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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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The Spanish Verb Asistir

The Spanish verb asistir (to be present, to attend) has many different meanings depending on the context. Let's learn how to use this interesting verb.
 

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The verb asistir derives from the latin assistĕre, which literally means "to stop next to," and that’s the basic meaning of this verb:

 

Para asistir a una reunión de trabajo.

To attend a business meeting.

Caption 4, Raquel - La Compra de un Billete de Tren

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This verb is always accompanied by the preposition a. Here's another example using a conjugated form of the verb:

 

Así que, por primera vez en Animales en familia asistimos a una doble cirugía.

So, for the first time on "Animales en familia" ("Animals in the Family"), we witness a double surgery.

Captions 8-9, Animales en familia - La operación de Yaki

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As you can see in the example above, the verb asistir may have different translations. The following example uses the imperative form of the verb:

 

Así que, no dejes de formarte. Lee libros, asiste a seminarios.

So, don't stop educating yourself. Read books, go to seminars.

Captions 59-60, Raquel y Marisa - Español Para Negocios - Crear una empresa

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In certain contexts the verb asistir means "to attend to," in which case it's very common to use the passive voice. The passive voice uses the participle asistido and the preposition por(by), as you can see in the following example:

 

La enfermera asiste al paciente / El paciente es asistido por la enfermera.
The nurse attends to the patient / The patient is attended by the nurse.


Additionally, asistir also means "to give help or assistance":

 

El principal rol de un asistente quirúrgico es asistir al cirujano durante una operación.
The primary role of a surgical assistant is to assist the surgeon during an operation.


As in English, the verb asistir is also used in sports to describe the act of enabling another player making a good play:

 

¡Messi asistió a Suárez sin siquiera tocar la pelota!
Messi assisted Suarez without even touching the ball!

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Finally the verb asistir is used to express the idea of reason or law being on somebody's side:

 

Al demandate le asiste el derecho y la razón
The plaintiff has the law and reason on his side.

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The Verb Atender

The Spanish verb atender ("to serve," "to see to," "to attend to," among other uses) is a common source of confusion since it doesn't always mean what it sounds like it should to English speakers. Let's see some examples.
 

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The verb atender meaning “to serve” or “to attend” can be very useful in any context that involves providing or receiving a service:

Quisiera saber si la doctora Castaño me podría atender hoy.

I would like to know if Doctor Castaño could see me today.

Caption 9, Cita médica - La cita médica de Cleer - Part 1

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Most of the time this verb is accompanied by the preposition a, but not always. In the following example, the preposition a was omitted:
 

Por el momento ustedes se pueden ir un rato a hablar con sus amigos, a atender la visita...

For the moment you can go for a while to talk with your friends, to serve your guests...

Caption 40, Cocinando con Miguelito - Pollo sudado - Part 2

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This can be done because the expression la visita is depersonalized. But it's very different when the object of the verb atender is an individual or group of individuals, in which case you must always use the preposition a:
 

Mi ocupación es atender a la gente.

My job is to serve people.

Caption 67, Perdidos en la Patagonia - El Aeropuerto - La Sala de Esperas

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The omission of the preposition a occurs more frequently when the verb atender means "to respond to," "to meet," "to answer to," or "to look after" something. For example:
 

Por ahí lo llamo, se da cuenta que soy yo, no atiende el teléfono.

I might call him, he realizes that it's me, he doesn't answer to the phone.

Caption 47, Yago - 10 Enfrentamientos - Part 6

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Y de pronto los que atienden [un] negocio...

And suddenly those who look after a business...

Caption 10, Festivaliando - Mono Núñez - Part 12

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You always need to use the preposition a before atender when it means "to pay attention.” In the following example, Raquel uses the contraction al (a + el):
 

No tendrás dudas si atiendes al contexto de lo que se dice.

You will have no doubt if you pay attention to the context of what is said.

Caption 14, Raquel - Diminutivos y aumentativos

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The verb atender is also frequently combined with personal pronouns (used instead of direct and indirect objects):
 

Voy a tratar de dejarme que me atiendan, que me hagan lo que necesite.

I am going to try to let them take care of me, do to me whatever I need.

Caption 23, Transformación - Estética

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It's also common to reiterate the object of the verb in these expressions, even when a pronoun has already been used. For example, it's not incorrect to say dejar que me atiendan a mí (let them take care of me). Saying Es mejor que el doctor la atienda a ella primero is as correct as saying Es mejor que el doctor la atienda primero (It's better if the doctor sees her first). Here's an interesting example:
 

No sé, como nervios [de] que lo atiendan a uno y sentirse tan bien atendido.

