Spanish Lessons


Lessons for topic Expressions

En qué quedamos...

One of our latest videos includes an example of an interesting way to pose a question:
¿En qué le puedo ayudar?
How can I help you?
Caption 6, Cita médica - La cita médica de Cleer
In this example the combination of the preposition en (in, on) and the interrogative word qué (literally “in what”) means how (cómo)Even though the expression cómo puedo ayudarle(how can I help you) exists in Spanish, using en qué instead is a very common choice for native speakers, especially when the expression is meant to be a greeting. In fact, it can be argued that there's a subtle difference between saying ¿en qué puedo ayudarle? (literally "what can I help you with") and ¿cómo puedo ayudarle? (how can I help you): the first one is a polite greeting, while the second one is a general question. Compare the following examples:
Hola ¿en qué puedo ayudarle? - Quiero ordenar a domicilio.
Hi, how can I help you? -I want to order for delivery.

¿Cómo puedo ayudarle, tía? - Ayúdame a rebanar el pan.
How can I help you, aunt? -Help me slice the bread.
But that’s not the only meaning of en qué. Here’s a notable example:
Oye, y ¿en qué trabajas?
Hey, and what do you do [for a living]?
Caption 82, Ricardo - La compañera de casa
En qué can also be used to ask about a location. It's roughly equivalent to dónde (where):
¿En qué lugar se enamoró de ti?
In what place did he fall in love with you?
Caption 7, Marc Anthony - Y cómo es él
 En qué can also be used to talk about time. It's roughly equivalent to cuándo (when):
¿En qué momento sucedió?
When (in what moment) did it happen?
There are many fixed questions that use en qué. The question en qué consiste is worth learning:
¿En qué consiste tu trabajo, Paco?
What does your job consist of, Paco?
Caption 42, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 13
Finally, there are also idiomatic expressions that use en qué. For example, en qué quedamos (literally "in what we agreed”):
¿En qué quedamos? ¿Va tener una herencia o no? 
How did we end up? Is he going to have an inheritance or not?
Caption 38, Muñeca Brava - 30 Revelaciones - Part 9

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Some Unique Words and Expressions

Let's review some unique Spanish words that you may have not heard of before. 

Spanish uses a specific word to describe the rheum (more commonly known as "sleep" in English) found in the corner of the eye after sleeping: lagaña (also legaña). This odd word has an uncertain origin, though some experts believe it to be inherited from a Paleohispanic language! It's important to note that lagaña is not a specialized term as "rheum" is in English but a very common word used in everyday conversations:

Esto es que una... una de las glándulas que se encarga de fabricar la lagaña,
This is because one... one of the glands that is in charge of producing rheum,
Caption 79, Animales en familia - La operación de Yaki

Other unique Spanish words related to the body are entrecejo (the space between eyebrows).

Y esta parte se llama entrecejo.
And this part is called "entrecejo" [the space between the eyebrows].
Caption 16, Marta explica el cuerpo - La cabeza

and chapas (blush, the pink tinge on the cheeks):

para obtener las clásicas chapitas de Pikachu.
to get the classic Pikachu rosy cheeks.
Caption 25, Manos a la obra - Separadores de libros: Pikachu

Do you know some Spanish words or expressions used to describe different types of raining? For example both expressions está chispeando and está lloviznando mean "it's drizzling." The verb chispear comes from the noun chispa (spark), while the verb lloviznar comes from the noun llovizna (drizzle)On the contrary, when the rain is really heavy people may use the noun tormenta (storm) to describe it, but aguacero (downpour) it's also very common:

Aguacero de mayo, me lleva, papá
May downpour, it's taking me away, man
Caption 44, Kikirikí - Animales - Part 6

Of course, people also use idiomatic expressions to talk about the rain. One example is llueve a cántaros (the equivalent of "it's raining cats and dogs," literally "it's raining as if pitchers where being poured from the sky"). Other words that you may want to explore on your own are: chubasco (a very intense, windy storm) and chaparrón (an intense, sudden, and short storm).
Another interesting group of unique Spanish words is the group of words used to talk about family in-laws, a list that is quite big, as you can imagine. It's not only suegro, suegra (father and mother in law), but also yerno, nuera (son and daughter in law), cuñado, cuñada (brother or sister in law), and even concuño, concuña (brother, husband, sister, or wife of one's brother in law or sister in law)!


Es una champiñonera tradicional que estableció mi suegro.
It's a traditional mushroom farm that my father-in-law established.
Caption 6, La Champiñonera - El cultivo de champiñón
Estaba en la casa de mi suegra y mi cuñada, la hermana de mi marido,
I was in my mother-in-law's house, and my sister in law, my husband's sister,
Caption 52, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro - Part 1

Interesting tidbit: The equivalent of "in-law family" in Spanish is familia política. You can use the noun político (political) to describe less close relatives such as primo político (in-law cousin). 

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Convertirse, Volverse, Transformarse

In a previous lesson we learn about how the verb volver can be used figuratively to express the idea of becoming:

Después se volvió más profesional y me encantó más aún todavía, ¿no?
Afterwards, it became more professional and I loved it even more still, right?
Caption 10, Los Juegos Olímpicos - Adrián Gavira

But there are other Spanish verbs that also translate as "to become," for example the verbs transformarse and convertirse (to become, to turn into). These verbs are just as common as volverse but they work differently. That's why you can't just substitute se volvió with se transformó or se convirtió in the example above. When using these verbs you need to be more specific and always remember to use the preposition en (into) to introduce a complement that gives more information about the transformation in question. For example:

pronto se convierte en una carrera de obstáculos
quickly becomes a highway of obstacles
Caption 41, Animales en familia - La operación de Yaki
El pergamino se transforma en "cisco" y en almendra.
The parchment is transformed into the leftover "cisco" and the bean.
Caption 41, Una Historia de Café - La Bodega

 You can switch convertirse and transformarse in the examples above and obtain correct expressions:

pronto se transforma en una carrera de obstáculos
quickly becomes a highway of obstacles
El pergamino se convierte en "cisco" y en almendra.
The parchment is transformed into the leftover "cisco" and the bean.
But with the verb volverse you don’t need the preposition en (into), so you say:
pronto se vuelve una carrera de obstáculos
quickly becomes a highway of obstacles
El pergamino se vuelve "cisco" y almendra.
The parchment is transformed into the leftover "cisco" and the bean.

However, to use transformarse or convertirse instead of volverse in the first example you'll have to do more than that, because you can't just say that something or someone se transformó en más profesional (transformed into a more professional), right? These expressions are incomplete in English and in Spanish. “Transformed into a more professional what?” people would ask. So you have to say something like:

Después se transformó en una actividad más profesional...
Después se convirtió en una actividad más profesional...
Afterwards, it became a more professional activity...

