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Das Verb contar und seine verschiedenen Bedeutungen

Kennst du das Verb contar und seine Bedeutungen im Spanischen? Abgesehen von den gebräuchlichsten Übersetzungen erfährst du hier, in welchen Kontexten das Verb verwendet wird.

 

 

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Contar für „erzählen“

Eine der häufigsten Bedeutungen von contar ist „erzählen“.

 

Abuelo, te voy a contar un secreto.

Großvater, ich werde dir ein Geheimnis erzählen (verraten).

Caption 9, Guillermina y Candelario Mi Primer Tesoro

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Soy Rosa Chaparro y os voy a contar la historia de Mika.

Ich bin Rosa Chaparro und ich werde dir die Geschichte von Mika erzählen.

Caption 2, Rosa La perrita Mika

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Contar für „zählen“

Wir verwenden das Verb contar auch, wenn wir Dinge beziffern oder „zählen“ wollen:

 

Y vamos contando cuántas hierbas tenemos, ¿sí?

Und wir zählen, wie viele Kräuter wir haben, ja?

Caption 47, Otavalo Proyecto familiar Kawsaymi - Part 7

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Es ist also eine Sache, zu zählen (contar los números) und eine ganz andere Sache, Geschichten zu erzählen (contar historias). Der Kontext sollte jedoch deutlich machen, welche Bedeutung gemeint ist. Und die folgenden Clips mit Luis Guitarra veranschaulichen das sehr gut:

 

Para contar los números, podemos usar los dedos de nuestras manos.

Um zu zählen, können wir die Finger unserer Hände benutzen.

Captions 5-6, Luis Guitarra Aprendiendo a contar

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Con él, yo aprendí a contar historias.

Mit ihm habe ich gelernt, Geschichten zu erzählen.

Caption 71, Luis Guitarra Influencias musicales - Part 1

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Contar con als Alternative für tener (haben)

Rafael, der Sprecher in den folgenden Clips, verwendet durchweg das Verb contar in Verbindung mit der Präposition con, wo man eigentlich tener (haben) erwarten würde.  Schau dir das mal an:

 

Cuando uno ya cuenta con familia...

Wenn man schon eine Familie hat...

Caption 11, Rafael T. - Viaje al norte

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Yo cuento con una... con una farmacia, con una mini-farmacia.

Ich besitze eine... eine Apotheke, eine Mini-Apotheke.

Caption 18, Rafael T. - Viaje al norte

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Obwohl die wörtliche Bedeutung mitzählen ist, meint Rafael mit contar con (wenn er über eine Familie spricht), dass man eine Familie „hat", während dasselbe Verb im Beispiel mit der Apotheke mit „besitzen" übersetzt wird. Schauen wir uns einen weiteren Clip von unserem Freund Fermín an:

 

Por supuesto, tenemos la suerte de contar con una señora británica que se encarga de controlar que los gatos callejeros que viven aquí

Natürlich haben wir das Glück, eine britische Dame zu haben, die sich darum kümmert, dass die Straßenkatzen, die hier leben …

Captions 20-21, Fermín y los gatos Mis gatas vecinas

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Wir sehen also, dass „haben“ oder „besitzen“ beides mögliche Übersetzungen für contar con sind.

 

Contar con in einem anderen Kontext

Wenn jemand hingegen fragt "¿Puedo contar contigo?", will er nicht wissen, ob er dich „haben“ kann, sondern ob er „auf dich zählen“ kann. Schauen wir uns ein paar Beispiele für contar con mit dieser Bedeutung an.

 

cuente con mi apoyo y con la embajada para lo que se le ofrezca.

Zählen Sie auf meine Unterstützung und auf die Botschaft, wenn Sie etwas brauchen.

Caption 42, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 4 - Part 4

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sabes que puedes contar conmigo, ¿sí? -Bueno.

Du weißt, dass du dich auf mich verlassen kannst, OK? -OK.

Caption 71, Muñeca Brava 36 La pesquisa - Part 6

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Sin contar con

Für sin contar oder sin contar con, ist die Übersetzung ins Deutsche immer abhängig vom Kontext. Zwei Möglichkeiten dafür wären zum Beispiel „nicht zu erwähnen“ oder „ohne zu berücksichtigen“.
Schauen wir uns ein paar Clips aus unserer Serie Confidencial an: Confidencial: El rey de la estafa:

 

Eso sin contar los lujos que te debes dar

Ganz zu schweigen von dem Luxus, den du dir gönnst

Caption 21, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 3 - Part 8

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Eso, sin contar con la publicidad que vais a recibir

Das, ohne zu berücksichtigen, wieviel Publicity du bekommen wirst.

