Need help with a brief English-to-Spanish translation

I’m writing a story, and one of the characters is a Mexican-American mother who speaks very little English. Mostly I just say she speaks Spanish and her son translates for her, but I’ve got a few quick sentences in Spanish that I translated using Google translate. Can someone who knows Spanish (as a Mexican person in California without a lot of education would speak it, if it matters) check Google’s work and fix these for me if necessary?

  1. ¿Quien esta ahí? Who is there?
  2. ¡Hola! ¿Eres del grupo de Stanford? Estábamos esperando a una dama. Hello! Are you from the Stanford group? We were expecting a lady.
  3. Oh! Todos ustedes son tan generosos. Muchas gracias. Oh! You’re very generous. Thank you.


(Not fluent, so please take this for what it’s worth until the experts apppear)

Can you give a little more context for the sentences? #1 is correct as far as it goes, but in most contexts I’d expect “¿Quién es?” [“who is it”].

In the second example, eres is the second person singular. Whether that is used with someone you just met depends on a lot of factors, but I’d default to está. Estábamos esperando seems clunky; why not esperábamos? Edit: dama is more of a lord-and-lady type lady; why not mujer?

#3 says “you are all so generous.”

Thanks, Dr. Drake.

Context: Main character is a Stanford professor who’s been roped into delivering a collection of Christmas toys and gifts that his department has taken up a collection of (it’s one of those “holiday support-a-family” things). Originally someone else was supposed to make the delivery, but she had an emergency and he got tapped.

So the mom and her kids are expecting somebody to show up, but a woman, not a man.

Hope that helps!

Rather than “una dama” (which is not how anyone speaks) or “una mujer” which is just “a woman”, I would suggest “una señora” as being closer to “a lady”.

Cool, thanks!

Got one more: Stop! Get over here!

Google suggests: ¡deja de! ¡ven aquí!

  1. could also be ¿Quién anda? or ¿Quién anda ahí? (I’ve gotten both in Mexico). And please, since you are indeed using the diacritics, use both of them.
  2. I would say Esperábamos (a) una mujer or esperábamos (a) una señora. Since they’re being formal, I agree with gkster that the second option would be more likely. The a is kind of optional, formally it would be there but it tends to go amiss.
  3. ¡Oh! Son ustedes muy generosos. Muchas gracias.
    Tan would usually have a consequence: the cake was so good it was reduced to crumbs. El pastel estaba tan bueno que sólo quedaron miguitas.
    Muy is more of an amount in the absolute scale: grande, muy grande, grandísimo. Big, very big, enormous.

¡Detente! ¡Ven acá! or ¡Quieto! ¡Ven acá!
Para de” would be stop in the sense of stop doing something and needs an infinitive (para ya de molestar, stop being a damned bother), and in Mexico para without de tends to have more of a meaning of “stand” or “stand right there”.

Thanks, Nava!

When you say “esperábamos (a) una señora” does that mean the “(a)” is optional?

I want to go with whatever option would be more formal/respectful, since she’s talking to someone she doesn’t know and is grateful to (but also keeping in mind that Mom isn’t well educated, so she wouldn’t speak Spanish like a professor).

Basically, I just want to make sure the Spanish is sufficiently correct that my readers don’t start sending me email correcting me on it. :slight_smile:

Yes, the Spanish ortographic convention is that putting a word in parenthesis means the sentence works with or without it; a slash would mean that two versions are possible and the reader is supposed to pick whichever one applies (eg. muy señor/a mío/a to abbreviate muy señor mío o muy señora mía, “dear sir/madam”).

Both options are equally valid, having the a is more prescriptively correct but nobody outside a Spanish Language And Literature class would raise an eyebrow if it’s not there.

Cool, thanks! :slight_smile: