Spanish Lessons


Lessons for topic Vocabulary

Expressing Disgust in Spanish

By definition, nobody likes to feel disgusted, and yet disgust it's sadly a very common sentiment. Let's learn a few ways in which Spanish speakers express their disgust.
Let's start with the 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), "me da náuseas" (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 buy 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 quitted 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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Las Vacaciones

Summer is a good time to take some time off... or learn how to properly use the Spanish word for vacation: vacaciones.  Let’s do just that.
For starters, even though the Dictionary of the Spanish Language of the Royal Spanish Academy or DRAE includes the singular vacación, the plural vacaciones (vacation) is the only form people use:

Sí, se ha ido hasta de vacaciones a Italia con el zoquito.
Yes, she has even gone on vacation to Italy with the zoquito.
Caption 74, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 4

Spanish also has the verb vacacionar (to vacation), but it's much more common to use expressions that involve the use of another verb combined with the word vacaciones, for example: ir de vacaciones (to go on vacation). This expression requires the use of a reflexive pronoun (se, in this case) and the preposition de (on). You must also be careful to conjugate the verb ir (to go) properly. In the example above, for example, you see the perfect tense ha ido de vacaciones (has gone on vacation). But you can also use other tenses. The following example includes the reflexive pronoun me, the preposition de, and the first-person singular form of the verb ir (to go) in present tense, which is voy (I go):

me voy de vacaciones, compro regalos, tengo la cena.
I go on vacation, I buy gifts, I have dinner.
Caption 62, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 1

But you can use other verbs too. You can use the verb estar (to be), for example, which doesn't need the use of reflexive pronouns:

Como todos sabemos, estamos de vacaciones.
As we all know, we're on vacation.
Caption 6, El bulevar - de Adícora

Or the verb tomar (to take), which doesn't need the preposition de and can be used with or without a reflexive pronoun:

Tomó vacaciones de un mes. Regresó otra vez a Alemania.
She took a one-month vacation. Then she went back to Germany again.
Caption 19, Gonzalo el Pintor - Vida - Part 2

Yes, it's also correct to say: se tomó vacaciones de un mes (she took a one-month vacation).
Also very common is the use of the verb andar (literally "to walk"):
Genaro anda de vacaciones.
Genaro is on vacation.

Or venir (to come), which needs the preposition de and could take a reflexive pronoun:

Qué bien que te has venido aquí de vacaciones.
How nice that you have come here on vacation.
Caption 2, Clara y Cristina - Hablan de actividades

or not:
Qué bien que has venido aquí de vacaciones.
How nice that you have come here on vacation.
Can you think of more verbs that can be combined with the word vacaciones? We can. One example is the verb salir (to go out): salimos de vacaciones (we go out on vacation, we leave on vacation). Try to find some more examples in our catalog!

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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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Emphatic uses of sí & si

Did you know that the Spanish words  (usually meaning "yes") and si (usually meaning "if") also have special uses that are for emphatic purposes? Let's look at some examples.
The word sí (yes) is used in a similar way to the repetition of the word "do" to express that someone indeed did something. For example, when someone says "you did not do it," one can reply, "I did do it." Well, in Spanish, you use the word  (the orthographic accent is important here) in a similar way: a declaration such as tú no lo hiciste (you did not do it) can be answered with yo  lo hice (I did do it).
Like the repetition of the word "do" in English, this use of sí has a purely emphatic effect. You could easily answer tú no lo hiciste (you did not do it) with a simple yo lo hice (I did it), but using yo sí lo hice (I did do it) is way more common. Let's look at some examples so you can learn how to throw in that emphatic  in conversation:

Ah claro, ahora  lo entiendo hija, ¡qué torpe soy!
Oh, of course, now I do understand it, girl. How clumsy I am!
Caption 57, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 7

The combination sí que is very common and is similar to the English phrase "does indeed”:

La cintura de Shakira, sí que tiene movimiento
Shakira's waist does indeed have movement
Caption 53, Alberto Barros - Cargamento Colombiano

The following is an interesting example. A literal translation of a tí sí te contamos is "you, we do tell," but a more accurate translation in English uses the future tense:

A ti sí te contamos, pero a nadie más.
You we will tell, but nobody else.
Caption 20, Guillermina y Candelario - El mundo de los juguetes perdidos - Part 1

