Image – Madrid’s Retiro Park
When our boiler broke the other day (No hot water for showers! No heating just as it gets colder in Madrid!), I (Ben) was left in charge of dealing with the plumber that came round to fix it. He found the problem, and as he was getting to work on fixing it, I remembered to ask how much it was going to cost before he got under way…
Ben: ¿Cuánto nos va a costar entonces?
Plumber: Ciento y pico…
Now, I always understood …y pico to mean, ‘and a little bit’, so in my head I thought, “OK, it’s going to be about 120 or 130 Euros max”, and seeing as we’d paid 110 euros the last time, I said, “Pues adelante” – go for it.
Imagina my surprise when he presented me with a bill for 175 Euros at the end!
Plumber: Pues aquí tienes la factura, son 175 Euros – Well here’s the bill, it’s 175 Euros
Ben: Pero, ¿No habías dicho ciento y pico? – Didn’t you say it was one hundred and a bit?
Plumber: Sí, 175 Euros son ciento y pico. – Yes, 175 Euros is a hundred and something.
So, Marina, after getting over her surprise that I’d paid 65 Euros more than the last time to fix the boiler, explained that ciento y pico means anywhere between 100 and 200.
Mil y pico would be anywhere between 1000 and 2000. As the plumber pointed out, ciento y pico means ‘100 and something’, not, as I’d understood it, ‘100 and a bit’.
I felt pretty annoyed that I’d gone so long using y pico in the wrong way, but quite delighted to have learned (the hard way!) what it really means at last. Still it could have been worse, it was a ciento y pico mistake, and not a mil y pico mistake!
Let us know in the comments below if you’ve had any ‘put your foot in it’ Spanish mistakes in your Spanish learning life!