Spanish Lessons


Palabras Agudas: Stress at the End

Let's talk about stress — not the kind you are feeling during this pandemic — the kind we use in speech, where we give more emphasis to one syllable of a word or another. In all Spanish words, there's one syllable that gets stressed, so we divide words into four groups according to which syllable gets the stress. Let's take a look:


Palabras agudas (Oxytone words) | Last syllable
Palabras graves (Paroxytone words) | Second-to-last syllable
Palabras esdrújulas (Proparoxytone words) | Third-to-last syllable
Palabras sobresdrújulas (Over-proparoxytone words) | Any syllable before the third-to-last syllable
Today, we will talk about palabras agudas. Let’s look at a couple of words:


Palabras como "corazón" o "tambor" son palabras agudas.

Words like "corazón" [heart] or "tambor" [drum] are oxytone words.

Caption 22, Carlos explica - Acentuación Cap. 4: Clasificación de las palabras según el acento

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The word corazón has three syllables (co | ra | zón) and the stress falls on the last syllable “zón.” Similarly, the word tambor has two syllables (tam | bor) and the stress falls on the last syllable “bor.”
However, the word corazón has an accent mark (tilde) on top of the “ó,” while the “o” in the last syllable of tambor doesn’t have that accent. Why? Because oxytone words need that accent ONLY when they end in “n”, in “s” or in a vowel:

La manera más simple de llegar a Barcelona es con el autobús

The simplest way to get to Barcelona is by bus

Caption 27, Blanca - Cómo moverse en Barcelona

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El coquí es un sapito que tenemos aquí en Puerto Rico.

The coquí is a little frog that we have here in Puerto Rico.

Caption 31, Carli Muñoz - Niñez - Part 1

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The word autobús has three syllables (au | to | bús) and the stress falls on the last syllable. Since this word ends in “s,” we need to put a tilde on the vowel of the last syllable. Likewise, the word coquí (co | quí) is stressed on the last syllable and we need to put the tilde on the “í” since this word ends in a vowel.
Important! In Spanish the accent mark ( ´ ) can only be placed on top of a vowel.


There are many oxytone words in Spanish. In fact, all verbs in the infinitive are palabras agudas:


¿Quieres tomar algo de beber, Raquel?

Do you want to have something to drink, Raquel?

Caption 22, Raquel - Presentaciones

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Both tomar ( to | mar) and beber (be | ber) have two syllables and the stress falls on the last one. However, since they both end in “r,” the accent mark is not needed.

That's it for now. If you feel like practicing a little bit more, take one of our videos and try to find all the oxytone words without a tilde. And of course, don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to

Combining Subjunctive with Indicative

The Spanish subjunctive is one of the most challenging concepts for English speakers to master. Even though English does actually have a subjunctive mood (already challenging by itself), its use is more associated with formal and written speech. By contrast, Spanish uses the subjunctive in everyday situations far more often. And it gets even more challenging if you consider the many ways in which the subjunctive can be combined with other moods in Spanish. So let's try to tackle this prickly subject. But instead of talking about rules and grammar, let's try to take a more practical approach by learning and analyzing model sentences. 


A brief intro. It's very likely that you have already read a lot about the subjunctive. You know that it is not a tense but a mood. That it doesn't refer to the time when an action takes place (past, present, future, etc.), but rather that it reflects how the speaker feels about it. Therefore, that it's radically different from the most commonly used indicative mood, which expresses factual information, certainty, and objectivity. Very much like an evil twin, the subjunctive is used to express the opposite: things like doubt, uncertainty, subjectivity, etc. We have explored the basic use of the subjunctive before in previous lessons, and you are welcome to explore them again. Some are:


Using que [that] + subjunctive to express good wishes
Como si fuese: Learning to use the subjunctive
Haya: For Possibilities and Doubts


We also have a couple of videos on the subjunctive:

El Aula Azul - La Doctora Consejos - Subjuntivo y condicional 
Escuela Don Quijote - En el aula - Part 1

In this lesson we will focus on the use of the subjunctive combined with the indicative mood by studying model sentences. Take note: we will always use bold to highlight the subjunctive and underlining for the indicative. Also, we recommend that you use if you need to check out the Spanish verb conjugation charts.