I don't know, like nerves that one is taken care of and to feel so well taken care of.

Caption 20, Transformación - Estética

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¡Gracias por atender a esta lección!

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Using Suffixes to Form Pejorative Words

The Spanish word despectivo means "contemptuous," "derogative", or "pejorative." You can use this word in expressions such as No me hables con ese tono despectivo (Don't talk to me using that pejorative tone) or Él es un tipo muy despectivo (He's a very derogative guy).

The word despectivo is also used to describe adjetives and nouns that express disapproval or disdain. You can form these pejorative adjectives and nouns by adding suffixes to root words. The use of prefixes to form pejoratives is not very common, although the etymology of words such as imbécil (imbecile) shows that sometimes prefixes can be used to form words with a pejorative meaning as well. For example:
 

A veces soy un poco despistada.

Sometimes I'm a bit airheaded.

Caption 14, Raquel - Oficina de objetos perdidos

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The word despistada is formed with the Spanish prefix de- (meaning a lack or absence of something) and the word pista (clue); hence another possible translation for this word is "clueless." 

Suffixes are, however, much more commonly used to form augmentative, diminutive, and pejorative words in Spanish (actually, in most languages). For example, the suffix -acho/-acha is used to form the pejorative populacho (pleb, mob). Another common pejorative suffix is -ucho/-ucha. You can add it to the root of the word casa (house) to form casucha (hovel, shack), to the word pueblo (town) to form the word pueblucho (hick town), and to practically any other Spanish noun!

The pejorative suffix -astro/-astra can be used to form words such as camastro (rickety old bed). It's actually in the origin of words such as madrastra (stepmother), hijastro (stepson), etc.:

Y mi padrastro, porque mi padre murió, se llama Luis Manuel.

And my stepfather, because my father died, is named Luis Manuel.

Caption 36, Peluquería La Percha - Félix

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It's also very common to use augmentative or diminutive suffixes as pejorative ones, due to the fact that the excess or lack of something is usually perceived as a negative thing. For example, the Spanish augmentative suffix -ón/-ona is commonly used to form pejorative words such as gordinflón (fatty), panzón (potbellied), comelón (glutton), llorón (cry baby), and mandón:
 

La verdad es que Camilo es un poco mandón y un poco raro,

The truth is that Camilo is a bit bossy and a bit strange,

Caption 43, X6 - 1 - La banda - Part 1

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Some diminutive suffixes can be used pejoratively as well. For example the suffix -illo/-illa is used in words such as trabajillo (insignificant job) or lucecilla (dim light). If you want to learn more about these suffixes, we recommend you watch Raquel's video on the topic: Raquel - Diminutivos y aumentativos.

Thank you for reading!

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The Verb Volver

The verb volver is translated as "to return," but it actually has a great variety of other meanings. Let's see how real Spanish speakers use it in real situations. 

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Usually, the verb volver means "to come back." It's very common to use its infinitive form combined with another verb, like querer (to want) or ir (to go). Learning how to use the infinitive form of verbs in phrases is actually very useful, especially if you haven't yet mastered the conjugation of irregular verbs such as this one. 

¿Y quieres volver al centro? -Efectivamente.

And you want to come back to the center [of the city]? -Exactly.

Caption 48, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 12

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You can also use the verb volver figuratively. The following example translates as "again":
 

Otra vez, volver a hacernos daño.

One more time, hurting each other again.

Caption 24, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 15

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Another possible translation of this example is: "Again, going back to hurting each other." 

 

The combination of volver with the preposition a (to) is also a very useful one. You can combine it with other verbs in phrases such as volver a vernos (to see each other again), volver a empezar (to start all over again), volver a entrar (to reenter), etc. Or, you can use conjugated forms: 
 

Pero bueno, cuando pueda, me vuelvo a inscribir en otro gimnasio y me meto.

But well, when I can, I'll enroll again in another gymnasium and I'll go.

