Lessons for topic Grammar

The Complicated World of Reflexive Verbs

The use of reflexive verbs in Spanish can be very challenging to English speakers. A verb is used reflexively when the subject of the verb is also its object. In other words, when the subject is acting on itself. Of course, English also uses reflexive verbs. However, while English makes use of expressions like "to himself," "to herself," etc., Spanish uses reflexive pronouns. Let's compare the use of reflexive verbs in English and Spanish in the following examples:

Es que con su electricidad se defiende y también puede cazar.
The thing is that with her electricity, she defends herself and also can hunt.
Captions 21, Guillermina y Candelario - Un pez mágico - Part 2

One of the most challenging aspects of the use of reflexive verbs in Spanish is the different ways in which reflexive pronouns and verbs are combined. You can use the pronoun as in the first example: ella se defiende (she defends herself), but adding the reflexive pronoun as a suffix to the verb is also correct (though kind of poetic), ella defiéndese (she defends herself). Here's another example that even combines two reflexive verbs in such a way:

Ella está dedicándose a relajarse pintando.
She's dedicating herself to relaxing [herself] by painting.
Caption 21, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 13

And there is even a different way to express the exact same idea: Ella se está dedicandorelajarse pintando

It's also very common to use more than one verb in reflexive expressions in Spanish. Usually one verb is conjugated and the other one is an infinitive. Here is an example that combines the verbs saber (to know) and cuidar (to take care):

No le teme a nada, él se sabe cuidar
He's not afraid of anything, he knows how to take care of himself
Captions 42, Alberto Barros - Mano a mano - Part 1

There is another way to express the same idea. Can you guess it now? Yes, it's él sabe cuidarse.

Remember we said that Spanish uses reflexive pronouns while English uses expressions such as "to himself," "to herself," etc.? Well, that doesn't mean that Spanish doesn't have similar expressions. They are: mí mismo (myself), sí misma (herself), sí mismo(himself, itself), sí mismos (themselves), and nosotros mismos (ourselves). It may seem repetitive, but it's correct and very common to use them altogether with reflexive pronouns and verbs:

De crecer, de vivir, de ver, de realizarse a sí mismos.
To grow, to live, to see, to make themselves [to come into their own].
Captions 15, Horno San Onofre - La Historia de la Pastelería - Part 1

Another confusing aspect of reflexive verbs in Spanish is that they are not always used in the same situations in English. A classic example is the use of the reflexive bañarse to describe the action of taking a bath. You wouldn't normally say "I'm bathing myself" in English, but rather "I'm bathing" or "I'm taking a bath." Or take, for example, the verb arrepentir[se]:

Quisiera arrepentirme, ser el mismo, y no decirte eso
I would like to repent, to be the same, and to not tell you that
Captions 19, Camila - Aléjate de mí - Part 1

Sometimes things get even more confusing. Expressions like la sopa se quema or el plato se rompió (literally "the soup burns itself" and "the dish broke itself") don't seem to make much sense, right? How can inanimate objects act on themselves? However, these expressions are correct in Spanish, and they are commonly used as some kind of passive voice. That's how they usually translate to English:

...porque si no, se quema la arepa.
...because if not, the arepa gets burned.
Caption 22, Dany - Arepas - Part 2

To end this lesson we want to share with you a Spanish saying that uses reflexive verbs. It may come in handy if you are thinking reflexive Spanish verbs are way too confusing. It goes like this: No te preocupes, mejor ocúpate (Don't worry yourself, it's better to occupy yourself). 

Continue Reading

Verbs With a Prefix

One of the most common prefixes used in Spanish is a. This prefix is very interesting because when coming from the Latin prefix ab- or abs-, a- denotes separation or privation, but when coming from the Latin prefix ad-, a- denotes approximation or presence. Another interesting and useful aspect of this prefix is that it can be added to certain nouns and adjectives to form verbs.

