Lezioni spagnolo


Lessons for topic Grammar

Estudiastes: A Heated Debate

In Part 2 of our chat with Arturo Vega, artistic director of The Ramones, the interviewer asks:


¿Entonces tú estudiastes [sic] esto? ¿Estudiastes este arte o eso ya fue algo que tú...?

Then did you study this? Did you study this art or was it something that you...?

Captions 45-47, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 2

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If you've studied basic Spanish grammar, you've probably learned that the correct second-person preterite of estudiar (a regular, -ar verb) is () estudiaste without a final 's.' So what was the interviewer saying -- not once but twice? Was she so tongue-tied in the presence of Vega that she couldn't speak her own language without adding stray s's? Or was it simply a manner of speaking that you don't come across in textbooks?

Elsewhere in the interview, we
heard the same -astes ending on another -ar verb:


Que otros artistas que... quizás nos están viendo hoy pueden a... aprender algo más de cómo tú desarrollastes tu... tu... tu trabajo.

That other artists who... may be watching us today can be... can learn something more about how you developed your... your... your work.

Captions 6-8, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 2

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(Use the "slow" button on the Yabla player and you'll hear that there's no mistaking that there is a final 's' there.)

After asking around (and browsing online), we found that some Spanish speakers in many countries (Spain included) do indeed say () estudiastes, even though it's considered improper. People also say things like "() comistes" and "() dijistes," equally frowned upon by grammarians.

Among professional translators and other highly educated multi-lingual folks, we found
heated debates on message boards about -astes/ -istes. Some say the endings came from the Spanish vosotros (-asteis/ -isteis) form. Some note that all other endings for "" verbs end with an "s," so it comes as a natural extension of Spanish grammatical rules ("pattern pressure"). Some argue it is acceptably "casual" in some settings while others insist it is dead wrong and painful to hear.


As you yourself navigate la habla hispana (the Spanish-speaking world), there is a good chance you will continue to encounter this usage. You may have even already danced salsa to such tunes as Cuando Llegastes Tú (Louie Ramirez) or Llegastes Tú (Ray Sepúlveda). Unless your spoken Spanish is of such an extremely high level that you can easily slip in and out of "dialect" depending on what community you are socializing in (and you really feel compelled to "fit in"), you probably don't want to adopt this style yourself. And when writing, it's definitely best to refrain altogether.

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Al Desear: By Wanting

Pero al desear siempre un poco más... por allá ya vas

But by wanting always a little more... you're already going there

Captions 7-8, SiZu Yantra - Bienvenido

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References (such as this one) would suggest that al desear here could be translated as "when wanting" or "in wishing," but we went with "by wanting." The idea here is that one action leads to the other, the desire in itself makes you move forward. An equally acceptable translation here would be "in wanting always..."

Al cambiar de actitud, la mayoría de la gente puede cambiar el modo en que otros los tratan.
By changing their attitude, most people can change the way others treat them.

Al confesarle la verdad, le dio la posibilidad de evaluar la situación.
By telling the truth, he gave her the opportunity to assess the situation.

Al dejar a aquella mujer, pudo comenzar una nueva vida.
By leaving that woman, he could start a new life.

Final note about Sizu's Bienvenido: You will probably find captions 10 and 12, in particular, rather unusual in terms of sentence structure. These lines can have even native speakers scratching their heads and are not typical Spanish.

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Invisible Pronouns

From the clarity of the diction and the pacing of the music, you might think Sizu Yantra's tune Bienvenido would be easy to translate. But you'd be wrong. Some lyrics drove us to semantic delirium! Here is the opening:


Y si tú ya estás aquí, yo quisiera preguntarte

And if you're already here, I would like to ask you

si al mundo lo encuentras enfermizo, delirante y brutal

if you find the world sickly, delirious and brutal

Tú ya estás aquí y deseando que tú goces...

You're already here and [I am] desiring that you enjoy [it]...

Captions 1-3, SiZu Yantra - Bienvenido

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The very first line of lyrics is clearly enunciated and seemingly unambiguous -- with personal pronouns and yo included to set the listener off on the right foot. OK: it's sort of trippy, but we have every reason to believe we are hearing what the songwriter wanted us to hear.