Caption 29, Patricia Marti - Diversión y Ejercicio

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Did you notice the use of the reflexive pronoun me? Well, the verb volver also has a reflexive form: volverse. It's not always easy to know how to  use it, though. it usually depends on the verb you are combining it with. As a general rule, you can't use the reflexive form if the following verb is a transitive verb (with a direct object). Compare these examples:
 

Luisa se volvió a desmayar (Luisa fainted again). It's a mistake to say "Luisa volvió a desmayar" only.
Luisa volvió a romper mi juguete (Luisa broke my toy again). It's a mistake to say "Luisa se volvió a romper mi juguete". 


But this is not always the case. You can actually use the reflexive form with transitive verbs as well, when the action of volver has a reflexive meaning (loosely, when the direct object is also the subject of the sentence). This is why me vuelvo a hacer la tarea (I [myself] get back to doing my homework) is different from vuelvo a hacer la tarea (I do my homework again).

Sometimes, the use of a personal pronoun is not an indication of a reflexive action but simply of the existence of a direct or indirect object. In the following example, the pronoun te substitutes for a direct object: 
 

Hijo, móntate adelante pero no te vuelvo a sacar a pasear más, ¿oíste?

Son, get in the front seat, but I am not going to take you out for a ride again, did you hear?

Caption 9, Chiste de Carlito - No. 3

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But here the pronoun te substitutes for an indirect object:
 

Te vuelvo a repetir...

I repeat it to you again...

Caption 74, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro - Part 8

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As a last example, a very common figurative meaning of the reflexive volverse is "to become":
 

Entonces, el asunto se vuelve más complicado.

So, the issue becomes more complicated.

Caption 32, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 3

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The Verb Quedar

Quedar is a very useful and interesting Spanish verb because it has a great number of different meanings. Let's learn a few!
 
Quedar ("to stay" or "to remain") is commonly used alone (quedar) or accompanied with reflexive pronouns (quedarse). This verb can be followed by different complements and prepositions such as con (with), en (in, on), or de (of, from).
 
Quedarse con means "to stay with":

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Y te quedas con los niños.

And you stay with the children.

Caption 29, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 3

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It's useful to learn how to turn this expression into an order or request. All you have to do is use the reflexive pronoun as a suffix of the verb: quédate con los niños (stay with the kids). Here's another useful example:
 

Quédate conmigo

Stay with me

Caption 42, Carlos Baute y Marta Sanchez - Colgando en tus manos

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If you combine the verb quedar(se) with the preposition en (in, on), you can introduce an expression of place:
 

El azúcar se queda en la sangre.

Sugar stays in the blood.

Caption 5, Los médicos explican - La diabetes

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You could also use it to express time using prepositions such as desde (since), or durante (during). For example: Elisa se quedará durante el verano (Elisa will stay during the summer); Nos quedaremos desde mayo hasta junio (We'll stay from May to June).
 
Do you remember how Spanish uses the word hay (there is, there are), the impersonal form of the verb haber (to have)? You can do something similar with queda or quedan (singular and plural third person of quedar) to express the idea "there is [something] left":
 

Pues ya no queda nada de qué hablar, nada...

For there is nothing left to talk about, nothing...

Caption 2, Bunbury - Entrevista Con Enrique Bunbury - Part 2

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This combination of “queda + something” is very useful, and interesting too, because it uses the verb quedar as in a way similar to the impersonal verb hay (there's, there are). So, for example, you can say: ¿Queda café? (Is there any coffee left?), ¿Quedan plátanos en el refri? (Are there any bananas left in the fridge?).
 
Quedar can also mean "to end up," or "to result in." For example, in the question ¿En qué quedó eso? (How did that end up?). Or here:
 

Y así queda nuestro diseño.

And our design ends up looking like this.

Caption 71, Manos a la obra - Papel picado para Día de muertos

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This can also be used with reflexive pronouns. You can say: Así nos queda nuestro diseño. Another example is:
 

...porque si no el brócoli sí que nos queda crudo.

...because if not the broccoli does end up raw for us.

Caption 17, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli - Part 8

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The expressions quedar con and quedar en can be used figuratively to express that you have agreed about something with someone. For example, agreeing to meet in a certain place:
 
Quedamos en vernos aquí a las tres en punto.
We agreed we will meet here at three o'clock.
 
Or just agreeing with someone on something:
 
Quedé con Esther en que me quedaría a cuidar a los niños.
I agreed with Esther that I would stay to take care of the kids.

