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poco tiempo / un poco de tiempo

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by Espanol3200, Jan 31, 2013.

  1. Espanol3200 Senior Member

    English Britain
    If I want to say the following in Spanish:

    "After a short time, I adapted to university life"

    would it be...

    "Después de un poco de tiempo, me adapté a la vida universitaria"
    "Después de poco tiempo, me adapté a la vida universitaria"

    Gracias!
     
  2. micafe

    micafe Senior Member

    United States
    Spanish - Colombia
    In some parts "un poco de" means "a lot" depending on the context:

    "Ella tiene un poco de muñecas" = "She has a lot of dolls".

    I don't know if it happens in all the Spanish speaking countries.

    Of course, if I say "dame un poco de azucar" it means "give me a little sugar".
     
  3. Espanol3200 Senior Member

    English Britain
    Muchas gracias!!!
     
  4. ebulerdo Junior Member

    Madrid, Spain
    Spain - Spanish
    Hi Espanol3200

    Both are correct and perfectly understood, but here in Spain the second one sounds more natural.

    Another good possibility is «después de algún tiempo».
     
  5. micafe

    micafe Senior Member

    United States
    Spanish - Colombia
    Ebulerdo, in Spain, when you say "Tengo un poco de tiempo para hacer los quehaceres", are you saying you have a lot of time or very little time?:)
     
  6. ebulerdo Junior Member

    Madrid, Spain
    Spain - Spanish
    Hi micafe

    The DRAE defines the noun «poco» as «Cantidad corta o escasa». So both in Spain and in every Spanish-speaking country the literal meaning of «un poco de» is «a bit of», that is, a small amount. Having «un poco de tiempo» to do something means you have a limited amount of time to accomplish it. If somebody says «Tengo un poco de dinero» he's saying he has some money, but not a lot of money.

    However, Spanish speakers often use some words ironically, that is, to mean the opposite of their literal meaning. So somebody might say «Tienes un poco de barriga» to mean you are very fat, or «Fulano se ha bebido unas pocas cervezas» to mean he has drunk a lot of beers. Often that usage will be accompanied by a special tone of voice or a gesture. But I guess that usage is not exclusive of Spanish language. In English you could use those expressions exactly the same: «He has drunk a few beers», most likely doesn't mean he has drunk two or three, but quite a few. ;)
     
  7. inib

    inib Senior Member

    La Rioja, Spain
    British English
    Neither. You are saying that you have a bit of time/a little time, but not very little time,and certainly not a lot.
     
  8. Magmod Senior Member

    England
    England English

    But does: poco+adj mans as follows:
    poco amable = unkind > unamable?
    poco inteliginte = unintelligent >uninteligente?
    or is it irony?
     
  9. ebulerdo Junior Member

    Madrid, Spain
    Spain - Spanish
    Hi Magmod.

    Again, the DRAE defines «poco» when used as an adverb (as in the expressions you mention): «Con escasez, en corto grado, en reducido número o cantidad, menos de lo regular, ordinario o preciso.»

    So:
    -«poco amable» means «not much kind» = unkind / rude.
    -«poco inteligente» means «not much intelligent» = unintelligent / silly.

    Of course you can use those ironically to mean the opposite, as you could do in English, but that should be made clear by the context. Unless context points otherwise, the meaning of those expressions is their literal one.
     
  10. duvija

    duvija Senior Member

    Chicago
    Spanish - Uruguay
    But 'un poco' may also mean 'suficiente'.
    Tengo un poco de dinero por lo que me voy a comprar otro televisor.
     
  11. Lurrezko

    Lurrezko Senior Member

    Junto al mar
    Spanish (Spain) / Catalan
    Mi uso natural sería en poco tiempo:

    En poco tiempo, me adapté a la vida universitaria.


    Un saludo
     
  12. micafe

    micafe Senior Member

    United States
    Spanish - Colombia

    Hi ebulerdo.

    I must disagree with you. Maybe, Colombia is the only one among all the Spanish speaking countries where this happens, but very often we use "un poco de" as "many", "enough":

    "El niño tiene un poco de deberes que hacer" = I, like a native Colombian, understand that the boy has "a lot" of homework.

    "La niña tiene un poco de muñecas, no necesita más" = I understand it as "the girl has many/enough dolls....."

    ¡Right! That's what I'm saying, "un poco de" doesn't necessarily mean "a little" or "few". It depends on context. At least that's the way I've always used it.

    Maybe this is something that only happens in a few countries, but it does happen. Thanks, duvija :D
     
  13. RicardoElAbogado Senior Member

    SF Bay Area, California
    American English
    How about:

    Después de un ratito
    ...​

    Or does ratito imply a much shorter time, such as a few minutes?
     
  14. juan082937 Senior Member

    español
    You are correct Milton, I have heard it in the Caribbean coast

    Un pocononón de plata
    Ese señor tiene un poco de plata
     
  15. gavota Junior Member

    eNGLISH
    Dentro de poco....

    is another good alternative. It corresponds more or less to the English "within a short time..."
     
  16. Lurrezko

    Lurrezko Senior Member

    Junto al mar
    Spanish (Spain) / Catalan
    Yo creo que no. Dentro de poco se refiere al futuro, y las frases originales hablan del pasado.

    Un saludo
     
  17. aztlaniano

    aztlaniano Senior Member

    Lavapiestán, Madrid
    English (Aztlán, US sector)
    "Un poco de tiempo" is a while, definitely a longer period than "poco tiempo" without an article (little time, not much time).
     
  18. onthebass Senior Member

    United States
    Se puede decir sólo?:

    "Después de poco, me adapté a la vida universitaria"
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
  19. Magmod Senior Member

    England
    England English
    Please explain why?
     
  20. Lurrezko

    Lurrezko Senior Member

    Junto al mar
    Spanish (Spain) / Catalan
    Es así en mi uso español. Un poco de tiempo implica que hay poco tiempo, pero el suficiente para hacer algo. Poco tiempo, en cambio, implica que el tiempo que hay no basta:

    Llámame esta tarde, que tengo un poco de tiempo.
    No me llames esta tarde, que tengo poco tiempo.

    Un saludo
     
  21. aztlaniano

    aztlaniano Senior Member

    Lavapiestán, Madrid
    English (Aztlán, US sector)
    I also prefer "En poco tiempo", as Lurrezko suggested, or Al cabo de poco tiempo.

    The difference between "poco tiempo" and "un poco tiempo" is about the same, I think , as in English: "I have little time" (which emphasizes that my time is limited, so if you want to speak to me you'd better keep it brief), versus "I have a little time" (which indicates that I am not pressed, I have some time to spare, so it's not a problem for me to stop and listen to you for a while).
     
  22. micafe

    micafe Senior Member

    United States
    Spanish - Colombia
    Right!!:thumbsup:
     
  23. Magmod Senior Member

    England
    England English
    In other word this agrees with what we have been saying before that poco tiempo, poco amable etc. could mean the opposite:

    No me llames esta tarde, que tengo poco tiempo.
     

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