The Spanish word despectivo means "contemptuous", "derogative", or "pejorative." You can use this word in expressions such as No me hables con ese tono despectivo (Don't talk to me using that pejorative tone) or Él es un tipo muy despectivo (He's a very derogative guy).
The word despectivo is also used to describe adjetives and nouns that express disapproval or disdain. You can form these pejorative adjectives and nouns by adding suffixes to root words. The use of prefixes to form pejoratives is not very common, although the etymology of words such as imbécil (imbecile) shows that sometimes prefixes can be used to form words with a pejorative meaning as well. For example:
A veces soy un poco despistada.
Sometimes I'm a bit airheaded.
Caption 14, Raquel - Oficina de objetos perdidos
The word despistada is formed with the Spanish prefix -de (meaning lack or absence or something) and the word pista (clue), hence another possible translation for this word is "clueless."
Suffixes are, however, much more commonly used to form augmentative, diminutive, and pejorative words in Spanish (actually, in most languages). For example, the suffix -acho -acha is used to form the pejorative populacho (pleb, mob). Another common pejorative suffix is -ucho -ucha. You can add it to the root of the word casa (house) to form casucha (hovel, shack), to the word pueblo (town) to form the word pueblucho (hick town), and practically to any other Spanish noun!
The pejorative suffix -astro -astra can be used to form words such as camastro (rickety old bed). It's actually in the origin of words such as madrastra (stepmother), hijastro (stepson), etc.:
Y mi padrastro, porque mi padre murió, se llama Luis Manuel.
And my stepfather, because my father died, is named Luis Manuel.
Caption 32, Peluquería La Percha - Félix
It's also very common to use augmentative or diminutive suffixes as pejorative ones, due to the fact that the excess or lack or something is usually perceived as a negative thing. For example, the Spanish augmentative suffix -ón - ona is commonly used to form pejorative words such as gordinflón (fatty), panzón (potbellied), comelón (glutton), llorón (cry baby), and mandón:
La verdad es que Camilo es un poco mandón y un poco raro,
The truth is that Camilo is a bit bossy and a bit strange,
Caption 43, X6 - 1 - La banda - Part 1
On the other hand, some diminutive suffixes can be used as pejoratives. For example the suffix -illo, -illa is used in words such as trabajillo (insignificant job) or lucecilla (dim light). If you want to learn more about these suffixes we recommend you to watch Raquel's video on the topic: Raquel- diminutivos y aumentativos.
Thank you for reading!
Let's review some unique Spanish words that you may have not heard of before.
Spanish uses a specific word to describe the rheum (more commonly known as "sleep" in English) found in the corner of the eye after sleeping: lagaña (also legaña). This odd word has an uncertain origin, though some experts believe it to be inherited from a Paleohispanic language! It's important to note that lagaña is not a specialized term as "rheum" is in English but a very common word used in everyday conversations:
Esto es que una... una de las glándulas que se encarga de fabricar la lagaña,
This is because one... one of the glands that is in charge of producing rheum,
Caption 79, Animales en familia - La operación de Yaki
Other unique Spanish words related to the body are entrecejo (the space between eyebrows).
Y esta parte se llama entrecejo.
And this part is called "entrecejo" [the space between the eyebrows].
Caption 16, Marta explica el cuerpo - La cabeza
and chapas (blush, the pink tinge on the cheeks):
para obtener las clásicas chapitas de Pikachu.
to get the classic Pikachu rosy cheeks.
Caption 25, Manos a la obra - Separadores de libros: Pikachu
Do you know some Spanish words or expressions used to describe different types of raining? For example both expressions está chispeando and está lloviznando mean "it's drizzling." The verb chispear comes from the noun chispa (spark), while the verb lloviznar comes from the noun llovizna (drizzle). On the contrary, when the rain is really heavy people may use the noun tormenta (storm) to describe it, but aguacero (downpour) it's also very common:
Aguacero de mayo, me lleva, papá
May downpour, it's taking me away, man
Caption 44, Kikirikí - Animales - Part 6
Of course, people also use idiomatic expressions to talk about the rain. One example is llueve a cántaros (the equivalent of "it's raining cats and dogs," literally "it's raining as if pitchers where being poured from the sky"). Other words that you may want to explore on your own are: chubasco (a very intense, windy storm) and chaparrón (an intense, sudden, and short storm).
Another interesting group of unique Spanish words is the group of words used to talk about family in-laws, a list that is quite big, as you can imagine. It's not only suegro, suegra (father and mother in law), but also yerno, nuera (son and daughter in law), cuñado, cuñada (brother or sister in law), and even concuño, concuña (brother, husband, sister, or wife of one's brother in law or sister in law)!
Es una champiñonera tradicional que estableció mi suegro.
It's a traditional mushroom farm that my father-in-law established.
Caption 6, La Champiñonera - El cultivo de champiñón
Estaba en la casa de mi suegra y mi cuñada, la hermana de mi marido,
I was in my mother-in-law's house, and my sister in law, my husband's sister,
Caption 52, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro - Part 1
Interesting tidbit: The equivalent of "in-law family" in Spanish is familia política. You can use the noun político (political) to describe less close relatives such as primo político (in-law cousin).