Captions 52-53, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 5 - Part 5

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Hoffentlich hat dir die Lektion geholfen das wunderbare und wichtige Wort „contar“ besser zu verstehen.  Und wir freuen uns sehr über deine Vorschläge und Kommentare

 

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¡Feliz Halloween! (Happy Halloween!)

Today's lesson will highlight clips from our Yabla Spanish library to teach you some pertinent terms to talk about many people's favorite holiday... Halloween!!! So get ready, and enjoy this lesson about Halloween in Spanish!

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How do you say Halloween in Spanish?

Although Halloween is primarily thought of as a North American holiday, its fun festivities have been adopted by many countries throughout the world. When we speak about Halloween in Spanish, we typically keep its English name:

 

Esta noche es Halloween y seguro que muchas veces habéis pensado disfrazaros con vuestra mascota

Tonight is Halloween and surely you've thought many times of dressing up with your pet

Captions 137-138, Animales en familia Un día en Bioparc: Coatís

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This caption describes the common Halloween costumbre (custom) of disfrazarse (dressing up). You'll note from the previous sentence that costumbre means "custom" or "tradition" rather than "costume" as you might think, making it somewhat of a false cognate. On the other hand, the correct way to say "the costume" in Spanish is el disfraz.

 

Ay, Aurelito, ¿me prestarías un disfraz?

Oh, Aurelito, would you lend me a costume?

Caption 32, Club 10 Capítulo 1 - Part 2

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What other vocabulary words might we associate with Halloween? We might start by reviewing some Spanish vocabulary for the autumn season since Halloween falls at that time of year. We could then move on to some of Halloween's personajes más espeluznantes (spookiest characters).

 

Halloween Characters in Spanish

Let's look at some video clips that include the names of some of the most typical Halloween characters:

 

¿Quién no ha querido a una diosa licántropa

Who hasn't loved a werewolf goddess?

Caption 5, Shakira Loba

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porque sí sé... ahí está el monstruo.

because I know... here's the monster.

Caption 29, Antonio Vargas - Artista Comic

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El fantasma y la loca se quieren casar

The ghost and the madwoman want to get married

Caption 24, Gloria Trevi Psicofonía

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En la época, eran utilizadas para espantar las brujas 

In the era, they were used to scare away witches

Caption 46, Viajando en Colombia Cartagena en coche - Part 2

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And speaking of espantar (to scare away), let's look at some additional Spanish words that mean "to scare," "be scared," or "scary."
 

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"Scary" Halloween Terms

To Scare:

Let's look at another verb that means "to frighten" or "scare": 

 

o cuando hay una fecha importante, ellos salen... a divertir y a asustar a la gente porque están como unos diablos.

or when there is an important date, they go out... to amuse and to frighten people because they're [dressed] like devils.

Captions 45-46, El Trip Ibiza

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And, in addition to asustar, we learn the word for another Halloween character: un diablo (a devil). Let's see another verb that means "to scare": 

 

¡Me da miedo! -¡Ahí te tienes que quedar, ya está!

It scares me! -There you have to stay, ready!

Caption 24, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 7

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Note that the noun el miedo means "the fear," and the verb dar miedo (literally "to give fear") can thus mean either "to scare" or "be scary." When employed in conjunction with an indirect object pronoun to indicate to whom this action is happening (le in this case, which corresponds with usted), the most common translation is "to scare," as we see in this caption. 

 

To Be Scared:

So, what if we want to say that we "are" or "feel scared"? A common verb for this is tener miedo (literally "to have fear"), as seen in this caption with the Halloween-appropriate noun la oscuridad (the dark/darkness):

 

¡Porque le tiene miedo a la oscuridad!

Because he's afraid of the dark!

Caption 24, Guillermina y Candelario El parque de diversiones - Part 2

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The reflexive form of asustar, asustarse, also means "to be" or "get scared":

 

Aparecieron unos cazadores, y el patito se asustó mucho

Some hunters appeared, and the duckling got really scared

Caption 36, Cleer El patito feo

 Play Caption

 

Yet another way to talk about being "scared" in Spanish is with adjectives like asustado (scared) or aterrorizado (terrified): 

 

Llegan muy asustados, muy aterrorizados,

They arrive very scared, very terrified,

Caption 25, Los Reporteros Caza con Galgo - Part 3

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For more on the ways in which verbs, adjectives, and nouns can be used to describe our feelings, be sure to check out our lesson on expressing emotions in Spanish

 

Scary:

Let's conclude this section with a few ways to express the concept of "scary":

 

¡Uy, qué miedo!

Oh, how scary!

Caption 21, Guillermina y Candelario La Peluqueria del Mar - Part 1

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Literally meaning "What fear!" the Spanish expression ¡Qué miedo! is a common way to say "how scary" something is. We can also use our previously-mentioned verb dar miedo (this time without the indirect object pronoun) to convey the idea of "being scary":

 

Eh... Sí. Lo desconocido siempre da miedo.

