The Many Faces of “Even”
The word even turns out to be a fascinating word, being either adverb or preposition. Its various uses and translations into Spanish make it a good and short case study in how two languages create different linguistic maps of reality and even of the mind. Consider these uses:
Sometimes, even is used in the sense of furthermore, with a tone of surprise, in addition or including. When this is the case, the Spanish equivalents are hasta, aun or incluso. The word incluso is somewhat less often used as an adverb; it tends to answer to the prepositional uses of even. Still, all three are interchangeable, but the tone of aun is less severe.
Hasta puede nadar una milla y luego correr dos (He can even swim a mile and then run two). – adverbial; aun could also have been used.
Hasta un niño lo podría hacer (Even a child could do it). – prepositional; aun or incluso could have been used as well.
Todos podrán ir al cine, incluso tú (Everyone will be able to go to the movies, even you). – prepositional; note how incluso means including and is followed by a pronoun or noun.
When English speakers say not even, Spanish has a phrase which bears no resemblance to the previous solutions for even – ni siquiera. Sometimes the ni is omitted.
Ni siquiera tenemos un centavo entre los dos (We don’t even have a penny between the two of us).
Ni siquiera le interesa salir con esos muchos para tomar un café (She isn’t even interested in going out with those guys for a cup of coffee).
Then again, sometimes English speakers use even when speaking of numbers divisible by two (as opposed to odd numbers). In this case, even is par and odd is impar. Note that these two words have plural forms, being adjectives (but ending in a consonant, they do not show gender):
Los números pares son divisibles por dos (Even numbers are divisible by two).
Another mathematical use of even refers to exactness. In such cases, Spanish can use justo, exacto or igual:
Vamos a dividir el pastel en pedazos iguales (We’re going to divide the cake into even pieces). Justos could also have been used.
Construyeron las pirámides de modo que los cuatro lados quedaron exactos (They built the pyramids in such a way that the four sides came out even).
- Based on the author’s more than 20 years experience teaching and translating Spanish
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.
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- 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