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.
- Spanish Usage Questions: “Above”
- Using “Actual” and “Actually” in Spanish
- A Problem Preposition: The Ways “About” is Expressed in Spanish
- The Many Spanish Faces of the English Verb “to Agree”
- Spanish Usage Questions: Ways to say “Again”
- Expressing the Many Meanings of After
- Spanish Usage Questions: How to Say “Ahead”
- Spanish Usage Questions: “Anyone” and “Anybody”
- Using “Anyway…” in Spanish
- Let’s Learn About How to Talk About Appointments & Dating
- What Do You Use for “Around” in Spanish
- The Spanish Verbs Meaning “to Ask” are Many!
- Beware of False Cognates! How to Express “Attend,” “Assist,” and “Help”
- Are You “Cool” or “Cold”? Explore the Nuances in Spanish
- The Difference Between “Why” and “Because” in Spanish
- The Temporal and Spacial Meanings of “Before”: How to Get it Right in Spanish
- Don’t Be Left in the Dust! Learn to Express the Meanings of “Behind” in Spanish
- Get the Low Down on the Preposition “Below” and Say it Right in Spanish!
- Understand Saying “Help” in Spanish
- Translating “Beside” & “Besides” into Spanish: Interesting Solutions!
- Not all Meanings of “But” Are Equal!
- Expressing the Various Meanings of the Preposition “By” in Spanish
- What Can the English Word “Can” Mean and How to Get it Right in Spanish
- Spanish Usage Questions: “Corner”
- The Word “Country” in Spanish
- The Various Meanings of “Outweigh” in English and How to Express Them in Spanish
- Expressing the Idea of “Ownership” in Spanish
- How to Express “Time & Distance” in Spanish
- Treat, Try, Attempt, Deal with… In Spanish, You Probably Need “Tratar”
- Spanish Usage Questions: “Having Fun”
- Even a Word Like “Even” Has Many Counterparts in Spanish
- Don’t Go Wrong When You Look for Ways to Express “to fail”
- Do You Mean “Fair” Weather, a “Fair” Game or a “Fair” Complexion? Learn How to Say Them in Spanish!
- Love, Desire and Wanting – Spanish Style!
- Discover the Right Spanish Verbs for Taking, Holding, Grabbing… and More
- You Have Nothing to Fear Except Not Knowing How to Say “Fear” in Spanish!
- Spanish Equivalents of the Common English Word “Find”
- Discover the Various Meanings of “Middle” and How to Say Them in Spanish
- Not All Spanish Words Meaning “Worker” Are Created Equal