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Había or habían muchos libros?

Let’s start this lesson with a short quiz. Imagine that you want to say the following sentence in Spanish:

“There were many books in that apartment.” You have two options:

a. Había muchos libros en ese apartamento


b. Habían muchos libros en ese apartamento

Which one is the correct form? Había in singular or habían in plural?


Using the verb haber in Spanish

To answer our question, we need to say that había and habían belong to the imperfect tense of the Spanish verb haber. Let’s take a look at that conjugation:


  • Yo había
  • Tú habías
  • Él/Ella había
  • Nosotros/as habíamos
  • Vosotros/as habíais
  • Ellos/as habían


Now, very often, we use the verb haber as the auxiliary verb “to have”:


...todas las cosas que había estado buscando, ¿no?

...all the things that I had been looking for, right?

Caption 5, Belanova - Entrevista - Part 2


However, in the sentence we are discussing here, we are not using haber as the auxiliary verb “to have,” but rather as an element that allows us to make a reference to the existence of many books in a particular place (the apartment). In other words, we are using haber as the equivalent of there is / there are in English.

When we use haber with that intention, we ALWAYS have to use its singular form even if what comes after it is a plural noun! Because of that, the correct answer to our opening question is the following:

a. Había muchos libros en ese apartamento


How to use había when talking about existence

Now that we understand that we need to use the singular había and not the plural form habían, let’s look at a couple of examples of how to properly use había when talking about the presence or existence of things or people in a particular place:


Aquí había unas comidas para llevar.

There were some takeout places here.

Caption 8, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - part 10


porque había diferentes explicaciones de…

because there were different explanations of…

Caption 31, El Aula Azul - Dos historias


porque había muchos obstáculos para ese encuentro.

because there were many obstacles for that meeting.

Caption 34, La Sub30 - Familias - Part 4


y había muchos seres extraños

and there were many strange beings.

Caption 43, Salvando el planeta Palabra - Llegada - Part 3


no había máquinas de estas,

there were no machines like these,

Caption 37, Tortillería La Nueva Única - Entrevista con don Alfonso - Part 2


By the way, it is worth saying that many Spanish speakers make the mistake of using habían instead of había in the context we just discussed. In fact, many people think that what comes after the verb haber is the subject of the sentence, which is not the case.

That’s it for now. We hope this lesson will help you to avoid making this very common mistake in Spanish. And don’t forget to send us your feedback and suggestions.


Explore more lessons:

Using "haber de" to Express Necessity or Possibility

Haber+De+Infinitive: Something you should learn

Va a haber: Related forms of "Hay"

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Regular AR verbs in Spanish

In Spanish language, all infinitive verbs belong to one of the following groups: verbs ending in ‘-ar’, verbs ending in ‘-er’ and verbs ending in ‘-ir’.


Likewise, each infinitive verb is formed using the following formula: verb stem + infinitive ending. Let’s look at some of the most common regular ‘AR’ verbs in Spanish:


  • Hablar (to speak) = Habl + ar
  • Comprar (to buy) = Compr + ar
  • Estudiar  (to study) = Estudi + ar


What makes a verb regular?

A verb is considered regular when the verb stem doesn’t change from the infinitive form to the conjugated form of the verb. Let’s take the regular verb hablar (to speak) and see its conjugation in the simple present. Notice how the stem stays the same but the endings vary:


  • Yo hablo (I speak)
  • Tú hablas (You speak)
  • Él/Ella habla (He/She speaks)
  • Nosotros/as hablamos (We speak)
  • Vosotros/as habláis (You speak)
  • Ellos/as hablan (They speak)


... o cuando mis alumnos hablan español.

... or when my students speak Spanish.

Caption 84, Lecciones con Carolina - Adjetivos posesivos - Part 2


Now, let’s take the regular verb comprar (to buy) and see how the conjugation works in the simple past:


  • Yo compré (I bought)
  • Tú compraste (You bought)
  • Él/Ella compró (He/She bought)
  • Nosotros/as compramos (We bought)
  • Vosotros/as comprasteis (You bought)
  • Ellos/as compraron (They bought)


¿Recuerdas el regalo que compré? -Mm-hm.

Do you remember the gift that I bought? -Mm-hm.

Caption 17, El Aula Azul - La Doctora Consejos - El pasado


Let’s use a different verb to see the conjugation of a regular ‘AR’ verb in the simple future. Let’s take the verb estudiar (to study):


  • Yo estudiaré (I will study)
  • Tú estudiarás (You will study)
  • Él/Ella estudiará (He/She will study)
  • Nosotros/as estudiaremos (We will study)
  • Vosotros/as estudiaréis (You will study)
  • Ellos/as estudiarán (They will study)


La Comisaría de Pesca dice que estudiará la forma de pagar esa indemnización.

The Fisheries Commissioner says that she will evaluate the way to pay that compensation.

Caption 50, Europa Abierta - Aguas en discordia


Do you want to know more regular ‘AR’ verbs in Spanish?

