Uses of the verb “valer”

There is nothing more Spanish than saying “vale”. A word that has many uses depending on the situation, the tone and the context. The word “vale” is part of the daily vocabulary and when we begin to understand how the Spanish language works, we will start using it a lot!

How about learning the uses of the word “vale”?

To help you understand how to use this Spanish word, we are going to show you different examples.

Affirmative use of vale

Antonio – Hola Juan, ¿Te apetece ir al cine? (Hi John, would you like to go to the cinema?)
Juan – ¡Vale! (Ok!)

Here the meaning of vale is to accept the proposal. In this case, John is happy to go to the cinema. There is no difference in meaning in saying vale or de acuerdo, nor is there a difference in the desire to carry out an action. Nevertheless, if we say it in a certain tone, vale can express indifference. In this case, we usually say “pues, vale” or “bueno, vale”, indicating that we don’t care, or that we agree on doing something without any eagerness.

Vale = “me parece bien” = “estoy de acuerdo”
Vale = “I think it’s fine” = “I agree”.

Imperative use of vale

María – ¿Quieres agua? (Would you like some water?)
Teresa – Sí por favor – En ese instante, María vierte agua en el vaso de Teresa y ella dice – Vale, vale, vale.  (Yes please – At that moment, Mary pours water into Teresa’s glass and she says – Ok, ok, ok, ok)

In this second example Teresa, by repeating the word vale several times, is telling Maria to stop pouring water. In this case, the word vale has a function of imperative or plea, as she is telling Maria that she does not want any more water. Another expression that Teresa could have used is “es suficiente”, “es bastante” or simply to raise her hand and say thank you. All these forms indicate that something is no longer desired. It can be used not only in the context of food, for example when the waiter fills your glass or someone serves you food. It can also be used when a child is constantly doing the same repetitive action. In this second case, vale means that enough is enough and is sometimes accompanied by the word ya: “ya vale” a phrase that children hear a lot from their parents 🙂

Vale = para = suficiente
Vale = stop = enough

Interrogative use of vale

Pepe – ¿Qué/Cuánto vale esa camisa?  (How much is that shirt?)
Laura – Vale 5€  (It’s 5€)

That is another use of the word vale. In this case we are asking for the price, i.e. how much it costs. Although there are people who use valer and costar indifferently, the truth is that many Spaniards use the verb valer when they refer to objects of lesser value.

Vale = cuesta (precio)
Vale = costs (price)

Vale = to be useful/to be good at

Let’s analyse the following sentences:

– Ese bolígrafo vale para escribir en la pizarra (That pen is good for writing on the blackboard)
– Esta batería no vale para el móvil  (This battery is not good for the mobile phone)

As we can see in these sentences, we are using vale as a synonym of the verb servir. In both sentences we are indicating to the listener that both the pen and the battery are not useful for the function we expect of them. This means that we cannot use the pen to write on the blackboard and that the battery is not the right one for the phone. We can also use the expression “tú sí que vales” to indicate that a person is good at something. For instance, we can say “tú si que vales para cantante”. In this case, we would be praising someone by saying that she/he is good at singing.

Vale = better

This form of vale is preceded by the quantifier más and indicates that something is better than something else. There are several Spanish proverbs with the expression “más vale”. Although many of them are being lost, there are some that are still in use:

Más vale tarde que nunca (Better late than ever)
Más vale que llore el hijo que no el padre (Better for the son to cry than for the father to cry)
Más vale que sobre que no que falte (Better too much that too little)
Más vale ser que parecer (Better to be than to seem)
Más vale práctica que gramática (Better practice than grammar)

I’m sure you are very curious to know the use and meaning of some of these expressions, but we’ll leave this task to your teachers, ¿Vale?