Let's compare the different uses of the prefix a-. Take the word ausente (absent). This is a perfect example of the use of the prefix a- to indicate separation. We have a full movie titled El Ausente:  

Ya llegó el que andaba ausente y éste no consiente nada...
Now he arrived, the one who was absent and this one does not allow anything...
Caption 6, El Ausente - Acto 3 - Part 5

Strikingly enough, the prefix a- can also mean approximation or presence. A good example is the verb asistir  meaning "to attend":

Siempre hemos de asistir personalmente a la entidad bancaria.
We should always go personally to the banking entity.
Caption 13, Raquel - Abrir una cuenta bancaria

Much more practically useful is to know that we can add the prefix a- to other words, like nouns and adjectives, to form verbs. Below is an example from a video published this week. The verb acostumbrar (to get used to) is formed with the prefix a and the noun costumbre (custom, use):

Vea, Pepino, hay sitios donde les enseñan a los animales a que se vuelvan acostumbrar a su hábitat.
Look, Pepino [Cucumber], there are places where they teach animals to get used to their habitat again.
Caption 9, Kikirikí - Animales - Part 7

Now, using the noun tormento (torment) we get the verb atormentar (to torment): 

Eso seguro era algo que podía atormentarlos.
That surely was something that could torment them.
Caption 43, Sub30 - Familias - Part 10

There are so many! From susto (fright) you get asustar (to scare):

¡Ay no, Candelario! No me asustes.
Oh no, Candelario! Don't scare me.
Caption 38, Guillermina y Candelario - La Isla de las Serpientes - Part 1

You can also use adjectives. For example, lejos (far) and cerca (close) give us alejar (to put or to go far away), and acercar (to put or to get close):

Después me alejaré
Then I will go away
Caption 21, Reyli - Qué nos pasó

Ella trataba de acercarse a mí.
She tried to get close to me.
Caption 9, Biografía - Pablo Echarri - Part 3

Here is a list with more examples. Maybe you can find them in our Spanish catalog.

Tonto (fool) - atontar (to fool or become a fool)
Plano (flat) - aplanar (to flatten) 
Grande (big) - agrandar (to make bigger)
Pasión (passion) - apasionar (to become passionate)
Nido (nest) - anidar (to form a nest)
Morado (purple) - amoratar (to get or give bruises)
Francés (French) - afrancesar (to become French-like)
Grieta (crack) - agrietar (to crack)

Continue Reading

Lo as a Direct Object Pronoun

Did you hear the news about the US becoming the second biggest Spanish-speaking country? Guess that means we are on the right track, right? Let's keep learning and polishing our Spanish then. As promised, here is a lesson on the use of lo as a direct pronoun. For your reference, our previous lesson on lo used as a neuter article is already up on our site.

Besides being a neuter article, lo is the Spanish neuter direct object pronoun. It's used to replace an idea, situation, or concept (something non-specific or with no gender) that is the direct object of a transitive verb in any given sentence. For most direct objects, Spanish uses either the masculine pronoun (which is also lo, by the way) or the feminine pronoun (la), and their plural forms los, las:

Masculine, singular (el plátano)
Lulú come un plátano  Lulú lo come | Lulú eats a banana  Lulu eats it
Masculine, plural (los plátanos)
Lulú come plátanos  Lulú los come | Lulú eats bananas Lulu eats them
Feminine, singular (la tortilla)
Lulú hace una tortilla → Lulú la hace  Lulú makes a tortilla  Lulu makes it
Feminine, plural (las tortillas)
Lulú hace tortillas → Lulú las hace  Lulú makes tortillas  Lulu makes them

And this is how you use the neuter direct object pronoun lo:
Lucero dice [que] hoy lloverá  Lucero lo dice
Lucero says today will rain → Lucero says it

Note how in the previous examples lo (usually translated to "it," just as the singular masculine and feminine pronouns) doesn't refer to an object, but to a statement that has been made (about a situation: it will rain). This is by far the most common use of lo as a neuter direct pronoun in Spanish. In the following examples, try to identify the neuter direct object that lo is replacing:
Se murió. Cuando se lo dije, se derritió. 
She died. When I told it to her, she melted.

