Mismo can mean ‘right’, ‘same’, or ‘only’. You can use mismo in phrases like el mismo, lo mismo, and mí mismo.
You can also use mismo as an adjective, pronoun, or adverb.
In this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about mismo including how to use it in each of its forms plus some common phrases with mismo. You’ll also find answers to a few of the most common questions with this handy Spanish word.
Mismo as an adjective, adverb, or pronoun
Mismo can be puzzling because you will see and hear it as an adjective, adverb, or pronoun.
I’ll explain the uses of mismo in more detail below. But, first I want to prepare you for how to think about this word in each of its forms.
As an adjective, just like most Spanish adjectives, mismo has to agree with the noun it modifies in both gender and number. Here are a few examples:
English: The same place.
Español: El mismo lugar.
English: The same week.
Español: La misma semana.
English: The same customs.
Español: Las mismas costumbres.
When you use mismo as an adjective, you always have to place it before the noun. Adjective word order in Spanish isn’t simple, often adjectives go after the noun, but there are a few adjectives that always break this rule, and mismo is one of them.
As an adverb, mismo isn’t translated as ‘same’. Mostly, when you use mismo as an adverb you will do so to add emphasis. There are more examples below, but here is a common one:
English: Right now.
Español: Ahora mismo.
As a pronoun, mismo can replace a noun—provided the noun is clear from context. For example:
English: I caught a fish, threw it back, and caught the same one the following day.
Español: Cogí un pez, lo devolví, y cogí el mismo al día siguiente.
As you can see, you need to spend some time practising the different forms of mismo because they don’t always have an English equivalent.
Next, let’s go through each of the most common contexts and phrases for this useful Spanish word.
1. Mismo to mean the same
In this first use, mismo acts like the English adjective ‘same’. Here you can use mismo to describe things like the same street, the same idea, the same outfit, or the same time.
English: I can’t write and listen to music at the same time.
Español: No puedo escribir y escuchar música al mismo tiempo.
English: I do not like my job because we all have to wear the same outfit.
Español: No me gusta mi trabajo porque todos tenemos que llevar el mismo traje.
2. Mismo to mean identical
As a subtle change from the previous use, you can also use mismo to mean ‘identical’. Here you can describe physical things that are identical like height, weight, and colour.
English: Your shirt and mine are of identical color.
Español: Tu camisa y la mía son del mismo color.
English: I need five identically sized portions of rice.
Español: Necesito cinco porciones de arroz del mismo tamaño.
3. Mismo to mean similar
You can also use mismo to mean ‘similar’. Again, this is only a subtle change so you should hopefully be able to remember and use these three uses of mismo well.
Here you can refer to doing things in a ‘similar’ way. You will see this use of mismo in phrases like misma manera or misma forma, which both mean ‘same way’ or ‘similar way’.
English: You have the same way of talking as your brother.
Español: Tienes la misma forma de hablar que tu hermano.
English: These problems don’t affect everybody in the same way.
Español: Estos problemas no afectan a todos de la misma manera.
4. The phrase ‘lo mismo’
So what is the difference between el mismo and lo mismo?
Well up until this point in the post I haven’t given any examples of lo mismo. So you will hopefully recognize that el mismo is either a pronoun or an adjective and goes before the noun:
English: My job is not the same anymore.
Español: Mi trabajo ya no es el mismo.
English: The same day.
Español: El mismo día.
In contrast, when you combine lo with mismo you get a phrase that means:
English: That which is the same / the same thing.
Español: Lo mismo.
It is similar to other phrases with lo, such as:
English: That which is the best / the best thing.
Español: Lo mejor.
English: That which is the worst / the worst thing.
Español: Lo peor.
The best way to determine when to use lo mismo is to think of the phrase ‘the same thing’. Whenever you would say something like ‘it’s the same thing!’ in English, use lo mismo in Spanish:
English: He always says the same thing.
Español: Siempre dice lo mismo.
English: For me, it’s not the same thing.
Español: Para mí, no es lo mismo.
English: He took a break and I did the same thing.
Español: Él hizo un descanso y yo hice lo mismo.
