Spanish Vocabulary: Science Terms

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

In this lesson, we review some useful Spanish vocabulary related to science, including life and physical science along with some Earth and space vocabulary. So you can remember the new words, we give you examples in context.

Specialized Science Terms

Have you ever pondered the thought of life on other planets or traveling through the solar system? On the other end of the size spectrum, have you ever marveled at the DNA that provides the instructions for each cell to make up a complex organism? While you might know how to talk about these fascinating science subjects in English, if you want to get in a deep conversation in a Spanish-speaking country, you might need some specialized science vocabulary to discuss the microcosm and the macrocosm.

Let's delve into las ciencias naturales (lahs see-EHN-see-ahs nah-too-RAH-lehs), which means 'natural sciences' and is the field of study that concentrates on how living or non-living systems work. In this lesson, we'll concentrate on three sets of vocabulary for:

  • las ciencias de la vida (ahs see-EHN-seeahs deh lah VEE-dah), which means life science. This field studies all living systems and their anatomy and biology.
  • las ciencias físicas (lahs see-EHN-seeahs FEE-see-kahs). This means physical science, which covers the way in which non-living systems operate, such as the energy of atoms.
  • las ciencias de la tierra y las ciencias astronómicas (lahs see-EHN-seeahs deh lah tee-EHR-rah y lahs see-EHN-seeahs ahs-troh-NOH-mee-kahs), or Earth science and astronomical science, to learn some words about Earth and space.

Life Science Vocabulary

Here is some basic vocabulary about living organisms.

  • el organismo (ehl ohr-gah-NEES-moh): organism
  • la célula (lah SEH-loo-lah): cell
  • el tejido (ehl teh-HEE-doh): tissue
  • el órgano (ehl OHR-gah-noh): organ

Let's make a quick stop here to review some common sentences with this vocabulary:

  • El organismo de los seres vivos es complejo. (The organism of living creatures is complex.)
  • La célula tiene la propiedad de que se renueva constantemente. (The cell has the quality that it constantly renews.)
  • La donación de tejido ayuda a la recuperación de personas quemadas. (Donation of tissue helps in the recovery of burned people.)
  • El órgano más grande que tiene el ser humano es la piel. (The biggest organ humans have is the skin.)

Let's go on with a couple of words more:

  • el gen (ehl hen): gene
  • el ADN (ehl ah deh EH-neh): DNA

The ADN means ácido desoxirribonucleico. We pronounce this as 'AH-see-doh deh-sohk-see-ree-boh-noo-kleh-EE-koh.' Spanish speakers usually do not bother with this long term. They simple say ADN, so you can do the same. Here is an example with this term:

  • Las pruebas de ADN determinan la paternidad en casos de duda. (DNA tests determine paternity in cases of doubt.)

Translation: The father or mother with a dominant gene determines the physical characteristics of their children.

Physical Science Vocabulary

Here is some basic vocabulary about non-living systems.

  • la energía (lah eh-nehr-HEE-ah): energy
  • la materia (lah mah-TEH-reeah): matter
  • el átomo (ehl AH-toh-moh): atom
  • el sonido (ehl soh-NEE-doh): sound
  • la densidad (lah dehn-see-DAD): density
  • el volumen (ehl voh-LOO-mehn): volume
  • el imán (ehl ee-MAHN): the magnet
  • el punto de ebullición (ehl POON-toh deh eh-boo-yee-see-OHN): the boiling point

And now let's review some common sentences with these words:

  • La teoría de la relatividad de Einstein usa la ecuación entre la masa y la energía. (Einstein's relativity theory uses the equation between mass and energy.)
  • El núcleo del átomo contiene protones y neutrones. (The nucleus in an atom has protons and neutrons.)
  • La densidad de una pluma es el motivo por el cual no se hunde. (The density in a feather is the reason why it doesn't sink.)
  • El volumen de un objeto determina el espacio que ocupa. (The volume of an object determines the space it uses.)

Earth and Space Science Vocabulary

This vocabulary is often used in astronomic fields of study.

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