On the other hand, the word si (without the orthographic accent), commonly used in conditional clauses, can also be used to indicate that you are affirming something very emphatically. It's not always easy (or necessary) to translate it into English, but in the following examples we added "indeed”:

Te tengo que pedir un favor. ¡Sí, loco, otro más! Si estás para eso, ¿no?
I have to ask you a favor. Yes, dude, another one! That's [indeed] what you are for, right?
Caption 27, Muñeca Brava - 30 Revelaciones - Part 4
¿Puedo? -Claro, si te dije que son pa' los dos.
May I? -Of course, I [indeed] told you that they are for both of us.
Caption 58, Muñeca Brava - 8 Trampas - Part 9

In the following example, a more literal translation of si me encanta could be "indeed, I love it" or just "I do love it," but we used "I'd love to" (me encantaría in Spanish), which better suits the context:

Ah, cuando quieras, no, si me encanta. ¿Yo te di mi teléfono, no?
Oh, whenever you want, no, I'd love to. I gave you my phone [number], right?
Caption 27, Muñeca Brava - 2 Venganza - Part 3

The word si as an emphatic affirmation is also commonly used to express a protest or to contradict someone. In this case it's equivalent to the English word "but”:

Si tú estás igualita. -Si yo estoy más fresca que una lechuga.
But you are exactly the same. -But I'm fresher than a [head of] lettuce.
Caption 8-9, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 6
Si yo lo estoy diciendo hace rato ya, hombre.
But I've been saying that for a while already, man.
Caption 71, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 4
No, no, no, si yo ya me voy. No, no, quédese, quédese. -¿Seguro?
No, no, no, but I'm already leaving. No, no, stay, stay. -[Are you] sure?
Caption 4, Muñeca Brava - 3 Nueva Casa - Part 10

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That Fancy Spanish...

If you have spent some time learning and listening Spanish, you have probably noticed that many common Spanish words have cognates in the fancy English vocabulary. This happens because Spanish is a romance language, that is, a language that directly evolved from vulgar Latin (and was even later enriched with classic Latin during the Middle ages when Spanish became a written language), while approximately only 29% of the English vocabulary comes from Latinate sources.

That's the reason why it's very common for a Spanish speaker to use verbs like estrangular (to choke) or canícula(dog days, midsummer heat) in everyday speech. In fact, similar words exist in English (to strangulate and canicule) but they are cultisms that are way too fancy to be used in everyday situations. On the other hand, and quite surprisingly, very often using these words is the only alternative you have to express something in Spanish. That's the case for estrangular (to strangulate, to choke) and canícula (doy days); really, there is no better, more common way to express such ideas in Spanish than using those words.

Words that are used to describe diseases and medical terms in Spanish are also great examples. In Spanish it's common to say (and make the distinction between) el oculista (oculist) and el optometrista (optometrist), while an expression like "el doctor de ojos" (the Eye doctor) may be understood, but sounds very much like toddler talking to Spanish speakers. And there are even weirdest examples, some of which may sound like tongue twisters for you. Take for example the common otorrinolaringólogo (ear nose and throat doctor, otorhinolaryngologist). But let's try to find examples from our catalog.

In Spanish, the verb aliviar means either "to get better" or "to cure," or "to alleviate" and it's just as common as the verb curar (to cure). In English the verb to alleviate is much more fancy, and it's only used in certain contexts, usually very formal or written speech:

Estoy enfermo, espérense a que me alivie.
I'm sick; wait until I get better.
Caption 19, El Ausente - Acto 1 - Part 2

The nouns cicatriz (scar) and cicatrización (scar healing) as well as the verb cicatrizar (to heal a scar) are common in Spanish, while "cicatrix," "to cicatrize" or "cicatrization" are less common in English:

Tiene la cicatriz, vivió en Misiones y tiene la misma sonrisa de Franco.
He has the scar, he lived in Misiones and he has the same smile as Franco.
Caption 16, Yago - 10 Enfrentamientos - Part 4

The adjetives primordial  and esencial are both commonly used in Spanish, usually as synonyms. English, on its part, does have the word "primordial," but the use of "essential" is more common in everyday speech:

Es importante, primordial, muy necesario.
It's important, essential, very necessary.
Caption 85, Bersuit Vergarabat - EPK - Part 2 

Another example is the word subterráneo ("subterranean", but most commonly "underground"):

Contaminación de las aguas superficiales o subterráneas
Pollution of surface and underground waters
Caption 7, 3R - Campaña de reciclaje - Part 2 

