¡Qué calor! – It’s hot!
There are many chances that if you are learning Spanish, you have been confused by the use of these two words. Knowing which one to use in the right context will save you moments of embarrassment with your Spanish-speaking friends. The confusion comes because in English there’s only one word to express these situations, but in Spanish there’s two: calor and caliente.
First things first: Calor is a noun and means heat, whilst caliente is an adjective meaning hot. If this is still confusing, then let’s take a look at some examples:
Use caliente (the adjective) when something is hot to the touch, like a liquid, or a surface.
The coffee is hot – El café está caliente.
The food is hot – La comida está caliente.
If you want to intensify it, you can use muy, which means very. So it would be: La comida está muy caliente. – The food is very hot.
Use calor (the noun) when you want to talk about the temperature outside, and when you want to say you are hot (temperature, again).
It’s hot outside – Hace calor afuera.
I’m hot – Tengo calor.
If you want to intensify this, use mucho, which means a lot of. So it would go like this: Hace mucho calor afuera- It’s very hot outside, or literally: It’s a lot of heat outside.
To Sum Up…
All in all, pay attention to the following idiomatic expressions that English and Spanish express differently:
I am hot (with no meaning behind) would be Tengo calor (literally: I have heat). Spanish speakers actually say, “I have heat”.
It is hot (referring to the weather)…….Hace calor (literally: It makes heat)
It is hot (referring to an object, a surface etc)…Está caliente (literal translation correct here).
Do not make the mistake of translating I am hot literally (estoy caliente). As you might have heard or seen somewhere, it would be interpreted as “I am feeling horny / Aroused”!
Basically, don’t say “estoy caliente” unless you really mean it! Beware that most people don’t want to know if you’re feeling horny or not. 😉
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