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Very Good Words To Use

Avoiding Overuse of 'Muy'


cup of tea

Quisiera un té bien caliente. (I'd like a nice warm tea.)

Photo by Connie Ma; licensed via Creative Commons.

"Very" is one of those English words that is overused. In fact, I have known editors and teachers who would routinely eliminate each "very" they'd come across in an article or paper they were correcting.

Similarly, the Spanish equivalent of muy is easy to overuse, especially for beginning Spanish students who don't know many alternatives. Next time you're thinking of using muy in something you're writing, consider these alternatives:

Bien: Usually translated as the adverb "well," it is sometimes used as a mild form of "very," and usually with a positive connotation. Sometimes the closest English equivalent is "pretty" as in "he's pretty happy," está bien feliz. Here are some other examples: La mejor hora es bien temprano en la mañana, the best time is fairly early in the morning. Eso es bien tonto, that's quite silly. Quisiera un té bien caliente, I'd like a nice warm tea.

-ísimo suffix: This is probably the most common alternative to muy. It is added to the end of an adjective that ends in a consonant; if it ends in a vowel, the vowel is dropped first. Feísimo, very ugly. Carísimo, very expensive. Peorísimo, very poor.

Prefixes: The prefixes archi-, super- and requete- are used sometimes, most often in informal speech. El senador es archiconservativo, the senator is very conservative. Mi novio es superguapo, my boyfriend is very good-looking. Este pastel es requetebueno, this cake is very good.

Sumamente: This word is stronger than "very" and can be translated as "extremely" or "highly." Fue sumamente exitosa la campaña de desobediencia civil, the civil disobedience campaign was extremely successful. Ella es sumamente inteligente, she's highly intelligent.

Tan: This is usually translated as "so." El carro es tan hermoso, the car is so beautiful. It is used most often in exclamatory sentences. ¡Qué día tan terrible! What an awful, terrible day! ¡Qué estudiante tan inteligente! That student is so intelligent!

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