Spanish Lessons

Topics

Extranjerismos: Foreign Words Used in Spanish

Just like any other language, Spanish has adopted many words from different languages and cultures. These words are known in Spanish as extranjerismos, a term that comes from the word extranjero (foreign). That said, let's take a look at some of the most common words in Spanish that come from other languages.

banner4 PLACEHOLDER

Arabismos- Words from the Arab World

Throughout the Middle Ages, the Spanish language adopted several Arabic words. Let's see some of them:

 

Alcalde (mayor)- from the original word alqáḍi

Soy Miguel Ángel Herrera, alcalde de Genalguacil,

I'm Miguel Angel Herrera, mayor of Genalguacil,

Captions 2-3, Viajando con Fermín Genalguacil - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

Álgebra (algebra)- from the original word algĕbra

el álgebra, que estudia las estructuras abstractas,

algebra, which studies abstract structures,

Captions 48-49, Carlos explica Vocabulario de las matemáticas - Part 1

 Play Caption

 

Azúcar (sugar)- from the original word assúkkar

con media taza de azúcar

with half a cup of sugar,

Caption 25, Ana Carolina Ponche navideño

 Play Caption

 

Guitarra (guitar)- from the original word qīṯārah

aprendí a tocar la guitarra de una manera diferente

I learned to play the guitar in a different manner

Caption 55, Luis Guitarra Influencias musicales - Part 1

 Play Caption

 

Naranja (orange)- from the original word naranǧa

saben a naranja.

taste like orange.

Caption 34, Ariana Cita médica

 Play Caption

 

If you hear the way Ariana pronounces the word naranja, you can notice the strong sound of the letter "j," which is a sound that the Spanish language took from the Arabic language. 

 

Galicismos- Words of French Origin

Just like in the English language, Spanish has also adopted many words derived from French. Let's see some of the most popular ones:

 

Bulevar (boulevard)- from the original word boulevard

hasta lo que hoy es conocido como el Bulevar donostiarra,

to what is known today as the "Bulevar donostiarra" [Donostiarra Boulevard]

Caption 28, Días festivos La Tamborrada de San Sebastián

 Play Caption

 

Chofer or chófer (driver)- from the original word chauffeur

que Amalia se quedó con él y con el chofer, ¿sí?

because Amalia stayed with him and with the driver, right?

Caption 28, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 2 - Part 9

 Play Caption

 

Élite or Elite (elite)- from the original word élite

unas estructuras de poder muy basadas en la élite, en la exclusión.

some power structures [that were] very based on the elite, on exclusion.

Caption 12, Los Tiempos de Pablo Escobar Capítulo 1 - Part 1

 Play Caption

 

Indigenismos- Words from Indigenous Languages

Many words from various indigenous Latin American cultures were incorporated into the Spanish language after the arrival of the Spaniards to the Americas. The following are some of the most popular words:

 

Caucho (rubber)- from the original Quechua word kawchu

Ellos jugaban con una pelota de caucho

They played with a rubber ball

Caption 85, Guillermo el chamán La cosmología de los mayas

 Play Caption

 

Maraca (maraca)- from the original Guaraní word mbaracá

guitarra, cuatro, güiro, maraca, bongo,

guitar, cuatro, güiro, maraca, bongo [drum],

Caption 32, Sonido Babel La plena de Puerto Rico

 Play Caption

 

Papa (potato)- from the original Quechua word papa

En los Andes se usa mucha papa y muchas cremas.

In the Andes, many potatoes are used and many creams.

Captions 75-76, Recetas de cocina Papa a la Huancaína

 Play Caption

 

Tomate (tomato)- from the original Nahuatl word tomatl

¿Qué es realmente el tomate?

What really is the tomato?

Caption 30, Fermín Ensalada de tomate

 Play Caption

 

banner2 PLACEHOLDER

 

Italianismos- Words from the Italian Language

Many Italian words made their way into the Spanish language during the Renaissance. Let's check out two of them:

 

Balcón (balcony)- from the original word balcone

Tomo unos mates en el balcón

I have some servings of mate on the balcony

Caption 7, GoSpanish La rutina diaria de Sol

 Play Caption

 

Novela (novel)- from the original word novella

basada en una novela de Paul van Loon

based on a novel by Paul van Loon

Caption 4, Europa Abierta Fucsia la pequeña bruja

 Play Caption

 

Anglicismos- Words from the English language

And last but not least, we have extranjerismos that come from the English language. Here a few:

 

Club (club)

que hagan un perímetro por dentro y por fuera del club, vaya.

that they should surround us inside and outside the club, come on.

