‘Te pasas’ – Meaning in Mexican Spanish

Quick answer –te pasas‘ is an expression often heard in everyday conversation in Mexico and other Latin American countries, particularly between friends and family. It’s the perfect way to tell someone that they’ve ‘gone too far‘ or ‘overstepped the mark‘!

Trust me when I say that you’re gonna hear this expression (and various other colloquial phrases!) A LOT in certain Latin American countries, so it’s well worth learning how to use it like a pro 😉

Uses/meanings of ‘te pasas‘ in Spanish

Te pasas‘ is mainly used in informal settings and normally means something like ‘you’ve gone too far‘.

It can be used in the following contexts –

  • Jokingly amongst friends

  • As a warning/in anger

Jokingly amongst friends

Te pasas‘ can be used when a friend says something mildly offensive or insulting, maybe they’re taking a friendly dig at a pal or making a teasing remark!

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!

Man in a colorful suit

*Expert tip – be sure to check out our article on ALL THINGS ‘NO MANCHES’ if you’re at all interested in Mexican Spanish! Trust me when I say that it’s chock-full of useful info!

As a warning/in anger

Te pasas‘ can also be used as a sort of verbal warning.

If someone directs a stern ‘te pasas‘ your way, then I definitely recommend you tone it down a bit as it’s normally used to warn someone that their behavior could be perceived as offensive OR that they’ve already overstepped the mark!

Woman saying "!Te pasas!"

Alberto – Si te pasas con tu novia, te va a cortar.

Óscar – Sí, ya lo sé.

Alberto – If you mistreat your girlfriend, she’s gonna break up with you.

Óscar – Yeah, I know.

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.

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"

Te pasas‘ vs ‘se pasan

Te pasas‘ refers to ONE person and ‘se pasan‘ refers to A GROUP of people (i.e., 2 or more).

Just remember that ‘pasarse‘ is a reflexive verb, which is basically a type of verb used when the subject (the person DOING the action) and the object (the person RECEIVING the action) are the same.

As such, a reflexive pronoun always goes before the verb in simple present conjugations –

me paso

te pasas

se pasa

nos pasamos

se pasan

Te pasas‘ pronunciation

There aren’t any hidden surprises when it comes to pronouncing ‘te pasas‘!

Just remember that the first syllable is stressed (‘te PAsas‘)

/ teh pah-sas /

Useful chunks with ‘te pasas

No te pases

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 la sopa.

Suegra – ¡No te pases!

Daughter – Mum, the soup is disgusting.

Mother-in-law – Don’t be so rude!

Rupert’s pro tip – note that the verb (i.e., ‘pases‘) ends with ‘es‘ instead of ‘as‘. This is because “negative tú” commands are formed using the present subjunctive in Spanish!

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, ideally in the company of good friends and family!

A lucha libre wrestler saying "Te pasas de lanza, wey" to his friend

It 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 a more formal alternative to ‘te pasas de lanza‘, and is more likely to be used by mothers/fathers than it is within your friendship group (at least in Mexico!).

It can be used in both formal and informal settings.

Te pasas de listo

Listo‘ means ‘smart‘ in Spanish, so this phrase roughly translates as ‘you’re being a smarty-pantsORyou’re being abusive‘ (i.e., taking advantage of your intelligence)!

Boy with soot on his face because his "Homework-Do-Matic" machine exploded

Before you go …

You’re on a bit of a roll, so why not dig into another super common phrase with the verb ‘pasar‘ …

Let me introduce your new favorite greeting: ‘QUÉ PASÓ’.

¡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.

And some cheeky vids ...

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