Spanish Lessons


Combining Parts of Speech - Part 2

Combining Parts of Speech - Part 1

Combining Parts of Speech - Part 3

Combining Parts of Speech - Part 4


Let's continue reviewing examples of phrases that combine prepositions, articles and pronouns. In the previous lesson we talked about combining the preposition con (with) with the indefinite articles (el, la, los, las) and the pronoun que (that, which): con la que, con el que, con los que, con las que (with whom or with which). Let's see the examples, because in real context these phrases can be quite tricky. 

Les preguntaron cómo debería ser la escuela con la que ellos sueñan.

They were asked the question of what the school that they dream of should be like.

Captions 6-7, Club de las ideas - La escuela que queremos

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We can try a more literal translation just to see how Spanish works:  "what the school of/with which they dream should be like." Here's another example:

No me parecía el tipo de gente con el que yo me quería involucrar.

They didn't seem to be the kind of people I wanted to get involved with.

Caption 81, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 2

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Do you want a literal translation? Here it is: "they didn't seem to be the kind of people with which I wanted to get involved."

It seems that Spanish and English are more parallel when using the plural forms:

Estos espacios recrean un capítulo histórico con los que el coriano convive a diario.

These spaces recreate a historic chapter with which the Corian resident coexists daily.

Caption 38, Ciudades - Coro Colonial

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...y para beneficiar las comunidades con las que trabajamos.

...and to benefit those communities with whom we work.

Caption 48, De consumidor a persona - Short Film - Part 5

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Now let's see how to combine el que, la que, los que, las que with two similar prepositions: por and para. Understanding the difference between these two is a constant challenge, even for advanced learners, so you can never study them too much!


...aquí están las puertas abiertas para el que quiera trabajar. the doors are open for whomever wants to work.

Caption 38, Circo Infantil de Nicaragua - Learning the Trade

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...por el que transitan trece millones de clientes al año.

...through which thirteen million customers pass per year.

Caption 14, Los Reporteros - Crecen los robos en tiendas - Part 2

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Esa es buena para la que fuma el puro.

That one is good for the one who smokes cigars.

Caption 44, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 7

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Y ésta es la razón por la que cuando se piensa en un nombre que contribuya a...

And this is the reason why when one thinks of a name that contributes to...

Captions 22-23, El Instituto Cervantes - Director del Instituto

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Existe el metro y el autobús para los que tienes que comprar billetes.

There is the subway and the bus for which you have to buy tickets.

Captions 69-70, Blanca - Cómo moverse en Barcelona

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De las etapas por las que pasan los conjuntos...

Of the stages that groups go through...

Caption 74, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 3

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M Before P and B

A basic Spanish spelling rule: whenever you hear a nasal sound (m or n) before a p or b, you have to write m. For example, the first time you hear the word sombrero (hat), you might not be sure if you heard an m or an n sound before the b, but the rule tells us it has to be spelled with an m.


Un sombrero. -Listones. Mire qué listones más bonitos para que se haga unos moños.

A hat. Ribbons. -Look at what beautiful ribbons so that one can make some [hair] buns.

Captions 15-17, El Ausente - Acto 1 - Part 6

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This rule must be applied without exception. When a word that ends in an n is combined with a word that begins with a p or b to form a compound word like cien+piesciempiés (centipede) the n becomes an m. Some other examples of this are en+pollo (chicken) → empollar (to sit on eggs, to hatch), en+bala (bundle) → embalar (to pack) and en+belesa (the belesa is a narcotic plant) → embelesar (to captivate).  

Vamos a empollar veinte criaturas

Let's hatch twenty children

Caption 16, Calle 13 - Tango del pecado

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Take note, this rule doesn’t apply to v, despite the fact that native Spanish speakers often conflate it with b. In fact, in Spanish, it is also a rule that you should always write n before v.

La gente no me parecía... no me parecía el tipo de gente con el que yo me quería involucrar.

The people didn't seem to... they didn't seem to be the kind of people I wanted to get involved with.

Captions 80-81, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 2

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This rule is very useful when trying to figure out the proper way to spell certain Spanish words, especially considering that it is not uncommon to hear native speakers replace the m sound with an n sound. Listen to our Nicaraguan friend, Doña Coco:


Y hay mucho cristia'... este... católicos también.

And there's a lot of Christia'... I mean... Catholics also.

Caption 28, Doña Coco - Música

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Does it not sound like she might be saying tanbién, with an n, instead of también (also) with an m?

If you keep an ear out you are just as likely to hear anbiente for ambiente (environment) and inportante in place of importante (important). But remember, always write an m (not an n) before a p or a b, and an n (not an m) before a v.

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Cuestión: It's a Matter. Any Questions?

