Spanish Lessons

Topics

Hacer Pata: To cover for someone

Haceme pata con la amiguita.
[caption 29, Muñeca Brava > Pilot > 6]

Pata can signify "paw" or "leg," but in this case hacer pata is an expression that means "to support someone" or "to cover for someone." So when Facundo Arana says haceme pata con la amiguita, his friend "covers" (diverts) the other girl while he tries to make his move on Natalia Oreiro. Note that the diminutive of amiga is not amigita, but rather amiguita, just as the diminutive of hormigais hormiguita.

Haceme la pata con el jefe, porque hoy no puedo ir a trabajar.
"Cover for me with the boss, because I can't go to work today."

Haceme pata con Juan, ¡él es perfecto para mí!
"Put in a a good word for me with Juan, he is perfect for me!"

Note: Because the video discussed is Argentine, these examples contain the "voseo" form of the affirmative imperative conjugation of the verb hacer.

Continue Reading

Atar y Desatar: Fasten, Unfasten, and Relieve

me lo voy a atar...
[Caption 14, Disputas > La Extraña Dama > 10]

después lo vamos a desatar...
[caption 15, Disputas > La Extraña Dama > 10]

y desaté mi alivio.
[caption 15, Los Pericos > Complicado]

Atar and desatar are two nicely opposing verbs which mean "to fasten" and "to unfasten." They can be very useful, but are often unknown by Spanish learners. This week in part 10 of Disputas, La Extraña Dama, when Majo and Gloria's new friend says me lo voy a atar..., he is referring to his pants, "I am going to fasten them." (Note that he uses the singular el pantalón to refer to a single pair of "pants"?) Likewise in the next caption we find después lo vamos a desatar "later we will unfasten them" (still referring to his pants).

The verb desatar shows up again in the music video Complicados from the band Los Pericos. Here it takes on a more of a figurative meaning, "to unleash," as in "unleashing an emotion." Caption 15 of the song contains the line desaté mi alivio, which is "I unleashed my relief." It is a bit unusual to speak of "unleashing relief," but we can chalk this up to artistic license. As in English, it is usually anger that one "unleashes."

Desaté mi furia, y, después, tuve alivio.
"I unleashed my anger, and, later, I was relieved."

Continue Reading

Agarrarte: Grab some new Spanish knowledge

The verb coger (to take/ to grab) is commonly used in Spain, but, in Latin America, the same verb often has sexual connotations. To avoid confusion and any possible misunderstanding, Latin Americans tend to use the verb agarrar, not coger, when they wish to express "to take" or "to grab" (likewise elegir, not escoger, for "to choose" and levantar, not recoger, for "to pickup").

Agarrate el vinito que está en la cocina.
[Caption 40, Disputas > La Extraña Dama > 9]

Had her new actor friend told Gloria Cógete el vinito que está en la cocina she would have understood it properly, "Grab the wine that's in the kitchen," but it would have sounded a bit odd to her, as she is South American, not a Spaniard. Note that her host appends the reflexive te to his command agarra, "grab." Had he not done so and said Agarrá el vino... instead of Agarrate el vino, the meaning would have been the same, "Grab the wine...," but it may have come across as rude and bossy as opposed to inviting and playful. He also softens his tone by using the diminutive vinito (little wine) instead of simply vino.

No, en serio te lo digo, Gloria, porque te agarra un psicópata...
[caption 10, Disputas > La Extraña Dama > 9]

Literally, porque te agarra un psicópata... is "because a psychopath grabs you..." but this is not exactly what Majo is expressing. What Majo is saying is more like "because [if] you're stuck with a psychopath" as in "if you had the bad luck of getting a psycho as a client...."

Si te agarra un profesor listo, vas a aprender la lección.
"If you get a clever professor, you are going to learn the lesson."

Me agarré un resfrío.
"I caught a cold."

Si Juan se entera que le fuiste infiel, ¡agarrate!
"If Juan finds out you cheated on him, watch out!"
[colloquial]

Cuando lo agarre, lo mato.
"When I put my hands on him, I'll kill him."
[It is uncertain, hence the use of the subjunctive [yo] agarre.]

Si te agarra sueño, acostate temprano.
"If you get sleepy, go to bed early."

