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Pero, sino and sino que

Do you know how to say “but” in Spanish? If you are wondering why we need a lesson to answer such a simple question, there’s a reason for that. In fact, we have three options to express the conjunction “but” in Spanish: pero, sino and sino que. Let’s look at each one:

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Pero in Spanish

 

As a conjunction, the Spanish word pero works like the English conjunction “but.” Let’s look at some examples:

 

Pues, fue muy estresante y agotador pero a la vez divertido porque…

Well, it was really stressful and exhausting but at the same time fun because…

Caption 62, Cleer - Entrevista a Lila

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llegó al país de los Muiscas una bella pero mala mujer llamada Huitaca,

a beautiful but evil woman named Huitaca arrived in the country of the Muiscas,

Caption 28, Aprendiendo con Carlos - América precolombina - El mito de Bochica

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We use pero in Spanish to create contrast between two statements. This contrast helps us to expand the information provided by the first statement. While most of the time the first statement is a positive one, there are some cases in which that statement can be negative:

 

No podemos ver, pero podemos escuchar.

We can’t see, but we can listen. 

 

In this case, you could also replace pero with sin embargo (however):

 

No podemos ver. Sin embargo, podemos escuchar.

We can’t see. However, we can listen.

 

What does sino mean?

 

We use the conjunction sino to create a contrast between two statements where the first one is ALWAYS a negative one. Let’s take a look:

 

 

lo importante no es ganar, sino competir.

the important thing isn't winning, but competing.

Caption 41, Club 10 - Capítulo 1 - Part 5

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Que no es una chica, sino un chico. -Oh...

That's it's not a girl, but rather a boy. -Oh…

Caption 40, Extr@: Extra en español - Ep 01 La llegada de Sam - Part 2

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You can think of sino as something that we could replace with por el contrario (on the contrary). Also, keep in mind that when you have a verb after sino, you need to use its infinitive form.

 

Sino que

 

We use sino que exactly the same way as the conjunction sino. The difference is that we use sino que when both statements contain a conjugated verb. Let’s take a look:  

 

En general, la... la gente no es sólo respetuosa, sino que es súper amable con nosotros.

In general, the... the people are not only respectful but are super kind to us.

Captions 41-42, El Instituto Cervantes - Jefa de biblioteca

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O sea que no solamente era una cosa, sino que eran varias.

I mean that it was not only one thing, but rather there were many.

Caption 27, María Marí - Su pasión por su arte - Part 2

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Simple rules for using “but” in Spanish

 

Considering the fact that you have three options, you might not always know which option to choose in order to say “but” in Spanish. Luckily, there are some simple rules that will help you to figure out whether you need to use pero, sino or sino que. Let’s have a look:

 

- If the first statement is positive you need to use pero.

- If the first statement is negative, you need to use either sino or sino que.

- If the first statement is negative and you have a conjugated verb in both statements you need to use sino que.

- If you can replace “but” with “however” (sin embargo), you need to use pero.

- If you can replace “but” with “on the contrary,” (por el contrario) you need to use sino.

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That's all for now. Now that you know how to say “but” in Spanish, try to write 5 sentences with pero, 5 sentences with sino and 5 sentences with sino que. And don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to newsletter@yabla.com.

 

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The Preposition de in Spanish

Let’s talk about prepositions in Spanish! Today, we will discuss the very often used and common preposition de. This preposition has lots of uses in Spanish and because of that, we can use it like the following English prepositions: fromofin, and even than. Let’s have a look.

 

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How to use the preposition de in Spanish​

 

There are several ways we can use the preposition de in Spanish. For example, we use the preposition de when we want to indicate the nationality or origin of someone or something:

¿De dónde eres? -Soy de Alemania

Where are you from? -I am from Germany.

Captions 36-37, Curso de español - ¿De dónde eres?

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We also use the preposition de when we want to indicate the material that something is made of.

El lápiz está hecho de madera,

The pencil is made of wood,

Caption 40, Aprendiendo con Karen - Útiles escolares - Part 1

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Similarly, we use the preposition de when we want to describe the features or characteristics of someone or something, in other words, when we want to describe a noun with another noun.

