Go for It With Pa'lante

Spanish Slang Word That Packs Punch

Pa'lante is not a word you will find in any standard Spanish dictionaries. Spanish teachers might even cringe upon hearing it. It is a Spanish slang word for "go ahead" or "go for it."

Direct Translation

Pa'lante is a well-understood slang word primarily used in Caribbean Spanish-speaking areas and seems to be gaining popularity in other parts of the Spanish-speaking world. 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." What is unique about this word and its use is that contractions and apostrophes are rarely used in Spanish.

Famous Word at Rallies

Pa'lante is something commonly heard at rallies usually used to rile up a person or group to action. As evidence of its burgeoning spread outside of the Caribbean, the word was used as part of a slogan at pro-Hugo Chávez rallies in Caracas, Venezuela: ¡Pa'lante Comandante! Chávez was the President of Venezuela from 2002 to 2013.

A literal translation of the rhyming phrase "¡Pa'lante Comandante!," would be something like "Forward, Commander!" although that direct interpretation does not capture the subtle connotation nor the colloquial nature of the phrase. El Comandante was a popular reference to Chávez.

In the context of rallies, other translations of pa'lante might be "go ahead," "onward," "go for it," "hang in there" or "keep on going."

Pop Culture References

Pop icon and Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin brought the word mainstream in his 1995 musical hit,  "María." A popular line from the song: Un, dos, tres, un pasito pa'lante Maria! The line translates to, " One, two, three, one little step forward, Maria!"  The song topped the charts at the time and became Martin's first international hit single.

Before and after Martin, Spanish music artists have been using the slang word in music hits. Other famous titles with the word include "Echa Pa'lante," by Mexican recording artist, Thalia, made popular in 1997. The song was featured in the 1998 dance competition movie "Dance with Me" in a memorable scene starring Vanessa L. Williams and Puerto Rican singer Chayanne.

As an example of the word's use in song prior to Martin, Puerto Rican-American latin jazz great, Tito Puente released a song, "Pa'lante," which he subtitled "Straight" in English. 

Related Phrases

One related phrase that is widespread is "echado para adelante." The sentence "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." These phrases are not considered formal Spanish, but would most likely be used in the context of colloquial speech or familiar conversation.