Continue Reading

Dios Santo: "Holy God" and other ways to talk to the man upstairs

Dios Santo que bello abril
[caption 19, Disptuas > La Extraña Dama > Part 8]

Fotografía must have slipped away from proper procedure in our rush to get it up, as we have a coterie of bilingual native speakers checking and tweaking the captions before they "go live" (and sometimes continuing to do so after). For example, we'd at first translated Dios Santo as "Dear God," as it seemed a good fit in the context of the song, but then decided to go with the more literal "Holy God." Querido Dios is "Dear God," but not so much as used in prayer, but rather if you were writing the big guy a letter. Addressing God as if in a prayer it is common to find simply Dios alone, Señor, or sometimes, Padre.

This tune, Bello Abril is dedicated, in the liner notes of the album Naturaleza Sangre, to none other than Dolores Fonzi. We know her better as Gala, and she's featured prominently in this video (dancing on the bed).

Continue Reading

Siento: I Feel or I Sit

Y de nuevo siento enfermo este corazón
[caption 19, Juanes > Fotografía]

cuando tus fotos... me siento a ver
[caption 22, Juanes > Fotografía]

We thought we were smart to ask the moderator of Delphi's Beyond Basic Spanish forum if we could give a quick mention to Yabla Spanish. Forum users showed us who was smart when they pointed out a mistake in our translation of the Juanes song Fotografía, which is found in our "Free Demo" section, as well as in the "Music Videos" channel under "Videos." Can we say huevo en nuestra cara? (No, probably not!) Let's take a look at what they found:

In caption 19 Nelly Furtado sings siento enfermo este corazón. In this case we had it right, siento here signifies "I feel," it is derived from the verb sentir, and she is referring to feeling an ache in her heart. The usage, by the way, is a bit poetic; a less embellished, more common, way to express the same thing is me duele el corazón.

In caption 22, and throughout the song, Nelly Furtado and Juanes sing the refrain cuando tus fotos... me siento a ver. The translation we had here was "when your photos... I feel like seeing." Siento, as you may know, is also the yo form of sentar, and so can alternately mean "I sit." That is indeed the proper meaning in this case: "when your photos... I sit down to see." Sentir is not used in the sense of "feeling like doing something," for that they would have perhaps sung cuando tengo ganas de ver tus fotos, "when I feel like seeing your photos."

Continue Reading

Ahora / Ya: Learning "Now"

Amelia: ¡Entonces vamos!
Gala: ¿Ahora?
Amelia: Sí, sí, sí.
[Caption 26, Disputas > La Extraña Dama > Part 7]

A viewer wrote to ask if we could look at ahora and ya.

If we take the example above, which comes from the latest installment of the La Extraña Dama episode of Disputas, Gala could have replaced ¿Ahora? with ¿Ya? and the meaning would have been the same: "Now?"

In some parts of the Spanish-speaking world, Gala might have used the colloquial diminutive ahorita, especially to emphasize immediacy, "right now." Another way to stress immediacy is to place the word mismo after either ahora or ya. Ya mismo might be considered slightly stronger, but it also largely depends on the speaker's intonation and the context in which it is said.

Venga para acá ahora mismo.
"Come here right now."

Venga para acá ya mismo.
"Come here right now."

Cuando era chico quería ser como Superman pero ahora ya quiero ser diputado del PAN.
[captions 1-2, Molotov > Hit Me]

In the music video Hit Me, Molotov combines both ahora and ya, most likely for emphasis, to indicate "now" in the sense of "these days" or "currently." In the same vein, it's not at all unusual to find ahora (without ya) where we might have expected to see hoy día (hoy en día), "nowadays."

En los años '20, las comunicaciones eran precarias. Ahora todo es diferente, la telefonia e internet se han vuelto de uso comun en casi todos los hogares.
"In the twenties, communication was precarious. Now (nowadays) it's different, the telephone and internet have come into common use in almost all homes."

The combination of ya and ahora together in Hit Me comes across to some native speakers as very colloquial and a bit unusual, though of course popular music is always fertile ground for innovative, regional and less common usage. There are instances when the combination ahora and ya does sound natural to most native speakers; one is the case when ya is used to indicate "already."

Ahora, ya nos conocemos mejor .
"Now, we already know each other better." (action completed)

Marisol: Tendrías que preguntarle a los peones.
Pedro: Ya lo hice.
[captions 7-8, Provócame > Pilot > Part 9]

We find ya used to indicate action completed in this Provócome example. Pedro has "already" done what Marisol suggests.