Se toma mucho el jugo de naranja que tiene mucha vitamina C.

Orange juice is consumed a lot as it has a lot of vitamin C.

Caption 74, Otavalo, Ecuador - Conozcamos el Mundo de las Frutas con Julia

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Eh, sobre todo aquí tenemos libros de historia de, eh…

Um, most of all, here we have history books about, um…

Caption 60, El Instituto Cervantes - Jefa de biblioteca

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un profesor de español,

Spanish teacher,

Caption 22, El Aula Azul - Cursos y actividades de la escuela - Part 2

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One of the most common uses of the preposition de is when we use it to talk about possession. Let’s look at an example.

Es una empresa de tradición familiar, de mis abuelos,

It's a company with a family tradition from my grandparents,

Caption 50, Europa Abierta - Carne ecológica y segura

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In the example above, you can see that the first de is used to describe the company, while the second de is used to indicate possession (the company belongs to the grandparents). We can also use the preposition de in terms of “possession” when we want to indicate the relation that connects people

El novio de Claudia es un tipo muy pinta.

Claudia's boyfriend is a very "pinta" [handsome] guy.

Caption 27, Carlos comenta - Confidencial - Jerga típica colombiana

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The preposition de also helps us to indicate a cause when it is placed after an adjective and before a verb.

Estoy ya cansado de estar endeudado

I am tired of being in debt (I’m tired because I’m always in debt)

Caption 3, Bacilos - Mi Primer Millón

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We can also use the preposition de when we want to express something using a comparison or a point of reference with the expressions más de (more than) or menos de (less than):

Sí, un poquito menos de quinientos mil habitantes.

Yes, a little less than five hundred thousand inhabitants.

Caption 47, Buenos Aires - Heladería Cumelen

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Besides the uses we mentioned above, we also use the preposition de when talking about expressions of time. Let’s see how:

Supongamos que son las cinco de la tarde

Let's suppose that it's five in the evening

Caption 66, Carlos explica - El pretérito Cap. 2: Perfecto compuesto I

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And finally, we use the preposition de along with the preposition a to indicate a particular range or period. Like in the following example:

El horario es de lunes a viernes

The schedule is from Monday to Friday

Caption 69, Negocios - La solicitud de empleo - Part 2

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To summarize, the following are the most common uses of the preposition de in Spanish:

- To indicate nationality or origin

- To indicate the material that something is made of

- To describe the features or characteristics of someone or something (to describe a noun with another noun)

- To indicate possession

- To indicate a cause (after an adjective and before a verb)

- To express a comparison or point of reference (with más de or menos de)

- To talk about expressions of time

- To indicate a particular range (with the preposition a)

 

The contraction del in Spanish

 

When the preposition de goes before the definite article el, you need to combine the two words using the contraction del (de + el). Just as it happens with the contraction al (a + el), when you have the preposition de next to the article el, the contraction del is mandatory!

Estos son los números del uno al cien.

These are the numbers from one to a hundred.

Caption 44, El Aula Azul - Los Números del 1-100

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In this example, we can see both contractions (del and al) in action. Also, in this sentence, the speaker is using the preposition de and the preposition a together because she is indicating a range. Remember that it would be wrong to say that sentence in the following way: Estos son los números de el uno a el cien.

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That's all for now. If you feel like it, try writing sentences with all the different uses we have mentioned for the preposition de. And don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions.

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Regular ER verbs in Spanish

Let’s talk about verbs. As we mentioned before, in Spanish language, all regular verbs belong to one of the following groups: verbs ending in ‘-ar, verbs ending in ‘-er’ and verbs ending in ‘-ir’. Today, we will take a look at those verbs ending in ‘-er’.