Christmas is a very important celebration in all Spanish-speaking countries. Let's review vocabulary related to this Holiday.
One of the most endearing traditions for Christmas in the Hispanic world is the installation of nativity scenes at home or in public places. They are called belenes or nacimientos:
Lo más tradicional además del turrón, el champán y los Reyes Magos, es montar el belén en casa.
The most traditional [thing] besides nougat candy, champagne and the Three Wise Men, is to put up a Nativity scene at home.
Caption 49, Europa Abierta - Joaquín Pérez - Escultor de belenes
Another important tradition are villancicos which are the Spanish equivalent of Christmas carols. Lida and Cleer sing for us one of the most popular villancicos, El burrito de Belén (The Little Donkey from Bethlehem) also known as "El burrito sabanero" (The Little Donkey from the Savannah):
Con mi burrito sabanero voy camino de Belén
With my little savanna donkey I'm heading to Bethlehem
Caption 42, Lida y Cleer - Buñuelos
You may want to learn a few villancicos if you happen to be in a Spanish speaking country around Christmas. Just in case you get invited to a Posada. The word posada means "lodging" or "accommodation." traditionally, posadas are neighborhood celebrations held during the nine days preceding Christmas. They have a religious nature and involve participating in a communal re-enactment of the arrival of Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem who, according to legend, had to go door-by-door pidiendo posada (asking for a place to stay). These celebrations also involve praying, sharing food, and breaking a piñata in the shape of a Christmas star. By extension, the word posada also means "Christmas party" in many Latin American countries. For example, you can get invited to la posada de la oficina (the office Christmas party) or la posada del club de ajedrez (the chess club Christmas party).
Another important word for the Holidays is the word aguinaldo ("thirteen salary" or "Christmas bonus"):
¿Y... le han dado todos sus reglamentos de vacaciones, aguinaldo, todo eso?
And... have they given you all your statutory vacations, annual complementary salary, all that?
Caption 19, Doña Coco - La Vida De Una Cocinera
Día de Reyes or día de los Reyes Magos (day of the three Wise Men) is another popular Christmas celebration in many Spanish-speaking countries. Sometimes people just call it Reyes (Kings). In Mexico this day marks the end of the so-called Guadalupe-Reyes marathon of winter festivities.
Y en los Reyes, va a venir aquí con tus niños.
And at Epiphany, she is going to come here with your children.
Caption 49, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 9
Finally, there's an important distinction to make. The Spanish word for Christmas is Navidad, while the equivalent of Christmas eve is called Nochebuena (Literally, "the Good Night").
Ha pasado otra Nochebuena solo, encerrado. -No, no.
You have spent another Christmas Eve alone, locked inside. -No, no.
Caption 17, Muñeca Brava - 30 Revelaciones - Part 2
Nochebuena is also one of the names given to the poinsettias flower, which is indigenous to Mexico and it's widely used in Christmas floral displays all around the world.
Is there a topic you'd like covered in our lessons? You can send your suggestions to email@example.com.
Let's learn some Spanish vocabulary related to emergency situations. We really hope you never find yourself needing to use these words, but it’s not a bad idea to keep them on hand.
Some of the most well-known emergency words in Spanish are ayuda and auxilio:
¡Uy, auxilio! ¡Callen a ese gallo!
Oh, help! Shut up that rooster!
Caption 12, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 9
The word socorro is less known:
Help! Get me out!
Caption 2, Yago - 2 El puma - Part 7
Remember that being able to cry for help is just as important as remaining calm:
Cálmate, Yas. Para que te tranquilices, te voy a regalar un poquito del agua.
Calm down, Yas. So that you calm down, I am going to give you a little bit of the water.
Caption 19-21, Kikirikí - Agua - Part 2
Lately, the world has seen many natural disasters, especially massive hurricanes and earthquakes. You have to know what to do if you hear the phrase alerta de followed by the word huracán or ciclón (hurricane), or terremoto or sismo (earthquake):
En plena tormenta cuando va a entrar un huracán...
In the middle of the storm when a hurricane is coming...
Caption 17, Antonio Vargas - Artista - Comic - Part 1
El terremoto destruyó muchas casas.
The earthquake destroyed many houses.
Caption 18, Lecciones con Carolina - La voz pasiva
Maybe you'll need to go to an albergue or refugio (shelter):
Los tenemos en el albergue.
We have them at the shelter.
Caption 29, Otavalo, Ecuador - Patrulla Amigo Fiel - Salvemos a los perros callejeros
Mieke y su hija viven en Amsterdam y acaban de llegar al refugio.
Mieke and her daughter live in Amsterdam and they have just arrived to the shelter.
Caption 7, Reporteros - Caza con Galgo
Certain phrases are very helpful in case of an emergency, for example, to call for medical help:
Alguien que llame a una ambulancia, por favor.
Someone should call an ambulance, please.