The Spanish present subjunctive is notoriously used combined with the indicative present in sentences for which English uses only the indicative. There is a memorable sentence you can use as a model to remember this: 

Quiero que me quieras

I want you to want me

Caption 1, Gael García Bernal - Quiero Que Me Quieras

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So never say quiero que me quieres, ok? That makes the same sense in Spanish that "I want that you would want me" makes in English. Get it? Another example: don't say no deseo que sufres, instead say no deseo que sufras ( I don't want you to suffer). 
Present subjunctive can be combined with indicative future:

Desearé que tengas un buen viaje

I'll wish that you have a good journey

Captions 40-41, Kany Garcia - Hoy Ya Me Voy

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Now, you can also combine the past indicative with the past subjunctive. The easiest and most common case is when you combine the pretérito del indicativo (simple past indicative) with pretérito imperfecto subjuntivo (past imperfect subjunctive). Call it the Simple Past Mash-up:

Siempre quise que fueras feliz.

I always wanted you to be happy.

Caption 16, Yago - 3 La foto - Part 6

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Then you can also combine the pretérito imperfecto del indicativo (imperfect past indicative) with the same pretérito imperfecto subjuntivo (past imperfect subjunctive). As you may know, the imperfect is used to refer to past habitual actions or to set the scene in the past. So if this is of any help to you, you could call this the Habitual Past Mash-up. Here's a model sentence using the same verb querer (to want):

Ella quería que yo leyera.

She wanted me to read.

Caption 17, Carli Muñoz - Niñez - Part 1

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So, in Spanish you have these two options that translate the same way in English. Feel comfortable using either of them; the difference is quite subtle:

Ella no quizo que yo leyera / Ella no quería que yo leyera.
She didn't want me to read / She (habitually) didn't want me to read.

Note: there are other options to combine the past indicative with the past subjunctive, but we'll skip them since they use compound forms of the verb and are not used that often in common speech. Instead, let's analyze and learn some interesting combinations of present indicative with past subjunctive next.

Spanish speakers use present indicative with past subjunctive and vice versa. This happens with the past perfect tense (either in the subjunctive or in the indicative moods) because of its proximity to the present tense.

When it's present indicative with past subjunctive, it's with the pretérito perfecto subjuntivo, a compound tense in the subjunctive mood that uses the verb haber (to have) plus a participio (the -ado, -ido, -to, -so, -cho ending):

No creo que hayas venido nada más que para decirme algo que yo ya sé.

I don't think that you've come just to tell me something that I already know.

Caption 12, Muñeca Brava - 3 Nueva Casa - Part 10

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We suggest you to practice this model sentence with other persons and forms of this subjunctive (using different participios as well):
No creo que hayan tomado mucha cerveza / I don't think that they've drunk a lot of beer.
No creo que él haya salido de ahí / I don't think that he has come out of there.
No creo que hayamos  impreso eso / I don't think that we've printed that.
No creo que hayas dicho eso / I don't think that you've said that out.

Note also that here no creo (I don't think) is expressing doubt, and that's why the sentence needs the use of subjunctive. If we were to say the opposite, yo creo (I think), we could also combine it with a past tense but in the indicative mood. For the first example: Creo que han tomado mucha cerveza (I think they have drunk a lot of beer).

Finally, the other way around, Spanish speakers can use past indicative with present subjunctive. When this happens it's with the pretérito perfecto indicativo, a compound tense in the indicative mood that uses the verb haber (to have) plus aparticipio (the -ado, -ido, -to, -so, -cho ending):
Él no ha querido que yo diga nada.
He hasn't wanted me to say anything.


And that's it for now. Who said this lesson wouldn't be loaded with grammar? Anyway, we suggest that you learn the model sentences and try to build new ones making substitutions. We will continue next week analyzing sentences that combine subjunctive with other two moods: the conditional and the imperative.

El resto / Lo Demás - There's More to the Story

After pianist Carli Muñoz tells us about his formative musical years, he wraps up with:


Y ya, el resto es historia.

And that's it, the rest is history.

Caption 75, Carli Muñoz - Niñez

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Well, it's pretty easy for native English speakers: "El resto" means "the rest" or "the remainder."

