‘Qué padre’ – Mexican Slang 101

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!

Cartoon of "un padre"


In short – ‘qué padre’ is an EXTREMELY popular Mexican expression akin to ‘that’s awesome’ and ‘how cool’.

Read on to find out EVERYTHING there is to know about this most Mexican of phrases!




Uses / Meanings of ‘qué padre

Qué padre’ can be used in the following ways –

  • As an interjection, meaning ‘that’s awesome/great’

  • To describe an awesome thing, place, or experience

  • Sarcastically


As an interjection, meaning ‘that’s awesome/great

I’ve come across A LOT of fun ways to express surprise or joy in Mexican Spanish, but not all of them are family-friendly or suitable for the office (yep, I’m looking at you, ¡A TODA MADRE!).

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’!

Woman saying, "¿En serio? ¡Qué padre!"


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.



To describe an awesome thing, place, or experience

Qué padre’ can also mean ‘nice’, ‘cool’, or even ‘beautiful’ when describing a particular object.

The structure here is generally as follows –

Man saying, "¡Qué padre está tu carro, wey!"



QUÉ PADRE(S) + ESTÁ/ESTÁN + OBJECT

Alex – Oye, qué padre está tu CARRO 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.


En la playa viendo el atardecer

Abuelo – ¡Qué padres* están los colores!

Nieta – ¡Sí! Tiene rojo, naranja, morado…



Watching the sunset at the beach

Grandpa – The colors are amazing!

Granddaughter – Yeah! It’s red, orange, purple …

*Rupert’s pro tip – ‘padre’ is a noun in Spanish, BUT in Mexican slang it also 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.



Oh, and 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 some photos from 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.



Sarcastically

As with many slang expressions, you need to pay careful attention to intonation because, well, they can often be used ironically.

An ironic ‘qué padre’ describes the exact opposite of all the above (i.e., a nasty situation, something of bad quality, etc.)!

Woman saying, "¡Qué padre que seas tan considerado!"


Sofía – Qué padre que 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!




By the way, if you wanna top up on your Mexican slang, you NEED to check out our “Master Guide” … it’s everything you need to know all in one place 👇🌵🇲🇽

Erika pointing to the word "Mexican Slang Master Guide"



Using padre‘ with ‘ser‘ and ‘estar’

So, as I’ve already mentioned, ‘padre‘ can also be used as an ADJECTIVE in Mexican slang.

As an adjective, it’s normally used with ‘estar’ (as opposed to ‘ser’) because the speaker is expressing his/her personal, subjective opinion about something.

You WILL also come across ‘ser padre’, but generally when the awesomeness of the thing in question is considered less subjective (although in my experience there’s 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’ –

Qué padre’ pronunciation

To pronounce ‘qué padre’, it’s easiest to break it down into three syllables:

  • ‘Qué’ sounds like ‘keh’

  • ‘Pa’ is said like ‘pah’

  • Finally, ‘dre’ sounds like ‘dreh’

Just watch out for that ‘dr‘ in the final syllable!

You’re going to have to stick about an inch of your tongue between your teeth to pronounce the ‘d‘ sound and then quickly flick it against the ridge of the hard palate to correctly produce the ‘r suave‘ (or ‘soft r‘).

For me personally, this was EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to get right (and I still struggle a bit if I’m being honest!), so it might take some practice!

/ keh pah-dreh /


Similar words/expressions


Padrísimo

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’

A rocker saying "¡Estuvo a toda madre."


¿Ganaste el concurso de canto? ¡A toda madre!

Did you win the singing contest? That’s amazing!


Before you go

Ready for more amazing Mexican slang?

Then make sure to check out the MEANING OF ‘CONSTE’! Trust me when I say that it’s REALLY gonna come in handy!

¡Hasta pronto!

Rupert's lived in Mexico for nearly a decade and has been working as a Spanish teacher for even longer (over 10 years now, wow!). He specializes in simple (yet effective) explanations and is a veritable grammar-whizz.

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