In Spanish the word docente is both an adjective meaning "teacher-related" and a noun that is synonymous with maestro (teacher). It's a common word in and it's used in many Spanish expressions. In contrast, the English word docent is far less common and, it has a slightly different meaning

Es más, es que no se entiende la labor docente de otra manera.
Moreover, the thing is that the teaching job should not be understood in any other way.
Caption 13, Club de las ideas - La motivación - Part 1

The list goes on and on. Let's see one more example. In Spanish it's common to use the noun equilibrio (balance) and the verb equilibrar (to balance), both words are just as common as balance (balance) and balancear ("to balance", but also "to swing"). In contrast, English reserves the use of "equilibrium" and "to equilibrate" for scientific or highbrow language.  

Tú eres todo lo que me equilibra.
You're everything that balances me.
Caption 27, Calle 13 - Un Beso De Desayuno

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Animal Words

For all the animal lovers out there, here is a collection of Spanish expressions related to pets and their owners.

The word for pet in Spanish is mascota, yes, similar to the English word "mascot." The only difference is that mascota can be used to talk about an animal kept as a companion (a pet), or to refer to a especial person, animal or thing used to symbolize a sports team, company, organization or other group (a mascot). Of course, the word mascota meaning "pet" can also be applied to a person, as in the following example:


...todos eran mucho más viejos que yo. Eh... y, como que, yo era como la mascota,
they were all much older than me. Uh... and, so like, I was like the pet,
Caption 63, Carli Muñoz - Niñez - Part 2

Now, in English the word "pet" is also a verb that means to stroke an animal affectionately. But in Spanish there is only one verb you can use instead of "to pet," or "to stroke," or even "to pat." That verb is acariciar (to caress). The following example is not about animals, but it's about el alma (the soul), a word that shares with the word animal a common etymological root: the Latin anima.


Acaricia mi alma, vuélvete la luna
Caress my soul, become the moon
Caption 14, Shaila Durcal - Vuélvete Luna - Part 1

Let's talk about the distinction between animales domésticos (domestic animals) andanimales salvajes (wild animals). When you tame an animal it becomes domesticated or tamed, right? Spanish uses the verbs domesticar (to domesticate), domar (to tame), which come from the Latin domus (house). Sometimes, Spanish also uses the verb dominar (to dominate), which comes from the Latin dominus (the latin word for master of owner, "the lord of the house"). Ah, but if you want to talk about taming a horse, there's a specific word for that: desbravar (to brake in, literally "to take out the braveness").

Another very common word is amansar (to make docile, meek). So it's common to hear people saying about a pet that es manso(a) or mansito(a) to indicate that it's gentle, friendly.Un perro que no muerde (a dog that doesn't bite) es mansito


Uy, buena, Pepino. -Es mansito. -Tan bonito el gatito.
Oh, good one, Pepino. -He's tame. -Such a pretty kitty.
Caption 49, Kikirikí - Animales - Part 6

Talking about bites and dogs, there is a famous saying in Spanish, perro que ladra no muerde,which means, literally, "a barking dog never bites." 


pero perro que ladra no muerde, querida.
But, his bark is worse than his bite, dear.
Caption 56, Muñeca Brava - 3 Nueva Casa - Part 8

It may be a little disrespectful, but some people may use the verb amansar to refer to the action of calming down a person, or even appeasing the gods:


Y tener poderes místicos para amansar las "tulucus".
And having mystical powers to tame the "tulucus".
Caption 26, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 7

What if an animal is not mansito? That means it's fiero (fierce), feroz (ferocious), salvaje(wild), or maybe even feral (feral). A famous one is el lobo feroz, (the Big Bad Wolf) yes, the one that tried to eat Caperucita roja (Little Red Riding Hood) and los tres cerditos (the three little pigs). Can you blame him? Have you ever had un hambre feroz?


Si pones la mesa que no sea para dos, porque somos como catorce con un hambre feroz
If you set the table, it shouldn't be for two, because we're like fourteen people with a ferocious hunger
Caption 29, Enanitos Verdes - Cuánto Poder

One last expression before saying goodbye. It's important to walk your dog everyday, right? Agreed, but never ever ever say something like caminar a tu perro. That makes no sense in Spanish. The correct expression is sacar a pasear a tu perro (to take the dog out for a walk).  The Argentinian band Los Pericos (the Parrots) have a song entitled Fácil de engañar (Easy to be fooled) in which a former lover is compared to a pet owner:


Me tenías en la jaula, me sacabas a pasear
You had me in a cage, you took me out for walks
Caption 8, Los Pericos - Fácil de Engañar

By the way, if you are not easily fooled, you probably like the saying that goes:


A otro perro con ese hueso
Don't try that one on me [literally, "to another dog with that bone"].
Caption 28, Muñeca Brava - 8 Trampas - Part 7

That was two last expressions. The thing is, there are so many interesting words about pets and owners! We should revisit the subject again in the future.