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Before that, however, let’s keep in mind that regular verbs are formed using the following formula: verb stem + infinitive ending. Let’s look at some of the most common regular ‘ER’ verbs in Spanish:

 

  • Aprender (to learn) = Aprend + er
  • Comer (to eat) = Com + er
  • Vender  (to sell) = Vend + er

 

Conjugation of er verbs in Spanish

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 aprender (to learn) and see its conjugation in the simple present. Notice how the stem stays the same but the endings vary:

 

  • Yo aprendo (I learn)
  • Tú aprendes (you learn)
  • Él/Ella aprende (he/she learns)
  • Nosotros/as aprendemos (we learn)
  • Vosotros/as aprendéis (you learn)
  • Ellos/as aprenden (they learn)

 

Aquí aprenden a diseñar y confeccionar decorados,

Here they learn to design and make decorations,

Caption 26, Europa Abierta - Taller de escenografía en Olivares

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

 

  • Yo comí (I ate)
  • Tú comiste (you ate)
  • Él/Ella com (he/she ate)
  • Nosotros/as comimos (we ate)
  • Vosotros/as comisteis (you ate)
  • Ellos/as comieron (they ate)

 

Fuimos a pasear, comimos un helado,

We went for a walk, we ate an ice cream,

Caption 29, El Aula Azul - La Doctora Consejos - El pasado

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Let’s use a different verb to see the conjugation of a regular ‘er’ verb in the simple future. Let’s take the verb vender (to sell):

 

  • Yo venderé (I will sell)
  • Tú venderás (you will sell)
  • Él/Ella venderá (he/she will sell)
  • Nosotros/as venderemos (we will sell)
  • Vosotros/as venderéis (you will sell)
  • Ellos/as venderán (they will sell)

 

Mañana venderé mi casa.

Tomorrow, I will sell my house.

 

5 sentences using er verbs in Spanish

Let’s finish this lesson by learning more verbs with these 5 sentences using er verbs in Spanish:

 

1. Beber (to drink)

Yo bebo agua.

I drink water.

Caption 27, El Aula Azul - Actividades diarias - En casa con Silvia

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2. Comprender (to comprehend / understand)

Ahora comprendo mejor la operación de mi padre

Now I understand my father's operation better

Caption 65, Club de las ideas - Lego Fest en Sevilla

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3. Correr (to run)

Corrió hacia la puerta y cuando el príncipe trató de seguirla,

She ran to the door and when the prince tried to follow her,

Caption 16, Cuentos de hadas - La Cenicienta - Part 2

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4. Prometer (to promise)

Ayer os prometí que estudiaríamos hoy "aconsejar,"

Yesterday I promised you that today we would learn "to advise,"

Caption 1, Escuela Don Quijote - En el aul - Part 1

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5. Temer (to fear / be afraid of)

Pero ellos no le temen a nada.

But they are not afraid of anything.

Caption 23, Salvando el planeta Palabra - Llegada - Part 8

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That’s it for this lesson. Now, a final challenge: Take one of the sentences we just mentioned and try to change it using a different person and a different verb tense. And don’t forget to send 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

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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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Entorno vs. en torno

As with any other language, Spanish can be tricky sometimes. Do you know how to use the word entorno? What about the expression en torno? Which one would you use in the following sentence:

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Fuengirola es un importante punto turístico. Su economía gira ________ a este sector.

Fuengirola is an important touristic spot. Its economy revolves around this sector.

Captions 12-13, Fuengirola - Mercado

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What about this sentence:

 

encontró en su _________ un atractivo natural para los amantes del ecoturismo

found in its environment a natural beauty for the lovers of ecotourism

Caption 94, Tecnópolis - El Coronil

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Let’s find out what the answer is.

 

What is the English meaning of entorno?

To begin with, entorno is a noun and the meaning of this word is environment or surroundings. However, it is important to say that entorno encompasses the same broad meaning of the English word “environment,” meaning “the circumstances, objects, or conditions by which one is surrounded.” Let’s take a look at some examples:

 

... las calles, la gente... lo que es el entorno urbano.

... the streets, the people... what the urban environment is.

Captions 39-40, Leif - El Arquitecto Español y su Arte - Part 1

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para modificar el entorno, desarrolló herramientas, ¿no?

in order to modify the environment, he developed tools, right?

