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“Las muletas” are “crutches”. “Las muletillas” are verbal crutches.

We use verbal crutches all. the. time. when we speak in English. (Record one of your casual conversations and count how many times you say words like, uh, well, I mean…, right when you hesitate, rephrase or begin or end a sentence).

When you speak Spanish, if you use English verbal crutches you’ll sound weird, and if you don’t use verbal crutches you actually won’t sound as natural as if you do!

Check out this graphic for the muletillas:

Here’s a helpful list of Spanish verbal crutches for you to try out in your next conversation!

  • bueno – this means good, but it can also mean “well” So you can say, “Bueno, no quiero hacerlo, pero lo haré.” = “Well, I don’t want to, but I’ll do it.”
  • pues – this means “well” but not the adverb “well” (bien). “Pues, si.” = “Well, yeah.”
  • mira – look/look here “Mira, no sé qué decirte.” = “Look, I don’t know what to tell you.”
  • este = um/uh. This literally means ”this”, but it actually is empty of meaning when used as a muletilla.  Example: “No sé, este, creo que está por allí.” – “I don’t know, um, I think it’s over there.”
  • O sea – It’s a super short way of saying “what I wanted to say it this” “I mean”. Example: “Estoy contenta, o sea, todo está bien.” = “I’m  content, I mean, everything’s ok.”
  • de hecho – actually. Example: “De hecho, no estoy de acuerdo.” = “Actually, I don’t agree.”
  • como – like. Example: “¿Y qué tipo de restaurante es ese? – No sé exactamente, es como comida mexicana con influencia japonesa…” = “What kind of restaurant? – I’m not sure, it’s like Mexican food with Japanese influence…”
  • a ver – let’s see. Example: “A ver, voy a buscalo.” = “Let’s see, I’m going to look for it.”
  • así que – so. Example: “Así que, vamos a empezar.” = “So, let’s start.”

+2 (used in Spain)

  • vale – ok. Example: “Te llamo esta tarde, ¿vale?.” = “I’ll call you this evening, ok?”
  • eh – um/uh. Example: “Eh, no dije eso” = “Uh, I didn’t say that.”

The thing about muletillas are that in many cases the syllables are dragged out, just like “ummm”. So a bueno might sound closer to bueeeenooo…or pueeeeees or biennnnnn