Useful Words

Words for everyday objects, particularly those concerned with agriculture, can vary from village to village

Acequia- irrigation channel. Traditionally made from stone or just cut into the earth but now often replaced with concrete channels or even plastic tubes. Normally maintained by the local Communidad de Regantes of which you will become a member if you buy irrigated land. There will usually be financial ( or even labour ) commitments attached to this membership. Be sure that your rights ( and, if possible, your obligations ) are stated in writing

Aceituna - an olive. An olive tree is an olivo

Agua potable - drinking water - usually supplied, chlorinated and metered by the local town hall

Albañil - builder

Alberca - water store usually fed by an acequia or, sometimes, a spring. Generally built with cement or corrugated metal. Sometimes tiled or painted and used as a swimming pool

Almacen - warehouse

Almacen de construcción - builders merchant

Ayuntamiento - town hall, town council

Azada - long handled hoe. They come in lots of shapes and sizes and are tremendously useful for all sorts of tasks on the land and when irrigating. A bigger version ( rodillo ) is often used for mixing cement by hand. Spades and forks are not often seen in the Alpujarra although the round shovel ( pala ) is in common use

Barreño - a washing up bowl. Although generally made from plastic it is still possible to buy very nice galvanised steel versions in a wide range of sizes

Catastro - government land registry and property valuation office. Most town halls have a catastro access service but the main office for the Alpujarras is in Granada

Calentador - water heater. May be powered by butane, electricity or the sun.

Camino, Carril - a track. May be earth or concrete. If your land has access via one be sure to find out your rights and other peoples rights to use it and any obligations to maintain it. Access tracks and irrigation water are the two biggest causes of disputes between neighbours

Cañizo - a roll of stripped, and sometimes split, cane useful for creating shade or a temporary fence. Usually sold in 5 metre lengths and in various widths

Carro - wheelbarrow, supermarket trolley

Casa - a house in a town or village

Casita - a small house. Often adjacent to a cortijo and used for letting to visitors

Chimenea - fireplace

Cochera - garage, as in a place to keep a car 

Compraventa - contract stating intention to buy / sell a property

Compuerta - a sluice gate used to divert water at a branch or exit of an acequia. Usually a steel plate with a handle on top which fits in grooves in the sides of the acequia

Cortijo - a house in the country

Cubo - bucket. Available in a wide range of sizes and in various materials. The black rubber version is particularly useful when working with cement

Darro - drain

Desbrozadora - strimmer

Escritura - property deeds. Sometimes called escritura de compraventa

Estiercol - manure

Estufa ( de leña ) - woodstove

Faena - work, task 

Ferretería - ironmonger's shop

Finca - a farm or smallholding

Fuente - a spring of water. If your land has one be sure to find out about your and other peoples rights to use it

Gallinera - chicken shed ( from gallina - chicken, hen )

Gasolinera - garage, as in petrol station 

Hacienda - tax office

Hormigon - concrete ( not concreto which means definite )

Hormigonera - cement mixer

Hostal - a cheap hotel

Huerto - a garden or a vegetable plot

Invernadero - a plant nursery or garden centre

Ladrillo - a clay building brick. Available in awide range of shapes and sizes

Leña - firewood. Usually sold by the kilo. Olive and almond are both good but make sure that they are properly seasoned otherwise you may have problems with your chimney.

Leñera - woodshed

Launa - grey shale used traditionally as a roof covering

Linde - boundary. Make sure yours are clearly marked and agreed by neighbours

Luz - literally light but usually means electricity. Luz de la red is mains electricity

Madera - timber

Manguera - hosepipe

Muro - wall

Motosierra - chain saw

Obra - building project

Nave - an agricultural building. Often sold as a house but legally is not licenced for living in. A change of use can sometimes be obtained but treat with caution

Notario - notary. A government approved lawyer authorised to witness contracts, exchange of property deeds and other important legal documents

Pala - shovel

Palo - pole

Palustra, palustre - cement trowel

Peon - a workman. Often availble for employment on a daily or weekly basis for either land or building work

Piscina - swimming pool

Placa solar - solar panel

Regante - a user of an acequia. Usually a member of the local Communidad de Regantes - a self governing body which ensures that each member receives the correct amount of water with which to irrigate his/her land and that the acequia is kept in good repair

Registro - local land registry

Respuesto, Recambio - spare part particularly for a car or machine

Tabique - a thin clay brick or an internal wall made from them

Torna - the point where water leaves an acequia and goes onto the land. Its mechanism may be a steel compuerta, a pile of gravel, a clump of grass, a stone, a plastic bag or a combination of any of these

Trabajo - work

Trabajador, trabajadora - worker

Trato - deal, agreement

Trastero - storeroom

Vecino/a - neighbour. It's a good idea to meet him or her before buying a property, particularly if in the country

Viga - a beam or rafter. Available in various types of wood ( round, square, smooth or rough ) or in steel or concrete

Yeso - locally made lime plaster