Take a look at the following list featuring some of the most used 'AR' verbs in Spanish:


  • Cantar (to sing) 
  • Bailar (to dance) 
  • Bajar (to go down) 
  • Caminar (to walk) 
  • Contestar (to answer) 
  • Descansar (to rest) 
  • Entrar (to enter) 
  • Escuchar (to listen to) 
  • Llegar (to arrive)
  • Limpiar (to clean)


Now, a final challenge: take one of the verbs we just mentioned and try conjugating it in simple present, past and future. And don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions.


Explore more lessons:

The complicated world of reflexive verbs

Combining verbs in Spanish - Part 1 - Infinitives

Combining verbs in Spanish - Part 2- Gerundios y participios



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Learning Idiomatic Expressions

We use idiomatic expressions all the time in our conversations. However, learning to use idiomatic expressions in a foreign language is something that most students find particularly challenging. Let’s find out how to say “a piece of cake,” “raining buckets,” “get away with it,” and “feel like” in Spanish.
In English, when something is extremely easy to do we say that it"s “a piece of cake.” In Spanish, the equivalent expression is pan comido (eaten bread):
porque componer para mí es pan comido.
because for me composing is a piece of cake.
Caption 80, NPS, No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 9
In English, there’re several expressions that can be used to express that it’s raining heavily, for example “to rain buckets” or “to rain cats and dogs.” If we want to express the same idea in Spanish we must use the expression llover a cántaros [literally "to rain jugs"]:
Sí, llueve a cántaros.
Yes, it's raining buckets.
Caption 45, Español para principiantes - Saludos y encuentros
In English, when someone manages to do something bad without being punished or criticized for it, we say that he/she “gets away with it.” In Spanish, the phrase used to express the same idea is salirse con la suya:
Yo no pienso dejar que esa sifrina se salga con la suya.
I don't plan to let that snob get away with it.
Caption 79, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 10
Finally, when we want to say that someone has the desire to do something, we use the expression “to feel like.” In Spanish people use the phrase tener ganas de:
Si tienes ganas de más aventuras,
If you feel like more adventures,
Caption 20, Marta - Los Modos de Transporte
¿Tienes ganas de practicar más? [Do you feel like practicing more?]. Try finding more idiomatic expressions in our catalog of videos! And don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to

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Tú, usted and vos

In English, when we talk with someone we use the second person singular pronoun ‘you’. In Spanish, we have three different options for that same pronoun: usted and vos. Which one we use depends on things like the relation that we have with the person we are talking to or the place where we are. Generally speaking, we use usted when we want to talk in a more respectful way with someone:

¿Usted qué... qué me recomienda, doctor?
What do you... what do you recommend to me, Doctor?
Caption 14, Los médicos explican - el tratamiento de las fracturas - Part 1

However, if you are following the Colombian series Los Años Maravillosos, you have probably noticed that people usually use usted even when talking with family members or close friends. Why? That’s just how people speak in Bogota, Colombia:

 ¿Y a usted qué le pasa, mi hijito?
And what's going on with you, my little boy?
Caption 35, Los Años Maravillosos - Capítulo 1 - Part 4

Regardless of its use, there is something quite unique about using usted:  we conjugate usted as we would conjugate él (he) or ella (she):

Él trabaja entre las nueve de la mañana
He works between nine in the morning
Caption 48, La casa - De Chus

¿Dónde trabaja usted?
Where do you work?
Caption 9, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 16

As you can see in the captions above, the conjugation of the verb trabajar (to work) with él (he) and usted (you) is exactly the same (trabaja), something that doesn’t occur with  and vos:

Tú trabajas | You work
Vos trabajás | You work
Él/Ella/Usted Trabaja | He/She/You work

To wrap things up, we use usted as a second person singular pronoun. However, we conjugate it as a third person singular pronoun!
And don’t forget that this also occurs with the plural form ustedes (you all), which we conjugate as the third person plural pronoun ellos/ellas (they). Notice how ustedes and ellos share the same conjugation of the verb saber (to know) in the following captions:

Toda la vida he estado en el PAN, como ustedes saben, y he estado muy contento.
All my life I have been in PAN, as you know, and I have been very happy.
Caption 37, Felipe Calderón - Publicidad - Part 2

Ellos saben de los sitios que son hábitat de reproducción,
They know about the places that are reproduction habitats,
Caption 31, Instinto de conservación - Parque Tayrona - Part 2

That's it for now. If you want to learn more things about the use of usted and vos make sure to check out our series about Tuteo, Ustedeo y Voseo. And don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to

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The Preposition Sobre

Let's talk about prepositions! Today, we will discuss a very useful preposition that also has lots of meanings. Our guest today is the preposition sobre! We usually use sobre as the equivalent of the English preposition about (with regard to):


Os voy a contar a... cosas sobre uno de los lugares más típicos de Barcelona
I'm going to tell you about... things about one of the most typical places in Barcelona
Caption 24, Blanca - Sobre la ciudad de Barcelona

Te cité porque quiero escribir un libro sobre meditación,
I called you here because I want to write a book about meditation,
Caption 6, Escribiendo un libro - Algunos consejos sobre cómo comenzar - Part 1