In the case of a negative statement, where in English we would expect to see "yet," we do not use ya but rather todavía. This is a convention, like many "rules," that non-natives quite often pick up subconciously, through exposure.

¿Ya llamaste al médico?
No, todavía no he llamado.
"Did you already call the doctor?
No, I haven´t called yet."

Sometimes ya can take on a meaning that encompasses both "now" and "already" ("finally"). This and some other important ya concepts que todavía no discutimos ("that we didn't discuss yet") can be found here: http://www.thelearninglight.com/ya.htm

A few more examples of interest:

Entonces ganaba más que ahora.
"I was earning more then than (I am) now."

¡Ahora me lo dices!
"Now you tell me!"

Ahora que lo pienso...
"Now that I come to think of it..."

Another suggested quick read:
http://www.wordreference.com/es/translation.asp?tranword=now

Continue Reading

Alcanzar: To Reach and more

El problema es que no están a su alcance.
[caption 38, Provócame > Pilot > 8]

You may remember in Disputas, La Extraña Dama, part 5, when Santiago asks ¿Alcanza con esto? ("Is this enough?") and Amelia replies Alcanza y nunca sobra ("Enough and never more than enough"). When talking about money or time, alcanzar refers to "having enough," but alcanzar is also "to achieve" or "to reach" and the related noun is alcance. So when Marisol says El problema es que no están a su alcance she is saying "The problem is that they (horses) are out of her reach."

Telenovelas no alcanzaron los altos ratings de los partidos de fútbol.
"Soap operas didn't reach the high ratings of soccer matches."

Ponemos el potencial tecnológico a tu alcance.
"We put technological potential within your reach."

El tiempo nunca nos alcanza.
"We never have enough time."

A mí me alcanza y sobra con que la flor se abra.
"For me it is more than enough if the flower unclose."
[D. H. Lawrence, Rose of all the world, last line]

Continue Reading

Voseo: Another form for "Tú"

Pedro:¿Tú querías conocer a Chocolate y alguien te lo impidió?
Julieta:¿Y cómo sabés que se llama Chocolate?
[Captions 7-8, Provócame > Pilot > Part 8]

As in English, French, and no doubt countless other languages, small differences arise when we move from one region to another. Native Spanish speakers navigate through these differences with ease; non-natives can learn to do so as well. Did you catch in the interview with Enrique Iglesias (in "Music Biz Interviews") when the Argentine interviewer told Enrique how she used to hide her student cheat sheets con la pollera and Enrique immediately comes back with ¿ah, con la falda, no? She called her skirt pollera and Enrique knew it as falda. This had little bearing on their overall ability to communicate.

We see the same thing happening in this exchange between Pedro and Julieta. Pedro, who is played by the Puerto Rican pop star Chayanne, addresses Julieta throughout the show using the form with which all of us are quite familiar (no pun intended) -- ¿Tú querías conocer a Chocolate y alguien te lo impidió? ("You wanted to meet Chocolate and someone stopped you?"). Julieta also uses an informal singular form of "you" but, as the actress is Argentine, she uses the voseo or vos form, responding ¿Y cómo sabés que se llama Chocolate? ("And how do you know his name is Chocolate?"). The only difference in this case is the accent on the "e" (sabes, vos sabés).

With the notable exception of ser (vos sos, eres), and stem changing verbs (vos venís, vienes), the difference in conjugation between vos and in the present often involves only an accent (comes, vos comés). For some tenses there is no difference at all. The only reason we know Pedro intended the tú form in this particular phrase is because he says the pronoun tú explicitly, as the conjugation would have been the same for vos (querías, vos querías).

The most important thing to take away from this is that neither Julieta nor Pedro is impeded in the least by these slight differences in speaking styles. Both have accustomed themselves to hearing small regional differences. Through exposure to speakers from thoughout the habla hispana; we can easily do the same.

A Yabla Spanish viewer wrote to us last week about some accents where he didn't expect to find any. In Disputas, La Extraña Dama, part 4 he noticed the accented "a" on pará when the pibe commands Pará, pará? ("stop, stop.") in Caption 5. The same viewer also wondered about caption 12 when the mina (Soledad) says pedíle y vení a verme mañana ("ask him and come to see me tomorrow"). These examples highlight voseo embodiments of commands (i.e. imperative tense) -- had Sole been inclined to use she would have said pídele y ven a verme mañana.