Um... Yes. The unknown is always scary.

Caption 13, Yago 13 La verdad - Part 8

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We can also say "scary" with adjectives like escalofriante, sinestro/a, or miedoso/a:

 

¿Y esa calavera tan miedosa?

And that very scary skull?

Caption 20, Guillermina y Candelario Un pez mágico - Part 2

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And with the word for "the skull" in Spanish (la calavera), we come to our last category: Halloween objects! 

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Halloween Objects 

If we know how to say "skull," we had better find out how to say "skeleton" in Spanish:

 

con una forma parecida a la del esqueleto de un dinosaurio,

with a shape similar to that of a dinosaur's skeleton,

Caption 30, Raquel Valencia - Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias

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So, where might we find such esqueletos? Why, in their tumbas (graves) in el cementerio (the cemetery) of course!

 

en Ricardo, en su tumba en el cementerio,

about Ricardo in his grave in the cemetery,

Caption 28, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 10 - Part 8

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So, let's set the scene in that cemetery with a "full moon" in Spanish, which might inspire some hombre lobo (another word for "werewolf") to come out:

 

la luna llena Por los cielos azulosos, infinitos y profundos esparcía su luz blanca 

And the full moon In the bluish skies, infinite and profound, scattered its white light

Captions 11-12, Acercándonos a la Literatura José Asunción Silva - "Nocturno III"

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Now, let's focus on some slightly less ominous symbols of Halloween such as el gato negro (the black cat), seen in its diminutive form in the following caption:

 

También está este gatito negro

There's also this black kitty

Caption 73, Fermín y los gatos Mis gatas vecinas

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The "pumpkin" is, perhaps, the most famed Halloween symbol of all:

 

Justo en el doblez del papel, trazamos la mitad de la calabaza.

Right on the fold of the paper, we draw half of the pumpkin.

Caption 67, Manos a la obra Papel picado para Día de muertos

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And finally, we associate Halloween with trick-or-treating, or going door to door to get "candy":

 

Y ahora cortamos pedacitos de caramelo.

And now we cut little pieces of candy.

Caption 38, Manos a la obra Postres de Minecraft

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The way to say "Trick or treat!" varies from region to region, but some popular ways are: "Dulce o truco" in Argentina, "Dulce o travesura" in Mexico, and the more literal but less accurate "Truco o trato" (from the verb "tratar," or "to treat") in Spain, where they also say "Dulce o caramelo." In Colombia, you might hear "Triqui, triqui," where kids sing the following song:

 

Triqui triqui Halloween/Quiero dulces para mí/Si no hay dulces para mí/se le crece la naríz,

which translates as:

Trick or treat, Halloween/I want treats for me/If there are no treats for me/Your nose will grow.

 

Meanwhile, Pedir dulce o truco/travesura, etc. can be used to talk about the action of  "trick-or-treating."

 

Halloween Vocabulary in Review

Let’s conclude today’s lesson with a review of the Halloween vocabulary we have learned:

 

el Halloween: Halloween

¡Feliz Halloween! Happy Halloween! 

difrazarse: to dress up 

el disfraz: the costume 

la costumbre: the custom, tradition

el personaje: the character

espeluznante: spooky

el/la licántropo/a: the werewolf

el hombre lobo: the werewolf

el monstruo: the monster

el fantasma: the ghost

el/la loco/a: the madman/madwoman

la bruja: the witch

el diablo: the devil 

espantar: to scare away

asustar: to scare 

el miedo: the fear

dar miedo: to scare/be scary

tener miedo: to be scared

asustarse: to be/get scared

asustado/a: scared/frightened

aterrorizado/a: terrified 

escalofriante: scary

siniestro/a: scary

miedoso/a: scary

¡Qué miedo! How scary!

la oscuridad: the darkness/dark

la calavera: the skull 

el esqueletothe skeleton

la tumba: the grave

el cementerio: the cemetery

la luna llena: the full moon

el gato negro: the black cat

la calabaza: the pumkin

el caramelo: the candy

¡Dulce o truco/travesura/caramelo! Trick or treat!

¡Truco o trato! Trick or treat!

¡Triqui triqui! Trick or treat!

Pedir dulce o truco/travesura: to go trick or treating 

 

We hope you've enjoyed this lesson about Halloween in Spanish, and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments. 

 

¡Feliz Halloween! (Happy Halloween!).

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Possessive Adjectives in Spanish: Part 1

What are possessive adjectives in Spanish? Most simply put, possessive adjectives in Spanish are the Spanish equivalents of words like "my," "your," "his, "mine," etc. that indicate ownership or possession. There are two types of Spanish possessive adjectives: long form and short form. In the first part of this lesson, we will deal with how to use short form possessive adjectives in Spanish. 

