The keys to picking up a language quickly are constant exposure and practice. But practice is not always easy to obtain, either because you lack the opportunity or, more often, because you lack the confidence to engage in a conversation. So you lack learning because you lack practice, and you lack practice because you lack learning. How frustrating!
But there are always ways around this problem. One of them involves memorizing common phrases to be prepared for the next time you get the chance to engage in a conversation. For example, you can memorize entire phrases by topic; phrases to introduce yourself, to ask for directions, to order food, etc. Or you could memorize smaller, more specialized chunks of speech and use them as building blocks to create more complex ideas. For example, phrases like quiero que... (I want that), or no sé si (I don't know if). On this lesson we will focus on exploring one of these phrases: si fuera.
The phrase si fuera actually involves mastering an advanced skill in Spanish: the use of the verb ser (to be) in the subjunctive mood. But instead of learning rules and conjugation tables, you can memorize it as it is, and learn how speakers use it in everyday speech to build your own sentences.
Si fuera is usually combined with the preposition como (as) and followed by a noun phrase:
Así como si fuera una pinza.
Like this as if it were a clamp.
Caption 22, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 17
Since fuera is used for both the first and third person singular, you can use the same expression to talk about yourself. You can add the pronoun yo (I) between si and fuera, or not:
¡Si fuera tu jefe te despediría!
If I were your boss, I'd have you fired!
Here's an example from our catalog:
Yo quiero amarte como si fuera tu único dueño.
I want to love you as if I were your only master.
Caption 63, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 3
Look at this useful example that combines si fuera with a basic simple sentence like esto es(this is):
Esto es como si fuera el rastro de los móviles o el rastro de tu vida.
This is as if it were a cell phone trail or your life's trail.
Caption 31, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 4
Si fuera can also be followed by a pronoun, it's used a lot in conditional sentences:
Bueno, si yo fuera tú, hablaría con él.
Well, if I were you, I would speak with him.
Caption 24, El Aula Azul - La Doctora Consejos - Subjuntivo y condicional
And si fuera can also be followed by an adjective instead of a noun:
Si [yo] fuera rico me respetarías un poco - If I were rich you would respect me a little.
Si mi jefa fuera injusta conmigo yo renunciaría a mi trabajo - If my boss were unfair to me I would quit my job.
At this point you could also learn the expression como si fuera poco:
Y como si fuera poco, todo lo que hacen...
And, as if that weren't enough, everything that they do...
Caption 30, Salvando el planeta Palabra - Llegada - Part 8
Let's continue our series on the use of the verbs ser and estar, now focusing on some examples using the subjunctive to express wishes, or to refer to hypothetical situations. The present subjunctive for the first person singular yo (I) is esté for the verb estar and sea for the verb ser. Here're some examples of first person singular sea and esté:
Mamá quiere que [yo] sea doctor / Mom wants me to be a doctor.
Mi hermana piensa que es mejor que [yo] sea dentista / My sister thinks it's best for me to be a dentist.
Lola me pide que [yo] esté tranquilo / Lola asks me to be calm.
Imagino que es mejor que no [yo] esté preocupado / I imagine it's better for me not to beworried.
Note that it's very common to use the pronoun que (that) before the subjunctive. In fact, some Spanish speakers learn to conjugate the subjunctive altogether with this pronoun, like: que yo sea, que tú seas, etc. or que yo esté, que tú estés, etc. to differentiate it from the indicative.
The forms sea and esté are also used for the third person singular, which is very convenient since you can use it to talk about wishes or hypothetical situations pertaining to other people, things, and ideas. For example:
Entonces, para que sea una sorpresa también.
So, for it to be a surprise also.
Caption 7, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 10
Quiero comprar un barco que sea capaz de... de hacer travesías largas.
I want to buy a boat that is capable of... de hacer travesías largas.
Caption 72, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 20
Y que ya no sea Belanova el grupo de bajo, computadora y voz.
So that Belanova won't be the group of the bass, computer and voice any longer.
Caption 13, Belanova - Entrevista - Part 4
And with esté:
Ya la llamaremos cuando la doctora esté disponible.
We'll call you when the doctor is available.
Caption 42, Cita médica - La cita médica de Cleer
Son tres modos que se usan para pedirle a alguien que esté alerta.
There are three ways that are used to ask someone to be alert.
Caption 27, Carlos comenta - Confidencial - Vocabulario y expresiones
Para que la aceituna esté en condiciones para envasar el lunes.
So that the olives are in condition for packing on Monday.
Caption 35, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 19
Finally, there's a very common and useful expression that uses sea: o sea, which is used to clarify or explain something. This expression translates as "in other words," "meaning," and other similar phrases.
O sea, que te vas a quedar sin marido durante tres meses.
In other words, you are going to be without a husband for three months.
Caption 27, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 3
Let's continue our series on the use of the verbs ser and estar, now focusing on how you can use soy (“I'm”—the first-person singular form of ser in the present tense) to talk about yourself.
The present tense of the verb ser (to be) is soy. You can use it combined with an adjective (or a participio—the -ado, -ido, -to, -so, -cho endings and their feminine and plural forms, used as an adjective) to express an intrinsic characteristic or status, a permanent state of mind, body, or soul.
For starters, you can use it to introduce yourself:
Soy Paco, de 75 Minutos. -Hola.
I'm Paco, from 75 Minutos. -Hola.
Caption 7, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 4
You can also use soy to talk about your occupation, career, etc.
Yo soy guardia civil.
I am a Civil Guard.
Caption 33, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 12
And you can use soy to talk about your personality, preferences, nationality, beliefs or affiliations. For example: Yo soy musulmán (I'm muslim), soy miembro del partido (|'m a member of the party), soy tu hada madrina (I'm your fairy godmother).
Soy buena clienta, sí. La verdad que sí.
I am a good customer, yes. I truly am.
Caption 2, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 7
Yo soy bastante escrupulosa y no me da nada.
I am pretty fussy and it doesn't bother me at all.
Caption 21, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 7
The verb soy can also be used to talk about a role, status, function, etc:
Tú eres testigo. -Yo soy testigo. -Tú eres testigo.
You're a witness. -I'm a witness. -You're a witness.
