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Making Comparisons in Spanish - Part 1

Despite the old saying that "Las comparaciones son odiosas" (Comparisons are odious), the truth is that they are often necessary. Whether you need to decide on a vacation destination, select a present for a loved one, or weigh the pros and cons of any situation, comparisons will be a part of your decision-making process. That said, let's learn some useful language for that purpose. 

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Unlike English, Spanish does not modify adjectives with the addition of suffixes (e.g. the English -er and -est) for comparative purposes. Instead, adjectives are accompanied by comparative structures to indicate equality, inequality, or difference in degree between one or more people, ideas, or things. Since there is plenty to learn on this topic, this lesson will deal with inequality, while part two will cover comparisons of equality and superlatives

 

Comparisons of Inequality

 

For comparisons of inequality, the word that specifies what the comparison is about will be preceded by más (more) or menos (less). One might compare qualities (adjectives), ways of doing something (adverbs), or even nouns as in the sentence: La canasta roja tiene más manzanas que la verde (The red basket has more apples than the green one). Let's take a look at some common comparative structures involving adjectives, adverbs, and nouns, and some examples of each:

 

1. más/menos + adjective + que

 

La vida a esta altitud se hace más difícil que en el frondoso pinsapar.

Life at this altitude becomes more difficult than in the dense Spanish fir forest.

Caption 64, Tecnópolis - Sierra de las nieves

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Este libro es menos interesante que el otro.

This book is less interesting than the other one.

Caption 72, Karla e Isabel - Comparativos

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As you may have inferred from these examples, the comparative particle que is the equivalent of than in English. In addition, the video in our second example above introduces several comparative structures with examples and is thus worth viewing in conjunction with this lesson. 

 

2. más/menos + adverb + que 

 

Les inyectaba hormonas para que crecieran más rápido.

She would inject them with hormones so that they would grow faster.

Caption 45, Kikirikí - Animales

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Note that, in this case, the comparative particle que is not present since the second term of the comparison is not mentioned. In addition, remember that, although the adverb rápidamente does exist, we often use rápido as an adverb as well as an adjective in the same way as the English word fast, depending upon whether it modifies a noun or a verb in a sentence. 

 

3. más/menos + noun  + que

 

As we saw in the introduction, this structure can also be used with nouns. In this case, it is worth mentioning that while, according to traditional English usage rules, "fewer" should be used for countable objects while "less" should be employed with singular mass nouns (i.e. salt), this distinction does not exist in Spanish. That said, menos will be used for both countable and uncountable nouns in Spanish. 

 

Ten en cuenta que los productos en tamaño familiar,

Take into account that family-sized products,

sean de lo que sean,

whatever they are,

generan menos residuos por unidad de producto.

generate less waste per product unit.

Captions 51-53, 3R - Campaña de reciclaje

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Since the Spanish verb tener años (literally "to have years") is used to express the idea of someone being a certain age, the expression Tengo más años que mi hermana (literally "I have more years than my sister") is equivalent to saying "I am older than my sister." The following example is similar:

 

Yo tengo un año menos que tú.

I am a year younger than you.

Caption 12, Clara y Cristina - Saludar

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Although the position of the noun in these examples is different, they demonstrate the additional point that prepositional object pronouns like and ti cannot be used in comparatives as the second object of comparison (immediately after que). For example, while in English, one can say either "My sister is younger than I am" or "My sister is younger than me," Mi hermana es más joven que mí is unacceptable in Spanish, while Mi hermana es más joven que yo is the correct way to express this. 

 

Intensifying or Mitigating Difference

 

Sometimes, the difference between the objects, people, or ideas being compared is so big or so small that formulas that include intensifiers such as mucho/muchísimo/tanto + más/menos or mitigators like un poco/poquito + más/menos can help to express this. 

 

Y eso también lo habéis comprado más barato de lo normal.

And that also you have bought cheaper than what's normal.

Pero muchísimo más barato, ochenta por ciento más barato, una cosa así.

But way cheaper, eighty percent cheaper, something like that.

Captions 14-15, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos

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No es tanto más grande que yo.

She's not that much older than me.