But we get to the second sentence (caption 3) and native English speakers may find themselves at a bit of a loss. "Deseando" -- the gerund of the verb desear ("to desire, to wish, to look forward to") -- has no immediately apparent subject. So, how would we know to translate "deseando" as if it were the first person, progressive, "estoy deseando"? There are a few clues to solve this mystery. Let's investigate:

  1. Gerunds -aka -ndo verbs-- are usually used as part of the progressive tense in Spanish. Note that they are not entirely interchangeable with "-ing verbs" in English, which have many more uses. (See: Gerunds and the progressive tenses.)
  2. After "deseando," we encounter the common "que" which is most often used to introduce a subordinate clause in a complex sentence.
  3. After "que" we hear "tú goces" -- i.e., the second-person, present subjunctive of the verb gozar ("to enjoy"). Yes, here's the dreaded subjunctive -- the verb "mood" that means or implies the imposition of will, emotion, doubt, or non-existence. (See: Understanding the Subjuntive Mood in Spanish.) You see, after an expression of desire, Spanish grammar demands the subjunctive in the subordinate clause if the person doing the desiring is different from the object of that wish. And that, in turn, means "you" ("") cannot be the one doing the desiring ("deseando"). Got that?
  4. Let's back up and approach the subordinate clause another way. Spanish grammar rules demand that if the two verbs (desear and gozar) had the same subject, the second verb would take the infinitive.
    Yo quiero irme
    I want to go
    If the subject changes, the second verb takes the subjunctive.
    Yo quiero que te vayas
    I want you to go

If this detective work seems complicated, remember that in English we have a similar situation with "Wish you were here." Taken on its own, this seemingly simple sentiment has an implied subject (Could it be "I wish"? Or: "We wish"?) and then a subordinate clause using the subjunctive. At the end of the day, the subject is left to context -- or the listener's own interpretation.


Back to our slippery song. "Deseando que tú goces" was finally translated as "I am desiring that you enjoy it..." because it matches best with the first line of the song (where "yo" is introduced) -- and doesn't break any grammar rules. Whew. Keep listening, for more constructive confusion!

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¿Por qué?: Why? Because!

Do you ever wonder why "por qué" has an accent in certain instances and not others? In a similar vein: Do you know the reason "porque" is sometimes one word and sometimes two? Tune in to the latest new content at Yabla Spanish and read the captions to see "por qué" and "porque" in action.


Our team of translators took special pains to put all the accents in their proper places in the captions of this week's installment of the documentary ¡Tierra Sí, Aviones No! You'll see evidence of their hard work in the short excerpt below.


¿Por qué? Porque él es el único responsable.

Why? Because he's the only one responsible.

Caption 9, ¡Tierra, Sí! - Atenco - Part 4

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Why does the first "por qué" take an accent mark over the é? Because it is used to ask a question, that's why. Remember: "Who, what, when, where and why" (those famous Five Ws of journalism) all take accents in Spanish -- as in "Quién, qué, cuándo, dónde y por qué."

Now that you've got the "questioning word = accent mark" rule in mind, let's look at some trickier cases. One pops up just a sentence later.


Pero a nivel ejidal no tiene por qué meterse en nuestro ejido.

But at the cooperative level, he doesn't have reason to meddle in our cooperative.

Caption 13, ¡Tierra, Sí! - Atenco - Part 4

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No tener por qué + infinitive ("to have no reason to...") is one of those auxiliary (modal) verb phrases that you simply have to memorize -- or figure it out from context. Listen for it; we think you'll find it's surprisingly common in spoken and written Spanish. In these cases por qué means "reason" or "cause." For example:

No tengo por qué juzgar el comportamiento de otros.
I have no reason to judge the behavior of others.

Sometimes it's best translated in the sense of necessity.

Amor no tiene por qué doler.
Love doesn't have to hurt.

Listening to the lyrics of Belanova's ballad featured this week, we encounter another "por qué":


Me pregunto por qué

I ask myself why

no te puedo encontrar

I can't find you

Captions 9-10, Belanova - Me Pregunto

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In the song's refrain, above, Belanova lead singer Denise is asking herself a question. We don't need to use question marks to get the idea across; the "por qué" here expresses an indirect inquiry.