 

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Short Form Spanish Possessive Adjectives 

Let's take a look at the short form Spanish possessive adjectives and how they correspond to the personal pronouns in Spanish: 

 

Yo: mi, mis (my)

: tu, tus (your)

Él/ella/usted: su, sus (his, her, its, your) 

Nosotros/nosotras: nuestro, nuestros, nuestra, nuestras (our)

Vosotros/vosotrasvuestro, vuestros, vuestra, vuestras (plural informal "your")

Ellos/ellas/ustedes: su, sus (their/plural "your")

 

What did you notice at first glance? Allow us to point out a couple of our observations: 

 

1. The Spanish possessive adjectives that correspond to nosotros/nosotras (masculine and feminine "we") and vosotros/vosotras (masculine and feminine plural, informal "you") look a bit more complicated because there are more forms, four rather than two. This is because the forms of these Spanish possessive adjectives are affected by the genders of the nouns they modify, whereas the others are not. 

 

2. The words su and sus in Spanish correspond to a lot of personal pronouns (él, ella, usted, ellos, ellas, and ustedes) and can thus mean a lot of different things ("his," "her," "its," singular and plural "your," and "their"). We'll help you to learn to distinguish their meanings in context.

 

3. Regardless of whether a personal pronoun is singular (e.g. yo, tú, etc.) or plural (e.g. ellosustedes, etc.), they all have singular and plural possessive adjective forms. This is because, whether a Spanish possessive adjective is singular or plural or masculine or feminine has nothing to do with the number or gender of the personal pronoun it is associated with and everything to do with the number and gender of the noun it modifies. 

 

Keeping these points in mind, let's take a closer look at each of the possessive adjectives in Spanish, as well as some examples from our Yabla Spanish video library.

 

1. Mi and mis

Generally speaking, Spanish adjectives agree with the noun they modify in terms of number and gender. That said, the "good news" about the Spanish possessive adjectives for "my," mi and mis, is that they remain the same regardless of a noun's gender. For both masculine and feminine nouns, then, the singular form mi should be used for singular nouns, while the plural form mis should accompany plural nouns. Let's look:

 

A mi lado, tengo a mi amigo, Xavi,

Beside me, I have my friend, Xavi,

Caption 3, Carlos y Xavi Diferencia de pronunciación entre España y Colombia - Part 1

 Play Caption

 

nos encontramos con mi amiga, la rana.

we ran into my friend, the frog.

Caption 18, Guillermina y Candelario Una Amiga muy Presumida - Part 1

 Play Caption

 

Hoy os voy a hablar de mis amigos felinos, que también son mis vecinos.

Today, I'm going to talk to you about my feline friends who are also my neighbors.

Captions 3-4, Fermín y los gatos Mis gatas vecinas

 Play Caption

 

Los viernes, juego al fútbol con mis amigas.

On Fridays, I play soccer with my friends.

Caption 21, Ariana Mi Semana

 Play Caption

 

As you can see, the singular Spanish possessive adjective mi is used for both the masculine and feminine forms of the noun amigo/a, while the plural Spanish possessive adjective mis is used for the plural masculine and feminine nouns, amigos and amigas. Pretty simple, right? 

 

2. Tu and tus

The short form Spanish possessive adjectives tu and tus, which mean "your" when addressing someone informally, are similarly simplistic: tu is utilized for singular nouns, while tus is used for plural nouns, regardless of gender. Let's see some examples with tu and tus:

 

¿Qué es lo que más te gusta de tu casa?

What is it that you like the most about your house?

Caption 48, Cleer y Lida Juego de preguntas y respuestas - Part 1

 Play Caption

 

Déjame saber en tus comentarios

Let me know in your comments

Caption 59, Ana Carolina Conjugaciones verbales

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Although the noun casa is feminine, the same Spanish possessive adjective, tu, would also be used for masculine singular nouns (tu coche = your car, etc.). In turn, while the word tus appears with the masculine plural noun comentarios in this example, the very same possessive adjective would be used for feminine plural nouns, e.g. tus manzanas (your apples). 

