Knowing how to recover from your linguistic mistakes is an important but overlooked skill for learners. Here are two ways to do it.
I once heard a native speaker say: Me la manda … me lo manda, más bien … He corrected himself because he realized that the thing being sent was a boleto, a masculine noun. If you make a grammar mistake like this and realize your error in time, you can use más bien to recover gracefully, without missing a beat. It sounds very natural.
View from Vasconcelos library, Mexico City
Más bien works for other types of errors as well:
- El ha hecho, más bien, ha abierto …. He has done, I mean, has opened. This is a vocabulary error. Note that the speaker backed up to ha even though the error came later. Ha is part of the construction.
- Flap Sale Evening Grey Out Clearance Clutch Pouch Handbags Ladies Bag Night Purse 891 LeahWard Wedding Chain Women's Padlock mientras ustedes, más bien, nosotros …. While you, I mean, we …
Handbags Flap Clearance Women's Padlock Purse Evening Out Chain Pouch Ladies Clutch Bag Wedding Night Grey 891 Sale LeahWard Más bien isn’t just for errors. It’s useful for clarifications as well.
- Alguien los espera. Más bien, te espera a ti, Nadia. Someone is waiting for you (plural). Correction: for you in particular, Nadia. This is either an error or a clarification of meaning. Perhaps the speaker changed their mind about what to say mid-utterance.
- Entonces, ¿estuvo aquí el domingo por la noche? — Más bien, fue por la madrugada. Not exactly, more like very early the next morning. Notice that the second speaker is correcting the first.
- ¿Estás enojada o qué? — No, estoy más bien preocupada. I’m not angry, I’m worried. Shopper Bag Printed Girl Women Balloon Banksy Lgrey Gifts Cotton Bags For Tote Szq8A8
Note that in the first example, Me la manda … me lo manda, más bien …, the más bien went after the correct form. In the other examples, it went before. Either position is fine.
Digo works much in the same was as does más bien. In these examples, digo is used to rephrase something the speaker has just said, clarify or soften it:
- No, claro que no. Digo, la verdad es que sí me sorprende que …No, of course not. I mean, yes, I’m a bit surprised that … Here digo let’s you backtrack a bit, undoing what you just said.
- We’re closing up. Can I get you anything before we close (the store)? No, nada. Digo, sí. Unos condones. No, thank you. Actually, yes, some condoms. (movie dialogue)
- Me encantaría estar allí, digo, si a ti no te molesta. I’d love to go, that is, if you don’t mind.
O mejor dicho
You can use o mejor dicho to make your previous comment more relevant, accurate or honest: una amiga, o mejor dicho, Leather Top Bags Shoulder Women's PU Handle TIZORAX Cute Floral Handbags Elephants xnfY4B = a friend, or rather, a friend with benefits.
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To discuss whether at utterance is correct, use estar bien dicho: ¿Está bien dicho “un gran área”? Is it gramatically correct to say un gran área?
This also works for appropriateness: ¡Bien dicho! Well said! Well put! You expressed yourself well, made all the right arguments.
Chain Grey Flap Bag Women's Clearance Pouch Evening Purse LeahWard Clutch Ladies Out Night Sale 891 Padlock Handbags Wedding Don’t Apologize
Don’t apologize for your Spanish. You might think that doing so will encourage native speakers to speak more slowly or simplify their speech. You might even be hoping to get a compliment back: No es cierto, hablas perfecto. In reality an apology of this kind just interferes with your relationship with the speaker. It draws attention to your status as a learner rather than a communicator. You look insecure and that can be uncomfortable for the other person.
If you can’t easily and naturally correct your errors on the spot using Flap Out Sale Chain Wedding Ladies Purse Clutch Padlock Pouch Handbags Evening Night 891 LeahWard Clearance Women's Bag Grey más bien or digo, just plow through. Don’t go back. Let it go. With the right attitude and tone of voice, many of your mistakes will go unnoticed. And that’s what you want — a listener who is focused on what you are saying and not how you say it.