Good afternoon! In Spanish, some people tend to say: "fulanito es muy psicólogo". How would you say in English that a person is "muy psicólogo o psicóloga"? Thank you very much in advance.

  • People vary greatly in how they want to talk about their mental health, so there’s no general answer. There are as many expressions for receiving psychotherapy as there are for being drunk. Apr 20 '19 at 15:17
  • 4
    What does it mean in English? (Even if the translation doesn't sound right.) Apr 20 '19 at 15:33
  • Thank you very much for your prompt reply. I think I didn't explain it properly... I do apologize! My question is not related to people receiving psychoterapy. I would like to know if I can use an equivalent expression (in English) to the Spanish one: "Fulanito es muy psicólogo". For instance, I wonder whether the expression "So-and-so is a great deal psychologist" exists in English...
    – Cristina
    Apr 20 '19 at 15:33
  • 5
    Please see our help on translation questions. Note that you have to assume the community doesn't know anything about your Spanish phrase.
    – Andrew Leach
    Apr 20 '19 at 15:42
  • Thanks for your help.
    – Cristina
    Apr 20 '19 at 15:48

I do not think the expression "fulanito es muy psicólogo" in Spanish sounds quite right.

However, at least one Doctor has written on the usage of the phrase...

enter image description here

José Carlos Fuertes Rocañín, (Iberia) "¿Qué me pasa, doctor?"

"Possibly no person comes to know themselves completely, but it is evident that some people know themselves better than others do. This is because some individuals have an innate ability of introspection, reflection, and self-analysis. Generally they are also understanding of others and are gifted with an unusual perspicacity in understanding the secrets of others. Informally it is said of that person that he/she "es muy psicólogo , o tiene mucha psicología... ("he is very psychologist, or they have a lot of psychology")

(Thanks to Michael Harvey for the link.)

To me it sounds like something Marilyn Monroe might say in one of her dim blonde roles...

"That guy is very pschological"

I think that would convey the slangy street language aspect of the original phrase.

On the other hand, it would be more formal to say that the person is

  • perspicacious, or insightful

I am a speaker of Spanish and would tend to interpret the sentence in question as being equivalent to:

  • He is a good deal of a psychologist.

(meaning that the person is not a psychologist proper, but embodies many of the features psychologists are typically endowed with)

If OP's intention is to emphasize the quality of the psychologist, then any of the options suggested by @Jason Bassford will work (good, great, competent, skilled). Another adjective that comes to mind is "archetypical", in which case the definite article will be used:

  • He/She is the archetypical psychologist.

"Es muy psicólogo" could be used in the latter sense to mean something like:

  • He's not just a psychologist. He's the perfect one.
  • 2
    Cascabel, José Carlos Fuertes Rocañín, a psychiatrist in Zaragoza, Spain (Iberia) has written a book, "¿Qué me pasa, doctor?" in which he says that people having a perspicacity in understanding other people's secrets are informally said to be 'muy psicologico' - "Vulgarmente se dice de alguien así que «es muy psicólogo» o que «tiene mucha psicología»." Apr 20 '19 at 17:48
  • 2
    Surely vulgarmente just means 'ordinarily, popularly', does it necessarily mean the user is 'uneducated'? My main second language is French, and 'vulgairement' has two meanings, one neutral : "De façon courante, ordinaire", and one pejorative : "Avec vulgarité, sans distinction, d'une manière grossière" (Larousse). Apr 20 '19 at 18:33
  • 2
    @Mitch On the other hand, it is very common in Mexico to say of a macho man.. "el es muy hombre"
    – Cascabel
    Apr 20 '19 at 19:33
  • 2
    @Mitch What's happening here is that in colloquial Spanish you are idiomatically allowed to use the adverb/intensifier muy with a substantive (i.e., a noun—and in practice usually a profession) in a copula’s complement as an expression that roughly means "is quite the X" or "isn't much of an X". Like you could apologize for serving a guest a not very fancy meal by saying Es que no soy muy cocinero/a — that is, I'm not much of a cook, or with Fulanito es muy cocinero to say (possibly ironically) that so-and-so's quite the chef. ¿Understand?
    – tchrist
    Apr 20 '19 at 22:26
  • 2
    @Cascabel Yes, this is an idiomatic construction in Spanish, and not at all an uncommon one either, at least as casually spoken in Spain. I haven't noticed its absence in non-Iberian dialects, but I haven’t looked for it, either. It has a casual ring to it, like adding el or la before a person’s name does: Aquí viene la María for here comes “that” Maria. You hear it in dialogue all the time, and it’s no more (or less) considered “bad grammar” than using the definite article with a person's name is. You wouldn’t use it in a formal essay, but it’s quite normal in friendly/sarcastic speech.
    – tchrist
    Apr 20 '19 at 22:35

I would say an idiomatic equivalent is

He's a bit of a psychologist.

The Oxford Dictionaries has the phrase:

a bit of a —

1 Used to suggest that something is not severe or extreme, or is the case only to a limited extent.

he's a bit of a womanizer

However I think the dictionary definition is a bit weak, as the phrase can be used as under-statement. In my example, the meaning is that he isn't actually a psychologist, but he knows a lot about it.

  • 1
    I would have mixed feelings about being called 'a bit of a psychologist'. We have all met those annoying types who know (or think they know) everybody's innermost secrets and motivations better than they do themselves. Also, a snake-oil salesman or a con artist is often a bit of a psychologist. Apr 20 '19 at 18:13
  • 1
    Using "a bit of a" does capture that it's saying "something of a" in front of the noun, but muy is stronger than just a little.
    – tchrist
    Apr 20 '19 at 23:36
  • 1
    @tchrist we Brits rather like understatement. Apr 20 '19 at 23:39

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.