Finally, an interesting tidbit: You can use both transformarse and convertirse alone as reflexive verbs to express the idea that a person transforms herself or himself, without the need of any complement or preposition, but you can't do the same with volverse:

Me transformo (I transform myself).
Me convierto (I transform myself).
Me vuelvo (This is incomplete, you have to state into what you are becoming, for example: me vuelvo un vampiro which means "I become a vampire").

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The Verb Volver

The verb volver is translated as "to return" but it actually has a great variety of other meanings. Let's see how real Spanish speakers use it in real situations. 

So, the verb volver usually translates as "to come back." It's very common to use its infinitive form combined with another verb, like querer (to want) or ir (to go). Learning how to use the infinitive form of verbs in phrases is actually very useful, especially if you haven't still master the conjugation of irregular verbs such as this one. 

¿Y quieres volver al centro? -Efectivamente.
And you want to come back to the center [of the city]? -Exactly.
Caption 48, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 12

You can also use the verb volver figuratively. The following example translates as "again":

Otra vez, volver a hacernos daño.
One more time, hurting each other again.
Caption 24, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 15

Another possible translation of this example could be: "again, going back to hurting each other". The combination of volver with the preposition a (to) is also a very useful one. You can combine it with other verbs in phrases such as volver a vernos (to see each other again), volver a empezar (to start all over again), volver a entrar (to reenter), etc. Or, you can use conjugated forms: 

Pero bueno, cuando pueda, me vuelvo a inscribir en otro gimnasio y me meto.
But well, when I can, I'll enroll again in other gymnasium and I'll go.
Caption 29, Patricia Marti - Diversión y Ejercicio - Part 1

Did you notice the use of the reflexive pronoun me? Well, the verb volver also has a reflexive form: volverse. It's not always easy to know how to  use it, though. it usually depends on the verb you are combining it with. As a general rule, you can't use the reflexive form if the following verb is a transitive verb (with a direct object). Compare these examples:

Luisa se volvió a desmayar (Luisa fainted again). It's a mistake to say "Luisa volvió a desmayar" only.
Luisa volvió a romper mi juguete (Luisa broke my toy again). It's a mistake to say "Luisa se volvió a romper mi juguete". 

But this is not always the case. You can actually use the reflexive form with transitive verbs as well, when the action of volver has a reflexive meaning (loosely, when the direct object is also the subject of the sentence). This is why me vuelvo a hacer la tarea (I [myself] get back to doing my homework) is different from vuelvo a hacer la tarea (I do my homework again).

Sometimes, the use of a personal pronoun is not an indication of a reflexive action but simply of the existence of a direct or indirect object. In the following example, the pronoun te substitutes a direct object: 

hijo, móntate adelante pero no te vuelvo a sacar a pasear más, ¿oíste?
Son, get in the front seat, but I am not going to take you out for a ride again, did you hear?
Caption 9, Chiste de Carlito - No. 3 - Part 1

But here the pronoun te substitutes an indirect object:

te vuelvo a repetir...
I repeat it to you again...
Caption 74, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro - Part 8

As a last example, a very common figurative meaning of the reflexive volverse is "to become":

entonces, el asunto se vuelve más complicado.
so, the issue becomes more complicated.
Caption 32, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 3

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The Verb Quedar

Quedar is a very useful and interesting Spanish verb because it has a great number of different meanings. Let's learn a few!
Quedar ("to stay" or "to remain") is commonly used alone (quedar) or accompanied with reflexive pronouns (quedarse). This verb can be followed by different complements and prepositions such as con (with), en (in, on), or de (of, from).
Quedarse con means "to stay with":

te quedas con los niños.
And you stay with the children.
Caption 29, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 3

It's useful to learn how to turn this expression into an order or request. All you have to do is to use the reflexive pronoun as a suffix of the verb: quédate con los niños (stay with the kids). Here's another useful example:

Quédate conmigo
Stay with me
Caption 42, Carlos Baute y Marta Sanchez - Colgando en tus manos

If you combine the verb quedar(se) with the preposition en (in, on) you can introduce an expression of place:

...el azúcar se queda en la sangre.
... sugar stays in the blood.
Caption 5, Los médicos explican - La diabetes

You could also use it to express time using prepositions such as desde (since), or durante(during). For example: Elisa se quedará durante el verano (Elisa will stay during the summer), Nos quedaremos desde mayo hasta junio (We'll stay from May to June).
Do you remember how Spanish uses the word hay (there is, there are), the impersonal form of the verb haber (to have)? You can do something similar with queda or quedan (singular and plural third person of quedar) to express the idea "there is [something] left":

Pues ya no queda nada de qué hablar, nada...
For there is nothing left to talk about, nothing...
Caption 2, Bunbury - Entrevista Con Enrique Bunbury - Part 2

This combination of “queda + something” is very useful, and interesting too, because it uses the verb quedar as in a way similar to the impersonal verb hay (there's, there are). So, for example, you can say: ¿Queda café? (Is thereany coffee left?), ¿Quedan plátanos en el refri? (Are there any bananas left in the fridge?).
Quedar can also mean "to end up," or "to result in." For example, in the question ¿En qué quedó eso? (How did that end up?). Or,

Y así queda nuestro diseño.
And our design ends up looking like this.
Caption 7, Manos a la obra - Papel picado para Día de muertos

This can also be used with reflexive pronouns. You can say: así nos queda nuestro diseño. Another example is:

porque si no el brócoli sí que nos queda crudo.
because if not the broccoli does end up raw [for us].
Caption 17, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli - Part 8

The expressions quedar con and quedar en can be used figuratively to express that you have agreed about something with someone. For example, agreeing to meet in a certain place:
Quedamos en vernos aquí a las tres en punto.
We agreed we will meet here at three o'clock.
Or just agreeing with someone on something:
Quedé con Esther en que me quedaría a cuidar a los niños.
I agreed with Esther that I would stay to take care of the kids.

The verb quedar can also be used to express the idea that someone has changed or ended up in a certain position or state of mind. For example: Juliana se quedósola tras la partida de Esther (Juliana was left alone after Esther's departure). Me quedésorprendido con su actuación (I was [left] surprised by her performance). Translations vary, however, for example:

Bueno, mi papá se quedó sin trabajo.
Well, my dad lost his job.
Caption 15, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro - Part 2

You can also use the verb quedar to express the idea that a person has gained a certain reputation after an action. For example: quedé como un idiota (I looked like an idiot). As a result, the fixed expression quedar bien means then "to look good" or "get in good with," while quedar mal means the opposite.
No me quedes mal, papá.
Don't let me down, Dad.