Caption 81, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 11
We mentioned, in our previous lesson on the subject, that estoy can also be used to talk about roles when combined with the preposition de, so saying yo estoy de testigo is also correct. There are subtle differences, though, which sometimes get lost in translation:
Yo soy testigo - I'm a witness
Yo estoy de testigo - I'm (working as) a witness
It's perhaps at this point, when these verbs are combined with adjectives (or participios used as adjectives), that English speakers get the most confused about the difference between soyand estoy. It gets even more confusing because in many cases it may seem Spanish speakers use both verbs indistinctly. Here are some examples:
Yo soy casado - I'm (a) married (person).
Yo estoy casado - I'm married.
Yo soy gordo - I'm (a) fat (person).
Yo estoy gordo - I'm fat.
Yo soy pequeña - I'm (a) small (person).
Yo estoy pequeña - I'm small.
Sometimes, however, it's impossible to use them indistinctly. It happens more frequently when the verbs are combined with participios (-ado, -ido, -to, -so, -cho endings), which take estar much more easily than ser:
Yo estoy devastado - I'm devastated.
*Yo soy devastado - Incorrect, don't use it.
Yo estoy cansado - I'm tired.
*Yo soy cansado - Incorrect, don't use it.
Yo estoy herido - I'm wounded.
*Yo soy herido - Incorrect, don't use it.
Yo estoy muerto - I'm dead.
*Yo soy muerto - Incorrect, don't use it.
*It's interesting how this may be different while using other modes or tenses. For example both yo estuve herido and yo fui herido (I was wounded) are possible, given the right context. However, fui herido is actually far more common than yo estuve herido, which would need a special context to make proper sense, for example: Yo estuve herido sin recibir ayuda por 10 horas (I was wounded without receiving any help for 10 hours).
The verb soy is also frequently combined with prepositions. For example, when combined with the preposition de, the verb soy indicates origin. So, besides soy mexicano (I'm Mexican) you can also say soy de México (I'm from Mexico).
Typically, the verb soy is followed by articles, but estoy doesn't take articles. Compare these:
Soy el mejor (I'm the best), soy mejor (I'm better), and estoy mejor (I feel better) are correct, but never say estoy el mejor.
Soy tu padre (I'm your father), soy padre (I'm a father / also "I'm a nice person") and even estoy padre (I feel or look good) are correct, but you can't say estoy el padre.
Soy buena (I'm good), soy la buena (I'm the good one), estoy buena (I'm hot, good looking) are correct, but never say estoy la buena.
The same happens with pronouns. You won't find a pronoun naturally following the verb estar, except, maybe, when you want to reiterate the subject and change the natural order of words (hyperbaton) for emphatic or stylistic purposes: estoy yo tan triste (me, I feel so sad). Normally, you'd say estoy tan triste (I feel so sad). This could also be done with ser: soy yo tan triste (me, I'm such a sad person). But again, normally you'd just say soy tan triste (I'm such a sad person).
There are many other ways in which you can use the verb soy; these are just some of the most common ones.
How much you learn about the proper use of ser and estar (both meaning "to be") depends on your exposure to how real Spanish is spoken by real people. This lesson focuses on how a person can use estoy (“I'm” —the first-person singular form of estar in the present tense) to talk about himself or herself.
The present tense of the verb estar (to be) is estoy. You can use it combined with an adjective (or a participio—the -ado, -ido, -to, -so, -cho endings and their feminine and plural forms, used as an adjective) to express your current state of mind, body, or soul:
Yo estoy listo ya... ¿Dónde está el perro?
I'm ready now... Where's the dog?
Caption 108, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 5
It's very common, for example, to use estar to talk about emotions, convictions, and beliefs:
Bueno, pero estoy muy contenta.
Well, but I am very happy.
Caption 12, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 6
Yo creo que sí. -Estoy convencido que poco a poco vamos a... a buscar alternativas.
I think so. -I am convinced that little by little we are going to... to look for alternatives.
Caption 75-76, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 5
You can use any other regular adjective as well. Some examples are below:
Estoy limpio - I'm clean.
Estoy enferma - I'm sick.
Estoy sola - I'm lonely.
At this point it's useful to compare the possible meaning of similar phrases using ser instead of estar. Note how, by using ser instead of estar, the adjective becomes an intrinsic characteristic of the subject:
Soy limpio - I'm a clean person.
Soy enferma - Incorrect, it’s better to say soy una persona enferma "I'm a sick person," or even just estoy enferma (I’m sick), because this phrase can also mean “I’m a sick person” given the appropriate context.
Soy sola - Incorrect, it’s better to say soy una persona solitaria (I'm a lonely person).
You can combine estoy with the gerundio (-ando / -endo / -iendo endings) to talk about your actions, about what you are doing. The combination with haciendo, the gerundio of the verb hacer (to do) is very common:
Yo estoy haciendo el control de calidad del producto.
I'm doing the quality control of the product.
Caption 4, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 20
But you can combine estoy with any other gerundio, for example cogiendo, the gerundio of coger (to grab, to pick):
Hasta que no palme estoy cogiendo castañas.
As long as I don't croak, I'm picking chestnuts.
Caption 6, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 5
You can use estoy with a complement that denotes space to specify your location. The combination with an adverb of place is common:
Por eso estoy aquí, porque me han dicho...
That's why I am here because they have told me...
Caption 85, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 15
And also with the preposition en (in):
Eh, ahora mismo estoy en Málaga, estoy de vacaciones.
Right now I am in Malaga, I am on vacation.
Caption 2, Arume - Málaga, España
The verb estoy can also be combined with certain prepositions to express a wide array of ideas. For example, you can use it with the preposition de to talk about your role or position in a certain context:
Eh, y... estoy de acuerdo con, con Denisse ahí.
Uh, and... I agree (literally, "I'm in accord") with, with Denisse there.
Caption 24, Belanova - Entrevista - Part 3
No, luego, cuando acaba la campaña estoy de camarero.
No, after, once the season ends, I work as a waiter.
Caption 61, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 13
Eh, ahora mismo estoy en Málaga, estoy de vacaciones.
Right now I am in Malaga, I am on vacation.
