In short – ‘nomás’ is a contraction of the words ‘no’ (‘no’) and ‘más’ (‘more’), and it’s an extremely common expression in Latin America that normally translates to ‘just’ or ‘only’ in English.
‘Nomás’ is actually just another way of saying ‘nada más’, and although they both generally translate to ‘only’ or ‘just’, they also have a couple of trickier meanings.
If you wanna sound more fluent in Latin America, you’re gonna need to start using ‘nomás’ in your everyday conversations (yep, it’s super common!), so let’s get right to it!
Uses / Meanings of ‘nomás’
‘Nomás’ can be used in the following ways –
- As a synonym of ‘just’
- As a synonym of ‘only’
- As a synonym of ‘as soon as’
- As a synonym of ‘right after’
As a synonym of ‘just’
This is one of the most common uses of ‘nomás’.
But tread carefully because ‘just’ DOESN’T always translate to ‘nomás’ in Spanish.
Let’s have a look at some of its most common uses!
just + quantity
Just one, please. = Nomás uno, por favor.
Just two days ago. = Hace nomás dos días.
Ok, but just once. = Ok, pero nomás una vez.
This use is SUPER common, so here’s another example –
Noche de pelis en la sala
Ricardo – Muero de sueño, mi amor, ¿nos vamos a dormir?
Arcelia – Ay, ándale*, nomás otro episodio y ya.
Movie night in the living room
Ricardo – I’m so tired, sweetheart, shall we go to sleep?
Arcelia – Oh, come on, just one more episode and that’s it.
*Erika’s top tip – ‘ándale’ is a Mexican expression similar in meaning to the English ‘come on’.
just doing something
I’m just going to heat the food up. = Nomás voy a calentar la comida.
I’m just finishing my work. = Nomás estoy terminando mi chamba.
He’s just getting dressed. = Nomás se está vistiendo.
Erika’s note – the structure here is ‘nomás + present continous’ OR ‘nomás + future (ir a + infinitive)’.
To emphasize that you’re talking about a small part of something
They’re just some of the options that we have. = Nomás son unas de las opciones que tenemos.
It’s just one (of many) examples. = Nomás es un ejemplo.
Expressing feelings like annoyance, admiration, or certainty
She just doesn’t want to sleep! = ¡Nomás no quiere dormir!
Just look at that! = ¡Mira nomás!
As a synonym of ‘only’
‘Nomás’ is also frequently used instead of ‘solo’ or ‘solamente’, which are the Spanish equivalents of the English word ‘only’.
In this context, you can normally translate ‘nomás’ to either one of ‘only’ or ‘just’ –
Lionel – ¿Desde cuándo estudias el clarinete?
Mateo – Tenía nomás ocho años cuando empecé a tomar clases.
Lionel – How long have you been learning the clarinet for?
Mateo – I was only / just eight years old when I started taking classes.
Nomás quiero dos, por favor.
I only / just want two, please.
As a synonym of ‘as soon as’
Depending on context, you may also come across phrases in which ‘nomás’ is more similar in meaning to ‘as soon as’.
And just as with ‘as soon as’ in English, the verb following ‘nomás’ is usually in the present tense (even if you’re referring to the future!).
En una llamada telefónica
Marcos – ¿Vas para la casa? Creo que dejé el horno prendido.
Leo – Sí, no te preocupes. Nomás llego a la casa y lo reviso.
During a phone call
Marcos – Are you on your way home? I think I left the oven on.
Leo – Yeah, don’t worry. I’ll have a look as soon as I get home.
Madre – Nomás llegues a la fiesta avísame para saber que estás bien.
Enzo – Sí, mamá, te lo prometo.
Mother – Let me know as soon as you get to the party, so I know you’re okay.
Enzo – Yeah, mom, I promise.
As a synonym of ‘right after’
Similarly, ‘nomás’ can also translate to ‘right after’ and it’s usually accompanied by a verb in the present tense as well (there seems to be a bit of a pattern here, huh!).
Nomás me levanto, me pongo a escribir los sueños que tuve.
Right after I get up, I start journaling about the dreams I had.
Abigail – ¿Cuándo vuelves a la Ciudad de México?
Gael – Nomás paso la Navidad con mi familia y ya me regreso.
Abigail – When are you coming back to Mexico City?
Gael – I’m heading back right after Christmas with my folks.
‘Nomás’ consists of two syllables:
- ‘No’ is said like ‘noh’
- ‘Más’ sounds like ‘mahs’
/ noh-mahs /
‘Mira nomás’ meaning
‘Mira nomás’ is an extremely popular expression in Latin America. It literally translates as ‘look no more’, but it’s more akin to the phrases ‘would you look at that’ or ‘just look at that’.
Just as in English, ‘mira nomás’ can be sarcastic in tone OR express surprise, anger, and amazement.
Cecilia – Y entonces, me enteré de que seguía saliendo con su ex.
Ian – ¡Mira nomás! Joyita el tipo. Qué bueno que lo descubriste.
Cecilia – And then I found out that he was still dating his ex.
Ian – Would you look at that! The guy’s a gem. Good thing you found out.
¡Mira nomás el desmadre* que hiciste!
Just look at the mess you made!
*Erika’s note – ‘desmadre’ is a colloquial Mexican expression that means ‘mess’ or ‘chaos’!
‘Nada más’ vs ‘nomás’
In much of Latin America ‘nada más’ and ‘nomás’ work as synonyms, so ‘nada más’ also translates to ‘only’, ‘just’, ‘as soon as’, etc.
People tend to speak very quickly in many Latin American countries, so you’ll come across ‘nomás’ in everyday speech much more often than you will ‘nada más’. I mean it’s just easier on the ol’ tongue, ain’t it.
‘Nomás’ is also sometimes used for emphasis –
Ángel – ¿Estás ocupada?
Lidia – No, pásate nomás.
Ángel – Are you busy?
Lidia – No, just come in.
In Spain you’ll normally find ‘nomás’ written as two separate words (i.e., ‘no más’).
In Mexico and Central America, it’s often used BEFORE the verb it’s modifying (as you can probably tell from the above examples!), while in Spain it always goes AFTER the verb.
Tengo un perro nomás / no más / nada más.
I just have a dog.
Nomás / Nada más tengo un perro.
I just have a dog.
Similar expressions to ‘nomás’
Nomás acuérdate / Nomás te encargo
These two expressions are used as warnings, kinda like the English phrases ‘just bear in mind’ and ‘just remember’ –
Nomás acuérdate / nomás te encargo que a tu mamá no le gustan las mentiras.
Just bear in mind that your mom isn’t fond of lies.
This is the Spanish equivalent of ‘just like that’ –
En la cocina
Karina – ¿Cómo quieres que corte la cebolla?
Octavio – Así nomás, en cuadritos está bien.
In the kitchen
Karina – How would you like me to cut the onion?
Octavio – Just like that, diced is fine.
Nomás eso faltaba
This one literally translates as ‘just what was missing’, and it’s kinda similar to English expressions such as ‘that’s the last straw’ or ‘I’ve had it’.
It’s generally used when someone’s feeling fed up after a succession of negative events –
¿De verdad llegaste borracho a casa? ¡Nomás eso faltaba!
You came home drunk, really? I’ve had it with you!
So now you can start adding ‘nomás’ to your Spanish conversations and sound like a true native in the process! ‘Nomás practica mucho’ – or ‘just practice a lot’ – and you’re sure to get the hang of it.
Ready to learn another super useful phrase?
Then make sure to check out the meaning of ‘móchate’! Spoiler: it might come in handy the next time you plan a party with your Mexican pals.