Además es una manera de quedar bien con la empresa.
Additionally, it's a way to look good with the company.
Caption 84, Raquel y Marisa - Español Para Negocios - Nuestro perfil profesional en la red

Quedar can also be used to express the idea that you will keep something with you. For example:
-Me quedaré con tu pluma porque me gusta mucho. -No, no puedes quedártela.
-I will keep your pen because I really like it. -No, you can't keep it.
Can you think of a way to answer the previous question with a positive? It's Claro, quédatela ("Sure, keep it")!
You can also use the expression quedar por + a verb in the infinitive to express the idea that something is left to be done. Translations vary depending on the context. For example:
Sólo queda por hacer la tarea.
Only homework is left to be done.
No quiero ni pensar en todo lo que nos queda por alcanzar.
I don't even want to think about how much we still need to achieve.
 Finally, the verb quedar also means "to fit" or "to suit":

¿Me queda bien? Sí, ¿no? -Guapo, guapo, muy bien se ve.
Does it look good on me? It does, right? -Handsome, handsome, it looks very good.
Caption 52, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 6

Figuratively speaking, it means "to be appropriate”:
¡No queda que fumes en una fiesta infantil!
It's not appropriate for you to smoke at a children's party!

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Combining Parts of Speech IV

Let's continue studying phrases that combine prepositions, articles, and pronouns since these can be a source of confusion for Spanish learners. Take a look at Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 here.
Check out the following quote from one of our most recent videos. In this clip teacher Carolina is discussing common mistakes that her students make, and says:

El primer caso del que les quiero hablar hoy es...
The first case I want to talk to you about today is...
Caption 7, Lecciones con Carolina - Errores comunes - Part 5

The phrase del que les is used frequently in Spanish, and has no direct translation in English. If we break this phrase down, we find that it literally means "of the which to you:" the contraction del (preposition de + article el), plus the relative pronoun que (which), and the personal pronoun les (to you). But in English, we don't really say things like "of the which to you." Instead, English uses a very different structure that requires an additional word: "about."
In fact, a more literal translation of the example would be something like: "The first case about which I want to talk to you today is." In Spanish, by the way, there's a similar construction that uses the phrase acerca de, which literally means "about." So in fact, you can also say the following:
El primer caso acerca del que les quiero hablar hoy es...
The first case about which I want to talk to you today is...
However, these expressions are a bit over complicated, both in Spanish and in English. In Spanish, it's better and more straightforward to simply use the preposition de (of, from) combined with the appropriate articles and pronouns, which must agree with the nouns they refer to in both number and gender. For example:

El tipo del que les hablo nunca más apareció;
The guy about whom I speak to you never again showed up
Caption 5,  ChocQuibTown - Oro

So, if you are talking about a noun that is both singular and masculine, like el caso (the case) or el tipo (the guy), you need to use del, that is de + el (the). Let's now see an example with a plural noun like artistas (artists), that needs de + los (or de + las if we were talking about female artists):

Pintó junto a grandes artistas de los que aprendió casi todo.
He painted alongside great artists from whom he learned almost everything.
Caption 15, Europa Abierta - Alejandro Hermann - El arte de pintar

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Toco madera

All cultures and languages have expressions about good and bad luck so it's not surprising to find similar phrases in different languages. Let's take a look at some Spanish expressions used to express good and :( bad wishes and talk about fortune in general.
The best and most common way to wish luck in Spanish is simply that: desear suerte (to wish luck). You can say: te deseo buena suerte (I wish you good luck) or omit the adjective buena(good) and simply say te deseo suerte (I wish you luck). In the following example, the Mother Superior is addressing Father Manuel formally, and that's why she uses the pronoun le instead of te. 

Muy bien, le deseo suerte.
Very well, I wish you luck.
Caption 22, Muñeca Brava - 18 - La Apuesta - Part 11

You can also omit the verb desear:

OK, buena suerte al aprender español.
Okay, good luck learning Spanish.
Caption 29, Cabarete - Escuela de trapecio

Or omit both verb and adjective and emphatically say just ¡suerte!:

Good luck!
Caption 4, Frutería "Los Mangos" - Vendiendo Frutas

Other common expressions are ¡Qué buena suerte! (How lucky!) and ¡Qué mala suerte! (How unlucky!). It's also common to just say ¡Qué suerte! (literally "Such luck!"); whether the person is referring to bad or good luck is left to be inferred from the context.

¡Qué suerte encontrar a Gustavo!
How lucky to find Gustavo!
Caption 46, Eljuri - "Fuerte" EPK - Part 1

Now, we wouldn't like to be the ones teaching you how to wish bad luck. Besides, apart from expressions that involve the verb maldecir (to curse), it would basically consist of substituting the adjective buena (good) with mala (bad). For example, te deseo mala suertemeans “I wish you bad luck.” Guess bad-luck-wishers are less creative than good-luck-wishers!
But there's an expression about bad luck that’s very common, and very superstitious in nature: echar la sal (literally, "to throw salt at," to jinx). So you would say ¡No me eches la sal! (Don't jinx me!), or Lucía me echó la sal y por eso me caí (Lucía jinxed me and that's why I fell). We don't have an example yet of this particular expression in our catalog of videos, but we have something even more interesting. The belief that salt is associated with bad luck is a widespread superstition in many cultures, Spanish- and English-speaking cultures included, of course. According to this superstition, spilling salt is bad luck and throwing a pinch over your shoulder reverses that bad luck, right? Have you ever seen a chef doing this? If you haven't, check out our chef Tatiana, who is very much into magic thought, when she is preparing her salsa:

Preparamos una super salsa.
We make a great salsa.
Caption 25, Tatiana y su cocina - Chilaquiles

Finally, if you prefer more linguistic ways of protecting yourself from bad luck, there's the expression tocar madera (knock on wood). You need to conjugate the verb to use it properly. Here's a made-up example, along with several other colorful Spanish expressions all put together, to contribute to your research on the topic of bad luck versus good luck.
¿Y si te resbalas? Sería muy mala pata, ¿no?
And if you slip? That would be really unlucky, no?
¡Cállate, no me salesToco madera.
Shut up, don't jinx meKnock on wood!
¡Qué la boca se te haga chicharrón!
 I hope it won't happen! (Literally, "May your mouth turn into a pork rind!")

