Here’s a somewhat tricky verb. While acomodar does mean “to accommodate” in some contexts, its most common uses would generally not be translated into English this way, and the same is true in reverse. Let’s take a look at the various meanings of this word in English, and then we’ll compare them to its meanings in Spanish.
In English, “to accommodate” means:
- To do a favor for
- To provide lodging to
- To allow space for
- To adapt one’s behavior to satisfy someone else’s needs or desires
In Spanish, acomodar means:
- To adapt one thing to another
- To arrange something, such as furniture in a room
- To put someone or something in a comfortable place (which can include lodging)
- To adapt to a particular norm, such as a grammatical rule
- The adjective form of this word, acomodado, can mean “well organized” in the sense that a person or thing “has their stuff together”
As you can see, there is a fair amount of divergence between these meanings. In my experience, Spanish speakers use the word more liberally than we would in English. Here are some of the examples that I came across in real life dialogues:
- “¡Como siempre acomodas las cosas a tu conveniencia!” = “As always, you arrange everything to suit your needs!”
- “Estoy acomodando la ropa.” = “I’m putting the clothes away (or in their place)”
- “Todo terminó acomodado en su lugar” = “Everything wound up in its proper place.”
- “No sé como acomodar la palabra.” = “I don’t know how to fit the word in”
- “Google es el sitio más acomodado” = “Google is the best organized website”
- “Las acomodaron en otra casa” = “They accommodated them in a different house”
As you can see from these examples, English speakers would rarely use the word “accommodate” to convey these ideas. What about English uses of this word? How do we express those in Spanish? Here are some examples:
- “We have no appointments available today, but we can accommodate you tomorrow” = “No tenemos citas para hoy, pero podemos recibirlo mañana”
- “The room can accommodate up to fifty people ” = “El cuarto tiene cabida para cincuenta personas.”
- “I’m always trying to accommodate you in everything!” = “Siempre trato de complacerte en todo!”
In these examples, you could substitute the word acomodar for the verbs given and you would be understood. The point is, a native speaker probably wouldn’t do so in these contexts (unless they’ve been influenced by English), whereas an English speaker would do so naturally. This suggests that, while the dictionary provides some similar meanings for acomodar and “to accommodate”, you can’t rely on translating this word literally from one language to the other. Spanish clearly has more uses for acomodar than English has for “to accommodate”, but they aren’t exactly the same uses.
To see how acomodar is used naturally by Spanish speakers, check out this helpful website: http://www.lextutor.ca/conc/span/ Type in the word acomodar in the search engine and you’ll get tons of examples as to how the word is used in real life. You can even see what other words are typically used in conjunction with it. This site is called on a concordancer and I’ll refer to it again in future posts, as it works for any word in the language and it’s great for showing off the subtitles between similar looking words.
For now, suffice it to say that even identical-looking words are almost never identical, but sometimes it takes a little bit of detective work to recognize the differences…
Hope this helps.. ¡hasta la próxima!