Here’s something short and sweet that you’ll hear and especially see (in emails, Facebook messages, Tweets, what have you) in Colombian Spanish. It’s apparently common in some other countries as well, but not in others, so if you’re trying the learn the Spanish specific to a certain country/city/Latin lover, run it by the local denizens first. Of what do I speak? A special use of the phrase, Hasta ahora, where you use it to mean “only just” and “not until now.”
Here’s the line from the Facebook message where I first encountered this phrase in December of 2010. He was a cute teacher I worked with in Bogotá and we went out a few times, but I ended up falling for a Paisa instead.
Hola, siento leer hasta ahora tu mensaje, espero que te haya ido muy bn en el christmas show, yo quería ir…ya qué!
I understood all the words in that message, but siento leer hasta ahora tu mensaje really set my head spinning. It seems painfully obvious to me now, but you can’t get to obvious without passing through oblivious. “I’m sorry to read until now…”, “I’m sorry to read until now…”. Whatever could it mean? Even though my Spanish was decent back then, and I knew a lot of vocabulary, I was still weak at intuitively grasping the meaning of phrases and switched-up syntax that I hadn’t come across before. If things didn’t come to me in the pre-packaged forms that I was comfortable and familiar with, one wacky preposition or creative rewording could easily make me feel utterly discombobulated.
And then it hit me. Aha! It’s like saying, Siento no leer hasta ahora tu mensaje. Or, Siento no haber leído hasta ahora tu mensaje. I’m sorry I didn’t see your message until now. I’m sorry to read (not) until now– OK. This was manageable. And then, before I knew it, it started cropping up everywhere. How handy! Before I knew it, I was writing it as often as I was receiving it. I reveled in being one phrase fluenter, and now you can too.
¡Llámame apenas puedas! ¡Es muy importante! Nena, ¿estás ahiiiii? ¡Necesito tu ayuda! – Hola, qué pena, hasta ahora me conecto.
Call me as soon as you can! It’s super important! Hey, are you there????? I need your help! – Hey, sorry, I just logged on.
¡Hasta ahora lo vengo a comprender! It’s just now that I’m starting to understand it!
Perdón, hasta ahora veo tu comentario. Sorry, I didn’t see your comment until now.
Hasta ahora puedo organizar algo debido al paro. Because of the strike, it’s just now that I can finally organize something.
¿Tu novio tiene hijo y hasta ahora te enteras? Your boyfriend has a son and you’re telling me you only found out just now?
Are you getting a feel for it? Another way you could say all of these phrases is with apenas ahora. In some countries, they use recién for this construction.
Hasta ahora me di cuenta que sigo enamorada de ti. It wasn’t till now that I realized that I’m still in love with you.
Hasta ahora me vengo a enterar de la existencia de esa regla. I just now learned of the existence of that rule.
¿Hasta ahora te das cuenta? You mean you didn’t know that till now?
When you ask it in a question, there’s often an undertone of incredulity and definitely a hint of tsk-tsking going on. Wait, are you trying to tell me you didn’t know till NOW? Seriously??? Dense much? A little slow on the uptake, are we? It’s quite subtle, though, and acts very “Who me?” coy and innocent. Perfect for a passive-aggressive catfight where you don’t want to outright say anything that smacks of insolence . . . you just want to imply it. It lets you wag your finger in their face and keep your hands in your pockets.
And this has all been leading us up to the post’s title– ¡Hasta ahora me desayuno! Count me as someone who had never heard this phrase before yesterday, but, well, me desayuné. Apparently, desayunarse can also mean to realize something. Thus, that line doesn’t mean “So far I eat myself for breakfast”–!!! Just imagine the setup, à la The Far Side. A mother calls her son who’s stranded on a desert island without any provisions. “I see, Leroy, so you catch fish for lunch and dinner, but what about breakfast??” No, no; relax. No one’s eating anyone else for breakfast or any other meal. It simply means “It’s news to me!” or “First time I’ve heard that” or “I just realized something . . .” Kind of like, I woke up and smelled the coffee.
¿En serio que Julio Jaramillo era ecuatoriano y no colombiano? ¡Hasta ahora me desayuno! Really, Julio Jaramillo was Ecuadorian and not Colombian? I seriously had no idea!
Hasta ahora me desayuno que los pulpos tienen pico. I just now learned that octopi have beaks.
Mija, ¿hasta ahora te desayunas de eso? Ay, pobrecita. Debería habértelo dicho. Sweetie, are you telling me you didn’t know that before? Poor thing–I should have told you.
_________________________________________________ Non-natives, what’s your experience with these phrases? Had you heard them before? How have you heard them used? Where? If you’re a native Spanish speaker, anything to correct, clarify, comment on or concur with?