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Que Used in Common Phrases - Tener que

The Spanish word que: how can such a tiny word be so complicated? A pronoun that translates as "who," "which," "whom," and "that." A conjunction that translates as "that," "then," "so," "if," or even "of" and has many other uses that simply don't have a direct translation in English. How should we tackle the topic? Maybe let's start with some useful common phrases, the most popular ones that use this tiny word, and take it from there.
The word que is combined with certain verbs very often. For example, with the verb tener (to have). Tener que is used to express a necessity or an imperative, or simply put, that something must be done.

Tienes que trabajar sábado y domingo.
You have to work Saturday and Sunday.
Caption 36, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 19

You have to learn how to conjugate the verb tener, of course. You would find this expression more frequently in the indicative mood, like in the example above, but you can also find it in the subjunctive:

Es posible que tenga que quedarme algún día más en Barcelona.
It's possible that I may have to stay one more day in Barcelona.
Caption 52, Raquel - La Compra de un Billete de Tren - Part 1

But be careful, there's an idiomatic expression that uses the same construction, always combined with the verb ver (to see) and the preposition con (with). Tener que ver con (literally "to have to see with”) is used to establish a relationship or connection. Most of the time this expression is preceded by another que (meaning "that"). We have a lesson on this topic, but let's analyze additional examples:

Espero que por favor practiquen todo lo que tiene que ver con conjunciones disyuntivas y copulativas.
I hope that you please practice everything that has to do with disjunctive and copulative conjunctions.
Caption 45, Lecciones con Carolina - Conjunciones copulativas - Part 1

Keep in mind that it is also possible to use the verb ver (to see, to look) combined with tener que to simply express a necessity (literally "to have to see") and not as an idiom:

y, eh... también tengo que ver el tráfico del sitio.
and, um... I also have to look at the site's traffic.
Caption 53, Carlos Quintana - Guía de musica latina - Part 1

Note that, in this case, you won't use the preposition con (with). If you were to add it, then you would be using the idiom tener que ver con (to have to do with). Tengo que ver con el tráfico del sitio means "I have something to do with the site's traffic."
And there's another idiom that may get in your way here. You can also use tener que ver con meaning "to have to deal with something." The expression is not very common because we also have the verbs enfrentar (to face) and lidiar (to deal), but here's an example:

ahora tengo que... tengo que ver con las consecuencias.
now I have to... I have to deal with the consequences.
Caption 27, La Sub30 - Familias - Part 7

From this idiom comes a threatening expression: te las tendrás que ver con... (you will have to deal with...). For example: Si lastimas a Jenny te las tendrás que ver conmigo (if you hurt Jenny you will have to deal with me). Keep in mind that Spanish allows for a playful use of the relative pronouns, so you can also say: Si lastimas a Jenny tendrás que vértelas conmigo, which is actually more common.
¡Esta lección tuvo que ver solamente con una frase que combina '”que”con el verbo “tener”!
This lesson was only about one phrase that combines “que” with the verb “to have”!
We'll explore more phrases in future lessons. Stay tuned! Tweet us @yabla or send your topic suggestions to

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Expressing Progression with the Verb ir

The verb ir (to go) is used in many idiomatic expressions in Spanish. One of the most interesting uses of this verb is to indicate the beginning and progression of an action, for example:

¡Excelente! Voy planeando el evento.
Excellent! I'm starting to plan the event (right now).

It's not easy to translate the expression voy planeando el evento with precision. In the same situation, an English speaker would often use the future tense, "I will start planning the event," which has an exact equivalent in Spanish: comenzaré a planear el evento. But voy planeando (literally, "I go planning") is in the present tense, and the expression means that I'm starting the action of planning at a certain point (the present in this case) and that it will continue for some time in the future until its completion. It also implies that I will be planning while other actions are taking place simultaneously. This may be something obvious that could be inferred by context or mere logic in English, but there is no special verbal form to express it.

Now, this expression has many variations and, since the verb ir (to go) is an important irregular verb, it's worth studying different examples. The basic structure of the expression is as follows: a conjugated form of the verb ir (to go) + a verb in gerundio (-ando, -iendo endings in Spanish). In the previous example we used voy, the conjugated form of the verb ir in the present, and planeando, the gerundio of the verb planear (to plan). Let's see variations with different persons and tenses:

Iré planeando el evento.
I will start planning the event.

Lucía irá planeando el evento.
Lucia will start planning the event.

The verb ir in this expression can also be conjugated in the past tense. For example:

Fuimos planeando el evento.
We went about planning the event.

Did you notice that we adjusted our translation to better express the meaning of the sentence? The same happens when we use other verbs different from planear (to plan):

Voy cancelando el evento.
I start by cancelling the event.
(Though Spanish also has an exact equivalent for this translation: empiezo por cancelar el evento.)

But let's see some examples in real context. In the following examples, try to analyze the construction and meaning of the sentence in Spanish but also the translation we used for each. Maybe you can come up with a better one!

Te pones de rodillas o vas cambiando de postura.
You get on your knees or you go around changing postures.
Caption 75, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 5

Y ahora, una vez que tenemos el aceite, lo vamos clasificando por cualidades.
And now, once we have the oil, we're going to classify it by traits.
Caption 66, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 14

They have a very developed sense of smell, enseguida te huelen el trocito de manzana, galleta, lo que sea, y te van siguiendo.
They have a very developed sense of smell, right away they smell the little piece of apple, cookie, whatever, and they start following you.
Caption 54-56, Animales en familia - Un día en Bioparc: Coatís

Poco a poco la iremos consiguiendo.
Little by little, we are going to achieve it.
Caption16, ¡Tierra, Sí! - Atenco - Part 4

Poco a poco los irás descubriendo todos.
Little by little you'll go along discovering all of them.
Caption 40, Fundamentos del Español - 9 - Verbos Reflexivos 

Hasta después fui aprendiendo conforme se fue haciendo el cómic.
Until later I started learning as the comic was being made.
Caption 40-41, Antonio Vargas - Artista - ilustración - Part 1

Finally, here's an interesting example that uses the verb ir not only as the auxiliary conjugated verb but also for the gerundio, which is yendo (going). The expression is then voy yendo (literally "I go going").  

Bueno, voy yendo que... -Sí, sí. -...deben de estar por llegar.
Well, I'm going since... -Yes, yes. -...they are bound to arrive soon.
Caption 18, Muñeca Brava - 33 El partido - Part 5

That's it. Mejor nos vamos despidiendo (We better start saying goodbye)!