Caption 2, Arume - Málaga, España
You can combine the verb estoy with the preposition por and a verb in infinitive (-er, -ar, -irendings) to talk about what you are about to do:
Estoy por ganar el juego de scrabble.
I'm about to win the Scrabble match.
Estoy por terminar. Espérenme, por favor.
I'm about to finish. Please, wait for me.
You can use estar and the preposition para to talk about purpose, function, etc.
Aquí estoy para servir.
I'm here to serve.
Here's an interesting example from our catalog of videos:
o estoy para dirigir cine tal vez.
or maybe, I'm suited to direct a movie.
Caption 68, Arturo Vega - Entrevista
There are many other ways in which you can use the verb estoy; these are just some of the most common ones. For now, we recommend you practice these expressions, maybe try transforming them into the past or future tenses! Our next lesson in this series will focus on how soy (the first-person singular form of ser in the present tense) can be used to talk about oneself.
The Spanish verb asistir (to be present, to attend) has many different meanings depending on the context. Let's learn how to use this interesting verb.
The verb asistir derives from the latin assistĕre, which literally means "to stop next to," and that’s the basic meaning of this verb:
Para asistir a una reunión de trabajo.
To attend a business meeting.
Caption 4, Raquel - La Compra de un Billete de Tren
This verb is always accompanied by the preposition a. Here's another example using a conjugated form of the verb:
Así que, por primera vez en Animales en familia, asistimos a una doble cirugía.
So, for the first time on "Animales en familia," we witness a double surgery.
Caption 9, Animales en familia - La operación de Yaki
As you can see in the example above, the verb asistir may have different translations. The following example uses the imperative form of the verb:
So, don't stop educating yourself. Lee libros, asiste a seminarios.
So, don't stop educating yourself. Read books, go to seminars.
Caption 60, Raquel y Marisa - Español Para Negocios - Crear una empresa
In certain contexts the verb asistir means "to attend to," in which case it's very common to use the passive voice. The passive voice uses the participle asistido and the preposition por(by), as you can see in the following example:
La enfermera asiste al paciente / El paciente es asistido por la enfermera.
The nurse attends to the patient / The patient is attended by the nurse.
Additionally, asistir also means "to give help or assistance":
El principal rol de un asistente quirúrgico es asistir al cirujano durante una operación.
The primary role of a surgical assistant is to assist the surgeon during an operation.
As in English, the verb asistir is also used in sports to describe the act of enabling another player making a good play:
¡Messi asistió a Suárez sin siquiera tocar la pelota!
Messi assisted Suarez without even touching the ball!
Finally the verb asistir is used to express the idea of reason or law being on somebody's side:
Al demandate le asiste el derecho y la razón.
The plaintiff has the law and reason on his side.
The Spanish verb atender ("to serve," "to see to," "to attend to," among other uses) is a common source of confusion since it doesn't always mean what it sounds like it should to English speakers. Let's see some examples.
The verb atender meaning “to serve” or “to attend” can be very useful in any context that involves providing or receiving a service:
Quisiera saber si la doctora Castaño me podría atender hoy.
I would like to know if Doctor Castaño could see me today.
Caption 9, Cita médica - La cita médica de Cleer
Most of the time this verb is accompanied by the preposition a, but not always. In the following example, the preposition a was omitted:
Por el momento ustedes se pueden ir un rato a hablar con sus amigos, a atender [a] la visita...
For the moment you can go for a while to talk with your friends, to serve your guests...
Caption 40, Cocinando con Miguelito - Pollo sudado
This can be done because the expression la visita is depersonalized. But it's very different when the object of the verb atender is an individual or group of individuals, in which case you must always use the preposition a:
Mi ocupación es atender a la gente.
My job is to serve people.
Caption 67, Perdidos en la Patagonia - El Aeropuerto - La Sala de Esperas
The omission of the preposition a occurs more frequently when the verb atender means "to respond to," "to meet," "to answer to," or "to look after" something. For example:
Por ahí lo llamo, se da cuenta que soy yo, no atiende el teléfono.
I might call him, he realizes that it's me, he doesn't answer the phone.
Caption 47, Yago - 10 Enfrentamientos - Part 6
Y de pronto los que atienden [un] negocio...
And suddenly those who look after a business...
Caption 10, Festivaliando - Mono Núñez - Part 12
You always need to use the preposition a before atender when it means "to pay attention.” In the following example, Raquel uses the contraction al (a + el):
No tendrás dudas si atiendes al contexto de lo que se dice.
You will have no doubt if you pay attention to the context of what is said.
Caption 14, Raquel - Diminutivos y aumentativos
The verb atender is also frequently combined with personal pronouns (used instead of direct and indirect objects):
Voy a tratar de dejarme que me atiendan, que me hagan lo que necesite.
I am going to try to let them take care of me, do to me whatever I need.
Caption 23, Transformación - Estética
It's also common to reiterate the object of the verb in these expressions, even when a pronoun has already been used. For example, it's not incorrect to say dejar que me atiendan a mí (let them take care of me). Saying Es mejor que el doctor la atienda a ella primero is as correct as saying Es mejor que el doctor la atienda primero (It's better if the doctor sees her first). Here's an interesting example:
No sé, como nervios [de] que lo atiendan a uno y sentirse tan bien atendido.
I don't know, like nerves that one is taken care of and to feel so well taken care of.
Caption 20, Transformación - Estética
¡Gracias por atender a esta lección!
The word in Spanish for empathy is empatía, and the word for sympathy is simpatía. You can combine either noun with the verb tener (to have), mostrar (to show), or expresar (to express), among others:
La gente le tendría simpatía y admiración al mismo tiempo. Y hasta lástima.
People would feel sympathy and admiration for you at the same time. And even pity.
Caption 57, Muñeca Brava - 43 La reunión - Part 3
To use the verbs mostrar and expresar instead of tener, you could say:
La gente le mostraría simpatía | People would show sympathy to you.
La gente le expresaría simpatía | People would express sympathy to you.
But how can you directly express your sympathy to a person? The expressions te tengo simpatía ("I sympathize with you" but also "I like you") and soy empático contigo (I'm empathetic toward you) are correct but not very colloquial. You can use other expressions instead, for example estoy contigo (I'm with you):
¿Confías en mí? -Sí. Yo estoy contigo.
