Spanish Lessons


Emergency Words

Let's learn some Spanish vocabulary related to emergency situations. We really hope you never find yourself needing to use these words, but it’s not a bad idea to keep them on hand.  


Some of the most well-known emergency words in Spanish are ayuda and auxilio:

¡Uy, auxilio! ¡Callen a ese gallo!

Oh, help! Shut up that rooster!

Caption 12, NPS No puede ser 1 - El concurso - Part 9

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The word socorro is less known:

¡Socorro! ¡Sáquenme!

Help! Get me out!

Captions 9-10, Yago - 2 El puma - Part 7

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Remember that being able to cry for help is just as important as remaining calm:

Cálmate, Yas. Para que te tranquilices, te voy a regalar un poquito del agua.

Calm down, Yas. So that you calm down, I am going to give you a little bit of the water.

Captions 19-21, Kikirikí - Agua - Part 2

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Lately, the world has seen many natural disasters, especially massive hurricanes and earthquakes. You have to know what to do if you hear the phrase alerta de followed by the word huracán or ciclón (hurricane), or terremoto or sismo (earthquake):

En plena tormenta cuando va a entrar un huracán...

In the middle of the storm when a hurricane is coming...

Caption 17, Antonio Vargas - Artista - Comic

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El terremoto destruyó muchas casas.

The earthquake destroyed many houses.

Caption 18, Lecciones con Carolina - La voz pasiva - Part 2

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Maybe you'll need to go to an albergue or refugio (shelter):

Los tenemos en el albergue.

We have them at the shelter.

Caption 29, Otavalo - Patrulla Amigo Fiel - Salvemos a los perros callejeros

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Mieke y su hija viven en Amsterdam y acaban de llegar al refugio.

Mieke and her daughter live in Amsterdam and they have just arrived to the shelter.

Caption 7, Los Reporteros - Caza con Galgo - Part 5

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Certain phrases are very helpful in case of an emergency, for example, to call for medical help:

Alguien que llame a una ambulancia, por favor.

Someone should call an ambulance, please.

Caption 54, Muñeca Brava - 2 Venganza - Part 6

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Me duele (it hurts) is vital:

Gün, me duele la cabeza mucho.

Gün, my head hurts badly.

Caption 61, Escuela Don Quijote - En el aula - Part 1

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As is the phrase he tenido un accidente (I've had an accident):

Para que no tengamos ningún accidente...

So that we don't have any accident...

Caption 58, Adícora - Venezuela - Darío y el Kitesurfing

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Can you think of other emergency words that you would like to learn?


How to Use Direct and Indirect Pronouns - Part 1

How to Use Direct and Indirect Pronouns - Part 2

Direct and indirect object pronouns in Spanish are used to substitute indirect and direct objects. This lesson explores the proper way to do these substitutions using examples from our catalog of videos.


The direct and indirect object pronouns in Spanish are identical except for the third-person singular and plural (him, her, it, them)  and the second-person formal (you) forms:


Subject pronouns       Direct object pronouns      Indirect Object pronouns  







me me     me me



you   te you   te you


él, ella, usted




you (formal)

  lo, la





  le him, her, you


nosotros, nosotras


we   nos us   nos us


vosotros, vosotras


you (plural familiar)   os you (plural familiar)   os you (plural familiar)
ellos, ellas, ustedes      they,           you (plural       formal)   los, las them, you (plural formal)   les them, you (plural formal)




So, the pronoun me is used to substitute either the direct object, as in:

A Adícora me trajo el viento.

The wind brought me to Adícora.

Caption 7, Adícora - Venezuela - Darío y el Kitesurfing

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Or the indirect object, as in:

Mi papá había ido a Nueva York en un viaje de negocios y me trajo unos discos.

My father had gone to New York on a business trip and brought me some records.

Caption 1, Carli Muñoz - Niñez - Part 2

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In the previous example, me is the indirect object, while unos discos (some records) is the direct object, which is a plural masculine noun that according to our table is substituted by los (them). So, to substitute both objects you must say: me los trajo (he brought them to me).


Now, the pronoun te is used to substitute either the direct object:

Y de este lado sólo te revuelca, pero del otro lado te come

And from this side it only pushes you around, but from the other side it eats you

Captions 37-38, Antonio Vargas - Artista - Comic

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or the indirect object:

Bueno y por eso te traje las aspirinas.

Well, and that's why I brought you the aspirins.

Caption 43, Muñeca Brava - 2 Venganza - Part 7

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In the previous example, te is the indirect object, while las aspirinas (the aspirins) is the direct object, which is a plural feminine noun that according to our table is substituted by las (them). So, to substitute both objects you must say: te las traje (I brought them to you).


For the third person of singular (him, her, it & formal "you"), though, Spanish uses lola for direct object and le for indirect object. So, for a feminine noun as cicatriz (scar) in the direct object position we use la (in genderless English we use "it"):

Porque tiene una pequeña cicatriz en el brazo que sólo yo conozco porque se la hizo jugando conmigo.

Because he has a small scar on his arm that only I know about because he got it playing with me.

Captions 41-42, Yago - 10 Enfrentamientos - Part 2

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For a masculine noun as pollo (chicken) in the direct object position we use lo (again, English uses "it"):

Ya tenemos listo aquí nuestro pollo. Y lo decoramos con un poco de ajonjolí y cebollín.

We already have our chicken ready here. And we decorate it with a bit of sesame seeds and chives.

Captions 17-18, [Bears in the Kitchen] Osos en la cocina - Pollo asiático

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Take note that lo and la are also used for usted (the formal you) in the direct object position. Lo is used for a noun in the direct object position that designates a male person (Morgan):

Morgan, la Señorita Victoria está enterada de su regreso y lo espera en el escritorio.