Caption 13, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 5 - Part 12

 Play Caption

 

Fútbol or futbol (football/soccer)

El fútbol es un deporte que fue inventado en Inglaterra

Soccer is a sport that was invented in England

Caption 8, Sergio El fútbol en España

 Play Caption

 

In this translation, we used the word "soccer" instead of "football." However, the Spanish word comes from the original British term "football."

 

Líder (leader)

La India Catalina era la líder de la tribu indígena que habitó en la ciudad, anteriormente llamada la Isla Calamarí.

India Catalina was the leader of the indigenous tribe who inhabited the city, previously called Calamari Island.

Captions 26-27, Viajando en Colombia Cartagena en coche - Part 3

 Play Caption

 

Turista (tourist)

una ciudad cosmopolita, luminosa y que pone al servicio del turista una amplia variedad de infraestructuras.

a cosmopolitan, luminous city that puts at the service of the tourist a wide variety of infrastructures.

Captions 10-11, Málaga Semana Santa

 Play Caption

 

That's all for this lesson. We hope you enjoyed this list of foreign-influenced words in Spanish. Can you think of any additional extranjerismos in Spanish? Don't forget to let us know with your comments and suggestions. ¡Hasta la próxima!

banner4 PLACEHOLDER

 

Signup to get Free Spanish Lessons sent by email



Gender of Inanimate Objects in Spanish

Let's talk about gender. How do you know if a word like leche (milk) or mapa (map) is feminine or masculine? Let's explore some rules (and exceptions) that will help you to identify the gender of inanimate objects in Spanish. Please, keep in mind that we will use the definite articles el (masculine) and la (feminine) in order to better recognize the gender of the nouns we are mentioning throughout this article. 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

 

Nouns ending in -o and -a

Generally speaking, nouns that end in -o are masculine while those ending in -a are feminine. Let's see some of the most common objects that follow this rule:

 

Masculine nouns ending in -o:

El libro (the book)

El baño (the bathroom)

El piano (the piano)

El diccionario (the dictionary)

El asiento (the seat)

 

Feminine nouns ending in -a:

La casa (the house)

La cama (the bed)

La lámpara (the lamp)

La cocina (the kitchen)

La caja (the box)

 

However, there are some exceptions to this rule. Let's look at some of the most common ones.

 

Feminine nouns ending in -o:

 

La mano derecha se colocará en esta posición llamada acorde de LA mayor.

The right hand will be placed in this position called A major chord.

Caption 1, Curso de guitarra - Para los que empiezan desde cero

 Play Caption

 

Es la foto de mis abuelos, es mi familia.

It's a photo of my grandparents. It's my family.

Caption 5, Yago - 3 La foto

 Play Caption

 

Masculine nouns ending in -a:

 

Y bueno, el día llega a su fin, y llegas a casa a relajarte.

And well, the day comes to an end, and you get home to relax.

Captions 80-81, Natalia de Ecuador - Vocabulario de prendas de vestir

 Play Caption

 

Por ejemplo: problema, el problema, mapa, el mapa.

For example: problem, the problem, map, the map.

Captions 16-17, Isabel - El Género Gramatical - Masculino y Femenino

 Play Caption

 

¿Y pudieron conocer el planeta de su amigo?

And were you able to see your friend's planet?

Caption 31, Guillermina y Candelario - Un marciano en la playa

 Play Caption

 

Cuando utilizamos el idioma español.

When we use the Spanish language.

Entonces, vamos a hablar entonces ya.

So, then we are going to talk now.

Captions 5-6, Lecciones con Carolina - Errores comunes

 Play Caption

 

Nouns ending in -e, -i, -u or a consonant

There is no particular rule for this group. Some of the nouns here are masculine while others are feminine. Some examples:

 

Eh... los ordeñadores pasan a

Um... the milkers go on to

pesar la leche para ver la cantidad que produce cada una.

weigh the milk to check the quantity that each one produces.

Captions 54-55, Gustavo Adolfo - Su finca lechera

 Play Caption

 

Se arma el árbol, el pesebre, los niños llevan sus instrumentos musicales.

The tree is set up, the manger, the children carry their musical instruments.

Caption 40, Lida y Cleer - Buñuelos

 Play Caption

 

La India Catalina era la líder de la tribu indígena.

