Just like in any language, Spanish has many words that have multiple meanings. The word “SUBIR” has several different meanings such as to go up, to get on, to climb up, to raise and many others along the same lines. Usually, you can figure it out from context, but the other day I came across a situation that wasn’t as clear.
I was standing on the 13th floor of a 14 story building, waiting for the elevator. When it stopped, there were already 2 people inside. They looked at me and asked “subís?” (Argentine vos form, the tú form of the verb SUBIR would be “subes”). I assumed they were asking me if I was going up, which I was not, so I shook my head and let them continue on their ride.
When I eventually got on the elevator and made my way to the ground floor, I ran into the same women. They stared at me and said “Por qué no subiste con nosotras?”
It was then that I realized that they had not been asking me if I was going up, they were asking me if I was getting on. The question “subís?” could mean either “Are you going up?” or “Are you getting on?”
One commonly used word conveys two totally different questions but when it came down to the context of the situation, there was really no way to tell them apart. In the end I made some bogus excuse about how I had to go back to the apartment for something and then scurried away before they could decide I was either a snob who didn’t want to ride with them or a gringa that didn’t understand the words coming out of their mouths.
To learn more about the vos form read the article How to Conjugate the Vos Form.
Check out these other Argentina Spanish Slang Expressions articles.
Featured photo credit: up/dn by bjornmeansbear via flickr