The preposition sobre can also be used as the equivalent of the English adverb about (approximately) when we want to indicate an approximate time, quantity or number:


 Perfecto. Y, ¿sobre qué hora te vendría bien?
Perfect. And, about what time would be good for you?
Caption 14, Raquel y Marisa - Español Para Negocios - Nuestro perfil profesional en la red    

Very often, the preposition sobre indicates the position of a particular person or object. In this case, sobre acts as the English prepositions over and on:

No quieras caminar sobre el dolor... descalza
Don't wish to walk over the pain... barefoot
Caption 6, Camila - Aléjate de mí

Vamos a ponerlas sobre un papel aluminio.
We are going to put them on a piece of aluminum foil.
Caption 15, [Bears in the Kitchen] Osos en la cocina - Pollo Violado

While we usually use sobre as a preposition, this isn’t always the case. For instance, the preposition sobre is often used next to the word todo to form the adverbial phrase sobre todo, which means especially or particularly. You can see how the following sentence uses both sobre (about) and sobre todo (especially):

hay varios artículos sobre esto y sobre todo en dependencia a la edad del niño,
there are several articles about this and especially depending on the age of the child,
Caption 85, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 4

And finally, don’t forget that the word sobre can also be a noun, which means envelope:


de recoger todos esos sobres que repartió la Mojiganga…
of collecting all those envelopes that the Mojiganga gave out…
Caption 35, Estado Falcón - Locos de la Vela - Part 3 

That's all for now. Try to write some sentences with all the different uses that we mentioned for the word sobre. And don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to

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Idiomatic expressions with the verb Tener

In this lesson, we will review some very useful idioms and expressions with the verb tener (to have).
Very often, we use idiomatic expressions with tener in the present so let’s review the conjugation of this verb in the present tense:
Yo tengo | I have
Tú tienes | You have
Él/Ella tiene | He/She has
Nosotros tenemos | We have
Vosotros tenéis | You have
Ellos tienen | They have
There are many idiomatic expressions with the verb tener that Spanish speakers use to express physical sensations. These include expressions like tener frío/calor (to be cold/hot), tener hambre (to be hungry) and tener sueño (to be sleepy):

 Bueno, pero tengo frío.
Well, but I'm cold.
Caption 31, Natalia de Ecuador - Palabras de uso básico

 Y más que tenemos hambre ya a esta hora.
And plus, we're already hungry at this hour.
Caption 106, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 5

Tenemos sueño.
We are sleepy.
Caption 38, El Aula Azul - Estados de ánimo

Apart from physical sensations, we can also use the verb tener to express other more psychological states such as tener miedo (to be afraid), tener ganas (to want/to desire), tener prisa (to be in a hurry) and tener vergüenza (to be ashamed):

¡Tengo miedo, tengo miedo, tengo miedo!
I'm afraid, I'm afraid, I'm afraid!
Caption 42, Muñeca Brava - 43 La reunión - Part 2

 Siento que te cansaste y tienes ganas
I feel that you got tired and you want
Caption 4, Circo - Velocidades luz

la gente parece que siempre tiene prisa
people seem to always be in a hurry...
Caption 38, Maestra en Madrid - Nuria y amigo 

En este momento duda porque tiene vergüenza de ir a la escuela,
At this moment she hesitates because she's ashamed to go to school,
Caption 49, Con ánimo de lucro - Cortometraje - Part 4

And finally, don’t forget that you also need to use an idiomatic expression with the verb tener when you talk about age:

Tengo veintiún años y soy estudiante de negocios internacionales.
I'm twenty-one years old and I'm a student of international business.
Caption 2, Amigos D.F. - Consejos para la calle

That's all for now. We challenge you to try finding more idiomatic expressions with the verb tener in our catalog of videos! And don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to

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Stress at the end: Palabras agudas

Let's talk about stress. In Spanish, all words are stressed on one syllable. Depending on the syllable where that stress falls, words in Spanish are divided into the following four groups:
Palabras agudas (Oxytone words) | Last syllable
Palabras graves (Paroxytone words) | Second-to-last syllable
Palabras esdrújulas (Proparoxytone words) | Third-to-last syllable
Palabras sobresdrújulas (Over-proparoxytone words) | Any syllable before the third-to-last syllable
Today, we will talk about palabras agudas. Let’s look at a couple of words:

Palabras como "corazón" o "tambor" son palabras agudas.
Words like "corazón" [heart] or "tambor" [drum] are oxytone words.
Caption 22, Carlos Explica - Acentuación parte 5 - Clasificación de las palabras según el acento


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

La manera más simple de llegar a Barcelona es con el autobús
The simplest way to get to Barcelona is by bus
Caption 26, Blanca - Cómo moverse en Barcelona

El coquí es un sapito que tenemos aquí en Puerto Rico.
The coquí is a little frog that we have here in Puerto Rico.
Caption 31, Carli Muñoz - Niñez - Part 1

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

¿Quieres tomar algo de beber, Raquel?
Do you want to have something to drink, Raquel?
Caption 22, Raquel - Presentaciones