Caption 50, Lo que no sabías - Arte electrónico - Part 2

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Regarding the last example, the word entorno is very common in information and computer science, especially when talking about the features that define the execution and placement of a particular application.

 

The meaning of the expression en torno

As far as the expression en torno goes, we can use it to mean about, around or approximately. Let’s take a look:

 

que hay en torno a cincuenta millones, eh, hispanohablantes en Estados Unidos.

that there there are about fifty million, um, Spanish speakers in the United States.

Captions 42-43, El Instituto Cervantes - Director del Instituto

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Puede andar en torno a los dos mil seiscientos...

It could be around two thousand six hundred...

Caption 50, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 13

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Finally, keep in mind that en torno is either followed by the preposition a or the preposition de:

 

  • Ella llegó en torno a la medianoche.
  • She arrived around midnight.

 

  • Las esculturas en torno de la iglesia.
  • The sculptures around the church.

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That's it for this lesson. Now that you know the difference between entorno and en torno, you can answer the questions we posed at the beginning, right? And don’t forget to send us your feedback and suggestions.

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Articles in Spanish Grammar

Let’s talk about articles. Today, we will review this basic but very important ingredient of the Spanish language. We'll begin this lesson by discussing what an article is, and then look at the two main groups of articles we have in Spanish.

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What is an article in Spanish?

An article is a word that we use in Spanish to specify the gender and number of a noun. Articles also tell us how specific a noun is and that’s why they can be definite or indefinite. Finally, we always put articles before a noun.

 

If that sounds too complicated, let’s see how the Cambridge Dictionary defines the word article: “Any of the English words "a," "an," and "the," or words in other languages that are used in a similar way as these.” With that being said, let’s take a look at definite and indefinite articles in Spanish.

 

Definite articles in Spanish

Definite articles in English are easy. In fact, we only have one definite article: the. To the contrary, in Spanish we have four different definite articles: el, la, los, las. Let’s see that in action:

 

  • El niño (the boy) - We use ‘el’ to indicate that the noun is singular and masculine.
  • La niña (the girl) - We use ‘la’ to indicate that the noun is singular and feminine.
  • Los niños (the boys) - We use ‘los’ to indicate that the noun is plural and masculine.
  • Las niñas (the girls) - We use ‘las’ to indicate that the noun is plural and feminine.

 

Keep in mind, however, that if you are referring to a group where you have both male and female elements, we need to use the masculine article ‘los’. In fact, in those cases we need to use the plural form of the masculine noun:

 

  • A group of 4 male friends: los amigos (the friends)
  • A group of 4 female friends: las amigas (the friends)
  • A group of 2 male friends and 2 female friends: los amigos (the friends)

 

Hoy tengo clase con los alumnos principiantes de español.

Today I have class with the beginner Spanish students.

Caption 5, Español para principiantes - La hora

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In the example above, we use the article los with the word alumnos (students) but the speaker is very likely referring to a group of both male and female students.

We also have the neuter definite article lo but if you want a further explanation about this very particular article, please check the lesson about this topic HERE.

 

Indefinite articles in Spanish

In English, we have the indefinite articles “a” and “an.” In Spanish, we have four indefinite articles that we use to specify the gender and number of the noun they precede. These articles are un, una, unos and unas:

 

  • Un perro (a dog) - We use ‘un’ to indicate that the noun is singular and masculine.
  • Una serpiente (a snake) - We use ‘una’ to indicate that the noun is singular and feminine.
  • Unos perros (some dogs) - We use ‘unos’ to indicate that the noun is plural and masculine.
  • Unas serpientes (some snakes) - We use ‘unas’ to indicate that the noun is plural and feminine.

 

Let’s look at a couple of examples:

Compré un regalo para unos amigos.

I bought a gift for some friends.

Caption 9, Conversaciones en el parque - Cap. 4: Regalos para un nuevo bebé

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In this sentence, we use the article unos with the noun amigos (friends). However, just as it happens with the definite article los, we use the indefinite article unos when referring to groups that may include both male and female elements. In this case, some friends could easily include both male and female friends.

