Spanish Lessons


Ser vs. Estar - Subjunctive Sea and Esté

Let's continue our series on the use of the verbs ser and estar, now focusing on some examples using the subjunctive to express wishes, or to refer to hypothetical situations. The present subjunctive for the first person singular yo (I) is esté for the verb estar and sea for the verb ser. Here're some examples of first person singular sea and esté:


Mamá quiere que [yo] sea doctor  / Mom wants me to be a doctor.
Mi hermana piensa que es mejor que [yo] sea dentista / My sister thinks it's best for me to be a dentist.

Lola me pide que [yo] esté tranquilo / Lola asks me to be calm.
Imagino que es mejor que no [yo] esté preocupado / I imagine it's better for me not to beworried.

Note that it's very common to use the pronoun que (that) before the subjunctive. In fact, some Spanish speakers learn to conjugate the subjunctive altogether with this pronoun, like: que yo sea, que tú seas, etc. or que yo estéque tú estés, etc. to differentiate it from the indicative.

The forms sea and esté are also used for the third person singular, which is very convenient since you can use it to talk about wishes or hypothetical situations pertaining to other people, things, and ideas. For example:

Entonces, para que sea una sorpresa también.

So, for it to be a surprise also.

Caption 12, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 10

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Quiero comprar un barco que sea capaz de... de hacer travesías largas.

I want to buy a boat that is capable of... of making long voyages.

Captions 72-73, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 20

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Y que ya no sea Belanova el grupo de bajo, computadora y voz.

So that Belanova won't be the group of the bass, computer and voice any longer.

Caption 13, Belanova - Entrevista - Part 4

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And with esté:

Ya la llamaremos cuando la doctora esté disponible.

We'll call you when the doctor is available.

Caption 42, Cita médica - La cita médica de Cleer - Part 1

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Son tres modos que se usan para pedirle a alguien que esté alerta.

There are three ways that are used to ask someone to be alert.

Caption 27, Carlos comenta - Confidencial - Vocabulario y expresiones

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Para que la aceituna esté en condiciones para envasar el lunes.

So that the olives are in condition for packing on Monday.

Caption 35, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 19

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Finally, there's a very common and useful expression that uses sea: o sea, which is used to clarify or explain something. This expression translates as "in other words," "meaning," and other similar phrases.

O sea, que te vas a quedar sin marido durante tres meses.

In other words, you are going to be without a husband for three months.

Caption 27, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 3

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The Verb Quedar

Quedar is a very useful and interesting Spanish verb because it has a great number of different meanings. Let's learn a few!
Quedar ("to stay" or "to remain") is commonly used alone (quedar) or accompanied with reflexive pronouns (quedarse). This verb can be followed by different complements and prepositions such as con (with), en (in, on), or de (of, from).
Quedarse con means "to stay with":


Y te quedas con los niños.

And you stay with the children.

Caption 29, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa

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It's useful to learn how to turn this expression into an order or request. All you have to do is use the reflexive pronoun as a suffix of the verb: quédate con los niños (stay with the kids). Here's another useful example:

Quédate conmigo

Stay with me

Caption 42, Carlos Baute y Marta Sanchez - Colgando en tus manos

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If you combine the verb quedar(se) with the preposition en (in, on), you can introduce an expression of place:

El azúcar se queda en la sangre.

Sugar stays in the blood.

Caption 5, Los médicos explican - La diabetes

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You could also use it to express time using prepositions such as desde (since), or durante (during). For example: Elisa se quedará durante el verano (Elisa will stay during the summer); Nos quedaremos desde mayo hasta junio (We'll stay from May to June).
Do you remember how Spanish uses the word hay (there is, there are), the impersonal form of the verb haber (to have)? You can do something similar with queda or quedan (singular and plural third person of quedar) to express the idea "there is [something] left":

Pues ya no queda nada de qué hablar, nada...

For there is nothing left to talk about, nothing...

Caption 2, Bunbury - Entrevista Con Enrique Bunbury

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This combination of “queda + something” is very useful, and interesting too, because it uses the verb quedar as in a way similar to the impersonal verb hay (there's, there are). So, for example, you can say: ¿Queda café? (Is there any coffee left?), ¿Quedan plátanos en el refri? (Are there any bananas left in the fridge?).
Quedar can also mean "to end up," or "to result in." For example, in the question ¿En qué quedó eso? (How did that end up?). Or here:

Y así queda nuestro diseño.

