Spanish verbs rallar and rayar are homophones words. They sound alike but have different meanings. If you do not know the difference yet, take a look at the blog of El Rincón del Tándem Spanish school! Here below you will find a short and useful explanation ?

When you study Spanish, one of the topics you should spend some time exploring is homophones. Misunderstanding and confusion comes when using words that sounds the same but are different in meaning, like the Spanish verbs rallar and rayar.

First of all, we remind that a homophone word is a word that sounds the same as another word but differs in meaning and, in some cases, also in spelling.

Therefore, at our Spanish school, we teach them to help our students avoid mistakes or even embarrassing situations when speaking with Spanish natives ?

Today we focuse on the difference between rallar and rayar.
Let’s start!


The Spanish verb RALLAR, with double LL, means “to grate”

Ana ha rallado un trozo de queso parmesano = Ana has grated a piece of parmesan cheese
Por favor, ¿Puedes rallar dos zanahorias? = Could you, please, grate two carrots?

To avoid any confusions between rallar and rayar, just read carefully what is written on the package of some food while doing the shopping at the market.

Besides queso rallado, in Spanish markets or supermarket you can also find tomate rallado (grated tomato) or coco rallado (grated coconut).


By replacing double LL with Y we will get a different Spanish verb: RAYAR.
Let’s see the main meanings of this verb:

1. To scratch

Ayer mi gato rayó el sofá de piel = My cat scratched the leather sofa
Alguien rayó la puerta de mi coche = Someone scratched my car door

2. To scribble on

Mi sobrinita rayó la pared de la cocina con crayones = My little niece scrabbled on the kitchen wall with crayons

3. To cross out

El profesor raya los errores con un bolígrafo rojo = The teacher crosses out mistakes with a red pen

Furthermore, in some Spanish speaking countries, RAYAR is used in colloquial language with the meaning of “drive somebody crazy”. The reflexive form “rayarse” can be translated in English as “get annoyed”.

Alex siempre me raya con sus mentiras = Alex always drives me crazy with his lies

And this usage has much sense considering that when we get crazy, we start behaving in strange way as long play does when it gets scratched (un disco rayado in Spanish) ?

We hope this post on the Spanish verbs: rallar and rayar will help you to use them correctly and in the right situations.
As usual, we invite all our students to learn more about Spanish verbs and practice the language inside and outside the classroom.

Finally, we remind you that El Rincón del Tándme Spanish school would be glad to provide you with Spanish classes here in Valencia ?

Have a good day!