Do you trust me? -Yes. I'm with you.
Another good way to show support is by simply saying te apoyo (I support you):
Ay, amigui, yo te apoyo.
Oh, friend, I support you.
Caption 11, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 11
In the case of more serious situations, for example when receiving bad news about something, the most common way to show your support is by saying lo siento mucho (I feel so sorry), or the more emphatic cuánto lo siento (how sorry I am). There are different ways to use these phrases, depending on what you want to say. For example:
Mi papá está muy enfermo. -Oh, lo siento mucho.
My dad is very sick. -Oh, I'm so sorry.
Siento mucho que no puedas visitar a tu familia ahora.
I'm so sorry that you can't visit your family right now.
¡Cuánto lo siento que tuvieras que pasar por eso tú sola!
How sorry I am that you have to go through that all by yourself.
Just pay a lot of attention to the context and tone, because lo siento is also very commonly used in a sarcastic way:
Lo siento, pequeña, pero aquí las cosas hay que ganárselas.
I'm sorry, little one, but here things have to be earned.
Caption 31, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 11
You can also use lo siento mucho to offer your condolences. Or, you can say te ofrezco mis condolencias (I offer you my condolences) or recibe mis condolencias (receive my condolences), expressions that many people shorten to just mis condolencias (my condolences), or mis más sentidas condolencias (my heartfelt condolences):
Mis condolencias, Sr. Gutiérrez. -Gracias.
My condolences, Mr. Gutierrez. -Thank you.
Finally, showing support is also about extending a helping hand, right? In Spanish you can use expressions such as ¿en qué te puedo ayudar? (how can I help you?), ¿te puedo ayudar en algo? (can I help you with something?), cuenta conmigo (you can count on me), estoy para lo que necesites (I'm here for whatever you need), among others. A very colloquial expression is echar una mano (literally "to throw a hand"):
...para echarle una mano a la familia.
...to lend a hand to the family.
Caption 61, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 5
In the first installment of Tu Voz Estéreo, our brand new series from Colombia, we hear a conversation between two not very pleasant characters who are planning to steal a guide dog (ಠ_ಠ!) from his blind owner:
Ay, pero ¿cómo y de cuándo acá nos gustan tanto los perros?
Oh, but how and since when do we like dogs so much?
Caption 31, Tu Voz Estéreo - Laura - Part 1
The idiom de cuándo acá (since when) is a rhetorical question. In Spanish, asking ¿Desde cuándo te gustan los perros? is not the same as saying ¿De cuándo acá te gustan los perros? The first one is a simple question, while the second one is asked in order to create a dramatic effect of surprise, outrage, disbelief, or disapproval:
¿Y de cuándo acá eres mi juez?
And since when are you my judge?
Órale, ¿de cuándo acá tan bien vestidos? ¿Dónde es la fiesta?
Wow, since when you dress so well? Where's the party?
There are different ways to translate the English expression "how come?" into Spanish. As a standalone expression, you can use questions such as ¿cómo es eso? (literally "how is that"), ¿cómo así? (literally "how this way"), ¿cómo? (how), or ¿por qué? (why). It's important to add a special emphasis to the way you pronounce these questions:
No había nada interesante que hacer. -¿Cómo?
There was nothing interesting to do. - How come?
Caption 38-39, Guillermina y Candelario - Una aventura extrema - Part 1
But when the expression is part of a sentence (for example, "How come you don't know that?") you can use the idiom cómo que (literally "how that") or cómo es que (how is that):
¿Cómo es que no sabes eso!
How come you don't know that?!
¿Cómo que no trajiste nada de dinero?
How come you didn't bring any money?
You could say that by using this phrase cómo que we're simply omitting the verb decir (to say), as shown in this example:
¿Cómo (dices) que te echaron?
How come (you say) they fired you?
Caption 8, Verano Eterno - Fiesta Grande
In Colombia and other Latin American countries, some people add the word así after que:
¿Cómo así que chucho?
How come it's chucho?
Caption 32, Festivaliando - Mono Núñez - Part 4
Thank you for reading!
Have you ever found yourself in a foreign country and needing to do some banking other than just using an ATM? Here's a useful list of Spanish banking vocabulary.
The Spanish word for "bank" is banco. Occasionally, you may hear people using the expressions institución bancaria (banking institution) or entidad bancaria (banking entity) as well, but these two are more commonly used in written documents:
Las condiciones, mm... no se las acepta, eh... o no se las concede la entidad bancaria.
The conditions, mm... are not accepted, um... or are not granted by the banking entity.
Caption 57, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 12
Note that in Spanish el banco (the bank) is not the same as la banca (banking), a feminine noun you can hear or read quite often if you follow Spanish-speaking world news. Here’s an example:
El candidato a la presidencia de México afirmó que "la banca es uno de los mejores negocios del país".
The candidate for the presidency of Mexico affirmed that "banking is one of the best businesses in the country."
In Spanish the acronym ATM is rarely used. Instead, Spanish speakers use the expression cajero automático (automatic cashier), which is frequently shortened to cajero.
¡Oh! ¿Dónde está el cajero automático?
Oh! Where's the ATM?
Caption 36, Natalia de Ecuador - Palabras de uso básico
As in English, the word cajero or cajera (cashier) is also used to refer to the person who handles the caja (cash register, literally "box"). This word can be used anywhere a financial transaction takes place—at stores, banks, entertainment venues, and even zoquitos clubs:
Hay días que la caja tiene más zoquitos que euros? -No.
Are there days when the register has more zoquitos than euros? -No.
Caption 70, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 5
Finalmente, debes ir a la caja y pagar lo que quieras comprar.
Finally, you should go to the cash register and pay for whatever you want to buy.
Caption 41, Raquel - Haciendo compras
In Spanish as in English, if a cash register is located behind a glass wall or a small window, you may call it ventanilla (window); hence the use of expressions such as pague en ventanilla (pay at the window) or pase a ventanilla 8 (go to window 8). In movie theaters, for example, you may hear people say ventanilla instead of taquilla (box office) quite often. Of course, sometimes a ventanilla is just a window:
¿Y quiere asiento de ventanilla o de pasillo?
And do you want a window or aisle seat?