And our design ends up looking like this.

Caption 71, Manos a la obra - Papel picado para Día de muertos

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This can also be used with reflexive pronouns. You can say: Así nos queda nuestro diseño. Another example is:

...porque si no el brócoli sí que nos queda crudo.

...because if not the broccoli does end up raw for us.

Caption 17, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli

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The expressions quedar con and quedar en can be used figuratively to express that you have agreed about something with someone. For example, agreeing to meet in a certain place:
Quedamos en vernos aquí a las tres en punto.
We agreed we will meet here at three o'clock.
Or just agreeing with someone on something:
Quedé con Esther en que me quedaría a cuidar a los niños.
I agreed with Esther that I would stay to take care of the kids.

The verb quedar can also be used to express the idea that someone has changed or ended up in a certain position or state of mind. For example: Juliana se quedó sola tras la partida de Esther (Juliana was left alone after Esther's departure). Me quedé sorprendido con su actuación (I was [left] surprised by her performance). Translations vary, however. For example:


Bueno, mi papá se quedó sin trabajo

Well, my dad lost his job

Caption 15, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro

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You can also use the verb quedar to express the idea that a person has gained a certain reputation after an action. For example: quedé como un idiota (I looked like an idiot). As a result, the fixed expression quedar bien means then "to look good" or "get in good with," while quedar mal means the opposite.
No me quedes mal, papá.
Don't let me down, Dad.

Además es una manera de quedar bien con la empresa.

Additionally, it's a way to look good with the company.

Caption 84, Raquel y Marisa - Español Para Negocios - Nuestro perfil profesional en la red

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Quedar can also be used to express the idea that you will keep something with you. For example:
-Me quedaré con tu pluma porque me gusta mucho. -No, no puedes quedártela.
-I will keep your pen because I really like it. -No, you can't keep it.
Can you think of a way to answer the previous question with a positive? It's Claro, quédatela ("Sure, keep it")!
You can also use the expression quedar por + a verb in the infinitive to express the idea that something is left to be done. Translations vary depending on the context. For example:
Sólo queda por hacer la tarea.
Only homework is left to be done.
No quiero ni pensar en todo lo que nos queda por alcanzar.
I don't even want to think about how much we still need to achieve.
 Finally, the verb quedar also means "to fit" or "to suit":

¿Me queda bien? Sí, ¿no?

Does it look good on me? It does, right?

-Guapo, guapo, muy bien se ve.

-Handsome, handsome, it looks very good.

Caption 52, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos

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Figuratively speaking, it means "to be appropriate”:


¡No queda que fumes en una fiesta infantil!
It's not appropriate for you to smoke at a children's party!


Combining Parts of Speech - Part 1

Combining Parts of Speech - Part 2

Combining Parts of Speech - Part 3

Combining Parts of Speech - Part 4


Using Spanish articles and pronouns is not always easy, and learning to combine them is even more complicated. Let's study some interesting examples to learn more about these combinations.
The phrases la que, el que mean "the one that" or "the one who":

...que es la que está con el niño atrás.

...who is the one who is with the little boy back there.

Caption 14, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 3

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Aligerar, hacer ritmo. -Y el que venga conmigo...

To hurry up, to make it quick. -And, whoever comes with me...

Caption 81, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 4

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As you can see, the English translations may be different, but the meaning is still the same in both examples. In the second case, a more literal translation is also possible: el que venga conmigo (the one who comes with me).

It's important to always have in mind the variations of gender and number: los que and las que ("the ones that" or "the ones who"):

los que se pueden coger con la mano desde abajo...

the ones that can be picked by hand from below...

Caption 88, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 16

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Now, in Spanish it's also possible to combine these expression with prepositions. For example, you can add the preposition and form a los quea las quea la que, and al que (remember that a + el + que al que).
These phrases could mean, literally, "to/for the one(s) that" or "to/for the one(s) who":

Al que llegó sin avisar

To the one who arrived without warning

Caption 21, Calle 13 - Pa'l norte

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Depending on the context, the English equivalent of these phrases is different, though. For example, check out the following caption including an extra pronoun (a reflexive one): nos (to us).

Ah, a los que nos gusta surfear,

Ah, for those of us who like surfing,

Caption 9, Antonio Vargas - Artista - ilustración

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Also, depending on the context, and since the preposition a has many different meanings, the literal meaning of these phrases could also be "to the ones that" or "to the ones who" =  "whom" or "to which."  

