Lezioni spagnolo

Argomenti

Voluntad: A Wish, A Will

Dice que tenían... mucha capacidad o mucha voluntad, mucha fuerza.

Say that they had... a lot of capacity or a lot of will, lots of strength.

Captions 39-40, Rafael T. - Guatemala Hermosa

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Rafael T. obviously enjoys telling tales of his beautiful (hermosa) country, Guatemala. In this video, he tells us the tale of a mountain called Cerro de Oro that, back in the day -a hundred or so years ago- his ancestors managed to move inland from the coast. How did they manage to accomplish that? "They say they had a lot of capacity or a lot of will, lots of strength..." Rafael explains in captions 39-40. But despite their remarkable fuerza de voluntad ("willpower"), it turns out they were unable to move the mountain as far as they were aiming for. So, as you can see, in legends and reality, voluntad is a word to describe an intention, wish or will, but not necessarily an accomplishment.

On a related note, por mi propia voluntad -meaning "of my own free will"--is a common Spanish phrase that makes voluntad's tie to the English word "voluntary" easy to see.

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Reventar: Exploding, Annoying, and Riding Horses to Death

Reventar
transitive verb
1. (a un caballo) "to ride to death"
2. (una propuesta, huelga) "to break"
3. (molestar mucho, enfadar) "to annoy, bother": Le revienta que le lleven la contraria, "he hates it when people cross him"
4. (un globo, las costuras) "to burst"
Courtesy of
WordReference.com

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As you see in the definitions above, reventar is quite a loaded verb. Depending on the context, it can mean "to ride a horse [or some other beast of burden] to death." It can also mean "to break a strike" or "to burst a seam." But the definition we're interested in here is #3, when Muñeca Brava's housebound matriarch gives her poor son the third degree. Her son responds:

 

Me revienta que me digas "te lo dije."

I hate it when you say "I told you so."

Caption 35, Muñeca Brava - 1 Piloto

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You see, he hates it when his mother says, "I told you so." Really, who doesn't? And guess what mother says right after that? Te lo dije. Them's fighting words.
 

(As an aside: Did you notice that the same actress plays another cranky and bossy matriarch in Provócame? Yes, in our new clip this week she has choice words for just about everyone who enters her sight.)

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Desbordar: While Playing Soccer

Tratá siempre a desbordar y mandar centro, desbordar y mandar centro ¿eh?

Try to always overtake and kick it to the center, overtake and send it to the center, eh?

Captions 2-3, Muñeca Brava - 1 Piloto

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If you clicked on the word desbordar in caption 2 while watching the 10th installment of Muñeca Brava, you saw the most common definition -"to flood"- pop up first from our Spanish-English dictionary. But desbordar doesn't only mean to flood. Not on the soccer field, for example. It also means "to surpass; to overwhelm" -or, even more sports-specifically, "to outplay." Looking at Latin American papers' sports pages (always filled with fútbol), you'll see desbordar is a favorite verb among sportswriters. For example: Desbordar a sus rivales means "to outplay their rivals."

Back to our first scene in Muñeca Brava, the good Father/coach is directing a young player to "always try to overtake your opponent and send the ball to the center, overtake him and send it center, eh?" Sounds easier said than done.

Note: Even our native speakers aren't 100% in agreement if the priest is talking about overtaking the ball, overtaking the player, or simply "outplaying" the opposing player.
One native thought he was talking about "faking" a move, but we can't come to an agreement on that -- the distinction probably wasn't important to the tv writers, who perhaps just were aiming for some "coach talk."

 

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Despiole, Pavadas, and Tomarse el Olivo: A Mess of Olives and Turkeys?

At the estancia in Provócame, there's an obvious and deep class divide between the wealthy landowners and the support staff that takes care of all their horses and messes. Toti, the goofy stablehand sporting a gaucho cap, is definitely of the lower class. He speaks in a way they don't teach you in school. When Toti gossips with a fellow staffer and her daughter, some knowledge of local slang is needed.

 

¿Lo dejó plantado a Mariano? -Sí, se tomó el olivo.

She stood Mariano up? -Yes, she took off.

Caption 22, Provócame - Piloto

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No sabés el despiole que hay en esa casa... ¡Impresionante!

You have no idea what a mess there's in that house... impressive!

