As you know, we love to highlight the diversity that exists in Spanish vocabulary. Here I’ll show another example, this time the use of the word “room” or “bedroom.”
If you want to say “room” or “bedroom” in Spanish you will have several options to choose from:
1. cuarto2. pieza3. recámara4. dormitorio5. habitación6. ambiente
From this list, only the sixth word (ambiente which translates to “environment” in English) was the only one totally unknown to me. Jared told me that using the word ambiente to refer to a “room” is used in Argentina. The rest of the words I knew, but I generally mix their usage, according to the formality of each.
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For example, my perception of formality or informality goes according to use in Puerto Rico. The most common or less formal word is cuarto. Furthermore, the words habitación and dormitorio are used in formal occasions, such as in real estate advertisements. For example:
“Se vende apartamento en Condado. Dos habitaciones y 1 baño.”“Apartment for sale in Condado. Two bedrooms, 1 bathroom.”
However, the words pieza and recámara are not used in my country. We know them because we hear them in television programs, movies dubbed in Spanish and/or Hispanic telenovelas.
When room does not mean cuarto in Spanish
An extra point worth adding to this topic is that there are times that the word room does not translate to cuarto in Spanish and here is a real story. A few years ago I had a boss who was Hispanic, but his first language was English.
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He used to ask us about the availability of rooms to have business meetings. He used to say sentences like this one:
“¿En cuál cuarto nos vamos a reunir a las 2pm?” “In which bedroom will we gather at 2pm?”
That sounded a bit awkward coming from your boss, right? When “room” does not mean bedroom in Spanish you can use the word sala or salón.
¿En qué sala se llevará acabo la reunión?In which room will the meeting take place?