Do you understand this Spanish riddle?

¿Cómo, cómo como? ¡Como como como!

By the end of this email you’ll understand a common Spanish expression that you hear all the time in the markets, plazas and cafes… But you won’t find it in your Spanish dictionary.

Let’s break this Spanish riddle down into simple steps.

Firstly como = I eat

Como also means as/like.

¡Como como como!
¡I eat as I eat!

If we tweak the translation it makes even more sense.

¡Como como como!
I eat the way I eat!

My wife often tells me “come despacio” (eat slowly) because I can be like Homer Simpson if you let me loose. I feel like replying “como como como”, but I know she’s right so I slow down.

Now you understand the answer to the riddle, como como como (I eat the way I eat). Let’s figure out what the question means.

¿Cómo, como como?

Cómo with an accent above the ó = how?

¿Cómo como?
How do I eat?

You can use como five times and make a completely
correct question and answer in Spanish.

¿Cómo como? ¡Como como como!
¿How do I eat? ¡I eat the way I eat!

All we are missing is the first use of Cómo?
Unfortunately, the dictionary sometimes fails us when
real everyday Spanish kicks in.

Spanish speakers also use ¿cómo? to ask a question
that implies, what do you mean?

And so the riddle is complete.

¿Cómo, cómo como? ¡Como como como!
What do you mean, how (do) I eat? ¡I eat the way I eat!

Now that you know this expression it won’t take long for you to notice ¿Cómo?. It’s a very common way of speaking.

Another way to think of it is like the English turn of phase, come again?

Try it out with your Spanish speaking amigos. If you don’t understand what they say just use a polite intonation and ask, ¿Cómo?

Make sure you say it politely though because if you say it sternly it can sound like you are saying, “what the heck are you talking about?”

However, if you use a gentle polite intonation you’ll fit in well. It’s more authentic than saying “más despacio por favor” (more slowly please).

As you integrate into the Spanish-speaking world you’ll find the way people speak to you becomes more natural. They’ll talk to you the same way as they do with their other friends, the ones who speak Spanish as a first language.

You’ll be exposed to a lot more of these expressions that aren’t always in the dictionary. That’s why from the get go Bola de Nieve has 5 Conversation Multipliers to help you understand and fit in with native Spanish speakers.

Discover the five Spanish Conversation Multipliers on this page.