Spanish punctuation may seem difficult if you are just learning the language. However, if you keep in mind the following rules, you will definitely improve you writing and the use of punctuation in Spanish.
In Spanish, you always need to use opening and closing punctuation. Keep this in mind especially for question marks and exclamation points.
¿Qué más cosas hay en el sueño?
What other things are there in the dream?
Caption 15, El Aula Azul La Doctora Consejos: Hay y estarPlay Caption
¡Todo el mundo paga para que lo escuchen!
Everyone pays for them to listen to you!
Caption 45, Yago 14 La peruana - Part 7Play Caption
D.A.S. [Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad].
A.D.S [Administrative Department of Security].Play Caption
After a question mark or exclamation point, you can put any punctuation mark except a period.
¡Acompáñame! Este recorrido inicia en la Calle Doctor Coss,
Join me! This tour begins at Doctor Coss Street,
Captions 5-6, Paseando con Karen Canal Santa LucíaPlay Caption
Don't put a comma or semicolon before an opening parenthesis. However, feel free to put those marks after the closing parenthesis.
If you want to put a period at the end of a sentence that is between quotations marks, you need to put the period after the closing quotation mark.
La cita de hoy es de Aldous Huxley y dice así: "Todos los hombres son dioses para su perro".
Today's quote is by Aldous Huxley and goes like this: "To his dog, every man is Napoleon" [literally "To their dog, all men are gods].
Captions 8-10, Los casos de Yabla El perrito malcriado - Part 1Play Caption
Unless you are quoting something (as in the example we mentioned for rule 6) or writing a particular document (e.g. a letter), you always need to use lower case after a colon.
Luego tendrá usted que rellenar un formulario con las siguientes cuestiones: país de recogida, ciudad de recogida,
Then you will have to fill out a form with the following questions: country of pickup, city of pickup,
Captions 14-16, Raquel Alquiler de cochePlay Caption
Sí, Zárate, ¿qué pasó?
Yes, Zarate, what happened?Play Caption
There are many more rules regarding punctuation in Spanish. However, we invite you to keep in mind the rules we just mentioned here because that way you'll certainly improve your writing in Spanish. And don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions.
Si no or sino? That is the question of today's lesson. Do you know when to write one or the other? Both expressions seem very similar but they don’t necessarily mean the same thing. Although even native speakers make mistakes when writing these words, the truth is they are used in specific cases that are easily recognizable. Let's start this lesson with a little quiz:
Which one would you use in the following sentence?:
Amalia no ha llegado al apartamento; ____ ya me hubiera llamado.
Amalia hasn't arrived at the apartment; otherwise she would have called me already.
What about in this one?:
no solamente cubre la ciudad de Bogotá, ____ varios municipios alrededor de... de Bogotá,
it doesn't just cover the city of Bogota, but rather several municipalities around... Bogota,
We will unveil the answers at the end of this lesson. Now, let's dive into the difference between si no and sino.
Si no is made of two parts. The conditinal conjunction 'si' and the negation 'no'. We use si no to introduce a negative conditional sentence. In particular, we use si no when it works as "otherwise" to imply the idea of "on the contrary". Let's see a couple of examples:
porque todos son amantes de los animales, si no, no vendrían a vernos,
because they are all animal lovers, otherwise, they wouldn't come to see us,
Captions 45-46, Santuario para burros VoluntariosPlay Caption
¿Grabó esto sin su permiso? Claro que sí. Si no, no la habría descubierto.
Did you record this without her permission? Of course. Otherwise, I wouldn't have discovered it.
Captions 52-54, Los casos de Yabla El perrito malcriado - Part 1Play Caption
In Spanish, the word sino is a conjunction that usually works as the English equivalent "but" or "but rather". Generally speaking, we use it to create a contrast between and affirmative statement that is placed right after a negative one. Let's see a couple of examples:
Que no es una chica, sino un chico. -Oh...
That's it's not a girl, but rather a boy. -Oh...Play Caption
Por esta razón, no decimos "uno libro", sino "un libro".
For this reason, we don't say "uno libro," but rather "un libro" ["a book"].
Caption 39, Carlos explica Los Números: Números CardinalesPlay Caption
Sometimes, we also use sino when we want to state an exception:
Nadie lo sabe sino tu padre.
