How To Talk About Weather in Spanish

Expressions frequently use ‘hacer’ or ‘haber’

two men in the snow
¡Nieva! (It's snowing!). Adam Clark / Getty Images

Everyone talks about the weather, so if you want to improve your ability to have casual conversations in Spanish, one way is to learn the language of weather. Talking about the weather is straightforward, although some sentence structures are used that aren't used in
English.

In English, it is very common to use "it" when discussing the weather, as in the sentence "it is raining." In Spanish, it isn't necessary to translate the "it," and you can talk in Spanish using any of the three methods below. Incidentally, the "it" in English weather sentences is called a dummy subject, meaning it doesn't have real meaning but it used only to make the sentence grammatically complete.

As you use Spanish, you will become familiar with which methods is more common with particular types of weather. In many cases, any of the three methods can be used with little or no change in meaning.

Using Weather-Specific Verbs

The most direct way of talking about weather in Spanish is to uses one of the many weather verbs:

  • Graniza en las montañas. (It's snowing in the mountains.)
  • Nevó toda la noche. (It snowed all night.)
  • Está lloviendo. (It is raining.)
  • Diluvió con duración de tres días. (It poured rain for three days.)
  • Los esquiadores quieren que nieve. (The skiers want it to snow.)

Most of weather-specific verbs are defective verbs, meaning that they don't exist in all conjugated forms. In this case, they exist only in the third-person singular. In other words, at least in standard Spanish, there is no verb form meaning something like "I rain" or "I snow."

Using Hacer With Weather

The first thing you may notice if you're talking about or reading about the weather is that the verb hacer, which in other contexts usually is translated as "to do" or "to make," is frequently used. In many cases, hacer can simply be followed by a weather condition.

  • Hace sol. (It's sunny.)
  • En la Luna no hace viento. (There is no wind on the moon.)
  • Hace mucho calor en Las Vegas. (It is very hot in Las Vegas.)
  • Estaba en medio del bosque y hacía mucho frío. (I was in the middle of the forest and it was very cold.)
  • Hace mal tiempo. (The weather is awful.)
  • Hace buen tiempo. (The weather is good.)

Using Haber With Weather

It is also possible to use the third-person singular form of haber, such as hay in the indicative present, also known as the existential haber, to talk about weather. These could be translated literally with sentences such as "there is sun" or "there was rain," although you'll usually to better to use something more idiomatic.

  • No hay mucho sol. (it isn't very sunny.)
  • Hay vendaval. (It is extremely windy.)
  • Había truenos fuertes. (It was thundering loudly.)
  • Temo que haya lluvia. (I'm afraid it will rain.)

Other Grammar Related to Weather

When discussing how the weather feels, you can use tener, which usually is translated as "to have" but in this context is used to indicate how a person feels.

  • Tengo frío. (I'm cold.)
  • Tengo calor. (It feels hot.)

You are best to avoid saying something like estoy caliente or estoy frío for "I'm hot" or "I'm cold." These sentences can have sexual overtones, just as can the English sentences "I'm hot" or "I'm frigid."

Most textbooks advise against using sentences such as es frío to say "it's cold," and some say that such a usage of the verb ser is incorrect. However, such expressions are heard in informal speech in some areas.

Weather Vocabulary

Once you get beyond the basics, here is a vocabulary list that should cover most situations or help you understand the forecasts you'll find in news and social media:

  • altamente: highly
  • aviso: advisory
  • calor: hot
  • centímetro: centimeter
  • chaparrón: downpour
  • chubasco: squall, downpour
  • ciclón: cyclone
  • despejado: cloudless
  • diluviar: to pour, to flood
  • disperso: scattered
  • este: east
  • fresco: cool
  • frío: cold
  • granizada: hailstorm
  • granizo: hail, sleet
  • humedad: humidity
  • huracán: hurricane
  • índice ultravioleta: ultraviolet index
  • kilómetro: kilometer
  • leve: light
  • lluvia: rain
  • luz solar, sol: sunshine
  • mapa: map
  • mayormente: mostly
  • metro: meter
  • milla: mile
  • mínimo: minimum
  • nevar: to snow
  • nieve: snow
  • norte: north
  • nublado: cloudy
  • nubosidad: cloud cover, cloudiness
  • occidente: west
  • oeste: west
  • oriente: east
  • parcialmente: partly
  • pie: foot
  • poniente: west
  • posibilidad: possibility
  • precipitación: precipitation
  • presión: air pressure
  • pronóstico: forecast
  • pulgada: inch
  • relámpago: lightning
  • rocío: dew
  • satélite: satellite
  • sur: south
  • temperatura: temperature
  • tiempo: weather, time
  • tronar: to thunder
  • trueno: thunder
  • vendaval: strong wind, windstorm
  • ventisca: snowstorm
  • viento: wind
  • vientos helados: wind chill
  • visibilidad: visibility

Key Takeaways

  • Spanish has three common ways of talking about weather: using verbs that refer to weather, using hacer followed by a weather term, and using the existential haber followed by a weather term.
  • When translating to Spanish, the "it" in sentences such as "it is raining" is not translated directly.