One of the most common mistakes Spanish learners make is talking about things they consider hot! You probably are here because you’ve been confused about using the words caliente and calor en español.
En este artículo vas a aprender (In this article you will learn) what you need to know to understand how to talk about things that are hot, feeling hot, and being hot!
I will share with you essential Spanish chunks you will need to make sure you don’t tell people that you’re horny, when all you want to say is that you’re hot! Or EVEN WORSE: when you want to speak about the attractiveness of a person!
When to use CALOR and CALIENTE
Let’s start by addressing why using the words CALIENTE and CALOR can be confusing for English speakers que están aprendiendo (who are learning Spanish). So, en inglés you use the word HOT to talk about these 3 things (and many others, actually, but let’s focus on these three):
- Hot weather
- Spicy things
- Attractive bodies
In Spanish, we don’t! We have different words and different structures to talk about things that in English are expressed with the word HOT. It can get very confusing…
With the chunks you’ll learn in this piece you will be able to talk about heat and hotness and being hot without having to think about it because you will be using Spanish CHUNKS. Chunks? What the Chunk?
Chunks are premade phrases or word combinations that native speakers use all the time… and if you learn them by heart, you’ll speed up your way into fluency en español.
Talking about Hot Weather
Para hablar de (to talk about) hot weather and feeling the effects of it, use the following chunks:
- Hace calor (Literally, “it makes heat”; more idiomatically, “it’s hot”), as in it’s hot outside, it’s hot in here… we just say “hace calor”
- Tengo calor (Literally, “I have heat”; more idiomatically, “I’m hot”), as in you feel hot in contrast to feeling cold.
To emphasize you can add MUCHO:
- Hace mucho calor (Literally, “it makes a lot of heat”; more idiomatically, “It’s very hot”)
- Tengo mucho calor (Literally, “I have a lot of heat”; more idiomatically, “I’m very hot”)
“Tengo mucho calor” is what you want to say when you’re in Cancun melting while you wait for your beers to arrive.
Notice how, in English, you say “I’m hot”, so hot is something that you ARE, but it’s not like that in Spanish. In Spanish, we use the word calor, which means heat and it’s something that we HAVE, not that we ARE.
One of the evils of direct translation is that we end up saying things that we don’t mean. When you take the words: “I am hot” and you literally translate them, you end up saying things like: Estoy caliente. But that phrase doesn’t mean “I’m hot”!!! It rather means “I feel like I could use some adult fun”.
When you say “estoy caliente” instead of “tengo calor” or “hace calor”, people will most likely understand that you don’t mean to make public your sexual desires. Context is key, but you will make people chuckle!
“Estoy caliente” also has a literal translation… and you could say this when you’re talking about running a fever, for example, and this often comes accompanied by you touching you forehead.
- Uh oh! ¡Estoy caliente! Espero que no sea gripe.
By the way, if you’d like to get more chunk examples and see how we teach Spanish entirely through chunks (and barely any grammar), check out the free Spanish chunking training on our website for a full step-by-step walkthrough and some demo lessons!
Talking about spicy things
Mexican food is famous for its use of chillies, so it ends up being picante o picosa, not caliente.
Use this chunk to ask about how hot a salsa is:
- ¿Pica mucho? (Literally, “Does it sting a lot?”; more idiomatically, “Is it very hot?”)
- ¿Cuál pica menos? (Literally, “Which one stings less?”; more idiomatically, “Which one is the least hot?”)
Caliente also alludes to the temperature of food, so if you are anything como yo (like me) and you like your soup and coffee to be the way they’re supposed to be (that is, CALIENTES), make sure you learn this chunk next time you order a hot item in a Spanish-speaking restaurant:
- Bien caliente, por favor.
- Una sopa de tortilla… bien caliente, por favor
- Un caldo de camarón… bien caliente, por favor.
Talking about someone who is physically attractive
Now we’re gonna talk about the one that makes me blush!!!
In Spanish, when we see an attractive person, we use these Spanish chunks:
- Está bueno (male)
- Está buena (female)
For emphasis, you can add the endings -ísimo or -ísima (like the -ísima in my name: Paulísima).
- Kim Kardashian está buenísima (Kim Kardashian is really hot)
- Michael B Jordan está buenísimo (Michael B Jordan is really hot)
Super important here: Notice how we’re using the verb ESTAR, not ser. When somebody está bueno, they're hot, but when somebody es bueno, they’re a good person or they’re good at what they do!
For example: Teacher Paulísima, from Spring Spanish, es buena… y está buena también. ¡¿Por qué no?! (Why not?!)
Your head might be spinning already with so many different options. So again, just learn all of these by heart, as chunks, and you’ll never get it wrong again.
Have you heard people saying “Estoy caliente” when they meant “tengo calor”? Have you done it? What was the reaction of the people around you? Let me know in the comments! I love reading them and answering them!
Now you’ve learned some essential Spanish chunks that you can use to convey the kind of hotness you’re talking about.