 

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3. Nuestro, nuestros, nuestra, and nuestras

In contrast to mi/s and tu/s, the Spanish possessive adjectives for "our" do change in accordance with both a noun's number and gender. Let's take a look at the masculine/feminine and singular/plural forms of the nouns hijo (boy), hija (girl), etc. with their corresponding forms of the Spanish possessive adjective nuestro:

 

Nuestro hijo (our son)

Nuestros hijos (our sons)

Nuestra hija (our daughter)

Nuestras hijas (our daughters)

 

As you can see, this Spanish possessive adjective takes the ending -o for masculine singular nouns, -os for masculine plural nouns, -a for feminine singular nouns, and -as for feminine plural nouns. Let's view a couple of examples from Yabla's video library:

 

Para nuestro primer experimento utilizaremos algo que jamás creíamos que podría faltar en nuestros hogares:

For our first experiment, we'll use something we never thought could be lacking in our homes:

Captions 11-13, Ana Carolina Gérmenes

 Play Caption

 

¿Qué había sucedido con nuestra amistad, mmm? ¿Desde cuándo la mujer empezó a gobernar nuestras vidas?

What had happened to our friendship, hmm? Since when did women start to govern our lives?

Captions 17-18, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 8 - Part 3

 Play Caption

 

We can see in these examples all four versions of the Spanish possessive adjective for "we," all of which agree with the nouns they modify in terms of both number and gender. 

 

4. Vuestro, vuestros, vuestra, and vuestras

If you take the Spanish possessive adjectives for "we" (nosotros, etc.) and replace the "n" with a "v," you have the possessive adjectives in Spanish that mean "your" when addressing more than one person in a less formal situation. This form corresponds to the Spanish personal pronouns vosotros/as, which are primarily used in Spain. Let's take a look:

 

Vuestro hijo (your son)

Vuestros hijos (your sons)

Vuestra hija (your daughter)

Vuestras hijas (your daughters)

 

Let's examine a couple of video excerpts:

 

y además podéis aprovechar para dar vuestra opinión

and you can also take the opportunity to give your opinion

Caption 36, La cocina de María Tortilla de patatas

 Play Caption
 
 

Pero antes vamos a ver a vuestros amigos,

But beforehand we're going to see your friends,

Caption 63, Animales en familia Un día en Bioparc: Microchip para Nacahué - Part 2

 Play Caption
 
You will note that, like the Spanish possessive adjectives for nosotros, vosotros' Spanish possessive adjectives are affected by gender as well as number. 
 

5. Su and sus

The "good news," once again, about su in Spanish and sus in Spanish is that there are only two forms, singular and plural, that modify both masculine and feminine nouns. The "bad news," though, at least in terms of their initial challenge for native English speakers, is that these possessive adjectives in Spanish can mean many different things depending on their contexts. Having said that, let's take a look at su in Spanish and sus in Spanish, which can mean either "his," "her," "its," "your" (in the case of either one or more than one person), or "their."

 

His:

Es su coche (It's his car). 

Son sus coches. (They are his cars). 

Es su motocicleta (It's his motorcycle).

Son sus motocicletas. (They are his motorcycles).

 

Her:

Es su coche (It's her car). 

Son sus coches (They are her cars). 

Es su motocicleta (It's her motorcycle). 

Son sus motocicletas (They are her motorcycles).

 

Your (formal, one person):

Es su coche (It's your car). 

Es su motocicleta​ (It's your motorcycle).

Son sus coches (They are your cars).

Son sus motocicleta​s (They are your motorcycles). 

 

Your (more than one person):

Es su coche (It's your (guys') car). 

Es su motocicleta (It's your (guys') motorcycle).

Son sus coches (They are your (guys') cars).

Son sus motocicletas (They are your (guys') motorcycles). 

 

Their:

Es su coche (It's their car). 

Es su motocicleta (It's their motorcycle).

Son sus coches (They are their cars).

Son sus motocicletas (They are their motorcycles). 

 

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Wait, what?! You might notice that the four sentences under each English possessive adjective category are all the same! And yet, their translations are totally different. So, how would we decipher the intended meaning of su in Spanish or sus in Spanish when these two possessives in Spanish can mean so many things? As always, context is key! Let's take a look at some examples to illuminate this:

 

El artista más importante es Gaudí. Hoy voy a visitar una de sus obras más conocidas, la Sagrada Familia.

The most important artist is Gaudi. Today I'm going to visit one of his most well-known works, the Sagrada Familia [Sacred Family].

Captions 45-47, Ariana España

 Play Caption

 

Since the previous sentence mentions the artist Gaudi, it is pretty obvious that sus in this context means "his," referring to "his works." And, just to reiterate, the plural form sus must be used here since obras is a plural noun, in spite of the fact that Gaudi is just one person since one person can own more than one thing, while more than one person can own just one thing (think nuestra casa). Let's take a look at a couple of additional examples of su/s in Spanish:

 

por ejemplo, para que usted practique con su novia, Cata.

for example for you to practice with your girlfriend, Cata.