Caption 31, Muñeca Brava - 7 El poema

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De Los Cabos sí queda un poquito más lejitos,

From Los Cabos, it's a little bit further,

un poquito más de dos horas.

a little bit over two hours.

Captions 73-74, Alan x el mundo - Mi playa favorita de México!

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Parallel Comparative Structure 

 

The parallel comparative structure, cuanto más + adjective/adverb, más/menos, is also useful in Spanish. The common English expression, "The sooner, the better," for example, translates as: Cuanto antes, mejor.  

 

Cuanto más sucia, menos le[s] pagáis. -Claro.

The dirtier it is, the less you pay them. -Of course.

Caption 81, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa

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Irregular Adjectives/Adverbs

 

A few adjectives and adverbs have irregular comparative forms and don't fall into the typical patterns using más/menos + adjective/adverb + que:

 

Adjective: buen/a (good)      Comparative: mejor (better) 

Adjective: mal/a (bad)          Comparative: peor (worse)

 

Es una buena cantante (She's a good singer).

Es mejor cantante que Mariana (She is a better singer than Mariana).

 

Es un mal alumno (He is a bad student).

Es peor alumno que Juan (He is a worse student than Juan).

 

Interestingly, when the adjectives mejor/peor describe how good or bad one is at something, their forms are irregular. However, when referring to good and evil, their regular comparative forms come into play:

 

Es más malo que el diablo.

He is more evil than the devil.

 

The following adverbs, however, have only an irregular comparative:

 

Adverb: bien (well)           Comparative: mejor (better) 

Adverb: mal (badly)          Comparative: peor (worse)

 

María canta mejor que su hermana.     

María sings better than her sister.

 

Let's conclude with some additional examples of regular and irregular comparatives from our Yabla video library:

 

Tres aspirinas. -Bueno, tomá algo más fuerte que te haga mejor.

Three aspirins. -Well, take something stronger that makes you better.

Caption 61, Muñeca Brava - 43 La reunión

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Mal. Peor que la semana pasada.

Bad. Worse than last week.

Caption 7, El Aula Azul - La Doctora Consejos: Subjuntivo y condicional

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That's all for this first part of our lesson on comparatives. We hope it has been clear, and don't forget to send us your questions, comments, and suggestions¡Hasta la próxima!

"Tipo de Trabajo" or "Tipo de Trabajos"? That Is the Question!

To begin this lesson, let's take a look at a caption in a Yabla video that recently baffled one our subscribers:

 

Obviamente, la comunicación es la esencia de este tipo de trabajos.

Obviously, communication is the essence of this type of job.

Caption 40, Negocios - La solicitud de empleo

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Spanish sentences such as this one involving "tipo de" ["type" or "types of"] tend to confuse English speakers. After all, the literal translation of this sentence would read, "Obviously, communication is the essence of this type of jobs," which doesn’t work in English since “this” is singular and “jobs” is plural. In the vast majority of similar constructions in English involving countable nouns (nouns like "leaf/leaves," "cookie/cookies," etc. that can be physically counted), there must be singular/singular or plural/plural agreement, leaving one with the choice of either "this type of job" or "these types of jobs." 

 

However, this is not the case in Spanish since singular with plural is the most common construction, or occasionally singular with singular in the case of a single noun. Let’s look at some examples of each of these cases:

 

Singular with Plural with Countable Nouns: 

 

Si a todo esto añadimos otro tipo de problemas medio ambientales.

If to all this we add another kind of environmental problem.

Caption 16, 3R - Campaña de reciclaje

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Yo sí tengo la esperanza que se reduzc'... se reduzcan este tipo de eventos, ¿no?

I do have the hope that these types of occurrences will be red'... will be reduced, right?

Caption 57, Amigos D.F. - El secuestrar

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Singular with Singular (with a Single Countable Noun): 

 

¿Qué tipo de habitación desea?

What kind of room would you like?

Caption 10, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa - Capítulo 1

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Note that in the case above, habitación is considered a single noun since the gentleman being addressed is only looking for one room; hence the singular with singular construction.