Morgan, Miss Victoria is aware of your return and awaits you in the study.

Caption 29, Muñeca Brava - 18 - La Apuesta - Part 10

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Or la for a noun in the direct object position that designates a female person (let's say Ms. Gonzalez):

Señora Gonzalez, el doctor la verá a las diez.
Ms. Gonzalez, the doctor will see you at ten.


On the other hand, the indirect object uses a different pronoun le (him, her, it & formal "you"). So, for a masculine noun like muchacho (boy) in the indirect object position we use le:

Otro muchacho que nunca escuchó Los consejos que su madre le dio

Another boy that never listened To the advice his mother gave him

Captions 40-41, La Secta - Consejo

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And we would also use le if we were talking about una muchacha (a girl):

Otra muchacha que nunca escuchó los consejos que su madre le dio
Another girl that never listened to the words of advice his mother gave her


Equally, we use le if we are addressing someone formally:

Usted que nunca escuchó los consejos que su madre le dio
You who never listened to the words of advice your mother gave you


Got it? Now a test. How do you substitute not only the indirect object (muchacho, muchacha, usted), but also the direct object los consejos (the words of advise) in the previous examples? This is how:


Otro muchacho que nunca escuchó los que su madre le dio
Another boy that never listened to the ones his mother gave him


Otra muchacha que nunca escuchó los que su madre le dio
Another boy that never listened to the ones his mother gave her


Usted que nunca escuchó los que su madre le dio
You who never listened to the ones your mother gave you


It's interesting to note how English can't use "them" to replace "the words of advise" in this particular construction because the wording is odd (it's somehow odd in Spanish as well). So let's simplify the example (the indirect object and indirect pronouns appear in bold):


Mamá dio unos consejos al muchacho / Mamá se los dio.
Mom gave the boy some words of advise / Mom gave them to him.


Mamá dio unos consejos a la muchacha / Mamá se los dio.
Mom gave the girl some words of advise / Mom gave them to her.


Mamá dio unos consejos a usted / Mamá se los dio. 
Mom gave you some words of advise / Mom gave them to you.



As you can see, it was now possible to use "them" to replace "the words of advise" in English. But did you notice that Spanish used se instead of le to replace the indirect object this time! Why is that? Well, that's because in Spanish there's a special rule for combining pronouns: when le(s) and lo(s)/la(s) would end up next to each other in a sentence you must use se instead. So you can never say Mamá le los dio, you must say Mamá se los dio. We will learn more about this rule and continue with the plural forms of the direct and indirect pronouns in Part II of this lesson.


On Fault vs Falta

Let's see a few examples to learn the proper use of the Spanish word falta, false friend of the English word fault.

First of all, falta does mean "fault" in the context of sports:


El árbitro no vio la falta
The umpire didn't see the fault

The word falta in Spanish is also used in legal contexts. Una falta means "an offense" (the word ofensa also exists):

Que una misma persona cometiera distintas faltas de hurto.

That one person committed different robbery offenses.

Caption 49, Los Reporteros - Crecen los robos en tiendas - Part 4

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Also, in academic or laboral contexts, una falta means "an absence." If you don't go to school tu maestro te pone falta (your teacher marks you absent). Generally speaking una falta means "a lack" or "a shortage" and the verb faltar means "to lack," "to need" or "to be absent." Study the following examples:

Me hace falta un aguacate que voy a hacer una ensalada, eh.

I need one avocado and I'll make a salad, uh.

Caption 43, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 16

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Hoy estamos protestando por la falta de agua.

Today we are protesting because of the water shortage.

Caption 49, Kikirikí - Agua - Part 2

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It's interesting the way Spanish uses the word falta in expressions of time:

¿Qué será? Que falta un mes para la boda, ¿eh?

What would it be? That there is a month until the wedding, huh?

Caption 27, Yago - 8 Descubrimiento - Part 6

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You can also use the word falta with a pinch of sarcasm:

Lo único que me falta es que a los diez meses empiece a caminar...

The only thing I need now is that at ten months old she starts walking...

Caption 44, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro - Part 1

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In fact, the expression lo único que me falta (or lo único que me faltaba) alone, also exists, and it's commonly used sarcastically:

¡Lo único que me falta!

Just what I needed!

Caption 5, Muñeca Brava - 2 Venganza - Part 4

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Check out the following use of falta combined with the verb hacer and negation. It's a very common way to express that something is not needed or necessary:

¡No hace falta un abogado!

A lawyer is not necessary!

Caption 81, Adícora - Venezuela - Darío y el Kitesurfing

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And, of course, you can use falta + hacer without negation:

Eres Lo que a mi vida le hace falta si no vienes

You are what my life lacks if you don't come

Captions 6-7, Café Tacuba - Eres

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Finally, a useful tip. How do you say in Spanish "It's your fault?" Unless you are playing soccer with your friends, you shouldn't say "es tu falta." For that, Spanish uses the word culpa (guilt, blame). It may sound really extreme and weird to say "it's your guilt" in English, but es tu culpa is common in Spanish: 

Soy el hombre al que iban a enterrar vivo por tu culpa.

I am the man who they were going to bury alive because of you.

Caption 35, El Ausente - Acto 4 - Part 3

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You can use es tu culpa in the most trivial situations:

Por tu culpa perdimos el avión, querido.

It's your fault we missed the plane, dear.

Caption 16, Yago - 4 El secreto - Part 4

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Finally, another use of the word falta is in the expression faltas de ortografía (orthographic mistakes). You can combine it with the verb tener (to have) as in el ensayo tiene muchas faltas de ortografía (the essay has many orthographic mistakes), or with the verb cometer (to commit, to make) as in tú cometes muchas faltas de ortografía (you make a lot of ortographic mistakes). Thank you for reading!


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