Spanish Lessons


Some Unique Words and Expressions

Let's review some unique Spanish words that you may not have 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 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

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

Y esta parte se llama entrecejo.

And this part is called "entrecejo" [the space between the eyebrows].

Caption 16, Marta de Madrid - El cuerpo - La cabeza

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

...para obtener las clásicas chapitas de Pikachu. get the classic Pikachu rosy cheeks.

Caption 25, Manos a la obra - Separadores de libros: Pikachu

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Do you know any Spanish words or expressions used to describe different types of rain? The expressions está chispeando and está lloviznando both 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 other end, when the rain is really heavy, people may use the noun tormenta (storm) to describe it, though aguacero (downpour) is also very common:

Aguacero de mayo, me lleva, papá

May downpour, it's taking me away, man

Caption 44, Kikirikí - Animales

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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 were 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 set of unique Spanish words is the group 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

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Estaba en la casa de mi suegra y mi cuñada,

I was in my mother-in-law's house, and my sister-in-law,

la hermana de mi marido...

my husband's sister...

Caption 52, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro

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


A Word Set Apart

Cognates are words in two languages that share a similar meaning, spelling, and pronunciation and are a great tool for expanding your vocabulary. However when learning cognates, you must also learn how to use them correctly. Take for example the word aparte (apart). In one of our newest videos we hear Cleer using it:



¿Puedo ordenarla sin cebolla y con el aderezo aparte?

Can I order it without onions and with the dressing on the side?

Caption 44, Cata y Cleer - En el restaurante

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In this case, English generally uses the expression "on the side" and not the cognate "apart" to translate aparte, even though expressions such as "can I have the dressing apart" or "serve the dressing apart" are not necessarily incorrect. On the other hand, Spanish does have an equivalent expression to "on the side": a un lado, which, in this case, you can certainly use instead of aparte¿Puedo ordenarla sin cebolla y con el aderezo a un lado? 

The word aparte is used a lot in Spanish. It could mean "besides, apart from, aside, as well, other than that" etcetera. For example:

...pero en lugar de ponerle nada más el caldito del piloncillo, aparte, se le va poniendo una leche, evaporada.

...but instead of putting into it only the little brown sugar cone broth, besides, one starts putting into it some milk, evaporated [milk].

Captions 46-48, Recetas - Capirotada

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It's very common to combine the word aparte with the preposition de. 


Pues, pero aparte de eso, para mí lo más importante es la seguridad.

Well, but besides that, for me, the most important thing is safety.

Caption 33, La Sub30 - Familias - Part 13

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So you can use the expression aparte de as an equivalent of "apart from" meaning "besides" or "other than that":


Y... aparte de la música, me gusta patinar.

And... apart from music, I like to skate.

Caption 14, Zoraida - Lo que gusta hacer

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Sometimes you would need the verbs separar (to separate) or apartar (to put or get apart) for expressions that in English require the word "apart." For example, while in English you say "I'm never apart from you," you can't really say nunca estoy aparte de ti in Spanish. Spanish speakers would rather say nunca me aparto de ti or nunca me separo de ti.


Tiene un valor muy importante para mí... jamás me separo de esa foto.

It has a very important value for me... I'm never apart from that photo.

Caption 6, Yago - 3 La foto - Part 8

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Spanish doesn't use aparte in the same way English uses "apart" to talk about difference or separation in time, for example:


Como se llevan cuatro años de diferencia.

Since they are four years apart.

Caption 26, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro - Part 1

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So if you want to express the idea "they were born four years apart" you would say nacieron con cuatro años de diferencia [or separación]. 
Spanish also uses the verb separar (to separate) in cases where English uses expressions such as "put apart," "drive apart," "come apart," etc.:


Nos separa tu temor

Your fear tears us apart

Caption 5, Ha*Ash - Lo que yo sé de ti

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Or even verbs like deshacer (to undo):

Evidentemente, al cocer, se va a deshacer, se va a desmenuzar.

Evidently, upon cooking, it is going to come apart, it's going to crumble.

Caption 20, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli - Part 6

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Instead of the dramatic "tear apart" Spanish would use the prosaic abrir (to open):


Nos abrimos el pecho

We tear our chest apart

Caption 15, San Pascualito Rey - Hoy no es mi día

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On Fault vs Falta

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

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


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

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

Que una misma persona cometiera distintas faltas de hurto.

That one person committed different robbery offenses.

Caption 49, Los Reporteros - Crecen los robos en tiendas - Part 4

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Also, in academic or laboral contexts, una falta means "an absence." If you don't go to school tu 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 hace falta un aguacate que voy a hacer una ensalada, eh.

I need one avocado and I'll make a salad, uh.

Caption 43, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 16

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Hoy estamos protestando por la falta de agua.

Today we are protesting because of the water shortage.

Caption 49, Kikirikí - Agua - Part 2

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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 27, Yago - 8 Descubrimiento - Part 6

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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

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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

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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

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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

Captions 6-7, Café Tacuba - Eres

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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 and 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

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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

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


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