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Published on: Grammar Bites

How do we talk about the weather in Spanish?

How do we talk about the weather in Spanish? For example, should I say: ¿Está caliente, hace calor o está calor? 

When talking about the weather, we have a range of (mostly fixed) expressions we can use. Let’s take a look!

(Please note that most of these expressions cannot be literally translated into English)

Hace + noun: we use it to describe the general “feel” of the weather or the sensation caused by it.

  • Hace frío. It’s cold.
  • Hace calor. It’s hot.
  • Hace fresco. It’s chilly.
  • Hace viento. It’s windy
  • Hace buen / mal tiempo. The weather is good / bad.

Está + adjective: we use it to give more specific descriptions of the weather at the moment of speaking.

  • Está soleado. It’s sunny.
  • Está nublado. It’s cloudy.
  • Está despejado. The sky is clear / It’s sunny.
  • Está ventoso. It’s windy.
  • Está lluvioso. It’s rainy.
  • Está húmedo. It’s humid.
  • Está cálido. It’s warm.
  • Está caluroso. It’s hot.
  • Está frío. It’s cold.
  • Está fresco. It’s chilly.

Please note that while people might say conversationally “está caliente” to mean “it’s hot”, this expression is reserved for the temperature of specific things or places: “el agua está caliente”, “el aire está caliente”, “el cuarto está caliente”.

Está + gerund: we use it to discuss a weather phenomenon that’s in progress at the moment of speaking.

  • Está lloviendo. It’s raining.
  • Está nevando. It’s snowing.
  • Está granizando. It’s hailing.
  • Está tronando. There’re thunders.
  • Está lloviznando. It’s drizzling.

Hay + noun / phrase: we use it to describe current weather conditions at the moment of speaking.

  • Hay viento. It’s windy.
  • Hay sol. It’s sunny.
  • Hay una tormenta. There’s a storm. / It’s stormy.
  • Hay truenos. There’s thunders.
  • Hay nieve. There’s snow.
  • Hay niebla. There’s fog. / It’s foggy.

How about ser? Can we use it to talk about the weather? In one exception we can:

Ser + adjetivo: only to describe the general climate of a season or geographical place:

  • Los inviernos aquí son muy fríos. Winters here are very cold.
  • El desierto de Atacama, en Chile, es uno de los lugares más áridos del planeta. The Atacama desert is one of the driest places in the world.

Finally, note that we have different ways of expressing the same idea, for example, “hace calor”/ “está caluroso”, but we need to use the right combination; thus, we cannot say “hace caluroso” or “está calor”.