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Solía: Used to

In the new music video posted this week, the diction is very clear, but the meaning...? Well, Mexican pop band Molotov tends towards the surreal in this song about turning into a Martian (marciano). Once you listen carefully, and realize the lyrics are as goofy as the dance moves on your screen, you'll learn some very useful Spanish vocab.

For starters, take a look at the third line of the song:

No es el cuerpo marrano que solía tener...
It's not the fat body I used to have...
[Caption 3, Molotov > Marciano]

Solía is from the verb soler, which means, in the present infinitive, "to usually do" or "to be accustomed to." But in the past tense -as in the caption above- it has a simpler English translation: "used to."

Here's the trick: Soler in the present or past tense is always followed by another verb in the infinitive. Compare these two similar sentences:

En verano, suelo ir a la playa
"In summer, I usually go to the beach"
Or:
"In summer, I tend to go to the beach"

Cuando era niño, solía ir a la playa (tense = past)
"When I was a boy, I used to go to the beach"

And what about in the future or in the conditional tenses? Well, soler doesn't have a future or a conditional tense. That puts the word in a category of verbs that are not fully conjugated, known as "defective verbs." Other examples of defective verbs in Spanish include llover--"to rain"--and amanecer--"to dawn." (Click
here for more.)

Vocabulary

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