We left you to figure out that "porque" -- one word, no accent mark -- means "because." It begins the answer to many a "por qué" question. Why? Just because!
That is, expressed in Spanish:

¿Por qué? ¡Porque sí!
Why? Just because! (or: Because I said so!)

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Haber+De+Infinitive: Something You Should Learn

The Mexican trio Belanova use the haber + de + infinitive construction repeatedly in the chorus of Por Ti:


Si mi vida ha de continuar

If my life should continue

Si otro día llegará

If another day will come

Si he de volver a comenzar

If I should start all over again

Será por ti

It will be for you

Captions 7-10, Belanova - Por ti

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As it turns out, the haber+de+infinitive construction, often found in music and literature, is deceivingly difficult to translate with precision. A native speaker staff member tells us that, in the context of this song, she gets the sense that ha de continuar expresses possibility ("if my life is to continue / is going to continue") more than obligation ("if my life must continue"). However, generally speaking, haber+de+infinitive, does convey a sense of obligation or necessity, though often milder than the tener+que+infinitive construction (tiene que continuar -`"has to continue") or hay que+infinitive construction (hay que continuar -"has to / must continue").

For this reason, in the end, we chose to use "should" in our English translations as it is nicely ambigious, conveying a sense of possibility but also having the alternate meaning of mild obligation.

Note that haber+de+infinitive and hay [also from the verb haber] + que + infinitive are completely distinct, and used in distinct contexts. So, how should you decide de vs que? You see, hay que continuar, loosely translated as "one has to continue," would always express a generalization. Meanwhile, the first-, second- and third-person conjugations of haber -- that is, he, hemos, has, han, ha and han -- plus 'de' yields a more specific, though milder sense of obligation, or of possibility, as in our featured song.


Check out these discussions on the topic:

ThoughtCo. > How is Haber de used?
WordReference.com > haber de, haber que, tener que


A final note regarding the verbs in Belanova's provocative refrain: 'Volver a comenzar' could be translated bit by bit as "to return ['volver'] to begin ['comenzar']. But in English, we tend to say "to start again" or, with more emphasis, "to start all over again."

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—ito, —ita: Making It Smaller, or Is It?

Among Polbo's song lyrics that are entirely in Spanish in this video, we see the diminutive of todos ("everyone" or "all") repeated in the refrain:


Ahora toditos se fueron... al sur

Now everyone's gone... south

Caption 10, Polbo - Yo era tan cool

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Why use the diminutive of todos here? Well, adding the suffix -ito to make it toditos doesn't change the meaning of the word. It simply renders it more colloquial.

You see, in Spanish adding a diminutive suffix -- namely, -ito or -ita -- is often used in informal speech -- in its extreme, in baby talk or other affectionate banter. So, a gatito (gato / "cat" + -ito) can be a little cat (or "kitty") but it can also be a big cat that you're discussing with a small person. For example:

Mira el gatito, mi amorcito
Look at the kitty, my little love

This could be said at the zoo in front of a lion's cage if we're talking baby talk. Another example:

Besitos grandes
Big affectionate kisses

Back to our song. Toditos is "everyone" said in a friendly, familiar way. Toditos is not meant to shrink the size of "everyone," just to make it more casual.



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Gender Reversals: "El Alma" and More

Colombian crooner Juanes has the audience singing along to every word of his hit Para tu amor in this week's featured video. Catchy lyrics are helpful language-learning aids: When they get stuck in your head (and won't leave) they build up your vocabulary and aid in your memorization of usage rules. Case in point: Para tu amor contains many lyrical lines that can help non-native speakers grasp the difference between para and por -- both translated into English as "for" in many cases. In newsletters past, we've drawn from the Yabla Spanish archive of song lyrics to write about distinctions between por and para. (Linked here for your review.) So, in this week's newsletter, we'll use Juanes to illuminate a gender rule bender instead.

