Spanish Vocabulary for Plants and Animals

Some basic Spanish vocabulary as it relates to plants and animals can help you communicate your experiences as you enjoy the great outdoors. First, however, it’s helpful to understand that there are two Spanish expressions for going outdoors, and they have different meanings:

  • al aire libre (ahl ahee-reh lee-bvreh) (in the open air). This phrasing refers to going out to the street or a garden, or taking a walk. It implies a feeling of openness and liberty.

  • a la intemperie (ah lah een-tehm-peh-reeeh) (out of doors, exposed to the elements [Literally: in the unheated space]). This phrase implies that you are going to be without a roof nearby and, therefore, will be suffering or enjoying whatever weather you may find. It imparts a feeling of exposure and less safety.

Trees and Plants

Walking about and enjoying the trees and plants go hand-in-hand. Following are some phrases you may use to describe such experiences:

  • Ayer paseamos en la Alameda. (ah-yehr pah-seh-ah-mohs ehn lah ah-lah-meh-dah) (Yesterday we walked along the Poplar Grove.)

  • Hay robles y cipreses. (ahy roh-bvlehs ee see-preh-sehs) (There are oaks and cypresses.)

  • Esa palmera da dátiles. (eh-sah pahl-meh-rah dah dah-tee-lehs) (That palm [tree] yields dates.)

  • En Chile crecen muchos eucaliptus. (ehn chee-leh kreh-sehn moo-chohs ehoo-kah-leep-toos) (Many eucaluptus [trees] grow in Chile.)

Animals

You may not be familiar with all the animals that are common to Mexico and South and Central America. The first breed that comes to mind is the llama (yah-mah), along with its cousins: the huanaco (ooah-nah-ko) and alpaca (ahl-pah-ka). You find these gentle creatures, from the same family as camels, mostly in the region around the Andes — from Colombia to Chile. Llamas and alpacas are highly domesticated, but huanacos are more likely to run around in the wild.

Pumas (poo-mahs) are South American mountain lions. They are very serious-minded, meat-eating predators. They are beautiful to behold in the zoo, but keep out of their way in the mountains. And you can find snakes — poisonous and otherwise — monkeys, insects, and birds of all kinds in the rain forests of Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay, Ecuador, and Mexico. The Galapagos Islands of Ecuador are famous for their unique fauna, first described by Charles Darwin, who actually conceived his theory of evolution while observing the turtles and birds that live there. Iguanas walk around freely in the south of Mexico — until someone puts them in the soup pot — and squirrels are everywhere.

These phrases get you started talking about animals while you observe them:

  • En el paseo ví muchas ardillas. (ehn ehl pah-seh-oh bvee moo-chahs ahr-dee-yahs) (During the walk, I saw many squirrels.)

  • Los tucanes están en la selva. (lohs too-kah-nehs ehs-tahn ehn lah sehl-bvah) (The toucans are in the jungle.)

  • En la playa vemos gaviotas. (ehn lah plah-yah bveh-mohs gah-bveeoh-tahs) (On the beach, we see seagulls.)

  • En el centro hay muchas palomas. (ehn ehl sehn-troh ahy moo-chahs pah-loh-mahs) (Downtown has many pigeons.)

  • Los gorriones se ven en las ciudades. (lohs goh-rreeoh-nehs seh bvehn ehn lash seeoo-dah-dehs) (The sparrows are seen in the cities.)

  • Voy a pasear los perros. (bvohy ah pah-seh-ahr lohs peh-rrohs) (I’m going to walk the dogs.)

  • Van a una carrera de caballos. (bvahn ah oo-nah kah-rreh-rah deh kah-bvah-yohs) (They’re going to a horse race.)

  • La burra de mi vecino tuvo un burrito. (lah bvoo-rrah deh mee bveh-see-noh too-bvoh oon bvoo-rree-toh) (My neighbor’s jenny [female donkey] had a little donkey.)

  • Hay mapaches en casi todo el continente americano. (ahy mah-pah-chehs ehn kah-see toh-doh ehl kohn-tee-nehn-teh ah-meh-ree-kah-noh) (Almost all of the American continents have raccoons.)

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