A poco – Translations & Meanings in English

DefinitionA poco is a Mexican expression that can be used to show surprise or to express that an action was or is close to being finished. Additionally, a poco can also be used to seek people’s agreement. As a result, this word can be translated as ‘no way’, ‘really?’, ‘close’, ‘right?’, ‘no way’. 

What Does ‘A poco’ Means in Spanish?

  • Translation #1: When used to express surprise, a poco can be translated as ‘no way’, ‘you’re kidding’, ‘really?’, ‘shut up!’, ‘seriously’, etc. 
  • Translation #2: If asking for people’s agreement on something, this expression is close in meaning to ‘right?’, ‘didn’t you?’, ‘isn’t it?’ and similar questions. 
  • Translation 3: If used to express that an action is or was close to be finished, a poco could be translated as ‘close’ or ‘about’. 

How and When to use ‘A poco’

  • As a way to express surprise: In Mexico, one of the most common uses of ‘a poco’ is to show surprise about a situation. Since this phrase has different meanings, in this context, it’s important to use a proper tone of voice. A poco can be translated as ‘no way’, ‘really?’ and other expressions that show surprise. 
  • To ask for agreement or confirmation: This expression can also be used as a way to seek confirmation or people’s agreement on something. In this case, ‘a poco’ is used as a question and it’s close in meaning to ‘right?’, ‘didn’t you?’ and similar expressions. 
  • To express that an action is close to being finished. In standard Spanish, a poco implies that a certain action is or was very close to being completed. As a result, in this context, this expression is translated as ‘close’ or ‘about’. 

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Examples on How to Use ‘A poco’

Here are some real-life examples of how to use ‘a poco’ in a sentence. 

To express surprise

A poco is a popular Mexican expression to show surprise. This phrase can be translated as: 

  • No way!
  • No way!
  • You’re kidding!
  • Really?
  • Seriously?
  • Shut up!
  • For real?

Notice that this word can be used as a way to respond to a previous statement:

¡A poco! No, no sabía que la habían despedido
No way! I didn’t know she was fired 

¿Te vas a mudar a Madrid? ¿A poco? ¿Cuándo te vas?
Are you moving to Madrid? Really? When are you leaving?

In this context, you can also use a poco to introduce the situation that is causing you surprise. Below there is a structure that you can follow: 

¿[A poco] + [verb conjugated]?

¿A poco aprendiste español en tres meses?
Did you really learn Spanish in three months?

Oigan, ¿a poco nadie hizo la tarea?
Hey, guys, did nobody really do the homework?

Related Resource: 9 Ways to Express Surprise in Spanish

To ask for people’s agreement or confirmation

In this context, ‘a poco’ is always used in the form of a question. Notice that in order to keep this meaning, you need to use the expression ¿a poco no?. 

Te divertiste en la fiesta, ¿a poco no?
You had fun at the party, didn’t you?

La chica nueva es muy grosera, ¿a poco no?
The new girl is very rude, isn’t she?

La película que vimos estuvo muy aburrida, ¿apoco no?
The movie that we saw was very boring, right?

To express that an action was almost completed

Below there is a phrases structure that you can use for this meaning:

[Estar conjugated + [a poco de] + [infinitive verb]

Estuvimos a poco de ganar el partido
We were very close to winning the game

Scott estuvo a poco de romperse la pierna
Scott was close to breaking his leg

Oye, Laura está a poco de terminar el proyecto
Hey, Laura is about to finish the project

Who Can You Use ‘Puro’ and ‘Pura’ With?

When seeking agreement/confirmation or expressing surprise, a poco is more popular in casual conversation in Mexico. But if used to express that an action was about to be finished, you can use this expression in more formal situations. 

Synonyms: 4 Ways To Say ‘Puro’ & ‘Pura’

  • A punto de → It means about or close to. It’s a more standard term to express that an action is or was about to be finished. 
  • ¿Verdad? → It’s the direct translation of ‘right?’. Since it’s a standard expression, it can be used in both formal and informal contexts to seek for people’s agreement. 
  • ¿Neta? Neta is a popular Mexican slang word that can also be used as a way to express surprise. 
  • Casi → This standard word is the direct translation of ‘almost’ or ‘close’.

Daniela Sanchez

¡Hola! Soy Daniela Sanchez, I've been studying Spanish professionally as well as teaching it in Mexico and online for over 10 years. I’ve taught Spanish to a wide array of foreigners from many backgrounds. Over the years, I've made it my mission to work hard on refining many challenging to understand grammar topics to make my students' learning experiences easier, faster and more enjoyable. Read More About Me

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