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Spring Vocabulary

La Primavera (spring time) is in the air (or at least it should be). So let's learn a few Spanish words related to Persephone's season. 

Flores means "flowers" and florecer means "to flower" or "to bloom." But there are also other words such as the verb aflorar (to bloom), which is also used figuratively meaning "to pop up," "to emerge" or "to appear." You can even use it say something as un-spring-like as: Su instinto asesino afloró de pronto (His killing instinct suddenly emerged).

Spanish also has the poetic adjective florido (full of flowers, flowery):


Luz y sonido, grande y florido
Light and sound, big and flowery
Caption 1, Aterciopelados - Al parque


And the participle adjective florecido, also "full of flowers:"


Por la senda florecida que atraviesa la llanura
Along the flowered path that crosses the plain
Caption 9, Acercándonos a la Literatura - José Asunción Silva - "Nocturno III"


There is also the verb florear (literally, "to adorn with flowers" or "to make look like a flower") with many, many different uses. For example, florear means "to compliment" or "to say beautiful things." From that come the expressions echar floresdecir flores, tirar flores (literally, to throw or say flowers):


Gracias, te agradezco mucho las flores que me estás tirando.
Thanks, I thank you very much for your compliments [literally "the flowers that you are throwing me"].
Caption 12, Muñeca Brava - 45 El secreto


Enough of flores. The verb aparear (to mate or reproduce, literally "to pair") is a pertinent choice:


Las ballenas vienen a Gorgona a aparearse y tener sus crías
The whales come to Gorgona to mate and to have their offspring.
Caption 42, Instinto de conservación - Gorgona - Part 5


Anidar means "to nest," and by extension "to shelter." You can use it figuratively as in: En su corazón anida la amargura (His heart harbors bitterness). The corresponding noun is nido (nest), a word that you can learn, along with many other palabras primaverales (spring words), by watching the trippy song Jardín (Garden) by Liquits:


De pronto una cigüeña me lleva de paquete bebé al nido
Suddenly a stork takes me as a baby package to the nest
Caption 14-15, Liquits - Jardín


Now, Spanish doesn't have words as short and cute as rainy, sunny, windy, etc. to describe the weather. Instead, Spanish speakers may describe a sunny day as soleadoand a rainy day as lluvioso. These adjectives must be used altogether with the verbsser/estar (to be). To describe the way the weather is in a place, you use ser (because that's the way the weather typically is most of the time):


Es su clima muy... muy húmedo, muy lluvioso también.
Its climate is very... very humid, very rainy too.
Caption 16, Vender Plantas - Juan


To describe the way the weather is at a certain moment, you use estar (because that's the way the weather is at that particular time in that particular context):


¡Qué lindo que está afuera! ¿No? El clima está divino
How nice it is outside! No? The weather is divine.
Caption 16, Muñeca Brava - 1 Piloto - Part 4


Don't get confused, however, if you hear a Spanish speaker using the verb estar to describe a general condition of the weather. It's correct to use estar if you're also giving and indicator that you are talking in a broad sense. In the following case, for example, Clara indicates so by using the verb soler (to tend to):


Así que llueve un poco, pero los días suelen estar soleados.
So it rains a bit, but the days tend to be sunny.
Caption 14*, Clara explica - El tiempo - Part 1

*Compare to caption 22 in the same video.


