¡Cállate! and learn how to say Shut Up in Spanish
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Learning a new language involves not only vocabulary, grammar, and phonetics, but also understanding different expressions to effectively communicate various meanings and intentions. Knowing how to tell someone to shut up in Spanish is one of them!
While it may seem trivial, knowing how to politely ask someone to be quiet can actually prevent misunderstandings and help you communicate more effectively with native speakers. Choosing the right words is important in any language, and this includes knowing how to convey your request in a respectful manner… or not!
Today’s post is about how to tell someone to shut up in different contexts and situations. We start by exploring the more gentle and polite requests that may even be expressed in a hushed tone, and gradually progress to those that come across as more forceful or even shouted.
So shush now and let’s get to it!
¿Puedes bajar la voz, por favor?
Can you keep your voice down, please?
This is a gentle way of asking someone to be quiet. We generally use this phrase in formal contexts, where you don’t know the people very well or you don’t want to sound rude. Making a request with a question, as well as intonation, both serve to soften demands in Spanish.
- Excuse me, can you keep your voice down, please? – Disculpa, ¿puedes bajar la voz por, por favor?
To address someone more formally, you can use puede (usted) instead of puedes (tú). If you’re unfamiliar with this nuance, check out our post on usted vs tú.
- I’m sorry, can you keep your voice down, please? – Disculpe, ¿puede bajar la voz, por favor?
If you need many people to keep it quiet, you just have to conjugate the verb poder in plural form:
- ¿Pueden bajar la voz, por favor? – Can you keep your voices down, please?
Baja la voz, por favor
Keep your voice down, please
This phrase is similar to the previous one, but instead of using a question to make the request, it uses the imperative mood to make a demand. It’s giving an order, while softening it at the same time by adding por favor at the end of the phrase.
This phrase will also change according to the number of people that are being addressed. Notice that, unlike in English where you refer to the voices in plural, we’ll still ask a group of people in Spanish to lower their (singular) voice.
- Guys, keep your voices down, please. I cannot concentrate. – Chicos, bajen la voz, por favor. No puedo concentrarme.
- My friend, keep your voice down, please. I cannot hear the TV. – Amigo, baja la voz, por favor. No puedo escuchar la TV.
This is another polite, non-aggressive phrase that’s much lighter than shut up in Spanish. Here again, with the imperative mood, the conjugation changes whether you’re addressing one person or many people. The literal translation is keep the silence.
- Be quiet. Remember we’re in the silent reading room. – Guarda silencio. Recuerda que estamos en la sala de lectura silenciosa.
- Be quiet, boys. I have something important to tell you. – Guarden silencio, chicos. Tengo algo importante que decirles.
Haz silencio, por favor
Be quiet, please
This request is stronger than the previous ones, though whenever we add por favor to a demand in Spanish becomes milder. Therefore, this request can be considered somewhere in between, as it carries a degree of assertiveness while incorporating politeness.
Haz silencio, por favor is thus another way of saying shut up in Spanish. Its literal meaning is more like make silence or do silence, since this time we’re using the verb hacer in the imperative. We can also use it in plural form by conjugating as hagan.
- Kids, be quiet, please. – Niños, hagan silencio por favor.
- Be quiet, please. I’m trying to study. – Haz silencio, por favor. Estoy tratando de estudiar.
¡Silencio, por favor!
This is another relatively formal way of asking people to be quiet, especially to a group of people, since with ¡silencio, por favor! you’re not addressing any particular person. So this one can be perfect for situations such as classrooms or large audiences. It can come across as somewhat polite in a soft tone, but if you say it in a loud and emphatic tone it may suggest that you’re mad.
- Silence, please! The CEO is holding the floor. – ¡Silencio, por favor! El director ejecutivo tiene la palabra.
- Silence, please! The teacher wants to say something. – ¡Silencio, por favor! El profesor quiere decir algo.
Shhh is what’s commonly known as an onomatopoeia. That is, it’s less a unique word for something, and more a written version of a sound. In Spanish, just as you do in English, we use this sound when we want someone to be quiet or not to make any noise.
- Shhh! The teacher is coming. – ¡Shhh! Viene la maestra.
- Shhh! Stop making that noise! – ¡Shhh! ¡Dejen de hacer ese ruido!
Though this one is the same in both languages, not all onomatopoeic sounds are written the same way in English and in Spanish. This is especially the case for animal sounds in Spanish, whose written representation often differs wildly between the two languages.
Chito and Chitón can be used interchangeably. They are essentially syononymous to the previous sound we saw for implying shut up in Spanish, ¡shhh!, in that they are onomatopoeic sounds that can be generally combined with other expressions.