Caption 23, Provócame - Piloto

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So, what did he say? Se tomó el olivo literally means "She took the olive," but the slangy significance, which is made clear to all in the context, is that the would-be bride "took off--skedaddled".

Toti calls the resulting scene a despiole, which is a slangy way of saying "mess" (lío or desorden). [Note Toti also uses this distinctly Argentine word in Part 6, so it might be a favorite of his.]

 

Buah, era esa pavadita que venía a contar... Chau.

Well, it was that little silliness I came to tell... Bye.

Caption 24, Provócame - Piloto

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Pavo, you may have discovered one Thursday in late November (if you're a Yank), is "turkey," a pavero is a "turkey farmer" and a pavada is a "flock of turkeys," but figuratively una pavada is "a silly thing." So when Toti says "era esa pavadita venia a contar..." he is telling Marisol and Julieta "that was the silly little thing I came to tell." [Che, there's contar again!]

 

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Contar: Counting and Recounting

Y yo te voy a contar todo lo que pienso hacer con el empleo nuevo.

And I'll tell you everything I have in mind for the new job.

Caption 17, Muñeca Brava - 1 Piloto

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Que van a ver este... esta historia que voy a contar.

Going to see this... this story I'm going to tell.

Caption 2, Rafael T. - Viaje al norte

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Contar, such an interesting verb, shows up in three of our videos, but used in different ways. One of the most common meanings is of contar is "to tell" or "to relate." So, in Muñeca Brava, when Federico's cuñado says "...Y yo te voy a contar lo que pienso hacer con el empleo nuevo," we translate it as "and I'm going to tell you what I have in mind for the new job."

Likewise, when our friend Rafael, in his monologue Vieje al norte, says "...este historia que voy a contar," he is talking about relating his tale, "...this story that I am going to tell."

Rafael also consistently uses contar where we might have expected to hear a form of tener (to have), but when he does so he couples it with the preposition con.

 

Cuando uno ya cuenta con familia...

When you already have a family...

Caption 11, Rafael T. - Viaje al norte

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Yo cuento con una... con una farmacia, con una mini-farmacia.

I own a... a pharmacy, one mini-pharmacy.

Caption 18, Rafael T. - Viaje al norte

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When he tells us "cuando uno ya cuenta con familia," he means "when one has [a] family" and when he says "Yo cuento con una farmacia..." we translate it as "I own a pharmacy."

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Of course, the first dictionary definition of contar is "to count," as in contando ovejas when you have insomnio. You can also count on someone or something to perform in a certain way for you, and for this we once again find contar+con. When someone asks "¿Puedo contar contigo para eso?," they don't want to know "Can I have you for this," but rather, "Can I count on you for this?"

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Nena: Not Just for Babies

Nena, nena, nena, nena, nena, yo me voy

Baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, I'm leaving

No te puedo mentir, no me puedo callar

I can't lie to you, I can't shut up

Captions 10-11, Bloque - Nena

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Anyone who sees the video Nena by the Colombian band Bloque, even once, will be quite certain that the word nena means "baby." It can also be translated "babe," as in, "hey babe, get me a beer." Nena is the feminine form of nene, which has the same meaning but is used when referring to a male. Try these out next time you encounter an actual bebé (or when you need un trago.)

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Estudiantil: Catching Authentic Spanish Mistakes

Remember, amigos, we present you with authentic Spanish here at Yabla, and Taimur is a second grader auténtico, which means our young friend is entitled to make a grammatical mistake or two himself, ¿verdad? (Not to mention that Spanish is also his second language.)
 

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No y... soy muy estudiantil.

No and... I study a lot. ["estudioso" (studious) would be more correct.]

Caption 18, Taimur - Taimur canta

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In caption 18 of the video "Taimur canta" he says Soy muy estudiantil, and, similarly, you may have noted that in "Taimur habla" he states yo soy muy estudiante. It's clear that Taimur enjoys school and studies hard, and no doubt his teachers and parents notice that él es un estudiante muy estudioso ("He is very studious student").


The word estudiante is the noun for "student," so Taimur probably should have said Soy un buen estudiante, "I'm a good student." Or he might have chosen to tell us Yo soy muy estudioso, "I am very studious."

The word estudiantil is the adjective for "student," so a student run organization is an organización estudiantil, students who travel are engaging in turismo estudiantil, between classes young scholars might relax in a sálon estudiantil, and students who protest, if they have an effective leader, might create a full-fledged movimiento estudiantil.

