Spanish Usage Questions: "Corner"

By Eric W. Vogt

Want to express 'corner' in Spanish? Inside corners, outside corners, edges... street corners -- they all have a different solution in Spanish! Learn more here!

Don't Get Cornered

Let's deal with the nouns first. As indicated above, the word corner in English and its counterparts in Spanish refer to a point in two or three dimensions where various lines converge, forming an angle. The solutions in Spanish depend on whether that angle is an inside angle, like the corner of a room. In that case, the words rincón and ángulo may be used.

Los poetas estaban reunidos en un rincón del restaurante (The poets were meeting in a corner of the restaurant).

Del salón en un ángulo oscuro... (In a dark corner of the room...) -- line from a famous poem by Bécquer.

If one is speaking of an outside corner where one sidewalk meets another at an intersection -- which is what makes that two-dimensional space on the ground an outside corner, the word is esquina. This is also the word for the external corner of a building or some other (usually large) object.

Me van a esperar en la esquina de Palma y Revolución (They are going to wait for me at the corner of Palma and Revolution).

When you are not speaking about the corner of a sidewalk but rather about the intersection itself, the word is bocacalle -- the place where two or more roads meet.

Siempre hay un embudo de tráfico en esa bocacalle durante las horas pico (There is always a traffic jam at that intersection at rush hour).

While on the subject of streets, corners and intersections, note that there are two common words for a city block. In Spain, the word is manzana (yes, the same word as the word for apple!). In Latin America, the word is cuadra. While bloque will be heard among some Spanish speakers who have lived in the US for a long time, it is not correct -- using bloque is a good example of linguistic contamination!

Finally, there is the English verb to corner. Yes, Spanish has a verb for that, logically: arrinconar.

Los detectives lograron arrinconar al delincuente en un edificio abandonado (The detectives managed to corner the crook in an abandoned building).