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Emphasis in Spanish

"¡Órale, arriba, epa, epa, arriba, ándale!"


Sound familiar? Yes, it's the fastest mouse in all Mexico -- Speedy Gonzales! -- and he stars in A.B. Quintanilla's music video. But instead of racing around rescuing people, Speedy is tending to a broken heart in this fun video. Listen in:


Él nunca le teme a nada pero esta vez lloró

He is never afraid of anything but this time he did cry

Captions 12-13, A. B. Quintanilla - Speedy Gonzalez

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Poor Speedy! It takes a lot to make this brave mouse cry. In fact, Speedy's fans might not believe their fearless hero would actually shed tears, so the song adds an emphatic "" to get the point across. With "" placed in front of the verb "lloró", the sentence means "...he DID cry" (with the stress on the verb) or "... he did indeed cry." Believe it or not: He did.

As you know, "" with an accent over the "i" means "yes," as in the affirmative answer to a question. But "" is also widely used in Spanish to add emphasis to an assertion. In English, we make affirmations with "indeed," the auxiliary verb "do" and/or by stressing the verb.

Let's look at some examples to clarify.
Yo sí estoy trabajando en el proyecto final.
I AM working on the final project.
Carlos sí puede tocar la armónica.
Carlos can indeed play the harmonica.
A Nancy sí le gusta Miguel.
Nancy DOES like Miguel.

Note that the emphatic "" appears just before the verb in these affirmative statements in Spanish. In the English equivalents, we might stress the verb -- as indicated in all caps above.

For more examples of the emphatic at work, we turn to our friends in Mexico City. Yes,
Amigos D.F. are back, talking about kidnappings. Listen in:

.. puesha habido mucha inseguridad...
... well, there HAS been a lot of insecurity...

...O sea, como que hay interés de parte de las autoridades
... I mean, it's like there IS interest from the authorities


Yo tengo la esperanza que se reduzc'... se reduzcan este tipo de eventos, ¿no?

I DO have the hope that these kinds of events will be red'... will be reduced, right?

Caption 57, Amigos D.F. - El secuestrar

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When you listen to native Spanish speakers make affirmations -- like the ones above -- note that there's no stress placed on the verbs themselves. It's a rookie mistake for Spanish students to say something like "Yo sí TENGO la esperanza..." when native speakers would simply let the "" make the emphasis for them.


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