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Demonstrative Adjectives in Spanish

Do you know how to say "those" or "that" in Spanish? Let's explore Spanish demonstrative adjectives. However, before doing that, let's start this lesson with an important definition.

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What Is a Demonstrative Adjective?

Adjectives describe and modify nouns. We use demonstrative adjectives to determine which person or object, for example, we are referring to, taking its distance with respect to the speaker and/or listener into account. Let's first review our options in English:

 

- Near the speaker: "this" and "these."

- Near the listener OR far from both the speaker and the listener: "that" and "those."

 

The Gender Factor and Greater Number of Demonstrative Adjectives in Spanish

While there are only four demonstrative adjectives in English, you will notice that there are many more in Spanish (twelve to be exact!). Why is that? One reason is that, because nouns in Spanish have a gender, demonstrative adjectives in Spanish are not only singular and plural but masculine and feminine as well.

 

In addition, Spanish has two different sets of demonstrative adjectives to differentiate between nouns that are close to the listener vs. nouns that are far from both the speaker and listener (roughly corresponding to the English concept of "over there" rather than just "there"). 

 

Let's take a closer look at the demonstrative adjectives in Spanish, using M to indicate "masculine" and F to indicate "feminine":

 

- Near the speaker: "this" (M: este, F: esta) and "these" (M: estos, F: estas).

- Near the listener: "that" (M: ese, F: esa) and "those" (M: esos, F: esas).

- Far from both the speaker and the listener: "that" (over there) (M: aquel, F: aquella) and "those" (over there) (M: aquellos, F: aquellas).

 

It is worth noting that, in addition to indicating further physical distance, aquel/aquella/aquellos/aquellas can also refer to metaphorical distance such as dates or events in the future or past. 

 

How to Pronounce Demonstrative Adjectives in Spanish

Now that we know the demonstrative adjectives in Spanish, it's time to look at some examples. Let's watch and listen to the following clips:

 

Near the speaker: este, esta, estos, estas

 

Me gusta mucho este parque.

I really like this park.

Caption 9, Conversaciones en el parque Cap. 5: Me gusta mucho este parque.

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Esta mochila es de Lucas.

This backpack is Lucas'.

Caption 59, Conversaciones en el parque Cap. 3: ¿De quién es esta mochila?

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En la noche, utilizaremos estos vasos bajos para servir licor.

At night, we'll use these short glasses to serve liquor.

Caption 20, Ana Carolina El comedor

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Estas cintas son las que estamos sacando recientemente; son nuevos diseños.

These ribbons are the ones that we are coming out with recently; they are new designs.

Caption 19, Comercio Camisas tradicionales

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Near the listener: ese, esa, esos, esas

 

Oiga y ese carro, esa belleza ¿de dónde la sacó, hermano, ah?

Hey and that car, that beauty, where did you get it, brother, huh?

Caption 43, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 1 - Part 3

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¿Y esos otros tatuajes que tienes aquí, de qué son?

And those other tattoos you have here, what are they of?

Caption 67, Adícora - Venezuela El tatuaje de Rosana

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Mire, Rubio, yo necesito que usted le ponga vigilancia inmediata a esas dos mujeres, hermano.

Look, Rubio, I need you to put those two women under immediate surveillance, brother.

Caption 52, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 4 - Part 6

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Far from both the speaker and the listener: aquel, aquella, aquellos, aquellas

 

La terminación del piso sería, en el futuro, de roca... de roca rústrica [sic] a propósito traída de aquel cerro que está allá.

The last part of the floor would be, in the future, made out of rock... out of rustic rock brought specifically from that hill over there.

Captions 22-23, Edificio en Construcción Hablando con los trabajadores - Part 2

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Esas cifras ya nos dicen que aquellas civilizaciones prehistóricas ya sabían mucho de cálculo. 

Those numbers tell us that those prehistoric civilizations already knew a lot about calculus.

Captions 27-29, Rosa Los dólmenes de Antequera

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sería, "Aquellos coches son de mi padre" o "Aquellas casas son de mi madre".

would be, "Those cars are my father's" or "Those houses are my mother's."

Captions 35-36, Lecciones con Carolina Adjetivos demostrativos

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Keep in mind, however, that in less formal Spanish, we tend to use ese, esa, esos, and esas much more than aquel, aquella, aquellos, aquellas.

 

That's all for today. Although there are many more demonstrative adjectives in Spanish than in English, learning to use them is relatively simple. We hope you enjoyed this lesson, and don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions. ¡Hasta la próxima!

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How to Write and Say The Colors in Spanish

Do you know how to say "yellow" or "purple" in Spanish? Get ready to learn how to write and say the names of the colors in Spanish.

 

The primary colors in Spanish

Let's take a look at this list of the primary colors in Spanish.

 

Amarillo (Yellow)

Azul (Blue)

Rojo (Red)

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Spanish colors in alphabetical order

Even though there are millions of colors out there, most of the time we use only a limited number of colors in our daily life. The following list features the names of the most frequently used colors in Spanish and English.

 

- amarillo (yellow)

- anaranjado or naranja (orange)

- añil or índigo (indigo)

- azul (blue)

- blanco (white)

- dorado (golden)

- escarlata (scarlet)

- fucsia (fuchsia)

- gris (gray)

- marrón or café (brown)

- morado (purple)

- negro (black)

- plateado (silver)

- rojo (red)

- rosa or rosado (pink)

- violeta (violet)

 

The pronunciation of the most important colors in Spanish

Now, it's time to learn how to say the colors in Spanish.

 

How do you say "yellow" in Spanish?

amarillo

 

Recorta un cuadro de papel amarillo de cinco centímetros

Cut out a five centimeter yellow square from yellow paper

Caption 70, Manos a la obra Separadores de libros: Charmander

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How do you say the color "orange" in Spanish?

anaranjado or naranja

Adentro, son de color anaranjado.

Inside, they are orange-colored.

Caption 13, Otavalo Conozcamos el Mundo de las Frutas con Julia

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By the way, do you know how to say "orange" (the fruit) in Spanish? The answer is "naranja"!