 

Uncountable Nouns: 

In both Spanish and English, uncountable nouns (nouns like "water," "coffee," "love," etc. that cannot be counted) go in singular with tipo de (or "type(s)" or "kind(s)") of as follows: 

 

Y digamos que conforme se va fabricando ese tipo de líquido,

And let's say that just as that type of liquid is being produced,

Caption 92, Animales en familia - La operación de Yaki

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En ellos, recibió todo tipo de apoyo de sus simpatizantes.

In them, he got all kinds of support from his followers.

Caption 35, Andrés Manuel López Obrador - Publicidad de Obrador

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To add further confusion for English speakers (sorry!), in most such cases with "partitive" (referring to part of a whole) constructions like "tipo de," the verb can be conjugated in either singular or plural! Let's take a look at a couple of examples:

 

En cuanto al tipo de... trabajos que me gusta ver.

In terms of the types of... projects that I like to see.

Caption 22, Álvaro - Arquitecto Español en Londres

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Note that the verb gustar is conjugated in first person in accordance with the singular noun el tipo. However, without changing the translation, it would be perfectly acceptable to instead conjugate gustar in accordance with the plural trabajos:

 

En cuanto al tipo de... trabajos que me gustan ver.

In terms of the types of... projects that I like to see.

 

Let's look at one more example: 

 

Además, en la conjugación de los verbos,

Also, in the conjugation of verbs,

este tipo de sufijos nos indican.

these types of suffixes tell us.

Captions 35-36, Carlos explica - Diminutivos y Aumentativos Cap 1: Los sufijos

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While indicar is conjugated in accordace with the plural noun sufijos, it could alternatively be conjugated in accordance with the singular noun tipo

 

Además, en la conjugación de los verbos,

Also, in the conjugation of verbs,

este tipo de sufijos nos indica.           

these types of suffixes tell us.

 

Finally, it is worth noting that, in the cases of particular Spanish linking verbs like ser (to be), estar (to be), or parecer (to seem), the verb is nearly always conjugated in plural when followed by a subject complement (most simply defined as an "attribute"), as follows: 

 

Este tipo de bicicletas están pensadas

This type of bicycle is planned

para desplazamientos cortos.

for short distances.

Captions 5-6, Raquel - Alquilar una bicicleta

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To conclude, although we have focused on tipo de for the purpose of this lesson, other "partitive constructions" like el resto de (the rest of), la mayor parte de (most of), la mayoría de (most of), etc. function the same way.

 

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

 

Uses of Ya - Part 1

Uses of ya - Part 2

The shortest adverb in Spanish, the word ya derives from the Latin iam, which is also the origin of the Portuguese , French déjà, and Italian giàIam also originated another Spanish adverb: jamás ("never," iam + magis).

But the use of the word ya in Spanish has evolved beyond its function as an adverb of time meaning “already.” Nowadays, ya can be used as a conjunction, an interjection, a different type of adverb, or even as part of idiomatic phrases. It's actually a very popular word! Let's see a few examples.

First, let's see an example where ya simply means "already":
 

Ya tenemos listo aquí nuestro pollo.

We already have our chicken ready here.

Caption 17, [Bears in the Kitchen] Osos en la cocina - Pollo asiático

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One interesting usage of the word ya is as a conjunción distributiva (the equivalent in English are correlative conjunctions)The classic way to do so is by repeating the word ya before each option in a given list of items, for example: Ya con alegría, ya con tristeza (whether with happiness, whether with sorrow). However, this is a little bit too poetic for everyday speech, so you would find that people substitute the second ya with a more common conjunction, the disjunctive o (or). For example:

 

...ya sea en ayunas o luego de haber comido algo.

...whether fasting or after having eaten something.

Caption 12, Los médicos explican - La diabetes

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You may have noticed the use of the verb sea, subjunctive of the verb ser (to be). This combination is very common, so you may want to add ya sea (whether it be) as a single expression in your vocabulary. Take note that sea can be omitted too in Spanish, so you can say: ya en ayunaso luego de haber comido.

Another common use of ya is when it's combined with the conditional si (if). It may translate as "already" in some cases:
 

Si ya estás instalado en Barcelona...