Nobody except your father knows it.
And finally, we use sino when we want to add more elements to a single statement, usually with the formula 'no solo... sino también' (not only... but also):
unas de las bandas más importantes de Latinoamérica, este... no sólo por su trabajo musical, sino también por su trabajo social y activismo ambiental.
one the most important bands in Latin America, um... not only because of their musical work, but also because of their social work and environmental activism.
Captions 10-12, Doctor Krápula EntrevistaPlay Caption
Considering all of the above, it is time to solve the questions we posed at the beginning of this lesson. Let's unveil the answers:
Amalia no ha llegado al apartamento; si no ya me hubiera llamado.
Amalia hasn't arrived at the apartment; otherwise she would have called me already.Play Caption
no solamente cubre la ciudad de Bogotá, sino varios municipios alrededor de... de Bogotá,
it doesn't just cover the city of Bogota, but rather several municipalities around... Bogota,
Captions 57-58, Bogotá Chorro de QuevedoPlay Caption
That's it for today. We hope this lesson helped you to understand when to write sino and si no. And don't forget to send us your feedback and suggestions.
Let's start this lesson with a little quiz. Do you know how to write superhero in Spanish? Choose one of the following:
a. Super héroe
c. Súper héroe
If you don't know the answer, this lesson will help you to find out which one is the proper spelling.
When it works as a prefix, the word super has different meanings. Sometimes, it means 'above' like in the word superestructura (superstructure). It can also mean 'excellence' or 'superiority':
¿Con el superagente, Jaime Suárez?
With the super-agent, Jaime Suarez?Play Caption
In some words, the prefix super expresses the 'highest degree' of something:
Eh... La iglesia es superhermosa.
Um... The church is super beautiful.
Caption 14, Bogotá Una visita a la ciudadPlay Caption
And finally, the prefix super can also indicate the 'excess' of something:
Ehm... Tenemos la... la... la... la... la superpoblación,
Um... We have (the... the... the... the... the) overpopulation,Play Caption
Have you ever seen the word súper with an accent? If you think that súper is the same as super (with no accent), you are wrong. The word súper needs the accent only in the following situations:
1. When it is used as a noun for the short form of the word supermercado (supermarket) or the type of gasoline:
Roberto fue al súper a comprar naranjas.
Roberto went to the supermarket to buy oranges.
2. When it works as an adjective or adverb to express that someone or something is/was great:
Súper, y ¿qué le dijeron de Gastón Almanza?
Super, and what did they tell you about Gaston Almanza?Play Caption
The simplest thing to remember here is that the prefix super doesn't have a graphic accent.
Believe it or not, there are many native Spanish speakers who don't know how to properly write words that are formed with the prefix super. The main rule, however, is quite simple: When writing, the prefix super should be connected to the word that follows. With that simple rule, we can answer the question we posed at the beggining of this lesson:
Y tengo de superhéroe lo que Juanes de vallenato
And I've got from a superhero what Juanes [has] from vallenato
Caption 30, Juanes La PlataPlay Caption
However, every rule has its exception and this rule has the following one:
When the word that follows super starts with a capital letter or when this prefix is followed by a number, you need to add a hyphen:
super-Obama or super-10
You need to leave a space after super when it goes before a series of words that have their own meaning:
Yo siempre me he sentido super a gusto cantando al lado de ese grandísimo músico...
I have always felt pretty at home singing along this great musician...
Caption 50, David Bisbal Haciendo Premonición Live - Part 5Play Caption
That's it for today. We invite you to write 10 words with the prefix super. And don’t forget to send us your feedback and suggestions.
Today, we will talk about the plural in Spanish. In particular, we will talk about the plural when referred to nouns. Let's start this lesson with a little quiz. Do you know what is the plural form of the following nouns?:
1. Casa (house)
2. Perro (dog)
3. Universidad (university)
4. Lápiz (pencil)
5. Jabalí (wild boar)
6. Análisis (analysis)
If you are not sure about how to make a singular noun plural in Spanish, we invite you to take a look at the following simple rules. While going through these rules, we will be unveiling the plural form of the 6 nouns we included in our quiz. Let's take a look.
- Casa (house) - Casas (houses)
- Estudiante (student) - Estudiantes (students)
- Perro (perro) - Perros (dogs)
Se escucha un perro.
