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Todos los Significados (All the Meanings) of the Word Todo in Spanish

In today's lesson, we're going to look at todos los usos y signficados (all of the uses and meanings) of the word todo in Spanish. Well, maybe not all of them... but a lot!

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What Part of Speech is the Word Todo in Spanish?

Primero que todo (first of all), we'd like to say that the Spanish word todo and its feminine and plural equivalents have many meanings including "all," "whole," "every," "each," "everyone," and more, depending upon the context in which they are utilized. Actually, while todo and its alternate forms most commonly function as an adjective or a pronoun, they can also function as an adverb or even a noun. Let's examine how this word works in each of these cases, its various translations into English, and several idiomatic expressions that employ it. 

 

Todo as an Adjective

Let's recall that an adjective modifies, or describes, a noun. When the word todo functions as an adjective, it must agree in number and gender with the noun it modifies. We must thus choose between its masculine singular (todo), masculine plural (todos), feminine singular (toda) or feminine plural (todas) forms, placing it either directly in front of either a noun, a noun's direct article, or a possessive adjective. Let's look at some examples:

 

No, en España, el español se parece mucho en todo el país.

No, in Spain, Spanish is a lot alike in the whole country.

Captions 5-6, Carlos y Xavi Part 4 Tradiciones y comida de Barcelona

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Although the literal translation of todo el país would be "all the country," common ways to say todo el in English include "the whole" or "the entire." Thus, an alternative translation for this sentence might be: "No, in Spain, Spanish is a lot alike in the entire country." Let's look at an additional example:

 

La asistente le dará una tarjeta con toda la información

The assistant will give you a card with all the information

Caption 42, Cita médica La cita médica de Cleer - Part 2

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Note that in this example, the feminine singular form toda has the more straightforward translation "all." Let's move on to some plural examples:

 

Invitamos a todos sus amigos al karaoke

We invite all her friends to karaoke

Caption 44, Blanca y Mariona Planificación de cena

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Note that while, in the sentence above, the plural form is translated to "all," in other cases, it can be translated as "every":

 

Salimos todas las noches.

We go out every night.

Caption 20, Clara y Cristina Hablan de actividades

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In other cases, either translation could suffice:

 

Feliz tarde, amigos de Yabla de todos los países del mundo.

Happy afternoon, Yabla friends from every country in the world.

Caption 2, Adícora, Venezuela El tatuaje de Rosana

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An alternative translation could, of course, be: "Happy afternoon, Yabla friends from all the countries in the world."

 

Todo as a Pronoun

The definition of a pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. Hence, when the word todo is used a pronoun in Spanish, it must match the number/gender of the noun to which it refers. Let's look at a simple example: 

 

¿Cuá​nta torta comiste? -Me la comí toda.

How much cake did you eat? -I ate it all

But:

 

¿Cuá​ntos caramelos comiste? -Todos.

How much candies did you eat? -All of them. 

 

Let's take a look at an example from the Yabla video library where todas replaces a plural feminine noun (las estaciones/the seasons):

 

Creo que es la mejor estación de todas

I think that it's the best season of all.

Caption 22, Clara explica El tiempo - Part 1

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Todo on its own is also the equivalent of the English word "everything":

 

Sí, Lucio me cuenta todo.

Yes, Lucio tells me everything.

Caption 30, Yago 12 Fianza - Part 2

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The plural todos, on the other hand, means "everybody" or "everyone":

 

porque es información nueva para todos.

because it's new information for everyone.

Caption 60, Clase Aula Azul Información con subjuntivo e indicativo - Part 4

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In fact, the title of a recent Yabla video, Todo es de todos (Everything Belongs to Everyone) employs both of those terms. However, note the difference in translation for todos in the following example:

 

¿De ahí saldrá el aguacate que todos conocemos? -Claro. 

The avocado that we all know will come from there? -Sure.

Caption 57, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 17

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Although "The avocado that everyone knows will come from there?" could be a viable translation, the fact that the verb conocer (to know) has been translated in the first person plural (nosotros/"we") form makes "we all" a legitimate (and perhaps more explanatory) translation. 

 

Todo as an Adverb

When todo functions as an adverb, it is typically used to make emphatic statements. Possible translations include "really," "completely," "all," or "totally." For example, one might say: El chico se veía todo lindo (The guy looked really good) or Mi habitación está toda desordenada (My room is totally messy). Let's look at an example from the Yabla video library:

 

¡Yo te vi, yo te vi toda llena de barro!

I saw you! I saw you all covered in mud!

Caption 41, Yago 3 La foto - Part 5

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Todo as a Noun

As a noun, el todo means "the whole" and can be seen in the translation for Aristotle's famous sentence:

 

El todo es más que la suma de las partes.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 

 

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Top Ten Common Spanish Expressions with Forms of the WordTodo

And speaking of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, let's examine some common Spanish idioms that include forms of the word todo with meanings beyond their literal words.