On the other hand, Spanish also combines verbs and nouns to describe the weather.  Some expressions use the verb hacer (to make), as in hace sol/frío/calor/viento (literally, "it's making sun/cold/heat/wind"):


Hace mucho fríohace mucho viento.
It's very coldit's very windy.
Caption 4, Clara explica - El tiempo - Part 1


Some others use hay, the impersonal form of the verb haber (to have), as in hay sol/nieve/viento/lluvia
(there's sun/snow/wind/rain). And, of course, you can use the verb caer (to fall) forlluvia (rain), nieve (snow), granizo (hail) as in: ayer cayó granizo (yesterday hail fell). Or you can use the verbs llover (to rain), nevar (to snow), and granizar (to hail), which are conjugated in the third person only:


En invierno, nieva algunas veces, aunque en España, no nieva mucho.
In winter, it sometimes snows, although in Spain, it doesn't snow much.
Caption 1, Clara explica - El tiempo - Part 2


To finish this lesson, let's learn a figurative use of the word primavera (spring). Reyli gives us an example in his song Qué nos pasó (What happened to us), where the wordprimavera, as "springtime" in English, is used to denote the earliest, usually the most attractive, period of the existence of something. In Spanish, by extension, the word is used as a common synonym of "youth," or even "years" in expressions such as hoy ella cumple sus veinte primaveras (she is celebrating her twentieth anniversary). Here's the example from Reyli's song:


¿Quién te llenó de primaveras esos ojos que no me saben mentir?
Who filled with springtimes those eyes of yours which don't know how to lie to me?
Caption 12, Reyli - Qué nos pasó

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On Fault vs Falta

Let's see a few examples to learn the proper use of the Spanish word falta, false friend of the English word fault.

First of all, falta does mean "fault" in the context of sports:

El árbitro no vio la falta
The umpire didn't see the fault

The word falta in Spanish is also used in legal contexts. Una falta means "an offense" (the word ofensa also exists):

que una misma persona cometiera distintas faltas de hurto
that one person committed different robbery offenses
Caption 49, Reporteros - Crecen los robos en tiendas - Part 4

Also, in academic or laboral contexts, una falta means "an absence." If you don't go to schooltu maestro te pone falta (your teacher marks you absent). Generally speaking una falta means "a lack" or "a shortage" and the verb faltar means "to lack," "to need" or "to be absent." Study the following examples:

Me falta un aguacate, que voy a hacer una ensalada.
I need one avocado, since I'll make a salad.
Caption 43, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 16

Hoy estamos protestando por la falta de agua,
Today we are protesting because of the water shortage,
Caption 44, Kikirikí - Agua - Part 2

It's interesting the way Spanish uses the word falta in expressions of time:

¿Qué será? Que falta un mes para la boda, ¿eh?
What would it be? That there is a month until the wedding, huh?
Caption 25, Yago - 8 Descubrimiento - Part 6

You can also use the word falta with a pinch of sarcasm:

lo único que me falta es que a los diez meses empiece a caminar...
the only thing I need now is that at ten months old she starts walking...
Caption 44, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro - Part 1

In fact, the expression lo único que me falta (or lo único que me faltaba) alone, also exists, and it's commonly used sarcastically:

¡Lo único que me falta!
Just what I needed!
Caption 5, Muñeca Brava - 2 Venganza - Part 4

Check out the following use of falta combined with the verb hacer and negation. It's a very common way to express that something is not needed or necessary:

¡No hace falta un abogado!
A lawyer is not necessary!
Caption 81, Adícora - Venezuela - Darío y el Kitesurfing - Part 1

And, of course, you can use falta + hacer without negation:

Eres lo que a mi vida le hace falta si no vienes
You are what my life lacks if you don't come
Caption 7, Café Tacuba - Eres - Part 1

Finally, a useful tip. How do you say in Spanish "It's your fault?" Unless you are playing soccer with your friends, you shouldn't say "es tu falta." For that, Spanish uses the word culpa (guilt, blame). It may sound really extreme an weird to say "it's your guilt" in English, but es tu culpa is common in Spanish: 

Soy el hombre al que iban a enterrar vivo por tu culpa.
I am the man who they were going to bury alive because of you.
Caption 35, El Ausente - Acto 4 - Part 3

You can use es tu culpa in the most trivial situations:

Por tu culpa perdimos el avión, querido.
It's your fault we missed the plane, dear.
Caption 16, Yago - 4 El secreto - Part 4

Finally, another use of the word falta is in the expression faltas de ortografía (orthographic mistakes). You can combine it with the verb tener (to have) as in el ensayo tiene muchas faltas de ortografía (the essay has many orthographic mistakes), or with the verb cometer (to commit, to make) as in tú cometes muchas faltas de ortografía (you make a lot of ortographic mistakes). Thank you for reading!

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¡Cómo puedes preguntar eso?

