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Using 'Mismo'

Word Adds Emphasis, Indicates Sameness

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Gran V&iaute;a of Madrid

Hoy mismo voy a Madrid. (This very day I'm going to Madrid.)

Photo by Felipe Gabaldón; licensed via Creative Commons.

Mismo and its variations (misma, mismos and mismas) are common words used for emphasis or to indicate that things are the same. They can be used as adjectives or pronouns, and mismo can also be used as an adverb.

The most common dictionary definition of mismo is usually "same" or "identical," and that is its most common meaning as either adjective or pronoun. As either part of speech, it must match the word it refers to in number and gender:

  • Un americano conduce el mismo coche desde hace 69 años. (An American has been driving the same car for 69 years.)
  • Vivían en la misma casa que sus antepasados. (They lived in the same house as their ancestors.)
  • Las montañas siempre son las mismas. (The mountains are always the same.)
  • ¿Son los mismos? (Are they the same ones?)
  • El arte y la naturaleza no son la misma cosa. (Art and nature aren't the same thing.)
  • España no es la misma. (Spain is not the same.)

Note that when used as an adjective to mean "same," mismo or its variations come before the noun it refers to.

The singular neuter form, lo mismo, typically means "the same thing":

  • No podemos hacer lo mismo. (We can't do the same thing.)
  • Siempre está escribiendo sobre lo mismo. (She is always writing about the same thing.)
  • Autoritarismo y totalitarismo no son lo mismo. (Authoritarianism and totalitarianism aren't the same thing.)

Keep in mind that if you're talking about things being alike rather than being the same thing, you probably will use the adjective iguales: Se dice que dos copos de nieve no son iguales. (It is said that no two snowflakes are the same.)

The phrase por lo mismo can usually be translated as "for that reason" or "because of this": Por lo mismo, es importante entender la cultura. For that reason, it is important to understand the culture.

When following a pronoun, mismo or its variations add emphasis. They are frequently translated as a form of "-self," as in the first three examples:

  • ¡Hazlo tú misma! (Do it yourself!)
  • Yo mismo puedo controlar mi vida emocional. (I myself can control my emotional life.)
  • Ellos mismos reconocen su ineficacia e ineptitud. (They themselves recognize their inability and ineptitude.)
  • Desde muy pequeño he estado observando el deterioro del planeta causado por nosotros mismos. (Since he was very young he has been observing the deterioration of the planet caused by our very selves.)

Note that words such as "myself" in the second example above merely adds emphasis. This is different than in a sentence such as "I hurt myself," where "myself" is a reflexive pronoun, a type of direct object.

Mismo or its variations can also be used with nouns to add emphasis, in which case it can be placed either before or after the noun:

  • No vivo en Londres mismo. No vivo en mismo Londres. (I don't live in London itself.)
  • Nuestro amigo, el mismo Manuel, es presidente de la compañía. Nuestro amigo, Manuel mismo, es presidente de la compañía. (Our friend, Manuel himself, is president of the company.)

Mismo can also function as an adverb to add emphasis to certain other adverbs:

  • Hoy mismo voy a Madrid. (This very day I'm going to Madrid.)
  • ¿Que estás haciendo ahora mismo? (What are you doing right now?)
  • Me refugié en un bar y allí mismo conocí a mi futura esposa. (I took refuge in a bar and right there I met my future wife.)
Grammar Glossary

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