Picture this: you’re telling your Mexican pal all about your trip to Peru.
He replies with an excited ‘¡qué padre!’ … and, well, your Spanish is pretty good, so you’re more than a little perplexed. I mean, doesn’t ‘qué padre’ translate to ‘what father’?
Well, yep, but not in Mexican slang it doesn’t!
In short – ‘qué padre’ is an EXTREMELY popular Mexican expression akin to ‘that’s awesome’ and ‘how cool’.
And how did this (slightly strange!) expression come into being?
Well, it used to be very common for people to bring objects into churches to be blessed by the priest (or the ‘padre’), so the word ‘padre’ began to be associated with blessed objects (i.e., awesome things)!
Nowadays little remains of its religious associations and it’s such a popular expression that people from all ages and walks of life use it in their daily conversations.
Wanna find out more about this Mexican expression? Let’s dive right in!
Uses / Meanings of ‘qué padre’
‘Qué padre’ can be used in the following ways –
- As an interjection, synonym of ‘that’s awesome / great’ and ‘how cool’
- To describe an object of good quality
- To describe a place or a pleasant experience
- In a sarcastic way
As an interjection, synonym of ‘that’s awesome / great’ and ‘how cool’
There are A LOT of fun phrases when it comes to expressing surprise or joy in Mexican Spanish, but not all of them are family-friendly or suitable for the office.
With that in mind, I’d say that ‘qué padre’ is probably your safest bet if you’re looking for a family-friendly way of saying ‘that’s great!’ or ‘how cool’!
Alicia – ¡Me dieron un aumento!
Luis – ¿En serio? ¡Qué padre! Esto lo tenemos que celebrar.
Alicia – I got a raise!
Luis – Really? That’s amazing! Let’s celebrate.
David – Conseguí boletos para el concierto del viernes, ¿quieres ir?
Jan – ¡Qué padre! Me encantaría, gracias.
David – I got tickets for the concert on Friday, wanna go?
Jan – How cool! I’d love to, thanks.
To describe an object of good quality
‘Qué padre’ can also mean ‘nice’, ‘cool’ or even ‘beautiful’ when describing a particular object.
The structure here is generally as follows –
qué padre(s) + está / están + object
Alex – Oye, qué padre está tu coche nuevo, ¿desde cuándo lo tienes?
Pam – ¡Gracias! Apenas tiene un mes que lo compré.
Alex – Hey, your new car is really cool, how long have you had it for?
Pam – Thanks! I literally got it a month ago.
Berenice – ¡Qué padre está el vestido de tu hermana!
Hugo – ¿En verdad te gusta? Yo se lo diseñé.
Berenice – Your sister’s dress is gorgeous!
Hugh – Do you really like it? I designed it.
To describe a place or a pleasant experience
Of course, an epic trip, memorable party or amazing place can also be described as ‘padre’!
Una chica le muestra las fotos de su viaje a Oaxaca a un amigo
Eric – ¡Qué padre se ve ese lugar! ¿Dónde es?
Magda – Es el sitio arqueológico de Monte Albán, te recomiendo visitarlo.
A girl shows her friend the photos of her trip to Oaxaca
Eric – That place looks amazing! Where is it?
Magda – It’s the archaeological site of Monte Albán, you should definitely go.
En la playa
Abuelo – ¿Ya viste qué padres* colores tiene el atardecer?
Nieta – ¡Sí! Tiene rojo, naranja, morado…
At the beach
Grandpa – Have you seen how amazing the sunset is?
Granddaughter – Yeah! It’s red, orange, purple …
*Erika’s top tip – ‘padre’ is a noun in Spanish, but in Mexican slang it actually works as an adjective. As such, it ALWAYS agrees in number and gender with the noun it modifies.
In the above example ‘qué padres’ is used because the speaker is referring to many different colors.
In a sarcastic way
As with many slang expressions, you need to pay careful attention to intonation because, well, they can often be usedironically.
An ironic ‘qué padre’ describes the exact opposite of all the above meanings (i.e., a nasty situation, something of bad quality, etc.)
Una persona pierde la tarjeta del metro después de un mal día
¡Qué padre! Nomás eso faltaba. Ahora voy a llegar a la casa bien tarde.
A person loses their metro card after a bad day
Excellent, just what I needed! Now I’m gonna arrive home super late.
Sofía – Qué padre que te seas tan considerado.
Ricardo – ¿De qué me hablas?
Sofía – ¡Ayer fue mi cumpleaños y se te olvidó por completo!
Sofía – It’s amazing how thoughtful you are.
Ricardo – What are you talking about?
Sofia – Yesterday was my birthday and you completely forgot!
‘Qué padre’ pronunciation
To pronounce ‘qué padre’ just break it down into three syllables:
- ‘Qué’ sounds like ‘keh’
- ‘Pa’ is said like ‘pah’
- Finally, ‘dre’ sounds like ‘dreh’
/ keh pah-dreh /
‘Estar / ser padre’ meaning
‘Estar’ and ‘ser’ mean both ‘to be’ in English. In “normal” Spanish, ‘ser padre’ translates as ‘to be a father’, and the phrase ‘estar padre’ is actually grammatically incorrect because being a ‘padre’ is a “permanent state” (so you’d always use it with ‘ser’).
HOWEVER, in Mexican slang ‘padre’ is an adjective, and ‘estar padre’ means ‘to be cool’ / ‘to be awesome’ and the likes. It’s normally used with ‘estar’ (as opposed to ‘ser’) because the speaker is expressing his personal, subjective opinion.
You WILL also come across ‘ser padre’, but generally when the awesomeness of the thing in question is considered less subjective (although there is definitely some overlap / wiggle room) –
Esa alfombra está padre, pero creo que no va con la decoración de mi casa.
That rug is nice, but I don’t think it goes with my home decor.
Viajar con amigos es padre.
Traveling with friends is cool.
Check out our video on ‘ser’ and ‘estar’ if you’d like to know more about this colloquial use of ‘estar’ –
‘Muy padre’ meaning
‘Muy’ means ‘very’ in English, so ‘muy padre’ is used to describe something ‘very cool / nice’. As such, ‘muy padre’ is often used to show extra excitement about a situation or thing.
You might also come across ‘súper padre’ (‘super cool’) and ‘bien padre’ (‘very cool’) –
Tu cuadro está muy padre; eres una gran pintora.
Your painting is really cool; you’re a great painter.
Tenemos una amistad súper padre.
We have an amazing friendship.
Similar words / expressions to ‘qué padre’
This is the superlative of ‘padre’ and another way to say ‘muy padre’ or ‘very cool’ –
¡Tu vestido está padrísimo!
Your dress is gorgeous!
Padriuris / Padriurix
These are cute variations of ‘padre’ –
Mis nuevos tenis están padriuris.
My new sneakers are cool.
A toda madre
Did I mention that there are PLENTY of Mexican expressions with the word ‘madre’ as well?
‘A toda madre’ (literally ‘to full mother’ in English) is also a synonym of ‘cool’ or ‘awesome’ –
¿Ganaste el concurso de canto? ¡A toda madre*!
Did you win the singing contest? That’s amazing!
Hopefully you’ll be throwing this fun Mexican expression around in no time at all!
And the best part?
Well, you genuinely can throw it about willy-nilly because it really is a family-friendly phrase!
Ready for more amazing Mexican slang? Then check out the meaning of ‘conste’! Trust me when I say that it’s really gonna come in handy!