Many languages, Spanish and English included, use the same words for both questions and exclamations. Words like qué (what), cómo (how), and cuánto (how many) may primarily be interrogative words, but they are also exclamatory words that are used to simply state an idea or opinion with surprise or amazement. Frequently, phrases containing these words use exclamation marks (don't forget Spanish uses an additional initial upside down exclamation mark), but sometimes that's not even necessary, because the meaning of these expressions can be easily inferred from the context. Let's do a quick review.

Cómo (how) is used exactly the same way in Spanish and English. In one of our new videos, Sor Angelica expresses how much she missed the bakery goods served at the convent:

Mmm... Ay, Padre Manuel, cómo extrañaba este pancito[sic] casero.
Mmm... Oh, Father Manuel, how I missed this homemade bread.
Captions 1, Muñeca Brava - 33 El partido - Part 6

Qué (what) is also used as an exclamatory word in both languages. One important difference between Spanish and English here is that Spanish never uses an article between the word qué and the noun or adjetive it modifies:

Qué grandísimo músico. 
What a great musician.
Captions 37, David Bisbal - Haciendo Premonición Live - Part 5

Another difference is that Spanish allows the use of qué in many more cases than English, which must resort to the use of "how" instead, as you can see in the following examples: 

¡Pero qué inteligente!
But how smart!
Caption 5, Muñeca Brava - 43 La reunión - Part 5

Bueno, qué grande la tienda, ¿eh?
Well, how big the store is, huh?
Caption 81, 775 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 14

When used as an exclamatory word, qué can be replaced by a fancy word: cuán (how). This, however, is less common than qué, and it's mostly used in literary works. So, in the previous examples you can also use: cuán grandísimo músico, cuán inteligente,cuán grande, etc. Here is an example of cuán in one of our videos. Speaking of grandísimos músicos, here is an example of cuán in the lyrics of a song interpreted by the famous Chilean singer Chico Trujillo:

Para que te cuenten cuán grande es mi dolor
So they tell you how big my pain is
Caption 10, Chico Trujillo - Quémame los ojos

Cuánto (how much) can be used in front of nouns and verbs to express surprise at an amount of something. To modify a verb, one must always use the singular masculine form: cuánto.

¡Ay, señora Angélica, cuánto hacía que no bajaba por aquí!
Ah, Madame Angelica, it's been so long since you last came down here!
Caption 14, Guillermina y Candelario - Una película de terror - Part 2

To modify a noun, cuánto must match the noun in gender and number:

¡Cuántos frijoles hubiéramos hecho!
 ¡How many beans we would have produced!
Caption 43, Kikirikí - Agua - Part 3

¡Cuántas penurias pasamos el año pasado!
How many scarcities we had last year!

¡Cuánto dolor te he causado!
How much pain I've inflicted upon you!

To end this lesson we want to share something that may be new to you. In Spanish you can combine the use of exclamation and interrogation marks when an expression is both a question and an exclamation. According to the Real Academia Española, there are three possible ways to do it correctly. See below. Bet you didn't know the first two were even possible!

¡Cómo te atreves? 
¿Cómo te atreves!
¿¡Cómo te atreves!?

How dare you!?

¡Cuánto hemos aprendido hoy, verdad? (How much we learned today, right?!) 

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A Useful Verb: Hacer

The Spanish verb hacer primarily means "to do" or "to make." This verb is used in a wide range of expressions, which makes it one of the most versatile verbs in Spanish. However, and maybe for the same reason, the meanings and uses of hacerare not always easy to grasp. The fact that this is an irregular verb doesn't make it any easier either. So, to successfully master the verb hacer, the first step would be to memorize its conjugation (the past tense is especially challenging). After that, we recommend that you study it using a case-by-case approach. Luckily, the use of hacer is extremely common, so our catalog of videos offers you plenty of examples. 

Let's quickly review the two basic meanings of the word hacer. The first meaning is "to make":

Vamos a hacer un arroz.
We're going to make rice.
Captions 74, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 6

The second basic meaning of hacer is "to do":

¿Y ahora qué hacemos?
And now what do we do?
Captions 11, Guillermina y Candelario - Una película de terror - Part 3

Keep in mind that these meanings of the verb hacer as "to do" or "to make" can be used in many different situations that don't necessarily correspond to the uses of "to make" and "to do" in English. For example, in Spanish you can use the verb hacer to say quiero hacer una llamada (I want to make a call), and hazme un favor (do me a favor). But you can also use it in expressions like me haces daño (you hurt me), andella hizo una pregunta (she asked a question). Here's another example:

Tú me hiciste brujería.
You put a spell on me.
Caption 38, Calle 13 - Un Beso De Desayuno - Part 1

Hacer is also extensively used in Spanish to express time or duration. It can be used to express for how long you have been doing something:

Tengo veinte años y estoy hace dos años acá en Buenos Aires.
I'm twenty years old and I've been here in Buenos Aires for two years.
Caption 40, Buenos Aires - Heladería Cumelen - Part 1

Or to express the concept of "ago":

Hace unos días me olvidé la mochila en el tren.
A few days ago I forgot my backpack on the train.
Caption 22, Raquel - Oficina de objetos perdidos - Part 1

Hacer is also used in weather expressions:

Hoy hace tanto viento que casi me deja caer.
Today it is so windy that it almost makes me fall [over].
Caption 14, Clara explica - El tiempo - Part 2

And other impersonal expressions, such as hacer falta (to need/be lacking):

Se puede poner entero, no hace falta quitar corteza.
It can be put in whole; it's not necessary to remove the crust.
Caption 62, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli - Part 4

To indicate taking on a role:

Siempre quieres que haga el papel de villana.
You always want me to play the role of the villain.

Or to indicate that someone is pretending to be something: 

Digo, si pasa algo con mi hijo, no te hagas la ingenua.
I'm saying if something is happening with my son, don't play dumb.
Caption 9, Muñeca Brava - 44 El encuentro - Part 5

The reflexive form hacerse is commonly used in this way in many expressions such ashacerse el loco (to pretend to be crazy), hacerse la mosquita muerta (to look as if butter wouldn't melt in one's mouth, literally "to pretend to be a dead fly"), hacerse el muerto (to play dead), etc. Here is another example:

Mira, no te hagas la viva.
Look, don't play smart.
Caption 3, Yago - 3 La foto - Part 4

Hacer can also express the idea of getting used to something:

No hacerme a la idea de que esto está bien
Not to get used to the idea that this is OK
Caption 32, Xóchitl - Vida en Monterrey - Part 1

Hacer is also used to express that something doesn't matter in expressions such as no le hace (it doesn't matter), or no hace al caso (it doesn't pertain to the matter). Or it can mean "to refer to": Por lo que hace al dinero, tú no te preocupes (Concerning money, you don't worry). The list of its possible uses goes on and on! Let's see one last use of hacer, which was sent to us by one of our subscribers:

The expression hacer caso means "to pay attention," "to obey," or "to believe":

Nada, hay que hacerle caso al médico.​
No way, you have to pay attention to the doctor.
Caption 57, Yago - 8 Descubrimiento - Part 6

Hazme caso que tú eres perfecta.
Believe me that you are perfect.
Caption 56, Biografía - Enrique Iglesias

Pero yo siempre, siempre, siempre le hago caso a Sor Cachete.
But I always, always, always, do as Sister Cachete says.
Caption 27, Muñeca Brava - 44 El encuentro - Part 2

Thank you for reading and sending your suggestions. 

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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)

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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


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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.


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Se Trata de Tratar [It's About Trying]

In one of our latest videos, Raquel tells us about a very traditional festival in Spain: The "Fallas." When she explains what these "Fallas" are, she uses an expression that is worth exploring:

Se trata de unas figuras de gran tamaño hechas de cartón y de madera.
It's about some large-sized figures made of cardboard and wood.
Caption 19, Raquel - Fiestas de España

The verb tratar means "to treat," "to try" or "attempt," but also "to deal with" and, like in the previous example, "to be about." Let's review some examples to master this useful verb.

 When tratar means "to treat," is used the same way as in English:

¿Podrías tratarlo un poco mejor a tu hijo, no?
You could treat your son a little better, no?
Caption 29, Muñeca Brava - 1 Piloto - Part 9

In Spanish, however, this verb has many different applications. For example:

Necesitamos tratarnos.
We need to get to know each other.
Caption 18, El Ausente - Acto 3 - Part 2

Bueno, a Felipe he tenido el privilegio de tratarlo.
Well, I have had the privilege to know Felipe.
Caption 34, Felipe Calderón - Publicidad - Part 2

Encerrarlos y maltratarlos es una cosa muy cruel.
To lock them up and abuse them is a very cruel thing.
Caption 28, Kikirikí - Animales - Part 2

Para tratar a alguien de "tú" tienes que tener una cierta cercanía...
To address someone with "tú" you have to have a certain closeness...
Caption 17-18, Fundamentos del Español - 6 - Tú y Usted - Part 1