He sings:


Yo te quiero con el alma y con el corazón

I love you with my soul and with my heart

Caption 13, Juanes - Para tu amor

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Check our online dictionary and you'll see alma (a noun) is feminine, as so many Spanish words that '-a' are. But alma belongs to a subgroup of feminine nouns that take masculine articles when singular. Others include:

  • El agua fría ("The cold water")
  • El águila americana ("The American eagle")
  • El ama de casa desperada ("The desperate housewife")

Note that all four examples listed above begin with a stressed a-, which wouldn't sound right to a native speaker if preceded by la or una. Also note that when plural, they revert to the feminine article las or unas. So it's las aguas tibias ("the lukewarm waters").


As a final note: Whatever the number, alma and her gender-bending ilk behave like feminine nouns when they are paired with adjectives. That is to say, the adjectives they are paired with are made feminine with an -a ending. For more on words that break gender rules, see:

ThoughtCo. > Spanish grammar > Gender reversals

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—ote, —ota, and Encajar: Too Big to Fit?

We learn many things in the sixth installment of actress Natalia Oreiro's biography. One is that she's not a Tom Cruise- or Winona Ryder-sized wee thing. She's tall -- for an actress. And that was actually a worry at first, her friend Rosa tells us. Here's a snippet of the interview:


E incluso le dijeron que, que para ser acá así de actriz era muy alta...

They even told her that, that to be an actress here she was too tall...

que era como muy grandota y que no encajaba...

that she was like too huge and would not fit...

Captions 13-15, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro - Part 6

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Rosa has a colorful way of speaking. The first of the two words we highlight above --grandote-- is formed from the adjective grande ("big, large") and the augmentative suffix -ote, which amplifies the meaning of grande, making our best translation "huge." Adding -ote or -ota "often adds a note of contempt to the idea of bigness," according to The Ultimate Spanish Review and Practice (published by Passport Books).

Note that augmentative suffixes can be applied to pretty much any noun or adjective. Some augmented words merit their own dictionary entries, especially if they take on a special meaning, while others don't. For example, consulting a few sources, we found entries for:

ojotes (root word: ojos, "eyes"): "bulging eyes, goggle eyes"

palabrota (root word: palabra, "word"): "swear word, dirty word"

animalote (root word: animal, "animal"): "big animal; gross, ignorant person"

In Spanish, augmentative suffixes are not quite as popular as diminutive ones (-ito, -ita, -cito, -cita), but you will hear them peppering the language for emphasis. (For some more on diminutives, review our previous discussion of poquitito some weeks back. To learn more about suffixes in general, ThoughtCo. has a helpful list.)


Moving on to the second word we highlighted above: It's encajaba, from the verb encajar. It, too, is a compound word, formed from the prefix en- ("in") and root word caja ("box"). The verb encajar means "to fit." It can suggest a physical fit (e.g., pieces of a puzzle fitting together), or a more thematic one (e.g., a transfer student fitting in to his new school). Rosa is using the second sense of the word, when she describes the fears that her friend wouldn't fit in to the acting world in Buenos Aires.

For more on compound words in Spanish, see: ThoughtCo.'s Colorful Combinations.

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Por, Para: Forever Complications

The title of this week's new music video is the common phrase Para Siempre, meaning "forever." Take a look at how the phrase is used in the lyrics:


Puedo esperar para siempre

I can wait forever

Caption 5, Zurdok - Para Siempre

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Puede durar para siempre

Can last forever

Caption 7, Zurdok - Para Siempre

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Quiero vivir para siempre

I want to live forever

Caption 13, Zurdok - Para Siempre

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Tiene que ser para siempre

It has to be forever

Caption 15, Zurdok - Para Siempre

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Para here means "for." Para + an expression of time will indicate a point in time for which something is intended--or, a deadline. In the examples above, our singer is intending something to go on forever. Here are two less poetic examples of para in action:


Tengo tarea para mañana.
I have homework for tomorrow.

Tengo que terminar este informe para la semana que viene.
I have to finish this report for next week.


But astute listeners will catch that there's another way to say "for" in Spanish, also used in this song. Look at this line of our featured song:


O por toda una eternidad -Si me lo pides

Or for all eternity -If you ask me

Caption 4, Zurdok - Para Siempre

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You see, por + an expression of time usually indicates the duration of something. For example:


Él trabajó por tres horas.