Caption 17, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 2 - Part 6

 Play Caption
 

Here, the word usted tips us off that the speaker means "your girlfriend," as su in Spanish can mean "your" in the formal style of address. And, even in the absence of that explicit word, were someone to generally address you with the usted form, you would take for granted that they meant "you" when utilizing su in Spanish or sus in Spanish. Let's see one more:

 

Desde sus inicios, el Centro Hispano de Todos los Santos se ha dedicado a sembrar esperanza.

Since its beginnings, the Centro Hispano de Todos los Santos [All Saints Hispanic Center] has been dedicated to sowing hope.

Captions 1-2, Transformación Estética

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In this example, sus in Spanish has been translated as "its" since the inicios "belong to" an inanimate object: the All Saints Hispanic Center. 

 

Although context can usually provide us with good clues about the meaning of su in Spanish or sus in Spanish, there are ambiguous cases that may require clarification. In a story or conversation involving both males and females, for example, a reference to su casa might cause confusion as to whose house it actually is. In such cases, it might be preferable to, in lieu of a Spanish possessive adjective, employ the preposition de ("of" or "belonging to") plus a personal pronoun (ella, usted, etc.) for the sake of clarity, as in the following example:

 

no es un problema de la gente de la ciudad, es un problema personal de usted conmigo.

it's not a problem of the people of the city, it's your personal problem with me.

Caption 15, Yago 7 Encuentros - Part 1

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Since, had the speaker said su problema personal, that could theoretically refer to either la gente de la ciudad (and thus be translated as "their personal problem with me") or the person to whom he is speaking, it was a safer bet to go with de usted.

 

We hope that this lesson has helped you to better understand how to use possessive adjectives in Spanish in their short form. For more information on short form possessive adjectives in Spanish, be sure to check out Adjetivos posesivos- Part 2 from the series Lecciones con Carolina, which deals with agreement, as well as this useful lesson from El Aula Azul entitled La posesión- Part 1. And, as always, no se olviden de dejarnos sus sugerencias y comentarios (don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments).

 

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Top 10 False Cognates in Spanish

In a previous lesson, we focused on the Spanish verb pretender (to hope, expect, try, etc.). Although this word closely resembles the English word "pretend," its meaning is totally different, putting it into the category of false cognates in Spanish. Also known as "faux amis" or "false friends," English-speakers often misuse these types of words for obvious reasons! Let's take a look at some of the most common false cognates in Spanish so we can be on the lookout for them in everyday speech. 

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List of False Cognates in Spanish: Yabla's Top Ten 

 

1. embarazada 

While English speakers might be tempted to say Estoy embarazada when attempting to say "I'm embarrassed," this could lead to a very serious misunderstanding! Let's take a look: 

 

Si estuviera embarazada, me hubiera dado cuenta. ¿No le parece?

If I were pregnant, I would have noticed! Don't you think?

Caption 71, Muñeca Brava - 44 El encuentro

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While we can see that estar embarazada means "to be pregnant," there are many ways to express the idea of being embarrassed in Spanish, such as tener vergüenza or dar(le) pena (a alguien). Let's look at some examples:

 

Es que me da pena.

It's just that I'm embarrassed.

Caption 42, Los Años Maravillosos - Capítulo 8

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En este momento, duda porque tiene vergüenza de ir a la escuela,

At this moment she hesitates because she's embarrassed to go to school,

Caption 49, Con ánimo de lucro - Cortometraje

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2. actual

The Spanish adjective actual is very confusing since it is spelled exactly like the English word "actual." However, actual is a false cognate in Spanish that "actually" means "current," as in the following example: 

 

Creo que realmente hay que buscar otra vía, otra solución a...

I think that you really need to find another road, another solution to...

la situación de ahora. -A la situación actual.

to the situation now. -To the current situation.

Captions 43-44, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos

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If you do want to speak about the "actual situation" in Spanish, you might say: la situación verdadera or la situación real. Let's check out these two words in action:

 

Pero esta es la verdadera isla

But this one is the actual island

Caption 26, Cholito - En la playa con Cholito

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Nadie sabe el nombre real de esta ciudad,

Nobody knows the actual name of this city,

Caption 37, Querido México - Teotihuacán

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3. éxito

The Spanish noun éxito might look like "exit," but its actual meaning is "success," while the Spanish verb tener éxito means "to be successful": 

 

Bueno, ha sido un éxito, ¿no, Jesús?

Well, it has been a success, right, Jesus?

Caption 88, Animales en familia - Un día en Bioparc: Cachorro de leopardo

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El brut ha tenido mucho éxito.

The brut has been very successful.

Caption 51, Europa Abierta - Champagne en Andalucía

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On the other hand, in order to talk about an actual "exit" in Spanish, la salida is the way to go: 

 

Tiene una salida al patio de atrás para su ventilación.

It has an exit to the back patio for your ventilation.