 

 

How do you say "blue" in Spanish?

azul

Ay, me encanta tu camiseta azul.

Oh, I love your blue shirt.

Caption 3, Español para principiantes Los colores

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How do you say "white" in Spanish?

blanco

Mi perro pequeño es blanco.

My small dog is white.

Caption 52, Conversaciones en el parque Cap. 2: Cafe y bocadillos

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How do you say "black" in Spanish?

negro

y el negro, donde se tira lo orgánico

and the black one, where the organic [waste] is thrown away

Caption 7, Rosa Reciclar

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How do you say "green" in Spanish?

verde

el verde, donde va el vidrio,

the green one, where the glass goes,

Caption 5, Rosa Reciclar

 Play Caption

 

 

How do you say "brown" in Spanish?

marrón

Mi cocina es de madera de color marrón.

My kitchen is (made) of brown-colored wood.

Caption 23, Ariana Mi Casa

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Keep in mind that some people prefer to use to word "café" instead of "marrón" when referring to the color "brown."

 

 

How do you say "purple" in Spanish?

morado

Predominan los colores verde, morado,

The colors green, purple, predominate,

Caption 46, Viajando con Fermín Dunas de Marbella

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It is also quite common to use the adjective "púrpura" when talking about the color purple.

 

 

How do you say "red" in Spanish?

rojo

el rojo carmesí, que es un rojo frío,

the Crimson Red, which is a cool red,

Caption 30, Leonardo Rodriguez Sirtori Una vida como pintor - Part 6

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The colors of the rainbow in Spanish 

Let's finish this lesson with a little quiz. Can you provide the English word for each one of the seven colors of the rainbow in Spanish? Try it out!

 

1. rojo = ???

2. naranja or anaranjado = ??? 

3. amarillo = ???

4. verde = ???

5. azul = ???

6. añil = ???

7. violeta = ???

 

Did you get them all? If you didn't, you can always go back and check out the list we provided at the beginning of this lesson with the Spanish colors in alphabetical order.

 

That's it for today. We hope you enjoyed this lesson and don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions.

 

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Is Agua Masculine or Feminine?

Let's talk about gender. If you have been studying Spanish, you probably know that nouns in Spanish have gender. For example, the word libro (book) is a masculine noun. On the contrary, the noun pelota (ball) is feminine. If you want to use those nouns with their corresponding definite articles, you will say el libro (the book) and la pelota (the ball). Now, what about the noun agua (water)? Is agua masculine or feminine? Do you say el agua or la agua?

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Let's take a look at some clips:

 

Cuando uno tiene sed Pero el agua no está cerca

When one is thirsty But the water's not close by

Captions 17-18, Jarabe de Palo Agua

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Y como para completar la historia, desperdiciaban el agua todo el tiempo.

And, as if to make matters worse, they wasted water all the time.

Caption 15, Salvando el planeta Palabra Llegada - Part 7

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y apenas sus pies tocaron el agua, se convirtieron en dos grandes serpientes

and as soon as their feet touched the water, they turned into two big snakes

Captions 51-52, Aprendiendo con Carlos América precolombina - El mito de Bachué

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Can you answer now our question? According to the above clips, is agua masculine or feminine? In all the previous clips, the word agua is placed right after the masculine definite article "el" so the noun agua must be masculine, right? Not too fast! Let's take a look at the following clips:

 

limonadas, refrescos o simplemente agua fresca.

lemonades, sodas or just cold water.

Caption 42, Aprendiendo con Karen Utensilios de cocina

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Las formas de presentación incluyen el agua ozonizada y el aceite ozonizado,

The formulations include ozonized water and ozonized oil,

Caption 35, Los médicos explican Beneficios del ozono

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Un día, los vientos del páramo agitaron las aguas de la laguna

One day, the winds from the tundra shook up the waters of the lake

Caption 26, Aprendiendo con Carlos América precolombina - El mito de Bachué

 Play Caption

 

Did you see that? If you look at the first two clips, you can see that the adjectives that go after the noun agua are feminine adjectives that end with the vowel "a" (fresca and ionizada). Also, in the third clip, you can see that the term aguas (plural form of agua) is preceded by the feminine definite article "las". So, is agua masculine or feminine?

 

The answer is very simple: the noun agua is always feminine. However, if you are wondering why we say "el agua" and not "la agua" there is a simple rule you need to keep in mind: If a feminine noun starts with a stressed "a", you need to use the masculine definite article "el". Let's see more feminine nouns that start with a stressed "a":

 

el águila (the eagle)

el alma (the soul)

 

Nevertheless, it is important to say that for plural feminine nouns, you need to use the plural feminine definitive article "las":

 

las aguas (the waters)

las águilas (the eagles)

las almas (the souls)

 

Finally, keep in mind that if the noun is feminine the adjective needs to be feminine too. For example, let's say that we want to say "the water is dirty." Since water is feminine in Spanish, you need to use the feminine version of the adjective (sucia):

 

RIGHT - El agua está sucia

WRONG - El agua está sucio

 

 

So, there you have it. We hope you learned something useful today and don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions.

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¡Hasta la próxima!

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The Meaning of bravo in Spanish

Bravo/brava is an adjective with various meanings in Spanish. We use it when we want to say someone is brave or courageous. In some Spanish-speaking countries, however, bravo/brava is also used as a synonym for angry, mad or upset. This adjective can also help us describe the world around us by meaning rough or fierce. Finally, we also use bravo when we want to acknowledge someone's work in a positive way

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Using bravo/brava to describe someone

 

As mentioned above, bravo is synonym for brave or courageous. Let's take a look at the following sentence:

 

Siendo el más bravo de todos, Miguel fue el primero que saltó del trampolín.

Being the bravest of all, Miguel was the first to jump off the diving board.

 

In some countries such as, for example, Colombia, bravo/brava is used when we want to say that someone is angry or upset:

 

Kevin, su novia está muy brava. Deb'... En este contexto, "brava" es sinónimo de enojada o enfadada.

Kevin, your girlfriend is very mad. You nee'... In this context, "brava," is a synonym of mad or angry.