Caption 36, Raquel - La Compra de un Billete de Tren
The word depósito means "deposit," and depositar means "to make a deposit." Some useful expressions are: quiero hacer un depósito or quiero depositar (I want to make a deposit, I want to deposit). And the same formula applies for transferencia (transfer), giro (wire), and retiro (withdrawal).
The word for "currency" is moneda (which also means "coin"):
"Zoquitos" es una... una red de moneda local.
"Zoquitos" is a... a network of local currency.
Caption 23, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 2
The word divisa means "foreign currency." To ask for a currency conversion, you can say quiero hacer un cambio de divisas (I want to make a currency exchange). However, for a more colloquial touch, use something like quiero cambiar dólares a pesos (I want to exchange dollars for pesos).
To learn more about financial terms, try our series Cuentas claras.
Let's continue our lesson about the most common ways to say “I'm sorry” in Spanish. Thank you to everybody who sent us feedback and suggestions about this lesson!
We discussed the expression lo siento (I'm sorry) in our previous lesson. Let's now focus on the use and meaning of perdóna[me] and discúlpa[me]. As we mentioned before, these two words have a clear and very distinctive apologetic nature and both translate as "I'm sorry," given the appropriate context.
Ay... ¡perdón! ¡Perdón!
Oh... sorry! Sorry!
Caption 21, Amigos D.F. - Consejos para la calle
Te recuerdo, no me digas así porque no lo soporto. -Ay, disculpa.
I remind you, do not call me that because I can't deal with it. -Oh, sorry.
Caption 31, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 3
Remember that perdón and disculpa are also nouns that mean "forgiveness" and "excuse" respectively. So you can say te pido perdón (I ask your forgiveness) or te pido disculpas (literally "I ask you to excuse me"):
Y si he fallado en algo, te pido perdón
And if I have failed in something, I ask your forgiveness
Caption 11, Enrique Iglesias - Mentiroso
¿Ya, contento? -Te pido disculpas.
Happy now? -I ask your forgiveness.
Caption 68, Yago - 3 La foto - Part 8
But by simply saying perdón or disculpa you are actually using these words as verbs in the imperative form, just like "forgive me" and "excuse me" in English. That's made more evident when you attach the personal pronoun me as a suffix to either perdón or disculpa, which is very common (and adds a personal touch to the expression):
You may want to know that even though both perdóname and discúlpame can be translated as "I'm sorry," there are subtle differences between them. In general, perdón is seen as a more heartfelt apology, and more personal. So, thoughtful people who really value precision reserve it for occasions in which they made an actual mistake, personally hurt somebody, etc. Saying disculpa or discúlpame is seen as more casual. Perhaps that's why disculpa is preferred as a simple polite expression equivalent to "excuse me" or "pardon me," phrases that don't necessarily imply you've made a mistake. Remember that, depending on your personal preference and the context, you may want to address people politely by saying (usted) disculpe or discúlpeme:
Disculpe, ¿y usted quién es?
Excuse me, and who are you?
Caption 39, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 4
As long as we are human, we are bound to make mistakes—a simple rule that applies doubly if you are a human trying to learn a foreign language! But what distinguishes a successful learner from an intransigent one is whether one can admit to one’s mistakes and redress them, right? So, don't shy away from speaking if you make mistakes in your Spanish. Sweeten your friends up instead with a candid apology! Here's a lesson about the most common ways to say “I'm sorry” in Spanish.
One short and very common way to say "I'm sorry" in Spanish is lo siento (literally, "I feel it"). Using the proper intonation, this phrase can help you get out of almost any sticky situation or mistake, but, and this is very important, you have to really mean it! Why? Because, just like "I'm sorry," this little Spanish phrase can also be used in a dismissive way, for example:
Lo siento, pequeña, pero aquí las cosas hay que ganárselas.
I'm sorry, little one, but things here have to be earned.
Caption 14, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 5
Perhaps that's why it's very common to add the adverb mucho (a lot) to this phrase, as in lo siento mucho (I'm very sorry) as a way to make sure that the apologetic nature of one's lo siento gets properly transmitted. Another alternative is to use repetition to stress the importance of what you are saying... You can never be too sorry, right?
Bueno, sí, sí, sí, lo siento mucho, Andrea, por favor. -Ay, mire, lo siento, lo siento.
Well, yes, yes, yes, I am very sorry, Andrea, please. -Oh, look, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.
Caption 20, Confidencial - El rey de la estafa - Capítulo 2 - Part 3
But even lo siento mucho is not exclusively used to offer apologies. You can say it as a sarcastic remark, for example, or you can use the phrase lo siento mucho pero to casually introduce an excuse:
Lo siento mucho Mateo pero tengo que irme.
I'm very sorry, Mateo, but I have to leave.
Caption 42, Yago - 3 La foto - Part 8
You may also hear people (especially in Spain) using que (as, since, that) instead of pero (but), as in lo siento mucho que:
Mariona... lo siento que llego de la biblioteca.
Mariona... I'm sorry as I'm coming from the library.
Caption 1, Blanca y Mariona - Vida en general
Note that the expression siento que (without the pronoun lo) is also used to express empathy about an unfortunate situation:
Siento que te hayan despedido, Tomás.
I'm sorry you got fired, Tomas.
It’s also a good option when offering condolences (besides using the classic phrase mis condolencias, which is more formal and more impersonal):
Siento que perdieras a tu mamá, Lucía.
I'm sorry you lost your mom, Lucia.
Perdóna[me] and Discúlpa[me]
Here are some truly apologetic words! The noun perdón (forgiveness) and the verb perdonar (to forgive) have heavy connotations in Spanish. The reason behind this is that these words are rooted in legislative or ecclesiastical contexts in which the notion of perdón is intrinsically linked to the notion of culpa (guilt, fault). The same is true of the noun disculpa (apology, forgiveness, literally "non-guilt") and the verb disculpar (to forgive, literally "to take away the guilt"). There are subtle differences between using perdón and disculpa though. We will tackle those in our next lesson, so stay tuned!
The Spanish word despectivo means "contemptuous," "derogative", or "pejorative." You can use this word in expressions such as No me hables con ese tono despectivo (Don't talk to me using that pejorative tone) or Él es un tipo muy despectivo (He's a very derogative guy).