Carli could just as well have used lo demás and the meaning
would have been the same.

...lo demás es historia...
...the rest is history...

Lo demás also means "the rest" or "the remainder" and is reserved for referring to abstract concepts (such as "the story") or an indefinite/unspecific group of things.

Te amo y lo demás no importa. [abstract concept]
I love you and the rest is not important
(nothing else matters).

Trae la valija negra y lo demás dejalo en el living. [things/stuff]
Bring the black suitcase and leave the rest (of it) in the living room.

When referring to people, the singular lo demás is not ever used, however the plural los demás is used (and used often):


Me siento tan feliz de ver la vida como los demás

I feel so happy to see life like all the rest (the way everyone else does)

Caption 23, Joselo - Sobriedad

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Muchos espectadores se fueron, pero los demás aplaudieron.
Many of the spectators left, but the rest applauded.

Los demas also comes into play if we are talking about specific remaining items in a group of things.

Yo quiero tres galletas. Puedes dar los demás a tus amigos.
I want three cookies. You can give the rest to your friends.

El resto can also be used when talking about people, or rather when talking about people as a singular group:

Muchos espectadores se fueron, pero el resto (de los espectadores) aplaudió.
Many of the spectators left, but the rest applauded.

Note that what we wouldn't want to do in the above example is use los restos (in an attempt to pluralize el resto), because we would no longer be talking about the remaining spectators, but rather about their "mortal remains."


Ubican, el pancito, los oritos, los alimentos en sí, en el lugar mismo donde que está ubicado en este caso, los restos mortales de sus familiares.

They place, the bread, the gold, the food itself, in the same place where it's located in this case, the mortal remains of their relatives.

Captions 12-14, Tradiciones indígenas - Visitando los difuntos

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Olga pidió que llevaran los restos de su padre a Roma, donde él vivió sus últimos años.
Olga asked that her father's remains be returned to Rome, where he spent his last years.


If you'd like to bend your cabeza around this topic some more, there is a discussion in that you are sure to enjoy reading.


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¡Guau! Jajajajaja

If you didn't know a word of Spanish, but you knew how to pronounce it, the following would instantly make sense to you:


De chiquitos, nos metíamos en esa barra, y ¡guau! ¡Ese órgano!

As kids, we would get into that bar, and wow! That organ!

Captions 37-38, Carli Muñoz - Niñez - Part 1

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En esa tienda de música, en la vitrina había un piano, un piano de cola. Guau... Una cosa extraordinaria.

At that music store, in the window there was piano, a grand piano. Wow... An extraordinary thing.

Captions 59-61, Carli Muñoz - Niñez - Part 1

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Listen to our interview with musician Carli Muñoz and you'll hear him wowed. Yes, he says: "¡Guau!" (pronounced as the English "Wow") twice in our four-minute segment. The spelling of "guau" is good to keep in mind when pronouncing other Spanish words that start with "Gua...." Two famous ones are geographic locations: the oft-sung Guantanamera (click here for a popular performance) and the infamous Guantánamo. If you're like many North Americans you may pronounce the latter "Gwan-TAN-a-mo," with the initial "G" audible (or you may just use the nickname "Gitmo"). But if you listen to native Spanish speakers, that initial "G" is so soft it all but disappears and the "W" sound is much clearer.


¡Guau! -Y éste ahora mismo está en dos kilos.

Wow! -And this one right now is at two kilograms.

Caption 96, Animales en familia - Un día en Bioparc: Coatís

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Before we move on, here are two more lines to decipher based on your knowledge of Spanish pronunciation:

¡Ja ja ja!

Stumped? The first was an events-listing website in Buenos Aires, which makes sense when you remember that "V" often sounds like "B" throughout the Spanish-speaking world and "Z" sounds like "S" in Latin America.


The second line is laughing, pronounced "Ha ha ha!," but with a more guttural "H" than we typically use in English. Remember, in Spanish, "H" is always silent, while "J" sounds closest to the "ch" of Scotland, Wales or Germany (as in Achtung, baby.) But a good memory aid is that "J"s approximate the "H" of English, and so "je je" sounds like "heh heh" and "ji ji" sounds like "hee hee."


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Caption 61, 60, 59, 38, 37

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