He worked for three hours.


Por la semana que viene, vamos a tener clases en el edificio porque acá hay una reunión.

(Just) for next week, we are having classes in the old building because there is a meeting here.


The difference is subtle when we're talking about the intention "forever" (para siempre) vs. the duration "forever" (por siempre). It's no wonder por and para take a lot of practice to get right for non-native Spanish speakers. But here's a hint to help you along: The phrase 'para siempre' is much more common than 'por siempre' in romantic song lyrics and on Valentine's cards. And even native Spanish speakers debate the por / para divide.


So, if you want to tell someone that "it has to be forever"--and you want to sound like a native Spanish speaker in the process-- remember this catchy tune to remind you to say "tiene que ser para siempre."

(Final note: We've touched on por and para before, specifically looking at what happens when each is paired with the infinitive of a verb.)
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Otro: Another Common Mistake

Otro is a simple word in Spanish that looks and sounds like its English equivalent, "other" or "another." But with this ease of recognition and use, many non-native speakers misuse otro by adding an article where it doesn't belong.



Here's a tricky question. How do you say "another" in Spanish — as in, "I'll have another (beer)"?

Answer: "Tomaré otra (cerveza)."


Note that it's NOT: una otra or un otro. That's wrong. It would be like saying "an another" in English.


In an episode of the documentary series 75 minutos, we find the following clip:


Yo tengo lo que me pertenece a la de... de la custodia: un fin de semana sí y otro no.

I have what belongs to me to the... from the custody: one weekend yes and the other, no.

Captions 13-14, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 17

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Note once again that otro in Spanish doesn't require the article that "other" does in English.


The time to use a definite article before otro is when we need to distinguish between "another" and "the other" if, indeed, the distinction needs to be made:


Otro día =  "Another day"

El otro día = "The other day"


So, if you add an article before otro(a), make sure it's a definite article (el or la) and not an indefinite one (un or una):


¡Hola! -La otra socia. -Sí. -La otra.

Hello! -The other partner. -Yes. -The other one.

Caption 16, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 8

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And finally, don't forget about otra vez, a very useful expression that you can use when you want to say 'another time' or 'once again.'


That's it for today. Did you like this little reminder? Please send us your comments, questions, and suggestions

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Solo: Only Alone

Solo and sólo... Are you still confused about when to write this word with or without a graphic accent? If you still don't know how to go about it, we have some good news for you: the word solo doesn't need an accent... ever! Although the rule has already been in place for quite a few years, there are many people who are not aware of it.


The old rule: sólo vs. solo

Before the Real Academia Española (RAE) decided that the word solo didn't need a graphic accent, the old rule used to work like this:


Sólo is an adverb meaning "only," "solely" or "just" — the same as solamente. In fact, sólo and solamente can be used interchangeably. A speaker (or singer) can decide which sounds better in any given sentence.

On the other hand, solo without an accent mark is an adjective meaning "alone," "on one's own" or "sole." Solo describes a lone man or a masculine object--for example, un café solo is "a black coffee". For a woman, the adjective is sola. "¿Estás sola?" (are you alone?) is a simple, direct pick-up line.


Today's rule: just one solo for "only" and "alone"

Whether you are using solo as an adjective or as an adverb, the word solo doesn't need the graphic accent. 


Solo as an adjective meaning "alone":

Muy raro que un agente, solo... solo, le caiga a un carro con placas diplomáticas.

Really weird that an agent, alone... alone, drops on a car with diplomatic plates.

Captions 33-34, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa - Capítulo 3 - Part 2

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Solo as an adverb meaning "only":

Solo yo sé lo que sufrí

Only I know what I suffered

Caption 2, Alejandra Guzmán - Porque no estás aquí

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That's it for this lesson. Keep in mind this "update" and don’t forget to send us your feedback and suggestions.


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A ti: Emphasizing

A ti no te gustaría que te dijeran...

You wouldn't like it if they told you...

con quién tienes que andar.

who you have to hang out with.