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

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

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A Common Past: ser and ir

We all know that irregular verbs are tricky. Very often, however, we can take advantage of those special rules that make the learning process a bit easier. Today, we will explore the past tense of the irregular verbs ser (to be) and ir (to go).
First of all, the good news: the verbs ser and ir share the same simple past conjugation! By simple past, we are referring to what is known in Spanish as pretérito perfecto simple or just pretérito (preterit). Let’s review the simple past conjugation of the verb ser:

Yo fui | I was
Tú fuiste | You were
Él/Ella fue | He/She was
Nosotros fuimos | We were
Vosotros fuisteis | You were
Ellos fueron | They were

Pensar que un día fui la respuesta
To think that one day I was the answer
Caption 14, Belanova - Tal vez

Aprendí que los primeros en hacer cómic fueron los aztecas.
I learned that the first ones to make comics were the Aztecs.
Caption 48, Antonio Vargas - Artista - Comic - Part 1

And now, let’s take a look at the simple past conjugation of the verb ir:

Yo fui | I went
Tú fuiste | You went
Él/Ella fue | He/She went
Nosotros fuimos | We went
Vosotros fuisteis | You went
Ellos fueron | They went

Y sí, definitivamente fuimos a tomar un café, fuimos a cenar.
And yes, we definitely went for a coffee, went to dinner.
Caption 18, Enanitos Verdes - Luz de Día

¿Y te fuiste a vivir con tu novio con cuánto? -Con diecisiete.
And you went to live with your boyfriend when you were how old? -I was seventeen.
Caption 92, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 14

We also use the simple past conjugation of the verb ir for the reflexive form irse (to leave):

 Yo me fui de la casa cuando tenía nueve años.
I left home when I was nine years old.
Caption 41, La Sub30 - Familias - Part 5

Desde aquel día que te fuiste, supe que eras para mí
From that day on which you left, I knew you were for me
Caption 1, Andy Andy - Maldito Amor

That's all for now. But before we leave, a short exercise for you: Write 10 sentences in simple past with the verb ser and 10 sentences with the verb ir. And don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to

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First, Second and Third: The Ordinal Numbers

Let’s talk about numbers today. The ordinal numbers express position, order or succession in a series, such as first, second and third. Let's take a look at some of the rules that you need to keep in mind when using ordinal numbers.
The first ten ordinals are very often used in spoken Spanish so let’s take a moment to review them: Primero (first), segundo (second), tercero (third), cuarto (fourth), quinto(fifth), sexto (sixth), séptimo (seventh), octavo (eighth), noveno (ninth) and décimo (tenth).
Generally speaking, the ordinal numbers in Spanish go before the noun and agree in gender and number with the noun they are describing:

Las primeras imágenes que veo son impactantes, la verdad,
The first images that I see are shocking, truthfully,
Caption 34, Iker Casillas - apoya el trabajo de Plan

A very important rule regarding the ordinals primero (first) and tercero (third) is that they drop the final ‘o’ before a masculine noun:

Y por ejemplo este nuevo disco es vuestro tercer disco creo... tercero o cuarto.
And for example this new record is your third record I believe... Third or fourth.
Caption 65, Bajofondo Tango Club - Mar Dulce - Part 1 

Ordinal numbers can be simple or compound. Simple ordinals have their own form while compound ordinals are made by joining simple numbers. The ordinal numbers “eleventh” and “twelfth” are unique in Spanish because they can have both simple and compound forms. For example, we could write the ordinal “twelfth” as a simple number (duodécimo) or as a compound one (décimo segundo):

En el dos mil diecisiete, El Real Madrid ganó su décima segunda '"Champions".
In two thousand seventeen, Real Madrid won its twelfth championship.
Cap. 39, Carlos explica - Los Números - Los Números Ordinales

Also, let’s remember that we use ordinal numbers for sovereign figures like kings, queens and popes. In this case, the ordinals are placed after the noun they describe:

fuimos a la beatificación del Papa Juan Pablo Segundo.
we went to the beatification of Pope John Paul the Second.
Caption XX, Latinos por el mundo - Chilenas en Venecia 

That's it for now. Remember to memorize and practice the first 10 ordinals as they are commonly used in everyday language! And don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to

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Gentilicios: Adjectives of Nationality

Let's talk about gentilicios (demonyms)! Gentilicios are words that we use as adjectives when we want to say the place where someone or something comes from. Some examples of demonyms are words like “Brazilian,” “African” or “Chinese.”
Unlike English, we don’t capitalize demonyms in Spanish:


Mejor dicho, esas que son una mezcla entre peruana y colombiano.
In other words, those that are a mix between a Peruvian girl and a Colombian guy.
Caption 35, La Sub30 - Familias - Part 1

We form demonyms using suffixes, which most of the time need to be consistent with the gender and the number of the noun they are describing. Let’s take the suffix ano:

Roberto es mexicano | Roberto is Mexican (singular masculine)
Claudia es mexicana | Claudia is Mexican (singular feminine)
Roberto y Claudia son mexicanos | Roberto and Claudia are Mexicans (plural masculine)
Claudia y Daniela son mexicanas | Claudia and Daniela are Mexicans (plural feminine)


cuando realmente veo otros mexicanos, otros latinos,
when I see other Mexicans, other Latin people,
Caption 57, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 5

Other suffixes that are very often used to form gentilicios are és (singular masculine) and esa(singular feminine) as well as co (singular masculine) and ca (singular feminine):

De padre austriaco y madre francesa, es casi políglota de nacimiento.
From an Austrian father and French mother, he's pretty much multilingual from birth.
Caption 12, Europa Abierta - Alejandro Hermann - El arte de pintar

We also have the suffix eño (singular masculine) as in limeño (from Lima, the capital of Peru), and the suffix í as in the demonym iraní (from Iran). The latter is used for both masculine and feminine and only changes in its plural form (iraní becomes either iranís or iraníes, both forms are correct):


madrileñomadrileña, de Madrid, la capital de España.
or "madrileño," "madrileña," [from Madrid], from Madrid, the capital of Spain.
Caption 34, Carlos Explica - Geografía y gentilicios

Just like iraní, the demonym estadounidense (from the United States) is the same for the masculine and feminine forms. Some people use americano or americana when referring to someone from the US. However, if you are travelling across Latin America try to use estadounidense instead. Most people in Latin America treat the word América as a continent and not a country so using that demonym when referring to the US will certainly leave a nice impression across the Americas.
That's all for now. We would like to leave you with the following exercise: Choose 20 countries from the world and try to write the gentilicios for each one. And don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to

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Irse de boca

Let's continue learning idiomatic expressions that use names of body parts. This lesson focuses on the word boca (mouth).
The expression llevarse algo a la boca (literally "to put something in one's mouth") means "to eat." You can see an example in the following quote from our catalog of videos:

que te lleves algo a la boca. -¡Hombre, algo a la barriga!
you put something in your mouth. -Man, something to put into my belly!
Caption 87, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 10

Somewhat similar is the expression no tener nada que llevarse a la boca (literally, "to lack something to put in one's mouth"), which basically means "to be very poor."
Two very useful phrases using the word boca (mouth) are boca arriba (face up) and boca abajo (face down):

Túmbese, boca arriba.
Lay down, face up.
Caption 34, Club de las ideas - Técnico en imagen para diagnóstico

The expression abrir la boca (to open one's mouth) means "to speak out," "to confess or reveal a secret," or "to spill a gossip," depending on the context:

Eso sí, miralo y no abras la boca hasta que volvamos a hablar vos y yo, ¿eh?
Mind you, watch it and don't open your mouth until we speak again, you and I, OK?
Caption 6, Muñeca Brava - 9 Engaños - Part 8

Also similar is irse de boca (literally "to go mouth on"), that is "to run off at the mouth" or simply "to be indiscreet":

No te habrás ido de boca diciéndole la verdad a ese Sirenio, ¿no?
You wouldn't have been indiscreet by telling that Sirenio guy the truth, right?
Caption 52, Yago - 9 Recuperación - Part 12

El presidente se fue de boca otra vez.
The president ran his mouth off again. 

Finally, keep in mind that irse de boca is also a synonym phrase of caerse de boca (to go headlong, to fall flat on your face). This is a very colloquial expression that you probably won't use in a formal situation:


Se fue de boca y se fracturó la nariz.
He went headlong and fractured his nose.

That's all for now. We challenge you to try finding more expressions using the word boca in our catalog of videos! And don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to

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A que sí / A que no

Learning how to combine prepositions such as a, ante, con, de, desde, en, para, por, and sin (among others) is key to being able to build complex ideas in Spanish. For example, you can use them to introduce a subordinate clause in a very simple sentence:

Voy al banco a cambiar un cheque (I go/I'm going to the bank to cash a check)
Voy al banco para cambiar un cheque (I go/I'm going to the bank to cash a check)
Voy al banco con María (I go/I'm going to the bank with Maria)
Voy al banco de la esquina (I go/I'm going to the bank on the corner of the street)
Voy al banco desde temprano (I go/I'm going to the bank early in the morning)
Voy al banco en carro (I go/I'm going to the bank by car)
Voy al banco por unos documentos (I go/I'm going to the bank to get some documents)
Voy al banco según me indicaste (I go/I'm going to the bank as you told me to)
Voy al banco sin mi paraguas (I go/I'm going to the bank without my umbrella)

You can also combine prepositions with other particles in Spanish. One interesting case is the combination of prepositions with the word que. Let's focus on the combination a que (entirely different from a qué), which is very useful! Here's an example:


Pues yo te invito a que lo pruebes.
Well, I invite you to try it.
Caption 87, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 6

Another way to express the same idea in Spanish is te invito a probarlo (I invite you to try it). Do you notice the difference? The preposition a introduces a verb in the infinitive (probarlo) while the combination a que introduces a clause with a conjugated verb (pruebes).
Another example/meaning of a que is:


Mi padre era muy reacio a que [yo] las tocara.
My father was very reluctant for me to touch them.
Caption 57, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 10

As you can see, English has a different, more convoluted way to express this idea of being reluctant about an action performed by a third person. But the Spanish a que construction can be combined with a conjugated verb in the subjunctive. If you were wondering, you can't express this precise idea in Spanish using the infinitive. But if the subjunctive is still hard for you, try something simple and depersonalized: Mi padre era muy reacio a tocarlas (My father was very reluctant to touch them).
The phrase a que can be used to answer someone who's asking an a qué question:

¿A qué viniste? -Vine a que me pagues.
What did you come for? - I came for you to pay me.

