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Published on: Grammar Bites

‘To pay attention’ is not ‘pagar atención’

Beware of false friends and literal translations: ‘To pay attention’ is not ‘pagar atención’!

Although ‘to pay’ does mean ‘pagar’ in Spanish, when it comes to this particular expression, the equivalent is not so literal.

In Spanish we talk about ‘prestar atención’:

  • ¡Deja de hablar y presta atención a la película! Stop talking and pay attention to the movie!
  • Si prestas más atención en la clase, tendrás mejores notas. If you pay more attention in class, you’ll get better grades.
  • ¡Nunca me prestas atención cuando te hablo! You never pay attention to me when I’m talking!
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