Captions 1-2, Tu Rock es Votar - Comercial de TV

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As per our previous discussion of the verb gustar, the phrase above states:

"You wouldn’t like it if they told you who you have to hang out with."

But what does the addition of A ti at the beginning do for the phrase? It simply adds emphasis to the "you," the translation would be same even if it wasn't there.

[Side note: remember we
talked about
andar's various meanings outside of the obvious "to walk"? The phrase above demonstrates yet another, "to hang out / pal around."]


Él le hizo daño a mucha gente.

He did harm to many people.

-¿Qué daño te hizo a ti, mamá?

-What harm did he do to you, Mom?

Caption 11, Yago - 10 Enfrentamientos

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Me gustas.
I like you.

A mi me gustas.
I like you. ("I" emphasized.)


A mí me gusta cambiar las sábanas cada semana.

I like to change the sheets every week. ("I" emphasized.)

Caption 21, Ana Carolina - Arreglando el dormitorio

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Besides adding emphasis, this type of construction can also clarify about whom you are talking.

Le gusta bailar.
He likes to dance.

A Juan le gusta bailar.
Juan likes to dance.

No mires a tu compañero, a ti te estoy preguntando.
Don't look at your buddy, I'm asking you.


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Que: It Also Means "Because"

Pero no te quedes ahí dándole vueltas a la cabeza, que tanto pensar no es bueno.

But don't stay there making your head spin, because thinking so much is not good.

Captions 31-32, De consumidor a persona - Short Film

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Que most often means "that." Slap an accent on the final e and we have qué, used to ask the question "what?" -- add por before qué and you have ¿por qué?, which asks the question "why?" ¿Por qué? is two words, but if we push the two together, without the accent on the e, we have porque, which is one word, and it means "because."

You may just know all that. What you might not have known is that que can also mean "because," or "as," and that's the meaning it takes in the line above.

Other examples:

No comas más, que no es bueno antes de ir a la cama.
Don't eat more, as it's not good before going to bed.

Obedéceme, que si no lo haces, te vas a arrepentir.
Obey me, because if you don't, you are going to regret it.

No corras, que el piso está mojado.
Don't run, because the floor is wet.

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U for O, E for Y

Un segmento de una hora u hora y media.

A period of one hour or one hour and a half.

Caption 40, Rafael T. - La Cultura Maya

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Sooner or later we all notice cases where 'u' replaces 'o' ("or") or where 'e' replaces 'y'  ("and"). These conjunctions change when the word following them starts with the same letter sound. Therefore in the example above, 'o' changes to 'u' because the beginning sound of the next word, hora, is [o] (note that the h is silent).


The rule of thumb is pretty simple: With the conjunctions o ("or") and y ("and"), the vowels change if they are followed by the same vowel sounds.

Here are some examples of the vowel change in action:

¿Vas a comprar siete cervezas u ocho?
Are you going to buy seven beers or eight?

¿Quieres cervezas o gaseosas?
Do you want beers or sodas?



Julieta e Ignacio estudian la medicina.
Julieta and Ignacio study medicine.

Yasmil y Javier tocan a la guitarra.
Yasmil and Javier play the guitar.

Try speaking the sentence without changing the vowel and you should hear that it sounds funny to say the same vowel sound twice. That should help you remember this simple rule.

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Ir + a + Infinitive Verb: An Alternative to the Future Tense

Somos dos, nunca sola vas a ir

We are two, you will never go alone

Caption 17, Liquits - Desde Que

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Somos dos, juntos vamos a vivir

We are two, together we will live

Caption 19, Liquits - Desde Que

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A quick word about the future tense in spoken Spanish: In many cases, it's simply not used. Instead, you commonly hear the present tense of ir (voy, vas, va, vamos, van) followed by a, followed by an infinitive of a verb (such as, ir or vivir). In this song by the Mexican group Liquits, the construction makes for some catchy refrains ("We are two, never alone you are going to go," and "We are two, together we are going to live.") In practical life, non-native Spanish speakers who know their ir may be grateful to buy some extra time to think of just the right vocabulary to express themselves. Voy a... voy a... voy a aprender a hablar con más fluidez, you might finally come out and say. The same sentence using the future tense? Aprenderé a hablar con más fluidez.