 

1Todo el mundo

While todo el mundo literally means "all the world" or "the whole/entire world," this phrase is an extremely common way of expressing the idea of "everybody" or "everyone" in Spanish:

 

Todo el mundo puede tocar el tambor donde, cuando y como quiera- mayores, niños, mujeres,

Everybody can play the drum wherever, whenever, and however they want- older people, children, women,

Captions 47-49, Viernes Santo en Tobarra ¡La Cuna del Tambor! - Part 1

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2. Todo el día

Literally "all the day," the notion of "all day" is encompassed by the Spanish expression todo el día:

 

¿Todo el día? El tiempo que quieras.

All day? As long as you want.

Captions 103-104, Alan x el mundo Mi playa favorita de México! - Part 2

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3. Todos los días

The plural form todos los días ("all the days"), on the other hand, means "every day":

 

Además, la vemos todos los días.

Besides, we see it every day.

Caption 11, Guillermina y Candelario Una aventura extrema - Part 2

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4. Sobre todo

Like it sounds, the Spanish phrase sobre todo can indeed mean "above all" or "above everything." Additional, frequent translations include "mostly," "mainly," and "especially":

 

Primero, sobre todo si es tu primera tarjeta de crédito, eh... es recomendable que el... que el límite no sea mayor a tus ingresos. 

First, especially if it is your first credit card, um... it is recommendable for the... for the limit not to be greater than your income.

Captions 51-52, Cuentas claras Sobreviviendo enero - Part 3

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5. En todo caso 

Even though the literal meaning of en todo caso is "in all case," it is the Spanish equivalent of the English expression "in any case":
 

En todo caso, espero que a partir de hoy, se sientan más cómodos usando las redes sociales en español.

In any case, I hope that starting from today, you feel more comfortable using social networks in Spanish.

Captions 53-54, Carlos explica Internet y lenguaje digital: Redes sociales

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6. Por todos lados 

Por todos lados might seem to mean "around all sides," but it really means "everywhere": 

 

Mili, ¿Dónde estabas? Te estuve buscando por todos lados.

Mili, where were you? I was looking for you everywhere.

Caption 16, Muñeca Brava 45 El secreto - Part 10

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7. De todas formas

De todas formas in Spanish means not "of all shapes," but is rather a manner of saying "anyway":

 

Bueno, de todas formas, mire, el tipo se está haciendo pasar por Pierre Bernard.

Well, anyway, look, the guy is posing as Pierre Bernard.

Caption 7, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 1 - Part 8

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The similar Spanish expressions de todas maneras and de todos modos also mean "anyway," "anyhow," or "in any case." 

 

8. De todo

The phrase de todo ("of everything") is another way to say "everything" in Spanish:

 

Aquí tiene de todo, perro, oveja...

Here, they have everything: [a] dog, sheep...

Caption 1, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 6

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9. Del todo

Del todo ("of the whole"), on the other hand, means "completely" or "entirely"':

 

Quizás l'... la relación más equilibrada que yo he buscado no ha pasado del todo y ahora me siento un poquito sola

Maybe th'... the more balanced relationship that I've looked for hasn't completely happened, and now I feel a little bit lonely

Captions 19-20, El reencuentro Las amigas hablan del trabajo y el amor.

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For additional examples of this expression and more, we recommend the lesson En absoluto, de ninguna manera, del todo.

 

10. Todo recto

And finally, if you want to tell someone to go "straight ahead," todo recto (literally "all straight") is the way to go in Spanish:

 

Tiene que ir todo recto. -Sí.

You have to go straight ahead. -Yes.

Caption 17, Curso de español ¿Hay una escuela por aquí?

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These are just a smattering of the many Spanish expressions that incorporate forms of todo that can be heard in everyday Spanish. ¡Sería imposible nombrarlos todos (It would be imposible to name them all)! That said:

 

Eso es todo por hoy, amigos. 

That's all for today, friends.

Caption 56, Ana Carolina Símbolos de Navidad

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For additional information on expressions that include the Spanish word todo, we recommend the additional lesson When Nada (Nothing) is Todo (Everything). In the meantime, gracias por todo (thanks for everything), and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments.

 

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Muy vs. Mucho in Spanish

Should you use mucho or muyDo you know how to say the Spanish words muy and mucho in English? What is the difference between muy vs. mucho in Spanish? 

 

Definitions of Muy vs. Mucho

Simply put, muy in English would be "very" or "really," while mucho in English means "many," "much," or "a lot." However, as these words can wear muchos sombreros (a lot of hats), muy vs. mucho can be un concepto muy difícil (a very difficult concept) for many English speakers. 

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Muy + Adjective

When muy is accompanied by an adjective, the adjective that modifies the noun must agree with that noun in terms of gender and number. The "good news," however, is that the word muy itself always stays the same, regardless of whether the noun it modifies is singular or plural or masculine or feminine. Let's take a look:

 

es un artista plástico español muy reconocido.

is a very famous fine art artist.

Caption 14, Amaya Vínculo: un mural muy especial

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¡estos plátanos son muy pequeños!

these bananas are very small!

Caption 30, Conversaciones en el parque Cap. 2: Cafe y bocadillos

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Es una ciudad muy linda que tiene un cri'... clima primaveral.

It's a very beautiful city that has a spri'... spring-like climate.

Caption 47, Cleer Entrevista con Jacky

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Las ranas son definitivamente las mejores maestras en salto.muhy Pero son muy vanidosas.

