Mande – Translation, and Meaning in English

Definition In Ecuador and Mexico, mande is a polite, formal and respectful expression that people use to let someone know that they couldn’t hear what they said. It’s also used to answer when someone summons you or calls out to you (not over the phone). Although it cannot be translated directly into English, it’s close in meaning to the expressions ‘What?’, ‘Yes?’, ‘What’s up?’ or ‘Can you repeat that?’. 

What does ‘Mande’ mean?

  • Translation #1: It’s close in meaning to the phrase ‘can you repeat again?’ or ‘what?’.
  • Translation #2: Mande can also be used as a polite and formal synonym of the questions ‘what’, ‘yes’ or ‘what’s up?’.
  • Translation #3: Depending on the context, it could be the past tense form of the verb ‘mandar’ which means ‘to send’. 

How and When to use ‘Mande’?

  • When you didn’t hear what someone was telling you. One of the most common ways to use this expression is when someone is talking to you and for some reason, you couldn’t hear what they said. In this case, mande will be close in meaning to the questions, ‘Can you repeat that again?’ or ‘What?’. Keep in mind that since it’s an expression, ‘mande’ doesn’t need to be conjugated. 
  • As a way to answer when someone is calling you. This phrase is also used to answer politely when somebody is calling us. However, keep in mind that we’re not talking about a phone or video call. In this situation, ‘mande’ is applicable only when a person is calling you from another room. Even though we don’t have a direct translation, ‘mande’ is close in meaning to ‘Yes?’, What’s up?’ or ‘What?’. 
  • As a tense form of the verb ‘mandar’. ‘Mande’ could also be one tense form of the verb ‘mandar’ which means ‘to send’.
  • However, in this case, ‘mande’ doesn’t work as an expression. It works as a verb. Therefore, it needs to follow some grammar elements and rules to function properly. 

Examples of How to Use Mande

The following examples will help you understand what mande means in Spanish and how to apply it in real conversations. 

As a synonym of ‘What?’ or ‘Can you repeat again’?

We established before that ‘mande’ is a polite and respectful phrase used in Ecuador and Mexico. One of its most common meanings is a synonym of ‘what’ or ‘can you repeat that’. Something to keep in mind in this context is that we only use ‘mande’ when someone is talking to us and for some reason we couldn’t hear what they said. As you may imagine, this meaning of ‘mande’ is commonly applied in a conversation. 

Although in this context ‘mande’ can be translated as ‘what’, be aware that in Mexico and Ecuador ‘¿qué?’ could be considered a little bit rude. 

To respond when someone is calling you

Another common way to use ‘mande’ is as a way to answer when someone is calling you. In this context, you cannot use this expression to answer the phone. You will rather use it when someone is calling you verbally from another room or another part of the room you’re in. In this situation, ‘mande’ could be translated as ‘what?’, ‘what’s up? or ‘yes?’. 

As you may have noticed from the previous examples, in this situation, we respond by using ‘mande’ and then we wait for the other person to tell what they need. Here is another example:

Just as we mentioned in the previous sections, using ‘¿qué?’ in these types of contexts can be considered rude and disrespectful. That’s why we use ‘mande’. 

As a tense form of the verb ‘mandar’

Many new and experienced Spanish speakers get confused when they find ‘mande’ in a different context from the ones that we mentioned above. This is because ‘mande’ could also be a tense form of the verb ‘mandar’ (to send or to order). 

Although this may seem confusing, the truth is that in this context ‘mande’ needs to work with a lot of grammar elements. In other words, it’s not a single expression anymore, it’s part of a bigger sentence. Here are some examples

Te mandé a la tienda
I ordered you to go to the store

¿Estás segura? Te mandé esa información layer
Are you sure? I sent you that information yesterday

If you observe the examples above you’ll notice that the sentences have more elements and ‘mande’ becomes ‘mandé’. Everytime we see an accent on ‘mande’ we’re dealing with the past tense form of the verb ‘mandar’.

Who Can You Use ‘Mande’ With?

As mentioned before, ‘mande’ is a polite and respectful expression in Mexico and Ecuador. Therefore, you shouldn’t use it in other Spanish speaking countries because it may sound a little bit outdated for them. 

If you’re in Mexico or Ecuador, you can use this term and its expressions with:

  • Your family
  • People you don’t know very well
  • Strangers
  • Elderly people
  • Teachers 

Since it’s a polite way to talk to people, young Mexican and Ecuadorian speakers may avoid using this expression with their friends. Using this phrase among young people is totally up to the speakers, but by doing so they show respect and good manners. 

Others Ways to Say ‘Mande’

Here are other synonyms that you can use to replace ‘mande’ when needed.

  • ¿Qué?  It’s the direct translation of ‘what?’. Keep in mind that in some countries using this question may be considered a little bit rude. 
  • ¿Qué dijiste? →  It literally means ‘what did you say’. It’s appropriate to use it with your friends. 
  • ¿Puedes volver a repetirlo? This phrase is the direct translation of ‘can you repeat it again?’. In Mexico and Ecuador this phrase is considered more formal than ‘mande’. 
  • ¿Qué pasó?/¿Qué pasa? It’s the direct translation of ‘what’s up?’. We use it as a way to respond when someone is calling us from another room. 
  • ¿Disculpe? It’s a formal way to let someone know that you couldn’t hear what they said. ‘Disculpe’ can be translated as ‘sorry’ or ‘excuse me’. Since in Spanish we have more words to say ‘sorry’ and ‘excuse me’, keep in mind that ‘disculpe’ is only used in some situations. If you want to improve your vocabulary, in this article I explain to you the difference between perdón, disculpa and lo siento in Spanish. 

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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