The English Word "middle" and How to Express Its Meanings in Spanish

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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

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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  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