Me gusta tratar con... con el público, con las personas que vienen.
I like dealing with... with the public, with the people who come.
Caption 21, El Instituto Cervantes - Jefa de biblioteca - Part 1

Just as, in English, you can't use the verb "to treat" to translate the previous examples, in Spanish you can't use the verb tratar to express an idea such as "to treat someone to something." Instead you have to use the verbs invitar or convidar (to invite, to share):

Ni siquiera te convidé un café. 
I didn't even treat you to a cup of coffee.
Caption 45, Muñeca Brava - 7 El poema - Part 2

Additionally, tratar can also mean "to try or attempt":

Pero en Andalucía varias iniciativas tratan de protegerlo.
But in Andalucia several initiatives attempt to protect it.
Caption 18, Club de las ideas - Batería de breves - Part 1

But don't ever try to use the verb tratar in the same way we use "to try" in expressions such as "try the food" or "try on the jeans." For that, Spanish uses another verb:probar. So, you must say prueba el pastel ("try the cake"), and me probé los pantalones ("I tried on the jeans") but never ever: trata el pastel or me traté los pantalones.

Tratar de (to try to) looks like tratarse de (to be about) but has a different meaning and it's not reflexive. Here is another example of tratarse de, using negation:

Ya ves que el juego no se trata de vestir mejor.
You see that this game is not about dressing better.
Caption 24, Hector Montaner - Apariencias- Part 1

These two examples are interesting. The same expression is used in Spanish, but English requires the use of different wording:

Es posible que alguna vez haya pensado usted, al escuchar el nombre del famoso arqueólogo Federico Kauffman Doig, que se trata de un investigador extranjero.
It's possible that some time you have thought, when hearing the name of the famous archeologist Federico Kauffman Doig, that he is a foreign researcher.
Captions 6-7, Federico Kauffman Doig - Arqueólogo

Y más aún si se trata de ti.
And even more so when it's related to you.
Caption 7, Gloria Trevi - Cinco minutos

Do you want to find more examples of the verb tratar in our catalog? You can use the search tool at the top of the screen in the Videos tab of our site to do so. Maybe you can find a use of tratar that we haven't discussed here. ¡Todo se trata de tratar, verdad?! (It's all about trying, right?). If you find some, tweet us @yabla or share them with us at

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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?

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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!

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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 Thanks for reading! 

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Pedir and Ordenar

This week teacher Carolina shares a video lesson on three different verbs: pedirpreguntar, and ordenar. From what she tells us, the verbs pedir and ordenar have very similar meanings and uses and, in certain contexts, it's not always easy to decide which one to use. Let's review some examples of these two verbs to complement Carolina's video lesson!

The most common way to order food in a restaurant is to use the verb pedir (to ask):

Aquí, por lo regular, por lo... económico, piden la comida corrida.
Here, generally, because it's... cheap, people order the lunch special.
Caption 25, Fonda Mi Lupita - Encargado - Part 1

However, perhaps due to an influence from English, using the verb ordenar (whose primary meaning is "to command" but also means "to put in order") has become a popular way to order food or products in Spanish:

Estamos ordenando tres tacos y una ensalada.
We are ordering three tacos and a salad.

Si ordenas hoy mismo recibirás un descuento.
If you place your order today, you will get a discount.

Estamos listos para ordenar.
We are ready to order.

¿Qué quieren ordenar?
What do you want to order?

In the previous examples, you can use either ordenar or pedir without altering the meaning of what you are saying. In some contexts, however, you can't use ordenarinstead of pedir. For example, you can say Quiero pedir un descuento (I want to askfor a discount), but not Quiero ordenar un descuento ( I want to order a discount); you can say Quiero pedir un favor (I want to ask a favor), but to say Quiero ordenar un favor (I want to order a favor) is an obvious contradiction.

Finally, it's worth remembering that the verb ordenar also means "to put in order" and "to command":

Vos no sabés, estuve media hora ordenando todo el departamento!
You have no idea, I spent half an hour organizing the whole apartment!
Caption 20, Muñeca Brava - 8 Trampas - Part 3

No, señora. Usted no me ordenó nada.
No, ma'am. You didn't order me [to do] anything.
Caption 52, Muñeca Brava - 44 El encuentro - Part 9

We hereby "order" you to read more free Yabla Spanish lessons!

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