Captions 17-18, Carlos comenta Los Años Maravillosos - Forma de hablar

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Bravo for describing the world around us

 

Bravo is also a very useful word for describing nature. For instance, bravo is a very common adjective when talking about a rough or choppy sea or river. Similarly, when talking about animals, bravo/brava can describe an animal that is fierce

 

El agua estaba muy brava, y soplaba un viento muy fuerte.

The water was very choppy, and a very strong wind was blowing.

Captions 30-31, Guillermina y Candelario Capitan Candelario

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¡Bravo! Well done!

 

Have you ever been in a theater where people shout "bravo" at the end of a play? Well, in Spanish we also use bravo the same way. However, we also say bravo/brava when we want to tell to someone they did something good, or did a good job. In other words, we use bravo/brava to say "well done" or "good for you."

 

Apart from that, we also use bravo/brava in various specific situations. For example, when you have to do something you don't want to do, you can say you did it "a la brava" (by force). We also use brava/bravo to express a very strong desire:

 

¡Oiga, que sed tan brava!

Hey, what a strong thirst!

Caption 52, Kikirikí Agua - Part 1

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Bravo/brava is also used in the context of sports:

- Barra brava or barrabrava (a group of hooligans in football/soccer)

- "Hacer barra" (to cheer up someone or a team)

 

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That's all for today. We hope this lesson helped you to expand your vocabulary. And don’t forget to send us your feedback and suggestions.

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Spanish adverbs with -mente

Let’s talk about adverbs. Adverbs are very important in Spanish grammar and many of them are closely connected to adjectives. In fact, there are a good number of adverbs that can be easily formed if we are familiar with the original adjective. In this lesson, we will see how to use adjectives in order to form Spanish adverbs with the suffix mente.

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Some examples of Spanish adverbs with mente

Let’s take a look at these very used adverbs in Spanish.

 

...pero principalmente cubanos que llegaron a este país hace cuarenta años.

...but mainly Cubans who arrived to this country forty years ago.

Caption 6, La Calle 8 - Un recorrido fascinante

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Además, este año hay una zona dedicada especialmente a la gastronomía.

Additionally, this year there is an area dedicated especially to gastronomy.

Caption 28, Fuengirola - Feria Internacional de los Pueblos

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nos criamos completamente ciegos, sordos, mudos con respecto al dinero

we grew up completely blind, deaf, dumb with respect to money

Caption 70, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 4

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As you can see, the suffix mente corresponds to the English suffix ‘ly’. But how do you form Spanish adverbs with mente? Let’s take a look.

 

How to form Spanish adverbs with mente

In order to build Spanish adverbs with mente, you just have to follow this very simple formula:

 

Feminine form of the adjective + mente

 

For example, if we want to form an adverb with the adjective último (last), we just need to take the feminine form of that adjective (última) and add the suffix mente, like this:

 

última  + mente = últimamente (lastly).

 

Let’s look at some more examples:

 

Claro (clear): clara + mente = claramente (clearly)

Lento (slow): lenta + mente = lentamente (slowly)

Honesto (honest): honesta + mente = honestamente (honestly)

 

However, if an adjective doesn’t end in ‘o’, it means that it has one form that is used for both masculine and feminine. In that case, you just need to add the suffix mente to the adjective in order to get the adverb. Let’s see some examples:

 

Alegre (happy):  alegre + mente = alegremente (happily)

Triste (sad): triste + mente = tristemente (sadly)

Frecuente (frequent): frecuente + mente = frecuentemente (frequently)

Normal (normal): normal + mente = normalmente (normally)

 

It is also important to mention that if you have a sentence with two adverbs in a series, only the last one will have the suffix mente at the end. The first one will keep the feminime form of the adjective:

 

Él camina rápida y alegremente

He walks quickly and happily

 

Ellos hablaron clara y concisamente

They spoke clearly and concisely

 

Finally, something important to keep in mind: If the original adjective has a graphic accent on it (tilde), the adverb will also have that accent. Some examples:

 

Creo que mi mamá comprendió su equivocación rápidamente.

I think that my mom understood her mistake quickly.

Caption 1, Los Años Maravillosos - Capítulo 2 - Part 7

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Con un poco de práctica, podremos aprender estas reglas muy fácilmente.

With a bit of practice, we will be able to learn these rules very easily.

Caption 54, Carlos explica - Acentuación Cap. 3: La división en sílabas - Part 1

 Play Caption

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That's it for this lesson. Now, here is your homework: Take 10 adjectives and try to form the corresponding adverbs using the suffix mente. Can you write some sentences too? Have fun and don’t forget to send us your feedback and suggestions.

 

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Gentilicios: Adjectives of Nationality in Spanish

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. In other words, they are adjectives of nationality in Spanish! Some examples of demonyms are words like “Brazilian,” “African” or “Chinese.”
 

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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

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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 13, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 5

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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

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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

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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.
 

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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 newsletter@yabla.com.

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Good and Cold and Handsome and Hot

We have a gem and we want to share it with you. It's a little slip of the tongue that Rosie, one of the girls in the NPS series, makes while being introduced to a handsome new sports instructor:
 

Ay, a mí me encanta el deporte y más si el "teacher" está así de bueno.

Oh, I love sports and even more if the teacher is so good-looking.

 

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Rosie's subconscious betrayed her for a moment there, because that's apparently not what she wanted to say, as she immediately corrects her blunder:

 

Ah, ay, digo, digo si es tan bueno.

Uh, oh, I mean, I mean if he's so good.


The difference between estar bueno (to be good-looking*) vs ser bueno (to be good) is the classic example used to explain the proper way to combine the verbs estar and ser (both meaning "to be") with adjectives, and to understand the sometimes not-so-subtle difference in meaning that results from it: if you use ser, the adjective is a fundamental characteristic of the person or thing you are describing, whereas if you use estar, it's a description of a mood or appearance, something less intrinsic or something not permanent. Having the chance to learn this rule with a pun is priceless, don't you think?
 
There are many interesting examples of adjectives that change meaning when they are combined with the Spanish verbs ser and estar to describe people. For example, the adjective frío, which means "cold."
 
