Spanish Lessons


De Ojos y Narices

Let's continue learning idiomatic expressions in Spanish. This time, we’ll focus on expressions that use body parts.
Let’s start with nariz (nose). Spanish speakers use the plural form narices (noses) instead of the singular form nariz (nose) quite frequently. To do something in front of somebody's narices means to do something right in front of that person, desvergonzadamente (shamelessly):


Ese tipo se me burló hoy en las narices.
That guy today made fun of me in my face.

Te estás burlando de Lola en sus narices.
You're making fun of Lola in her face.


But meter las narices (stick one nose in) means entrometerse (to meddle) in other people's business, just like in English:


 No metas las narices en este asunto.
Don't stick your nose into this.


Let's move to el ojo (the eye). You can say mucho ojo (literally, a lot of eye) to ask someone to keep his or her eyes open, to be alert, to be careful:


Amigo, mucho ojo con la circular de la Interpol, ¿bueno? -Sí, señor.

Friend, be very careful with the Interpol newsletter, OK? -Yes, sir.

Caption 21, Carlos comenta - Confidencial - Vocabulario y expresiones

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Variations of mucho ojo are pon mucho ojo (literally, put a lot of eye in it), abre bien los ojos(wide open your eyes), mantén los ojos abiertos (keep your eyes open), etc. Or you can just say ojo (eye!):


¡Ojo que viene la estampida!

Watch out, as the stampede is coming!

Caption 44, Kikirikí - Animales - Part 2

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The expression hacer mal de ojo (give the evil eye) is also very common. It can be shortened to hacer ojo. Some examples are: descubre quién te hizo mal de ojo (get to discover who gave you the evil eye), el mal de ojo no existe, no seas supersticioso (the evil eye doesn't exist, don't be superstitious), me parece que alguien te hizo ojo por envidia (it seems to me that someone gave you the evil eye out of envy).
OK. Let's wrap it up with a cute expression. It's used to excuse yourself when you shed a tear out of sentimentality, happiness, emotion, etc. The expression is in tension between denial and acceptance, and sometimes people even use it to actually deny that they have been crying, for any reason. For example:


No, yo no salí llorando, lo que pasa es que me... me... me entró una basurita en el ojo y... ¿Qué? 
No, I didn't run out crying, the thing is that I... I... got a little junk in my eye and... So what?


A variant of the same expression is me entró una mugre en el ojo (I got some dirt in my eye) and, make a note, you can also use both expressions literally, given the unfortunate occasion.


That's all for this lesson. There're many more idiomatic expressions that use the word ojo(eye) in Spanish. Try typing dar en el ojo and pegar un ojo in our videos search tool to discover some of them! And don’t forget to send us your feedback and suggestions.

Sina... What?

Do you ever feel frustrated when you can't make out what a Spanish speaker is saying because he or she speaks so fast that an entire sentence seems to sound like a single long word? Well, we won't lie to you: there's no easy solution to that problem, only listening practice and more listening practice. However, we can at least give you something to blame next time you find yourself lost in a conversation due to this problem: blame the synalepha.
A fancy word indeed, synalepha (or sinalefa in Spanish) is the merging of two syllables into one, especially when it causes two words to be pronounced as one. La sinalefa is a phonological phenomenon that is typical of Spanish (and Italian) and it's widely used in all Latin America and Spain. Native speakers use sinalefas unconsciously to add fluidity, speed and concision to what they are saying.
There are basically two types of sinalefas. Let's learn about them using examples from our catalog of videos. Maybe that'll help you catch them next time. And if you have a subscription with us, make sure you click on the link to actually hear how the sinalefas are pronounced!


The first type of sinalefa merges two vowels, the last one and the first one of two contiguous words. A single sentence can contain several of them, for example:


¿Cómo es el departamento comercial de una empresa

How is the commercial department of a company

que trabaja en setenta y dos países?

that operates in seventy-two countries?

Captions 1-2, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa

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So, thanks to the sinalefas, this is how the speaker actually pronounces the sentence: ¿Cómoes el departamento comercial deunaempresa que trabajaen setentay dos países?  Yes, the letter "y" counts as a vowel whenever it sounds like the vowel "i."
Here's another example, this time from Colombia:


¿Qué pensaría mi hermano

What would my brother

si supiera de este vídeo que estamos filmando?

think if he knew about this video that we are filming?

Caption 31, Conjugación - El verbo 'pensar'

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Again, thanks to the sinalefas, what the girl speaking actually pronounces is: ¿Qué pensaría mihermano si supiera deeste video queestamos filmando? Yes, the consonant "h" doesn't interfere with the sinalefa, because, as you probably already know, this letter is always silent unless it is next to the letter "c."
Now, the second type of sinalefa merges three vowels of two contiguous words. Here's an example:


¿O a usted le gustaría que lo mantuvieran encerrado?

