Translating ‘As’ to Spanish

Variety of meanings requires variety of translations

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Podrías ganar tanto dinero como usted quieras. (You could earn as much money as you want.). Rafa Otero/Creative Commons.

The word "as" can be translated to Spanish in many ways—and you often can't substitute one of them for another.

One trick to translating "as" to Spanish often amounts to figuring out how it functions in a sentence and coming up with a different way of expressing the same idea. While the following isn't a complete list of the ways "as" can be used and translated, it includes the most common:

Translating ‘As’ in Comparisons of Equality

One of the most common uses of "as" in English is in pairs to indicate that two things or actions are equal. Such comparisons of equality typically are made using the phrase "tan ... como" (where the ellipses represent an adjective or adverb) or "tanto ... como" (where the ellipses represent a noun and tanto changes in form to match the noun in number and gender).

  • Nunca en mi vida había sido tan feliz como hoy. (Never in my life have I been as happy as I am today.)
  • También me enamoré de mi primera maestra, tan locamente como es posible en un niño. (I also fell in love with my first teacher, as crazily as is possible for a child.)
  • Podrías ganar tanto dinero como usted quieras. (You could earn as much money as you want.)

Translating ‘As’ To Mean ‘In the Way That’

If you have an English sentence with the word "as" and you can substitute "as" with "like" (even though some language purists may frown on you doing so), "as" probably means something like "in the way that." Como usually works well as a translation.

  • Me gustaría saber si piensas como pienso. (Leave it as it is.)
  • Déjalo como está. (I would like to know if you think as I think.)
  • Como saben todos ustedes, el primer punto del orden del día es la elección del presidente. (As you all know, the first item on the agenda is the election of the president.)
  • Como iba diciendo, todo era perfecto. (As I was saying, everything was perfect.)
  • Come como si fuera a ser su última vez. (He eats as if it were going to be his last time.)

Translating ‘As’ With Other Meanings

Among the other uses for "as" are:

‘As’ Meaning ‘Because’

When "because" can substitute for "as," "as" can usually be translated as porque, although como is preferred at the beginning of a sentence. Learn more details in our lesson on causation:

  • Buscaba agua porque tenía sed. (He was looking for water as he was thirsty.)
  • No pude ver con claridad porque estaba oscuro. (I couldn't see clearly, as it was dark.)
  • Como yo no tenía dinero, no pude comprar el coche. (As I didn't have any money, I couldn't buy the car.)

‘As’ Indicating Simultaneous Actions

When "while" or "when" can substitute for "as," mientras can be used to indicate that two or more actions are occurring simultaneously:

  • Mientras estudiaba veía la CNN. (As he was studying he watched CNN.)
  • Mientras comíamos, decidí decírselo a todos los que estábamos allí. (As we were eating, I decided to tell it to all of us who were there.)

‘As’ Functioning as a Preposition

When "as" functions as a preposition to introduce a prepositional phrase that functions as an adjective or adverb, it can often be translated as como. The first two of these examples are of adjectival usage, the second two of adverbial usage.

  • Es retrato de Jonah como joven artista. (It is a portrait of Jonah as as a young artist.)
  • Mi vida como un soldado comenzó en 2010. (My life as a soldier began in 2010.)
  • Anda como ladrón en la noche. (He walks as a thief in the night.)
  • Estudia como carrera de química. (She studies as a chemistry major.)

Idiomatic Uses of ‘As’

Idioms (phrases with that have meanings not necessarily tied to those of the individual words) with "as" and common equivalents include:

  • also known as: alias
  • as a consequence: en consecuencia
  • as a joke: en broma
  • as directed: como se indica, según lo indicado
  • as expected: como era de esperar
  • as far as I'm concerned: en lo que a mi respecta
  • as if: como si
  • as necessary, as needed: como sea necesario
  • as of now: por ahora, hasta ahora
  • as soon as possible: lo antes posible
  • such as: tal como (when following a singular noun), tales como (when following a plural noun)

Key Takeaways

  • Como is a common Spanish translation for "as," although are situations in which it can't be used.
  • Mientras can translate "as" when "as" is used to indicate that actions are taking place simultaneously.
  • Porque can translate "as" when "as" is used to indicate why something happened, especially when "as" in the middle of a sentence.
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Your Citation
Erichsen, Gerald. "Translating ‘As’ to Spanish." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Erichsen, Gerald. (2023, April 5). Translating ‘As’ to Spanish. Retrieved from Erichsen, Gerald. "Translating ‘As’ to Spanish." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 7, 2023).