You can use this adjective with the verb ser to describe a fundamental characteristic of a person or group of persons:
 

Lo siento. Pero acá la gente es fría y distante, es una... -¡Mentira!

Sorry. But here the people are cold and distant, it's a... -Lie!

Caption 73, Yago - 10 Enfrentamientos - Part 3

 Play Caption

 
But if you say that someone está frío, that can only mean that the person('s body) is actually cold. Here is a grim example:
 

Está en la cama, muerto. Está frío y azul.
He's on the bed, dead. He’s cold and blue.


 That's why, in fact, the combination of the verb estar with the adjective frío is much more commonly used to describe objects, concepts, and beings regarded as inanimate: la noche está fría (the night is cold), la champaña está fría (the champagne is cold), etc. But careful: that doesn't mean that you can't use ser + an adjective to describe such things. You can, especially with concepts and abstract ideas. For example:
 

...si la temperatura exterior es más fría que la interior

...or if the temperature outside is colder than the inside [temperature]

Captions 58-59, Tecnópolis - El Coronil

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En Buenos Aires las noches están frías.
In Buenos Aires nights are cold.

 
Yet that doesn't mean that you can't say en Buenos Aires las noches están frías. It's just definitely less common and actually incorrect if what you mean is that all nights in Buenos Aires are generally cold. So, if you ever find or hear such an assertion using the verb estar instead of ser, it would probably be accompanied by certain implicit or explicit clues that would tell you that the adjective frías (cold) is being used to describe a temporary situation. For example:

En Buenos Aires las noches están frías, por ahora.
In Buenos Aires nights are cold, for now.
 
No salgas, está frío afuera.
Don't go out, it's cold outside.

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 So, you may be wondering: how do I say in Spanish that someone is cold, meaning that the person feels cold? Well, you have to use a different verb instead: tener (to have). Have you ever heard a Spanish native speaker say "I have cold" by mistake? That's why.

 

...y yo nada más tengo frío y hambre y no sé qué hacer.

...and I'm just cold and I'm hungry and I don't know what to do.

Caption 23, Yago - 6 Mentiras - Part 1

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So, unless you are a zombie or another kind of undead creature, don't ever say estoy frío.

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*Just so you know, the adjective bueno in estar bueno is actually closer to "yummy" or "hot" than to "good-looking."

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Bien vs Bueno/Ser vs Estar/Adjectives vs Adverbs

The proper use of the words bien (well) and bueno (good) seems to be specially challenging for English speakers. From a grammatical point of view the difference between these words is quite simple: bueno (good) is an adjective, and bien (well) an adverb. But that doesn’t help much, does it? Especially if you don't have a clear understanding of the function of adjectives and adverbs themselves. And even if you do, people who are really fluent don't usually go around wondering if a word is an adverb or an adjective in order to use it properly.

Is not that grammar isn't helpful, it's just that very often people try to use it as a rigid template that you can superimpose on any given portion of speech to determine its correctness. But trying to grammatically deconstruct a sentence in Spanish, or any language, can be a tricky and confusing exercise, one more suited to linguists than to language learners. Indeed, from a learner's perspective, grammar is more useful if you learn to see it as a set of very basic structures (think of Legos), that you learn how to combine and then use to build basic structures that may eventually be used to build more complex structures and so on. Imagine a foreign language is some kind of alien technology that you want to replicate and master. Would you prefer if you are given the blue print and some of its basic components, or would you rather try to do reverse engineering on it?

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For example, "adjectives modify nouns and only nouns" is a much simpler grammar "Lego piece" than "adverbs modify verbs, adjectives and other adverbs." Right? So maybe we can start with that. The word bueno(good) is an adjective, like bonito (pretty), flaco (skinny), and malo (bad). Add another basic Lego piece such as "in Spanish, adjectives must agree in gender and number with the nouns they modify," and you can build:

El perro bonito /The pretty dog and  Los perros bonitos /The pretty dogs
El gato flaco / The skinny cat and Los gatos flacos / The skinny cats
El lobo malo / The bad wolf and Los lobos malos / The bad wolves
La niña buena / The good girl and Las niñas buenas / The good girls

A classic example of the proper use of bueno is the expression buenos días:
 

¡Hola, buenos días! -Joaquín.

Hi, good morning! -Joaquín.

Caption 7, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 16

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Now, what about bien (well)? Bien is an adverb, like rápidamente (fast) or mal (badly). Adverbs in Spanish are invariable, which means they have only one form and do not change according to gender or number. The main function of adverbs is to modify verbs:

Yo corro rápidamente /I ran fast
Ella baila mal / She dances badly
Yo lo hago bien / I do it well

Adverbs also modify other adverbs:

Yo corro bastante rápidamente / I ran quite fast
Ella baila muy mal / She dances very badly
Yo lo hago bien temprano / I do it very early (yes, bien can also mean "very")

Adverbs also modify adjectives:

El perro muy bonito /The very pretty dog 
El gato bastante flaco / The quite skinny cat
El lobo terriblemente malo / The terribly bad wolf
La niña tan buena / The so very good girl

So, if the adjective bueno can only be used to modify a noun, and bien can only be used to modify a verb, an adjective or another adverb, how can Spanish speakers say things like La sopa está buena (the soup is good) or Yo soy bueno (I'm good) all the time? Aren't estar and ser verbs? They are, but here we have to step up our game and remember that these two verbs are very special in Spanish—they are special Lego pieces with special rules. 

