The Spanish word “tiempo” is another great example of a word that has multiple meanings. Often referring to time, changes over time or movement. However, “el tiempo” also means "the weather".
So how do we ask about the weather, without confusing this with the time?
If we refer back to previous blog entries. We have already learnt when asking about the time, we actually ask the hour
and not the time
itself. Therefore, we can use the word “tiempo” to ask about the weather without confusion, knowing this isn’t referring to the time of day.
Beyond this, we also have an indication that “tiempo” is referring to the weather, and not time, by the way we ask the question. To explain this more easily, let's look at some examples: Spanish: “¿Qué tiempo hace? ”
Literal translation: what weather it makes/does?
Meaning: What's the weather like? Spanish: “¿Cómo está el tiempo? ”
Literal translation: how is (it) the weather?
Meaning: How's the weather? Spanish: “¿Qué clima hace? ”
Literal translation: what climate it makes/does?
Meaning: What's the weather like? Spanish: “¿Cómo está el clima? ”
Literal translation: how is (it) the climate?
Meaning: How's the weather?
As we can see from the above examples, we do not ask after the weather in the same way as we do the time. We never ask "¿Qué es...". So there should never be confusion between time and weather.
Instead of using the word “tiempo” to mean weather, we can also use “clima”, which is a word for the climate
. In English, we don’t tend to use the word climate
to ask the weather, but in Spanish it’s an acceptable alternative.
Now that we’ve seen how to ask about the weather. Let’s look at four different ways to answer the question: 1. When the weather “does/makes”
As a direct answer to what the weather is doing. We can answer with “hace...” (it makes/does). These constructions are for a more general "feeling" of the weather.
2. When the weather “is”
|Spanish ||Literal translation ||Meaning |
|hace sol ||it makes sun ||it's sunny |
|hace viento ||it makes wind ||it's windy |
|hace calor ||it makes hot ||it's hot |
|hace mucho calor ||it makes much hot ||it's really hot |
|hace frío ||it makes cold ||it's cold |
|hace fresco ||it makes fresh ||it's brisk |
|hace buen tiempo ||it makes good weather ||the weather is good |
|hace mal tiempo ||it makes bad weather ||the weather is bad |
When describing more specific, yet changeable weather conditions, we can use the construction "está..." (It is...). This is more literally close to how we describe weather in English. Typically, “está...” is followed by an adjective or a verb:
3. When "there is" weather
|está soleado ||it is sunny |
|está nublado ||it is cloudy |
|está despejado ||it is clear |
|está oscuro ||it is dark |
|está ventoso ||it is windy |
|está lloviendo ||it is raining |
|está nevando ||it is snowing |
|está lloviznando ||it is drizzling |
Sometimes we can make the construction "hay..." (There is...) to describe the weather.
We will look at some examples below. But before we do, let's quickly talk about "hay"
“Hay” is a special case conjugation of the verb haber
. Normally haber is used as an auxillary verb meaning "to have"
. But it also has a second meaning as an impersonal verb "to be"
. Therefore, in this instance, “hay” means “there is” or “there are”.
Unusually, we use “hay” to mean both “there is” and “there are”, so the same word is used in both the singular and plural. Making it very idiomatic.
Now that we understand what “hay” means, lets see some examples of it describing the weather. Typically, “hay...” is followed by a noun:
4. Describing the weather using a verb
|Spanish ||Literal translation ||Meaning |
|hay viento ||there is wind ||it's windy |
|hay granizo ||there is hail ||it's hailing |
|hay nubes ||there are clouds ||it's cloudy |
|hay sol ||there is sun ||the sun is shinning |
|hay luna ||there is moon ||the moon is out |
|hay humedad ||there is humidity ||it's humid |
|hay relámpagos ||there are lightening bolts ||there is lightening |
In Spanish we have verbs such as llover (to rain), nevar (to snow)
and diluviar (to pour down)
Unfortunately, there isn’t a verb for every kind of weather condition, but for those that exist, we can conjugate them to make simple statements about the weather.
Useful words and phrases
|llueve ||it rains (it is raining) |
|diluvia ||it pours down (it's pouring down) |
|nieva ||it snows (it is snowing) |
Finally, lets look at a list of useful words, phrases and vocabulary.
Conclusion | En conclusión
|la temperatura ||the temperature |
|30 grados ||30 degrees |
|el sol ||the sun |
|las nubes ||the clouds |
|la niebla ||the fog |
|la lluvia ||the rain |
|la llovizna ||the drizzle |
|la neblina ||the mist |
|la tormenta ||the storm |
|el tornado ||the tornado |
|el trueno ||the thunder |
|el relámpago ||the lightning bolt |
|el viento ||the wind |
|la brisa ||the breeze |
|el granizo ||the hail |
|el hielo ||the ice |
|la nieve ||the snow |
|el calor ||the heat |
|el frío ||the cold |
|la humedad ||the humidity |
|¡Ay qué calor! ||Oh! what heat! (how hot!) |
|¡llueve a cántaros! ||It's raining bucket loads! |
| ¡llueve a mares! ||It's raining oceans |
|me muero de calor ||I'm dying from the heat |
|no hace nada de frío ||It's not cold at all |
We’ve covered a lot of new vocabulary today, and as we’ve seen, there are several ways to describe the weather.
Whilst it is tempting to use “está…” (it is…) for everything, as we do in English. Unfortunately, in many cases, using “está” simply isn’t correct.
A general feeling for weather is usually constructed using “hace”; whereas describing more specific types of weather usually start with “está” or ”hay”, depending if you are using an adjective, verb or noun to make the description.