 

¿Unas entradas para ver un musical?

Some tickets to see a musical?

Caption 35, Blanca y Mariona - Planificación de cena

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In this example, both nouns are indefinite so the girls use the corresponding indefinite articles. If the girls had known some specific information about the tickets and the musical, they would have used definite articles:

 

  • ¿Las entradas para ver el musical?
  • ¿The tickets to see the musical?

 

That's it for now. If you are aware of the gender and number variables that nouns have in Spanish, you will be on your way to using articles like a pro. We hope you find this lesson useful and don’t forget to send us your feedback and suggestions.

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Explore more lessons:

Lo: the Neuter Article

Irse de boca

A Common Past: ser and ir

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The Preposition a in Spanish

Today, we will discuss a very common and useful preposition. Just like most prepositions, the preposition a in Spanish can be used in various different ways. While we usually think of the preposition a as the English equivalent of to, this preposition can also work as in, on, from, by and at. Let’s take a look.

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Uses of the preposition a in Spanish

To begin with, we use the preposition a to indicate motion to a particular place:

Por ejemplo, yo quiero viajar a Noruega la próxima semana…

For example, I want to travel to Norway next week…

Caption 10, Escuela Don Quijote - En el aula - Part 1

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Llegué a Londres hace tres meses.

I arrived in London three months ago.

Caption 7, Lydia de Barcelona - Lydia y el festival de cine "Women Mujeres"

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We also use the preposition a when we want to connect a main verb with a verb in the infinitive. For example, when we are referring to the moment a particular action started:

En poco tiempo, la gente comenzó a hacer el mal.

After a short period of time, people began to do evil.

Caption 32, Aprendiendo con Carlos - América precolombina - El mito de Bochica

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In this context, however, one of the most common uses of the preposition a is when we want to express a future action using the following formula: ir (to go) + a (to) + infinitive verb:

Entonces el día de hoy, a petición de Chuy, vamos a hacer una carne asada.

So today, at Chuy's request, we're going to make grilled meat.

Caption 9, [Bears in the Kitchen] Osos en la cocina - Carne asada

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We also use the preposition a in Spanish when we want to indicate the end of a particular period of time:

El horario es de lunes a viernes

The schedule is from Monday to Friday

Caption 69, Negocios - La solicitud de empleo - Part 2

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Another very common use of this preposition is when we want to indicate a particular point in a scale (time, distance, speed, temperature, etc.):

Estamos situados a cuarenta kilómetros de Barcelona

We are located forty kilometers from Barcelona

Caption 3, Feria de Vinos Españoles en Londres - Bodegas Castell D'Age

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Me levanto todas las mañanas a las siete

I get up every morning at seven o'clock

Caption 28, Club de las ideas - Pasión por el golf - Part 1

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Finally, we use the preposition a before a direct object when that object is a person. Similarly, we also use this preposition when we want to introduce an indirect object:

A mi hermana le gusta el color rojo.

My sister likes the color red.

Caption 7, Español para principiantes - Los colores

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Entonces, nosotros les compramos a las personas para que...

So, we buy from people so that...

Caption 7, Fruteria "Los Mangos" - Vendiendo Frutas - Part 2

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The contraction al  in Spanish

When the preposition a goes before the definite article el, you need to combine the two words using the contraction al (a + el):

No quiero viajar al mundo espacial

I don't want to travel to the space world

Caption 20, La Gusana Ciega - Invasión Estelar

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pero sí os recomiendo que vengáis aquí al parque

but I do recommend that you come here to the park

Caption 80, Animales en familia - Un día en Bioparc: Lémures

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Please keep in mind that when you have the preposition a next to the article el, the contraction al is mandatory! For this reason, and considering the examples we just mentioned, it would have been wrong to say the following:

No quiero viajar a el mundo

… que vengáis aquí a el parque

In both cases, you need to use the contraction al.

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That's all for now. Try writing sentences with all the different uses we have mentioned for the preposition a in Spanish. And don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions.

