What Do We Mean by “Middle”?
There are essentially four different ways that English speakers use the word "middle." It can mean "average," or "being in the middle" of a page or story. It can also be used to express an approximation in time, as in "around." English speakers also use "middle" figuratively to express being swamped with chores. Finally, it can express mediocrity or "average-ness." Let's examine the various uses of "middle" in English, distinguishing between them and offering their respective Spanish counterparts. Notice how Spanish addresses these concepts variously using nouns, adjectives and prepositional phrases.
Here are some examples, with translations:
1. medio — noun. medio/a — adjective:
Estoy en el medio de la novela. I'm in the middle of the novel.
Juan es de la clase media. John is middle class.
2. a mediados de — prepositional phrase meaning around, used with expressions about time:
Vamos a la playa a mediados de agosto. We go to the beach around the middle of August.
3. en medio de — prepositional phrase meaning surrounded by, in the midst of, or being swamped:
Estoy cansado porque estoy en medio de tantas tareas. I'm tired because I'm in the middle of so many chores.
4. mediano/a — adjective meaning average or even mediocre, depending on context.
Mi amigo de edad mediana. My friend is middle-aged.
Ese chico es de capacidades medianas. That kid has average [mediocre] talents.
In order to express the idea of an average, as in a mathematical or statistical average, Spanish uses promedio:
El promedio de 50 y 60 es 55. The average of 50 and 60 is 55.
Promediar is a verb meaning to divide into two equal parts, although usually, Spanish speakers state this idea more simply, by saying dividir en dos partes iguales or dividir en la mitad or other similar expression.
- 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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