Frogs are definitely the best jumping masters. But they're very full of themselves.

Captions 22-23, Guillermina y Candelario Una Amiga muy Presumida - Part 1

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Just to reiterate, although the adjectives are singular or plural and masculine or feminine, in agreement with their corresponding nouns, the word muy always remains the same. 

 

Muy + Adverb

The word muy in Spanish also remains the same when accompanying an adverb, which modifies a verb, as in the following examples:

 

Con un poco de práctica, podremos aprender estas reglas muy fácilmente

With a bit of practice, we will be able to learn these rules very easily.

Caption 55, Carlos explica Acentuación Cap. 3: La división en sílabas - Part 1

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Kristen, por ejemplo, tú has dicho, muy rápidamente,

Kristen, for example, you've said, very quickly,

Caption 11, Clase Aula Azul Pedir deseos - Part 4

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When constructing or understanding sentences with muy in Spanish, how will you know whether you are contending with an adjective or an adverb? When you see a word that ends with the suffix -mente (equivalent to -ly in English), as in the examples above, you can be sure you have an adverb. However, as not all adverbs take this form and some words can function as either adjectives or adverbs, depending upon the context, it can sometimes be tough to tell the difference. Let's take a look at an example with the word rápido, which may be used as an adverb in lieu of rápidamente:

 

porque lo hacen muy rápido

because they do it very quickly.

Caption 46, Animales en familia Señales de calma y cosquillas en los perros

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Like the English word "fast," rápido can function as an adjective when describing a noun (e.g. un carro rápido/a fast car) or an adverb when describing an action (el carro va rápido/the car goes fast) to talk about something that happens "fast" or "quickly." The tricky aspect of this is that, while rápido would need to agree in terms of gender and number when employed as an adjective (e.g. unos carros rápidos), as an adverb, it remains the same (in its masculine singular form) regardless of the number of people or objects performing the action. Let's see one more example:

 

Vamos a trabajar muy fuerte.

We're going to work very hard.

Caption 29, Documental de Alejandro Fernandez Viento A Favor - Part 2

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Note that as always, the word muy is unchanging, and because fuerte (strong, hard, etc.) works as an adverb here, it remains unchanged, in its singular form, as well. Were it an adjective, on the other hand, gender and number would need to be taken into account, as in the example "Somos muy fuertes" (We are very strong). 

 

Mucho as an Adjective: Mucho + Noun

Moving on to the word mucho in Spanish, taking into account what we have learned thus far regarding adjectives and adverbs, let's examine how this word can function as either of these parts of speech. To start, when mucho functions as an adjective, it must agree in terms of number and gender with the noun it modifies. Let's look:

 

¿Sí? No tengo mucho tiempo libre ahora. 

Right? I don't have a lot of free time now.

Caption 20, Clase Aula Azul Pedir deseos - Part 2

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La verdad es que yo he tenido muchos perros,

The truth is that I've had many dogs,

Caption 50, Tu Voz Estéreo Laura - Part 11

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En Málaga, hay mucha gente con tus mismos síntomas. 

In Malaga, there are a lot of people with your same symptoms.

Caption 20, Ariana Cita médica

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muchas personas les gusta ir de vacaciones allí 

A lot of people like to go on vacation there

Caption 22, El Aula Azul Adivina el país - Part 1

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As you can see in these examples that employ masculine singular/plural and feminine singular/plural nouns, the form mucho takes (mucho, muchos, mucha, or muchas) changes in accordance with the noun it modifies. 

 

Mucho as an Adverb: Mucho + Verb

In contrast, when mucho functions as an adverb, modifying a verb, it is always mucho in the singular/masculine form, and the gender/quantity of the noun or verb has no effect on it. Let's look at some examples:

 

¿Se utiliza mucho el ajo en los platos peruanos?

Is garlic used a lot in Peruvian dishes?

Caption 19, Recetas de cocina Papa a la Huancaína

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Estos ejercicios ayudan mucho

These exercises really help

Caption 59, Bienestar con Elizabeth Relajación

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Me gusta mucho este parque.

I really like this park.

Caption 9, Conversaciones en el parque Cap. 5: Me gusta mucho este parque.

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Sí, me gustan mucho las uvas.

Yes, I like grapes a lot.

Caption 21, Conversaciones en el parque Cap. 5: Me gusta mucho este parque.

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Mucho/os/a/as as a Pronoun

To conclude our discussion on muy vs. mucho, note that the word mucho and its corresponding feminine/plural alternatives can be used as pronouns to replace nouns that have been mentioned or implied. Notice that the pronoun forms of mucho must agree in gender and number with the nouns they replace, as follows:

 

¿Se encuentran aquí buenas cositas o no, buenas gangas? -Sí, sí, sí. -¿Sí? -Muchas

Can you find good stuff here or not, good bargains? -Yes, yes, yes. -Yes? -Many.

Captions 102-103, 75 minutos Gangas para ricos - Part 14

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Sí. -¿Que mucha más gente viene ahora? Sí, mucha. -Yo tengo un niño pequeño entonces...

Yes. -That a lot more people come now? Yes, a lot. -I have a small child so...