You can hear a dog.Play Caption
Tus perros también son muy bonitos.
Your dogs are very beautiful too.Play Caption
- Papá (dad) - Papás (dads)
- Dominó (domino) - Dominós (dominoes)
- Café (coffee) - Cafés (coffees)
y les voy a mostrar el proceso de control de calidad de café de Colombia.
and I'm going to show you the quality-control process for coffee from Colombia.
Caption 5, Una Historia de Café La BodegaPlay Caption
Cada uno de estos cafés tiene distintas cualidades tanto físicas como sensoriales
Each one of these coffees has different qualities both physically and sensorially.
Caption 14, Una Historia de Café La BodegaPlay Caption
- Bisturí (scalpel) - Bisturíes or bisturís (scalpels)
- Jabalí (wild boar) - Jabalíes or jabalís (wild boars)
- Tabú (taboo) - Tabúes or tabús (taboos)
Generally speaking, however, it is preferred to use the plural formed with 'ES'.
Also, this rule is very common when you are dealing with adjectives of nationality:
- Iraní (Iranian) - Iraníes or iranís (Iranians)
- Árbol (tree) - Árboles (trees)
- Profesor (teacher) - Profesores (teachers)
- Universidad (university) - Universidades (universities)
- Rey (king) - Reyes (kings)
La rata esta es el rey de la estafa por allá en Europa.
This rat is the king con artist over there in Europe.Play Caption
Actualmente es la residencia oficial de los reyes de España,
Currently, it's the official residence of the King and Queen of Spain,
Caption 23, Madrid Un recorrido por la capital de EspañaPlay Caption
Notice that the singular noun árbol has a graphic accent in the second-to-last syllable (palabra grave). However, when you form the plural, the graphic accent moves to the third-to-last-syllable becoming a proparoxytone word (palabra esdrújula). Similarly, singular nouns like profesor and universidad that are stressed in the last syllable (palabras agudas) become paroxytone words (palabras graves) in the plural form.
- Lápiz (pencil) - Lápices (pencils)
- Raíz (root) - Raíces (roots)
- Voz (voice) - Voces (voices)
Tengo muy buena voz,
I have a very good voice,Play Caption
vuelven esas voces a mi cabeza.
those voices come back to my head.Play Caption
Paroxytone or proparoxytone nouns ending in 's' or 'x' keep the same form in plural. Let's see some examples:
- Cactus (cactus) - Cactus (cactuses/cacti)
- Tórax (thorax) - Tórax (thoraxes/thoraces)
- Análisis (analysis) - Análisis (analyses/tests)
y en un análisis de nuestras debilidades, oportunidades, fortalezas y amenazas.
and an analysis of our weaknesses, opportunities, strengths and threats.Play Caption
para hacerle los análisis de sangre, de heces,
to do the blood tests, stool (tests),
Caption 54, Santuario para burros Santuario - Part 1Play Caption
That's it for now. We hope these rules help you to use the plural in Spanish. If you feel like practicing a little bit more, take 20 nouns and try to form their plural forms. And of course, don’t forget to send us your feedback and suggestions.
How well do you know the Spanish alphabet? Do you know how many letters are in the Spanish alphabet? What about the number of consonants and vowels that are part of it? This lesson answers these questions and provides a series of audio clips that will help you to learn the letters and improve the pronunciation of the Spanish alphabet. Let's take a look.
Believe it or not, there are actually two words in Spanish that we use to talk about the alphabet. While the most literal translation would be the word alfabeto, you can also use the word abecedario when referring to the Spanish alphabet. In fact, and according to the Real Academia Española (RAE), these two words are synonyms.
There are 27 letters in the Spanish alphabet. But do you know how many of those letters are consonants and how many vowels are in the Spanish alphabet? The answer is very simple. In the Spanish alphabet there are 22 consonants and 5 vowels (a, e, i, o, u). Let’s go over all the Spanish alphabet letters with the following 27 words:
A as in agua (water)
¿También tienes agua?
Do you have water too?Play Caption
B as in burro (donkey)
El burro es un animal ideal para este tipo de actividades
The donkey is an ideal animal for this kind of activity
Caption 71, Rosa - Yoga con burrosPlay Caption
C as in coche (car)
Hoy, voy en coche porque hace mucho frío.