The verb quedar can also be used to express the idea that someone has changed or ended up in a certain position or state of mind. For example: Juliana se quedó sola tras la partida de Esther (Juliana was left alone after Esther's departure). Me quedé sorprendido con su actuación (I was [left] surprised by her performance). Translations vary, however. For example:

 

Bueno, mi papá se quedó sin trabajo

Well, my dad lost his job

Caption 15, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro - Part 2

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You can also use the verb quedar to express the idea that a person has gained a certain reputation after an action. For example: quedé como un idiota (I looked like an idiot). As a result, the fixed expression quedar bien means then "to look good" or "get in good with," while quedar mal means the opposite.
 
No me quedes mal, papá.
Don't let me down, Dad.
 

Además es una manera de quedar bien con la empresa.

Additionally, it's a way to look good with the company.

Caption 84, Raquel y Marisa - Español Para Negocios - Nuestro perfil profesional en la red

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Quedar can also be used to express the idea that you will keep something with you. For example:
 
-Me quedaré con tu pluma porque me gusta mucho. -No, no puedes quedártela.
-I will keep your pen because I really like it. -No, you can't keep it.
 
Can you think of a way to answer the previous question with a positive? It's Claro, quédatela ("Sure, keep it")!
 
You can also use the expression quedar por + a verb in the infinitive to express the idea that something is left to be done. Translations vary depending on the context. For example:
 
Sólo queda por hacer la tarea.
Only homework is left to be done.
 
No quiero ni pensar en todo lo que nos queda por alcanzar.
I don't even want to think about how much we still need to achieve.
 
 Finally, the verb quedar also means "to fit" or "to suit":
 

¿Me queda bien? Sí, ¿no? -Guapo, guapo, muy bien se ve.

Does it look good on me? It does, right? -Handsome, handsome, it looks very good.

Caption 52, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 6

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Figuratively speaking, it means "to be appropriate”:
 

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¡No queda que fumes en una fiesta infantil!
It's not appropriate for you to smoke at a children's party!

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Combining Parts of Speech - Part 4

Combining Parts of Speech - Part 1

Combining Parts of Speech - Part 2

Combining Parts of Speech - Part 3

Let's continue studying phrases that combine prepositions, articles, and pronouns since these can be a source of confusion for Spanish learners. Take a look at Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 here.
 

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Check out the following quote from one of our most recent videos. In this clip teacher Carolina is discussing common mistakes that her students make, and says:

El primer caso del que les quiero hablar hoy es...

The first case I want to talk to you about today is...

Caption 7, Lecciones con Carolina - Errores comunes - Part 5

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The phrase del que les is used frequently in Spanish, and has no direct translation in English. If we break this phrase down, we find that it literally means "of the which to you:" the contraction del (preposition de + article el), plus the relative pronoun que (which), and the personal pronoun les (to you). But in English, we don't really say things like "of the which to you." Instead, English uses a very different structure that requires an additional word: "about."
 
In fact, a more literal translation of the example would be something like: "The first case about which I want to talk to you today is." In Spanish, by the way, there's a similar construction that uses the phrase acerca de, which literally means "about." So in fact, you can also say the following:
 
El primer caso acerca del que les quiero hablar hoy es...
The first case about which I want to talk to you today is...
 
However, these expressions are a bit over complicated, both in Spanish and in English. In Spanish, it's better and more straightforward to simply use the preposition de (of, from) combined with the appropriate articles and pronouns, which must agree with the nouns they refer to in both number and gender. For example:
 

El tipo del que les hablo nunca más apareció

The guy about whom I speak to you never again showed up

Caption 5, ChocQuibTown - Oro

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So, if you are talking about a noun that is both singular and masculine, like el caso (the case) or el tipo (the guy), you need to use del, that is de + el (the). Let's now see an example with a plural noun like artistas (artists), that needs de + los (or de + las if we were talking about female artists):

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Pintó junto a grandes artistas de los que aprendió casi todo.

He painted alongside great artists from whom he learned almost everything.

Caption 15, Europa Abierta - Alejandro Hermann - El arte de pintar

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Phrases with Lo

The Spanish word lo can be used as a subject pronoun, an object pronoun or a definite article. We have several lessons on the topic, which you can read by clicking hereLo is a very useful word, and there're many common phrases that use this particle. Let's study some examples. 

The phrase por lo tanto means "as a result" or "therefore"

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Este puerro, no lo he limpiado previamente, por lo tanto, vamos a limpiarlo.

This leek, I haven't cleaned it previously, therefore, we are going to clean it.