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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.

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

 

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Tirarse todo el ropero encima: Overdressed

Se tiró todo el ropero encima....

She threw everything in the closet on her...

Caption 37, Provócame - Piloto

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The scene is a high society wedding. Two women are talking conspiratorially. A third woman walks by, they say "Hi" but then quickly comment and giggle to each other. You know they just said something catty, but what was it? Here's the replay: "¿Está Loca? Se tiró todo el ropero encima.("Is she crazy? She threw on her whole wardrobe.") In all likelihood the victim of this verbal assault was not wearing everything she owned. However, with her estola ("stole"), joyas de oro ("gold jewelry") and vestido sin tirantes ("strapless dress"), the gossips want to say that she is overdressed.

 

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Pa': A Shortcut for "Para"

Y como yo no soy de este país, me vine pa' cá.

And since I'm not from this country, I came here.

Caption 11, Taimur - Taimur habla

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Ya yo voy pa' allá y me voy pa' mi país otra vez.

I'm going there soon and I'm going to my country again.

Caption 23, Taimur - Taimur habla

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Outside a Spanish classroom -say, on the streets or on the radio- it's very common to hear pa' in place of para ("for, towards, to a destination"). Interviewing young Taimur in a middle class neighborhood of Coro, Venezuela, a whole series of pa' pa' pa's are heard to drive home the point. "Vine pa' 'cá" ("Vine para acá") means "I came [to] here." "Voy pa' allá" means "I'll go [to] there." In both cases, pa' indicates the destination.

Looking for other examples? In the intro to Shakira's ubiquitous song La Tortura, "pa' ti" is the fast way to say "for you." In fact, if you search for "pa' 'cá," "pa' allá" or "pa' ti" on the Internet, you'll be inundated with letras (song lyrics) from the Spanish-speaking parts of the Caribbean down to the tip of Chile and even over in Spain.

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Casting: A Word as Spanish as English

Entonces siempre hacía de alguna manera castings, lo que hoy llamamos castings.

So somehow he always used to do castings, what we call today castings.

Captions 25-26, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro

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In this chapter of the life of actress Natalie Oreiro, the English word "casting" or plural "castings" is heard not once, but four times. (Note that casting's "i" follows its Spanish pronunciation rules and is pronounced like a long "e" in English, kind of like "casteeng.") In our Spanish-to-Spanish dictionary, casting (noun) is defined as "selección de personas para actuar en una película, un anuncio publicitario, etc." In other words, it's similar to its Hollywood meaning.

"Casting" is but one of the many English words creeping into Spanish dictionaries these days. In Natalie's native Uruguay, one may go to el shopping (the shopping center, or, mall) to buy un smoking (a smoking jacket) to wear for el casting (the casting call). In each of these cases, the "-ing" word is considered a masculine noun in Spanish, even if it's English equivalent started as an adjective modifying another noun.

 

Porque esos terrenos los vamos a conseguir, y vamos a hacer el shopping ahí.

Because those plots of land, we're going to get them and we're going to build the mall there.

Captions 8-9, Muñeca Brava - 2 Venganza

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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.

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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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Forro: A Word as Useful as a Lifesaver

Bueno dale sí... ¿pero te ponés otro forro?

OK sure... but will you put on another rubber?

Caption 47, Disputas - La Extraña Dama

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But can you put on another what?

Many of you would be more familiar with the word condón or preservativo, two synonyms for forro in this context. In a dictionary, you'll find that forro more innocently means "cover, case or interior lining" of a ski jacket or waterproof luggage, say. But in an Argentine bedroom, forro usually refers to a "condom," as it does in this line from the show Disputas.

What's more, graffiti all over Buenos Aires declares: Por amor usá forro -- "For love's sake, use a condom" -- as part of a grassroots campaign promoting safe sex. Another slogan in the fight against AIDS -- No seas forro, usá forro -- points to an alternate meaning of forro in local slang: "idiot."

An aside: X Amor is short for por amor because "x" is familiar to us all as the multiplication sign, and when you multiply in Spanish, you say dos por dos for "2 x 2." In a similar vein, Lo+Tv works for us because "2 + 2" is dos más dos. Keep your eyes open and you may notice lo+ used casually in place of lo más throughout the Spanish speaking world.

