Just being facetious, of course. I’m neither for nor against afán per se; I simply liked the ring of that phrase. You know, just going for a catchy title to lure in the big spenders. Sometimes I’m very pro-afán; other times, I’m no fan of afán at all. What say you? Oh, did I miss something? Why, it seems a definition of terms is quite in order. All right, I’ll admit that just as I once had to plead for an explanation of afán, you guys are just as entitled to one. Aquí va.
You know that to say hurry or rush, you reach for prisa.
Not so in Colombia.
In Colombia, the word you usually want is afán. El afán. I don’t know why they have to make things difficult, they just do. Fortunately, you’ll hear this word so often in Colombia that it will get drilled into you very quickly, leaving prisa to shiver out in the cold.
Siéntate y tómate un tinto conmigo. ¿O tienes afán? Sí, qué pena. Tengo much afán, ya me tengo que ir.
Sit down and have a coffee with me. Or are you in a hurry? I am, unfortunately. I’m really in a rush, and I have to leave now.
Cuando tengas tiempito, me gustaría que habláramos sobre la novela. Pero tampoco hay afán, no importa cuando sea.
When you have some time, I’d like to talk about the novel with you. There’s no rush, though. It can be whenever.
Ojalá pudiéramos ir al bar con ustedes, pero estamos de afán. Es que cuadramos algo con la hermana de ella.
I wish we could go to the bar with you guys, but we’ve got to get a move on. We made plans with her sister.
¿Cuál es el afán? ¿Para qué tanto afán?
What’s the hurry? All this rushing about and for what?
“Es que voy de afán”, dice la mayoría de conductores infractores (Headline from noticiascaracol.com)
“I was in a hurry”, say the majority of law-breaking drivers
Here are two screenshots from the accompanying video:
Oh, those Colombians! Well, at least they’re honest.
So, as you’ve seen, three ways to say that someone is in a rush in Colombia are: tener afán, estar de afán and ir de afán.
Perennially late, I was always tempted to tell taxi drivers that iba de afán, but I never did, afraid of seeming like a real jackass. I mean, who isn’t in a hurry? Who was I, some royal duchess? And, besides, what was I going to do in exchange for them going at an even more breakneck speed than usual? Pay double? Anyway, I usually had great and very colorful conversations with the taxi drivers. It would have been a shame to have cut them short.
A useful verb is afanar/afanarse. I usually heard it in the phrase: No te afanes. Sometimes it’s “Don’t rush; take your time” ; other times it’s more like “Don’t worry; don’t stress.” Often it’s a mix of the two.
Of course, prisa is understood in Colombia and occasionally used. But very, very occasionally, diría yo.
The standard meaning for afán is eagerness, thirst, anxiousness, zeal.
And here’s a new one for me: apuro. I didn’t realize that it was another synonym for prisa and afán. I knew apurarse—¡apúrate!— (also used in Colombia) and the other meaning for apuro, but I didn’t know it could also mean hurry/rush. Apparently it’s very Latin American, which is good, because that’s where I spend most of my time. Hm . . . hasta ahora me desayuno. Speaking of desayuno . . . I think that sounds like a great idea right about now. I’m off to rummage about for some.
What about you? Did you know about afán? Are you a fan? What other words and phrases for being in a hurry in Spanish do you know? If you’re a native Spanish speaker, anything to correct, clarify, comment on or concur with? How about ándale and dale caña? Those are two other phrases I wonder about.