Spanish Lessons


¡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!


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."


"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

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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



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! 


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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Caption 46, 45

Emphatic Uses of and Si

Did you know that the Spanish words  (which usually means "yes") and si (which typically means "if") can also serve to make utterances more emphatic? Today's lesson will explore this topic.


The Emphatic Sí

Like English words such as "do" or did," "really," or "indeed," the Spanish word sí (yes) can be employed to add emphasis. For example, when someone says you didn't do something, you might reply in English, "I did do it," "I really did it," or "I did it indeed." Similarly, in Spanish, you can use the word  (with an accent) to retort: Y lo hice (I did do it).
Like the aforementioned words, this use of sí has a purely emphatic effect. While you could say simply Yo lo hice (I did it), Spanish speakers commonly add this sí to emphasize that fact. Let's look at some additional examples:


Ah claro, ahora 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 - Part 7

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Uy, si piensan arreglar con ese tipo, la cosa va a estar dura.

Oh, if you're thinking of settling with that guy, the matter's really going to be tough.

Caption 11, Confidencial: Asesino al Volante Capítulo 4 - Part 8

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¡Guau! Eso sí que era divertido

Wow! That was fun indeed,

Caption 36, Aprendiendo con Silvia Recuerdos de infancia - Part 2

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Note that, as in the last example, this emphatic  is often accompanied by the word que


The Emphatic Si

The Spanish word si, without the accent, which usually means "if," can also be used at the beginning of a phrase to give extra emphasis or oomph to assertions or expressions of doubt. This emphatic si is a bit less intuitive for English speakers because, as it does not introduce a conditional clause like si and "if" typically do, translating it as "if" would simply not make sense in most cases. For this reason, this emphatic si is often not reflected in translations at all. Let's look at a couple of examples.


No, si yo ya sé que Nicolás de eso no va a ver ni un peso.

No, I already know that Nicolás is not going to see even one peso out of that.

Caption 21, Confidencial: Asesino al Volante Capítulo 4 - Part 11

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Andrea... Andrea, si vos sabés que yo soy fiel a muerte.

Andrea... Andrea, you know that I am faithful to death.

Caption 67, Muñeca Brava 45 El secreto - Part 4

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Since the word "but" can also serve to add emphasis in English in similar utterances, translators sometimes opt to translate the emphatic si with that word, like in the following example:


Si yo lo estoy diciendo hace rato ya, hombre.

But I've been saying it for a while already, man.

Caption 71, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 4

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That said, as the word "but" won't always seem "just right" in sentences that include the emphatic si, the most important thing is to remember is that its function is to add this emphatic feeling, even when there is no tangible translation. 


While it might seem initially confusing, we hope that this lesson has helped you to understand how the words sí and si can occasionally depart from their traditional meanings in order to add emphasis to certain phrases. Having said that, sí que pueden escribirnos con sus dudas y comentarios (you can definitely write us with your questions and comments)!


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 to 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.

Ojo - Be Careful with This Word

Should Milagros walk the streets dressed like THAT? In one of the episodes of Muñeca Brava, our long-legged heroine gets all dolled up in a tight outfit to go dancing. Sister Cachetes isn't so sure about this. She says:


Pero igual me voy a quedar rezando para que no te pase nada, ¡y ojo!

But I'll nonetheless stay here praying that nothing happens to you, and careful!

Captions 15-16, Muñeca Brava - 18 - La Apuesta

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Mili replies:


Ah, ¿sí? ¿Ojo con qué? ¿Ojo con qué? No me va a pasar nada.

Oh, yeah? Careful of what? Careful of what? Nothing is going to happen to me.

Captions 17-18, Muñeca Brava - 18 - La Apuesta

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In case you didn't realize that "ojo" literally means "eye," the good nun points to her eye as she speaks. In Argentina, this is a very common gesture that means, "careful!" or "watch out!".

In fact, you can silently point to your eye without saying a word and still be understood to be issuing a warning. Outside of Argentina, throughout Latin America and in Spain, the exclamation "¡Ojo!" is used and understood as well.

Note that Mili responds "¿Ojo con qué?" ("Careful of what?"). If you want to warn someone to be careful of something or someone in particular, use the preposition "con." Here are a few examples:


¡Ojo con los perros!
Careful of the dogs!

¡Ojo con los niños!
Watch out for the boys!

¡Ojo con los verbos irregulares en español!
Watch out for irregular verbs in Spanish!


Ojo could be replaced by guarda, and the meaning would be much the same.


¡Guarda con el escalón, te vas a tropezar!
Watch out for the step, you´re going to trip!



If you want to be more formal, you would go with cuidado. For example, you will often see this used on signs:


Cuidado con el perro
Beware of the dog


Here is another example of cuidado:


Pero cuidado con la máquina, ¿eh?

But, careful with the machine, OK?

Caption 12, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 7

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