Or would you like for them to keep you locked up?

Caption 21, Kikirikí - Animales

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Oausted is what the character pronounces. Can you try to pronounce it the same way?
Here's another example, from Mexico this time:


cosa que no le corresponde a él.

something that is not his job.

Caption 6, ¡Tierra, Sí! - Atenco

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Finally, one more example that is somewhat extreme. Hear the host of the Colombian show Sub30 posing a question that contains four sinalefas (loop button recommended):


¿Será que eso sólo pasa en nuestra época o ha

Could it be that that only happens nowadays or has

pasado desde siempre?

it always been like this?

Caption 3, La Sub30 - Familias

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That girl surely speaks fast! Notice that she even merged two words that end and begin with the same consonant “n” into a single one, which, together with the sinalefas, results in what sounds like a super long word: pasaennuestrpocaoha.

Se Trata de Tratar [It's About Trying]

In one of our latest videos, Raquel tells us about a very traditional festival in Spain: The "Fallas." When she explains what these "Fallas" are, she uses an expression that is worth exploring:



Se trata de unas figuras de gran tamaño

It's about some large-sized figures

hechas de cartón y de madera.

made of cardboard and wood.

Captions 26-27, Raquel - Fiestas de España

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The verb tratar means "to treat," "to try" or "attempt," but also "to deal with" and, like in the previous example, "to be about." Let's review some examples to master this useful verb.

 When tratar means "to treat," is used the same way as in English:

¿Podrías tratarlo un poco mejor a tu hijo, no?

You could treat your son a little better, no?

Caption 31, Muñeca Brava - 1 Piloto

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In Spanish, however, this verb has many different applications. For example:

Necesitamos tratarnos.

We need to get to know each other.

Caption 18, El Ausente - Acto 3

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Bueno, a Felipe he tenido el privilegio de tratarlo.

Well, I have had the privilege to know Felipe.

Caption 38, Felipe Calderón - Publicidad

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Encerrarlos y maltratarlos es una cosa muy cruel.

To lock them up and abuse them is a very cruel thing.

Caption 33, Kikirikí - Animales

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Para tratar a alguien de "tú",

To address someone with "tú,"

tienes que tener una cierta cercanía...

you have to have a certain closeness...

Captions 22-23, Fundamentos del Español - 6 - Tú y Usted

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Me gusta tratar con... con el público,

I like dealing with... with the public,

con las personas que vienen.

with the people who come.

Captions 22-23, El Instituto Cervantes - Jefa de biblioteca

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Just as, in English, you can't use the verb "to treat" to translate the previous examples, in Spanish you can't use the verb tratar to express an idea such as "to treat someone to something." Instead you have to use the verbs invitar or convidar (to invite, to share):


Ni siquiera te convidé un café.

I didn't even treat you to a cup of coffee.

Caption 55, Muñeca Brava - 7 El poema

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Additionally, tratar can also mean "to try or attempt":

Pero en Andalucía varias iniciativas tratan de protegerlo.

But in Andalucia several initiatives attempt to protect it.

Caption 26, Club de las ideas - Batería de breves

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But don't ever try to use the verb tratar in the same way we use "to try" in expressions such as "try the food" or "try on the jeans." For that, Spanish uses another verb: probar. So, you must say prueba el pastel ("try the cake"), and me probé los pantalones ("I tried on the jeans") but never ever: trata el pastel or me traté los pantalones.

Tratar de (to try to) looks like tratarse de (to be about) but has a different meaning and it's not reflexive. Here is another example of tratarse de, using negation:

Ya ves que el juego no se trata de vestir mejor

You see that this game is not about dressing better

Caption 24, Hector Montaner - Apariencias

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These two examples are interesting. The same expression is used in Spanish, but English requires the use of different wording:

Es posible que alguna vez haya pensado usted,

It's possible that some time you have thought,

al escuchar el nombre del famoso arqueólogo

when hearing the name of the famous archeologist

Federico Kauffman Doig,

Federico Kauffman Doig,

que se trata de un investigador extranjero.

that he is a foreign researcher.

Captions 9-11, Federico Kauffman Doig - Arqueólogo

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Y más aún si se trata de ti

And even more so when it's related to you

Caption 7, Gloria Trevi - Cinco minutos

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Do you want to find more examples of the verb tratar in our catalog? You can use the search tool at the top of the screen in the Videos tab of our site to do so. Maybe you can find a use of tratar that we haven't discussed here. ¡Todo se trata de tratar, verdad?! (It's all about trying, right?). If you find some, tweet us @yabla or share them with us at

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