One final note on our chat with Arturo Vega. While he's talking about his realizations, he says:


Pero a mí... yo me di cuenta que no era nada más... cuestión de que yo estaba absorbiendo o que me gustaba...

But for me... I realized that it was not just... [a] question of me capturing or of me liking...

Captions 19-20, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 2

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Here is an additional example from some mushroom hunters in Aracena, Spain:


Yo afición. Yo soy profesor de cocina, y... y no es sólo cuestión de cocinar alimentos, sino ver origen.

Me, [as a] hobby. I am a cooking teacher, and... and it's not only a question of cooking food, but to see the origin.

Captions 77-78, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 11

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Early in your Spanish careers, you probably learned that a question to your Spanish teacher was "una pregunta." Meanwhile, the related, sound-alike word, "una cuestión," is better defined as "a matter, issue or question to be debated or resolved." So, "a question" or "matter" -- as in "a question/matter of taste" -- is translated as una cuestión when it's referring to an issue at stake. Meanwhile, "a question" that takes a question mark (?) is "una pregunta."


Any other questions? ¿Hay más preguntas?


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Darse Cuenta: Realizing Through Repetition

Asked about his influences in the arts, Arturo Vega gives a long, thoughtful answer that includes one particular verb phrase over and over. Here are the excerpts:


Después de la actuación... me di cuenta que... mi talento o mi vocación... era mejor... lo visual.

After acting... I realized that... my gift or my vocation... was really good at... the visual.

Captions 10-13, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 2

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Me he dado cuenta que mi manera de percibir y de valorizar...

I have found that my way of perceiving and appreciating...

Captions 14-15, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 2

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Pero a mí... yo me di cuenta que no era nada más... cuestión de que yo estaba absorbiendo o que me gustaba...

But for me... I realized that it was not just... [a] question of me capturing or of me liking...

Captions 19-20, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 2

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...sino que me di cuenta que podía hacer algo con la información visual.

...but that I realized that I could do something with visual information.

Caption 22, Arturo Vega -Entrevista - Part 2

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Y... y me da... me di cuenta del gusto...

And... and it gives me... I became aware of the pleasure...

Caption 24, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 2

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Me di cuenta que no tienes que por qué [sic] saber dibujar ni pintar para...

I realized that you don't need to know how to draw or paint in order to...

Caption 31, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 2

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Through repetition, you learn. Here our lesson is clear: Darse cuenta = "to realize". Yes, it's used often, you must realize.


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Caption 31, 24, 22, 20, 19, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10

Estudiastes: A Heated Debate

In Part 2 of our chat with Arturo Vega, artistic director of The Ramones, the interviewer asks:


¿Entonces tú estudiastes [sic] esto? ¿Estudiastes este arte o eso ya fue algo que tú...?

Then did you study this? Did you study this art or was it something that you...?

Captions 45-47, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 2

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If you've studied basic Spanish grammar, you've probably learned that the correct second-person preterite of estudiar (a regular, -ar verb) is () estudiaste without a final 's.' So what was the interviewer saying -- not once but twice? Was she so tongue-tied in the presence of Vega that she couldn't speak her own language without adding stray s's? Or was it simply a manner of speaking that you don't come across in textbooks?

Elsewhere in the interview, we
heard the same -astes ending on another -ar verb:


Que otros artistas que... quizás nos están viendo hoy pueden a... aprender algo más de cómo tú desarrollastes tu... tu... tu trabajo.

That other artists who... may be watching us today can be... can learn something more about how you developed your... your... your work.

Captions 6-8, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 2

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(Use the "slow" button on the Yabla player and you'll hear that there's no mistaking that there is a final 's' there.)

After asking around (and browsing online), we found that some Spanish speakers in many countries (Spain included) do indeed say () estudiastes, even though it's considered improper. People also say things like "() comistes" and "() dijistes," equally frowned upon by grammarians.

Among professional translators and other highly educated multi-lingual folks, we found
heated debates on message boards about -astes/ -istes. Some say the endings came from the Spanish vosotros (-asteis/ -isteis) form. Some note that all other endings for "" verbs end with an "s," so it comes as a natural extension of Spanish grammatical rules ("pattern pressure"). Some argue it is acceptably "casual" in some settings while others insist it is dead wrong and painful to hear.


As you yourself navigate la habla hispana (the Spanish-speaking world), there is a good chance you will continue to encounter this usage. You may have even already danced salsa to such tunes as Cuando Llegastes Tú (Louie Ramirez) or Llegastes Tú (Ray Sepúlveda). Unless your spoken Spanish is of such an extremely high level that you can easily slip in and out of "dialect" depending on what community you are socializing in (and you really feel compelled to "fit in"), you probably don't want to adopt this style yourself. And when writing, it's definitely best to refrain altogether.


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