The word despectivo is also used to describe adjetives and nouns that express disapproval or disdain. You can form these pejorative adjectives and nouns by adding suffixes to root words. The use of prefixes to form pejoratives is not very common, although the etymology of words such as imbécil (imbecile) shows that sometimes prefixes can be used to form words with a pejorative meaning as well. For example:
A veces soy un poco despistada.
Sometimes I'm a bit airheaded.
Caption 14, Raquel - Oficina de objetos perdidos
The word despistada is formed with the Spanish prefix de- (meaning a lack or absence of something) and the word pista (clue); hence another possible translation for this word is "clueless."
Suffixes are, however, much more commonly used to form augmentative, diminutive, and pejorative words in Spanish (actually, in most languages). For example, the suffix -acho/-acha is used to form the pejorative populacho (pleb, mob). Another common pejorative suffix is -ucho/-ucha. You can add it to the root of the word casa (house) to form casucha (hovel, shack), to the word pueblo (town) to form the word pueblucho (hick town), and to practically any other Spanish noun!
The pejorative suffix -astro/-astra can be used to form words such as camastro (rickety old bed). It's actually in the origin of words such as madrastra (stepmother), hijastro (stepson), etc.:
Y mi padrastro, porque mi padre murió, se llama Luis Manuel.
And my stepfather, because my father died, is named Luis Manuel.
Caption 32, Peluquería La Percha - Félix
It's also very common to use augmentative or diminutive suffixes as pejorative ones, due to the fact that the excess or lack of something is usually perceived as a negative thing. For example, the Spanish augmentative suffix -ón/-ona is commonly used to form pejorative words such as gordinflón (fatty), panzón (potbellied), comelón (glutton), llorón (cry baby), and mandón:
La verdad es que Camilo es un poco mandón y un poco raro.
The truth is that Camilo is a bit bossy and a bit strange.
Caption 43, X6 - 1 - La banda - Part 1
Some diminutive suffixes can be used pejoratively as well. For example the suffix -illo/-illa is used in words such as trabajillo (insignificant job) or lucecilla (dim light). If you want to learn more about these suffixes, we recommend you watch Raquel's video on the topic: Raquel - Diminutivos y aumentativos.
Thank you for reading!
One of our latest videos includes an example of an interesting way to pose a question:
¿En qué le puedo ayudar?
How can I help you?
Caption 6, Cita médica - La cita médica de Cleer
In this example, the combination of the preposition en (in, on) and the interrogative word qué (literally “in what”) means how (cómo). Even though the expression cómo puedo ayudarle (how can I help you) exists in Spanish, using en qué instead is a very common choice for native speakers, especially when the expression is meant to be a greeting. In fact, it can be argued that there's a subtle difference between saying ¿en qué puedo ayudarle? (literally "what can I help you with") and ¿cómo puedo ayudarle? (how can I help you): the first one is a polite greeting, while the second one is a general question. Compare the following examples:
Hola ¿en qué puedo ayudarle? - Quiero ordenar a domicilio.
Hi, how can I help you? -I want to order for delivery.
¿Cómo puedo ayudarle, tía? - Ayúdame a rebanar el pan.
How can I help you, Aunt? -Help me slice the bread.
But that’s not the only meaning of en qué. Here’s a notable example:
Oye, y ¿en qué trabajas?
Hey, and what do you do [for a living]?
Caption 82, Ricardo - La compañera de casa
En qué can also be used to ask about a location. It's roughly equivalent to dónde (where):
¿En qué lugar se enamoró de ti?
In what place did he fall in love with you?
Caption 7, Marc Anthony - Y cómo es él
En qué can also be used to talk about time. It's roughly equivalent to cuándo (when):
¿En qué momento sucedió?
When (in what moment) did it happen?
There are many fixed questions that use en qué. The question en qué consiste is worth learning:
¿En qué consiste tu trabajo, Paco?
What does your job consist of, Paco?
Caption 42, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 13
Finally, there are also idiomatic expressions that use en qué. For example, en qué quedamos (literally "in what we agreed”):
¿En qué quedamos? ¿Va tener una herencia o no?
What did we settle on? Is he going to have an inheritance or not?
Caption 38, Muñeca Brava - 30 Revelaciones - Part 9
Let's review some unique Spanish words that you may not have heard of before.
Spanish uses a specific word to describe the rheum (more commonly known as "sleep" in English) found in the corner of the eye after sleeping: lagaña (also legaña). This odd word has an uncertain origin, though some experts believe it to be inherited from a Paleohispanic language! It's important to note that lagaña is not a specialized term as "rheum" is in English, but a common word used in everyday conversations:
Esto es que una... una de las glándulas que se encarga de fabricar la lagaña...
This is because one... one of the glands that is in charge of producing rheum...
Caption 79, Animales en familia - La operación de Yaki
Other unique Spanish words related to the body are entrecejo (the space between the eyebrows).
Y esta parte se llama entrecejo.
And this part is called "entrecejo" [the space between the eyebrows].
Caption 16, Marta explica el cuerpo - La cabeza
and chapas (blush, the pink tinge on the cheeks):
...para obtener las clásicas chapitas de Pikachu.
...to get the classic Pikachu rosy cheeks.
Caption 25, Manos a la obra - Separadores de libros: Pikachu
Do you know any Spanish words or expressions used to describe different types of rain? The expressions está chispeando and está lloviznando both mean "it's drizzling." The verb chispear comes from the noun chispa (spark), while the verb lloviznar comes from the noun llovizna (drizzle). On the other end, when the rain is really heavy, people may use the noun tormenta (storm) to describe it, though aguacero (downpour) is also very common:
Aguacero de mayo, me lleva, papá
May downpour, it's taking me away, man
Caption 44, Kikirikí - Animales - Part 6
Of course, people also use idiomatic expressions to talk about the rain. One example is llueve a cántaros (the equivalent of "it's raining cats and dogs," literally "it's raining as if pitchers were being poured from the sky"). Other words that you may want to explore on your own are: chubasco (a very intense, windy storm) and chaparrón (an intense, sudden, and short storm).
