Spanish is a difficult language to learn, we all know it. Verbs have countless forms, nouns have two genres and they are kind of random sometimes… However, the pronunciation is quite easy, because we read what is written, there are no changes, except for the letters “gue”/“gui”, that sound /ge/ and /gi/, and “que”/“qui”, which sound /ke/ or /ki/.
It is so easy that some letters are pronounced the same way, such as “b” and “v”, and “y” and “ll”, unlike in English, in which they are pronounced in a very different way. That way, “baya”, “valla” and “vaya” sound exactly the same (“balla” doesn’t exist in Spanish, by the way), although their meanings are really different. What do they mean? Let’s dive in!
The most common meaning of the word “baya” is the following: “Fleshy fruit that has seeds surrounded by pulp”. In English, they are “berries”. However, that is not the only one. The Real Academia Española defines “baya” also as a “liliaceous plant that has cylindrical leaves, which produces dark blue little flowers.” This second meaning is not known by most Spanish speakers.
An example of this word (with its first meaning, which is the most used one) would be: “Me encantan todas las bayas: desde las fresas hasta la grosella”. (“I love all types of berries: from strawberries to redcurrants”).
The meaning of this word is “fence used for defense”, but it is not the only one. It also means “line made of pegs stuck in the floor used to close or mark a place”, as well as “billboard used for advertising” and “obstacle with the shape of a fence that must be jumped over by athletes in races”.
We can see the use of the first sense in the sentence: “Puso una valla en su jardín para que no entrase nadie” (“She placed a fence in her garden so that nobody could enter”).
This last word may be the one that Spanish speakers use the most. It is also the most polysemic one. Firstly, it is the 1st and 3rd person singular of the present simple subjunctive of the verb “ir” (to go). Secondly, it is an interjection used to express satisfaction or annoyance, depending on the context—this meaning is the one you might hear the most—, but there are more. It also means “what a…”, as in “¡Vaya vestido más bonito!”, which is translated as “What a beautiful dress!”. However, surprisingly for us as native Spanish speakers, the first sense that the RAE gives is “mockery or taunt”, which is a meaning we ignored.
Are there any more words that are similar in Spanish and cause you trouble? Let us know in the comments!
Find out more differences in similar words here.
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