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Combining Parts of Speech III - Cual, Cuales

Let's continue studying phrases that combine prepositions, articles, and pronouns, since these are always a source of confusion for many Spanish learners. One of the main functions of this type of phrase is to connect simple sentences to transform them into more complex utterances, thus allowing a speaker to participate in real conversations. Take a look at Part 1 of the series here and Part 2 here.
Today, we'll focus on the use of the pronoun cual (plural cuales), which should not be mixed up with the interrogative adjective cuál (plural cuáles) that modifies and accompanies a noun, as in the following example:

¿Pero cuál juego les gusta más?
But which attraction do you like the most?
Caption 36, Guillermina y Candelario - El parque de diversiones - Part 1

Or with the interrogative pronoun cuál (plural cuáles) that takes the place of a noun. In the following example, when having a conversation about cars, someone uses it to ask:

¿Cuál te gusta a ti?
Which one do you like?
Caption 13, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 19

The focus of our lesson today, the pronoun cual/cuales (without the accent mark) is not used to ask questions. Rather, it's used in fixed phrases (called locusiones in Spanish) that usually involve the combination of articles, prepositions, and other pronouns. In this case, the core is always a definite article + cual: el cual, la cual, lo cual, for the singular, and los cuales, las cuales, los cuales, for the plural. Other parts of speech can then be added to that: prepositions before, pronouns after. Let's see an example using the preposition en (on, in) and the personal pronoun nos:

Y el segundo tiene que ver con el lugar en el cual nos encontramos.
And the second one has to do with the place in which we are located.
Caption 35, Carlos explica - Tuteo, Ustedeo y Voseo - Conceptos básicos

Here's an example with the preposition por (for). These are the words of a Mexican politician. We've transcribed a big chunk of what he says so you can see the phrase in context:

Yo sé que este país que me ha tocado conocer de cerca, palparlo de cerca, sentirlo muy, muy profundamente y por el cual tengo una enorme pasión...
I know that this country that I've had the fortune to know closely, to sense it closely, to feel it very, very deeply and for which I have an enormous passion...
Caption 2-3, Felipe Calderón - Publicidad - Part 1

Here's another long example using the plural feminine form las cuales and the preposition con (with):


Básicamente este era un juguete que era un amplificador, con algunas pistas, con las cuales los niños juegan a cantar, ¿no?
Basically this was a toy that was an amplifier, with some tracks, that kids sing along with, right?
Caption 63, Lo que no sabías - Arte electrónico - Part 3

Now an example using the preposition de (for) and the neutral form lo cual:

Es básicamente lo mismo que hicimos en el laboratorio pero a escala industrial, de lo cual están encargados otros colegas.
It's basically the same thing we did in the laboratory but on an industrial scale, which other colleagues are in charge of.
Caption 62, Una Historia de Café - La Catación - Part 1

You can find many other combinations in our catalog of videos, with other prepositions and pronouns, or without them. Here's just one example with the preposition de (of) and the pronoun me:

De lo cual me siento muy orgulloso.
I'm very proud of that [of which I'm very proud].
Caption 41, Escuela Don Quijote - Jesús Baz - Part 1

Something important to note is that it's possible to substitute the pronoun cual with the pronoun que. This is especially true in colloquial Spanish, though considered less correct in formal or written speech. Take the first example above, el lugar en el cual nos encontramos: people also say el lugar en el que nos encontramos. The same substitution can be made with all the other subsequent examples.

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The Verb Poder - Common Expressions

The verb poder (to be able, can) is one of the 10 most common verbs in Spanish. This verb is irregular, which means that it's unique in its conjugations. Let's study some common expressions in which this verb is used.
Most of the time the verb poder functions as an auxiliary verb (just like its English counterparts "can" and "could"), but in Spanish poder is followed by an infinitive. In the present tense you could find it used to express the ability or permission to do something:

Hay mucho que tú puedes hacer.
There is a lot that you can do.
Caption 44, 3R - Campaña de reciclaje - Part 2

¿Yo puedo ir a tú casa?
Can I go to your house?
Caption 65, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 15

Compare this to the use of puedo with reflexive pronouns in the same video:

¿Yo me puedo apuntar a eso? -Claro.
Can I sign up for that? -Sure.
Caption 28, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 15

You can also use the reflexive pronoun as a suffix of the verb in the infinitive. So it's also correct to say puedo apuntarme (can I sign up). In Spanish the idea behind the use of reflexive here is that you write down your own name yourself. If you don't use the reflexive and only say puedo apuntar, then the expression means I can write down. For example: puedo apuntar tu nombre (I can write down your name).
The combination of the reflexive with the verb poder is also used to talk about abilities or possibilities in an impersonal way. For this you will always use the pronoun se, and the third-person of the verb. For example, se puede nadar (one can swim). Many Spanish speakers use an abbreviation of the impersonal expression ¿se puede pasar? (literally "may one come in?") as a courtesy before entering a house or a room:

¿Se puede? Sí. -Sí. -Soy Toñi. -Encantada.
May I? Yes. -Yes. -I'm Toñi. -Glad to meet you.
Caption 7, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 14

Of course, you can also not use the impersonal and say ¿puedo pasar? (May I come in?). The equivalent of the shortened expression "may I" is simply ¿puedo?, which, as in English, can be used to ask for permission to do something, not only entering a room.
Now, the combination of the verb poder with the reflexive se can also indicate the use of a special type of passive voice. In the following example, the doctor is talking about ozone:

Se puede obtener artificialmente a partir de descargas eléctricas.
It can be obtained artificially through electrical discharges.  
Caption 28, Los médicos explican - Beneficios del ozono

FYI: the normal passive voice construction for this would be: puede ser obtenido (it can be obtained).
We will continue studying more expressions that use the verb poder with other tenses and moods in a future lesson. We leave you with a very common expression of disbelief or surprise that uses the verb poderno puede ser (it can’t be). We even have a series titled NPS, an acronym of no puede ser. ¿Puedes creerlo? (can you believe it?)

¡No puede ser! -¡No puede ser!
It can't be! -It can't be.
Caption 52, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 2

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Expressing Disgust in Spanish

By definition, nobody likes to feel disgusted, and yet disgust is sadly a very common sentiment. Let's learn a few ways in which Spanish speakers express their disgust.
Let's start with the most basic. The expression me da asco (literally "it gives me disgust") has many different translations, depending on the context:

Me da asco, la verdad, mire, señor,
You make me sick, truthfully, look, sir,
Caption 23, Muñeca Brava - 18 - La Apuesta - Part 1
Cuando te duele la cabeza, tenés unas náuseas que te da asco todo.
When your head hurts, you have nausea that makes everything disgusting to you.
Caption 53, Muñeca Brava - 43 La reunión - Part 5

This expression is also very interesting because of the idiomatic use of the verb dar (to give), which is used a lot in Spanish to express a wide variety of feelings, from me da miedo (it frightens me), to me da pena (I feel ashamed) and me da gusto (it pleases me). In order to learn it and remember it, we suggest you recall an expression in English that uses the same verb in the same way: "it gives me the creeps," which in Spanish could translate as me da asco or me da escalofríos (it makes me shrivel), or something else, depending on the context. Our friends from Calle 13 use dar repelo (repelo is a coloquial word for "disgust"):