Finally, there's an expression using the combination a que that you will surely like. It's used to confirm that we are on the same page with somebody, that we agree about something:

¿Tú la cuidas bien a que sí?
You take good care of her, right?
Caption 23, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 16

In Spanish this expression a que sí  is equivalent and very similar to ¿verdad que sí? (literally "is it true that yes?"). It can also be used in the negative form:

¿A que no adivinas dónde estuvimos?
I bet you won't guess where we were?
Caption 9, Guillermina y Candelario - Carrera de Relevos - Part 1

You can think of this expression as a short version of the phrase apuesto a que no (I bet that you don't...)which is also used in positive terms: apuesto a que sí (I bet you do...), by the way. It's just much more common to use the negative form to stress the daring nature of this expression. But it's perfectly correct to say: ¡A que sí puedes. Inténtalo! (I bet you can. Try!).
That's all for now! We'll explore more of these combinations in future lessons. Don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to

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A mano

Let's continue learning idiomatic expressions in Spanish that use body parts. This lesson focuses on the word mano (hand).
The expressions echar una mano (to throw a hand) or dar una mano (to give a hand) mean "to help." Frequently, people use this expression with negation in the interrogative form: ¿no me echas una mano? or ¿no me das una mano? are common ways to ask for help in Spanish:


¿No me das una manita con Pablo?
Won't you give me a little hand with Pablo?
Caption 44, Muñeca Brava - 30 Revelaciones - Part 4

See? You can even throw in a diminutive like manita (little hand)! Native Spanish speakers use diminutives a lot, so you can use this truquito (little trick) to make your Spanish sound more natural.
Now, dar una mano (to give a hand, to help) is different from dar la mano (literally, "to give the hand"), which means "to shake hands" or "to hold hands." Usually the verb dar (to give) is used with a pronoun in these expressions. So you can say: le doy la mano (I shake his/her/your hand), nos damos la mano (we shake hands, we shake each other's hands). In other cases the pronoun can be added to the verb dar as a suffix, for example: ¡dame la mano! (shake my hand!), or:


En ocasiones más formales también podemos darnos la mano.
For more formal occasions, we can also shake each other's hands.
Caption 12, Raquel - Presentaciones - Part 1

Slightly different is tomar la mano de alguien (to take somebody's hand):


Bachué se despidió llorando y tomó la mano de su esposo.
Bachué said goodbye crying and took her husband's hand.
Caption 49, América precolombina - El mito de Bachué

If you add the preposition de (by) you get the expression de la mano (by the hand, holdings hands). Tomar de la mano is "to hold by the hand," estar de la mano is "to be holding hands," cruzar la calle de la mano de tu mamá means "to cross the street holding your mom's hand," and caminar de la mano con tu novia means "to walk with your girlfriend holding hands". Here's one more example:


Un helado, un paseo, tomados de la mano
An ice cream, a stroll, holding hands
Caption 4, Alberto Jiménez - Causalidad - Part 2

On the other hand, estar a mano (literally, “to be at hand") means "to be even:"

Estaríamos a mano. ¿Eh?
We would be even. Huh?
Caption 30, Muñeca Brava - 2 Venganza - Part 6


The expression hecho a mano means "made by hand." And the phrase a mano can either mean "by hand":

Los que se pueden coger con la mano desde abajo, se cogen a mano.
The ones that can be picked by hand from below are picked by hand.
Caption 88, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 16

or "at hand," which can also be spelled a la mano:


 Ponte lo que tengas a [la] mano.
Wear whatever you have at hand.

To do something mano a mano (hand in hand) means to do something together:

Los investigadores trabajan con los pescadores mano a mano.
The researchers work with the fishermen hand in hand.

In Mexico, Dominican Republic, and other Spanish speaking countries, people use mano to shorten hermano/a (brother, sister), just like “bro” and “sis” in English. For example: No, mano, así no se hace (No, bro, that's not how you do it), Oye, mana, vámonos a casa (Hey, sis, let's go home).

And that's all for this lesson! Don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to

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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


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


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! Don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to

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Some Expressions

Let's learn some useful Spanish expressions.
The expression total, para qué ( literally "total, what for") is used to express hopelessness if you think that something is likely to fail or is unpromising. The phrase is equivalent to the English expression "So, what's the use," as you can see in the following example:
¡Ay! Total para qué... ¡Ya olvídalo!
Oh! So what's the use... Forget it already!

