How to express manner in SpanishThere is a huge variety of choices to express modo (manner) in Spanish. You have at your disposal adverbs of manner (así, despacio, bien, perfectamente…), gerunds (estudia español reservando una clase en or subordinate clauses (haz el examen DELE como te hemos enseñado en clase).

Manner seems to be a very important category for speakers. It’s maybe our thirst of knowledge, our curiosity, what makes us wonder how thinks are done. However, it’s not always easy to give an answer.

Locuciones adverbiales de modo


Speakers sometimes need to express an idea or concept but there is not a specific word in that language. Of course, we can decide to say a similar one, but, perhaps, it will not satisfy our needs. Nevertheless, languages are not so simple, and they have mechanisms to help us to express all our ideas.

Locuciones are the answer. They are a group of words that have different meanings, as a block, than the meaning they would have separated. They are formed by a preposition, followed by a noun phrase or other idiom. They can be equivalent to verbs, nouns, adverbs, adjectives…

Today, we’ll see eight funny locuciones adverbiales de modo in Spanish.

  1. De carrerilla: It means, ‘doing something quickly and non-stop’. Carrerilla means literally ‘little race’. Mi hija siempre hace sus deberes de carrerilla; nunca necesita ayuda.
  1. De cabo a rabo: if you do something de cabo a rabo, you do it totally, from the beginning to the end, omitting nothing. Cabo comes from Latin ‘caput’ (head) and rabo is the tail of an animal. Para pasar este examen debes estudiar este libro de cabo a rabo.
  1. A tontas y a locas: with no order nor system. Tontas means ‘stupid’ or ‘dumb’ and locas is a crazy person. En la entrevista de trabajo, no contestes a tontas y a locas, prepárala bien antes.
  1. De buena / mala gana: with or without enthusiasm. Ganas is very used to express if you feel like doing something or not: no tengo ganas de comer. Pues mi hijo, cuando estudia, lo hace siempre de mala gana.
  1. A capa y espada: tooth and nail, fiercely. We use this locución with verbs like defender, luchar, apoyar… Don’t forget that capa means cape and espada is a sword. Aunque su hijo no quiere estudiar, su padre lo defiende a capa y espada.
  1. En fila india: in a single file. Mainly used to describe people queueing or the position of objects. The origin of this locución comes from Native Americans (Indians). They used to travel in a single file, opening new paths or in attack formation. Antes de entrar en las aulas, los niños se ponen en fila india.
  1. A la chita callando: furtively, silently. It describes the manner used by people who do things without the knowledge of the others. Chita comes from the onomatopoeia chitón, from the sound ‘shhhh’. Parece que tu amiga nunca estudia, pero a la chita callando, ya está en el último curso.
  1. A regañadientes: reluctantly, unwillingly. It’s similar to de mala gana. In English, we can find this: ‘through clenched teeth’. The verb regañar means ‘reprimand’ and dientes, ‘teeth’. Los adolescentes empiezan las clases en a regañadientes, pero siempre terminan encantados.

The way we do things is the way that people will use to judge us. So, check out our method in person; you just need Skype, Internet connection… and start learning Spanish de buena gana, of course. Reserve a free trial lesson here and you will find that we don’t work a tontas y a locas. We will explain all de cabo a rabo.