Using "o sea/es decir" to clarify, explain and express a consequence

When we want to introduce an extra explanation, clarification or a consequence of something that has just been mentioned previously, we can use the expression "o sea" or "es decir" then add the explanation/clarification/consequence.

Using one or the other will depend on the formality or informality of the sentence and the context. 

O sea  = more colloquial

For example:

Mañana es lunes, o sea, tengo que volver a la rutina.
Tomorrow is Monday, in other words, I have to go back to my routine.

Al final he salido pronto del trabajo, o sea, que tengo tiempo para una cerveza.
In the end I left work early, so, I have time for a beer.

He visto a Carlos con otra chica, o sea, que me está siendo infiel.
I saw Carlos with another girl, that is, he is being unfaithful.

Es decir = more formal

For example

Estudiaremos las civilizaciones precolombinas, es decir, antes de la llegada de Colón.
We'll study the prehispanic civilisations, i.e, before the arrival of Columbus.

Deben firmar en las dos páginas, es decir, en la página 2 y la página 4.
You must sign on both pages, i.e, on page 2 and page 4.

Este paquete lleva incluida la media pensión, es decir, el desayuno y la cena.
This package includes half board, that is, breakfast and dinner.

Both o sea and es decir are invariable expressions, i.e they do not change. It is also important to note that they must always be written as two words, not joined together. 

This is incorrect:

  • osea
  • esdecir

Note that you may sometimes see o sea at the beginning of a sentence, not being used with the function described above.

In this case it is set expression in colloquial Spanish, used to start a sentence with no specific meaning. It is the equivalent to the word "So..." in English, when starting a sentence. 

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

Al final he salido pronto del trabajo, o sea, que tengo tiempo para una cerveza.
In the end I left work early, so, I have time for a beer.


Este paquete lleva incluida la media pensión, es decir, el desayuno y la cena.
This package includes half board, that is, breakfast and dinner.


Mañana es lunes, o sea, tengo que volver a la rutina.
Tomorrow is Monday, in other words, I have to go back to my routine.


Deben firmar en las dos páginas, es decir, en la página 2 y la página 4.
You must sign on both pages, i.e, on page 2 and page 4.


Estudiaremos las civilizaciones precolombinas, es decir, antes de la llegada de Colón.
We'll study the prehispanic civilisations, i.e, before the arrival of Columbus.


He visto a Carlos con otra chica, o sea, que me está siendo infiel.
I saw Carlos with another girl, that is, he is being unfaithful.


Q&A Forum 4 questions, 5 answers

EmanuelB2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Lleva incluida

I would like to ask about the construction lleva incluida, how does it work? It seems to be differdng from the construction llevar plus active participle  (lesson in level B1) as incluida is a passive participle.

Asked 3 months ago
InmaKwiziq team member

Hola Emanuel

You'll find your answer here in this lesson:

Llevar + participio

I hope it's useful,

Inma

Lleva incluida

I would like to ask about the construction lleva incluida, how does it work? It seems to be differdng from the construction llevar plus active participle  (lesson in level B1) as incluida is a passive participle.

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CarlC1Kwiziq community member

¿Hay algún error ortográfico?

¿Bajo las AFFIRMATIVE COMMANDS, no debería ser "tráelos"?

Asked 5 months ago
InmaKwiziq team member

Hola Carl

I imagine you are referring to this sentence from our lesson about position of direct and indirect object pronouns with the imperative where we have this sentence:

¿Quieres que lleve los libros? -Sí, tráelos por favor.

-Do you want me to take the books? - Yes, bring them please.

It appears with an accent in the lesson, and as you say, yes it should have an accent on the "a", following the Spanish rules for accentuation.

If you were referring to another sentence please let us know so we can correct it if there is a typo.

Gracias y un saludo,

Inma

¿Hay algún error ortográfico?

¿Bajo las AFFIRMATIVE COMMANDS, no debería ser "tráelos"?

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EmanuelB2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Is "que" necessary in the second sentence ... que tengo tiempo?

Asked 6 months ago
InmaKwiziq team member

Hola Emanuel

that "que" is optional, you could omit it and say:

...o sea, tengo tiempo para una cerveza. 

It would also be grammatically correct and the meaning would be the same.

Saludos

Inma

Is "que" necessary in the second sentence ... que tengo tiempo?

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PapiB2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I am not seeing the difference in a sea /es decir

I have read through the explanations and have tested, but I really can't not differentiate the type of sentence between the two uses or concepts. Is there any other way to explain this, or some cue that might help me?

Thanks!

Asked 6 months ago
ShuiKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hola Papi

As it says in the lesson, there is no difference, they both mean the same thing. 

The only difference is in register, in this case the level of formality:

  • "o sea" is more colloquial (less formal)
  • "es decir" is more formal

This is why when you test you will see the hints guide you as to whether the speaker is being more or less formal.

I hope this clarifies things for you.

Saludos 

Shui

PapiB2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Thank you!   Yes, that did help.  The key is in the hint (colloquial/formal)!

I am not seeing the difference in a sea /es decir

I have read through the explanations and have tested, but I really can't not differentiate the type of sentence between the two uses or concepts. Is there any other way to explain this, or some cue that might help me?

Thanks!

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