How To Translate Varying Meanings of Fair in Spanish

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What’s Fair?

If a person thinks something is isn’t fair in a game or in life – that the balances of cosmic or karmic justice are somehow tipped against him, he might also say that something isn’t just instead of that it isn’t fair. English-speaking students of Spanish will be glad to know that when fair is used in this sense, the Spanish word is justo. This Spanish example, when paired with its English translation in which just is employed as an adverb and fair is used in the sense of just, may help you remember to use justo correctly:

Lo que me acaba de pasar no es justo (What has just happened to me isn’t fair).

Sometimes, English uses the word fair to express the idea of regularity – as in average, in a statistical sense. When this is the case, there are a number of solutions in Spanish, which are not exactly interchangeable. Mediano and regular are used as the most statistical of the solutions:

Mi hermana es una atleta mediana (My sister is an average athlete). The word regular could also have been used here.

However, used as a response to a greeting such as How are you? (¿Cómo estás?), mediano will not work. The proper responses in Spanish, when the English reply would be I’m fair, would be regular or así así (which literally means so-so). Be careful with the pronunciation of regular: the stress is on the last syllable and the U is not pronounced with the sound of ewe (as in the word for a female sheep).

The other uses of fair in English have to do with complexion – color of hair, eyes and skin. The vocabulary of the Spanish language about color where race and complexion are concerned, is quite interesting. When speaking of the skin, blanco is the most common, although claro, used usually for eyes, can also be used. When referring to hair, rubio is the most generic, although in México güero is used almost every time (it also implies blue eyes and fair skin). This example shows all three and helps you remember that as adjectives, they must agree with the noun they modify. Hence, claros is masculine plural because it refers to eyes (los ojos), but blanca is feminine singular because it refers to skin (la piel) while rubia refers to the female cousin (la prima) as a natural blonde.

Mi prima tiene ojos claros, piel blanca y es rubia natural (My cousin has blue eyes, white skin and is a natural blonde).

Mi prima es güera (My cousin is a blonde). Mexican usage: This would imply that she also has light skin – her eyes may or may not be blue, but they are probably not dark brown, unless she is, as they say in Spanish, una rubia de farmacia (a bottle blonde).

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