Spanish Lessons


Astronomy 101: The Names of the Planets in Spanish (and More)!

How do you say the names of the planets in Spanish? We'll start off today's lesson by telling you how and then follow up with some simple astronomical vocabulary. 


The Names of the Planets in Spanish

The names of the planets in Spanish are as follows: 


1. Mercurio = Mercury


2. Venus = Venus


3. La Tierra = (the) Earth


4. Marte = Mars


5. Júpiter = Jupiter


6. Saturno = Saturn


7. Urano = Uranus


8. Neptuno = Neptune


Now that you know what the planets are called in Spanish, let's take a look at a few examples from our Yabla Spanish library where their names are mentioned:


El planeta Marte alguna vez tuvo ríos, lagos y mares.

The planet Mars once had rivers, lakes, and seas.

Caption 6, Yabla informa Noticias con Cleer

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The clip you just heard is from a news segment by Yabla's Cleer which delves into the mystery of what happened to the water on Mars. Let's see another clip that mentions the name of a planet, this time from a song:


Planeta Mercurio y el año de la serpiente Signo patente tatuado y en mi frente 

Planet Mercury and the year of the snake Obvious sign, tatooed and on my forehead

Captions 10-11, Ana Tijoux 1977

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We shouldn't neglect to mention that, as you may know, what was formerly considered to be the ninth planet, Pluto, was reclassified as a "dwarf planet" in 2006. The name for Pluto in Spanish is Plutón.


Gracias por la clase y por aclararme que yo no vivo ni en Plutón ni en la luna, 

Thanks for the class and for clarifying to me that I don't live either on Pluto or on the moon,

Caption 55, Conversaciones con Luis Astrología

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Additional Astronomical Vocabulary in Spanish

And, speaking of the moon, we thought you might be interested in learning how to say "the moon," "the sun," and some other basic vocabulary related to our solar system:




1. la luna = the moon


2. el sol = the sun


3. la estrella = the star 


4. el planeta = the planet


5. la galaxia = the galaxy 


6. la Vía Láctea = the Milky Way


7. el cometa = the comet


8. el agujero negro/el hoyo negro = the black hole 


9. la nave espacial = the spaceship 


10. la constelación = the constellation


11. el sistema solar = the solar system


12. la teoría del Big Bang = the Big Bang theory


13. el eclipse = the eclipse


14. la astronomía = astronomy


15. el telescopio = the telescope


Now, let's take a look at a several of these terms in action:


eh... finalmente viene el universo, que es la Vía Láctea.

um... finally comes the universe, which is the Milky Way.

Caption 31, Guillermo el chamán Los rituales

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Las... Se le llama Las Siete Luminarias porque hay siete volcanes que forman la Osa Mayor, que es la constelación de la Osa Mayor.

The... It's called The Seven Luminaries because there are seven volcanoes which make up Ursa Major, which is the Ursa Major constellation.

Captions 13-14, Guillermo el chamán La tecnología maya

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Lo que no sabemos, es de qué planeta son estos niños. Son del planeta Tierra.

What we don't know is from what planet these kids are. They are from planet Earth.

Captions 5-6, Salvando el planeta Palabra Llegada - Part 3

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La nave rusa Soyuz ha despegado desde el centro espacial europeo de Kourou

The Russian spaceship Soyuz has taken off from the European space center in Kourou

Caption 3, Europa Abierta Galileo vs. GPS

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Note that la nave can be used as a shorter way to say "the spaceship" in lieu of la nave espacial. The clip in which this video is found deals with the history of the European space program, in case you are interested in checking it out!


That's alll for today. We hope you've enjoyed this lesson on basic astronomical terms in Spanish, and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments



Había or habían muchos libros?

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?


Using the verb haber in Spanish

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:


  • Yo había
  • Tú habías
  • Él/Ella había
  • Nosotros/as habíamos
  • Vosotros/as habíais
  • Ellos/as habían


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

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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


How to use había when talking about existence

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

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Porque había diferentes explicaciones de…

Because there were different explanations of…

Caption 31, El Aula Azul - Dos historias

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Porque había muchos obstáculos para ese encuentro.

Because there were many obstacles for that meeting.

Caption 34, La Sub30 - Familias

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había muchos seres extraños.

And there were many strange beings.

Caption 43, Salvando el planeta Palabra - Llegada

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No había máquinas de estas.

There were no machines like these.

Caption 37, Tortillería La Nueva Única - Entrevista con don Alfonso

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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.


Explore more lessons:

Using "haber de" to Express Necessity or Possibility

Haber+De+Infinitive: Something you should learn

Va a haber: Related Forms of "Hay"

Ahora sí

The literal meaning of ahora sí is "now yes." But the actual meaning of this expression depends a lot on its context. Let's analyze some examples so you can learn more about how ahora sí is used.


In most cases, ahora sí can be translated as "now" or "this time:" 

Yo creo que ahora sí vale los dos mil pesos.

I think that this time it is worth the two thousand pesos.