Caption 49, Muñeca Brava - 7 El poema - Part 4

Finally, we have said that the neuter pronoun lo is translated as "it," but this is not always the case. Being lo such a useful pronoun (it can be used to substitute anything previously said in a conversation), it has find its way into many common phrases that have a specific way of being expressed in English, for example:

Tú no mataste a Victoria Sirenio. -Eso lo dice usted.
You didn't kill Victoria Sirenio. -That's what you say. 
Caption 15, Yago - 7 Encuentros - Part 14

Sometimes the use of lo is equivalent to the use of "that" as a pronoun:

Mira, Roberto, yo te quise como un hijo. -Sí, lo sé. -Tú lo sabes. -Sí.
Look, Roberto, I loved you like a son. -Yes, I know that. -You know that. -Yes.
Caption 7, Yago - 7 Encuentros - Part 14

Ah, disculpa, no quería incomodarte. -No, no lo hiciste.
Oh, sorry, I didn't want to make you uncomfortable. -No, you didn't do that.
Caption 15, Yago - 7 Encuentros - Part 14

And sometimes translating lo is not even necessary: 

¿Qué vas a hacer? Porque yo no lo sé
What are you going to do? Because I don't know
Caption 18, Jarabe de Palo - Y ahora qué hacemos

Si tú vienes con mentiras, eso sí que no lo aguanto yo
If you come with lies, that's something I can't stand
Caption 19, Alberto Barros - Mano a mano


Continue Reading

Lo: the Neuter Article

The word lo can either be used as a neuter article, or as a pronoun. In this lesson we will focus on its use as an article.

Neuter articles are used to express abstract ideas or give extra emphasis to a certain adjective. As a neuter article, lo is the easiest of all the articles as there is only one form: lo. It can be placed in front of just about any adjective that expresses an abstraction or a quality (or extreme degree of quantity), something that's not a concrete object or person.

Here are some phrases that take lo before different types of adjectives:

lo bueno = "the good part, what's good"
lo fácil = "the easy part, what's easy"
lo mío = "(that which is) mine"
lo nuestro = "(that which is) ours"

Lo + adjective can be translated in English as "the" + adjective + the word "thing" or "part":

Y pues, es lo malo de vivir en un país así.
And well, it's the bad thing about living in a country like this.
Caption 45, Amigos D.F. - El secuestrar
Eso es lo bonito de la gastronomía.
That's the nice thing about gastronomy.
Caption 23, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli - Part 7

In fact, lo + adjective generates the syntactic equivalent of a noun phrase. That's why it's also common to translate it as "what is + adjective." In the previous examples, we would have:

Y pues, es lo malo de vivir en un país así / And well, it's what is bad about living in a country like this.
Eso es lo bonito de la gastronomía / That's what is nice about gastronomy.

The use of lo before a relative clause has a similar effect: 

Hay gente que rectifica lo que dice
There are people who correct what they say
Caption 39, Calle 13 - No hay nadie como tú

Lucio, tengo que contarte que por lo que me adelantó Morena...
Lucio, I have to tell you that from what Morena told me in advance...
Caption 42, Yago - 7 Encuentros - Part 14

In fact, lo can often be taken to mean roughly la cosa or las cosas

Hay gente que rectifica lo que dice →  There are people who correct what they say.
Hay gente que rectifica (las cosas) que dice. → There are people who correct (the things) they say.
...por lo que me adelantó Morena → ...from what Morena told me.
...por (las cosas) que me adelantó Morena → ...from (the things) that Morena told me.

By the way, lo can be used before a series of adjetives too:

Pero encontrar lo bueno, bonito y barato a veces es muy complicado.
But finding the good, [the] nice and [the] cheap is sometimes complicated.
Caption 2, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 14

Of course, in order to help our subscribers with their learning process, we have made the translation here as parallel as possible. But you already know what would make a more natural translation, right?

→ But finding what's good, nice, and cheap is sometimes complicated.
→ But finding the good, nice, and cheap things is sometimes complicated.

There is yet one more use of lo as a neuter article and it's rather interesting. Lo is used to express the extreme degree or nature of a given concept or idea. Here it's best to review some examples: 

¿Es que no eres todo lo feliz que desearías?
Is it that you are not as happy as you would like?
Caption 24, De consumidor a persona - Short Film - Part 1

Sometimes this lo equates to using the word “how”:

Si supieras lo mucho que te amo.
If you knew how much I love you.
Caption 35, Ozomatli - Jardinero

Porque ves las gradas llenas, eh, la gente lo bien que se lo pasa con la música,
Because you see the packed bleachers, um, how much fun the people have with the music,
Caption 10, Los Juegos Olímpicos - Adrián Gavira

¿Pero cómo voy a perder mis maletas de vista con lo grandes que son?
But how am I going to lose sight of my suitcases with how big they are?
Caption 23, Raquel - Avisos de Megafonía

Read more about the use of the neuter gender here.


