How to Say “Literally” in Spanish: A Comprehensive Guide

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on how to say “literally” in Spanish! Whether you want to express something with complete accuracy or simply add a touch of emphasis to your speech, knowing the various ways to convey the meaning of “literally” will greatly enhance your Spanish language skills. In this guide, we’ll cover both formal and informal ways of expressing this concept, and we’ll also highlight some regional variations when necessary. So, let’s get started!

Formal Ways to Say “Literally” in Spanish

When it comes to more formal settings, such as academic or professional environments, you’ll want to use a more precise and neutral way of expressing “literally” in Spanish. Here are a few formal options:

1. Literalmente

Like its English counterpart, “literalmente” is the most straightforward translation of “literally” in Spanish. It carries the same meaning and can be used in a variety of contexts. Let’s see some examples:

Example 1: Esperé literalmente horas en la fila. (I waited literally for hours in line.)

Example 2: Literalmente no puedo creer lo que acabo de escuchar. (I literally cannot believe what I just heard.)

2. Al pie de la letra

An alternative way to express “literally” in formal Spanish is “al pie de la letra.” This phrase is used when something is followed exactly as it was stated or written. Take a look at the examples:

Example 1: Necesito que sigas las instrucciones al pie de la letra. (I need you to follow the instructions literally.)

Example 2: Copió los datos del informe al pie de la letra. (He copied the data from the report literally.)

Informal Ways to Say “Literally” in Spanish

When you are in a casual or informal setting, you can use these alternatives to say “literally” in Spanish:

1. Literal

In informal contexts, you can drop the “-mente” ending of “literalmente” and simply use “literal.” This shorter form is widely used, especially in everyday conversations. Let’s see it in action:

Example 1: Me duele la cabeza literal. (My head literally hurts.)

Example 2: Literalmente, este lugar está en el medio de la nada. (Literally, this place is in the middle of nowhere.)

2. De verdad

An additional informal way to express “literally” in Spanish is by using the phrase “de verdad.” Although it can also translate to “really” or “seriously,” context will help identify its intended meaning as “literally.” Take a look at these examples:

Example 1: Estoy muriendo de verdad de calor. (I’m literally dying of heat.)

Example 2: ¡De verdad salté del susto! (I literally jumped out of fright!)

Common Pitfalls and Tips

While learning how to say “literally” in Spanish is important, it’s also useful to be aware of some common pitfalls and tips to avoid any potential misunderstandings:

1. Avoid Overusing “Literalmente”

Although “literalmente” is the most direct translation, avoid overusing it in every sentence. Instead, try to vary your vocabulary and use other expressions we’ve mentioned.

2. Context is Key

Keep in mind that the appropriate use of “literally” depends on the context. Understanding the situation and considering the nuances of the conversation will help you choose the right translation.

3. Practice Through Immersion

To truly grasp the regional variations and intricacies of using “literally” in Spanish, immerse yourself in the language. Watch movies, listen to music, read books, and engage in conversations with native speakers to gain confidence and improve your fluency.


Congratulations! You’ve now learned various ways to say “literally” in Spanish. From the formal “literalmente” and “al pie de la letra” to the informal “literal” and “de verdad,” you’re equipped to express this essential concept accurately in a wide range of situations. Remember to consider the context, explore regional variations, and, most importantly, practice using these expressions to enhance your Spanish language skills. ¡Mucha suerte!

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