Captions 43-44, 75 minutos Gangas para ricos - Part 16

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Puedes ver que no tenemos muchos porque hemos vendido últimamente bastantes.

You can see that we don't have many because we have sold quite a few lately.

Captions 46-47, 75 minutos Gangas para ricos - Part 11

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While you can clearly see in the first two examples that the word mucho changes forms (to mucha and muchas) to agree with the feminine singular and plural nouns it replaces (cositas/gangas and gente), the third example is notable because the noun being replaced by the masculine plural form muchos is not immediately apparent. However, since the conversation in question, which began several captions earlier, involves cars (the masculine plural noun, los coches), the masculine plural form muchos must be utilized to express the idea of "many" in this context. 

 

We hope that this lesson has helped to clarify the difference between muy vs. mucho in Spanish since sus muchos usos y matices pueden resultar muy difíciles (their many uses and nuances can be very difficult) for English speakers. We welcome any insight you might have on mucho vs. muy in Spanish, and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments

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Aun vs Aún

In this lesson, we will talk about adverbs and punctuation. Are you familiar with the word "aun" in Spanish? Do you know when to write that word with accent on the letter 'ú'? Let's start this lesson with a little quiz. Which word would you use in the following sentences, aun or aún?:

 

____ si te digo la verdad, no me crees

Even if I tell you the truth, you don't believe me

 

Estamos ____ en la fase de entrevistas.

We are still in the interview phase.

 

Let's read the following explanation to find out the answer.

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The meaning of 'aun' in Spanish

The adverb aun (without graphic accent) refers to the English adverb 'even'. Let's see a couple of examples:

 

Aun estudiando mucho, no pasó el examen

Even studying hard, he did not pass the exam

 

Yo hice aun más de lo que quería

I did even more than I wanted

 

he vivido demasiado, aun con tanta historia

I have lived too much, even with so much history

Captions 7-8, Kany Garcia Estigma de amor

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Also, keep in mind that when aun is followed by así to mean "even so," it doesn't need an accent. Le's take a look:

 

Revolvimos los planetas, y aun así te vas

We stirred the planets, and even so you leave

Captions 16-17, Belanova Y aun así te vas

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When to write aún with an accent

When the word aun works as the English adverb 'still', you need to need to put the accent on the letter "ú". Let's see some examples:

 

Para los que aún no me conocen, mi nombre es Natalia.

For those who still don't know me, my name is Natalia.

Caption 3, Natalia de Ecuador Consejos: haciendo amigos como adultos

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Así que aún queda la pequeña esperanza

So, there's still a little hope

Caption 44, Rosa Fuente de Piedra

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Durante este período, México aún tenía el nombre de la Nueva España.

During this period, Mexico still had the name New Spain.

Caption 16, Paseando con Karen Monterrey - Museo de Historia Mexicana

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Considering the above, let's unveil the answer to our quiz:

 

Aun si te digo la verdad, no me crees

Even if I tell you the truth, you don't believe me

 

Estamos aún en la fase de entrevistas.

We are still in the interview phase.

Caption 19, Negocios La solicitud de empleo - Part 1

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And that's it for today. We hope you enjoyed this lesson and don't forget to send us your comments and questions.

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Afuera vs Fuera

Let's talk about adverbs! In this lesson, we have a big match: afuera vs. fuera. Do you know the meaning of these two words? Let's explore how to use and pronounce these frequently used Spanish adverbs.

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The meaning of afuera and fuera

As an adverb, afuera refers to a place that is outside of where you are:

 

Todo lo malo me pasa dentro de esta casa, no afuera.

All the bad things happen to me inside this house, not outside.

Caption 20, Muñeca Brava - 18 - La Apuesta

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Similarly, the adverb fuera is used to talk about the exterior part of something:

 

Puedes ir a tomar café a una cafetería fuera de la escuela.

You can go to drink coffee at a cafe outside of the school.

Caption 17, El Aula Azul - Las actividades de la escuela

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Using afuera and fuera to indicate movement

If you want to indicate that someone is going outside, toward the exterior, or even abroad (with verbs of movement), you can use either afuera or fuera. Both forms are correct and are used indistinctly in both Spain and Latin America. Let's see some sentences:

 

Vení, vamos afuera.

Come, let's go outside.

Caption 28, Yago - 9 Recuperación

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Cuando los cuatro compañeros nos fuimos a estudiar fuera.

When we four friends went to study abroad.

Caption 7, Escuela de Pádel Albacete - Hablamos con José Luis

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Using afuera and fuera to indicate a condition or state

When you want to indicate that someone or something is outside, or when you want to make a reference to the outside world, you use fuera in both Spain and Latin America. However, it is also very common to use afuera throughout the Americas. Let's hear the pronunciation of these two words one more time:

 

¡Qué lindo que está afuera! ¿No? El clima está divino.

How nice it is outside! No? The weather is divine.

Caption 15, Muñeca Brava - 1 Piloto

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Me doy una buena ducha aquí fuera.

I take a good shower here outside.

Caption 31, Amaya - "Mi camper van"

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The interjections afuera and fuera

Both afuera and fuera can be used as interjections. Generally speaking, you use these interjections when you ask someone to leave a place. 