No Sos Vos Soy Yo (It's not you, it's me)

(Romantic Comedy, 2004)

 

Short and sweet explanations of vos:
http://www.autonomista.org/tips.htm#voseo

Most common verbs with vos:
www2.bc.edu/~burka/voseo2.html

The voseo in depth, including its presence outside of Argentina/Uruguay/Paraguay:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voseo
 

Continue Reading

Estar por: About to

Tu hija se está por casar con un buen hombre
[Caption 17, Provócame > Pilot > 7]

When Patricia says to Ignacio, Tu hija se está por casar con un buen hombre she is saying, "Your daughter is about to get married to a good man." Estar por hacer algo can be interpreted as "to be about to do something." Note that the reflexive pronoun se in Partricia's phrase belongs to casar, not estar; she could have just as well have said Tu hija está por casarse.

Está por llover.
"It's about to rain."

 

Está por llegar.
"He/She's about to arrive."

 

Estábamos por comer.
"We were about to eat."

Provócame is an Argentine program. In some Spanish speaking areas (not Argentina) estar por + infinitive can indicate an inclination to do something, or to be in the mood to do something. Likewise, in some (other) regions, estar para + infinitive is the more common way to indicate that an action will soon take place.

Continue Reading

Va a haber: Related forms of "Hay"

Pero cómo no va a haber...
[caption 20, Disputas > La Extraña Dama > Part 5]

Most of us catch on quickly that hay means "there is/are" but are less likely to pick up on related forms such as va a haber, which by itself means "there is going to be." But when Amelia suggests to Santiago Ritchie that he can get what he wants si hay dinero suficiente... ("if there is enough money") and he replies Pero cómo no va a haber, the best translation is "Of course there is" (not "Of course there's going to be"). Santiago instinctively uses va a haber instead of hay after cómo no because pero cómo no hay is likely to be misinterpreted as "since there isn't any (money)." Because of the consecutive and adjacent "ah" sounds, non-natives often find va a haber slightly awkward to say and native speakers themselves often barely pronounce the middle a, or don't pronounce it at all.

Here is a similar example:

Novia: ¿Me quieres?
Novio: ¡Cómo no te voy a querer!

"Girlfriend: Do you love me?
Boyfriend: Of course I love you!"

If the boyfriend had followed cómo no with te quiero, his girlfriend might have understood it to mean "since i don't love you."

Continue Reading

Ando sin plata: Broke, but not necessarily walking

Ando sin plata...
[caption 8, Disputas > La Extraña Dama > Part 4]

If you recall back to Part 1 of La Extraña Dama, Nacha Guevara (Latin America's answer to Cher) asks in Caption 19 ¿En qué anda ahora ella? We might be tempted to translate this as :In what does she walk now?" but clearly that won't cut it. Checking any dictionary, we find that andar has more meanings than just "to walk." For example, you are no doubt familar with ¿Cómo andas? (How's it going?). The question Melina wants to convey is What is she up to now?

This week andar pops up again when our young protagonist states Ando sin plata. He means not so much "I walk without money," but rather, "I've got no money."

Speaking of Nacha, imagine our surprise when we recently noticed her -the distinctive voice, face, and, well, just about everything else- before us en bolas, which is to say totalmente desnuda, playing Mrs. Robinson in El Graduado. Our lovely theater companion, who somewhere along the line lost the wild rebellious streak we once knew her for, was shocked and outraged beyond her tender years by the wanton display of flesh (this despite Ms. Guevera's seemingly supernatural ability to cut a statuesque nude that would do proud any 36-year-old, which is the age Anne Bancroft was when she played the same role in 1967, never mind a 63-year-old, which is what Nacha is today).

The dictionary states that en bolas is itself considered vulgar by some. We don't remember where we first came across the phrase, but for some reason it stuck with us, as colorful phrases often do. Could it be because certain speech operates on a whole other neurological plane that quite literally bridges logic and emotion?

While this week's Disputas video does not offer an absence of apparel, it is rife with some fairly salty language. We don't think it would make a sailor blush, but we've got the viewer discretion advised light on as fair warning to anyone who might find the dialog unsettling.