 

Explore more lessons:

The preposition sobre

A que sí / A que no

Ser vs Estar - Yo estoy

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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

OR

b. Habían muchos libros en ese apartamento

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

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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

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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

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porque había diferentes explicaciones de…

because there were different explanations of…

Caption 31, El Aula Azul - Dos historias

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porque había muchos obstáculos para ese encuentro.

because there were many obstacles for that meeting.

Caption 34, La Sub30 - Familias - Part 4

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había muchos seres extraños

and there were many strange beings.

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

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no había máquinas de estas,

there were no machines like these,

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

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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.

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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 the 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.

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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

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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

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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

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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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, Usted and Vos

Let's talk about pronouns. 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:

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¿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

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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

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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

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¿Dónde trabaja usted?

Where do you work?

Caption 9, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 16

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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

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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

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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 us your feedback and suggestions.

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The preposition sobre in Spanish

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!

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How to use the preposition sobre in Spanish

 

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

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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

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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

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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 mi

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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

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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

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Don't get confused with envelope in Spanish

 

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

 

y que están en este sobre que se mandan a Claridad,

and which are in this envelope that are sent to Claridad

Caption 56, Seva Vive - 2. La copla

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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

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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 newsletter@yabla.com.

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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).

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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 15, Belanova - Tal vez

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Aprendí que los primeros en hacer cómic fueron los aztecas.

I learned that the first ones to make comics were the Aztecs.

Captions 47-48, Antonio Vargas - Artista - Comic

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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

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¿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

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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

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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

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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 newsletter@yabla.com.

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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 autobús y usted va en el coche,

But if I say: I am going in the bus and you [formal] are going on the car,

Captions 49-51, Fundamentos del Español - 6 - Tú y Usted

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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

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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.

Captions 18-19, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 4

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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] life will give us the necessary time?

Caption 11, Julieta Venegas - El Presente

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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 Cap 2: Definiciones generales

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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

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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

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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

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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 16, Club de las ideas - Intuición - Part 1

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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).
 

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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.

I have already been here for twenty-three years now.

Caption 65, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 18

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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 - Part 1

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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

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

por eso... traen pantalones

that's why... they wear pants

Captions 47-48, El Ausente - Acto 2 - Part 3

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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.
 

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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?

Captions 55-56, Biografía Natalia Oreiro - Part 5

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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

Captions 43-44, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli - Part 4

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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 24, Los Reporteros - Sembrar, comer, tirar - Part 4

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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.

Captions 18-19, ¡Tierra, Sí! - Atenco - Part 1

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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 newsletter@yabla.com.

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Si fuera

The keys to picking up a language quickly are constant exposure and practice. But practice is not always easy to obtain, either because you lack the opportunity or, more often, because you lack the confidence to engage in a conversation. So you lack learning because you lack practice, and you lack practice because you lack learning. How frustrating!

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But there are always ways around this problem. One of them involves memorizing common phrases to be prepared for the next time you get the chance to engage in a conversation. For example, you can memorize entire phrases by topic; phrases to introduce yourself, to ask for directions, to order food, etc. Or you could memorize smaller, more specialized chunks of speech and use them as building blocks to create more complex ideas. For example, phrases like quiero que... (I want that), or no sé si (I don't know if). On this lesson we will focus on exploring one of these phrases: si fuera

The phrase si fuera actually involves mastering an advanced skill in Spanish: the use of the verb ser (to be) in the subjunctive mood. But instead of learning rules and conjugation tables, you can memorize it as it is, and learn how speakers use it in everyday speech to build your own sentences.

Si fuera is usually combined with the preposition como (as) and followed by a noun phrase:

 

Así como si fuera una pinza.

Like this as if it were a clamp.

Caption 22, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 17

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Since fuera is used for both the first and third person singular, you can use the same expression to talk about yourself. You can add the pronoun yo (I) between si and fuera, or not:

¡Si fuera tu jefe te despediría! 
If I were your boss, I'd have you fired! 

Here's an example from our catalog:
 

Yo quiero amarte como si fuera tu único dueño.