Today, I'm going by car because it's very cold.
Caption 16, Ariana - Cena especialPlay Caption
D as in difícil (difficult)
Es muy difícil. -Muy complicado.
It's very difficult. -Very complicated.
Caption 31, Blanca y Mariona - Planificación de cenaPlay Caption
E as in ellos (they)
Ellos se llevan muy bien.
They get along very well.
Caption 41, El Aula Azul - Mis PrimosPlay Caption
F as in fácil (easy)
Basta, es muy fácil.
Enough, it's very easy.Play Caption
G as in gente (people)
Barcelona se llena de gente,
Barcelona fills up with people,
Caption 17, Blanca - Sobre la ciudad de BarcelonaPlay Caption
H as in hotel (hotel)
El hotel también cuenta con un bar.
The hotel also has a bar.
Caption 73, Cleer y Lida - Recepción de hotelPlay Caption
I as in iglesia (church)
Esta iglesia fue construida en mil seiscientos ochenta y uno.
This church was built in sixteen eighty one.Play Caption
J as in jamón (ham)
Fíjate: jamón, Javier.
Check it out: ham, Javier.
Caption 27, Fundamentos del Español - 10 - La PronunciaciónPlay Caption
K as in kilo (kilo)
Reciclando un kilo de vidrio...
[By] recycling a kilo of glass...
Caption 70, 3R - Campaña de reciclaje - Part 1Play Caption
L as in lago (lake)
Hay un lago.
There is a lake.
Caption 11, Natalia de Ecuador - Los adverbios de ordenPlay Caption
M as in mercado (market)
y están presentes en el mercado internacional.
and are present in the international market.
Caption 73, Europa Abierta - Champagne en AndalucíaPlay Caption
N as in nunca (never)
Nadie, nada, nunca,
Nobody, nothing, never,
Caption 21, Fundamentos del Español - 5 - La NegaciónPlay Caption
Ñ as in the middle of the word niño (boy)
La frase, el niño quiere el juguete,
The sentence, "the boy wants the toy,"
Caption 17, Raquel - Diminutivos y aumentativosPlay Caption
O as in objeto (object)
Y "tendedero" es un objeto para la ropa
And "tendedero" is an object for clothes
Caption 27, Karla e Isabel - PalabrasPlay Caption
P as in parque (park)
aquí en Parque Fundidora.
here in Fundidora Park.Play Caption
Q as in queso (cheese)
un vaso de leche y queso,
a glass of milk and cheese,
Caption 16, Recetas de Clara - Los aborrajados - Part 1Play Caption
R as in rápidamente (quickly)
Vamos a ver rápidamente una frase
We are going to look quickly at a phrasePlay Caption
S as in sal (salt)
Muchos mercaderes venían a recoger la sal,
Many merchants came to get the salt,
Caption 14, Rosa - Fuente de PiedraPlay Caption
T as in trabajo (job)
¿Qué trabajo es?
What job is it?
Caption 23, Sofy y Caro - Entrevistar para un trabajoPlay Caption
U as in universidad (university)
¿La biblioteca de la universidad?
The university library?Play Caption
V as in viento (wind)
y un viento muy fuerte nos arrastró a mar abierto.
and a very strong wind dragged us out to the open sea.Play Caption
W as in wifi (wifi)
Tenemos también wifi y hay ordenadores disponibles.
We also have wifi and there are computers available.Play Caption
X as in xilófono (xylophone)
Entonces, había una persona contando un cuento y él tocando un xilófono.
So, there was a person telling a story and he [was] playing a xylophone.