Continue Reading

Llevar and Traer - Part 2

Let's continue our lesson on llevar (to take, to carry) and traer (to bring). 

We have said that the verb llevar (to bring) expresses that something or someone has (or contains) something:

¿Quién es el que ha hecho el arroz? ¿Qué lleva el arroz, Manolo?
Who is the one who has made the rice? What does the rice have in it, Manolo?
Caption 16, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 12

The previous example could have used the verb haber (to have): ¿Qué hay en el arroz, Manolo?, or the verb tener (to have, to be): ¿Qué tiene el arroz, Manolo?

This is not the only way llevar can be used instead of haber or tener. For example, it can replace tener when it's used to express the duration of time:

Yo ya llevo veintitrés años aquí ya. 
have already been here for twenty-three years now.
Caption 47, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 18

Compare to: Yo ya he estado veintitrés años aquí and yo ya tengo veintitrés años (which mean exactly the same). 

The construction llevar + gerund is also very popular in Spanish. It's used to indicate how much time you are 'carrying' under your belt (so to speak) performing a given action:

¿Cuánto tiempo llevan intentando vender el piso?
How long have you been trying to sell the apartment?
Caption 41, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 12

Compare to: ¿Cuánto tiempo han estado intentando vender el piso? and ¿Cuánto tiempo tienen intentando vender el piso? (which mean exactly the same). 

El caso es que llevo esperando un rato en la puerta de embarque B siete.
The issue is that I have been waiting for a while at the boarding gate B seven.
Caption 28, Raquel - Avisos de Megafonía

Equivalent expressions are: He estado esperando un rato, and Tengo esperando un rato.

Llevar is also used in the expression para llevar, which means "to go" or "takeout":

¿Y aquí, antes qué había? -Aquí había unas comidas para llevar.
And here, what was there before? -There were some takeout places here.
Caption 5, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 10

The expression llevarse con alguien means to get along with someone, either badly or well:

Mi amiga María se lleva muy bien con mi amigo Alberto.
My friend Maria gets along very well with my friend Alberto.
Caption 7, El Aula Azul - Mis Amigos - Part 1

No se lleva muy bien con Aldo, Lucio.
Lucio doesn't get along very well with Aldo.
Caption 7, Yago - 6 Mentiras - Part 11

Check out too: Me llevo mal con mi jefe | I get along badly with my boss.

In Mexico, the expression llevarse con alguien, means to treat someone in a overfamiliar, playful, usually disrespectful way. There is even a saying that goes, El que se lleva se aguanta. Literally, it means something like "One who plays the game must endure it," similar to the English expressions "If you play with fire, you will get burned," and "If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen."

Curiously, the verb traer (to bring) is used in a similar expression: traerla con alguien, or traerla contra alguien, which means to "hold a grudge," or "to have a certain animosity toward somebody:"

¿Por qué la trae con nosotros?
Why does he hold a grudge against us?
Caption 13, El Ausente - Acto 3 - Part 5

The expression ¿Qué te traes? (What's up with you?) could be used in different situations with different purposes:

He notado tu tristeza estos días. ¿Qué te traes?
I've noticed your sadness these days. What's up with you?

¿Tú qué te traes? ¿Quieres pelea?
What's up with you? Do you want a fight?

¿Qué se traen ustedes dos? ¿ Qué están tramado?
What are you two up to? What are you planning?

Continue Reading

Llevar and Traer - Part 1

Llevar (to take) and traer (to bring) are very similar verbs. Both refer to the action of moving objects from one location to another. Llevar is used when an object is being taken to a place other than where the person who is talking is. On the other hand, traer is used when an object is being transported towards the speaker. It sounds pretty straightforward, right? Well, it is, but deciding when to use llevar or traer in context is sometimes tricky. That's because in many cases there is only a subtle difference of meaning between these two verbs, and because both are used in many idiomatic expressions, and, finally, because in some cases they can be used as synonyms.