 

¡Suficiente, fuera de mi casa!

Enough, out of my house!

Caption 61, Los Años Maravillosos - Capítulo 4

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Idiomatic expressions with fuera

There are several useful idiomatic expressions with the word fuera. Let's see some of them:

 

Este hombre vive fuera de la realidad, Señoría.

This man lives outside of reality, Your Honor.

Caption 36, Los casos de Yabla - Problemas de convivencia

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Su ropa está fuera de moda.

His clothes are out of fashion.

Caption 8, Extr@: Extra en español - Ep. 1 - La llegada de Sam

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No hay nada fuera de lo normal.

There isn't anything out of the ordinary.

Caption 38, Negocios - Empezar en un nuevo trabajo

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That's it for today. We hope this review helps you to use correctly the adverbs fuera and afuera. As you could see throughout this lesson, more than talking about afuera vs fuera, we should really treat this subject as afuera = fuera! Keep that in mind and don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions

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A punto vs. Apunto

Do you know how to use a punto as opposed to apunto? Do you know the meaning of the expression "estar a punto de"? Let's start this lesson with a little quiz. Which term would you use in the following sentences, a punto or apunto?:

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Te ______ en la lista de pacientes.

I'll write you down on the patient list.

 

What about this one?:

En 1985, Colombia estuvo ______ de conseguir la paz.

In 1985, Colombia was about to achieve peace.

 

Let's review the meaning of a punto and apunto.

 

The meaning of a punto

A punto is an adverbial phrase that can be used in the following two ways:

 

1. To indicate that something is ready for the end it has been prepared for.

2. As a synonym of "timely" or "on time". 

 

Here's one example:

 

¿Esto lo hago hasta que quede a punto de nieve?

Shall I do this until it forms peaks [literally "until it looks like snow"]?

-Has'... Ah, no, eh... -Claro.

-Unt'... Oh, no, um... -Of course.

Caption 9, Ricardo - La compañera de casa

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A punto de + infinitive

While the adverbial phrase a punto is used fairly often, the most common use of a punto is when it's part of the prepositional phrase a punto de + infinitive verb. In terms of its meaning, we use a punto de + infinitive verb when we want to say that something is or was about to happen. In fact, you can think of a punto de as the English equivalent "about to". Let's look at a couple of examples:

 

La señora pulpo me contó que tenía muchos hijitos a punto de nacer.

Lady octopus told me that she had many children about to be born.

Captions 21-22, Guillermina y Candelario - La Señora Pulpo

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Estoy súper emocionada, pues estoy a punto de ingresar

I'm super excited because I'm about to enter

a uno de los lugares más emblemáticos.

one of the most symbolic places.

Captions 10-12, Paseando con Karen - Barrio Antiguo

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Cuando estaba a punto de huir y regresar a mi casa,

When I was about to flee and go back home,

hubo un milagro que salvó mi bachillerato.

there was a miracle that saved my high school diploma.

Captions 18-19, Los Años Maravillosos - Capítulo 1 - Part 5

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If you keep in mind the last two sentences, it is worth mentioning that most of the time in Spanish we use the verb estar (to be) before a punto de + infinitive verb. As we mentioned previously, we use this formula for sentences in the past as well as the present.

 

What about the meaning of apunto?

Now that you know how to use a punto and a punto de, we can say that apunto (one word) corresponds to the first person singular of the verb apuntar in the present tense. Apuntar can mean:

 

To point out something

To take notes or write down something

To subscribe to something

 

Let's see an example:

 

A cogerlos con la mano, me apunto.

For taking them with my hand, I'll sign up.

-Cógelo con las manos.

-Take it with your hands.

Caption 25, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa

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So, now that we have revealed the meanings and uses of both a punto and apunto, it's time to see the answers to the quiz we used to introduce this lesson:

 

Te apunto en la lista de pacientes.

I'll write you down on the patient list.

Caption 27, Ariana - Cita médica

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En mil novecientos ochenta y cinco, sucedieron muchas cosas buenas.

In nineteen eighty-five, many good things happened.

Colombia estuvo a punto de conseguir la paz.

Colombia was about to achieve peace.

Captions 2-3, Los Años Maravillosos - Capítulo 1 - Part 2

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And that's it for now. We hope you enjoyed this lesson and don’t forget to send us your feedback and suggestions.

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Spanish Adverbs with -Mente

Let’s talk about adverbs. Adverbs are very important in Spanish grammar and many of them are closely connected to adjectives. In fact, there are a good number of adverbs that can be easily formed if we are familiar with the original adjective. In this lesson, we will see how to use adjectives in order to form Spanish adverbs with the suffix mente.

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Some examples of Spanish adverbs with mente

Let’s take a look at these very used adverbs in Spanish.

 

...pero principalmente cubanos que llegaron a este país hace cuarenta años.

...but mainly Cubans who arrived to this country forty years ago.

Caption 6, La Calle 8 - Un recorrido fascinante

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Además, este año hay una zona dedicada especialmente a la gastronomía.

Additionally, this year there is an area dedicated especially to gastronomy.