Al que llamaban Speedy Gonzales.

Whom they called Speedy Gonzales.

Caption 4, A. B. Quintanilla - Speedy Gonzalez

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...a la que pertenecieron sus primeros moradores. which its first inhabitants belonged.

Caption 17, Club de las ideas - Mi entorno

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Check out this example, also with an extra reflexive pronoun: se (to it, to him, to her, to them)

El principal problema al que se enfrentan la mayoría de las PYMEs europeas

The main problem that most of the European SMEs face

Caption 5, Europa Abierta - Empuje para Pymes

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Tricky, right? The English translation is simply "that," but you can think of a literal one just to see how Spanish works: "the main problem to the one (to which) most of the European SMEs face."
You can also combine these phrases with a different preposition, for example the preposition con (with). Then you have con la que, con el que, con los que, con las que (with whom or with which). But let's save that for a future lesson. 


Combining Verbs in Spanish - Part 2 - Gerundios and Participios

Combining Verbs in Spanish - Part 1

Let's continue our lesson on the use of verbal periphrases. In the first part of this lesson, we reviewed examples that combine conjugated verbs with infinitives. Now it's time to learn periphrases that combine conjugated verbs with the Spanish forms of the verb known as gerundios and participios.


Verbal periphrases that use the gerundio are used to express the passing of an action. They combine a conjugated auxiliary verb and a gerundio. Remember, the English gerund is the -ing form of the verb, but the Spanish gerundio is the -ndo form. Perhaps the easiest and most common example of these periphrases is the one that uses the verb estar (to be) as the auxiliary verb:

Estoy cursando las últimas dos materias del último trimestre.

I am taking the last two courses of the last trimester.

Caption 4, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana - Viviana Reyes

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Y con esta blusa, vamos a ver, ya estamos armando el... el disfraz.

And with this blouse, let's see, we're already putting together the... the costume.

Captions 22-23, Un disfraz - En el mercado

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However, you can use other verbs as well. The most used are the verbs andar (to go),empezar (to start), llevar (to carry), salir (to go out), etc. Here's an interesting example using the reflexive verb quedarse (to stay, to remain):

No, él se queda aquí trabajando.

No, he stays here working.

Caption 11, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa

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Here is an example with the verb salir (to go out):

Y además salió diciendo que para él era un orgullo que yo estuviera en el país.

And he also appeared saying that he was very proud that I was in the country.

Caption 62, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro

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Ya después me pasé a otra banda en la que... en la que volvimos a hacer covers.

Later on, I changed to another band in which... in which we did covers again.

Captions 49-50, Willy - Entrevista - Part 3

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On the other hand, periphrases that use the participio are usually meant to express the result of an action. They combine a conjugated auxiliary verb with a participio. Remember that the Spanish participio is the -ado, -ido, -to, -so, -cho forms of the verb (and their feminine and plural counterparts). Here is our first example using the auxiliary verb quedarse (to stay):

Se queda perfectamente pegado.

It remains perfectly stuck.

Caption 32, Tecnópolis - Ciencia en casa

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Compare this example using the verb quedarse and participio with the previous one that uses quedarse and gerundio. Do you get the difference in use and meaning between the two?
Let's review a few more examples of periphrases using participio. You can use the verb tener (to have) as auxiliary verb:

Es verdad que nosotros tenemos instaladas videocámaras en los pasillos.

It's true that we have video cameras installed in the hallways.

Caption 12, Club de las ideas - Si yo fuera director

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Or you can use the verb llevar (to carry):

Estos paquetes ... llevan puestos desde el miércoles pasado.

These packagages ... have been set since last Wednesday.

Captions 3-6, La Champiñonera - El cultivo de champiñón

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Or the verb dejar (to leave):

Y le dejo esto puesto, ¿eh?

And I leave this on, huh?

Caption 46, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos

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To finish this lesson, compare these two examples of periphrases: one uses the gerundio and the other uses the participio. Which is which? Can you understand the difference in meaning? We are sure you do!

Me tengo que ir. Te dejo escrita la lista de invitados. | I have to go. I leave written the guest list for you [I'm leaving the guest list written out for you].
Me tengo que ir. Te dejo escribiendo la lista de invitados. | I have to go. I leave you writing the guest list [I'm leaving you to write the guest list].

Thank you for reading!

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