- Shush, dog! You’re going to wake up grandpa. – ¡Chito, perro! Vas a despertar al abuelo.
- Shush your mouth, now it’s my turn to speak! – ¡Chito la boca, ahora hablo yo!
Hush!, Hush up!, Enough already!
¡Calla! is the standard way of saying shut up in Spanish. Here we use the Spanish verb callar in imperative, giving an order to literally be silent. The intensity of this expression comes down to the context or the tone of voice.
- Enough already! I cannot hear you any more. – ¡Calla! No puedo seguir escuchándote más.
- Hush up! Let’s study once and for all. – ¡Cállense ya y vamos a estudiar de una buena vez!
¡Muérdete la lengua!
Hold your tongue!
Just like its English counterpart, this expression is used to encourage someone to hold back words which might be unsuitable for a certain situation. Its literal translation is bite your tongue. ¡Muérdete la lengua! is used in informal situations. You can say it to a friend or someone you know well.
- You’d better hold your tongue if you don’t want to quarrel with me. – Mejor muérdete la lengua si no quieres pelear conmigo.
- Hold your tongue! Don’t reveal our secret. – ¡Muérdete la lengua! No reveles nuestro secreto.
Silence!, Be quiet!
¡Silencio!, just like that, is used to ask emphatically someone to shut up in Spanish. Many of us have likely experienced situations where a teacher or one of our parents sternly tells us to stop and be quiet. In these scenarios, using ¡silencio! is a fitting way to convey the same message.
- The ones at the back of the classroom, shut up! – Los del fondo del salón ¡Silencio!
- Silence! Stop shouting. I can’t hear your father. – ¡Silencio! Dejen de gritar. No puedo escuchar a su padre.
Quiet down! Keep it quiet!
In the same line as the previous way of saying shut up in Spanish, comes ¡haz silencio! We are getting more rude and emphatic here. We saw the lighter version of this one earlier where we added por favor, whereas here it’s much more emphatic since we’re explicitly ordering someone to be silent!.
As we saw before, the verb conjugation changes to its plural form of hagan when addressing multiple people.
- Quiet down! I don’t want to hear you anymore. – ¡Haz silencio! No quiero escucharte más.
- Enough. Keep it quiet! – Ya está ¡Hagan silencio!
Deja de hablar
With this phrase, the level of rudeness to our commands is increasing. When we want someone to shut up in Spanish in a straight way and to the point, we can use deja de hablar. Its English version literally stop talking. For the plural version, we use dejen de hablar.
- Stop talking and get studying. – Deja de hablar y ponte a estudiar.
- Stop talking and go to sleep now. – Dejen de hablar y vayan a dormir ya.
Dejen de parlotear
Quit chattering, Drop the chattering
This phrase is normally used to address groups of people, typically at school or at work. It’s also asking for a change in attitude because such groups are not behaving as they should.
Dejen is the imperative form of the verb dejar, meaning to stop, and parlotear is to chatter in English. The imperative form of this verb is always used in the plural as dejen, because parlotear always involves more than one person.
- Quit chattering, I can’t listen to what the teacher is saying! – ¡Dejen de parlotear que no puedo escuchar lo que dice el profesor!
- Hey! Drop the chattering and go back to work. – ¡Ey, dejen de parlotear y vuelvan a trabajar!
¡Deja de hacer ruido!, ¡Deja de hacer bulla!
Pipe down!, Stop that racket!
This phrase is normally used to ask people to stop talking, as well as to just stop making noise in general. Another version for this one is ¡Deja de hacer bulla!
As we’ve seen in previous phrases, the main verb of the phrase may be for one single person as deja, or for many people as dejen.
- Pipe down, I can’t sleep! – ¡Deja de hacer ruido, no puedo dormir!
- Stop that racket! It’s impossible for my students to be focused. – ¡Dejen de hacer ruido, es imposible que los estudiantes se concentren!
¡Háblale a la mano!
Talk to the hand!
Now we’re entering hostile ground. With this phrase and the ones to come, we want to express anger and rudeness at a high level.
Particularly, háblale a la mano is used when we are fed up with a situation, or we’re just sick of hearing someone talking too much, and we really don’t want to listen to them anymore.
This phrase is often accompanied by a hand gesture pointing towards the opponent’s forehead. It is also commonly accompanied by extending one’s arm towards the other person, with the palm of the hand facing the insulted person, similar to the gesture of stopping.