You use the verb ser with an adjective to describe something or someone by stating their characteristics as essential qualities that are an intrinsic part of who they are. In a way, you could say that this use of the verb ser +an adjective is redundant because, whether you use ser or not, you are essentially expressing the same thing about the object or person (noun) you are talking about. Another way to put it is that when you use the verb ser (to be) with an adjective you are just talking about a characteristic as if it were an action, in a verbal form. Compare our first set of examples:

El perro bonito / The pretty dog =  El perro es bonito /The dog is pretty
El gato flaco / The skinny cat = El gato es flaco / The cat is skinny
El lobo malo / The bad wolf = El lobo es malo / The wolf is bad
Las niñas buenas / The good girls = Las niñas son buenas / The girls are good

But if you use the verb estar (to be) with an adjective you are not talking about a characteristic as if it were an essential trait, you are talking about a characteristic of someone or something but not seeing it as intrinsically related to that someone or something. It may be a trait only present for the moment, for example. English doesn't usually makes this subtle distinction, so we have added some extra information to the translations so you can better grasp the difference of using estar instead or ser:

El perro es bonito / The dog is pretty ≠ El perro está bonito / The dog is pretty (right now but maybe not tomorrow). 
El gato es flaco / The cat is skinny  ≠ El gato está flaco / The cat is skinny (today, but it could get fat if we feed him). 

Now, since estar is not used to express an intrinsic quality, the following examples using estar can't be referring to moral or spiritual qualities (intrinsic by nature) such as being good or being bad, so malo (bad) and bueno (good) here can only refer to something different: 

El lobo es malo / The wolf is bad ≠ El lobo está malo / The wolf is sick (or tastes badly). 
Las niñas son buenas / The girls are good ≠ Las niñas están buenas / The girls are tasty (Something the Big Bad Wolf could say, for example (think buenas = sabrosas = tasty). As "tasty" in English buenas can also mean "good looking," which is a rather vulgar expression, by the way). 

That covers the use of ser and estar plus an adjective like bueno (good). Let's see what happens if you combine these verbs with an adverb, like bien (well). The first good news is that you never use the verb ser with and adverb. So you can never user bien (well) with the verb ser. Never. The following are all incorrect expressions: 

Yo soy bien
Nosotros somos tan bien
El carro es bien


You must use instead an adjective combined with the verb ser if you want to talk about ethical or intrinsic qualities:

Yo soy bueno / am good
Nosotros somos tan buenos / We are so good 
El carro es bueno / The car is good (maybe it's a good brand, or a good model, or just a good one for some other reason)

If you want to talk about non-essential, non-intrinsic, non-ethical qualities, you need to use an adjective combined with the verb estar:

Yo estoy bueno / am tasty (If a good meal could talk, it could say something like that. The expression can also mean " I'm good looking" by extension, see above).  
Nosotros estamos tan buenos / We are so tasty (or "good looking," see above).  
El carro está bueno / The car is in good condition.

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Or, finally, an adverb with the verb estar:

Yo estoy bien / am well
Nosotros estamos tan bien / We are so well
El carro está bien / The car is Ok (is doing well)

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Spanish Adjectives

Over the last few weeks you have seen a few video lessons about adjectives as part of our series Lecciones con Carolina. So you probably know by now that one of the most challenging aspects of Spanish adjectives is that they must agree in gender and number with the noun they modify. Having this in mind, we have prepared for you a brief review on how adjectives are built in Spanish.

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In Spanish, adjectives that end in -o have four forms. We have singular masculine adjectives ending in -o, and singular feminine ending in -a:

 

Es un gasto económico muy alto para la fundación.

Is a very high economic expense for the foundation.

Caption 28, Animales en familia - Adopta a Pino

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¡Qué casa más bonita tienen tus abuelos! ¿eh?

What a beautiful house your grandparents have! huh?

Caption 47, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 20

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The corresponding plural adjectives end in -os, for the masculine:

 

En el bulevar de los sueños rotos

On the boulevard of broken dreams

Caption 1, Joaquin Sabina - Por El Boulevar De Los Sueños Rotos

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and in -as, for the feminine:

 

Es una tonta ésa, como todas las tontas que se meten con Ivo.

She's a dumb, that one, like all the dumb ones who get involved with Ivo.

Captions 38-39, Muñeca Brava - 45 El secreto - Part 4

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We also have Spanish adjectives that end in -e. They only have two forms, -e for singular and -es for plural. Here is an example of an adjective ending in -e in the singular form that is used to modify the feminine noun fuerza (strength):

 

...anatómicamente y tienen fuerza física suficiente.

...anatomically when they already have enough physical strength.

Caption 42, Centro de Recuperación de la Fauna Salvaje - Veterinario Jesús López

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And here is an example of an adjective ending in -e in the plural form that is used to modify the masculine nouns vinos (nouns) and paisajes (landscapes), but also the feminine noun cervezas (beers):

 

En España tenemos de todos. Grandes vinos... grandes cervezas y grandes paisajes.

In Spain, we have them all. Great wines... great beers, and great landscapes.

Captions 41-42, Casa Pancho - vinos y pinchos - Part 2

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On the other hand, some Spanish adjectives end in a consonant, like popular (popular),voraz (voracious),  and fácil (easy). These are similar to the ones ending in -e: they only have two forms. The singular form is invariable for feminine and masculine nouns:

La tarea fácil / The easy homework.
El curso fácil  / The easy course.
El actor popular The popular actor.
La actriz popular The popular actress.
El lobo voraz / The voracious (male) wolf.
La loba voraz / The voracious (female) wolf.

And the plural form uses -es for both feminine and masculine nouns. Notice how you may learn to substitute z for c in some cases:

Las tareas fáciles / The easy homeworks.
Los curso fáciles  / The easy courses.
Los actores populares The popular actors.
Las actrices populares The popular actresses.
Los lobos voraces The voracious (male) wolves.
Las lobas voraces / The voracious (female) wolves.

Finally, there is a group of adjectives in Spanish that end in a consonant but don't follow the previous rule exactly. These are adjectives ending in -án-ón, and -or. For these, the feminine adds -a for the singular, and -as for the plural. The masculine uses -es for the plural form. The good news is there are not many adjectives in this group. Some examples are:

El hombre haragán / The lazy man.
La mujer haragana  The lazy woman.
El maestro fanfarrón The boastful (male) teacher.
La maestra fanfarrona The boastful (female) teacher.
El policía abusador The abusive policeman.
La policía abusadora The abusive policewoman.

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Can you figure out the corresponding plural forms? They are as follows:

Los hombres haraganes / The lazy men.
Las mujeres haraganas  The lazy women.
Los maestros fanfarrones The braggart (male) teachers.
La maestra fanfarrona The braggart (female) teachers.
Los policías abusadores The abusive policemen.
Las policías abusadoras The abusive policewomen. 

