Lecciones de Español

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Ser vs Estar - Yo estoy

How much you learn about the proper use of ser and estar (both meaning "to be") depends on your exposure to how real Spanish is spoken by real people. This lesson focuses on how a person can use estoy (“I'm” —the first-person singular form of estar in the present tense) to talk about himself or herself.
 

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The present tense of the verb estar (to be) is estoy. You can use it combined with an adjective (or a participiothe -ado, -ido, -to, -so, -cho endings and their feminine and plural forms, used as an adjective) to express your current state of mind, body, or soul:

...Yo estoy listo ya... ¿Dónde está el perro?

...I'm ready now... Where's the dog?

Caption 108, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 5

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It's very common, for example, to use estar to talk about emotions, convictions, and beliefs:
 

Bueno, pero estoy muy contenta. Pasa.

Well, but I am very happy. Come in.

Caption 12, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 6

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Yo creo que sí. -Estoy convencido que poco a poco vamos a... a buscar alternativas.

I think so. -I am convinced that little by little we are going to... to look for alternatives.

Captions 64-65, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 5

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You can use any other regular adjective as well. Some examples are below:
 
Estoy limpio - I'm clean.
Estoy enferma - I'm sick.
Estoy sola - I'm lonely.
 
At this point it's useful to compare the possible meaning of similar phrases using ser instead of estar. Note how, by using ser instead of estar, the adjective becomes an intrinsic characteristic of the subject:
 
Soy limpio - I'm a clean person.
Soy enferma - Incorrect, it’s better to say soy una persona enferma "I'm a sick person," or even just estoy enferma (I’m sick), because this phrase can also mean “I’m a sick person” given the appropriate context.
Soy sola - Incorrect, it’s better to say soy una persona solitaria (I'm a lonely person).
 
You can combine estoy with the gerundio (-ando / -endo / -iendo endings) to talk about your actions, about what you are doing. The combination with haciendo, the gerundio of the verb hacer (to do) is very common:
 

Yo estoy haciendo el control de calidad del producto.

I'm doing the quality control of the product.

Caption 4, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 20

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But you can combine estoy with any other gerundio, for example cogiendo, the gerundio of coger (to grab, to pick):
 

Hasta que no palme estoy cogiendo castañas.

As long as I don't croak, I'm picking chestnuts.

Caption 6, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 5

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You can use estoy with a complement that denotes space to specify your location. The combination with an adverb of place is common:
 

Por eso estoy aquí, porque me han dicho...

That's why I am here because they have told me...

Caption 85, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 15

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And also with the preposition en (in):
 

Eh... Ahora mismo estoy en Málaga, estoy de vacaciones.

Um... Right now I'm in Malaga, I'm on vacation.

Caption 2, Arume - Málaga, España - Part 1

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The verb estoy can also be combined with certain prepositions to express a wide array of ideas. For example, you can use it with the preposition de to talk about your role or position in a certain context:
 

Eh, y... estoy de acuerdo con, con Denisse ahí,

Uh, and... I agree (literally, "I'm in accord") with, with Denisse there.

Caption 24, Belanova - Entrevista - Part 3

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No, luego, cuando acaba la campaña estoy de camarero.

No, after, once the season ends, I work as a waiter.

Caption 61, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 13

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Eh... Ahora mismo estoy en Málaga, estoy de vacaciones.

Um... Right now I'm in Malaga, I'm on vacation.

Caption 2, Arume - Málaga, España - Part 1

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You can combine the verb estoy with the preposition por  and a verb in infinitive (-er, -ar, -irendings) to talk about what you are about to do:
 
Estoy por ganar el juego de scrabble. 
I'm about to win the Scrabble match.
 
Estoy por terminar. Espérenme, por favor.
I'm about to finish. Please, wait for me.
 
You can use estar and the preposition para to talk about purpose, function, etc.
 
Aquí estoy para servir
I'm here to serve.
 