Caption 28, Fuengirola - Feria Internacional de los Pueblos

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Nos criamos completamente ciegos, sordos, mudos con respecto al dinero.

We grew up completely blind, deaf, dumb with respect to money.

Caption 70, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero

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As you can see, the suffix mente corresponds to the English suffix ‘ly’. But how do you form Spanish adverbs with mente? Let’s take a look.

 

How to form Spanish adverbs with mente

In order to build Spanish adverbs with mente, you just have to follow this very simple formula:

 

Feminine form of the adjective + mente

 

For example, if we want to form an adverb with the adjective último (last), we just need to take the feminine form of that adjective (última) and add the suffix mente, like this:

 

última  + mente = últimamente (lastly).

 

Let’s look at some more examples:

 

Claro (clear): clara + mente = claramente (clearly)

Lento (slow): lenta + mente = lentamente (slowly)

Honesto (honest): honesta + mente = honestamente (honestly)

 

However, if an adjective doesn’t end in ‘o’, it means that it has one form that is used for both masculine and feminine. In that case, you just need to add the suffix mente to the adjective in order to get the adverb. Let’s see some examples:

 

Alegre (happy):  alegre + mente = alegremente (happily)

Triste (sad): triste + mente = tristemente (sadly)

Frecuente (frequent): frecuente + mente = frecuentemente (frequently)

Normal (normal): normal + mente = normalmente (normally)

 

It is also important to mention that if you have a sentence with two adverbs in a series, only the last one will have the suffix mente at the end. The first one will keep the feminime form of the adjective:

 

Él camina rápida y alegremente

He walks quickly and happily

 

Ellos hablaron clara y concisamente

They spoke clearly and concisely

 

Finally, something important to keep in mind: If the original adjective has a graphic accent on it (tilde), the adverb will also have that accent. Some examples:

 

Creo que mi mamá comprendió su equivocación rápidamente.

I think that my mom understood her mistake quickly.

Caption 1, Los Años Maravillosos - Capítulo 2

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Con un poco de práctica, podremos aprender estas reglas muy fácilmente.

With a bit of practice, we will be able to learn these rules very easily.

Caption 54, Carlos explica - Acentuación Cap. 3: La división en sílabas

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That's it for this lesson. Now, here is your homework: Take 10 adjectives and try to form the corresponding adverbs using the suffix mente. Can you write some sentences too? Have fun and don’t forget to send us your feedback and suggestions.

 

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Different ways to use como

The Spanish word como (an adverb but also a conjunction) has many different meanings. Let's explore a few examples to learn how to properly use it.
 
Generally speaking, the adverb como has a comparative meaning. You can use it with the verb ser (to be) to compare things, people, actions, etc. There are different ways in which this como can be used, but it usually translates as "as" or "like."

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Nadie como tú me llena

No one fulfills me like you

Caption 18, Michael Stuart - Me Siento Vivo

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Yo tenía cuidado de no pisarlas como tú me enseñaste.

I was careful not to step on them as you taught me.

Caption 33, Guillermina y Candelario - La Isla de las Serpientes - Part 1

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But the adverb como can also mean “about” and be used to make an estimate, or approximation (which in a way is also a comparison).
For example, to estimate an amount of money:

 

Que esto ya cuesta como veinticinco soles.

This alone already costs about twenty-five soles.

Caption 41, Cocinas Peruanas - Short Film - Part 2

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Or to estimate an amount of time:

 

Estos muslitos se van a tardar como unos quince, veinte minutos.

These little thighs are going to take about fifteen, twenty minutes.

Caption 15, [Bears in the Kitchen] Osos en la cocina - Pollo asiático

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On the other hand, as a conjunction, the word como has even more uses, equally interesting. For now, let's just study the most common ones: como meaning "as" or "since" and como meaning "if."
 
When the conjunction como is used to establish an antecedent condition it means "as" or "since:"

 

Como ya les dije,

As I already told you,

Caption 26, Lecciones de guitarra - Con Cristhian - Part 1

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Y también como sos uruguaya,

And also since you are Uruguayan

Caption 62, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro - Part 7

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The conjunction como can also be used in a conditional clause that translates as an "if" clause. It's used with the subjunctive, it's not very common, and it's typically used to make threats or prevent people from doing or not doing something:
 

Como no vengas le digo todo a mamá.
If you don't come I'd tell mom everything.


Como no me hagas caso, lo pasarás mal
if you don't listen to me, there will be trouble

 

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As you can see, this como is more commonly used in the negative form. And, by the way, it's just an alternative to using a si clause (which doesn't need the subjunctive):

 

Si no vienes le digo todo a mamá.
If you don't come I'll tell mom everything.
 
Si no me haces caso, lo pasarás mal
if you don't listen to me, there will be trouble

 

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Bien vs Bueno/Ser vs Estar/Adjectives vs Adverbs

The proper use of the words bien (well) and bueno (good) seems to be specially challenging for English speakers. From a grammatical point of view the difference between these words is quite simple: bueno (good) is an adjective, and bien (well) an adverb. But that doesn’t help much, does it? Especially if you don't have a clear understanding of the function of adjectives and adverbs themselves. And even if you do, people who are really fluent don't usually go around wondering if a word is an adverb or an adjective in order to use it properly.

