‘Te la rifas’: Essential Mexican Slang!

Quick answer– in Mexican slang ‘te la rifas’ means something along the lines of ‘great job’ or ‘way to go’. The full form of the verb is ‘rifársela’.

There’s actually a whole raft of slang expressions derived from the humble ‘rifar´ (which literally translates as ‘to raffle’), including ‘rifado’ (which can be both a verb and an adjective!) and ‘rífate’, which is used as a form of encouragement.

By the end of this article, you’re sure to be a ‘rifado’ (an ace) in all things ‘rifarse’.

Let’s get into it!




Te la rifas

Te la rifas’ is used to tell someone that they’ve done a really good job.

It’s similar to the English expressions ‘great job’ and ‘way to go’.

A cactus playing th guitar and another saying "Te la rifas, wey."


Eduardo – ¡Qué bien juegas, Gabriel! Te la rifas.

Gabriel – Gracias, WEY. Entreno diario para ser el mejor.



Eduardo – ¡You play so well, Gabriel! Way to go!

Gabriel – Thanks, man. I train every day to be the absolute best.


Mateo – ¡Te la rifas! Son los mejores tacos que he comido.

Damián – ¿NETA? Qué gusto que te gustaron*.



Mateo – Great job! They’re the best tacos I’ve ever eaten.

Damián – For real? I’m glad you liked them.

Expert tip – THE VERB ‘GUSTAR’ can be a tricky customer; make sure to check out our article on its ins and outs if you wanna know more!


You’re also likely to hear ‘te la rifaste’ a lot; it’s the preterite (past tense) of ‘te la rifas’ and therefore implies that the person in question PERFORMED a task well.

A good translation would be ‘you nailed it’.

¡Qué buen trabajo hiciste! ¡LA NETA, te la rifaste!

You did such a good job! Honestly, you absolutely nailed it!


And what does the ‘la’ refer to?

Well, it refers to the difficult task/activity being discussed*!

Te rifaste la tarea.

You nailed the task.



Te rifaste la chamba.

You did a great job.

*Rupert’s pro tip – when using ‘te la rifaste’ or ‘te la rifas’, ‘la’ is always used to denote the noun irrespective of whether it’s masculine or feminine.

Oh, and you can also leave the ‘la‘ out completely and just say ‘te rifas’ or ‘te rifaste’ … Mexicans do it all the time 😉


Rífate

Rífate’ is used to encourage someone to complete a (normally risky!) task.

For example, if you’re at a bar and your pal wants to ask a girl to dance but can’t quite pluck up the courage, you could use ‘¡Vas! ¡Rífate!’ to encourage him –

A beautiful female cactus dancing and a male cactus (drawling slightly) watching her. His friend (not shown) is telling him "¡Rífate!"


Daniel – No sé, no creo que quiera…

Andrés – ¡Vas! ¡Rífate! No pierdes nada. Si no quiere pues ni modo, pero al menos lo intentaste.



Daniel – I don’t know, I don’t think she wants to …

Andrés – C’mon! Do it! You’ve got nothing to lose. If she doesn’t want to, well … there’s nothing you can do about it, but at least you will have tried.


Or imagine you’re on a hike, and you come across a small river that can only be crossed by a rickety bridge, you could say ‘¡Rífate!‘ to give your nervous pal an extra boost of courage –

Javier – No me vaya a caer ahí y me voy a mojar todo…

Mario – No está tan complicado te lo juro. ¡Rífate!



Javier – What if I fall in? I don’t want to get all wet …

Mario – I swear it’s not that difficult. Just do it!


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"



Rifa

If you’re a really big fan of something, this can be expressed by adding a ‘rifa’ after the noun in question.

Mi maestro de español rifa. Me encantan sus clases.

My Spanish teacher is so cool. I love his lessons.



¡Esta pelicula rifa!

This is such a good film.



¡Esta cerveza sí que rifa!

This beer is really good!


You can also say ‘sí rifa’ if you wanna agree with a statement and/or say that something’s good ­–

Jimena – No sé si pedir un matcha…¿está rico?

Manuel – Sí rifa.



Jimena – I don’t know whether to order a matcha…is it good?

Manuel – It is.

Rifado

‘Rifado’ can be used as both a noun and an adjective.

If someone is ‘un rifado’ (noun) at his job, he’s seriously good at it!

AND you can also describe someone as ‘rifado/a’ (adjective) at something.

Manuel es un rifado en la batería.

Manuel kills it with the drums.



Sarah es bien rifada para cocinar.

Sarah is an ace in the kitchen.

Rífate con

Rífate con’ is used to ask someone a favor.

The structure is rífate con + noun OR rífate + gerund.

rífate + gerund

Rífate lavando los trastes, porfa.

Give me a hand and do the dishes, please


rífate con + noun

María – Rífate con las chelas*, ¿sí? Yo ya puse la comida.

Julia – Sí, no hay problema. Yo las compro.



María – Buy the beers, will ya? I already bought the food.

Julia – Sure, no problem. I’ll buy them.

Rupert’s pro tip –una chela‘ is MEXICAN SLANG FOR A BEER! You might also hear ‘cheve‘, or ‘CAGUAMA’ (which is the equivalent of a forty-ounce!).


Rifarse un tiro

This phrase translates to ‘get into a fight’ (‘un tiro’ is a fight in Mexican slang!).

The textbook word for fight in Spanish is ‘pelea’, but you’ll also hear other words like ‘pleito’ or ‘riña’.


Damián y Carlos se rifaron un tiro ayer afuera el bar.

Damián and Carlos fought each other yesterday outside the bar.



Me rifé un tiro con un chavo que quiso asaltarme.

I got into a fight with a guy who tried to rob me.


Before you go …

If you want to keep ‘rifándotela’ (doing an excellent job!) with your Mexican Spanish, definitely mosey on down to our article on all the different uses of ‘QUÉ ROLLO’ (another super useful colloquial phrase!).

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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