Really and Actually in Spanish Finally Explained

Is “actually” actualmente in Spanish? Is “really” real? These are two common questions we get from our students. A lot of Spanish learners struggle with “actually”, “really?”, and “really” in Spanish because these words don’t have a literal translation to Spanish. 

If you use an online translator, chances are it won’t get the meaning you have in mind and it might even make you sound awkward! So, if you want to learn how to use these important adverbs, you can keep scrolling down to learn Spanish with us.

Really and Actually in Spanish

1. ¿De verdad? - Really?

In English, “really?” is used to confirm information or to express disbelief about what one is hearing or reading. In Spanish, we have different ways of expressing these attitudes. Check these phrases out:

  • ¿De verdad?
  • ¿De veras?
  • ¿En serio?
  • ¿Neta?*

*This Spanish expression is most commonly used in Mexico in informal situations.

All of the sample phrases above are very similar and can be used interchangeably most of the time. We created some examples in Spanish so the use is clear for you:

  • ¿En serio te ganaste una beca? ¡Felicitaciones!

              Did you really win a scholarship? Congratulations!

  • ¿Neta? ¿Vas a comprar esos zapatos? Están horribles.

              Are you really going to buy those shoes? They look awful.

  • ¿De veras fuiste a visitar a Pedro ayer? ¿Cómo está?

              Did you really go to visit Pedro yesterday? How is he?

2. Muy / Verdaderamente - Really

You’ve probably noticed that the word “really” in English is used to emphasize a quality or characteristic of something. For example, we might say, “This car is really amazing!” to emphasize how amazing the car is. In Spanish, we use the terms “muy” (which can also be translated as “very”), “verdaderamente”, and “realmente” to express that same idea!

Take a look at these examples to see how these words work in Spanish: 

  • Esa casa es muy cara.

             That house is very / really expensive.

  • Yo realmente te amo.

              I really love you.

  • Mónica verdaderamente necesita ese trabajo.

              Mónica really needs that job.

  • El perro de Juliana y Santiago es realmente hermoso.

              Juliana and Santiago’s dog is really beautiful.

  • El secretario es muy amable.

             The secretary is really nice.

You see? In each case “muy”, “verdaderamente”, and “realmente” are used to emphasize the thing or action that goes next. Can you make your own sentence in Spanish?

3. De hecho - Actually

It’s very likely that you’re reading this article because you mixed up “actually” with “actualmente” in Spanish, so let’s explain this muy quickly (see what we did there?). Even if these two words sound very similar, they have different meanings:

  • Actually: is an adverb that is used for (1) saying something is a fact or a reality (e.g. I didn’t actually go there, I just called) or (2) used in sentences where there is information that is surprising or unexpected (e.g. I’m one of the few people that doesn’t actually like Harry Potter).
  • Actualmente: In Spanish it is used to express something being done at the present moment. In English, the correct translation of this word is “currently”.

All clear now, right? 

Let’s take a look at the Spanish expressions that can be used in order to say “actually”. Depending on the situation, we can use:

  • En realidad.
  • En verdad.
  • De hecho.

To see how they are used, look at these awesome Spanish examples:

  • En realidad no tengo ganas de ir a la fiesta.

              I actually don’t feel like going to the party.

  • Gracias por el pastel, pero en verdad soy alérgica a las nueces.

              Thanks for the cake, but I actually am allergic to nuts.

  • De hecho, hoy preferí quedarme en casa.

              Actually, today I decided to stay at home.

  • En realidad quiero ir a comer helado y no pasta.

             I actually want to go eat ice cream and not pasta.

Time to Practice!

Now, it’s time to practice! Take a look at the conversation below. We’ve added an English translation so you can easily notice the difference between these two Spanish adverbs.

Example 1
  • ¡Mira, Antonia! Me gané una beca para estudiar en el exterior.

              Look, Antonia! I won a scholarship to study abroad!

  • ¿En serio? ¡Qué bien! ¿Estás emocionada?

              Really? That’s awesome! Are you excited?

  • En realidad me da un poco de miedo.

              Actually, I am a little bit scared.

  • No tengas miedo, es realmente una buena oportunidad.

              Don’t be scared! It’s a really good opportunity.

  • De hecho, ¡tienes razón!

              Actually, you’re right!

Wasn’t that easy? Let’s look at another example of “actually” and “really” in use:

Example 2
  • Jorge, mi computador no funciona.

              Jorge, my computer isn’t working.

  • ¿De verdad? ¿Qué le pasó?

              Really? What happened to it?

  • No sé, no enciende.

              I don’t know, it won’t turn on.

  • Déjame ver… ¡Mira! En realidad no está conectado.

              Let me see… Look! Actually, it wasn’t plugged in.

  • ¡Ya encendió! ¡Qué bueno! Gracias, realmente estaba preocupada.

              It’s on now! That’s good! Thank you, I was really worried.

Now you know more Spanish than you did a few minutes ago. From now on, you can say “actually”, “really?”, and “really” in Spanish with a lot more confidence. Remember you only have to think about the meaning of what you’re trying to convey and boom! you’ll sound more native than ever. 

If you learned a lot of new phrases with this article, make sure to check out one of our other useful articles. You’ll always learn something new! 

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