Spanish word of the week: hecho

This week’s Spanish word of the week is the noun hecho.

You can listen to the pronunciation of hecho in the audio clip below:

Apart from being the past participle of hacer, hecho is also a masculine noun, and the commonest way of expressing the idea of a fact:

Es un hecho conocido. It’s a well-known fact.

Por favor, limítese a los hechos. Please confine yourself to the facts.

In its meaning of fact you often use hecho to introduce a clause with the structure el hecho de que

Su éxito se explica por el hecho de que atraen a un púbico de todas las edades. Their success is explained by the fact that they appeal to audiences of all ages.

In the previous example the verb in the clause is in the indicative —atraen— because the writer is making a clear statement about something they perceive to be a fact. Compare that with the following example:

Me sorprende el hecho de que haya tanta gente en contra.  I am surprised by the fact that so many people are against it.

You don’t only use the subjunctive after verbs, but also in certain kinds of noun clause, such as el hecho de que. In the example above the verb haya is in the subjunctive because the person concerned is expressing an emotion —Me sorprende— which is one of the factors dictating that you use the subjunctive.

You often use el hecho es quethe fact is… when you want to express your view of a situation in a forceful way:

El hecho es que los documentos has desaparecido. The fact of the matter is that the documents have disappeared.

It can also have practically the opposite meaning. You use it to introduce a statement you’re apologetic about, in which case the translation is the thing is…, or the trouble is

El hecho es que no vamos a poder terminarlo a tiempo. The thing is, we’re not going to be able to finish it in time.

Come back next week for another insight into Spanish vocabulary!

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