How to Express Surprise, Indifference, and Disbelief


November 18, 2020

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Today’s blog post is about how to express three different states in Spanish: surprise, indifference, and disbelief. We’ll be looking at them one by one!

Surprise, Indifference, and Disbelief in Spanish

How to Express Surprise in Spanish

There are several ways to express surprise in Spanish. One is to make use of the tone of your voice when speaking, and using exclamation points when writing.

As well as this, we’ve compiled a list of set phrases for you to use!

  • ¡Vaya!
¡Vaya! Wow!/Woah!
¡Vaya! Qué guapo estás.Wow, you look so handsome!
  • ¡Ay!
¡Ay, caramba!Oh, boy!/Oh, for goodness’ sake!
¡Ay, se me cayó el móvil!Ah, I dropped my phone!
  • ¡Madre mía!
¡Madre mía!Oh, my!
Madre mía. ¿Has visto la lluvia?Oh, my. Have you seen the rain?
  • ¡No me digas!
¡No me digas!No way!/Shut up!
—Gary se olvidó de ir a su propia boda.
—¡No me digas!
“Gary forgot to go to his own wedding.”
“Shut up!”
  • Me sorprende que …
Me sorprende que … + subjunctiveIt surprises me that …
Me sorprende que tu novio tenga tatuajes.It surprises me that your boyfriend has tattoos.
Me sorprende que tú estés tan bien informado en cuanto a la política.I’m surprised you’re so well-informed in terms of politics.
  • No sabía que …
No sabía que …I didn’t know that …
¡No sabía que vendrías hoy!I didn’t know you were coming today!
No sabíamos que podíamos votar.We didn’t know that we could vote.

How to Express Indifference in Spanish

Indifference is when we just don't care. We’re not interested. We’re in a state of “meh.”

  • Vale
—Quiero que sepas que no te perdono.
"I want you to know that I don't forgive you."
  • Está bien
Está bien.Okay./Good.
—Voy a llegar tarde.
—Está bien.
“I’m going to arrive late.”
  • Me da igual
Me da igual.It makes no difference to me.
—¿Qué quieres hacer para celebrar tu cumpleaños?
—Me da igual.
"What do you want to do to celebrate your birthday?"
"It makes no difference to me./It doesn't matter to me./I don't care."
  • Me da lo mismo
Me da lo mismo.It makes no difference to me.
—Juan no viene a tu fiesta. ¿Estás triste?
—No. Me da lo mismo.
“Juan isn’t coming to your party. Are you sad?”
“No. It makes no difference to me./I don’t care.”
  • No me interesa …
No me interesa …… doesn’t interest me.
No me interesa.It doesn’t interest me.
No me interesan los debates políticos.Political debates don’t interest me.
—¿Por qué no sales con Jesús?
—Pues porque no me interesa.
“Why don’t you go out with Jesús?”
“He just doesn’t interest me.”
  • No me importa …
No me importa ...… doesn’t matter to me.
No me importa.I don’t mind.
No me importa lo de Don y Mel.That stuff with Don and Mel doesn’t matter to me.
—¿A dónde quieres ir?
—No me importa.
“Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t mind.”
  • Me importa ...

The following all mean “I could care less” (or, outside the US, “I couldn’t care less”), but have some interesting literal meanings! Check them out.

Me importa un pepino.It matters a cucumber to me.
Me importa un comino.It matters a cumin plant to me.
Me importa un bledo.It matters a jot to me.
Explicit: Me importa un carajo.I don’t give a sh*t.
  • No tengo ni la más remota idea
No tengo ni la más remota idea.I have absolutely no idea.
—¿Dónde está mi mochila?
—No tengo ni la más remota idea.
“Where is my rucksack?”
“I don’t have the faintest clue.”
  • No estoy ni a favor de ni en contra de … 
No estoy ni a favor de ni en contra de … I’m neither for nor against …
No estoy ni a favor de ni en contra de la monarquía. Me da igual.I’m neither for nor against the monarchy. It doesn’t make a difference to me.
  • No me meto en …
No me meto en …I don’t get involved in …
No me meto en cosas políticas.I don’t get involved with political things.

How to Express Disbelief in Spanish

Some of the ways of expressing disbelief overlap with expressing surprise. Remember your exclamation points, and the power of tone of voice!

  • ¡No me digas!
  • No te creo
No te creo.I don’t believe you.
—He dejado de fumar.
—No te creo.
“I’ve quit smoking.”
“I don’t believe you.”
  • No me lo puedo creer
¡No me lo puedo creer!I can’t believe it!
—Fran ganó la carrera.
—¡No me lo puedo creer!
“Fran won the race.”
“I don’t believe it!”
  • Dudo
Lo dudo.I doubt it.
Dudo que … + subjunctiveI doubt that …
—Dudo que Graham llegue a tiempo.
—Yo también lo dudo.
“I doubt Graham will arrive on time.”
“I doubt it, too.”
  • Me cuesta creer que …
Me cuesta creer que … + subjunctiveI find it hard to believe that …
Me cuesta creer que tu partido pueda ganar más votos que el mío.I find it hard to believe that your party can win more votes than mine.
  • No es verdad que …
No es verdad que … + subjunctiveIt's not true that ...
No es verdad que la vida sea fácil.It's not true that life is easy.
  • No puede ser (que …)
No puede ser.It can't be./It can't be possible.
No puede ser que … + subjunctive.It can't be true that ...
—Señora, su perro ha muerto. Lo siento.
—¡No puede ser! No puede ser que haya muerto tan joven.
"Ma'am, your dog is dead. I'm sorry."
"It can't be true! He can't have died so young."
  • No es posible (que …)
No es posible.It's not possible.
No es posible que … + subjunctiveIt's not possible that ...
—Quiero devolver esta chaqueta pero no tengo el recibo.
—Perdone, pero sin el recibo, no es posible.
"I want to return this jacket but I don't have the receipt."
"Sorry, but without the receipt, it's not possible."
No es posible que estornudes con los ojos abiertos.It's not possible for you to sneeze with your eyes open.
  • Mentira
Una mentiraA lie
—No fui yo quien rompió el ordenador.
—Eso es una mentira.
"It wasn't me who broke the computer."
"That's a lie!"
—Ya te di el dinero.
"I already gave you the money."
  • Mentiroso/a
Yo creo que Howie es un narcisista mentiroso.I think Howie is a deceitful narcissist.
Carlitos: Mamá, ¡Pepe me pegó!
Pepe: ¡Mentiroso!
Carlitos: “Mommy, Pepe hit me!”
Pepe: “Liar!”
  • Tontería/sandez
Una tontería/una sandezA nonsense
No digas tonterías.Don’t talk rubbish.
No digas sandeces.Don’t talk rubbish.
  • Es una ilusión creer que …
Es una ilusión creer que … + subjunctiveIt’s a delusion to believe that …
Es una ilusión creer que podamos terminar el proyecto a tiempo.It’s a delusion to believe that we can finish the project on time.

There you have it!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article on ways to express surprise for when you’re hit with something you weren’t expecting; indifference, for when you kind of just don’t care; and disbelief, for when something doesn’t sound plausible.

Have fun practicing with these!

About the author 

Annabel is a language-enthusiast from the UK. She studied Spanish and French at the University of Southampton (with an Erasmus study year in Madrid!) and recently graduated. She has interests across the Spanish-speaking world, and is a fan of language in general.

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