Caption 12, Ricardo - La compañera de casa

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4. fábrica

Although it might seem like la fábrica would mean "the fabric," its true translation is "the factory." 

 

un tipo que tenía una fábrica de alcancías ¿no?

a guy who had a piggy bank factory, right?

Y la gente dejaba de ahorrar y el tipo se va a la quiebra.

And people stopped saving and the guy goes bankrupt.

Captions 32-33, Muñeca Brava - 47 Esperanzas

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As we see in the following example, the Spanish word for "fabric" is tela:

 

Aquí, tengo un cárdigan liviano.

Here, I have a light knit sweater.

La tela no es muy gruesa,

The fabric isn't very thick,

Captions 30-31, Natalia de Ecuador - Vocabulario de prendas de vestir

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As a side note, although the verb fabricar occasionally means "to fabricate" in the sense of lying or making things up, the more common verbs for describing those actions are mentir and inventar, whereas the most typical translation for fabricar is "to make" or "manufacture":

 

la cuarta generación de una empresa familiar

the fourth generation of a family business

que fabrica diferentes variedades de zumos,

that manufactures different kinds of juices,

sidras, sopas y mermeladas.

ciders, soups and jams.

Captions 28-29, Europa Abierta - Empuje para Pymes

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That said, let's take a look at some additional verbs that fall into the "false friend" category.

 

5. molestar

The Spanish verb molestar does not mean "to molest" (for which you might say abusar or acosar sexualmente), but rather "to annoy" or "bother":

 

Vine a decirte que te quedes tranquilo,

I came to tell you to not to worry,

que mi hijo no te va a molestar más.

that my son is not going to bother you anymore.

Captions 1-2, Muñeca Brava - 46 Recuperación

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Once again, substitution of the word this verb sounds like in English could result in a very serious misunderstanding. 

 

6. enviar 

Just because it sounds like "envy," don't mix up the Spanish verb enviar, which means "to send," with envidiar (to envy). Let's take a look at examples of each of these verbs: 

 

Como ya tengo su dirección de correo, le puedo enviar el contrato.

As I already have your e-mail address, I can send you the contract.

Caption 37, Negocios - Empezar en un nuevo trabajo

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¡Ay, cómo envidio esa sartén! No sabe.

Oh, how I envy that frying pan! You don't know.

Caption 1, Muñeca Brava - 7 El poema

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7. introducir

The most common translations for the Spanish verb introducir are "to put" or "insert." Let's look: 

 

Ahora lo que tenemos que hacer es introducir todo en la olla.

What we have to do now is put everything in the pot.

Caption 43, La cocina de María - Cocido Malagueño

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Ahora introduces la esquina izquierda en este doblez,

Now you insert the left corner into this fold,

Caption 48, Manos a la obra - Separadores de libros: Charmander

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It is worth noting that the Spanish verb introducir can occasionally be translated as "to introduce," most often when speaking about the introduction of some item or concept. However, the most frequently employed verb to describe the idea of "introducing," say, people to one another, is presentar: 

 

Les quiero presentar a Pedro, un experto en la Calle Ocho.

I want to introduce you guys to Pedro, an expert on Calle Ocho.

Caption 21, La Calle 8 - Un recorrido fascinante

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8. asistir

Let's examine a typical use of the Spanish verb asistir:

 

y me fascinaba perderme entre sus calles

and it fascinated me to get lost in its streets

y asistir a la innumerable cantidad de eventos culturales

and attend the countless number of cultural events

que la ciudad tiene para ofrecerte.

that the city has to offer you.

Captions 11-13, Latinos por el mundo - Gio en Barcelona

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Although the Spanish verb asistir can indeed mean "to help" or "assist," this verb and its counterpart asistir a are included in the category of false cognates in Spanish due to their alternative meaning, "to attend."

 

9. recordar

Although the Spanish false cognate recordar certainly seems like it would mean "to record," it actually means "to remember" or "remind," as in the following captions:

 

empiezan a hacer su ritual de movimientos y sonidos, si hace falta,

they start to do their ritual of movements and sounds, if necessary,

para recordarte que es la hora de su comida.

to remind you that it's their mealtime.

Captions 58-59, Fermín y los gatos - Mis gatas vecinas

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¿Recuerdas cuál era la copa para servir vino?

Do you remember which cup was the one for serving wine?

Caption 36, Ana Carolina - El comedor

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"To record," in turn, is conveyed with the Spanish verb grabar:

 

Utiliza video o audio

Use video or audio

para grabarte mientras lees o improvisas un pequeño diálogo,

to record yourself while you read or improvise a little dialogue,

Captions 51-52, Ana Carolina - Mejorando la pronunciación

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10. soportar

Rather than "to support," the Spanish verb soportar often means "to tolerate," "endure," or "bear":

 

No lo pude aguantar, no se puede soportar eso.