Caption 19, El Ausente - Acto 2

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Notice how the translation in the following examples adds the verb "to do." The word sí (yes) is meant to add a similar emphasis in the Spanish expression:

Ah claro, ahora sí lo entiendo hija, ¡qué torpe soy!

Oh, of course, now I do understand it, girl. How clumsy I am!

Caption 57, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa

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Chicas, ahora sí tenemos que llamar a los chamanes.

Girls, this time we do have to call the shamans.

Caption 9, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso

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Sometimes "finally" is a better translation:

Bueno. Ahora sí. La historia empieza aquí en la iglesia.

OK. Finally. The story begins here at the church.

Captions 31-32, Salvando el planeta Palabra - Llegada

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Ahora sí can be used as an interjection, similarly to the English phrase "all right, then." In this example, Don Albertote uses it to emphasize that he is serious about his threat:

¡La vara eléctrica, ahora sí! -¡Ay, no!

The electric rod, all right, then! -Oh, no!

Caption 17, Kikirikí - Animales

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A common way to threaten someone in Spanish is:
Ahora sí, vas a ver. 
All right then, you'll see.

You will also find the phrase ahora sí que. It also means "now" or "this time," and it's commonly used to emphatically express a confirmation:

No pues, ahora sí que nomás se burla de la gente como nosotros.

No, well, this time he's only making fun of people like us.

Caption 29, ¡Tierra, Sí! - Atenco

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As a final cultural note: in Mexico City, chilangos use the phrase ahora sí (que) a lot, as a rather untranslatable pet expression:

Para ahora sí que no agarren la costumbre.

For them not the get the habit [of having us work all day].

Caption 6, La Banda Chilanguense - El habla de México

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Thanks for reading. To see more lessons please click here.

Gender in Spanish for Beginners

Welcome to our very basic lesson about gender in Spanish. How can we tell the gender of nouns in Spanish? Let’s look at the most general rule: Words that end in “a” are feminine, while those that end in “o” are masculine. Pretty easy, huh? Let's look at some examples:


Y la casa es súper bonita.

And the house is super nice.

Caption 86, Blanca y Mariona Vida en general

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Since the word casa is a feminine noun, the speaker uses the definite feminine article la before the noun. Let's see another one:


El libro es tan bueno

The book is as good

Caption 21, Karla e Isabel Comparativos

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In this case, the speaker uses the definite masculine article el before the masculine noun libro. By the way, please feel free to check our beginner-level lesson about definite and indefinite articles in Spanish grammar.




The unfortunate thing, however, is that this simple rule is not always true, as our friend Arume proves when she correctly says “el tema” (the topic) and not “la tema,” which would be incorrect.


Y bueno ahí surge ya el tema de tengo novio, no tengo novio.

And well, that's when the topic of whether you have a boyfriend or not comes up.

Caption 75, Arume - La Vida Escolar

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Furthermore, in the first installment of our series on Andalusian farmers, “Del Campo a la Mesa,” the eldest picker illustrates another exception when he says, correctly, “las manos” (the hands): 


Pa' ganar cincuenta euros tienes que mover mucho las manos.

To be able to earn fifty Euros, you have to move the hands a lot.

Caption 29, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 1

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And it's not just such exceptions but also some rules that can complicate the situation. For example, do you know why the Mexican band Café Tacuba’s lead singer says el agua,” using the masculine article “el” (the) instead of the feminine article “la” (the)?


El agua derramada está

The water is already spilled

Caption 17, Café Tacuba - Volver a comenzar

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It’s not because agua is a masculine noun but rather because of a rule in Spanish that states that any feminine noun that begins with a stressed "a" should take the masculine articles (el and un) in its singular form in order to facilitate pronunciation (by avoiding two "a" sounds in a row). This is similar to the manner in which the indefinite article "a" in English changes to "an" before vowels.


You will note, however, that this rule does not apply to the plural forms, which maintain their feminine articles (which end in "s" rather than "a" and thus don't pose the same pronunciation challenge):


Ellos vinieron aquí, a las aguas de la Charca Larga, y había muchos seres extraños.

They came here, to the waters of Long Pond, and there were many strange beings.

Captions 42-43, Salvando el planeta Palabra - Llegada - Part 3

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And, in cases in which the "a" sound is unstressed, the rule doesn't apply, either:


La aceituna que yo he recogido está aquí.

The olive[s] that I have harvested [are] here.

Caption 19, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 1

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In conclusion, let’s just say that native Spanish speakers learn the gender of words by hearing and using them constantly in real situations and not by memorizing exceptions or wondering whether the word tristeza (sadness) feels more masculine or feminine. That said, the more we immerse ourselves in authentic Spanish, the more we, as learners, can begin to “intuitively” know the gender of nouns that we frequently encounter, including those that don’t follow the common pattern.


In any case, if you feel ready to explore some of the rules and exceptions of gender in Spanish, we invite you to take a look at our lesson about the gender of inanimate objects in Spanish. We hope that this brief introduction to gender in Spanish was useful, and please feel free to send us your suggestions and comments.




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