Quick answer – ‘te pasas‘ is a Mexican expression often heard in everyday conversation, particularly between friends and family. It’s the perfect way to tell your friends that they’ve ‘gone too far‘ or ‘overstepped the mark‘!
The Royal Spanish Academy defines ‘pasar’ as to go further than a certain or determined point.
Similarly, the reflexive verb ‘pasarse‘ and the conjugation ‘te pasas‘ are used when someone goes past an acceptable limit, either in action or word (eek!).
Different uses / meanings of ‘te pasas‘ in spanish
This expression is mainly used in informal settings and normally means something along the lines of ‘You’ve gone too far‘.
It can be used in the following circumstances –
- Jokingly amongst friends
- As a way to warn someone that something they’ve said could be perceived as offensive
- Used in anger when you feel that someone has truly overstepped the mark / spoken out of turn
Jokingly amongst friends
In this context, ‘te pasas‘ can be used when a friend says something mildly offensive or insulting, maybe even taking a friendly dig at a pal.
José Luis – ¡No manches, wey! Eduardo parece payaso en ese traje de colores.
Manuel – Jaja, ¡te pasas, wey!
José Luis – No way*, dude! Edward looks like a clown in that colorful suit.
Manuel – Haha, don’t be rude, man!
*Erika’s note – be sure to check out our article on all the different ways to say ‘no way’ in Spanish! Trust me when I say that it’s chock-full of useful info!
As a warning
‘Te pasas‘ can also be used as a sort of verbal warning.
This use of ‘te pasas‘ has more “serious” undertones and is normally intended to warn someone that they’ve said something offensive.
Alberto – Si te pasas con tu novia, te va a cortar.
Óscar – Sí, ya lo sé.
Alberto – If you treat your girlfriend badly, she’s gonna break up with you.
Óscar – Yeah, I know.
Used in anger
When used in anger, the speaker is usually telling their interlocuter that they’ve said something offensive!
If you hear ‘te pasas‘ spoken in anger, you’d do well to apologize or to try to make amends (‘hacer las paces‘)!
Mamá – ¡Te pasas! ¡Estás castigada sin salir!
Hija – Lo siento mucho, no lo vuelvo a hacer.
Mum – You’ve gone too far this time! You’re grounded!
Daughter – I’m so sorry, I won’t do it again.
‘No te pases‘ meaning
This expression (known as a “negative imperative” or “negative command”) is used when you think that someone is about to say something offensive or overstep the mark.
It’s often used as a means of warning someone that they’re angry and could accidentally say something rude!
I often hear my ‘suegra‘ using this phrase with her daughters –
Hija – Mamá, está bien gacha (‘disgusting‘) la sopa.
Suegra – ¡No te pases!
Daughter – Mum, the soup is disgusting.
Mother-in-law – Don’t be so rude!
Note that the verb (‘te pases‘) ends with ‘es‘ instead of ‘as‘. This is because negative tú commands are formed using the present subjunctive in Spanish –
¡No corras! = Don’t run!
¡No comas eso! = Don’t eat that!
¡No te pases! = Don’t be rude!
‘Te pasas‘ vs ‘se pasan‘
The difference between ‘te pasas‘ and ‘se pasan‘ is that ‘te pasas‘ refers to one person and ‘se pasan‘ refers to a group of people (2 or more).
‘Pasarse‘ is a reflexive verb, a verb in which the subject (the person DOING the action) and the object (the person RECEIVING the action) are the same.
Another example would be ‘lavarse‘, which literally means ‘to wash oneself‘.
Being a reflexive verb, a reflexive pronoun always goes before the verb in simple present conjugations –
Here are a few more examples –
¿Me estoy pasando de lanza, verdad?
I’m being rude, aren’t I?
¡Ya se súper pasó!
He already went way too far!
Meaning of ‘te pasas de lanza’ / ‘te pasas de la raya‘ / ‘te pasas de listo‘
Te pasas de lanza
This one’s extremely common in Mexico and I often hear it when travelling on the metro in Mexico City.
It’s more colloquial than ‘te pasas‘ and should therefore only be used in more “familiar” settings, normally with good friends and family!
Interestingly, this phrase supposedly comes from a chapter in the epic tale Don Quixote in which the eponymous main character attacks 30-40 windmills with his lance!
Te pasas de la raya
‘Te pasas de la raya‘ is considered a more “correct” phrase, and is more likely to be used by mothers / fathers than it is within your friendship group.
It can be used in both formal and informal settings.
Te pasas de listo
Another variation of the phrase is ‘te pasas de listo‘; ‘listo‘ means ‘smart‘ in spanish, so this phrase roughly translates as ‘you’re being a smarty-pants‘ OR ‘you’re being abusive‘ (i.e., taking advantage of your intelligence)!
‘Te pasas‘ pronunciation
There are no hidden surprises when pronouncing ‘te pasas‘, just remember that the stress is on the first two letters of ‘pasa‘ (‘te PAsas‘)
/ teh pah-sas /
That’s all for today, folks!
Hopefully you´ll now know exactly what to do the next time you’re on the receiving end of a ‘te pasas‘!
If you want to know more colloquial Mexican spanish then our article on the ever-popular ‘ándale‘ isn’t a bad place to start!