Oye jibarita si te doy repelillo, Residente te quita el frenillo.
Listen, peasant girl, if I give you the creeps, Residente will take away your stutter.
Caption 43, Calle 13 - Tango del pecado

Other phrases that can also be used in Spanish are me enferma (it makes me sick), and me da náuseas (it makes me feel nauseous). Check out this example:

Verla me da náuseas.
Seeing her makes me sick.
Caption 17, Muñeca Brava - 43 La reunión - Part 1

Now let's learn some single words that you can use to express your dislikes. The interjection guácala (sometimes written huácala) is used in Mexico, Colombia, Honduras, el Salvador, República Dominicana, and many other Latin American countries. By the way, this word has nothing to do with guacamole (from Nahuatl ahuacatl "avocado" + molli "sauce"), which is delicious. 

¡Ay guácala! No, no se puede. ¡Huele a muerto!
Oh, gross! No, it's not possible. It smells like a corpse!
Caption 4, Kikirikí - Agua - Part 5

A similar word is fúchila, which you could also find shortened as fuchi. This word is also used in many Latin American countries, Venezuela, for example:

¡Fuchi! Mejor no respires, pero cálmate, ¿sí?
Ew! Better you don't breathe, but calm down, OK?
Caption 51, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 5

In Spain people use the interjections puajpuah, or aj:
¡Puaj, este pescado está podrido!
Yuck, this fish is rotten!

Now, in Spanish the antonyms of the verb gustar (to like) and the noun gusto (like) are disgustar (dislike) and disgusto (dislike). However, you should pay attention to the context to learn how to use them. Take, for example, the expression estar a disgusto (to be uncomfortable or unhappy):

Yo ya estaba muy a disgusto en México.
 I was already very unhappy in Mexico.
Caption 42, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 1

If you want to use the verb disgustar to express your dislike about something, you have to remember to always use it with a reflexive pronoun:

Me disgustan las achoas.
I dislike anchovies.

However, it's more common to simply say:

No me gustan las achoas.
I don't like anchovies.

Notice that when you use the verb disgustar (to dislike) the verb is conjugated in the third-person plural (in agreement with las anchoas) and not the first-person singular (yo). If you ever were to say something like me disgusto, which is possible but as common as me enojo (I get angry or upset), that would mean something different:

Me disgusto con Antonio siempre que llega tarde.
I get angry with Antonio whenever he's late.

The noun disgusto, on the other hand, is used as the noun asco (disgust), that is, with the verb dar (to give). The expression dar un disgusto means "to cause displeasure," or "to make someone angry, sad, or upset"). 

Mi hijo me dio un disgusto muy grande al abandonar la escuela.
My son made me so upset when he quit school.

Finally, the expression matar de disgusto (literally, "to kill someone by means of upsetting him or her") is a common expression that overly dramatic people really like to use:

Esta hija mía me va a matar de un disgusto.
 This daughter of mine is going to kill me with disappointment.
Caption 32, Muñeca Brava - 3 Nueva Casa - Part 3

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Shortened Expressions in Spanish

let's learn a few shortened expressions and words in Spanish. They are really useful to make your Spanish sound more natural:

Entre nos comes from entre nosotros (between us). It's used to indicate that what you are about to say should not be shared with anyone else, it's between you and your interlocutor:

Aquí entre nos, quien sí me importa es Leo.
Between you and me, the one that does matter to me is Leo.

 Instead of por favor, you can simply say porfa:

Tranquilo, tranquilo. -Tranquilo, pibe, tranquilo. -Gardel, porfa...
Calm down, calm down. -Calm down, boy, calm down. -Gardel, please...
Caption 55, Yago - 11 Prisión - Part 5

Some people prefer to use porfis for a more playful or silly  tone:

Porfis, porfis, reporfis.
Pretty please, pretty please, extra pretty please.
Caption 58, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 10

As in English, there are many words that are usually shortened in Spanish. For example most people say bici instead of bicicleta (bicycle), moto instead of motocicleta (motorcycle), refri instead of refrigerador (fridge), conge instead of congelador (freezer), compa instead of compadre (buddy), depa instead of departamento (apartment), or peli instead of película (movie). 

A mí que ni me busquen, compa
For me, don't even look, buddy
Caption 51, DJ Bitman - El Diablo
y ahí nos mo'... nos movíamos en bici,
and from there we mo'... we would move around by bike,
Caption 4, Blanca y Mariona - Proyectos para el verano

Another classic example of a shortened expression in Spanish is the use of buenas as a greeting instead of buenas tardes, buenas noches, or buenos días:

¡Muy buenas, Mar! -Encantada. -Soy de 75 Minutos.
Very good afternoon, Mar! -Delighted. -I'm from 75 Minutes.
Caption 5, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 6

It's also common to use shorter versions of names and titles. For example you can use abue instead of abuela (grandmother), ma or pa instead of mamá (mother) and papá (father), poli instead of policía (police, cop), profe instead of profesor (teacher), secre instead of secretaria (secretary), dire instead of director (principal), ñor and ñora instead of señor (sir) and señora (madam) [or seño instead of both], peques instead of pequeños (the little ones, kids), etc. 

Felipe López. -Yo lo planché ahorita. -Acá, profe.
Felipe Lopez. -I'll iron it right now. -Here, Teach.
Caption 43, Misión Chef - 2 - Pruebas - Part 2


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More than Three Amigos

If you visited a Spanish speaking country during the last spring break, chances are you were invited to a party. Maybe it was a birthday party, a wedding or, most likely, just a meet-up with friends. No matter the occasion, there are some Spanish words and phrases that always come in handy at a party. Let's see a few examples:
The word salud means a lot of different things in Spanish. The basic meaning is, of course, "health," but this tiny word is also uttered as a courtesy when someone sneezes (the underlying meaning is that the person wishes that you haven't got the flu), and it's also customarily used to make a toast (the underlying meaning is that the person wishes the drink contributes to everybody's health and well-being). There are different ways to use it.
You can simply use salud as English uses the word "cheers":

¡Salud! - ¡Salud!
Cheers! -Cheers!
Caption 92, Casa Pancho - vinos y pinchos - Part 2

If you are the person making the toast, you can also go for something like this:

Muy bien, a la salud del novio. -¡Ahí va!
Great, to the groom's health. -There you go!
Caption 21, Yago - 3 La foto - Part 6

In some countries, like Mexico and Ecuador, it’s very common to use an endearing diminutive:

Caption 27, Otavalo, Ecuador - Leche de chiva - gran alimento

Another word that is also used to make a toast is provecho, which literally means "profit" or "advantage." This word is used before either drinking or eating (salud can only be used with drinks) and it means that the person speaking wishes that you "profit" from the food or beverage you are having. By the way, you can either say buen provecho or only provecho:

Buen provecho.
Enjoy your meal.
Caption 53, Cocinando con Miguelito - Pollo sudado - Part 3

Now, the word for party in Spanish is fiesta, sure. But this is not the only word people use. You should learn some variants, otherwise you'll be missing some great fun:
For example, your friends in many countries of Latin America may invite you to a parranda (party). If you are parrandero (a party animal) you'll probably want to show up:

Es buen amigo, parrandero y bailador
He is a good friend, he likes to party and he's a dancer
Caption 45, Alberto Barros - Mano a mano - Part 1

In other places, notably in Mexico City, people use the word reventón (party, literally a "blow-out"). If the party involves getting drunk then the invitation would be something like vámonos de juerga/farra/parranda (somewhat equivalent to "let's go get crazy drunk")There are, of course, many words to describe the act of drinking: chupar, pistear, libar, mamarembriagarseirse de copas (copas means "cups"), empinar el codo (literally "to raise the elbow"), ponerse hasta atrás (to get really drunk, literally "to get oneself behind") are just a few.

No hay plata pa' comer pero sí pa' chupar
There is no money to eat but there is to drink
Caption 50, Choc Quib Town - De donde vengo yo - Part 1

And what do you call your friends, buddies, pals, mates at a party? Well, that depends on where you are:
In Mexico City, friends are called cuates:

que te presenta a una persona, a un cuate cercano,
that introduces someone, a close buddy,
Caption 13, Amigos D.F. - Te presento... - Part 1

But if you are in the northern part of Mexico, we strongly recommend you avoid the use of cuates. Instead, you can use camaradacompa (short for compadre), or carnal (bro); all of these are more or less common everywhere in the country. Here's a great example of a phrase you can use to start a party anywhere in Mexico:

¡Órale compadreéchese un trago!
Come on, pal, throw down a drink!
Caption 5, El Ausente - Acto 1 - Part 7

What about other places? Well, it's a long list. In Spain, people use tío (uncle)In Argentina, pibe (kid). In Perú, pata. In Venezuela, pana. In Cuba, asere. In Colombia, parsa. In Honduras, mara... The list goes on and on. One thing is for sure: you can use amigo safely anywhere Spanish is spoken. Maybe that's the friendliest thing to do.

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The Skinny Cows of January

Last week we published the last part in the Nicaraguan series Cuentas claras about how to survive the so-called cuesta de enero (Literally, "January's hill") in Spanish, and "hard January" or "post-holiday budget crunch” in English. Let's review some financial vocabulary that you can learn by watching this series.
The expression cuesta de enero is widely used in Spain, Mexico and many other Latin American countries. There are other expressions that are synonyms, for example, resaca de navidad (Christmas hangover) and resaca de Reyes (King's Day hangover). In Part 1 of the series, the guest of Cuentas claras says:

... una dolencia después cuando comienza enero porque estoy endeudado. La resaca financiera.
... an ailment afterwards when January starts because I am in debt. The financial hangover.
Caption 64-65, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 1

The show also shares different antidotes to cure a financial hangover. Making a budget is a key one:

Entonces, eh... siempre tu arma, tu aliado número uno, va a ser un presupuesto.
So, um... always your weapon, your number one ally, is going to be a budget.
Caption 33, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 1

Making a budget helps people save money and get out of debt:

y en el lado financiero, quiero salir de deudas, quiero comenzar a ahorrar,
and on the financial side, I want to get out of debt, I want to start to save,
Caption 24, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 1

The expressions estoy gastado and estoy endeudado are great additions to your vocabulary when trying to avoid excesos financieros (financial excesses):

primero porque terminás bien gastado y bien endeudado de diciembre,
first because you end up quite spent and quite in debt from December,
Caption 30, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 1

A little bit more dramatic is estar quebrado or estar en la quiebra (to be in bankruptcy):

y encima llevo a la quiebra a la empresa.
and on top of that bankrupt the company.
Caption 42, Muñeca Brava - 33 El partido - Part 4

If you are planning a visit to Mexico, maybe you can use something more colorful like ando bien bruja (“I'm broke,” I'm spent,” but literally means "to go by like a witch"!). Colombians use estoy vaciado (literally, "I'm empty"), and Argentinians no tengo ni un mango (literally, "I don't have a single mango").

No, tomá, tomá... guardá esto que no quiero que te quedes sin un mango.
No, take it, take it... put this away since I don't want you to end up penniless.
Caption 34, Yago - 5 La ciudad - Part 3

The word for “installment payment” in Spanish is abono. There's also a verb: abonar (to make installment payments). Note that abono is also a synonym of fertilizante (fertilizer).

¿...porque tenés que hacer abonos mensuales a todas las deudas?
... because you have to make monthly payments for all the debts?
Caption 7, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 2

If you don't pay your debts on time you are una persona morosa (a delinquent payer, a slow payer), which comes from the noun mora (delay). Note that mora is also the name given in Spanish to different types of berries.

...manchás como dice la gente popularmente, tu record crediticio, caes en mora.
you stain as people say popularly, your credit record, you become delinquent.
Caption 24, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 2

It's not ideal, but if you can't pay your debts maybe it's time for another préstamo (loan):

en el caso de los préstamos personales o lo del extrafinanciamiento,
in the case of personal loans or extra financing,
Caption 7, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 2

However, it's best to always have some ahorros (savings) to cover for unpredicted expenses:

y básicamente consiste en ahorrar un dólar incremental cada semana del año.
and basically it consists in saving an incremental dollar every week of the year.
Caption 17, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 2


Finally, a curious Spanish expression that is not used in the show but you may still want to add to your lexicon. Spanish uses the phrases vacas gordas (fat cows) and vacas flacas (skinny cows) to refer to periods of material wealth and poverty respectively. It's a very common expression inspired by a famous biblical story. English also uses similar phrases that are probably inspired by the same source (“lean times”). Here's an example of how to use the Spanish expression:
Tenemos que ahorrar algo de dinero para tiempos de vacas flacas.
We have to save some money for leaner times.

