Today we’ll focus on a very short word. It has only two letters, but it has a very powerful effect. Without further ado, let me introduce you to our guest today:
“Re” is a very commonly used word in Rioplatense Spanish, especially among teenagers and young adults. Some people may say it’s not actually a word on its own, but only a prefix that can be added to other words. We are not going to go into that debate here, and we’ll just treat it as a separate word.
“Re” means simply “very” or “really”. It’s basically used in informal contexts as an intensifier. Here are some examples:
Tu amigo es re gracioso.
Your friend is very funny.
Esa peli es re interesante.
That movie is really interesting.
El libro que me regalaste está re bueno.
The book that you gave me is very good.
Es re común usar “re” acá.
It’s very common to use “re” here.
At first glance, the structure looks very simple: re + adjective. But that’s not all. The word “re” can also be used to modify adverbs and even some prepositional phrases.
Vino re re rápido.
He came really really fast.
Lo reparó re fácilmente.
He fixed it very easily.
Viajo re seguido.
I travel very often.
Vino re de lejos.
He came from really far away.
Está re de moda.
It’s really fashionable.
Estamos re a favor.
We are totally in favour.
Oh, well. I guess things can always get a bit more complicated, right? Because that’s not all either. It’s also possible to use the word “re” with verbs and nouns.
Me re gusta esta canción.
I really like this song.
Te re esperé, boludo, y nunca apareciste.
I waited for you a lot, dude, and you never showed up.
Está re lloviendo.
It’s raining heavily.
Ayer dormí una re siesta.
Yesterday I took a very long nap.
Tengo unas re ganas de tomar un helado.
I really want to have an ice-cream.
Conseguí un re trabajo, por suerte.
I got a really good job, luckily.
As you can see, in the previous examples the word “re” still works as an intensifier, but in some cases it can also convey some other meaning that we can recover from the context; not just “very”. When we say “una re siesta“, we are probably talking specifically about its length. Or if we say “une re crisis“, we are most likely referring to how bad it was. We can then say the following:
Una re siesta = una siesta muy larga
A very long nap
Una re crisis = una crisis muy profunda
A very deep crisis
Un re accidente = un accidente muy trágico
A very tragic accident
Un re sueldo = un sueldo muy alto
A very high salary
Of course we can also say all these sentences in other ways, without using “re“. Naturally, we can also use words such as “muy“, “mucho“, “realmente“, “un montón“, etc., which can all be considered intensifiers. But “re” is definitely heard in informal contexts quite frequently, especially among young people.
Personally, I suggest being careful with the use of “re“. As you can see, it can be used in lots of different situations and structures, but that doesn’t mean that it can be used all the time. In some cases, the structure may look fine, but the meaning conveyed might not make the sentence acceptable, such as “re mañana” (“very tomorrow” [?]), “un satélite re natural” (“a very natural satellite [?]), or “tomó re té” (“he drank very tea” [?]). Explaining the reasons why these specific examples may sound weird (while the previous ones do not) would require getting more technical, which is not the aim of this blog. So we’ll just recommend using “re” in those cases where you’ve heard it or read it before, so you can be sure it’ll sound fine.
And to finish this post, I’ll share with you a comic strip where the author seems to be making fun of the way teenagers speak in the River Plate area (overusing “re“), their apparently contradictory nature and how difficult it seems to be to understand them.
- But hey, why is this entry called “Requetecontra“?
Oh, well, that’s just because we Argentines can always… “overexaggerate” things. So we don’t only say “re lindo” for “very nice”, but also “requete lindo” or “recontra lindo“… Or even “requetecontra lindo” (“very very nice”)!
And that’s all, I promise! Hmm… Oh, well, who am I cheating? We could even say something like “requetecontrísimamente lindo” (“really really really nice”).
As you can see, there’s always room for more! 😉