If you are already settled in Barcelona...

Caption 63, Blanca - Cómo moverse en Barcelona

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Or as "now":
 
Si ya no nos queda nada porque luchar
If now there is nothing left for us to fight for

Or as "anymore":

Si ya no me quieres...
If you don't love me anymore...

Ya meaning "not anymore" is always accompanied by negation, of course. Ya no (“no more,” sometimes also translated as “enough”) is a very common expression too, definitely worth adding to your lexicon.

 

Los medicamentos caducados o

Expired medications or

que ya no vayas a necesitar...

[ones] that you are not going to need anymore...

Caption 69, 3R - Campaña de reciclaje

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Here's another one, with a little extra (the idiom hacer caso means "to pay attention"):

 

Lo que pasa es que ya no le hago caso.

The thing is that I don't pay attention to him anymore.

Caption 50, Guillermina y Candelario - El parque de diversiones

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Too Fast? Blame the Sinalefas - Part 1

Too Fast? Blame the Sinalefas - Part 2

Too Fast? Blame the Sinalefas - Part 3

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We commonly receive feedback from our readers about the challenges of learning Spanish. Spanish can indeed be challenging for English speakers; after all, we are talking about a Romance language with a very different grammatical structure. However, grammar doesn’t seem to be the area that people find most challenging about Spanish. Instead, most learners at Yabla Spanish complain about how fast Spanish is spoken! And they seem to be justified: according to recent research, Spanish is the second-fastest spoken language at a syllable-per-second velocity of 7.82, trailing just slightly behind Japanese, at 7.84, but way ahead of English, which, according to the same study, is spoken at an average rate of 6.19 syllables per second. There you have it. You should be proud that you are learning one of the fastest spoken languages in the world.

Learners seem to find Spanish particularly fast paced due to the fact that in Spanish contiguous vowels are pronounced as if they were part of a single syllable. We are not talking about diphthongs or mere contractions such as de+el = del or a+el = al. We are talking about sinalefas: the merging of vowels that are part of different contiguous words.

Sinalefas makes Spanish challenging because they result in the merging of several words that are pronounced as one, without interruptions. Since sinalefas can merge up to five vowels, even a simple sentence such as Envidio a Eusebio (I envy Eusebio) becomes hard to understand when it is actually pronounced as envidioaeusebio. If you can’t tell where a word ends and another begins, how can you know for sure what a speaker is saying? The answer is listening practice.

There are many different types of sinalefas or “monosyllabic groups of vowels” in Spanish, as modern grammar specialists also call them. Let’s try to find examples of the most frequent ones in our catalog of authentic Spanish videos. In this lesson we will cover examples of sinalefas that merge two vowels only.

Sinalefas with two identical vocales átonas (unstressed or atonic vowels) are very common: casa alegre (happy home), le escucho (I listen to you), Lucy intenta (Lucy tries), etc. These sinalefas are pronounced with a long sound, just as if the two vowels were inside a single word, like acreedor (creditor), zoológico (zoo), contraataque (counterattack).

 

No olvides que los envoltorios de cartón, papel y envases de vidrio...

And don't forget that cardboard and paper covers and glass bottles...

Caption 46, 3R - Campaña de reciclaje

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Sinalefas with two identical vowels, one of which is a vocal tónica (stressed vowel), are pronounced as a single stressed vowel (remember that a stressed vowel may or may not have a written accent). The following example contains two contiguous sinalefas of this kind, and you may hear some speakers merging both of them:
 

¿Qué está haciendo?

What are you doing?

Caption 40, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa

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Sinalefas with different vocales átonas (unstressed vowels) are very common and perhaps some of the most used. They are pronounced as a single unstressed syllable. The first sinalefa in the following example is of one of this kind. But the second sinalefa (dejóalgo) merges two vocales tónicas (stressed vowels) and in this case, if the sinalefa is actually produced, both vowels get merged but lean on the more open vowel (the a in algo).
 

...porque todo aquel que vino dejó algo.

...because everybody who came left something.

Caption 73, Horno San Onofre - La Historia de la Pastelería

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Can you identify the sinalefas in the following example?
 

