The Spanish Word "cita"-- A Date or an Appointment

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Is it a Date or an Appointment?

A cita in Spanish can be a romantic date or something as mundane as an appointment with a dentist or your professor. Context is everything. If the people talking know enough about each others' lives, the differences will be clear so long as either no new events are happening of which some may be unaware (a new boyfriend or girlfriend) or so long as no deceit is involved.

So, the following question, overheard by someone outside the social circle of the person asking it of a third person may be ambiguous:

Tienes una cita esta tarde, ¿no? (You have a date/appointment this afternoon, don’t you?)

Of course, there are almost always non-verbal clues, like smiles, frowns, and so forth that might reveal whether it is a romantic date or just an appointment. Still, one could have a date with a boyfriend or girlfriend and be about to break up, so a frown on both people’s faces could be taken as a question about whether it was an appointment with a doctor or a tax accountant!

The verb citar can mean to cite (as in to quote) or to make an appointment:

El periodista citó algunos antecedents criminals del alcalde (The reporter cited some of the mayor’s past criminal deeds).

El professor me citó para las tres (The professor made me an appointment for three/told me to come see him at three).

Another word, compromiso, carries no chance of being interpreted as a romantic date. It is used for referring to professional appointments.

The word compromiso also can mean an obligation or commitment to perform certain duties, such as un compromiso para con nuestros clients (a commitment toward our customers). It is related to the verb comprometerse – which means to commit oneself to something or even to be compromised (morally, in a bad sense). Context is everything!

Another professional word for appointment is hora:

¿Puede Ud. darme hora mañana? (Can you give me an appointment for tomorrow/Do you have any openings tomorrow?)

Finally, the verb nombrar, to name, is used for making an official appointment – naming someone to some post in government. The noun is nombramiento; for example:

El nombramiento para Ministro de Asuntos Exteriores se hizo esta mañana (The appointment for Chief of Foreign Affairs was made this morning).

This post is part of the series: 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