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
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