Another interesting set of unique Spanish words is the group used to talk about family in-laws, a list that is quite big, as you can imagine. It's not only suegro, suegra (father- and mother-in-law), but also yerno, nuera (son- and daughter-in-law), cuñado, cuñada (brother- or sister-in-law), and even concuño, concuña (brother, husband, sister, or wife of one's brother-in-law or sister-in-law)!
Es una champiñonera tradicional que estableció mi suegro.
It's a traditional mushroom farm that my father-in-law established.
Caption 6, La Champiñonera - El cultivo de champiñón
Estaba en la casa de mi suegra y mi cuñada, la hermana de mi marido...
I was in my mother-in-law's house, and my sister-in-law, my husband's sister...
Caption 52, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro - Part 1
Interesting tidbit: The equivalent of "in-law family" in Spanish is familia política. You can use the adjective político (political) to describe less close relatives such as primo político (in-law cousin).
In a previous lesson, we learned about how the verb volver can be used figuratively to express the idea of becoming:
Después se volvió más profesional y me encantó más aún todavía, ¿no?
Afterwards, it became more professional and I loved it even more still, right?
Caption 10, Los Juegos Olímpicos - Adrián Gavira
But other Spanish verbs also translate as "to become," for example the verbs transformarse and convertirse (to become, to turn into). These verbs are just as common as volverse but they work differently. That's why you can't just substitute se volvió with se transformó or se convirtió in the example above. When using these verbs you need to be more specific and always remember to use the preposition en (into) to introduce a complement that gives more information about the transformation in question. For example:
...pronto se convierte en una carrera de obstáculos.
...quickly becomes a highway of obstacles.
Caption 41, Animales en familia - La operación de Yaki
El pergamino se transforma en "cisco" y en almendra.
The parchment is transformed into the leftover "cisco" and the bean.
Caption 41, Una Historia de Café - La Bodega
You can switch convertirse and transformarse in the examples above and obtain correct expressions:
...pronto se transforma en una carrera de obstáculos.
...quickly becomes a highway of obstacles.
El pergamino se convierte en "cisco" y en almendra.
The parchment is transformed into the leftover "cisco" and the bean.
But with the verb volverse you don’t need the preposition en (into), so you say:
...pronto se vuelve una carrera de obstáculos.
...quickly becomes a highway of obstacles.
El pergamino se vuelve "cisco" y almendra.
The parchment is transformed into the leftover "cisco" and the bean.
However, to use transformarse or convertirse instead of volverse in the first example you'll have to do more than that, because you can't just say that something or someone se transformó en más profesional (transformed into more professional), right? The expression is incomplete. “Transformed into a more professional what?” people would ask. So you have to say something like:
Después se transformó en una actividad más profesional...
Después se convirtió en una actividad más profesional...
Afterwards, it became a more professional activity...
Finally, an interesting tidbit: You can use both transformarse and convertirse alone as reflexive verbs to express the idea that a person transforms herself or himself, without the need of any complement or preposition, but you can't do the same with volverse:
Me transformo (I transform myself).
Me convierto (I transform myself).
Me vuelvo (This is incomplete; you have to state what you are turning into, for example: me vuelvo un vampiro, which means "I become a vampire").
The verb volver is translated as "to return," but it actually has a great variety of other meanings. Let's see how real Spanish speakers use it in real situations.
Usually, the verb volver means "to come back." It's very common to use its infinitive form combined with another verb, like querer (to want) or ir (to go). Learning how to use the infinitive form of verbs in phrases is actually very useful, especially if you haven't yet mastered the conjugation of irregular verbs such as this one.
¿Y quieres volver al centro? -Efectivamente.
And you want to come back to the center [of the city]? -Exactly.
Caption 48, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 12
You can also use the verb volver figuratively. The following example translates as "again":
Otra vez, volver a hacernos daño.
One more time, hurting each other again.
Caption 24, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 15
Another possible translation of this example is: "Again, going back to hurting each other."
The combination of volver with the preposition a (to) is also a very useful one. You can combine it with other verbs in phrases such as volver a vernos (to see each other again), volver a empezar (to start all over again), volver a entrar (to reenter), etc. Or, you can use conjugated forms:
Pero bueno, cuando pueda, me vuelvo a inscribir en otro gimnasio y me meto.
But well, when I can, I'll enroll again in another gymnasium and I'll go.
Caption 29, Patricia Marti - Diversión y Ejercicio - Part 1
Did you notice the use of the reflexive pronoun me? Well, the verb volver also has a reflexive form: volverse. It's not always easy to know how to use it, though. it usually depends on the verb you are combining it with. As a general rule, you can't use the reflexive form if the following verb is a transitive verb (with a direct object). Compare these examples:
Luisa se volvió a desmayar (Luisa fainted again). It's a mistake to say "Luisa volvió a desmayar" only.
Luisa volvió a romper mi juguete (Luisa broke my toy again). It's a mistake to say "Luisa se volvió a romper mi juguete".
But this is not always the case. You can actually use the reflexive form with transitive verbs as well, when the action of volver has a reflexive meaning (loosely, when the direct object is also the subject of the sentence). This is why me vuelvo a hacer la tarea (I [myself] get back to doing my homework) is different from vuelvo a hacer la tarea (I do my homework again).
Sometimes, the use of a personal pronoun is not an indication of a reflexive action but simply of the existence of a direct or indirect object. In the following example, the pronoun te substitutes for a direct object:
Hijo, móntate adelante pero no te vuelvo a sacar a pasear más, ¿oíste?
Son, get in the front seat, but I am not going to take you out for a ride again, did you hear?
Caption 9, Chiste de Carlito - No. 3 - Part 1
But here the pronoun te substitutes for an indirect object:
Te vuelvo a repetir...
I repeat it to you again...
Caption 74, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro - Part 8
As a last example, a very common figurative meaning of the reflexive volverse is "to become":
Entonces, el asunto se vuelve más complicado.
So, the issue becomes more complicated.
Caption 32, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 3
Quedar is a very useful and interesting Spanish verb because it has a great number of different meanings. Let's learn a few!
Quedar ("to stay" or "to remain") is commonly used alone (quedar) or accompanied with reflexive pronouns (quedarse). This verb can be followed by different complements and prepositions such as con (with), en (in, on), or de (of, from).