Another interesting expression is tener en cuenta (to keep into account, to keep in mind):

Intentaré hacer todo lo que me has dicho y tener en cuenta tus recomendaciones.
I will try to do everything that you have told me and keep in mind your recommendations.
Caption 56-57, El Aula Azul - La Doctora Consejos - Subjuntivo y condicional

Here's another example using teniendo (having, keeping) in a more formal context:

Teniendo en cuenta lo anterior, quisiera compartir con ustedes el siguiente mito muisca
Taking into account the foregoing, I would like to share with you the following Muisca myth
Caption 19-20, Aprendiendo con Carlos - América precolombina - El mito de Bachué

On the contrary, the expression hacer de cuenta, means "to pretend":

Entonces, haz de cuenta están hablando ellos
So, pretend they are talking...
Caption 16, Amigos D.F. - Consejos para la calle - Part 1

As you can see, this expression is frequently used in the imperative mode:

Pero hagamos de cuenta que es profundísimo.
But let's pretend that it is very deep.
Caption 33, Salvando el planeta Palabra - Llegada - Part 8

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The Spanish Verb Decir

The verb decir (to say, to tell) is very common in Spanish. Let’s learn how to use it.
One of the most commonly used forms of this verb is digo (I say):

Pero si yo digo: yo voy en el coche y tú vas en el autobús. 
But if I say: I'm going in the car, and you are going on the bus.
Caption 46, Fundamentos del Español - 6 - Tú y Usted

The verb decir is frequently followed by the word que (that):

Yo digo que la fruta es para comerla no para hacerse una fotografía con ella.
I say that fruit is to eat it not to take a picture with it.
Caption 48, Los Reporteros - Sembrar, comer, tirar - Part 2

Also remember that in Spanish you don't always need to use personal pronouns before verbs, since these are conjugated differently for each person:

Pues entonces rejuvenece coger castañas. -Digo que sí.
Well then, it rejuvenates to pick chestnuts. -I say so.
Caption 19, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 4

Another common instance of the verb decir is dice (he/she/it says). The reason why dice is very useful is because it helps us talk about what we read or hear. For example:
Hay un letrero en la puerta que dice que ya está cerrado | There's a sign on the door sayingit's closed already.
El mensaje dice que viene una gran tormenta | The message says a big storm is coming.
Mayra dice que te tienes que ir | Mayra says you have to go.
We mentioned before that it’s very common to omit personal pronouns before verbs in Spanish. But you will find that the verb decir is frequently preceded by reflexive, direct, or indirect object pronouns (me, te, se, nos, os, le, les, la, las, lo) depending on what is being said and to whom. For example:

¿Quién nos dice que la vida nos dará el tiempo necesario?
Who says [to us] that life will give us the necessary time?
Caption 19, Julieta Venegas - El Presente
Supongamos que un amigo me dice lo siguiente:
Let's imagine that a friend tells me the following:
Caption 44, Carlos explica - Diminutivos y Aumentativos Parte 2

It's also important to remember how pronouns are combined when using this verb. You must place reflexive or indirect object pronouns first, and then direct object pronouns right next to the verb. In the following example te replaces an indirect object (you) and lo (it) replaces a direct object:

Te lo digo de corazón.
 I tell [it to] you from the heart.
Caption 25, Documental de Alejandro Fernandez - Viento A Favor

The past tense dijo (he/she/it said) is another useful form of this verb. For example, you can use it to talk about what someone told you in the past. The expression me lo dijo (he/she/it told it to me) is worth learning:

¡Es verdad, pana, mi hermano me lo dijo!
It's true, pal, my brother told it to me!
Caption 45, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 3

No le digas (don’t tell him/her) and no me digas (don’t tell me) are  also useful:

¡No le digas, Candelario!
Don’t tell him, Candelario!
Caption 14, Guillermina y Candelario - La isla de las serpientes

Another fixed expression is se dice (it's said, one says), which is equivalent to dice la gente(people say):

Bueno y se dice que la mujer tiene un sexto sentido.
Well, and one says that a woman has a sixth sense.
Caption 48, El Ausente - Acto 2 - Part 3

The same phrase, se dice, can also be used to talk about the correct pronunciation of a word, or its meaning in a different language. For example:
Buenos días se dice "bonjour" en Francés | "Bonjour" is good morning in French.
No se dice "soy contento", se dice "estoy contento" | You don't say "soy contento," you say "estoy contento" (I'm happy).
You can find many more examples of the verb decir in our catalog. You just need to type the form of the verb that you want to practice in the search tool to start learning real Spanish from real speakers in real situations!