Bear in mind that once you use this expression, the conversation will end in a very aggressive and abrupt way.
- Stop it! Talk to the hand! – ¡Basta ya! ¡Háblale a la mano!
- I told her that I didn’t agree but she just said “Talk to the hand!” – Le dije que no estaba de acuerdo pero ella solo me dijo: “¡Háblale a la mano!”
Imagine a scenario where a father, furious with his child’s behavior, raises his voice and shouts, ¡Cállate!, or a teacher feeling overwhelmed by the noise and lack of attention from her students who desperately exclaims, ¡Cállense!
As you see, the level of rudeness is escalating here, since we are shouting too! So this expression is the one to avoid if you don’t want to sound rude.
- Shut up! I don’t want to hear your lies anymore. – ¡Cállate! No quiero escuchar más tus mentiras.
- Shut up now! I have a headache. – ¡Cállense ya! Me duele la cabeza.
¿Por qué no te callas?
Why don’t you just shut up?
This rhetorical question might be handy when ¡cállate! is not enough. This phrase is often used when someone just wants the other person to shut up, or when they are annoyed by the other person’s constant talking, or simply to express frustration.
- Why don’t you just shut up? You’ve been complaining all day long. – ¿Por qué no te callas? Te pasaste todo el día quejándote.
- Why don’t you just shut up? You don’t know what you’re talking about. – ¿Por qué no te cayas? No sabes de lo que hablas.
¡Que te calles!
I said shut up!
This phrase is normally used when you’ve already asked someone to shut up many times but your plea was ignored. Then ¡que te calles! is the best way to demand someone to be quiet and to show your annoyance. This phrase also has its plural version as ¡que se callen!
- I said shut up! I’ve already asked you to be quiet many times. – ¡Que te calles! Ya te lo he pedido muchas veces.
- I said shup up! How many times do I have to ask you to be quiet! – ¡Que se callen! ¿Cuántas veces tengo que pedirles que se callen?
¡Cállate la boca!
Shut your mouth!
Although you may find this phrase similar to ¡cállate!, ¡cállate la boca! is more aggressive. In less friendly situations or even when shouted, this phrase can prove valuable. After pronouncing ¡cállate la boca!, be prepared to receive a hostile response.
As with many other phrases, we’ve shown you so far, this one can also be used to address a group of people by conjugating it as ¡cállense la boca!.
- Stop it! Shut your mouth! – ¡Basta ya! ¡Cállate la boca!
- I can’t stand you anymore. Shut your mouth! – No los aguanto más ¡Cállense la boca!
¡Cierra el pico!
Shut your trap!, Shut your hole!
This phrase is a big hit among Spanish speakers. It literally means shut your beak! Just like the expression in English, ¡cierra el pico! is extremely rude and usually only used when you’re already angry. As with the previous ways of saying shut up in Spanish, you can expect an enraged response after saying it to someone.
- Don’t tell me what to do. Shut your trap! I’m going to do whatever I want to. – No me digas lo que tengo que hacer ¡Cierra el pico! Voy a hacer lo que yo quiera.
- Shut your hole and get out of here! – ¡Cierra el pico y vete de aquí!
¡Cierra tu maldita boca!
Shut the fuck up!, Shut your goddamn mouth!
When someone uses ¡cierra tu maldita boca!, it means that you’re in trouble. The tension in the situation is really high and this phrase unequivocally crosses the line of rudeness.
- Shut the fuck up! I dont’t want to see you ever again. – ¡Cierra tu maldita! No quiero volver a verte nunca más.
- If you have nothing bright to say, shut your fucking mouth! – Si no tienes nada inteligente para decir ¡Cierra tu maldita boca!
Additional rude slang for Shut the fuck up in Spanish
On the same degree of rudeness as ¡Cierra tu maldita boca!, we have some other slang variations that are used in different Latin American countries.
Mexico: ¡Cállate el hocico!
Argentina: ¡Cerrá el orto!
Colombia: ¡Cállese la jeta!
Venezuela: ¡Cállate el coño!
Learning a new language isn’t just about memorizing words and grammar rules, it’s also about picking up on slang expressions and knowing how to communicate your thoughts and feelings effectively. And believe it or not, even telling someone to zip it can make a difference in how well you connect with native speakers.
That’s why in today’s post, we covered different ways to politely (or not so politely) ask someone to shut up in Spanish in various situations. We started with those gentle, hushed-tone requests and slowly cranked up the volume to the more forceful or even shouty ones.
Remember, it’s all about finding the right words and showing some respect when you want someone to pipe down. Keep practicing and nailing those language skills!