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Verbs with the prefix a

One of the most common prefixes used in Spanish is a. This prefix is very interesting because when coming from the Latin prefix ab- or abs-, a- denotes separation or privation, but when coming from the Latin prefix ad-, a- denotes approximation or presence. Another interesting and useful aspect of this prefix is that it can be added to certain nouns and adjectives to form verbs.

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Let's compare the different uses of the prefix a-. Take the word ausente (absent). This is a perfect example of the use of the prefix a- to indicate separation. We have a full movie titled El Ausente:  
 

Ya llegó el que andaba ausente y éste no consiente nada...

Now he arrived, the one who was absent and this one does not allow anything...

Captions 9-10, El Ausente - Acto 3 - Part 5

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Strikingly enough, the prefix a- can also mean approximation or presence. A good example is the verb asistir  meaning "to attend":
 

Siempre hemos de asistir personalmente a la entidad bancaria.

We should always go personally to the banking entity.

Caption 13, Raquel - Abrir una cuenta bancaria

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Much more practically useful is to know that we can add the prefix a- to other words, like nouns and adjectives, to form verbs. Below is an example from a video published this week. The verb acostumbrar (to get used to) is formed with the prefix a and the noun costumbre (custom, use):
 

Vea, Pepino, hay sitios donde les enseñan a los animales a que se vuelvan a acostumbrar a su hábitat.

Look, Pepino [Cucumber], there are places where they teach animals to become used to their habitat again.

Captions 10-11, Kikirikí - Animales - Part 7

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Now, using the noun tormento (torment) we get the verb atormentar (to torment): 
 

Eso seguro era algo que podía atormentarlos.

That surely was something that could torment them.

Caption 46, La Sub30 - Familias - Part 10

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There are so many! From susto (fright) you get asustar (to scare):
 

¡Ay no, Candelario! No me asustes.

Oh no, Candelario! Don't scare me.

Caption 44, Guillermina y Candelario - La Isla de las Serpientes

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You can also use adjectives. For example, lejos (far) and cerca (close) give us alejar (to put or to go far away), and acercar (to put or to get close):
 

Después me alejaré

Then I will go away

Caption 22, Reyli - Qué nos pasó

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Ella trataba de acercarse a mí.

She tried to get close to me.

Caption 9, Biografía - Pablo Echarri - Part 3

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Here is a list with more examples. Maybe you can find them in our Spanish catalog.

Tonto (fool) - atontar (to fool or become a fool)
Plano (flat) - aplanar (to flatten) 
Grande (big) - agrandar (to make bigger)
Pasión (passion) - apasionar (to become passionate)
Nido (nest) - anidar (to form a nest)
Morado (purple) - amoratar (to get or give bruises)
Francés (French) - afrancesar (to become French-like)
Grieta (crack) - agrietar (to crack)

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Cualquier, Cualquiera, and Cualesquiera

In one of Yabla's videos, Spanish veterinarian, Jesús López, uses two interesting and very similar words:

 

Cualquiera puede traer cualquier animal.

Anyone can bring any animal.

Caption 8, Centro de Recuperación de la Fauna Salvaje - Veterinario Jesús López

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The Spanish words, cualquiera (anyone) and cualquier (any), may look very much alike, but their functions happen to be very different. While cualquiera is an indefinite pronoun, cualquier is an indefinite adjective.

For that reason, whenever the adjective, cualquier, is used, it must be accompanied by a noun, e.g. cualquier animal (any animal). Let's take a look at these examples:

 

En cualquier caso, los datos de España no son nada alentadores.

In any case, the data from Spain is not encouraging at all.

Captions 27-28, 3R - Campaña de reciclaje

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Mira los niños, juegan con globos de cualquier color

Look at the kids, they play with balloons of any color

Caption 9, Café Tacuba - Mediodía

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¿Puede venir cualquier persona aquí? -Sí.

Can any person come here? -Yes.

Caption 5, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos

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On the other hand, the pronoun, cualquiera (anyone), should not be used to accompany a noun, but rather to substitute it, as cualquiera means "anyone." For example, you can use the pronoun, cualquiera, to substitute the phrase, cualquier persona, in the previous example:

¿Puede venir cualquiera aquí? -Sí.
Can anyone come here? -Yes.

Here is another example containing the pronoun, cualquiera:
 

No cualquiera podía ser caballero. O sea...

Not just anyone could be a knight. I mean...

Caption 17, Antonio Vargas - Artista - ilustración

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Now, to further complicate the matter, Spanish has a common plural form for both the adjective, cualquier, and the pronoun, cualquiera, which is cualesquiera. Although the use of this plural form for both the adjective and the pronoun is uncommon in everyday speech, let's go ahead and transform the previous examples into their plural forms as an excercise. You will note that their English translations are identical to their singular equivalents. 

For the adjective, cualquier:

¿Pueden venir cualesquiera personas aquí? -Sí.*
Can any person come here? -Yes.

For the pronoun, cualquiera:

No cualesquiera podían ser caballeros.
Not just anyone could be a knight.

* As a side note, a shorter version for the adjective, cualesquier, also exists, but this is even less common and can generally only be found in old literature.

Finally, and very interestingly, there is one instance in which the word, cualquiera (and its plural, cualesquiera), can be used as a qualitative adjective meaning "insignificant" or "irrelevant." When used in this manner, the adjective always comes after the noun rather than before it. This use is equivalent to the English expression "any old" or "just any."  Let's see an example. 
 

Sólo espera, que hoy no será un día cualquiera

Just wait, because today won't be any old day

Caption 49, Cuarto poder - Aquí no se está jugando

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This adjective is most commonly used in negative phrases:

Este no es un perro cualquiera; es el perro de mi padre. / This is not just any dog. It's my father's dog.
No era un tipo cualquiera; era el jefe de la tribu. / He wasn't just any guy. He was the tribe's chief.

