Today I wanted to focus on this seemingly simple word which is extremely common in the speech of Mexicans, and to varying degrees in that of other Spanish speakers. If you look up the translation of the word ‘mero‘, you’ll find that it loosely means “mere” in English. The way it’s used, however, is far different than anything we English speakers would ever do with the word “mere”. It’s easiest, I think, to understand its not-so-easy to translate meanings through examples:
“Aquí mero”: This means “right here” or “in this very spot.” ¿Dónde vas a construir tu nueva casa? … Aquí mero. (“Where are you going to build your new house?” … “Right here.”)
“¡Eso mero!”: This essentially means “Precisely!”, “That’s it!” or “That’s what I’m talking about!” Tú quieres decir que las personas sí pueden cambiar, pero tienen que proponérselo sin ser obligadas por otros … ¡Eso mero! (You mean to say that people can change, but they have to decide to without being forced by others”…”Exactly!”)
“Ya mero”: This means “almost” as it refers to time. ¡Ya mero llegamos! (“We’re about to arrive!” or “We’re almost there!”). ¿Cuándo te vienes para la casa?… Ya mero llego. (When are you coming home? … I’ll be home shortly.)
There are many other uses of ‘mero‘, and if you’re interacting with Mexicans, you’ll find that it’s an almost indispensable word. You can say things like “Esa es la mera persona que buscaba” (That’s the very person I was looking for) or “Esa mera fue la canción que tanto me gustaba” (That’s the very song that I liked). The word ‘mero‘ isn’t actually needed in these sentences, but it adds emphasis to the things being described.
There are surprisingly fewer examples in which ‘mero‘ translates to “mere” in the English sense of the word. One phrase, however, that seems to translate somewhat literally is “por el mero hecho de…” (by the mere fact of….). El mero hecho de participar no quiere decir que merece un premio. (“The mere fact of participating does not mean that he deserves a prize). This phrase can also mean “for the sake of”: No gastamos dinero por el mero hecho de gastarlo = No gastamos dinero por gastarlo. (“We don’t spend money for the sake of spending it”).
At the very least, it’s worth learning the stand alone phrases I outlined above. It takes time and exposure to know when and how to use the word, but I guarantee that you’ll hear it frequently if you’re in Mexico or around Mexicans. It is also used by many Central Americans in much the same ways, and to a much lesser extent elsewhere in the Spanish speaking world. Ask your native friends what ‘mero‘ means to them and you’ll know whether it’s appropriate to use in their company. Ya mero te mando el próximo artículo… ¡Saludos!