Here's an interesting example from our catalog of videos:
 

o estoy para dirigir cine tal vez.

or maybe, I'm suited to direct a movie.

Caption 68, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 1

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There are many other ways in which you can use the verb estoy; these are just some of the most common ones. For now, we recommend you practice these expressions, maybe try transforming them into the past or future tenses!  Our next lesson in this series will focus on how soy (the first-person singular form of ser in the present tense) can be used to talk about oneself.

How to Say "Cool" in Spanish

Do you know how to say "cool" in Spanish as in, "That video is so cool!"? What is the best equivalent of this slangy English word that can have such meanings as "good," "nice," "great," "OK," or "in fashion"? Let's find out.

 

A Headache for Translators

Any translator knows well that translating the word "cool" into Spanish poses a big challenge. In fact, there are many Spanish words for "cool" depending upon the speaker's country or origin. In the following sections, we'll provide you with some of those terms.

 

How to Say "Cool" in Mexican Slang

In Mexico, many people use padre and chido. While the use of padre is more generalized, chido is typically more popular among younger generations:
 

Y, y en cuanto la vi... No, ésta tiene que ser mía. -¡Qué padre!

And, and as soon as I saw it... No, this one has to be mine. -How cool!

Caption 34, Sergio en Monterrey - El ámbar mexicano

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Muy padre, porque la escalera viene así, después tiene un descanso,

Very cool, because the staircase comes down like this, afterwards it has a landing,

Caption 50, El teatro. Conversación con un doble de acción.

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...que está chido que estemos en Estados Unidos.

...it's cool that we're in the United States.

Caption 47, Belanova - Entrevista - Part 3

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Of course, since Mexico has such diverse people living across a vast territory, you'll find other, similar expressions as well. Conmadre (literally, "with mother") and suave (smooth) are good examples. You can hear suave in one of our videos from Monterrey, Mexico. However, it is worth noting that this expression is not very common in that particular city, and the student who utilizes it is from another state.
 

Aunque a veces sí está pesado, está muy suave porque se te van volando.

Although sometimes it is hard, it's very cool because they go flying by for you.

Captions 28-29, Yo estudio en el Tec - de Monterrey

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Versions of "Cool" in Additional Latin American Countries

Many people in countries like Colombia, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Peru, and Ecuador use the word chévere:
 

¡Súper chévere que la... el hijo de uno diga "No, mi mamá es una chef"!

Very cool for one's child to say, "No, my mom is a chef!"

Caption 13, Misión Chef - 2 - Pruebas - Part 1

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In Colombia, a newer alternative to chévere is bacano (and bacán in Cuba, Peru, and Chile):
 

Mi papá era un médico muy bacano, muy interesante.

My father was a very cool doctor, very interesting.

Caption 13, La Sub30 - Familias - Part 2

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In Argentina, people tend to use words like copadomasa, and groso:

 

Podemos sacar algo copado esta noche.

We can get something cool tonight.

Caption 87, Muñeca Brava - 7 El poema - Part 3

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¡Soy una masa!

I'm so cool!

Caption 69, Muñeca Brava - 7 El poema - Part 1

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"Cool" in Spanish from Spain

In Spain, you'll often hear guay:
 

Y realmente la improvisación fue... fue la clave. Era muy guay.

And really the improvisation was... was the key. It was very cool.

Captions 31-32, Blanca y Mariona - Proyectos para el verano

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Sam, tengo esta ropa para ti. Vas a estar guay.

Sam, I have these clothes for you. You're going to look cool.

Caption 23, Extr@: Extra en español Ep. 2 - Sam va de compras - Part 5

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In the following clip, Carlos (from Colombia) and Xavi (from Spain) talk about how they say the word "cool" in their countries. You will see that the word chulo is used in Spain as an alternative term for the more common guay:

 

¿Qué significa guay? Guay es bueno, chulo, divertido. OK. En Colombia nosotros diríamos chévere o bacano.