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The Verb Llevar

The Spanish verb llevar has many different meanings. It's also used in many idiomatic phrases. Let's study some examples since this is a very popular and useful verb.
The basic meanings of llevar is "to carry " or "to take": 
Tengo que llevar a mi hijo al doctor - I have to take my kid to the doctor.
Ella lleva una carga muy pesada - She carries a very heavy burden.
Sometimes the verb llevar translates as "to bring": 
No [te] olvides [de] llevar un regalo a la fiesta de Lucía / Don't forget to bring a gift to Lucia's party.
This can be a little confusing for English speakers, since traer and llevar actually mean opposite things in Spanish. The verb traer involves carrying something to the speaker's location, while llevar means to carry something from the speaker's location to a different place. So, to use the same example, if you are already at Lucía's party or, let's say, she is your roomie, you must say: No [te] olvides [de] traer un regalo a la fiesta de Lucía (Don't forget to bring a gift to Lucia's party).
But the verb llevar has many other interesting uses. For example, it's used to express the idea of having been doing something for a period of time. In this case, it's very common to combine llevar with the preposition ya (already):

Yo ya llevo veintitrés años aquí ya.
have already been here for twenty-three years now.
Caption 64, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 18

Llevar can also be used to express duration. This is easy to learn since English also uses "to take" for the same purpose:

tenemos que teñirlo, esto pues, nos lleva un ratito,
we have to dye it, this well, it takes us a little while,
Caption 68, Animales en familia - Un día en Bioparc: Microchip para Nacahué

As you can see, this use of llevar frequently involves using reflexive pronouns. But you don't always need them. Compare, for example: 
Hacer la tarea lleva mucho tiempo / Doing homework takes a lot of time.
Hacer la tarea me lleva mucho tiempo / Doing homework takes me a lot of time.
Llevar also means"to wear":

¿Por qué lleváis guantes?
Why do you wear gloves?
Caption 46, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 5

By the way, the verb traer (to bring) is sometimes used the same way:

...por eso traen pantalones.
…that's why they wear pants.
Caption 48, El Ausente - Acto 2 - Part 3

And the verb llevar also means "to lead." For example: ¿Llevas una vida saludable? (Do youlead a healthy life?). 
Finally, there's an expression used in Mexico that derives from this last meaning: ahí la llevas. It literally means something like "there, you are leading it" but it means that the person speaking is telling you that you are doing your work well. It's very common to use this expression as an ironic remark that means exactly the opposite, so be careful: 
No te rindas, hijo. Ahí la llevas. / Don't give up, son. You are doing well.
¿Otra vez borracho? Bueno, tú síguele. Ahí la llevas. / Drunk again? Well, keep going. You are on the right track... not.

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Phrases with esté

In our previous lesson we discussed the memorization of short phrases as a strategy to gain confidence when conversing in Spanish. The idea is to memorize specific chunks of speech and use them as building blocks to create more complex ideas. In this lesson we will focus on exploring phrases that use the verb esté.
The verb esté is a conjugated form of the verb estar (to be) in the present subjunctive. Let's see how speakers use it in everyday speech and learn how to build new sentences with it.
You can find many examples of the phrase para que esté in our catalog of videos. This phrase is used to express purpose and it's usually followed by an adjective or a verb in participio (-ado, -ido, -to, -so, -cho endings and its feminine and plural variants):

uno trata de abarcar lo más posible para que esté protegida lo más posible, ¿no?
one tries to cover as much as possible so that she would be as protected as she can be, right?
Caption 55, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro - Part 5

In this case the speaker is talking about another person, a woman. The pronoun ella (she) is not needed in Spanish but you can actually add pronouns, names, or noun phrases between que and esté. You can also use actual adjectives instead of participios. For example:
para que Luisa esté protegida | So that Luisa would be protected.
para que el niño esté sano | So that the kid is healthy.
para que el trabajo esté terminado | So that the job is finished.
Here's an example from our catalog:

para que la patata esté blanda, se tiene que cocer mucho la crema
in order for the potato to be soft, the cream has to be cooked a lot
Caption 43-44, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli - Part 4

Since the subjunctive esté 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 que and esté, or not. Check out the following example that also uses negation:
Compra un seguro de vida para que [yo] no esté preocupada \ Buy a life insurance policy so I won’t be worried.
Another common phrase that uses esté is aunque esté. This phrase is used to introduce the idea of a concession. The word aunque [aún + que] means although, even if, though.

aunque esté un poquito más deteriorado, ¿no?
even though it might be a little bit more spoiled, right?
Caption 23, Los Reporteros - Sembrar, comer, tirar - Part 4

Here are some additional examples:
Todos los años visito al doctor aunque [yo] no esté enfermo / I visit the doctor every year even if I'm not sick.
Aunque esta camiseta esté vieja, me sigue gustando mucho / Even though this t-shirt might be old, I still like it.
El dentista te recibirá hoy aunque esté muy ocupado / The dentist will see you today even if he's very busy.
Aunque esté cansado, aún tengo que hacer ejercicio / Even though I may be tired, I still need to exercise.
Finally, the phrase que esté muy bien (informal: que estés muy bien) is sometimes used to say goodbye:

Al contrario Joaquín, me da mucho gusto, le mando un abrazo. - Que esté muy bien.
To the contrary, Joaquin, it's a pleasure, I send you a hug. - Hope you're well.
Caption 19, ¡Tierra, Sí! - Atenco - Part 1

You can also use it as an introductory greeting by adding the verb espero (I hope), especially in written communications: Hola, espero que estés bien (Hi, I hope you are well).
There are of course many other uses of the verb esté. Try to find more examples in our catalog of videos. Please send your feedback and suggestions to

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