Ya nada sería igual en la vida de ambos.

Nothing would be the same in their lives.

Caption 65, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro

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Be aware that Spanish speakers don't pronounce sinalefas every single time. Weather sinalefas are used or not depends on many factors: personal preference, regional variants (for example some learners find that Mexican Spanish is way faster than, let’s say, Ecuadorian or Venezuelan Spanish), or even context (for example when a speaker is trying to speak clearly or very emphatically, he or she may not merge many words). Here’s an example in which the speaker is clearly not pronouncing two possible sinalefas (súnico and equipajera), but he does pronounce a third one: únicoe. Can you guess why?
 

Y su único equipaje era la soledad

And her only baggage was solitude

Caption 20, Gardi - Leña apagada

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If you said "because these are the lyrics of a song," you are right! Sinalefas and their opposites, hiatos, are some of the most common poetic tools used to ensure proper meter. As a listening exercise for the week, we invite you to find two-vowel sinalefas in our videos and listen carefully to decide whether the speaker is actually merging the vowels or not. We will continue exploring the world of Spanish sinalefas in future lessons.

The Verb Poder - Common Expressions

The verb poder (to be able, can) is one of the 10 most common verbs in Spanish. This verb is irregular, which means that it's unique in its conjugations. Let's study some common expressions in which this verb is used.
 
Most of the time the verb poder functions as an auxiliary verb (just like its English counterparts "can" and "could"), but in Spanish poder is followed by an infinitive. In the present tense you could find it used to express the ability or permission to do something:
 

Hay mucho que tú puedes hacer.

There is a lot that you can do.

Caption 44, 3R - Campaña de reciclaje

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¿Yo puedo ir a tú casa?

Can I go to your house?

Caption 65, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 15

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Compare this to the use of puedo with reflexive pronouns in the same video:

 

¿Yo me puedo apuntar a eso? -Claro.

Can I sign up for that? -Sure.

Caption 28, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 15

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You can also use the reflexive pronoun as a suffix of the verb in the infinitive. So it's also correct to say puedo apuntarme (can I sign up). In Spanish the idea behind the use of reflexive here is that you write down your own name yourself. If you don't use the reflexive and only say puedo apuntar, then the expression means I can write down. For example: puedo apuntar tu nombre (I can write down your name).
 
The combination of the reflexive with the verb poder is also used to talk about abilities or possibilities in an impersonal way. For this you will always use the pronoun se, and the third-person of the verb. For example, se puede nadar (one can swim). Many Spanish speakers use an abbreviation of the impersonal expression ¿se puede pasar? (literally "may one come in?") as a courtesy before entering a house or a room:
 

¿Se puede?

May I?

Sí. -Sí. -Soy Toñi. -Encantada.

Yes. -Yes. -I'm Toñi. -Glad to meet you.

Captions 7-8, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 14

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Of course, you can also not use the impersonal and say ¿puedo pasar? (May I come in?). The equivalent of the shortened expression "may I" is simply ¿puedo?, which, as in English, can be used to ask for permission to do something, not only entering a room.
 
Now, the combination of the verb poder with the reflexive se can also indicate the use of a special type of passive voice. In the following example, the doctor is talking about ozone:
 

Se puede obtener artificialmente a partir de descargas eléctricas.

It can be obtained artificially through electrical discharges.

Caption 6, Los médicos explican - Beneficios del ozono

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FYI: the normal passive voice construction for this would be: puede ser obtenido (it can be obtained).
 
We will continue studying more expressions that use the verb poder with other tenses and moods in a future lesson. We leave you with a very common expression of disbelief or surprise that uses the verb poderno puede ser (it can’t be). We even have a series titled NPS, an acronym of no puede ser. ¿Puedes creerlo? (can you believe it?)

 

¡No puede ser! -¡No puede ser!

It can't be! -It can't be.

Caption 52, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso

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Commands in Spanish: The Informal Imperative

Do you enjoy giving orders? Let's study the imperative mood in Spanish so you can do it correctly and guarantee obedience from your subjects. 