Is not that grammar isn't helpful, it's just that very often people try to use it as a rigid template that you can superimpose on any given portion of speech to determine its correctness. But trying to grammatically deconstruct a sentence in Spanish, or any language, can be a tricky and confusing exercise, one more suited to linguists than to language learners. Indeed, from a learner's perspective, grammar is more useful if you learn to see it as a set of very basic structures (think of Legos), that you learn how to combine and then use to build basic structures that may eventually be used to build more complex structures and so on. Imagine a foreign language is some kind of alien technology that you want to replicate and master. Would you prefer if you are given the blue print and some of its basic components, or would you rather try to do reverse engineering on it?

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For example, "adjectives modify nouns and only nouns" is a much simpler grammar "Lego piece" than "adverbs modify verbs, adjectives and other adverbs." Right? So maybe we can start with that. The word bueno(good) is an adjective, like bonito (pretty), flaco (skinny), and malo (bad). Add another basic Lego piece such as "in Spanish, adjectives must agree in gender and number with the nouns they modify," and you can build:

El perro bonito /The pretty dog and  Los perros bonitos /The pretty dogs
El gato flaco / The skinny cat and Los gatos flacos / The skinny cats
El lobo malo / The bad wolf and Los lobos malos / The bad wolves
La niña buena / The good girl and Las niñas buenas / The good girls

A classic example of the proper use of bueno is the expression buenos días:
 

¡Hola, buenos días! -Joaquín.

Hi, good morning! -Joaquín.

Caption 7, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 16

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Now, what about bien (well)? Bien is an adverb, like rápidamente (fast) or mal (badly). Adverbs in Spanish are invariable, which means they have only one form and do not change according to gender or number. The main function of adverbs is to modify verbs:

Yo corro rápidamente /I ran fast
Ella baila mal / She dances badly
Yo lo hago bien / I do it well

Adverbs also modify other adverbs:

Yo corro bastante rápidamente / I ran quite fast
Ella baila muy mal / She dances very badly
Yo lo hago bien temprano / I do it very early (yes, bien can also mean "very")

Adverbs also modify adjectives:

El perro muy bonito /The very pretty dog 
El gato bastante flaco / The quite skinny cat
El lobo terriblemente malo / The terribly bad wolf
La niña tan buena / The so very good girl

So, if the adjective bueno can only be used to modify a noun, and bien can only be used to modify a verb, an adjective or another adverb, how can Spanish speakers say things like La sopa está buena (the soup is good) or Yo soy bueno (I'm good) all the time? Aren't estar and ser verbs? They are, but here we have to step up our game and remember that these two verbs are very special in Spanish—they are special Lego pieces with special rules. 

You use the verb ser with an adjective to describe something or someone by stating their characteristics as essential qualities that are an intrinsic part of who they are. In a way, you could say that this use of the verb ser +an adjective is redundant because, whether you use ser or not, you are essentially expressing the same thing about the object or person (noun) you are talking about. Another way to put it is that when you use the verb ser (to be) with an adjective you are just talking about a characteristic as if it were an action, in a verbal form. Compare our first set of examples:

El perro bonito / The pretty dog =  El perro es bonito /The dog is pretty
El gato flaco / The skinny cat = El gato es flaco / The cat is skinny
El lobo malo / The bad wolf = El lobo es malo / The wolf is bad
Las niñas buenas / The good girls = Las niñas son buenas / The girls are good

But if you use the verb estar (to be) with an adjective you are not talking about a characteristic as if it were an essential trait, you are talking about a characteristic of someone or something but not seeing it as intrinsically related to that someone or something. It may be a trait only present for the moment, for example. English doesn't usually makes this subtle distinction, so we have added some extra information to the translations so you can better grasp the difference of using estar instead or ser:

El perro es bonito / The dog is pretty ≠ El perro está bonito / The dog is pretty (right now but maybe not tomorrow). 
El gato es flaco / The cat is skinny  ≠ El gato está flaco / The cat is skinny (today, but it could get fat if we feed him). 

Now, since estar is not used to express an intrinsic quality, the following examples using estar can't be referring to moral or spiritual qualities (intrinsic by nature) such as being good or being bad, so malo (bad) and bueno (good) here can only refer to something different: 

El lobo es malo / The wolf is bad ≠ El lobo está malo / The wolf is sick (or tastes badly). 
Las niñas son buenas / The girls are good ≠ Las niñas están buenas / The girls are tasty (Something the Big Bad Wolf could say, for example (think buenas = sabrosas = tasty). As "tasty" in English buenas can also mean "good looking," which is a rather vulgar expression, by the way). 

That covers the use of ser and estar plus an adjective like bueno (good). Let's see what happens if you combine these verbs with an adverb, like bien (well). The first good news is that you never use the verb ser with and adverb. So you can never user bien (well) with the verb ser. Never. The following are all incorrect expressions: 

Yo soy bien
Nosotros somos tan bien
El carro es bien


You must use instead an adjective combined with the verb ser if you want to talk about ethical or intrinsic qualities:

Yo soy bueno / am good
Nosotros somos tan buenos / We are so good 
El carro es bueno / The car is good (maybe it's a good brand, or a good model, or just a good one for some other reason)

If you want to talk about non-essential, non-intrinsic, non-ethical qualities, you need to use an adjective combined with the verb estar:

Yo estoy bueno / am tasty (If a good meal could talk, it could say something like that. The expression can also mean " I'm good looking" by extension, see above).  
Nosotros estamos tan buenos / We are so tasty (or "good looking," see above).  
El carro está bueno / The car is in good condition.