What does "guay" mean? "Guay" is good, cool, fun. OK. In Colombia, we'd say "chévere" or "bacano."

Captions 39-41, Carlos y Xavi Part 2 Ustedes y Vosotros

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While the multitude of terms we've provided as equivalents for "cool" by no means constitute an exhaustive list, they should definitely get you started on your journey to express or understand this idea in many Spanish-speaking countries. 

 

How to Say "Cool" in Standard Spanish

We want to remind you that, regardless of the culture, country, or language, slang words are inextricably linked to the cultural or individual identity of the people who use them, and one can never be too respectful of this. In that spirit, it's always wise to learn more "neutral" alternatives to slang. Genialestupendo, and, to a certain extent, bárbaro are a good fit to express the idea of "cool" or its equivalents (and be cool in Spanish as well!). 

 

¿Te parece que tus patrones se enojarán? -¡No, está bárbaro!

Do you think that your bosses would get mad? -No, it's cool!

Caption 16, Muñeca Brava 30 Revelaciones - Part 6

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¡Este grupo está genial!

This group is great!

Caption 27, Raquel - Expresiones para un festival de música.

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¡Muy bien, estupendo!

Very good, great!

Caption 11, Extr@: Extra en español Ep. 1 - La llegada de Sam - Part 5

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The superlative of bueno (good), buenísimo, is also a good alternative:
 

Bueno, buenísimo, como anillo al dedo.

Well, very good, it fits like a glove [literally: like a ring to a finger].

Caption 69, Muñeca Brava 9 Engaños - Part 8

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In other contexts, the non-slang expression, está bien, might be used in a case in which an English speaker might say "that's fine" or "that's cool," while está de moda might be used to indicate that a certain trend, for example, is currently "cool" or in fashion. 

The Easiest (But Not Proper) Way to Say "Cool" in Spanish

By the way, unless you're a purist, you could even go with "cool" in English as many Spanish speakers do frequently these days: 

 

El estilo es súper vanguardista. Un estilo muy cool.

The style is super avant-garde. A very cool style.

Captions 12-13, Arume Barcelona

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Las chicas visten cool para impresionar

The girls dress cool to impress

Caption 25, Dhira La Noche

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That's all for for today. We hope you've enjoyed this lesson, and don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions. And of course, stay cool!

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Emocionar: It's So Moving!

Moving right along, with Natalia's proud papa, we come across this line:

 

Lo que más me emociona... es lo que te dije anteriormente.

What moves me the most... it's what I told you previously.

Captions 79-80, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro - Part 8

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You see, emocionarse is a reflexive verb meaning "to be moved [by]." Like the verbs gustar or encantar (which we wrote about in this space before), emocionar agrees with the object of the sentence -- i.e., whatever it is that is moving -- instead of the speaker.

To see emocionarse at work, we are featuring a touching interview with the Mexican musical group
Belanova this week. Here are the examples we gleaned from their interview:

 

...es porque les emociona nuestro proyecto.

...it's because they are moved by our project. (Or: ...it's because our project moves them.)

Caption 28, Belanova - Entrevista - Part 3

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Que nos emociona mucho hacerlo, que es lo más importante...

That really moves us when doing it, which is the most important...

Caption 39, Belanova - Entrevista - Part 3

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...que a toda la gente que ve a Belanova se emociona.

...which moves all the people who see Belanova.

Caption 41, Belanova - Entrevista - Part 3

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In the examples above, note that emociona (the third personal singular, present form of emocionar) agrees with the project, action or sight that is considered moving. Meanwhile, the object pronouns les (for "them"), nos (for "us") and se (for "everyone" -- i.e., toda la gente) let us know who is being moved by the subject in each of the examples above.

 

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A Ana y María les emocionan las películas de amor antiguas.
Ana and Maria are moved by old love films.

Estas historias nos emocionan mucho.
These stories really move us.

Vocabulary

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