I want to love you as if I were your only master.

Caption 63, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 3

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Look at this useful example that combines si fuera with a basic simple sentence like esto es(this is):
 

Esto es como si fuera el rastro de los móviles o el rastro de tu vida.

This is as if it were a cell phone trail or your life's trail.

Caption 31, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 4

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Si fuera can also be followed by a pronoun, it's used a lot in conditional sentences:
 

Bueno, si yo fuera tú, hablaría con él.

Well, if I were you, I would speak with him.

Caption 24, El Aula Azul - La Doctora Consejos: Subjuntivo y condicional

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And si fuera can also be followed by an adjective instead of a noun:

Si [yo] fuera rico me respetarías un poco - If I were rich you would respect me a little.
Si mi jefa fuera injusta conmigo yo renunciaría a mi trabajo - If my boss were unfair to me I would quit my job.

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At this point you could also learn the expression como si fuera poco:

Y como si fuera poco, todo lo que hacen...

And, as if that weren't enough, everything that they do...

Caption 30, Salvando el planeta Palabra Llegada - Part 8

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Ser vs. Estar - Subjunctive Sea and Esté

Let's continue our series on the use of the verbs ser and estar, now focusing on some examples using the subjunctive to express wishes, or to refer to hypothetical situations. The present subjunctive for the first person singular yo (I) is esté for the verb estar and sea for the verb ser. Here're some examples of first person singular sea and esté:

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Mamá quiere que [yo] sea doctor  / Mom wants me to be a doctor.
Mi hermana piensa que es mejor que [yo] sea dentista / My sister thinks it's best for me to be a dentist.

Lola me pide que [yo] esté tranquilo / Lola asks me to be calm.
Imagino que es mejor que no [yo] esté preocupado / I imagine it's better for me not to beworried.

Note that it's very common to use the pronoun que (that) before the subjunctive. In fact, some Spanish speakers learn to conjugate the subjunctive altogether with this pronoun, like: que yo sea, que tú seas, etc. or que yo estéque tú estés, etc. to differentiate it from the indicative.

The forms sea and esté are also used for the third person singular, which is very convenient since you can use it to talk about wishes or hypothetical situations pertaining to other people, things, and ideas. For example:
 

Entonces, para que sea una sorpresa también.

So, for it to be a surprise also.

Caption 12, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 10

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Quiero comprar un barco que sea capaz de... de hacer travesías largas.

I want to buy a boat that is capable of... of making long voyages.

Captions 72-73, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 20

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Y que ya no sea Belanova el grupo de bajo, computadora y voz.

So that Belanova won't be the group of the bass, computer and voice any longer.

Caption 13, Belanova - Entrevista - Part 4

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And with esté:
 

Ya la llamaremos cuando la doctora esté disponible.

We'll call you when the doctor is available.

Caption 42, Cita médica - La cita médica de Cleer - Part 1

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Son tres modos que se usan para pedirle a alguien que esté alerta.

There are three ways that are used to ask someone to be alert.

Caption 27, Carlos comenta - Confidencial - Vocabulario y expresiones

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Para que la aceituna esté en condiciones para envasar el lunes.

So that the olives are in condition for packing on Monday.

Caption 35, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 19

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Finally, there's a very common and useful expression that uses sea: o sea, which is used to clarify or explain something. This expression translates as "in other words," "meaning," and other similar phrases.

O sea, que te vas a quedar sin marido durante tres meses.

In other words, you are going to be without a husband for three months.

Caption 27, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 3

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Ser vs Estar - Yo Soy

Let's continue our series on the use of the verbs ser and estar, now focusing on how you can use soy (“I'm”—the first-person singular form of ser in the present tense) to talk about yourself.
 

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The present tense of the verb ser (to be) is soy. You can use it combined with an adjective (or a participiothe -ado, -ido, -to, -so, -cho endings and their feminine and plural forms, used as an adjective) to express an intrinsic characteristic or status, a permanent state of mind, body, or soul.
 
For starters, you can use it to introduce yourself:

Soy Paco, de 75 Minutos. -Hola.