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More Spanish Expressions

It's time to learn more Spanish expressions. If you have a subscription, you can click on the link below each example to learn more about the context in which they are used.
Salirse con la suya literally means "to get one's (own) way." See how the verb salir (to go) uses the reflexive pronoun se before the verb when it's conjugated (in this case in the subjunctive mood because it's used to express something that is not a fact, but a determination):

Yo no pienso dejar que esa sifrina se salga con la suya.
I don't plan to let that snob get away with it.
Caption 79, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 10

Talking about determination, the phrase empeñarse en algo means to be set on doing something, to insist, to be determined:

Él está empeñado en venderos algo.
He's determined to sell to you something.
Caption 17, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 19

As you can see, when you are saying that someone is determined to do something, you are stating a fact, so you use the verb estar (to be) in the indicative mood. However, this expression can also be used in a similar way to the expression salirse con la suya, that is, using the reflexive verb empeñarse (to insist on) plus a phrase that expresses a desire or purpose in the subjunctive mood:
María se empeña en que yo aprenda español.
María insists that I learn Spanish.
But if the subjunctive is still difficult for you, you can also use this expression to express your own or other people's determination by combining the reflexive verb empeñarse with a phrase that uses a verb in the indicative:
Mi mamá se empeña en ir al teatro.
My mom insists on going to the theater.
Yo me empeño en estudiar.
I'm determined to study.
When someone is determined to do something, it usually follows that the person will take some action, right? Well, in Spanish there's also an idiomatic expression for that:

Por favor, por favor, Padre Manuel. Usted tiene que tomar cartas en ese asunto
Please, please, Father Manuel. You have to take action in that matter
Caption 9, Muñeca Brava - 30 Revelaciones - Part 3

Maybe the origin of this phrase goes back to a time when many matters were solved by writing cartas (letters)! Surely, it took a long time to solve problems back then. Which reminds us of another expression that calls for patience and perseverance: a la larga (in the long run):

todo se arreglará a la larga
everything will be OK in the long run
Caption 22, Club de las ideas - La motivación - Part 1

Some people, however, have no patience, and such delays would just drive them crazy. For that, there's a Spanish expression that is quite illustrative: sacar de las casillas (to drive someone crazy). The word casilla is used to designate, among other things, each of the squares found in a chess board or other type of board game. A loosely literal translation of the phrase could then be: "to get someone out of their place."

¡Sí, una que me saca de las casillas!
Yes, one that infuriates me!
Caption 59, Muñeca Brava - 8 Trampas - Part 4

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If I Had Known - An Alternative to Si Clauses

Si clauses are typical markers of the Spanish conditional:

Y yo creo que si me hubiese quedado viviendo...
And, I believe that if I had stayed living...
Caption 31, Club de las ideas - Seguridad en internet - Part 1
However, sometimes you could use the conditional phrase de + haber + participio:

Y yo creo que de haberme quedado viviendo...
And, I believe that if I had stayed living...

In fact, the construction de + haber + participio (endings -ado, -ido, -to, -so -cho) is based on what in Spanish is known as the conditional compuesto or condidional perfecto (perfect conditional):

Here's an example of the perfect conditional combined with a si clause:

Tal vez, si yo fuera un poco más sensata habría inventado una poción
Maybe, if I were a bit more sensible I would have invented a potion
Caption 19, Belanova - Tal vez - Part 1

And this is how you substitute si with de:

Tal vez, de ser un poco más sensata habría inventado una poción
Maybe, if I were a bit more sensible I would have invented a potion

Just for practice, instead of present subjunctive (yo fuera) let's use past perfect subjunctive:

Tal vez, si yo hubiera sido un poco más sensata habría inventado una poción
Maybe, if I had been a bit more sensible I would have invented a potion

Substitution is as follows:

Tal vez, de haber sido un poco más sensata habría inventado una poción
Maybe, if I had been a bit more sensible I would have invented a potion

This recalls the common phrase de haber sabido (if I had known). It's also common to combine it with direct object pronouns: de haberlo sabido (If I had known of it), de haberlo pensado (if I had thought of it). 

But de + infinitive is not always an option. For example, you can't use it instead of the si clause when the conditional refers to an action in the future. You can't use it in the following example:


Voy a ver si alguna quiere jugar conmigo a Nimanji.
I am going to see if anyone wants to play Nimanji with me.
Caption 26, Kikirikí - Animales - Part 7

This is because the perfect conditional can only be used to refer to actions in the past. Also have in mind that the perfect conditional is not only used with si clauses, because sometimes the condition for something to happen is left unexpressed or it's inferred only by context:

Yo y mi hermana hemos vivido una vida que no nos habríamos imaginado
My sister and I have lived a life that we wouldn't have imagined.
Caption 68, Horno San Onofre - La Historia de la Pastelería

But if we artificially add a si clause to the previous example, let's say:

Yo y mi hermana hemos vivido una vida que no nos habríamos imaginado [si viviéramos en México]
My sister and I have lived a life that we wouldn't have imagined [if we were living in Mexico]

Then you can make the de + infinitive substitution:

Yo y mi hermana hemos vivido una vida que no nos habríamos imaginado [de vivir en México]
My sister and I have lived a life that we wouldn't have imagined [if we were living in Mexico]

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Starting a New Year in Spanish

It's a brand-new year, which means it's the perfect time to vow to change for good! Many of us have New Year's resolutions so we are rushing to the gym, cutting out carbs, filling out agendas with important meetings and to-do lists, etc. This is all very good and all, but learning how to balance things out and slow down once in a while is also an important part of the equation. Let’s learn some Spanish words of wisdom that may inspire you to do just that.

First of all, it's important to remain positive and don't hold on to the past. As Ramón says:

Y como que... Año nuevo, vida nueva.
And [it's] like... A New Year, a new life.
Caption 66, Muñeca Brava - 36 La pesquisa - Part 3
Of course it's important to tackle propósitos de año nuevo (New Year's resolutions) head on. So maybe you will need to madrugar (get up early) more often these days:

Yo también porque mañana tengo que madrugar...
Me, too, because tomorrow I have to wake up early and I have to...
Caption 64, Muñeca Brava - 43 La reunión - Part 1
However, a wise grandma will certainly advice you not to push yourself too hard by saying: No por mucho madrugar amanece más temprano (No matter how early you get up, you can't make the sun rise any sooner), which in a way is similar to the English expression "the early bird does not always catch the worm." You can hear our friends from Kikiriki making a humorous adaptation of the same phrase:

y no olviden que no por ser mucho animal amanece más temprano.
and don't forget that you don't get up early because you're very much an animal.
Caption 31, Kikirikí - Animales - Part 7

Finally, it's not like you should slack off either. Yes, it's hard to wake up early to go to the gym, but try to encourage yourself with an old saying that goes al mal paso darle prisa (literally "hurry up with a difficult step") which means something along the lines of "let's get it over and done."

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