I couldn't stand it, that can't be tolerated.

Caption 50, Yago - 7 Encuentros

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Although "soportar" can also mean "support" in the sense of bearing weight, the more common verb for talking about the notion of "supporting" someone or something, especially in figurative senses such as emotionally, economically, etc., is apoyar:

 

La abuela estaba loca si pensaba que la íbamos a apoyar.

Grandma was crazy if she thought that we were going to support her.

Caption 9, Los Años Maravillosos - Capítulo 3

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These are just a few examples of the many false cognates in Spanish. For additional examples of false cognates in Spanish, you might enjoy our lessons on the verbs realizar (to carry out) and falta (shortage, foul, offense, etc.). In the meantime, we hope our list of false cognates in Spanish will help you to identify and understand them when you run across them— and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments

 

Vocabulary

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The Verb Contar in Spanish

Are you familiar with the verb contar and its meanings in Spanish? Beyond its most common translations, which we'll be sure to reveal, this extremely useful verb is used in many additional ways. Let's take a look at some of them. 

 

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Contar for Telling 

One of the most common meanings of contar is "to tell." Let's see this in action:

 

Abuelo, te voy a contar un secreto.

Grandpa, I'm going to tell you a secret.

Caption 9, Guillermina y Candelario Mi Primer Tesoro

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Soy Rosa Chaparro y os voy a contar la historia de Mika.

I'm Rosa Chaparro, and I'm going to tell you the story of Mika.

Caption 2, Rosa La perrita Mika

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Contar for Counting 

We also use the verb contar when we want to quantify, or "count," things:

 

Y vamos contando cuántas hierbas tenemos, ¿sí?

And we're counting how many herbs we have, right?

Caption 47, Otavalo Proyecto familiar Kawsaymi - Part 7

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That said, we hope it is now clear that it's one thing contar los números (to count numbers) and another, very different thing contar historias (to tell stories). Context, however, should make it perfectly clear which meaning is meant, which we can see in these two clips from our friend Luis Guitarra:

 

Para contar los números, podemos usar los dedos de nuestras manos.

To count the numbers, we can use the fingers on our hands.

Captions 5-6, Luis Guitarra Aprendiendo a contar

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Con él, yo aprendí a contar historias.

With him, I learned to tell stories.

Caption 71, Luis Guitarra Influencias musicales - Part 1

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Contar con as an Alternative toTener (to Have)

Rafael, the speaker in the following clips, consistently uses the verb contar coupled with the preposition con where we might have expected to hear tener (to have). Let's take a look:

 

Cuando uno ya cuenta con familia...

When you already have a family...

Caption 11, Rafael T. - Viaje al norte

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Yo cuento con una... con una farmacia, con una mini-farmacia.

I own a... a pharmacy, one mini-pharmacy.

Caption 18, Rafael T. - Viaje al norte

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Although its literal meaning is "to count with," when Rafael uses contar con to talk about a family, he means when one "has" a family, while this same verb has been translated as "own" in the example regarding the pharmacy. Let's check out another clip from our friend Fermín:

 

Por supuesto, tenemos la suerte de contar con una señora británica que se encarga de controlar que los gatos callejeros que viven aquí

Of course, we are lucky enough to have a British lady who's in charge of making sure that the alley cats who live here

Captions 20-21, Fermín y los gatos Mis gatas vecinas

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So, we see that "to have" or "to own" are both acceptable translations for contar con.  

 

Contar con in a Different Context

On the other hand, if someone asks "¿Puedo contar contigo?" they don't want to know if they can "have" you, but rather whether they can "count on" you. Let's look at a couple of examples of contar con with this meaning.

 

cuente con mi apoyo y con la embajada para lo que se le ofrezca.

count on my support and on the embassy for whatever you need.

Caption 42, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 4 - Part 4

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sabes que puedes contar conmigo, ¿sí? -Bueno.

you know that you can count on me, OK? -OK.

Caption 71, Muñeca Brava 36 La pesquisa - Part 6

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Sin Contar con (Something)

And finally, sin contar or sin contar con, which literally mean "without counting (with)," can be utilized to express the idea of "not to mention" or "without taking into account." Let's look at a couple of clips from our series Confidencial: El rey de la estafa:

 

Eso sin contar los lujos que te debes dar

That's not to mention the luxuries you must give yourself

Caption 21, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 3 - Part 8

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Eso, sin contar con la publicidad que vais a recibir

That, without taking into account the publicity that you're going to get

Captions 52-53, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 5 - Part 5

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That's all for today. We hope you've enjoyed this lesson on some of the many uses of the Spanish verb contar, and don't forget to send us your suggestions and comments

 

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