Once you’ve wrapped your head around lo mismo, you then have another important distinction to make.
When is something lo mismo (the same thing), and when is something igual (equal)?
5. Lo mismo vs igual
It has taken me a while to get my head around the difference between lo mismo and igual.
I have often been corrected by native speakers when mixing up the use of these two synonyms for ‘same’ in Spanish. And it’s only recently that I’ve discovered a reasonable explanation for the difference. This due to the fact that the difference is quite complicated. But, I’ll do my best to simplify the explanation.
From the previous section, you’ll know that the best translation of lo mismo is as follows:
English: That which is the same.
Español: Lo mismo.
For igual, the translation is:
Next, you need to decide whether you are talking about a comparison between nouns or an adverbial comparison. In other words, are you talking about ‘the same thing’ or doing something in ‘the same way’?
For example, if you are talking about the same thing, you could say:
English: He asked for a beer, I asked for the same thing (that which is the same).
Español: Él pidió una cerveza, y pedí lo mismo.
In contrast, if you are making a comparison between actions, you could say:
English: He walks the same as his friend (in the same way).
Español: Camina igual a su amigo.
If you are making a comparison between two things or people, and you think they are like one another, you have to use igual:
English: Lucía is the same as her mother.
Español: Lucía es igual a su madre.
As a side note, you can also use parecer for making comparisons in a similar way to this example.
To test you further, there is one scenario where lo mismo and igual are interchangeable. This happens when you are making a value judgement about two things and how they compare. For example:
English: Visiting a place is not the same thing as reading about it.
Español: No es lo mismo visitar un lugar que leer sobre ello.
Español: No es igual visitar un lugar que leer sobre ello.
English: Loving is not the same thing as being in love.
Español: No es lo mismo amar que estar enamorado.
Español: No es igual amar que estar enamorado.
6. Mí mismo, ti mismo, si mismo
Another technically challenging use of mismo occurs with phrases that mean ‘myself’, ‘yourself’, or ‘oneself’.
There are two ways to think about mismo in this context:
- For use after a preposition
- For use with pronominal verbs (reflexive or reciprocal verbs)
In the first case, you use mismo after a preposition to add emphasis to the reflexive nature of the action. For example:
English: I can do it by myself.
Español: Lo puedo hacer por mí mismo.
You could say ‘lo puedo hacer‘ (I can do it), but just like English, you would use ‘por mí mismo‘ to remind the person you are speaking with that you don’t want their help.
Something else to consider, if you are going to use these phrases with the preposition con, you need to combine the mí with con to form conmigo. For example:
English: I’m angry with myself.
Español: Estoy enfadado conmigo mismo.
The other way you’ll see these phrases (mi mismo, ti mismo etc.) is with reflexive or reciprocal verbs. This time, you’ll specifically use the preposition ‘a‘. For example, notice the difference between these two examples:
English: I consider myself lazy.
Español: Me considero perezoso.
English: They don’t consider me lazy, I consider myself lazy.
Español: Ellos no me consideran perezoso, me considero a mí mismo perezoso.
7. Phrases with mismo
Lastly, you can use mismo as an adverb in a few common Spanish phrases.
As I mentioned earlier, when you use mismo as an adverb it no longer means ‘same’. Instead, the meaning of mismo depends on the phrase. Let’s look at a few examples.
The example from before was:
English: Right now.
Español: Ahora mismo.
Here you can see that mismo is taking ahora to the next level. It’s not ‘now’, it’s ‘right now’.
Similarly, you can use mismo to add emphasis as follows:
English: I’ll wait for you right here.
Español: Aquí mismo te espero.
English: We arrived only yesterday.
Español: Llegamos ayer mismo.
Finally, the last common phrase worth practising is:
English: Moreover / similarly / in addition.
Español: Así mismo.
How many of these uses of mismo have seen or heard before?
More importantly, how many of these uses have you used in a Spanish conversation?
Your goal as a Spanish student should be to forever improve your active vocabulary and the best way to do that is to use words, phrases, and expressions that you come across as soon and as often as you can.
How else can you use mismo in a Spanish sentence?