Caption 28, La Sub30 - Familias - Part 4Play Caption
Y as in yuca (yucca)
Aquí tenemos la yuca,
Here we have the yucca,
Caption 7, Recetas de cocina - CarimañolasPlay Caption
Z as in zona (zone)
Es la primera vez que vengo a esta zona de la ciudad
It's the first time I've come to this area of the cityPlay Caption
If you want to improve your pronunciation of the Spanish alphabet, please take a look at the following audio clips where Marta, one of our Spanish teachers, will teach you how to properly pronounce the Spanis alphabet letters:
A, be, ce, de, e,
A, b, c, d, e,
Caption 19, Fundamentos del Español - 1 - El AlfabetoPlay Caption
efe, ge, hache, i, jota,
f, g, h, i, j,
Caption 20, Fundamentos del Español - 1 - El AlfabetoPlay Caption
ka, ele, eme, ene, eñe,
k, l, m, n, ñ,
Caption 21, Fundamentos del Español - 1 - El AlfabetoPlay Caption
o, pe, cu, erre, ese,
o, p, q, r, s,
Caption 22, Fundamentos del Español - 1 - El AlfabetoPlay Caption
te, u, uve, uve doble,
t, u, v, w,
Caption 23, Fundamentos del Español - 1 - El AlfabetoPlay Caption
equis, i griega
x, y [literally: "Greek i"]
Caption 24, Fundamentos del Español - 1 - El AlfabetoPlay Caption
Caption 25, Fundamentos del Español - 1 - El AlfabetoPlay Caption
Keep in mind that you can also refer to the letter W as doble ve (double v) or doble u (double u). Similarly, you can also call the letter Y ye instead of i griega (Greek i).
That's it for now. If you feel like practicing a little bit more, try to write one word with each one of the 27 Spanish alphabet letters. And of course, don’t forget to send us your feedback and suggestions.
Let’s talk about accentuation and pronunciation. Today, we’ll discuss the so-called palabras esdrújulas (proparoxytone words). That’s a weird name, isn’t? Before we talk about palabras esdrújulas, we need to remember something important.
As we previously mentioned, all words in Spanish are stressed on one syllable. Depending on where that stress falls, words are divided into the following groups:
Palabras agudas (oxytone words) | accent on the last syllable
Palabras graves (paroxytone words) | accent on the second-to-last syllable
Palabras esdrújulas (proparoxytone words) | accent on the third-to-last syllable
Palabras sobresdrújulas (over-proparoxytone words) | accent on any syllable before the third-to-last syllable
Let’s get into palabras esdrújulas with the following example:
Palabras como micrófono, pirámide
Words like "micrófono," [microphone], "pirámide" [pyramid]Play Caption
The word micrófono has four syllables (mi | cró | fo | no) and the stress goes on the third-to-last syllable “cró.” Similarly, the word pirámide has four syllables (pi | rá | mi |de) and the stress also goes on the third-to-last syllable “rá.”
If you noticed it, the two proparoxytone words that we just mentioned bear a graphic accent (tilde) on their stressed syllables. And that’s exactly the beauty of the palabras esdrújulas. Unlike palabras agudas and palabras graves, which follow complex rules regarding the use of the graphic accent, the esdrújulas ALWAYS need to have a graphic accent. Let’s see more examples:
También nos dedicamos a música clásica.
Also, we do classical music.
Caption 13, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana PatyPlay Caption
ya construimos la cámara para grabar la película.
we already built the camera to film the movie.Play Caption
Yo realmente prefiero no dar mi número de mi tarjeta de crédito por teléfono.
I really prefer not to give my credit card number on the phone.
Caption 50, Cleer y Lida Reservando una habitaciónPlay Caption
As you can see from the examples above, there are lots of palabras esdrújulas in the Spanish language and some of them are quite common. Before we go, one last curious thing to remember:
The word esdrújula is also a esdrújula word!
That's it for now. If you feel like practicing a little bit more, take one of our videos and try to find all the proparoxytone words in it. And of course, don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to email@example.com.
As with any other language, Spanish can be tricky sometimes. Do you know how to use the word entorno? What about the expression en torno? Which one would you use in the following sentence:
Fuengirola es un importante punto turístico. Su economía gira ________ a este sector.
Fuengirola is an important touristic spot. Its economy revolves around this sector.
Captions 12-13, Fuengirola - MercadoPlay Caption
What about this sentence:
encontró en su _________ un atractivo natural para los amantes del ecoturismo
found in its environment a natural beauty for the lovers of ecotourism
Caption 94, Tecnópolis - El CoronilPlay Caption
Let’s find out what the answer is.
To begin with, entorno is a noun and the meaning of this word is environment or surroundings. However, it is important to say that entorno encompasses the same broad meaning of the English word “environment,” meaning “the circumstances, objects, or conditions by which one is surrounded.” Let’s take a look at some examples:
... las calles, la gente... lo que es el entorno urbano.