So let's start with the basic difference between llevar (to take) and traer (to bring). When Luciana and Julia save Valente from being beaten to death by some thugs, Luciana says:

Ayúdame, vamos a llevarlo a mi casa.
Help me. We are going to take him to my house.
Caption 2, El Ausente - Acto 2 - Part 9

But when Guillermina finds that her Grandpa has fallen into a pit, she says:

Ya sé, abuelo. Voy a traer la red de pescar para intentar subirte.
I know, Grandfather. I'm going to bring the fishing net to try to get you up.
Caption 32, Guillermina y Candelario - Una película de terror - Part 2

When the direction of the movement is being stated in the phrase, it's possible to usetraer or llevar to express the same idea, with just a subtle difference in meaning. In the next caption, we included "traer/to bring" between parentheses so you can compare:

Trabajan duramente para llevar (or traer) el producto del campo a la mesa.
They work hard to take (or bring) the produce from the field to the table.
Caption 4, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 1

Note that the only difference between the two options is the perspective from which the person is talking. With llevar, the person's perspective is from the field; with traer, the person's perspective is from the table.

You should also remember that llevar and traer are both transitive verbs, so they will always be accompanied by a direct object, or direct pronoun. If we add to that the inclusion of indirect objects or indirect pronouns, the many possible ways to combine all these elements can be a real challenge. We suggest you study the rules on how to correctly place and combine all these pronouns. You may also like to check out your conjugation tables, especially for traersince it's an irregular verb. Study these examples too:

Julio trae el dinero para Raquel. |  Julio lo trae para Raquel.  Él lo trae para Raquel. | Él se lo trae.
Julio brings the money to Raquel. Julio brings it to Raquel. He brings it to Raquel. | He brings it to her.

No olvides llevar el carro a mamá. | No olvides llevarlo a mamá. | No olvidesllevárselo. | ¡Llévaselo!
Don't forget to take the car to mom Don't forget to take it to mom. | Don't forget to take it to her. | Take it to her!

Now, for the good part: both llevar and traer are used figuratively in so many expressions that we are going to need a second part of this lesson to explore them. Let's just see a couple now.

Llevar and traer are used to express that something or someone has, contains, or wears something:

En español, todas las palabras tienen una sílaba fuerte y muchas de ellas llevan tilde.
In Spanish, all the words have a strong syllable and many of them have a tilde (the tilde is the Spanish written accent).
Caption 47, Fundamentos del Español - 1 - El Alfabeto - Part 1

Me gusta llevar faldas, normalmente, sobre todo en invierno.
I like to wear skirts, usually, especially in winter.
Caption 4, El Aula Azul - Actividades Diarias

It's also correct to say Me gusta traer faldas ("I like to wear skirts"). Check out this one:

Por eso traen pantalones.
That's why they wear pants.
Caption 29, El Ausente - Acto 2 - Part 3

You will find llevar and traer meaning "to have" or "to contain" when talking about food or recipes:

Le pusimos una pancetita y lleva pollo.
We put in some bacon and it has chicken.
Caption 68, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 9

Le quitamos la posible arenita que pueda traer.
We remove the possible bit of sand that it might have.
Caption 47, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli - Part 2

We'll stop here to leave some for Part 2. Thanks for reading!

Continue Reading

Andar bien

The verb andar usually conveys meanings related to movement. Depending on the context, it can mean "to walk," "to work," or even "to ride." However, the verb andar is also used to talk about actions that are more often expressed with the verb estar (to be). Let's see how all this works.

First,  andar means "to walk":

Si tienes unas piernas fuertes y ganas de andar, te lo recomiendo mucho.
If you have some strong legs and feel like walking, I highly recommend it to you.
Caption 73, Blanca - Cómo moverse en Barcelona

It can also be used to express movement, in which case it's better translated as "to go" or even "to ride":

Y por dondequiera que ando, tu recuerdo va conmigo.
And wherever I go, your memory goes with me.
Caption 15, El Ausente - Acto 1 - Part 5

Yo ando en bici y tú andas en motocicleta.
ride a bike and you ride a motorcycle.

When you use it to refer to the functioning of a machine or any sort of gadget, andarmeans "to work":

La lavadora no anda. | El carro anda bien. | La bicicleta no anda.
The washing machine doesn't work. | The car works well. | The bicycle doesn't work.

Spanish speakers also use the verb andar instead of the verb estar (to be). For example:

Me ha gustado, pues, el arte del circo, entonces por eso ando aquí.
I have liked it, well, the circus arts, so that's why I'm here.
Caption 4, Circo Infantil de Nicaragua - Learning the Trade - Part 1

¿Dónde anduviste hoy?
Where have you been today?
Caption 6, Yago - 1 La llegada - Part 7
(Notice andar conjugates as tener (to have). Don't say "andé"!)