Continue Reading

Como si fuese: Learning to use the subjunctive

No hables como si fuese una persona
[Caption 17, Provócame > Pilot > 5]

If you're a native English speaker, you're likely to translate the phrase above as "Don't speak as if he were a person." Without much thinking about it, most native English speakers choose the subjuntive "were," and not the indicative "was." Ana, similarly, instinctively uses fuese (the subjunctive form) and not era (the indicative) when she tells Mariano "Don't speak as if he were a person". (She is referring to a horse that goes by the name Chocolate.) The subjunctive, as most of us have heard but often fail to fully grasp, is used to express doubt or uncertainty, or to describe situations that are unlikely. Since it is quite "unlikely" that the horse in question is a person, and Ana, sin duda, "doubts" that he is one, she goes with the subjunctive, fuese.

This were/was distinction is one of the few and dwindling instances whereby English speakers retain a subjunctive form (were) that differs from the indicative (was). Other than "to be," most English verbs have melded both the indicative past and the subjunctive past into a single "universal" past tense that encompasses both. For this reason it's often said, somewhat erroneously, that subjunctive tenses "don't exist" anymore in English, and is why English speakers find Spanish's distinct subjunctive tenses difficult to acquire. The more we, as learners, immerse ourselves in authentic spoken Spanish, the faster we too can begin to acquire a native-like "instinct" for the subjunctive and its use.

If you want to bend your brain around the topic further, here are some sites where you can do so:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subjunctive
http://www.lingolex.com/swom/wom-subj.htm

Continue Reading

Sacarse: To get a grade and other uses

yo me saqué un nueve
[Caption 16, Disputas > La Extraña Dama > 3]

You'll note that sacarse una nota is a common expression meaning "getting a grade" in school. Hence in part 3 of Disputas, La Extraña Dama, we hear Gloria's son proclaim yo me saqué un nueve, "I got a nine." A few other interesting uses of sacarse are:

Sacarse un premio.
"To win a prize."

Sacarse un peso de encima.
"To get rid of a burden."

Sacarse la garra.
"To taunt/insult, To "rag on" someone." [Mexico]

Sacarse la careta.
Literally: "To rid yourself of the mask; to stop pretending, to be yourself."


Continue Reading

Al + Infinitive

nos confundimos al hablar sin escuchar
[Caption 25, La Gusana Ciega > Giroscopio]

In Giroscopio, La Gusana Ciega frontman Daniel Gutiérrez sings nos confundimos al hablar sin escuchar, which we have translated as "we confuse ourselves by speaking without listening." This brings our attention to the use of al + infinitive. Here al is not the contraction of a + el but rather an indicator of action in progress. The English equivalent is often created by using the preposition "by", "when", or "upon" + the "ing" form of the verb.

Al + infinitive can alternately be translated to English using "when + simple present". For example, in this case, we could have just as well translated al hablar as "when we speak," which would give us: "we confuse ourselves when we speak without listening."

Some other examples of (al+infinitive):

Nos equivocamos al actuar sin pensar.
"We make mistakes by acting without thinking."

Nos ensuciamos al jugar.
"We get dirty when we play."

Te lastimas al correr sin estirarte.
"You hurt yourself by running without stretching."

Se lastiman al pelear.
"They hurt themselves when they fight."

Me mojo al lavar.
"I get wet when I wash."

Se lastiman al jugar sin zapatos.
"They hurt themselves by playing without shoes."

Most native English speakers would find the phrase simpler to follow if Daniel had avoided the al + infinitive construction and instead sung Nos confundimos cuando hablamos sin escuchar or Nos confundimos hablando sin eschuchar, both more parallel to typical English construction. Each of these possibilities is grammatically correct, but they convey a slightly different meaning than that which is attained by the lyric's use of al hablar. Both hablando (speaking) and cuando hablamos (when we speak), would convey the sense that He is referring to some specific instance or instances of "talking without listening," whereas the use of al hablar makes the overall statement sound more like a truism, a principle of life, the type of thing you might read at the end of a fable or as the moral of the story.

Continue Reading

Carmín: A color and a lipstick

y te has pintado la sonrisa de carmín
[Caption 32, Disputas>La Extraña Dama>2]

You'll note that Perales also sings "Y te has pintado la sonrisa de carmín". In this case carmín refers to lipstick, so the phrase translates as "And you have painted a lipstick smile". Carmín can also refer to the color crimson (aka carmine), and sometimes to a type of wild rose. Lipstick, aside from carmín de labios, is also known as lápiz de labios. Bear it in mind next time you find some on the collar, yours or otherwise.

(Did you know that collar, in Spanish, is the same word as for neck: cuello?)

Continue Reading
12...192021