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"Se"+Indirect Object+Verb+Direct Object: Accidental Grammar


Se te acabó el tiempo, Milagros.

You've run out of time, Milagros.

Caption 37, Muñeca Brava - 1 Piloto

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Is there anything scarier than finding an angry nun in your room late at night? In this installment of Muñeca Brava, our heroine Milagros encounters a stern Mother Superior back in her room at the orphanage after sneaking out for some night-clubbing. The nun disregards the girl’s flimsy excuses and says ominously: "Se te acabó el tiempo, Milagros."

-The declaration means: "You’ve run out of time, Milagros." But if you look at the construction "se te acabó" -from the reflexive verb acabársele (to run out of)- it more literally means "Time has run out on you."

We find something similar going on in caption 19 of Taimur habla.


Pero esos se me echaron a perder y se los llevaron pa' llá.

But they got destroyed and they took them over there.

Caption 19, Taimur - Taimur habla

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Our friend-for-life Taimur is tellling us "they got destroyed (on me)" or "they got wrecked (on me)." Like the good monja above, he might have put the subject last, had he wanted to: Se me echaron a perder mis cosas ("My things got wrecked").

These are examples of a special se construction used to describe unplanned or accidental occurences in Spanish. As a rule, the se + me, te, le, les or nos (indirect object) + verb construction describes occurrences that happen "to someone" (a alguien). The verb agrees with what in English is the thing acted upon (the direct object) because in Spanish that thing becomes the subject, that which is doing the action. No need to get mired in grammar, just have a look at these other examples and it should start to soak in.


Se nos está acabando el pan. (acabársele)
We’re running out of bread. / The bread is running out on us.


Se me rompieron los anteojos. (rompérsele)
I (accidently) broke my glasses. / My glasses broke on me.



De repente, a Pablo se le ocurrió una idea. (ocurrírsele)
Suddenly, an idea ocurred to Pablo.


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—azo: A Painful Suffix

Además, si estás enamorado y no te dan bolilla...

Besides, if you're in love and the other one doesn't give you a second thought...

es como un piedrazo en la cabeza.

it's like getting hit on the head with a rock.

Captions 29-30, Verano Eterno - Fiesta Grande

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That's gotta hurt. In Spanish, the suffix azo can signify a blow by the object at the root of the word. So, piedrazo means a blow by a piedra, or stone. By this logic:

Bala -> "bullet"
Balazo -> "blow by a bullet; a gunshot wound."

Codo -> "elbow"
Codazo -> "blow by an elbow; nudge

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Por y Para: Learning through Love

One way to make a TV theme song irresistibly catchy is through repetition. In Chayanne's theme song for Provócame, it works. Take these two lines:

Por amor. Por amar.

For love. For loving.

Captions 9-10, Provócame - Piloto

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The straightforward translation is: "For love / For loving." Amor is a noun meaning "love." Meanwhile, change one letter and amar is the infinitive "to love." In Spanish, the infinitive is often used the way we in English use the gerund (with the -ing ending). For example, "I like singing" is translated as Me gusta cantar in proper Spanish.

Ok. You probably figured out quickly that the repeated por here means "for" in English. But it's a little more complicated than that. You see, there are two words that both mean "for" in Spanish: Por and para. Por can mean "for the sake of, in the cause of, or, by means of," while para can mean "with the destination of, or, in order to." In Chayenne's lyrics, por amor can be translated as "for love" in the sense of "for the sake of love" [like we saw in last week's newsletter, with por amor, usa forro ("for the sake of love, use a condom")]. That's straightforward. But some might argue Chayenne is taking a little bit of poetic license when he says por amar ("for the sake of loving") in instead of para amar, ("in order to love"), which is a more common construction with the infinitive of a verb. But, really, it works both ways - and it certainly sounds catchier with the repeated por.


Hablar por hablar.
To talk for the sake of talking.

Aprender español para hablarlo.
To learn Spanish in order to speak it.

You want more? See Por y Para at https://www.thoughtco.com/taking-confusion-out-of-por-para-3078140


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