It can be used to express the state of being of a person, or an affair:

Tío, ¿qué pasa hombre, cómo andas?
Pal, what's up, guy? How are you?
Caption 48, Animales en familia - La operación de Yaki

Es que, bueno, las cosas, bueno.... no andan bien.
The thing is that, well, things, well... are not well.
Caption 16, Muñeca Brava - 8 Trampas - Part 10

Ando cansado. | Ella anda un poco triste últimamente.
I am tired. / I am feeling tired. | She has been a bit sad lately.

It is common to use andar for a state of being you have been feeling for some time and to use it with adverbs such as “lately” or “these days.”

Andar can replace estar when used as an auxiliary verb too:

Ando buscando un dormitorio más (could also be: Estoy buscando un dormitorio más).
I'm looking for one more bedroom.
Caption 14, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 12

To say estar buscando and andar buscando is really the same. You hear Spanish speakers using them interchangeably all the time. If anything, using andar just adds a sense of vagueness or indetermination to the action. That's why it's commonly used to make estimations, for example:

Ahora andarán sobre los, eh... tres mil ochocientos, cuatro mil.
And now they would be about, um... three thousand eight hundred, four thousand.
Caption 30, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 13

Here is another example:

¿Cómo explicarte lo que ando pensando? (could also be estoy pensando)
How to explain to you what I'm thinking?
Caption 2, Los Tetas - Cómo Quisiera Decirte

So, while estoy pensando means "I'm thinking (right now)," ando pensando means "I'm thinking (right now but also maybe before that)." Again, in this context, both verbs mean exactly the same. 

¿Cómo andan con sus estudios de español? Drop us a line when you have the time at support@yabla.com. Thanks for reading! 

Continue Reading

Using Qué, Cómo, and Cuánto [ in Exclamatory Sentences

The use of the orthographic accent on Spanish words such as qué (what), cómo(how), and cuánto/s (how much/many) usually indicates that those words are part of an interrogative or exclamatory sentence. The following examples review how to use qué,cómo, and cuánto as exclamatory words.

Qué can be used right in front of nouns, adverbs, and adjectives.  It means "how" or "what a." In our newest episode of Muñeca Brava, Mili uses qué with an adjective when she talks about the Christmas party:

¿Viste todos los regalos? ¡Qué linda! -Sí, estuvo estupenda.
Did you see all the presents? How lovely! -Yes, it was great.
Caption 2, Muñeca Brava - 30 - Revelaciones - Part 6

Qué can also be combined with an adverb to express surprise about the way an action was done:

¡Qué bueno he sido pa' ti y qué mal te has portado!
How good I've been for you, and how badly you are behaving!
Caption 14, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 15

Qué can also be placed in front of a noun:

¡Ay, qué espanto! ¡Y pensar que el hombre ese estaba en mi cama!
What a scare! And to think that man was in my bed!
Caption 3, Muñeca Brava - 18 - La Apuesta - Part 3

Cuánto (how much) can be used in front of nouns and verbs. When used with a noun, this exclamatory word must agree in gender and number

¡Cuántos frijoles hubiéramos hecho! 
How many beans we would have produced!
Caption 21-22, Con ánimo de lucro - Cortometraje - Part 3

When cuánto is accompanied by a verb, we always use the masculine, singular form. If a direct object pronoun is required, we must place it between the two words:

¡Ay, no sabes cuánto lo lamento!
Oh, you don't know how much I regret it!
Caption 12, Muñeca Brava - 7 - El poema - Part 5

Finally, the exclamatory cómo is used in front of verbs. This example requires the use of a reflexive pronoun (me), which is also placed between the two words:

¡Guau, cómo me gustan esos hobbies!
Wow, how I like those hobbies!
Caption 27, Karla e Isabel - Nuestros hobbies - Part 1

We hope you have enjoyed this brief review on exclamatory words.

Continue Reading

Ir [to go], Irse [to leave], and irse + gerund [to start]!

