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  1. emh19 New Member

    English
    I just had what I thought was a strange conversation so I need some input from the spanish experts at Word Reference. I was talking with someone from Colombia and they asked me if I was familiar with "bandeja paisa (a type of Colombian food for those who aren't familiar with it). I responded by saying "en general" and they jumped all over me for using that term in that context. This is basically how the conversation proceeded:

    Me: Can you give me an example of how to use "en general".


    Her: Mmm let me think of an example. Better u don't use this word. In normal speaking we never use that word


    Me: Just in writing?


    Her: Is a technical word about professions or for classes teachers. Neither don't write. Is for science or technicals books, is not common. You can use in a class but it's not common when talking to people in the street.


    Me: Hmmm..that's weird. I would think it's similar to saying "in general" in english.


    Her: No is not similar. We never use that word with friends or family, not on the street


    Me: Okay. So how would I say "in general" in spanish?


    Her: We don't use that word in a conversation. Is so different. Don't use. Just talk like people talk


    So now I'm totally confused. Certainly there must be some way in speaking spanish to express the concept of "in general". Can someone help me out here? Thanks!
     
  2. chamyto

    chamyto Senior Member

    Burgos, Spain
    Spanish
    I disagree, everything depends on the kind of conversation (formal/informal) . Your partner may not seem clarify her replies, in my opinion.

    Do you have an example?
     
  3. noelgl Junior Member

    Barcelona
    Spanish
    Hi emh19,

    I am from Barcelona, Spain, and we use "en general" like "in general" in any normal conversation. It is totally common.
    For what you say, I imagine this in not common in Colombia, pero así en general, todo el mundo usa esta expresión en España :)
     
  4. inib

    inib Senior Member

    La Rioja, Spain
    British English
    Well, I agree that "en general" can generally;) be used in the same situations as "in general", but I don't see why you would give that reply in either language if someone asked you if you were familiar with a certain type of food. Am I missing something?
     
  5. chamyto

    chamyto Senior Member

    Burgos, Spain
    Spanish
    A este respecto, no sé si Emh se refiere a in general o a by and large, que para mí significan lo mismo.
     
  6. lunchmeat317 New Member

    United States of America
    English - United States
    Quizás, se podría decir "mas o menos"...?
     
  7. Milton Sand

    Milton Sand Modómano, 'mano

    Bucaramanga, Colombia
    Español (Colombia)
    Hi,
    Here, in general, even small kids use "en general." You don't need to be cultured to use it. Anyway, you can't be familar with a specific dish "en general," not even in English, can you?

    In Spanish, "en general" is also similar to "by and large," in general.

    Does "in general" can be used in English like "more or less," or "not much," or "barely," or something of that sort?

    Regards,
    ;)
     
  8. inib

    inib Senior Member

    La Rioja, Spain
    British English
    That's what I was getting at and believe.
    A: Have you ever heard of/eaten fish and chips?
    B:In general/By and large

    Does that make any sense to anyone?:confused:
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2013
  9. emh19 New Member

    English
    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for the replies!

    As for using "in general" as a response to a question about food in english:

    1) If someone asked you "have you eaten fish and chips", replying "in general" would be very strange.
    2) If someone asked you "have you heard of fish and chips", replying "in general" would be a little strange but I don't think anyone would respond the way my friend did.
    3) If someone asked you "are you familiar with fish and chips", replying "in general" would be a perfectly acceptable response. Still maybe a little strange but I doubt anyone would notice. You could say something like: "yes, in general, but I don't know a lot about it".
    4) If someone asked you "do you like fish and chips", replying "in general" would be 100% acceptable. You could say something like "in general I like fish and chips but it really depends on the restaurant". That would be a fairly common usage in english.

    And as I said, what really confused me is that my friend told me that the phrase is NEVER used. What I'm hearing is that, depending on the context, it's definitely used in Spain. And it sounds like Milton Sand is saying that the phrase is also used in Colombia, despite what my friend told me.
     
  10. duvija

    duvija Senior Member

    Chicago
    Spanish - Uruguay
    Honestly, I believe the Colombian person talking to you, had something stronger than water in his/her glass.
     
  11. Milton Sand

    Milton Sand Modómano, 'mano

    Bucaramanga, Colombia
    Español (Colombia)
    Yes I do! Definitely! I also asked my
    In this case, what other reply would be equivalent to «in general»?

    Do you remember the exact question you were asked? I mean, we wouldn't ask «¿Estás familiarizado con la bandeja paisa?» in a colloquial context; in such case, the question might accept a «Sí, en general» as a weird answer by forcing a sense of «barely» through intonation and a facial expression.

    Regards,
    ;)
     
  12. RicardoElAbogado Senior Member

    SF Bay Area, California
    American English
    Usually not, but I am sure that in some cases, you could use it to mean those sorts of things.

    If you say, "In general, North Koreans don't speak English" it would mean that most North Koreans (but not all) don't speak English. If you changed the position of the phrase and said "North Koreans don't speak English in general" it would still have the same meaning (just said less naturally). It would not mean that North Koreans more or less speak English or that North Koreans speak much English but not much.

    On the other hand, if you asked "Are you familiar with the band Radiohead" an answer of "In general" would imply you had heard of the band and maybe knew one or two of their songs but that you didn't know that much about them. So it could imply barely or not much. Nonetheless, I would recommend that learners leave that meaning of "in general" to those who have achieved mastery of the language.
     
  13. emh19 New Member

    English
    Yes, the question was "Conoces la bandeja paisa?". But as I said, it wasn't really about that question. It was more about her insistence that people never use "en general" at least in Colombia.
     
  14. Gabriel Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    Argentina / Español
    What I am missing here? I understand you but I don't.
     
  15. RicardoElAbogado Senior Member

    SF Bay Area, California
    American English
    Sorry, I made a mistake in writing and editing my post. What I meant was:

    The phrase "North Koreans don't speak English in general" would not mean that "North Koreans more or less speak English" or that "North Koreans [all] speak English but not much." It would mean that most North Koreans don't speak English, though like most generalities, there are exceptions.
     

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