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Atinar: Attaining the Right Meaning

With Germaín de la Fuente's old-style crooning in the song "Como Quisiera Decirte," you just know he's gotta be singing about heartache. But what is he saying exactly?

 

Y así va pasando el tiempo

And thus, time goes by

Sin atinar a decirte

Without my being able to tell you

Lo que a diario voy sintiendo

What I'm feeling daily

Captions 18-20, Los Tetas - Como Quisiera Decirte

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You see, the verb atinar is translated as "being able to" / "to be able to." But there's an added dose of longing and frustration attached to atinar, compared to, say, poder or even ser capaz de. Atinar often appears as part of the phrase atinar a decir and suggests the need to speak up to resolve a pressured situation -una situación de presión. One synonym is lograr, in the sense of "to manage to." Dictionaries also suggest: acertar [a], dar [en el blanco], conseguir, hallar and encontrar.

It has been suggested that atinar shares roots with the verb adivinar, "to divine or guess correctly." However, most linguists would agree that there's no easy direct translation into English for this verb, which takes on many meanings and variations that non-natives will tend to absorb naturally as they encounter them in context.

 

Se fue tan rápido que no atiné a decirle que se olvidó sus maletas.
He left so fast that I didn't have the chance to tell him he forgot his suitcases.

 

Esta fue una inversión atinada, ganamos mucho dinero.
This was a good (smart) investment; we earned a lot of money.

 

El examen es "multiple choice." Espero poder atinar las respuestas.
The exam is multiple choice. I hope I can guess the right answers.

 

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An aside: This is not Germaín de la Fuente's first brush with rap. The Chilean singer's romantic warbling has also appeared in songs by the Beastie Boys and Jay-Z.

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Agradecer: "Thanks" as a Verb

Te lo agradezco.

Thank you.

Caption 16, Muñeca Brava - 1 Piloto

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Little doubt one of the things you say frequently when you have the occasion to speak Spanish is gracias (thanks) and muchas gracias (many thanks), but have you ever tried using the verb agradecer (to thank)? When Federico is explaining to his secretary-cum-sous-chef about how much she brings his groove back, she does not say simply gracias but rather (and somewhat cynically, we might add) "te lo agradezco" or "I thank you (for it)." It's slightly more formal, but not radically so.

 

Agradecemos a todos los presentes por asistir a esta reunion.
We thank all present for attending this meeting.

 

Les agradezco su ayuda.
I thank you all for your help.

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Arrancar: An Alternative to "Empezar"

Y así arrancaba, y ahí la vi

And this is how it was starting, and there I saw it

Caption 13, Los Pericos - Complicado

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If we speak English, it's easy to remember that comenzar means to "to start" because it sounds like "to commence." Empezar (to begin, to start) is so commonly used that most people learn it early on in their studies. But what about arrancar (which also means "to uproot", "to pull up")? Did you realize that this verb can mean "to start" as well? If so, you may have heard it used in reference to starting the engine of a car, but it also can be found in a variety of contexts related to "starting." In the lyrics of the song Complicado we find the line y así arrancaba, "and this is how it was starting..."

Ya volvimos de las vacaciones pero ahora nos cuesta arrancar.
We´ve just returned from vacation and now it´s hard for us to start working.

 

Vamos, Cata, la rueda ya va a arrancar.

Let's go, Cata, the wheel's going to start now.

Caption 52, Los Años Maravillosos - Capítulo 8

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Arrancá, el semáforo ya está en verde.
Go, the light has now turned green.

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Hacer Pata: To Cover for Someone

Vení, haceme pata con la amiguita.

Come, cover her little friend for me.

Caption 28, Muñeca Brava - 1 Piloto

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Pata can signify "paw" or "leg," but in this case hacer pata is an expression that means "to support someone" or "to cover for someone." So when Facundo Arana says haceme pata con la amiguita, his friend "covers" (diverts) the other girl while he tries to make his move on Natalia Oreiro. Note that the diminutive of amiga is not amigita, but rather amiguita, just as the diminutive of hormiga is hormiguita.

 

Haceme la pata con el jefe, porque hoy no puedo ir a trabajar.
Cover for me with the boss, because I can't go to work today.

 

Haceme pata con Juan, ¡él es perfecto para mí!
Put in a good word for me with Juan, he is perfect for me!

 

Note: Because the video discussed is Argentine, these examples contain the "voseo" form of the affirmative imperative conjugation of the verb hacer.

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