Imperatives are phrases used to tell someone to do something. One easy way to give commands in Spanish is using the verbs mandar and ordenar (to command) with the phrases ordeno que or mando que + a verb in subjunctive (2nd person). For example, ordeno que bailes (I order you to dance), or les mando que vayan a la tienda (I order you guys to go to the store). However, and this is true in English as well, giving commands in such way may be adequate for a king or a general, but not for nice regular folks like us. So how do people normally give commands in Spanish? Usually with a single verb, just like in English. Check out the following quote:

 

¡Pues vente aquí a la cocina, anda, que no sé lo que estás haciendo!

Come here to the kitchen, come on, I don't know what are you doing!

Caption 31, Club de las ideas - Seguridad en internet

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This example shows two variations of single-word commands in Spanish: the first one, vente (come), includes a suffix pronoun, and the second one, anda (come), doesn't. It’s also correct to say ¡Pues ven aquí a la cocina, andate, que no sé lo que estás haciendo! These suffixes are very common but not always necessary: sometimes they point to the existence of direct and indirect objects, sometimes they indicate you are using a reflexive verb, etc. In many occasions they are simply used to add emphasis, as in the example above. Saying ¡Pues ven aquí a la cocina, anda, que no sé lo que estás haciendo! is perfectly correct.

To learn how to conjugate imperatives is a different story. There are basically three possibilities: Informal  and vosotros (you singular and plural), formal usted and ustedes (you singular and plural), and nosotros (we) commands. It's also important to make a distinction between regular verbs (like andar, "to go") and irregular verbs (like venir, "to come"). For now, let’s stick to regular verbs. We can revisit the subject in a future lesson to learn the imperative form of some common irregular verbs.

The imperative for the informal  (singular you) and vosotros (plural you) is the most common and perhaps the more challenging. Let's use the regular verbs amar (to love), temer (to fear), partir (to leave) as models to learn how to build these imperative forms.

For  (you) we must use the same form of the verb that we use for the third person of the indicative:

(tú) ama, teme, parte - (you) love, fear, leave

To create the imperative for vosotros (plural you) we have to substitute the letter "r" from the infinitive with a "d:"

(vosotros) amad, temed, partid - (you plural) love, fear, leave

in the Americas people use ustedes instead of vosotros, right? Well, to make the imperative for ustedes use the present subjunctive for the same person:

(ustedes) amen, teman, partan - (you plural) love, fear, leave

Let's take a moment to test the rules we mentioned above. Is it true that ama is the imperative of amar for  and also the third person of the indicative (he, she, it)?

Ama a tu esposa (love your wife) - Imperative tú (you)
Él ama a su esposa (He loves his wife) - Indicative third person (he, she, it)

It's true. Now, that you can transform the infinitive form of amar (to love), temer (to fear), partir (to leave) into the imperative for vosotros by replacing the r for a d is self evident: amad, temed, partid. Here’s an example using the regular verb mirar (to see):

 

y mirad lo que vamos a hacer ahora.

and look what we are going to do now.

Caption 71, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli

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Perfect. Now let's see if the imperative for ustedes and the present subjunctive share the same form:

Teman al dios de fuego (Fear the god of fire) - imperative ustedes (you plural).
Yo dudo que ustedes teman al dios de fuego (I doubt that you fear the god of fire) - present subjunctive ustedes (you plural).

 

It's true as well. Here are more examples of the imperative for tú, vosotros, and ustedes:

 

Aprende el sentido de las tres erres.

Learn the meaning of the three Rs.

Caption 21, 3R - Campaña de reciclaje

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Escuchad, escuchad, queridos súbditos.

Hear, hear, worthy subjects.

Caption 24, Cuentos de hadas - Cenicienta

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Pregúntenle primero al corazón, hablen primero con Cupido

First ask the heart, speak first with Cupid

Caption 7, Mennores - Enamorarme Quiero

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A final note: it’s also possible to use negative sentences to give orders. For example: Niños, no coman insectos (Kids, don’t eat bugs). As you can see, the negative command for ustedes (you plural) has the same form than the positive command: coman (eat).  But the negative commands for  (you singular) and vosotros (you plural) use different conjugations. The negative commands for  and vosotros use instead the present subjunctive: no comas pan (don’t eat bread) and no comáis porquerías (don’t eat junk food). Let’s transform the last examples above into negative sentences:
 
No aprendas el sentido de las tres erres.
Don’t learn the meaning of the three Rs.
 
