How to Use ‘O Sea’ to Sound Like a Native Spanish Speaker
Have you heard the words o sea in Spanish during a conversation? The expression o sea is part of day-to-day Spanish from around the world. It’s used for clarification and applies to different situations that require further explaining. It’s widely used in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and other Latin American Spanish-speaking countries.
O sea can be either a formal and informal expression, depending on the context used and construction of the sentence. It’s recognized by the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) but is considered to be more colloquial than formal Spanish.
In this blog post, I’m examining the different meanings of o sea and ideal scenarios for you to use it accurately. Let ‘s take a look at how using o sea in Spanish will make you sound like a native speaker!
What is The Meaning?
O sea in Spanish is the equivalent of the expression es decir. The expression is formed with the words o (or) and sea, the latter being the third person singular present subjunctive of the verb ser (to be). The meaning of o sea in Spanish is variable, and as an English equivalent, its expression can mean “I mean,” “it’d be,” ”like,” “so,” “that is,” “therefore,” and “or.”
You use o sea when you want or need to introduce an explanation of something that’s been previously mentioned. It’s also used in a sentence for an extra explanation or for expressing consequence, for example:
Mi hermana tiene 14 años, o sea que es más pequeña que yo.
My sister is 14 years old, therefore she’s younger than me.
Venía como tortuga en el tráfico, o sea lentisimo.
I was like a turtle in traffic, that is very slow.
Mi cita en el doctor es hasta las 5pm, o sea que llegaré tarde a casa.
My doctor’s appointment is until 5pm, so I’ll be home late.
4 Ways to Use O Sea in Spanish
1. Clarification or Consequence: “So,” “Therefore,” “That is”
The word o sea in Spanish elaborates on a statement that might be confusing or unfamiliar at first glance. Use it to clarify anything you believe needs more context to be understood. The word o sea in this situation is often followed by the word que; so you use o sea que. Some examples of o sea for clarifying and denoting consequence are:
Andrea es muy amable, o sea que estará dispuesta a ayudarte.
Andrea is very nice, therefore she’d be willing to help you.
Nos encantó la playa, o sea que fueron vacaciones inolvidables.
We loved the beach, so it was an unforgettable vacation.
No me gustan los lácteos, o sea que no como queso.
I don’t like dairy so I don’t eat cheese.
La Ciudad de México tiene mucha vida, o sea siempre hay algo que hacer.
Mexico city has so much life, so there’s always something to do.
2. Rephrasing: “In other words,” “I mean”
You can use o sea to rephrase what you just said but with totally different words in an effort to make yourself understood.
No me cae bien la gente impaciente, o sea la gente que se desespera rápido.
I don’t like impatient people, I mean, people who lose it quickly.
Escribir es mi vocación, o sea es mi llamado.
Writing is my vocation, in other words, it’s my calling.
3. Exclamation: “Duh!”
O sea is used by young native Spanish speakers as an expression similar to “duh”, “like”, “I mean”, or “obviously”. I recommend you only use this one if you’re already familiar with the other uses for o sea in Spanish. It might make you sound like a native speaker, but in some countries this use can come off as a snobby and kind of superficial expression. A few good examples of o sea in this context are:
¿Cómo me vas a decir que no? A mí nadie me dice que no ¡O sea nadie!
How are you going to say no to me? No one says no to me, like no one!
Te dije que mi carro era más rápido que el tuyo ¡O sea mejor!
I told you my car was faster than yours, so it’s better, duh!
4. Filler Word: “Like”
O sea in Spanish is also a filler word without any specific purpose. Filler words in Spanish are known as muletillas and are part of informal vocabulary. O sea is a highly common muletilla, similar to eh or mmm. Let’s take a look at this use in action:
Me llamaste y estaba en mi casa cansada, o sea mientras dormía, o sea no te iba a contestar, o sea mejor no me llames a esa hora.
You called me and I was tired at home, like I was sleeping, like I’m not going to answer, like don’t call me at that time.
Alternatives to O Sea in Spanish
Now that you’ve learned the multiple uses the word o sea in Spanish has, looking at its other counterparts in Spanish will be useful for you to completely understand the concept and expand even further your vocabulary!
Other equivalent expressions in Spanish for o sea are:
|that is to say
|en otras palabras
|in other words
|por lo tanto
|de manera que
Is it O Sea or Osea?
Since o sea is used as a colloquial expression, many Spanish speakers don’t bother spelling it as two separate words, preferring to smash them together. By writing o sea in Spanish incorrectly, you will alter the meaning of an entire sentence and possibly express something you didn’t mean to!
In fact, the expression o sea that we’ve explored in this blog post isn’t actually recognized by the Real Academia Española. As for the trend to smash the words together, this creates the word osea, which is a misspelled representation of ósea (with an accent over the o) that references the female bone structure or anything related to bones.
So keep your eyes open for this common mistake! The last thing you want during a written conversation is to be chatting about bones when it’s totally unrelated!
Are You Ready? O sea ¿estás listo?
How do you feel after reading this blog post? Are you ready to use o sea to explain yourself even better in Spanish? Take your abilities one step forward and sign up for a free trial class with one of our native, Spanish-speaking teachers from Guatemala. They’ll teach you all the basics and will have you speaking like a boss in no time, ¡o sea como un profesional!
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