How to Use 'Propio' in Spanish

Morocco, Ouarzazate, portrait of smiling woman getting on her car

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Propio, with variations for number and gender, is a fairly common adjective that usually means "own," as in mi casa propia—"my own house." It can also be used in a general way to add emphasis or to mean the English cognate "appropriate" or something similar.

'Propio' Means 'Own'

Here are some examples of propio meaning "own":

  • Tengo mi personalidad propia. I have my own personality.
  • Debes aprender a crear tus propios iconos. You should learn to create your own icons.
  • ¿Es recomendable viajar por Marruecos en coche propio? Is it recommended to drive to Morocco in your own car?
  • Te aconsejo que te cases en tu propio país. I advise you to get married in your own country.
  • España merece silla propia en el grupo de los 20. Spain deserves its own seat in the Group of 20.
  • El actor mató a su propia madre. The actor killed his own mother.

When propio means "own" and is placed before the noun it refers to, it can add emphasis. You might translate "su propia madre" the last sentence above as "his very own mother," for example, as a way of indicating that emphasis.

'Propio' to Add Emphasis

If propio comes before the noun and a translation of "own" doesn't make sense, propio may be used simply to add emphasis. One common way of doing much the same thing in English is with the use of a "-self" word such as "itself" or "herself":

  • Es una ilusión creada por la propia mente. It's an illusion created by the mind itself. It's an illusion created by the very mind.
  • Fue la propia mujer quien señaló a su esposo como el responsable del vil ataque. It was the wife herself who pointed to her husband as the one responsible for the vile attack.
  • ¿Cómo puedo corregir palabras erróneas del propio diccionario ortográfico? How can I correct wrong words from the spellcheck dictionary itself?

'Propio' to Mean 'Typical,' 'Appropriate,' or 'Characteristic'

Propio can carry meanings such as "typical" or "characteristic." If the context suggests an evaluation or judgment, "appropriate" may be a suitable translation:

  • Esto no es propio de ti. This isn't typical of you.
  • Como es propio de las obras de Kafka, la novela se caracteriza por el absurdo. As is typical of the words of Kafka, the novel is characterized by the absurd.
  • Ustedes deben llevar a cabo una interacción propia de un restaurante. You should interact appropriately for a restaurant.
  • Mentir no sería propio de nosotros. Lying would not be right for us.
  • No era propio de ella regresar por el mismo camino. It wasn't chacteristic of her to return by the same road.
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Erichsen, Gerald. "How to Use 'Propio' in Spanish." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Erichsen, Gerald. (2023, April 5). How to Use 'Propio' in Spanish. Retrieved from Erichsen, Gerald. "How to Use 'Propio' in Spanish." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 1, 2023).