The SINGLE MOST CONFUSING WORD in the Spanish Language: AHORITA in English (Do YOU Know What It Means?)
¡Hola, mi gente! Yo soy Paulísima de Spring Spanish, and in today’s video I’m going to teach you the single most important Spanish word you’ll hear all the time if you are in Mexico (like, seriously, in every other sentence): ahorita in English.
It’s the diminutive of an easy Spanish word: ahora (now)… but don’t let that fool you! Because every time Mexicans use it, it seems to have a different meaning, like:
- Just now
- Right now
- Not anytime soon
- In a bit
- Probably never
So, in today’s video—which is very special because I have some remarkable guests—I’m going to show you the 5 most common situations in which we Mexicans use ahorita, and how you can recognize what we mean exactly based on our tone of voice… so this little word will not confuse you anymore!
Sounds good? ¡Empecemos
1. Just Now (The immediate past)
Ahorita sometimes alludes to the immediate past, like in this conversation between Samuel and Amanda:
Se me antoja un elote.
(I’m craving for a cob of corn.)
¡Uy! ¡Acaba de pasar!
(Oh! He has just passed by! (=the elote vendor))
Intonation is key here! ¡Ahorita!
¿Cuándo pasó el señor? ¡Ahorita! ¡Ahorita! (When did the man pass by? Just now!)
2. Right now! (For Real!)
If you ever hear a Mexican saying the word ahorita like dragging each syllable, they actually mean “do it right now”… No wonder it’s usually moms or dads that would use this tone.
If you ever heard it while growing up, you knew you’d have to stop whatever you were doing and go do whatever they wanted you to do:
MOTHER: Niña, ¡los trastes! ¡Ven a lavarlos A-HO-RI-TA! (Child, the dishes! Come do them RIGHT NOW!)
Trust me those dishes are going to be nice and shiny in a minute!
3. Not any time soon!
So, what if we’re a little more rebellious when someone asks you to do the dishes? Then, you can also use the word ahorita to your advantage… like this:
Paulina, ¡ven a lavar los trastes!
(Paulina, come do the dishes!)
¡Ay, ma! ¡Ahorita!
(Oh, mom! “Ahorita”!)
¡Ahorita! Did you notice my pronunciation? When we say it like that, it means:“I don’t feel like doing it, so I’m going to take my time to do it. Lo voy a hacer a mi ritmo y a mi tiempo, ¡a la mexicana! (I’m going to do it at my own rhythm and at my own time, the Mexican way!)
This is so common in everyday conversations and, of course, the main way I used this word when I was a teenager, just like my niece Paulina. Let’s look again:
Do you think Paulina is going to go leave Netflix to go do the dishes right now? You guessed correctly! She won’t!
Let’s see another example featuring Samuel… Remember Samuel, who still can’t roll his R’s?
Samuel, ¿a qué hora vas a levantar tus juguetes?
(Samuel, when are you picking up your toys?)
(In a bit, grandmother!)
By the way, if you are ever dealing with Mexican bureaucrats, and they say something is going to happen “ahorita”, they mean this one… Not any time soon! That’s right! ¡Paciencia, mi gente, paciencia! (Patience, my people, patience!)
4. In a bit
Sometimes, ahorita means “in a bit”. Let’s say you’re in a restaurant, and you have to go to the bathroom, or you’re at a club and want to let your friends know that you’ll be gone for a little while and that they shouldn’t worry if your absence is noticed for 15-20 minutes tops!
You might want to say this chunk:
- ¡Ahorita vengo! (I’m coming in a bit)
Let’s say you want to go to the convenience store:
- ¡Ahorita vengo! ¡Voy al Oxxo! (I’m coming in a bit! I’m going to the Oxxo!)
Or let’s say you’re taking the dog out and you want to let the people you live with know:
- ¡Ahorita vengo! ¡Voy a sacar al perro! (I’m coming in a bit! I’m taking the dog out!)
¡Ahorita vengo! (I’m coming in a bit!) No, of course no voy a ningún lado (I’m not going anywhere)… Learn it by heart! This chunk of Spanish is going to help you communicate with ease when you’re speaking with locals!
By the way, for more useful chunks like this, get our free Essential Spanish Chunking Kit! It gives you a collection of the most important Spanish chunks we use in our videos. Find the link in the description box.
Lo siento, mis amigos, pero (I’m sorry, my friends, but) if somebody ever tells you ahorita after you ask them like 3 times in a row… ¡Malas noticias! (Bad news!) I don’t think that whatever you’re asking for is ever going to happen, like nunca (never)!
Víctor, ¿me dejas jugar?
(Victor, would you let me play?)
10 minutes later …
¿Ya me dejas jugar?
(Can I play now?)
Ahorita, Amanda. ¡Espera!
(“Ahorita”, Amanda. Wait!)
2 hours later
¿Ya me dejas jugar?
(Will you let me play yet?)
Unfortunately for Amanda, mi sobrinita (my little niece), Victor Manuel, mi sobrino y ahijado, (Victor, my nephew and godson), I don’t think she will get to play at all.
If you’re still here, congratulations! As a bonus, I want to share another way to use ahorita with you…
The infamous: ¡Ahorita es ahorita!
Hola, nené. Oye, me dijiste que ya venías.
(Hello, baby. Hey, you said you were on your way.)
¿A qué horas?
Sí, ahorita ya voy.
(Yes, I’m on my way now.)
Ahorita es ahorita.
(Now means now.)
Sí, sí, ahorita.
(Yes, yes, in a bit.)
I love Mexican Spanish! See the translation? It’s so weird and tremendously cute! This would be like saying “little now is little now”, but it really means, “you’re serious about time now”. We double it in the sentence because:
You understand how “ahorita” is commonly used, you understand that we’re talking about waiting between 20 minutes to 2 hours every time a Mexican says “ahorita”, so you’re not falling for that and you say:
- ¡Ahorita es ahorita!
And then, there’s one more way to double the “ahorita”. You do this when you want to be precise about timing. You add many “ti” to the word, like this: Ahoritititita —The more “tis”, the more precise you come across!
When do I want you to like this video and share it everywhere? ¡Ahorititititta!
Now, time for a quiz!!
- How would you pronounce ahorita if you wanted to be taken seriously?
That’s right! A-HO-RI-TA (that is, stressing every syllable).
- Will Paulina wash the dishes according to her use of ahorita in this situation?
I don’t see it happening! Exactly!
- How do we double the ahorita?
Ahorita es ahorita and ahoritititita!
Congratulations if you got all of them right!
So, as you learned in this lesson, ahorita is one of the weird Spanish words that Mexican use all the time, but Mexicans have many other quirks that outsiders consider to be super weird.
For the next video, I asked some of my foreigner friends living in Mexico about the one cultural thing they were amazed (or shocked) by. Find out about these weird Mexican things now!