“trabajar” means “to work” and “trabajo” means “job”, you can use both words and you will be understood.
However, Spanish native speakers use colloquial expressions or slang terms instead of using
“trabajo” and “trabajar”.
For instance, In Costa Rica, when we speak with friends, we use
“brete” (job) and bretear (to work) all the time, so you will probably hear “tengo que buscar brete” instead of “tengo que buscar trabajo”
In this post, we’ll explore different ways to say “work” in Spanish, from common verbs to more informal terms.
By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of how to use these words and how they can help you communicate more effectively in a professional and informal context.
Work in Spanish: Trabajo & Trabajar
To begin with, let’s explore some basic vocabulary related to work in Spanish.
“Trabajo” is the most common word for “work,” and it can refer to both employment and the physical effort required to complete a task.
Some related terms include
“empleo” (employment), “ocupación” (occupation), and “labor” (labor).
These sentences will help you understand it:
SPA Tengo una labor que hacer EN I have some work to do
SPA Mi trabajo es ayudar a los clientes EN My job is to help the clients.
SPA Yo estoy buscando trabajo EN I am looking for a job
SPA Tengo que trabajar EN I have to work
Work in Spanish: Chamba & Chambear
Now let’s move on to the more interesting part: slang and idiomatic expressions.
One of the most common ways to refer to work in a casual setting is “chamba.” This word is mostly used in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, and it can be both a noun and a verb.
SPA Yo tengo chamba EN I have a job
SPA Voy a chambear EN I am going to work
Work in Spanish: Curro & Currar
Other variations of this word include “curro” (Spain).
SPA Durante el día curro EN I work during the day
SPA Ahí te dan curro EN There you can get a job
SPA Tiene un montón de curro. EN She has a lot of work
SPA Ese es su nuevo curro. EN That’s his new job.
“Currar” is the verb in case you want to make sentences in Spanish about the past, present and future.
SPA He tenido que currar mucho. EN I’ve had to work so hard
SPA ¿Quieres currar en la cocina? EN Do you want a job in the kitchen?
SPA Estoy currando EN I am working
SPA ¡No volverás a currar en tu vida! EN You’ll never work again in your life!
Work in Spanish: Brete & Bretear
“Bretear” is a slang term commonly used in some Latin American countries such as Nicaragua and Costa Rica. It means “to work hard”
The word comes from the noun “brete” which means a job or task that requires effort and dedication.
SPA Tengo que bretear EN I have to work
SPA Estoy buscando brete EN I am looking for a job
SPA No tengo brete EN I am looking for a job
It is important to note that
“bretear” is considered a colloquialism and may not be widely understood or used in all Spanish-speaking regions.
Work in Spanish: Jale
“Jale” is another slang term used in some Spanish-speaking countries, particularly in Mexico.
It is an informal term to refer to a job or task, similar to the English word “gig.”
For example, if someone says “tengo un jale para mañana” it means “I have a job for tomorrow.”
SPA Mañana tengo que ir a mi jale temprano EN Tomorrow I have to go to my job early
SPA Conseguí un jale como mesero en un restaurante EN I got a job as a waiter in a restaurant
SPA ¿Ya tienes jale para el verano? EN Do you have a summer job yet?
SPA Tengo un jale nuevo en una tienda de ropa EN I have a new job at a clothing store