I'm Paco, from 75 Minutes. -Hello.

Caption 7, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 4

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You can also use soy to talk about your occupation, career, etc.
 

Yo soy guardia civil.

I am a Civil Guard.

Caption 33, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 12

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And you can use soy to talk about your personality, preferences, nationality, beliefs or affiliations. For example: Yo soy musulmán (I'm muslim), soy miembro del partido (|'m a member of the party), soy tu hada madrina (I'm your fairy godmother).
 

Soy buena clienta, sí. La verdad que sí.

I am a good customer, yes. I truly am.

Caption 2, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 7

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Yo soy bastante escrupulosa y no me da nada.

I am pretty fussy and it doesn't bother me at all.

Caption 21, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 7

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The verb soy can also be used to talk about a role, status, function, etc:
 

Tú eres testigo. -Yo soy testigo. -Tú eres testigo.

You're a witness. -I'm a witness. -You're a witness.

Caption 81, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 11

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We mentioned, in our previous lesson on the subject, that estoy can also be used to talk about roles when combined with the preposition de, so saying yo estoy de testigo is also correct. There are subtle differences, though, which sometimes get lost in translation:
 
Yo soy testigo - I'm a witness
Yo estoy de testigo - I'm (working as) a witness
 
It's perhaps at this point, when these verbs are combined with adjectives (or participios used as adjectives), that English speakers get the most confused about the difference between soyand estoy. It gets even more confusing because in many cases it may seem Spanish speakers use both verbs indistinctly. Here are some examples:
 
Yo soy casado - I'm (a) married (person).
Yo estoy casado - I'm married.
Yo soy gordo - I'm (a) fat (person).
Yo estoy gordo - I'm fat.
Yo soy pequeña - I'm (a) small (person).
Yo estoy pequeña - I'm small.
 
Sometimes, however, it's impossible to use them indistinctly. It happens more frequently when the verbs are combined with participios (-ado, -ido, -to, -so, -cho endings), which take estar much more easily than ser:
 
Yo estoy devastado - I'm devastated.
*Yo soy devastado - Incorrect, don't use it.
Yo estoy cansado - I'm tired.
*Yo soy cansado - Incorrect, don't use it.
Yo estoy herido - I'm wounded.
*Yo soy herido - Incorrect, don't use it.
Yo estoy muerto - I'm dead.
*Yo soy muerto - Incorrect, don't use it.
 
*It's interesting how this may be different while using other modes or tenses. For example both yo estuve herido and yo fui herido (I was wounded) are possible, given the right context. However, fui herido is actually far more common than yo estuve herido, which would need a special context to make proper sense, for example: Yo estuve herido sin recibir ayuda por 10 horas (I was wounded without receiving any help for 10 hours).
 
The verb soy is also frequently combined with prepositions. For example, when combined with the preposition de, the verb soy indicates origin. So, besides soy mexicano (I'm Mexican) you can also say soy de México (I'm from Mexico).
 
Typically, the verb soy is followed by articles, but estoy doesn't take articles. Compare these:
 
Soy el mejor (I'm the best), soy mejor (I'm better), and estoy mejor (I feel better) are correct, but never say estoy el mejor. 
Soy tu padre (I'm your father), soy padre (I'm a father / also "I'm a nice person") and even estoy padre (I feel or look good) are correct, but you can't say estoy el padre.
Soy buena (I'm good), soy la buena (I'm the good one), estoy buena (I'm hot, good looking) are correct, but never say estoy la buena.
 

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The same happens with pronouns. You won't find a pronoun naturally following the verb estar, except, maybe, when you want to reiterate the subject and change the natural order of words (hyperbaton) for emphatic or stylistic purposes: estoy yo tan triste (me, I feel so sad)Normally, you'd say estoy tan triste (I feel so sad)This could also be done with ser: soy yo tan triste (me, I'm such a sad person).  But again, normally you'd just say soy tan triste (I'm such a sad person).
 
There are many other ways in which you can use the verb soy; these are just some of the most common ones. 

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