... the streets, the people... what the urban environment is.
Captions 39-40, Leif - El Arquitecto Español y su Arte - Part 1Play Caption
para modificar el entorno, desarrolló herramientas, ¿no?
in order to modify the environment, he developed tools, right?
Caption 50, Lo que no sabías - Arte electrónico - Part 2Play Caption
Regarding the last example, the word entorno is very common in information and computer science, especially when talking about the features that define the execution and placement of a particular application.
As far as the expression en torno goes, we can use it to mean about, around or approximately. Let’s take a look:
que hay en torno a cincuenta millones, eh, hispanohablantes en Estados Unidos.
that there there are about fifty million, um, Spanish speakers in the United States.
Captions 42-43, El Instituto Cervantes - Director del InstitutoPlay Caption
Puede andar en torno a los dos mil seiscientos...
It could be around two thousand six hundred...
Caption 50, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 13Play Caption
Finally, keep in mind that en torno is either followed by the preposition a or the preposition de:
That's it for this lesson. Now that you know the difference between entorno and en torno, you can answer the questions we posed at the beginning, right? And don’t forget to send us your feedback and suggestions.
In this lesson we’ll talk about Spanish words that have the accent on the second-to last syllable. We call these words palabras graves. In a previous lesson, we talked about palabras agudas, which are words with the accent on the last syllable.
Before we talk about palabras graves, let’s briefly discuss the meaning of the word “accent” in Spanish.
When we pronounce words in Spanish, the accent is the emphasis we give to a particular syllable of a word. We create that emphasis by giving the syllable a greater intensity, a longer duration, or a higher pitch. With that in mind, let’s review the way we categorize words in Spanish, according to their accent:
Now we can focus on palabras graves, which are also known as palabras llanas. Let’s look at a couple of words:
Palabras como "lápiz" o "cereza" son palabras graves.
Words like "lápiz" [pencil] or "cereza" [cherry] are paroxytone words.Play Caption
The word lápiz has two syllables (lá | piz) and the accent goes on the second-to-last syllable “lá.” Similarly, the word cereza has three syllables (ce | re | za) and the accent also goes on the second-to-last syllable “re.”
We note that the word lápiz has a graphic accent (tilde) on the “á,” while the “e” in the second-to-last syllable of cereza doesn’t have that accent.
Why not? It’s because paroxytone words need that graphic accent ONLY if they DO NOT end with “n,” “s,” or a vowel: Cereza ends in a vowel, so we don’t need the tilde.
y luego pasa en botella, donde se añade azúcar y eh... levadura.
and then goes into the bottle, where sugar is added and um... yeast.Play Caption
The word azúcar has three syllables (a | zú | car) and the accent goes on the second-to-last syllable “zú”. Since this word doesn’t end in “n,” “s” or a vowel, we need to put a tilde on the vowel of the second-to-last syllable.
La vida de músico es muy difícil, Kevin, es muy sacrificada.
The musician's life is very difficult, Kevin, it's very demanding.
Caption 16, Los Años Maravillosos - Capítulo 3 - Part 8Play Caption
Likewise, the word difícil (di | fí | cil) has the accent on the second-to-last syllable “fí” and we need to put the graphic accent on the “í” since this word ends in a consonant (“l”), which is neither an “n,” an “s” nor a vowel.
There are, however, many palabras graves in Spanish that don’t need a graphic accent. Let’s take a look:
El lunes, por ejemplo, fui a trabajar.
On Monday for example, I went to work.
Caption 6, El Aula Azul La Doctora Consejos - El pasadoPlay Caption
Both lunes ( lu | nes) and ejemplo (e | jem | plo) have the accent on the second-to-last syllable. However, since lunes ends in “s” and ejemplo ends in a vowel, neither word needs the tilde.
One last thing: There are many words that are agudas in the singular and graves in the plural. Take a look at the following list (stressed syllable are in boldface):
That's it for now. If you feel like practicing a little bit more, take one of our videos and try to find all the paroxytone words with and without a tilde. And of course, don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions.
Let’s start this lesson with a short quiz. Imagine that you want to say the following sentence in Spanish:
“There were many books in that apartment.” You have two options:
a. Había muchos libros en ese apartamento
b. Habían muchos libros en ese apartamento
Which one is the correct form? Había in singular or habían in plural?