Caption 55, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli - Part 2

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The phrase por lo pronto means "for now" or "for the time being"
 

...y yo por lo pronto pienso avisarle a toda la familia.

...and I for the time being plan to let the whole family know.

Caption 18, Yago - 9 Recuperación - Part 11

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The phrase por lo visto means "apparently"
 

Por lo visto fue en una perfumería.

Apparently it was in a perfume shop.

Caption 42, Yago - 12 Fianza - Part 6

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The phrase por lo general is equivalent to the adverb generalmente. It means "generally"
 

Pero por lo general encontramos sistemas de alarmas.

But generally we find alarm systems.

Caption 11, Los Reporteros - Crecen los robos en tiendas - Part 3

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The phrase a lo largo de means "throughout"
 

al menos va cambiando a lo largo de las estaciones.

at least is changing throughout the seasons.

Caption 10, Clara explica - El tiempo - Part 1

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While a lo lejos means "at a distance" or "in the distance"

 

El cielo está nublado y a lo lejos tú Hablando de lo que te ha pasado.

The sky is cloudy and in the distance you Speaking of what has happened to you.

Captions 5-6, Christhian canta - Hombres G - Temblando

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In fact, you can add the phrase a lo to certain adjetives to talk about the way something is being done or someone is doing something. For example, a lo loco means "like crazy." 

 

Yo echo un poco de pintura ahí a lo loco

I put a bit of paint there like crazy [spontaneously]

Captions 92-93, Zoraida en Coro - El pintor Yepez

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Another common example is a lo tonto (like a dumb, in a dumb way, for nothing). 

Hazlo bien. No lo hagas a lo tonto.
Do it right. Don't do it foolishly.

¿Para qué esforzarse a lo tonto?
Why go to all that trouble for nothing?

This phrase always uses the neutral singular form of the adjective. Even if you are talking to a girl or a group of people, you will always use the same. For example:

Lucía siempre se enamora a lo tonto del primer hombre que cruza su camino.
Lucia always falls in love inanely with the first man that crosses her path.

In Mexico, you will also hear the expression al ahí se va (literally, "in a there-it-goes way"). It means to do things without care, plan, or thinking. This is pronounced quite fast, by the way, almost as a single word. Translations vary: 

Completé el examen al ahí se va porque no estudié.
I completed the exam with mediocrity because I didn't study.

Tienen más hijos al ahí se va y sin planear en el futuro.
They have more kids without thinking and planning for the future.

Finally, there's the expression a la buena [voluntad] de dios (leaving it to God's goodwill). You may find it in phrases involving the idea of entrusting what you do to God, but it's more commonly used to express that something is done rather haphazardly, without care, skill, effort and or plan.

El aeropuerto se construyó a la buena de Dios.
The airport was built haphazardly.

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Is there a topic you'd like covered in our lessons? You can send your suggestions to newsletter@yabla.com.

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Cuál versus Qué

The use of the interrogative pronouns qué (what) and cuál (which) in Spanish can sometimes be confusing for English speakers. There are certain rules about the proper use of these words, but, as usual, sometimes grammar doesn't quite catch up with how things work in the real world. Our best advice is always to listen more and practice more. So let's see some examples of how questions with qué (what) and cuál (which) are used in real context!

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Generally speaking you can say that cuál (which) is used to ask about the identity of a person or a thing in a group. Cuál is a question about choice. The pronoun qué is for questions about identity as well, but it's used in direct questions rather than in ones that involve making a choice. Here's an example where the question cuál (which) is used before a verb:

¿Pero cuál es el peor trabajo?

But which is the worst job?

Caption 40, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 8

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It would be really odd to hear someone saying ¿Qué es el mejor trabajo? It's rare, but possible, because making this substitution alters the meaning of the question completely. It's easier to understand the distinction if we compare what kind of answer these two questions would likely get:

¿Pero cuál es el peor trabajo? / But which is the worst job?
El peor trabajo es el de recogedor de basura. / The worst job is that of a garbage hauler.

¿Pero qué es el peor trabajo? / But what is the worst job?
-El peor trabajo es el menos deseable. / The worst job is the least desirable.

Now, let's check the following example. Here cuál is used before a noun:
 

¿Pero cuál juego les gusta más?

But which attraction do you like the most?

Caption 36, Guillermina y Candelario - El parque de diversiones

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This is a great example, because when used before a noun, cuál is equivalent to qué. So the following is also correct:

¿Pero qué juego les gusta más?
But which attraction do you like the most?