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Or, finally, an adverb with the verb estar:

Yo estoy bien / am well
Nosotros estamos tan bien / We are so well
El carro está bien / The car is Ok (is doing well)

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Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps!

How can we express the idea of "maybe" or "perhaps" in Spanish? Although a lo mejor, quizá(s), and tal vez are often used interchangeably, let's take a look at some of the nuances of each as well as exploring some additional options. 

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A lo mejor

Despite its literal translation ("at the best"), the Spanish expression a lo mejor is used colloquially to express the idea of "perhaps" or "maybe." A lo mejor can fall anywhere in a sentence, and the verb that follows it is always conjugated in the indicative rather than the subjunctive. Let's take a look:

 

He pensado que como tú tienes más experiencia en estos temas, a lo mejor me puedes ayudar.

I've thought that since you have more experience in these matters, maybe you can help me.

Captions 7-8, Raquel y Marisa Español Para Negocios - Nuestro perfil profesional en la red

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Quién sabe, a lo mejor a partir de ahora confías un poquito más en ella.

Who knows? Maybe from now on, you'll trust it a little bit more.

Caption 72, Club de las ideas Intuición - Part 2

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Tal vez

Tal vez is more typically (but not always) placed at the beginning of a sentence and can be used with either the indicative or the subjunctive

 

Tal vez cure el tiempo las heridas que dejaste en mi vida y que marcaste en mi alma

Perhaps time will cure the wounds that you left in my life and you marked on my soul

Captions 20-21, Reik No desaparecerá

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Y ahora, en tiempos de pandemia, tal vez es mejor tenerla tapada para cualquier tipo de contacto con otras personas.

And now, in this period of pandemic, perhaps it's better to keep it covered for any type of contact with other people.

Captions 80-82, Ana Carolina Gérmenes

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In the first example, the verb curar (to heal) has been conjugated in the subjunctive, while in the second passage, ser (to be) is in the indicative. Although the use of either the subjunctive or the indicative in a sentence may or may not affect its translation into English, the subjunctive gives the idea of additional doubt. For example, the substitution of the indicative form cura in the first example would convey greater hope on the part of the speaker about the prospect of time healing his wounds whereas the use of the subjunctive form, sea, in the second example would convey less certainty on Ana Carolina's part. 

 

Quizá(s)

Quizá(s) also tends to fall at the beginning of a sentence and can be used in either the indicative or subjunctive, also depending upon the degree of doubt. Let's look a couple of examples, with the first one in indicative and the second one in subjunctive:

 

Quizás esa persona ya sabe que en San Sebastián hay tres playas,

Perhaps that person already knows that there are three beaches in San Sebastian,

Captions 80-81, Clase Aula Azul Información con subjuntivo e indicativo - Part 2

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Este... y... y quizás me atropelle un carro, ¿verdad?

Um... and... and maybe I could be hit by a car, right?

Caption 13, Seva Vive 5. La historia se da cuenta - Part 1

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All that said, which of the aforementioned adverbs for "maybe" should we choose? As all three can be used to express the same thing, let's take a look at the previous example, substituting quizás with both tal vez and a lo mejor:
 
Y tal vez me atropelle un carro, ¿verdad?
And maybe I could be hit by a car, right?
 
a lo mejor me atropella un carro, ¿verdad?
And maybe I could be hit by a car, right?

 

Note that while the translations for all three sentences are identical, with the substitution of tal vez, the sentence is otherwise unaltered. In order to employ a lo mejor correctly, on the other hand, the sentence's verb must be changed to indicative

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Puede ser (que)

Yet another Spanish expression, puede ser, can also be used in lieu of quizá(s) and tal vez. While this literally means "it can be," alternative translations include "it could be," "it's possible" and even "perhaps" or "maybe."

 

Probablemente tengas gripe. Puede ser.

You probably have the flu. It's possible.

Captions 21-22, Ariana Cita médica

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Alternatively, the construction puede ser que employs the subjunctive to introduce a possibility in a similar way to the English idea of "might":

 

Hasta puede ser que entonces podamos entender a Joan.

We might even be able to then understand Joan.

Caption 55, Con ánimo de lucro - Cortometraje - Part 10

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Acaso

Acaso also means "perhaps" or "maybe" and can be used with either the indicative or the subjunctive. Let's see an example with the verb creer (to think) in the indicative mood:

 

¿O acaso usted cree que las azafatas somos millonarias?

Or maybe you think that we flight attendants are millionaires?

Caption 43, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 2 - Part 2

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Armed with these possibilities for expressing the idea of "maybe" in Spanish, a lo mejor (perhaps) it's time to say goodbye for the time being. Don't hesitate to contact us with your suggestions and comments.

 

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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.

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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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