In short – ‘eso’ is a colloquial expression with a variety of different meanings, such as ‘exactly’, ‘right on’, ‘great idea’ and ‘come on’, depending on the context in which it’s used. When used as a demonstrative pronoun, it can also express contempt and annoyance!
In its “standard” form ‘eso’ is a neuter demonstrative pronoun and generally translates to ‘that’ or ‘that one’. However, in Mexican slang it functions as an interjection, so it´s used to express sudden bursts of emotion.
The famous Mexican TV show “El Chavo del 8” popularized the use of ‘eso’ as a way of expressing agreement; the main character (“El Chavo”) always says ‘eso, eso, eso’ to confirm that something’s correct.
Uses / Meanings of ‘eso’
‘Eso’ can be used in the following ways –
- As a neuter demonstrative pronoun
- To agree with someone
- To cheer someone on
- To show contempt for something
As a neuter demonstrative pronoun
‘Eso’ as a neuter demonstrative pronoun often translates to ‘that‘ or ‘that one’ and serves to indicate an undetermined thing that is close to the person being addressed and far away from the speaker.
María Elena – Quita eso de la cama.
José – ¿Qué, la ropa?
María Elena – Sí, se ve todo desordenado.
María Elena – Get that off the bed.
José – What, the clothes?
María Elena – Yeah, it looks messy.
Antonio – Pásame eso que tienes ahí.
Fátima – ¿Los cheetos?
Antonio – Sí, ya me dio hambre.
Antonio – Pass me that thing you´ve got.
Fátima – The cheetos?
Antonio – Yeah, I’m getting hungry.
Erika’s note – for a detailed look at the “standard” use of ‘eso’, check out our article on ‘eso’ and ‘aquello’.
To agree with someone
In this instance ‘eso’ works as a synonym of ‘exactly’ or ‘right on’ as it’s used to agree with whatever it is that your interlocutor is saying.
Oftentimes you’ll find it as part of an expression, such as ‘¡eso es!’ and ‘¡eso mero!’.
Erika – Entonces, ¿todos los lados de un triángulo equilátero son iguales?
Melina – ¡Eso mero!
Erika – So, all the sides of an equilateral triangle are equal?
Melina – Exactly!
Paula – Mañana le voy a decir a Pablo que ya no quiero ser su novia.
Eduardo – ¡Eso es!
Paula – Tomorrow I’m gonna tell Pablo that I don’t want to be his girlfriend anymore.
Eduardo – Right on!
To cheer someone on
‘¡Eso!’ can also be used to applaud someone’s actions or to show support.
It’s commonly used when playing a sport, for example.
Luis – A ganar equipo, ¡Eso!
Luis – Let’s win this, come on!
Hijo – Ganamos el último partido y vamos a jugar la final la próxima semana.
Madre – ¡Eso! Échale ganas*; pueden ser campeones.
Son – We won the last game and we’re going to play the final next week.
Mother – Well done! Give it your all; you can be champions.
*Erika’s note – ‘échale ganas’ is a super common Mexican phrase meaning something along the lines of ‘put your back into it’ or ‘give it your all’.
To show contempt for something (demonstrative pronoun)
Conversely, when used as a demonstrative pronoun, ‘eso’ can show contempt for a thing or situation that we find unpleasant.
In this context it’s being used ironically / sarcastically.
Mateo – ¡Mira lo que te traje!
Gabriel – ¿Eso? Está todo corriente.
Mateo – Look what I brought you!
Gabriel – That thing? It’s crappy.
Luna – ¿Qué es eso?
Diego – Un auto clásico.
Luna – Está horrible, parece una pesadilla.
Luna – What’s that?
Diego – A classic car.
Luna – It’s horrible; it looks like somebody’s nightmare.
‘Por eso’ meaning
If you hear someone yell ‘¡por eso!‘ in Mexico, it’s very likely that they’re in the middle of a heated conversation or simply annoyed by the obviousness of something.
‘Por eso’ is usually said when you’re feeling exasperated because the person you’re speaking to doesn’t quite understand an explanation / instruction.
¡Por eso! Ya te dije que no vas a ir a la fiesta y hazle como quieras.
Whatever! I already told you that you’re not going to the party and that’s that.
Juan – Mamá, ¿me compras el nuevo PlayStation?
Mamá – No, está muy caro.
Juan – Pero tú dijiste que si me portaba bien, me lo ibas a regalar de cumpleaños.
Mamá – ¡Por eso! Ya te dije que no tengo dinero, deja de insistir.
Juan – Mom, will you buy me the new PlayStation?
Mamá – No, it’s too expensive.
Juan – But you said that if I behaved well, you were going to give it to me for my birthday.
Mamá – Enough already! I told you I don’t have any money.
‘Y eso’ meaning
The question ‘y eso’ is another very common colloquial expression.
If you say ‘¿y eso’, it normally means that you’re interested in knowing more about a situation – which oftentimes may be uncomfortable or difficult for the person who’s telling you about it.
Santiago – (…) Y el viernes ni siquiera fui al cine con Alejandra.
Ana – ¿Y eso?
Santiago – Me enojé con mis papás y me castigaron.
Santiago – (…) And I didn’t even go to the movies with Alejandra on Friday.
Ana – How come?
Santiago – I argued with my parents, and they grounded me.
Sara – Ayer andaba bien triste.
Adriana – ¿Y eso?
Sara – Me corrieron del trabajo.
Sara – I was really upset yesterday.
Adriana – How come?
Sara – I got fired from my job.
‘Eso’ is very simple to pronounce, it’s said as follows-
/ eh – soh /
Similar expressions to ‘eso’
‘École’ is a colloquial word that also expresses approval. It has the same meaning as ‘eso’ when used to mean ‘exactly’ or ‘right on’.
Gustavo – ¿Entonces para que salga bien el platillo, por cada taza de arroz, hay que colocar dos tazas de agua?
Bianca – ¡École!
Gustavo – So, for the dish to come out right, you have to put in two cups of water for every cup of rice?
Bianca – Exactly!
There are a number of different expressions with ‘eso’ in Spanish. Make sure to pay attention to the context / intonation if you´re unsure as to the meaning.
In any case, don’t worry about it coming across as rude, since, as you can see in all the above examples, it’s a harmless expression, even when describing something negative or unpleasant.