By extension, however unfairly, the expressions, un cualquiera and una cualquiera, can mean "a nobody" and "a prostitute" (or low class or sexually promiscous woman), respectively. You can find an example in our Argentinian telenovela, Muñeca Brava:

 

Pero a mí no me va a ofender porque yo no soy una cualquiera.

But you're not going to disrespect me because I am not a floozy.

Captions 83-84, Muñeca Brava - 43 La reunión

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This is the end of the lesson. Thank you for reading, and don't forget to send us you comments and suggestions.

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How to Say "Cool" in Spanish

Do you know how to say "cool" in Spanish as in, "That video is so cool!"? What is the best equivalent of this slangy English word that can have such meanings as "good," "nice," "great," "OK," or "in fashion"? Let's find out.

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A Headache for Translators

Any translator knows well that translating the word "cool" into Spanish poses a big challenge. In fact, there are many Spanish words for "cool" depending upon the speaker's country or origin. In the following sections, we'll provide you with some of those terms.

 

How to Say "Cool" in Mexican Slang

In Mexico, many people use padre and chido. While the use of padre is more generalized, chido is typically more popular among younger generations:
 

Y, y en cuanto la vi... No, ésta tiene que ser mía. -¡Qué padre!

And, and as soon as I saw it... No, this one has to be mine. -How cool!

Caption 34, Sergio en Monterrey - El ámbar mexicano

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Muy padre, porque la escalera viene así, después tiene un descanso,

Very cool, because the staircase comes down like this, afterwards it has a landing,

Caption 50, El teatro. Conversación con un doble de acción.

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...que está chido que estemos en Estados Unidos.

...it's cool that we're in the United States.

Caption 47, Belanova - Entrevista - Part 3

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Of course, since Mexico has such diverse people living across a vast territory, you'll find other, similar expressions as well. Conmadre (literally, "with mother") and suave (smooth) are good examples. You can hear suave in one of our videos from Monterrey, Mexico. However, it is worth noting that this expression is not very common in that particular city, and the student who utilizes it is from another state.
 

Aunque a veces sí está pesado, está muy suave porque se te van volando.

Although sometimes it is hard, it's very cool because they go flying by for you.

Captions 28-29, Yo estudio en el Tec - de Monterrey

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Versions of "Cool" in Additional Latin American Countries

Many people in countries like Colombia, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Peru, and Ecuador use the word chévere:
 

¡Súper chévere que la... el hijo de uno diga "No, mi mamá es una chef"!

Very cool for one's child to say, "No, my mom is a chef!"

Caption 13, Misión Chef - 2 - Pruebas - Part 1

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In Colombia, a newer alternative to chévere is bacano (and bacán in Cuba, Peru, and Chile):
 

Mi papá era un médico muy bacano, muy interesante.

My father was a very cool doctor, very interesting.

Caption 13, La Sub30 - Familias - Part 2

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In Argentina, people tend to use words like copadomasa, and groso:

 

Podemos sacar algo copado esta noche.

We can get something cool tonight.

Caption 87, Muñeca Brava - 7 El poema - Part 3

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¡Soy una masa!

I'm so cool!

Caption 69, Muñeca Brava - 7 El poema - Part 1

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"Cool" in Spanish from Spain

In Spain, you'll often hear guay:
 

Y realmente la improvisación fue... fue la clave. Era muy guay.

And really the improvisation was... was the key. It was very cool.

Captions 31-32, Blanca y Mariona - Proyectos para el verano

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Sam, tengo esta ropa para ti. Vas a estar guay.

Sam, I have these clothes for you. You're going to look cool.

Caption 23, Extr@: Extra en español Ep. 2 - Sam va de compras - Part 5

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In the following clip, Carlos (from Colombia) and Xavi (from Spain) talk about how they say the word "cool" in their countries. You will see that the word chulo is used in Spain as an alternative term for the more common guay:

 

¿Qué significa guay? Guay es bueno, chulo, divertido. OK. En Colombia nosotros diríamos chévere o bacano.

What does "guay" mean? "Guay" is good, cool, fun. OK. In Colombia, we'd say "chévere" or "bacano."

Captions 39-41, Carlos y Xavi Part 2 Ustedes y Vosotros

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While the multitude of terms we've provided as equivalents for "cool" by no means constitute an exhaustive list, they should definitely get you started on your journey to express or understand this idea in many Spanish-speaking countries. 

 

How to Say "Cool" in Standard Spanish

We want to remind you that, regardless of the culture, country, or language, slang words are inextricably linked to the cultural or individual identity of the people who use them, and one can never be too respectful of this. In that spirit, it's always wise to learn more "neutral" alternatives to slang. Genialestupendo, and, to a certain extent, bárbaro are a good fit to express the idea of "cool" or its equivalents (and be cool in Spanish as well!). 

 

¿Te parece que tus patrones se enojarán? -¡No, está bárbaro!

Do you think that your bosses would get mad? -No, it's cool!

Caption 16, Muñeca Brava 30 Revelaciones - Part 6

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¡Este grupo está genial!

This group is great!

Caption 27, Raquel - Expresiones para un festival de música.

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¡Muy bien, estupendo!

Very good, great!

Caption 11, Extr@: Extra en español Ep. 1 - La llegada de Sam - Part 5

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The superlative of bueno (good), buenísimo, is also a good alternative:
 

Bueno, buenísimo, como anillo al dedo.

Well, very good, it fits like a glove [literally: like a ring to a finger].

Caption 69, Muñeca Brava 9 Engaños - Part 8

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In other contexts, the non-slang expression, está bien, might be used in a case in which an English speaker might say "that's fine" or "that's cool," while está de moda might be used to indicate that a certain trend, for example, is currently "cool" or in fashion. 

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The Easiest (But Not Proper) Way to Say "Cool" in Spanish

By the way, unless you're a purist, you could even go with "cool" in English as many Spanish speakers do frequently these days: 

 

El estilo es súper vanguardista. Un estilo muy cool.

The style is super avant-garde. A very cool style.

Captions 12-13, Arume Barcelona

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Las chicas visten cool para impresionar

The girls dress cool to impress

Caption 25, Dhira La Noche

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That's all for for today. We hope you've enjoyed this lesson, and don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions. And of course, stay cool!

