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Gerald Erichsen

Go for It With Pa'lante

By July 2, 2011

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A slogan seen at pro-Hugo Chávez rallies in Caracas, Venezuela, this week didn't look much like Spanish: ¡Pa'lante Comandante! The apostrophe barely exists in Spanish, and the word pa'lante, as far as I've been able to find, isn't in any standard dictionary.

Nevertheless, pa'lante is a well-understood slang in some Caribbean Spanish-speaking areas and perhaps elsewhere. It's a shortened version of "para adelante," a fairly common phrase made up of the preposition para, often meaning "for," and adelante, an adverb (sometimes functioning as other parts of speech) meaning "forward."

A literal translation of the phrase "¡Pa'lante Comandante!," would be something like "Forward, Commander!" although that doesn't capture the connotation nor the colloquial nature of the phrase very well. (Comandante is a reference to Chávez, the president of Venezuela.) In this context, better translations of pa'lante might be words or phrases such such as "go ahead," "onward," "go for it," "hang in there" or "keep on going."

One related phrase that's widespread is "echado para adelante," so a sentence such as "Estamos echados para adelante" can mean something like "We're all ready to go for it." Sometimes "echado para adelante" is shortened to something like "echao pa'delante." That's obviously not formal Spanish, but it's Spanish nonetheless, the sort you're more likely to see on someone's Facebook page than in a textbook.


July 6, 2011 at 12:38 pm
(1) Sharon spiegel says:

I had exactly the same response; never having seen such usage before. Political pep speech?

July 8, 2011 at 10:02 am
(2) AM says:

I also hear “p’atras” (“para atras” – back, backward) fairly often.

July 16, 2011 at 9:44 pm
(3) sfree says:


In Pilipino (Filipino) there’s a word “paatras” (pa-atras) which shows the Spanish influence and which means “(to move) backwards.” If one says it fast enough, it sounds like “p’atras”.

July 17, 2011 at 10:23 pm
(4) gg says:

Then there is also the words I have heard, “pa’dentro” meaning “to the inside”.

November 29, 2012 at 12:44 pm
(5) Conrad says:

I spent some years in Venezuela. When we arrived, I noted many politcal signs with slogans like “Oscar Pa’lante” or “Romero Pa’Lante”… as a result, I was initially convinced that the Pa’lantes were a very active political family in the country.

October 20, 2013 at 5:29 pm
(6) cass says:

Pa’ lante means let’s move forward in the sense of “bettering”one’s life or do your best get out of that mess move forward. In n the states it means Latinos move forward work hard. Nothing to do with communist/socialist leaders. On the contrary hard working Latinos despise that mentality and are here to work hard.

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