We believe it's actually better to see it the other way around: sometimes qué (what) is also used to ask about choices. It happens in English as well, right?
 

¿Qué color te gustaría?

What color would you like?

Caption 50, Raquel y Marisa - Agente del concesionario

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But most of the time it's just not right to use qué to ask about choices. Let's see an interesting phenomenon. In Spanish, you can use the preposition de (of) to introduce a group of things from which to pick a choice. And you can use cuál (which) before this preposition:

 

¿Cuál de esos países te gustó más?

Which one of those countries did you like most?

Caption 86, Cleer - Hobbies

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You can also use qué (what) before de (of), but then you wouldn't be asking someone to pick a favorite country from a list of countries (the ones the other person visited), you would be asking something else: 

¿Qué de esos países te gusto más? 
What [aspect] of those countries did you like the most?

It's very useful to imagine possible answers to both questions:

¿Cuál de esos países te gustó más? Which one of those countries did you like most?
Italia y Francia. / Italy and France.

¿Qué de esos países te gustó más? What aspect of those countries did you like most?
Su rica cultura y deliciosa comida. / Their rich culture and delicious food. 

But, if you place the preposition de (of) before and not after qué or cuál, you can again use them as equivalents! Why? Because now they are both right before a noun.

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¿De qué sabor quieres? = ¿De cuál sabor quieres?
What flavor do you want? = Which flavor do you want?

We'll continue to explore the use of cuál (which) and qué (what) in future lessons. 

Continuar lendo

Expressing Progression with the Verb ir

The verb ir (to go) is used in many idiomatic expressions in Spanish. One of the most interesting uses of this verb is to indicate the beginning and progression of an action, for example:

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¡Excelente! Voy planeando el evento.
Excellent! I'm starting to plan the event (right now).

It's not easy to translate the expression voy planeando el evento with precision. In the same situation, an English speaker would often use the future tense, "I will start planning the event," which has an exact equivalent in Spanish: comenzaré a planear el evento. But voy planeando (literally, "I go planning") is in the present tense, and the expression means that I'm starting the action of planning at a certain point (the present in this case) and that it will continue for some time in the future until its completion. It also implies that I will be planning while other actions are taking place simultaneously. This may be something obvious that could be inferred by context or mere logic in English, but there is no special verbal form to express it.

Now, this expression has many variations and, since the verb ir (to go) is an important irregular verb, it's worth studying different examples. The basic structure of the expression is as follows: a conjugated form of the verb ir (to go) + a verb in gerundio (-ando, -iendo endings in Spanish). In the previous example we used voy, the conjugated form of the verb ir in the present, and planeando, the gerundio of the verb planear (to plan). Let's see variations with different persons and tenses:

Iré planeando el evento.
I will start planning the event.

Lucía irá planeando el evento.
Lucia will start planning the event.

The verb ir in this expression can also be conjugated in the past tense. For example:

Fuimos planeando el evento.
We went about planning the event.

Did you notice that we adjusted our translation to better express the meaning of the sentence? The same happens when we use other verbs different from planear (to plan):

Voy cancelando el evento.
I start by cancelling the event.
(Though Spanish also has an exact equivalent for this translation: empiezo por cancelar el evento.)

But let's see some examples in real context. In the following examples, try to analyze the construction and meaning of the sentence in Spanish but also the translation we used for each. Maybe you can come up with a better one!

Te pones de rodillas o vas cambiando de postura.

You get on your knees or you go around changing postures.

Caption 75, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 5

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Y ahora, una vez que tenemos el aceite, lo vamos clasificando por calidades.

And now, once we have the oil, we're going to classify it by traits.

Caption 66, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 14

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Tienen un olfato muy desarrollado, enseguida te huelen el trocito de manzana, galleta, lo que sea, y te van siguiendo.

They have a very developed sense of smell, right away they smell the little piece of apple, cookie, whatever, and they start following you.

Captions 54-56, Animales en familia - Un día en Bioparc: Coatís

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Poco a poco la iremos consiguiendo.

Step by step, we are going to achieve it.

Caption 16, ¡Tierra, Sí! - Atenco - Part 4

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Poco a poco los irás descubriendo todos.

Little by little you'll go along discovering all of them.

Caption 40, Fundamentos del Español - 9 - Verbos Reflexivos

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Hasta después fui aprendiendo conforme se fue haciendo el cómic.

