjective or an adverb or if you need a clause, you can get yourself into trouble. It's opposite is atrás -- another word that can cause problems.

    Let's take a look, one-by-one, at the possible solutions, with examples and translations, of how ahead. The word ahead can be translated as adelante. When it is used as an adverb, it means up ahead or farther ahead, in space (like a highway sign telling you there is work ahead), or forward and onward. In the following two examples, notice how it modifies the verbs:

    Hay mucho que hacer, enotnces tenemos que seguir adelante (There is much to do, so we have to keep moving ahead).

    La casa se encuentra un poco más adelante (The house is a little farther up ahead).

    As an adjective, the word ahead translates as a past participle of the verb adelantar (meaning to go or move forward, in the sense of pushing ahead of schedule, for instance). When said of a people, it shows they are advanced (for their age, for instance). Note that it must agree with the noun it modifies, showing that it is, in fact, an adjective and not an adverb:

    Este cronómetro anda adelantado (This chronometer is running fast/ahead).

    Esa chica está muy adelantada para una niña de cinco años (That girl is very advanced for a five-year-old).

    Finally, it may be part of a comparative, in which case adelante or adelantado have to be incorporated into a comparative construction using que (meaning, in this case, than). Note too that there are other translations of ahead in this case, such as delante de:

    Estos chicos están más adelantados que los otros (These kids are more advanced than the others).

    Esa niña camina delante del grupo (That girl is walking ahead of the group).

    Este experimento va menos adelantado que el otro (This experiment is less advanced/farther along than the other).

References

  • Author's more than 20 years experience teaching and translating Spanish.

Spanish Usage

The articles in this series deal with various questions about the right choice of word or phrase when English may have one or two structures but Spanish has more. They often deal with prepositional issues.
  1. Spanish Usage Questions: "Above"
  2. Using "Actual" and "Actually" in Spanish
  3. A Problem Preposition: The Ways "About" is Expressed in Spanish
  4. The Many Spanish Faces of the English Verb "to Agree"
  5. Spanish Usage Questions: Ways to say "Again"
  6. Expressing the Many Meanings of After
  7. Spanish Usage Questions: How to Say "Ahead"
  8. Spanish Usage Questions: "Anyone" and "Anybody"
  9. Using "Anyway..." in Spanish
  10. Let's Learn About How to Talk About Appointments & Dating
  11. What Do You Use for "Around" in Spanish
  12. The Spanish Verbs Meaning "to Ask" are Many!
  13. Beware of False Cognates! How to Express "Attend," "Assist," and "Help"
  14. Are You "Cool" or "Cold"? Explore the Nuances in Spanish
  15. The Difference Between "Why" and "Because" in Spanish
  16. The Temporal and Spacial Meanings of "Before": How to Get it Right in Spanish
  17. Don't Be Left in the Dust! Learn to Express the Meanings of "Behind" in Spanish
  18. Get the Low Down on the Preposition "Below" and Say it Right in Spanish!
  19. Understand Saying "Help" in Spanish
  20. Translating "Beside" & "Besides" into Spanish: Interesting Solutions!
  21. Not all Meanings of "But" Are Equal!
  22. Expressing the Various Meanings of the Preposition "By" in Spanish
  23. What Can the English Word "Can" Mean and How to Get it Right in Spanish
  24. Spanish Usage Questions: "Corner"
  25. The Word "Country" in Spanish
  26. The Various Meanings of "Outweigh" in English and How to Express Them in Spanish
  27. Expressing the Idea of "Ownership" in Spanish
  28. How to Express "Time & Distance" in Spanish
  29. Treat, Try, Attempt, Deal with... In Spanish, You Probably Need "Tratar"
  30. Spanish Usage Questions: "Having Fun"
  31. Even a Word Like "Even" Has Many Counterparts in Spanish
  32. Don't Go Wrong When You Look for Ways to Express "to fail"
  33. Do You Mean "Fair" Weather, a "Fair" Game or a "Fair" Complexion? Learn How to Say Them in Spanish!
  34. Love, Desire and Wanting -- Spanish Style!
  35. Discover the Right Spanish Verbs for Taking, Holding, Grabbing... and More
  36. You Have Nothing to Fear Except Not Knowing How to Say "Fear" in Spanish!
  37. Spanish Equivalents of the Common English Word "Find"
  38. Discover the Various Meanings of "Middle" and How to Say Them in Spanish
  39. Not All Spanish Words Meaning "Worker" Are Created Equal

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