Ir ("to go") is a challenging verb, not only because it's an irregular verb but also because it's used in many idiomatic expressions. Equally challenging is the verb irse ("to leave"), which is formed by adding a reflexive pronoun to ir. Some people, in fact, consider ir and irse as two different verbs, while others think of them as the same verb with an alternative reflexive form that alters its meaning. Examples of similar verbs are dormir ("to sleep") and dormirse ("to fall asleep"), caer ("to fall") and caerse ("to abruptly fall"), poner ("to put") and ponerse ("to put on"). The meanings of ir ("to go") and irse ("to leave"), however, are especially different, and people often have trouble distinguishing when to use them.

Ir ("to go") does not use a direct object and focuses on the destination, using prepositions such as a, hacia, and hasta ("to") to indicate where the person is going. You can see two examples (one conjugated and one in the infinitive form) here:

¿Quieres ir a la fiesta? | Do you want to go to the party?
Las niñas fueron al concierto temprano | The girls went to the concert early.

On the other hand, irse ("to leave") focuses the action on the starting point, so it uses prepositions such as de or desde ("from") to express the act of leaving. Note the difference in meaning of the examples if we substitute ir for irse

¿Quieres irte de la fiesta? | You want to leave the party?
Las niñas se fueron del concierto (desde) temprano | The girls left the concert early.

Now, there is a particular expression that uses the verb irse that has nothing to do with what we have discussed here so far. It is a special construction that links irse directly with another verb in the gerund form (-ndo). These types of constructions are called linked verbs, and while they may use an infinitive or a gerund as the second verb, they all link the verbs without any punctuation or conjunction between them. In particular the irse + gerund construction is used to express the start or continuation of a process. Some examples are below. Pay especial attention to how irse remains in the infinitive form but changes its ending (the reflexive pronoun) to match the subject:

Los niños deben irse preparando para el examen

The kids must start preparing for the exam.

Yo no quiero irme enamorando de ti 

I don't want to start falling in love with you.

Tú decidiste irte vistiendo mientras me escuchabas 

You decided to start dressing up while listening to me.

The verb irse can be used in the infinitive form, like in the examples above, but it can also be conjugated:

Dejamos el pan ahí afuera, y se va... se va poniendo blandengue, blandengue.
We leave the bread there out, and it starts... it starts getting soft, soft.
Caption 51, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli - Part 5

Continue Reading

Using que [that] + subjunctive to express good wishes

The holidays are always a great opportunity to practice the que + subjunctive construction, which is one of the most common (and shortest) ways to express hope and good wishes in Spanish. This particular construction is very interesting because it involves the omission of the main verb, usually desear ("to wish"), but also querer ("to want"), esperar ("to hope for"), and others followed by the subjunctive. The result of doing this is a short phrase that is practical and meaningful. So, instead of saying deseo que te diviertas ("I wish you have fun") you can simply say ¡que te diviertas! ("[I wish] you have fun") which is more likely what a native speaker would use in a casual conversation.

Since this particular construction is used to express wishes or hopes to someone right on the spot, it makes use of the present tense and the present subjunctive. The main omitted verb desear ("to wish") is in the present tense: yo deseo ("I wish"). Therefore the action that you are wishing to happen must be expressed, after the conjunction que ("that"), in the present subjunctive: te alivies ("you get well"). The condensed resulting phrase is then: ¡Que te alivies! ("[I wish] you get well"), which we may as well just translate as "Get well!" Let's see more examples.

Mexicans use this construction a lot to wish you well while saying goodbye:

Hasta luego, nos vemos y... que se la pasen bien.
See you later, see you and... hope you guys have a good time.
Caption 51, La Banda Chilanguense - El habla de México - Part 3

Argentinians also like to use it: 

Chau, que le vaya bien, chau.
Bye, have a good day, bye.
Caption 36, Muñeca Brava - 9 Engaños - Part 4

You can wish someone all sorts of good things using this construction, like to have a good night:

Bueno, yo también me retiro, que tengan muy buenas noches. - Buenas noches.
Well, I will also retire, good night to you all. -Good night.
Caption 36, Muñeca Brava - 43 La reunión - Part 2

Or simply to enjoy something:

Eso es todo, gracias. Que disfruten de, del folklore de Puerto Rico.
That's all, thank you. Enjoy the, the folklore of Puerto Rico. 
Caption 24, Baile Folklórico de Puerto Rico - Los Bailarines 

Or to wish someone a nice Christmas:

¡Que tengas una feliz Navidad!
I wish you (have) a merry Christmas!

Continue Reading