India Catalina was the leader of the indigenous tribe.

Caption 26, Viajando en Colombia - Cartagena en coche

 Play Caption

 

Most nouns ending in -aje, -ambre, -án, -or or in a stressed vowel tend to be masculine

Let's look at some examples in this group:

 

Me relajo y contemplo el paisaje.

I relax and I look at the landscape.

Captions 30-31, Natalia de Ecuador - Los adverbios de orden

 Play Caption

 

Cuando me llega el dolor yo me arreglo

When pain hits me I manage

Caption 6, Jorge Celedón, Vicentico - Si Me Dejan

 Play Caption

 

¿Puedo ver el menú por favor?

Can I see the menu please?

Caption 12, Cata y Cleer - En el restaurante

 Play Caption

 

Most nouns ending in -cia, -ción, -dad, -eza, -ie, -itis, -nza, -sión, -tad, -tud and -umbre are feminine

 

La ciencia nunca falla, caballero.

Science never fails, sir.

Caption 39, Los casos de Yabla - Problemas de convivencia

 Play Caption

 

La acentuación es la acción y efecto de acentuar.

Accentuation is the action and effect of accenting.

Caption 13, Carlos explica - Acentuación Cap. 1: Conceptos básicos

 Play Caption

 

Mi hijo quiere estudiar inglés o japonés el próximo año en la universidad.

My son wants to study English or Japanese next year in college.

Caption 25, Lecciones con Carolina - Conjunciones disyuntivas

 Play Caption

 

Nouns that belong to the following categories are masculine

 

1. Oceans, lakes and rivers

 

Tenemos el océano Pacífico y el océano Atlántico.

We have the Pacific ocean and the Atlantic ocean.

Caption 24, Melany de Guatemala - País de la Eterna Primavera

 Play Caption

 

2. Days of the week

 

El martes, también salí por la noche.

On Tuesday, I also went out at night.

Caption 11, El Aula Azul - La Doctora Consejos: El pasado

 Play Caption

 

3. Numbers

 

Y que el cien por cien de las ganancias pues iban destinadas a la coalición española.

And one hundred percent of the profits were going to the Spanish coalition.

Caption 45, David Bisbal - Haciendo Premonición Live

 Play Caption

 

4. Colors

 

El azul, donde echamos el papel, cartón, revistas.

The blue one, where we throw away paper, cardboard, magazines.

Caption 4, Rosa - Reciclar

 Play Caption

 

Nouns that belong to the following categories are feminine

 

1. Names of islands

 

Eh... Les recomiendo que vengan a visitar las islas Galápagos.

Um... I recommend that you come to visit the Galapagos Islands.

Caption 1, Galápagos - Una visita a este archipiélago

 Play Caption

 

2. Names of roads

 

Que queda ubicado sobre la Avenida Jiménez.

Which is located on Jiminez Avenue.

Caption 47, Bogotá - Chorro de Quevedo

 Play Caption

 

3. Names of letters

 

Me gustaría referirme a la pronunciación de dos letras,

I'd like to refer to the pronunciation of two letters,

la "elle" y la "ye".

the "double l" and the "y."

Captions 6-8, Carlos y Cyndy - La pronunciación en Colombia y Argentina

 Play Caption

 

Nouns with gender ambiguity

There are some inanimate nouns that can be either feminine or masculine, which means both forms are accepted.

 

El mar / la mar (the sea). For this noun, the masculine form is used more often.

El maratón / la maratón (the marathon). Both forms are accepted.

El arte / las artes (the arts). Usually the masculine form is used in the singular and the feminine one in the plural.

El sartén / la sartén (the pan). While the masculine noun is the most frequently used, some countries in the Americas tend to favor the feminine form.

 

Gender of 'almost' identical nouns

There are various words that are almost identical but they differ in meaning. Very often, indeed, you can fully grasp that difference by bringing the gender variable into it. Let's see some examples:

 

El cuchillo (the knife) / La cuchilla (the blade)

El barco (the ship) / La barca (the boat)

El bolso (the purse) / La bolsa (the bag)

El puerto (the port) / la puerta (the door)

El cuadro (the painting) / La cuadra (the block)

El manzano (the apple tree) / La manzana (the apple)

 

That's it for today. We hope you find this lesson useful and we invite you to send us your comments and suggestions.

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

¡Hasta la próxima!

Signup to get Free Spanish Lessons sent by email



You May Also Like