Caption 54, Muñeca Brava - 2 Venganza - Part 6
Me duele (it hurts) is vital:
Gün, me duele la cabeza mucho.
Gün, my head hurts badly.
Caption 61, Escuela Don Quijote - En el aula
As is the phrase he tenido un accidente (I've had an accident):
Para que no tengamos ningún accidente...
So that we don't have any accident...
Caption 58, Adícora - Venezuela - Darío y el Kitesurfing
Can you think of other emergency words that you would like to learn?
By definition, nobody likes to feel disgusted, and yet disgust is sadly a very common sentiment. Let's learn a few ways in which Spanish speakers express their disgust.
Let's start with the most basic. The expression me da asco (literally "it gives me disgust") has many different translations, depending on the context:
Me da asco, la verdad, mire, señor,
You make me sick, truthfully, look, sir,
Caption 23, Muñeca Brava - 18 - La Apuesta - Part 1
Cuando te duele la cabeza, tenés unas náuseas que te da asco todo.
When your head hurts, you have nausea that makes everything disgusting to you.
Caption 53, Muñeca Brava - 43 La reunión - Part 5
This expression is also very interesting because of the idiomatic use of the verb dar (to give), which is used a lot in Spanish to express a wide variety of feelings, from me da miedo (it frightens me), to me da pena (I feel ashamed) and me da gusto (it pleases me). In order to learn it and remember it, we suggest you recall an expression in English that uses the same verb in the same way: "it gives me the creeps," which in Spanish could translate as me da asco or me da escalofríos (it makes me shrivel), or something else, depending on the context. Our friends from Calle 13 use dar repelo (repelo is a coloquial word for "disgust"):
Oye jibarita si te doy repelillo, Residente te quita el frenillo.
Listen, peasant girl, if I give you the creeps, Residente will take away your stutter.
Caption 43, Calle 13 - Tango del pecado
Other phrases that can also be used in Spanish are me enferma (it makes me sick), and me da náuseas (it makes me feel nauseous). Check out this example:
Verla me da náuseas.
Seeing her makes me sick.
Caption 17, Muñeca Brava - 43 La reunión - Part 1
Now let's learn some single words that you can use to express your dislikes. The interjection guácala (sometimes written huácala) is used in Mexico, Colombia, Honduras, el Salvador, República Dominicana, and many other Latin American countries. By the way, this word has nothing to do with guacamole (from Nahuatl ahuacatl "avocado" + molli "sauce"), which is delicious.
¡Ay guácala! No, no se puede. ¡Huele a muerto!
Oh, gross! No, it's not possible. It smells like a corpse!
Caption 4, Kikirikí - Agua - Part 5
A similar word is fúchila, which you could also find shortened as fuchi. This word is also used in many Latin American countries, Venezuela, for example:
¡Fuchi! Mejor no respires, pero cálmate, ¿sí?
Ew! Better you don't breathe, but calm down, OK?
Caption 51, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 5
In Spain people use the interjections puaj, puah, or aj:
¡Puaj, este pescado está podrido!
Yuck, this fish is rotten!
Now, in Spanish the antonyms of the verb gustar (to like) and the noun gusto (like) are disgustar (dislike) and disgusto (dislike). However, you should pay attention to the context to learn how to use them. Take, for example, the expression estar a disgusto (to be uncomfortable or unhappy):
Yo ya estaba muy a disgusto en México.
I was already very unhappy in Mexico.
Caption 42, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 1
If you want to use the verb disgustar to express your dislike about something, you have to remember to always use it with a reflexive pronoun:
Me disgustan las achoas.
I dislike anchovies.
However, it's more common to simply say:
No me gustan las achoas.
I don't like anchovies.
Notice that when you use the verb disgustar (to dislike) the verb is conjugated in the third-person plural (in agreement with las anchoas) and not the first-person singular (yo). If you ever were to say something like me disgusto, which is possible but as common as me enojo (I get angry or upset), that would mean something different:
Me disgusto con Antonio siempre que llega tarde.
I get angry with Antonio whenever he's late.
The noun disgusto, on the other hand, is used as the noun asco (disgust), that is, with the verb dar (to give). The expression dar un disgusto means "to cause displeasure," or "to make someone angry, sad, or upset").
Mi hijo me dio un disgusto muy grande al abandonar la escuela.
My son made me so upset when he quit school.
Finally, the expression matar de disgusto (literally, "to kill someone by means of upsetting him or her") is a common expression that overly dramatic people really like to use:
Esta hija mía me va a matar de un disgusto.
This daughter of mine is going to kill me with disappointment.
Caption 32, Muñeca Brava - 3 Nueva Casa - Part 3
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
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!
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.
Did you know that the Spanish words sí (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 sí (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 sí 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 sí in conversation:
Ah claro, ahora sí 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
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
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.
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 flores, decir 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 frío, hace mucho viento.
It's very cold, it'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
Let's see a few examples to learn the proper use of the Spanish word falta, a 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!
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?!)
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.
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)
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
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.
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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.