Quedarse con means "to stay with":
Y te quedas con los niños.
And you stay with the children.
Caption 29, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 3
It's useful to learn how to turn this expression into an order or request. All you have to do is use the reflexive pronoun as a suffix of the verb: quédate con los niños (stay with the kids). Here's another useful example:
Stay with me
Caption 42, Carlos Baute y Marta Sanchez - Colgando en tus manos
If you combine the verb quedar(se) with the preposition en (in, on), you can introduce an expression of place:
El azúcar se queda en la sangre.
Sugar stays in the blood.
Caption 5, Los médicos explican - La diabetes
You could also use it to express time using prepositions such as desde (since), or durante (during). For example: Elisa se quedará durante el verano (Elisa will stay during the summer); Nos quedaremos desde mayo hasta junio (We'll stay from May to June).
Do you remember how Spanish uses the word hay (there is, there are), the impersonal form of the verb haber (to have)? You can do something similar with queda or quedan (singular and plural third person of quedar) to express the idea "there is [something] left":
Pues ya no queda nada de qué hablar, nada...
For there is nothing left to talk about, nothing...
Caption 2, Bunbury - Entrevista Con Enrique Bunbury - Part 2
This combination of “queda + something” is very useful, and interesting too, because it uses the verb quedar as in a way similar to the impersonal verb hay (there's, there are). So, for example, you can say: ¿Queda café? (Is there any coffee left?), ¿Quedan plátanos en el refri? (Are there any bananas left in the fridge?).
Quedar can also mean "to end up," or "to result in." For example, in the question ¿En qué quedó eso? (How did that end up?). Or here:
Y así queda nuestro diseño.
And our design ends up looking like this.
Caption 7, Manos a la obra - Papel picado para Día de muertos
This can also be used with reflexive pronouns. You can say: Así nos queda nuestro diseño. Another example is:
...porque si no el brócoli sí que nos queda crudo.
...because if not the broccoli does end up raw [for us].
Caption 17, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli - Part 8
The expressions quedar con and quedar en can be used figuratively to express that you have agreed about something with someone. For example, agreeing to meet in a certain place:
Quedamos en vernos aquí a las tres en punto.
We agreed we will meet here at three o'clock.
Or just agreeing with someone on something:
Quedé con Esther en que me quedaría a cuidar a los niños.
I agreed with Esther that I would stay to take care of the kids.
The verb quedar can also be used to express the idea that someone has changed or ended up in a certain position or state of mind. For example: Juliana se quedó sola tras la partida de Esther (Juliana was left alone after Esther's departure). Me quedé sorprendido con su actuación (I was [left] surprised by her performance). Translations vary, however. For example:
Bueno, mi papá se quedó sin trabajo.
Well, my dad lost his job.
Caption 15, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro - Part 2
You can also use the verb quedar to express the idea that a person has gained a certain reputation after an action. For example: quedé como un idiota (I looked like an idiot). As a result, the fixed expression quedar bien means then "to look good" or "get in good with," while quedar mal means the opposite.
No me quedes mal, papá.
Don't let me down, Dad.
Además es una manera de quedar bien con la empresa.
Additionally, it's a way to look good with the company.
Caption 84, Raquel y Marisa - Español Para Negocios - Nuestro perfil profesional en la red
Quedar can also be used to express the idea that you will keep something with you. For example:
-Me quedaré con tu pluma porque me gusta mucho. -No, no puedes quedártela.
-I will keep your pen because I really like it. -No, you can't keep it.
Can you think of a way to answer the previous question with a positive? It's Claro, quédatela ("Sure, keep it")!
You can also use the expression quedar por + a verb in the infinitive to express the idea that something is left to be done. Translations vary depending on the context. For example:
Sólo queda por hacer la tarea.
Only homework is left to be done.
No quiero ni pensar en todo lo que nos queda por alcanzar.
I don't even want to think about how much we still need to achieve.
Finally, the verb quedar also means "to fit" or "to suit":
¿Me queda bien? Sí, ¿no? -Guapo, guapo, muy bien se ve.
Does it look good on me? It does, right? -Handsome, handsome, it looks very good.
Caption 52, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 6
Figuratively speaking, it means "to be appropriate”:
¡No queda que fumes en una fiesta infantil!
It's not appropriate for you to smoke at a children's party!
Let's continue studying phrases that combine prepositions, articles, and pronouns since these can be a source of confusion for Spanish learners. Take a look at Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 here.
Check out the following quote from one of our most recent videos. In this clip teacher Carolina is discussing common mistakes that her students make, and says:
El primer caso del que les quiero hablar hoy es...
The first case I want to talk to you about today is...
Caption 7, Lecciones con Carolina - Errores comunes - Part 5
The phrase del que les is used frequently in Spanish, and has no direct translation in English. If we break this phrase down, we find that it literally means "of the which to you:" the contraction del (preposition de + article el), plus the relative pronoun que (which), and the personal pronoun les (to you). But in English, we don't really say things like "of the which to you." Instead, English uses a very different structure that requires an additional word: "about."
In fact, a more literal translation of the example would be something like: "The first case about which I want to talk to you today is." In Spanish, by the way, there's a similar construction that uses the phrase acerca de, which literally means "about." So in fact, you can also say the following:
El primer caso acerca del que les quiero hablar hoy es...
The first case about which I want to talk to you today is...
However, these expressions are a bit over complicated, both in Spanish and in English. In Spanish, it's better and more straightforward to simply use the preposition de (of, from) combined with the appropriate articles and pronouns, which must agree with the nouns they refer to in both number and gender. For example:
El tipo del que les hablo nunca más apareció;
The guy about whom I speak to you never again showed up
Caption 5, ChocQuibTown - Oro
So, if you are talking about a noun that is both singular and masculine, like el caso (the case) or el tipo (the guy), you need to use del, that is de + el (the). Let's now see an example with a plural noun like artistas (artists), that needs de + los (or de + las if we were talking about female artists):
Pintó junto a grandes artistas de los que aprendió casi todo.
He painted alongside great artists from whom he learned almost everything.
Caption 15, Europa Abierta - Alejandro Hermann - El arte de pintar