No escuchéis, no escuchéis, queridos súbditos.
Don’t listen, don’t listen, worthy subjects.
 
No le pregunten primero al corazón, no hablen primero con Cupido.
Don’t ask the heart first, don’t speak first with Cupid.

 

That Fancy Spanish...

If you have spent some time learning and listening Spanish, you have probably noticed that many common Spanish words have cognates in the fancy English vocabulary. This happens because Spanish is a romance language, that is, a language that directly evolved from vulgar Latin (and was even later enriched with classic Latin during the Middle Ages when Spanish became a written language), while approximately only 29% of the English vocabulary comes from Latinate sources.

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That's the reason why it's very common for a Spanish speaker to use verbs like estrangular (to choke) or canícula (dog days, midsummer heat) in everyday speech. In fact, similar words exist in English (to strangulate and canicule) but they are cultisms that are way too fancy to be used in everyday situations. On the other hand, and quite surprisingly, very often using these words is the only alternative you have to express something in Spanish. That's the case for estrangular (to strangulate, to choke) and canícula (dog days); really, there is no better, more common way to express such ideas in Spanish than using those words.

Words that are used to describe diseases and medical terms in Spanish are also great examples. In Spanish it's common to say (and make the distinction between) el oculista (oculist) and el optometrista (optometrist), while an expression like "el doctor de ojos" (the Eye doctor) may be understood, but sounds very much like toddler talking to Spanish speakers. And there are even stranger examples, some of which may sound like tongue twisters for you. Take for example the common otorrinolaringólogo (ear nose and throat doctor, otorhinolaryngologist). But let's try to find examples from our catalog.

In Spanish, the verb aliviar means either "to get better" or "to cure," or "to alleviate" and it's just as common as the verb curar (to cure). In English the verb to alleviate is much more fancy, and it's only used in certain contexts, usually very formal or written speech:
 

Estoy enfermo, espérense a que me alivie.

I'm sick; wait until I get better.

Caption 19, El Ausente - Acto 1

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The nouns cicatriz (scar) and cicatrización (scar healing) as well as the verb cicatrizar (to heal a scar) are common in Spanish, while "cicatrix," "to cicatrize" or "cicatrization" are less common in English:
 

Tiene la cicatriz, vivió en Misiones

He has the scar, he lived in Misiones

y tiene la misma sonrisa de Franco.

and he has the same smile as Franco.

Caption 16, Yago - 10 Enfrentamientos

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The adjetives primordial  and esencial are both commonly used in Spanish, usually as synonyms. English, on its part, does have the word "primordial," but the use of "essential" is more common in everyday speech:
 

Es importante, primordial, muy necesario.

It's important, essential, very necessary.

Caption 3, Bersuit Vergarabat - EPK 

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Another example is the word subterráneo ("subterranean", but most commonly "underground"):
 

Contaminación de las aguas superficiales o subterráneas

Pollution of surface and underground waters

Caption 7, 3R - Campaña de reciclaje

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In Spanish the word docente is both an adjective meaning "teacher-related" and a noun that is synonymous with maestro (teacher). It's a common word in and it's used in many Spanish expressions. In contrast, the English word docent is far less common and, it has a slightly different meaning
 

Es más, es que no se entiende la labor docente de otra manera.

Moreover, the thing is that the teaching job should not be understood in any other way.

Caption 13, Club de las ideas - La motivación

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The list goes on and on. Let's see one more example. In Spanish it's common to use the noun equilibrio (balance) and the verb equilibrar (to balance), both words are just as common as balance (balance) and balancear ("to balance", but also "to swing"). In contrast, English reserves the use of "equilibrium" and "to equilibrate" for scientific or highbrow language.  

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Tú eres todo lo que me equilibra.

You're everything that balances me.

Caption 28, Calle 13 - Un Beso De Desayuno

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Vocabulary

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