To answer our question, we need to say that había and habían belong to the imperfect tense of the Spanish verb haber. Let’s take a look at that conjugation:
Now, very often, we use the verb haber as the auxiliary verb “to have”:
...todas las cosas que había estado buscando, ¿no?
...all the things that I had been looking for, right?
Caption 5, Belanova - Entrevista - Part 2Play Caption
However, in the sentence we are discussing here, we are not using haber as the auxiliary verb “to have,” but rather as an element that allows us to make a reference to the existence of many books in a particular place (the apartment). In other words, we are using haber as the equivalent of there is / there are in English.
When we use haber with that intention, we ALWAYS have to use its singular form even if what comes after it is a plural noun! Because of that, the correct answer to our opening question is the following:
a. Había muchos libros en ese apartamento
Now that we understand that we need to use the singular había and not the plural form habían, let’s look at a couple of examples of how to properly use había when talking about the presence or existence of things or people in a particular place:
Aquí había unas comidas para llevar.
There were some takeout places here.
Caption 8, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 10Play Caption
porque había diferentes explicaciones de…
because there were different explanations of…
Caption 31, El Aula Azul - Dos historiasPlay Caption
porque había muchos obstáculos para ese encuentro.
because there were many obstacles for that meeting.
Caption 34, La Sub30 - Familias - Part 4Play Caption
y había muchos seres extraños
and there were many strange beings.
Caption 43, Salvando el planeta Palabra - Llegada - Part 3Play Caption
no había máquinas de estas,
there were no machines like these,Play Caption
By the way, it is worth saying that many Spanish speakers make the mistake of using habían instead of había in the context we just discussed. In fact, many people think that what comes after the verb haber is the subject of the sentence, which is not the case.
That’s it for now. We hope this lesson will help you to avoid making this very common mistake in Spanish. And don’t forget to send us your feedback and suggestions.
Let's talk about stress. In Spanish, all words are stressed on one syllable. Depending on the syllable where that stress falls, words in Spanish are divided into the following four groups:
Palabras agudas (Oxytone words) | Last syllable
Palabras graves (Paroxytone words) | Second-to-last syllable
Palabras esdrújulas (Proparoxytone words) | Third-to-last syllable
Palabras sobresdrújulas (Over-proparoxytone words) | Any syllable before the third-to-last syllable
Today, we will talk about palabras agudas. Let’s look at a couple of words:
Palabras como "corazón" o "tambor" son palabras agudas.
Words like "corazón" [heart] or "tambor" [drum] are oxytone words.Play Caption
The word corazón has three syllables (co | ra | zón) and the stress falls on the last syllable “zón.” Similarly, the word tambor has two syllables (tam | bor) and the stress falls on the last syllable “bor.”
However, the word corazón has an accent mark (tilde) on top of the “ó,” while the “o” in the last syllable of tambor doesn’t have that accent. Why? Because oxytone words need that accent ONLY when they end in “n”, in “s” or in a vowel:
La manera más simple de llegar a Barcelona es con el autobús
The simplest way to get to Barcelona is by bus
Caption 27, Blanca - Cómo moverse en BarcelonaPlay Caption
El coquí es un sapito que tenemos aquí en Puerto Rico.
The coquí is a little frog that we have here in Puerto Rico.
Caption 31, Carli Muñoz - Niñez - Part 1Play Caption
The word autobús has three syllables (au | to | bús) and the stress falls on the last syllable. Since this word ends in “s,” we need to put a tilde on the vowel of the last syllable. Likewise, the word coquí (co | quí) is stressed on the last syllable and we need to put the tilde on the “í” since this word ends in a vowel.
Important! In Spanish the accent mark ( ´ ) can only be placed on top of a vowel.
There are many oxytone words in Spanish. In fact, all verbs in the infinitive are palabras agudas:
¿Quieres tomar algo de beber, Raquel?
Do you want to have something to drink, Raquel?
Caption 22, Raquel - PresentacionesPlay Caption
Both tomar ( to | mar) and beber (be | ber) have two syllables and the stress falls on the last one. However, since they both end in “r,” the accent mark is not needed.
That's it for now. If you feel like practicing a little bit more, take one of our videos and try to find all the oxytone words without a tilde. And of course, don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.