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Tres verbos amigos

The basic meaning of the verbs aplastar and aplanar is "to flatten." You will hear many Spanish speakers using these as synonyms, though aplastar is way more common. There's a subtle difference, however, between these two verbs, since aplastar may imply a more drastic action and is sometimes better translated as "to crush," while aplanar involves a more controlled and careful activity. So, for example, you want to say aplasté a la cucaracha (I crushed the cockroach) rather than aplané a la cucaracha (I flattened the cockroach), right? In a similar (but less icky) way, our friend Meli prefers to use aplanar when giving instructions for her crafty projects:

aplanas para que quede uniforme.

And you flatten it so that it's even.

Caption 25, Manos a la obra - Postres de Minecraft

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The following example is enlightening, for it shows how aplastar may be okay for smashed potatoes but not for picatostes (croutons):


Cuando le das con el cuchillo se aplasta.

When you stick it with the knife, it flattens out.

Caption 96, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli

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As we mentioned before, aplastar is more frequently used than aplanar, especially when used figuratively, and so you can find several videos using aplastar in our catalog. Here's one example:

...y no dejándose aplastar por el poder del día.

...and not letting the power of the day crush you.

Caption 26, Andrés Manuel López Obrador - En campaña

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But there's a third verb that is close to aplastar and aplanar. It's a funny-sounding word (and one with a very polemic etymology by the way: here's a good article about it) that's perfect for crushing gooey, crunchy bugs because its sound is actually reminiscent of squeezing/smashing. We are talking about the verb apachurrar (to smash, to crush). A purist would say that Meli is not being extremely precise with language by using apachurrar in the context of making crafts:

Ya que tenemos una esferita como ésta,

Now that we have a little sphere like this one,

la vamos a apachurrar.

we are going to press it down.

Captions 41-42, Manos a la obra - Borradores y marcatextos

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You can see that she actually pressed down the little sphere quite gently, so maybe using aplanar or even aplastar would have been more accurate to describe what she is doing. But hey, who wouldn’t want to say apachurrar when you have mastered rolling your R's as nicely as she has!
You may have noticed that all three verbs, aplanaraplastar, and apachurrar, start with the prefix a-. This is because they belong to a group of Spanish verbs (verbos parasintéticos) that are created by adding the prefix a- or en- to nominal or adjectival forms. Some common examples are enamorar ("to fall in love" or "to inspire love"), apasionar (to be passionate about), encarcelar (to incarcerate) and atemorizar (to frighten). One verb in this group is alisar (to make smooth or straight), which has some resemblance in meaning to the verbs aplanar, aplastar, and apachurrar:

Además me acabo de... de alisar el cabello.

Besides I just finished... straightening my hair.

Caption 44, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso

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This is the end of this lesson. But ¡no te apachurres, no te aplanes, no te aplastes! ("Don't get depressed," get it?) We have many more lessons on the site!

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)!


Summer Vocabulary Expressions in Spanish

Let's learn some Spanish expressions related to the summer season.


Hace, the impersonal form of the verb hacer (to do, to make) is essential to talk about the weather in Spanish. Do you want to know how to say "it's hot"?


Ferné, sopla esa gaita que hace calor.

Ferné, blow those bagpipes 'cuz it's hot.

Caption 75, Calle 13 - Cumbia de los Aburridos

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In Spanish you can talk about the sun as being caliente or caluroso (both words mean "hot") or fuerte (strong):

Y no es un sol tan fuerte y tan caluroso como en verano.

And it's not a sun as strong and as hot as during the summer.

Caption 23, Azotea Del Círculo de Bellas Artes - Andrés nos enseña una nueva perspectiva

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Of course, you can also talk about the sun as being radiante (radiant):

Como pueden ver es un sol radiante.

As you can see it's a radiant sun.

Caption 45, Cabarete - Charlie el taxista

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Check out how Spanish uses the verb tomar (to take) to express the action of getting sun:

Y también me alegra que esté tomando sol

And it also makes me happy that she is getting sun

porque últimamente está muy pálida.

because lately she's very pale.

Captions 24-25, Muñeca Brava - 33 El partido

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If you get sun te bronceas (you get a tan), and having una piel bronceada (a tan skin, the verb is derived from the word bronce) is nice. 

Ir a tomar sol con ella y su bronceador

Go sunbathe with her and her suntan lotion

Caption 29, Enanitos Verdes - Cuánto Poder

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But if you get too much sun te quemas (you get sunburn)! Some people may even like this, but it's not really a healthy thing to do. You may hear some Spanish speakers use the expression estar quemado as a synonym of estar bronceado:

A mí me encanta estar quemada

I love being tan

pero este sol me recalienta la cabeza,

but this sun is overheating my head,

los sesos, así que me voy adentro.

my brains, so I'm going inside.

Captions 22-23, Muñeca Brava - 30 Revelaciones

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We say it's better to use bloqueador solar (sunscreen), don't you think? Did you notice the verb recalentar (to overheat)?

By the way, the word calor (heat) is one of those Spanish nouns of indeterminate gender, like el sartén/la sartén (the pan), la azúcar/el azúcar (the sugar), etc. This means that both forms of the noun, masculine and feminine, are considered correct by the DRAE. However, the use of one form or the other can tell you a lot about who the speaker is. For example, the use of la calor is common in the coastal regions of Peru and many small town across all Latin America, but it's still considered incorrect (even a sign of lack of education) by many Spanish speakers, who don't necessarily (and why would they) catch up with the many updates and revisions done to the DRAE by the Real Academia Española. Here are two examples:

Pero la calor en verano es un poco mala.

But the heat in summer is a bit bad.

Caption 43, Clara y Cristina - Hablan de actividades

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A ti como que el calor te está afectando las neuronas, ¿verdad?

For you [it's] like the heat is affecting your brain cells, right?

Caption 26, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso

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What we do recommend is to stick to the use of only one form, whichever you prefer. If you like to say la calor always use the feminine, if you like to use el calor, well, stick to the masculine. Apply this advice to similar words like el sartén/la sartén (the pan), la azúcar/el azúcar (the sugar). As an exception, the noun la mar/el mar (the sea), a summer word for many indeed, comes to mind. Our take on this word is that you use el mar when talking about the sea in a very practical way, for example:


Bajando por todo el mar Mediterráneo

Going down along the whole Mediterranean Sea [coast]

Caption 49, Álvaro - Arquitecto Español en Londres

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And use la mar for when you want to get poetic:


Muchos son los talentos que se pierden en la mar

A lot of talents get lost in the sea

Caption 16, La Mala Rodriguez - La Niña

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