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Bruto and Cínico

 

¿Hombres? Pero mirá que sos cínica, Martita, ¿eh?

Men? But you're quite shameless Martita, aren't you?

Captions 15-16, Muñeca Brava - 18 - La Apuesta - Part 12

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Pero no lo hace de mala, eh. De bruta que es, lo hace.

But she doesn't do it because she's mean. She does it because she's just stupid.

Captions 22-23, Muñeca Brava - 18 - La Apuesta - Part 12

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Mili is having it out with her fellow domestica, Marta, in La Muñeca brava, La apuesta, part 12. Mili calls Marta cínica and bruta. But Marta doesn’t look like a "brute" and we really don’t know her philosophical affiliations. So, what gives?

The words bruto and cínico share Latin roots with their English cousins “brute” and “cynical,” but they don’t mean exactly the same thing. As a matter of fact, they usually mean something else when used in Spanish. If you look at how we translated these words, you will find “stupid” for bruta, and “shameless” for cínica.

Both are adjectives that, when applied to human beings, can also be nouns. No seas bruta or bruto translates into English as “Don’t be stupid” or “[…] dense,” the idea being “as stupid or dense as an animal, a ‘brute.’ ” In Spanish, on the other hand, if you want to call someone a “brute,” you’d say he's an animal (“animal”) or bestia (“beast”): Ese animal quiso propasarse con mi prima. (“That brute tried to go too far with my cousin.”)

In English, “cynical” usually refers to a person who believes in nothing or is generally distrustful of people. “That critic is a real cynic. He never likes anything!” But for this critic to be cínico in Spanish, he would have another quality entirely: Ese critico es un verdadero cínico. Escribió una buena reseña de la obra sólo porque la actriz principal es su amante. “That critic has no shame. He wrote a good review of the play only because the leading lady is his lover.”

There is a Yiddish word, frequently used in English, that nails cínico right on the head: chutzpah. In Spanish it only has the negative sense, though, which according to Leo Rosten is “gall, brazen nerve, effrontery”. That’s the Spanish cínico in a nutshell. “Talk about chutzpah, the nerve of that guy!” ¡Qué cínico!

Notes:
Bruto and "brute" both have a shared root in the Latin "brutus" ("heavy, dull, stupid," later came to mean "associated with lower animals/beasts"). The English "brute" tends to associate more with the physicality aspect (strong yet not graceful) while the Spanish bruto tends to associate more with the mentality aspect (simple minded, ignorant, stupid), but there does exist some crossover in both languages.

Similarly, the Spanish cínico does at times take on a meaning very similar to the meaning we usually ascribe to "cynical" in English, and the reverse is also true. Their shared ancestry goes even deeper than the Latin "cynic," all the way back to the Greek "Kunikas."

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For further reading on cínico:
An excellent and very interesting deeper look at cínico and cynical:
http://life-in-translation.blogspot.com/2004/12/cynical-about-dictionaries.html

An expat in Chile discovers the cínico / cynical difference the hard way:
http://cachandochile.wordpress.com/2009/04/25/cynical-or-cinico/

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Otro: Another common mistake

Otro is a simple word in Spanish that looks and sounds like its English equivalent, "other" or "another." But with this ease of recognition and use, many non-native speakers misuse otro by adding an article where it doesn't belong.

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Here's a tricky question. How do you say "another" in Spanish — as in, "I'll have another (beer)"?

Answer: "Tomaré otra (cerveza)."

 

Note that it's NOT: una otra or un otro. That's wrong. It would be like saying "an another" in English.

 

In an episode of the documentary series 75 minutos, we find the following clip:

 

Yo tengo lo que me pertenece a la de... de la custodia: un fin de semana sí y otro no

I have what belongs to me to the... from the custody: one weekend yes and the other, no

Captions 13-14, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 17

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Note once again that otro in Spanish doesn't require the article that "other" does in English.

 

The time to use a definite article before otro is when we need to distinguish between "another" and "the other" if, indeed, the distinction needs to be made:

 

Otro día =  "Another day"

El otro día = "The other day"

 

So, if you add an article before otro(a), make sure it's a definite article (el or la) and not an indefinite one (un or una):

 

¡Hola! -La otra socia. -Sí. -La otra.

Hello! -The other partner. -Yes. -The other one.

Caption 16, 75 minutos Gangas para ricos - Part 8

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And finally, don't forget about otra vez, a very useful expression that you can use when you wan to say 'another time' or 'once again.'

 

That's it for today. Did you like this little reminder? Please send us your comments, questions, and suggestions

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Solo: Only alone

Solo and sólo... Are you still confused about when to write this word with or without a graphic accent? If you still don't know how to go about it, we have some good news for you: the word solo doesn't need an accent... ever! Although the rule has already been in place for quite a few years, there are many people who are not aware it.

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The old rule: sólo vs. solo

Before the Real Academia Española (RAE) decided that the word solo didn't need a graphic accent, the old rule used to work like this:

 

Sólo is an adverb meaning "only," "solely" or "just" — the same as solamente. In fact, sólo and solamente can be used interchangeably. A speaker (or singer) can decide which sounds better in any given sentence.


On the other hand, solo without an accent mark is an adjective meaning "alone," "on one's own" or "sole." Solo describes a lone man or a masculine object--for example, un café solo is "a black coffee". For a woman, the adjective is sola. "¿Estás sola?" (are you alone?) is a simple, direct pick-up line.

 

Today's rule: just one solo for "only" and "alone"

Whether you are using solo as an adjective or as an adverb, the word solo doesn't need the graphic accent. 

 

Solo as an adjective meaning "alone":

muy raro que un agente, solo... solo, le caiga a un carro con placas diplomáticas.

really weird that an agent, alone... alone, drops on a car with diplomatic plates.

Captions 33-34, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 3 - Part 2

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Solo as an adverb meaning "only":

Solo yo sé lo que sufrí

Only I know what I suffered

Caption 2, Alejandra Guzmán Porque no estás aquí

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That's it for this lesson. Keep in mind this "update" and don’t forget to send us your feedback and suggestions.

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