Until later [when] I started learning as the comic was being made.

Captions 40-41, Antonio Vargas - Artista ilustración - Part 1

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Finally, here's an interesting example that uses the verb ir not only as the auxiliary conjugated verb but also for the gerundio, which is yendo (going). The expression is then voy yendo (literally "I go going").  
 

Bueno, voy yendo que... -Sí, sí. -...deben de estar por llegar.

Well, I'm going since... -Yes, yes. -...they are bound to arrive soon.

Caption 24, Muñeca Brava - 33 El partido - Part 5

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That's it. Mejor nos vamos despidiendo (We better start saying goodbye)!

Continuar lendo

Combining Parts of Speech- Part 3 - Cual, Cuales

Combining Parts of Speech - Part 1

Combining Parts of Speech - Part 2

Combining Parts of Speech - Part 4

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Let's continue studying phrases that combine prepositions, articles, and pronouns, since these are always a source of confusion for many Spanish learners. One of the main functions of this type of phrase is to connect simple sentences to transform them into more complex utterances, thus allowing a speaker to participate in real conversations. Take a look at Part 1 of the series here and Part 2 here.
 
Today, we'll focus on the use of the pronoun cual (plural cuales), which should not be mixed up with the interrogative adjective cuál (plural cuáles) that modifies and accompanies a noun, as in the following example:
 

¿Pero cuál juego les gusta más?

But which attraction do you like the most?

Caption 36, Guillermina y Candelario - El parque de diversiones

 Play Caption


Or with the interrogative pronoun cuál (plural cuáles) that takes the place of a noun. In the following example, when having a conversation about cars, someone uses it to ask:
 

¿Cuál te gusta a ti?

Which one do you like?

Caption 13, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 19

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The focus of our lesson today, the pronoun cual/cuales (without the accent mark) is not used to ask questions. Rather, it's used in fixed phrases (called locusiones in Spanish) that usually involve the combination of articles, prepositions, and other pronouns. In this case, the core is always a definite article + cual: el cual, la cual, lo cual, for the singular, and los cuales, las cuales, los cuales, for the plural. Other parts of speech can then be added to that: prepositions before, pronouns after. Let's see an example using the preposition en (on, in) and the personal pronoun nos:
 

Y el segundo tiene que ver con el lugar en el cual nos encontramos.

And the second one has to do with the place in which we are located.

Caption 35, Carlos explica - Tuteo, ustedeo y voseo: Conceptos básicos

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Here's an example with the preposition por (for). These are the words of a Mexican politician. We've transcribed a big chunk of what he says so you can see the phrase in context:
 

Yo sé que este país que me ha tocado conocer de cerca, palparlo de cerca... sentirlo muy, muy profundamente y por el cual tengo una enorme pasión...

I know that this country that I've had the fortune to know closely, to sense it closely... to feel it very, very deeply and for which I have an enormous passion...

Captions 2-3, Felipe Calderón - Publicidad - Part 1

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Here's another long example using the plural feminine form las cuales and the preposition con (with):

 

Básicamente este era un juguete que era un amplificador, con algunas pistas, con las cuales los niños juegan a cantar, ¿no?

Basically this was a toy that was an amplifier, with some tracks, that kids sing along with, right?

Captions 62-63, Lo que no sabías - Arte electrónico - Part 3

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Now an example using the preposition de (for) and the neutral form lo cual:
 

Es básicamente lo mismo que hicimos en el laboratorio pero a escala industrial, de lo cual están encargados otros colegas.

It's basically the same thing we did in the laboratory but on an industrial scale, which other colleagues are in charge of.

Captions 61-62, Una Historia de Café - La Catación

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You can find many other combinations in our catalog of videos, with other prepositions and pronouns, or without them. Here's just one example with the preposition de (of) and the pronoun me:
 

De lo cual me siento muy orgulloso.

I'm very proud of that [of which I'm very proud].

Caption 41, Escuela Don Quijote - Jesús Baz

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Something important to note is that it's possible to substitute the pronoun cual with the pronoun que. This is especially true in colloquial Spanish, though considered less correct in formal or written speech. Take the first example above, el lugar en el cual nos encontramos: people also say el lugar en el que nos encontramos. The same substitution can be made with all the other subsequent examples.

Continuar lendo

Combining Parts of Speech - Part 2

Combining Parts of Speech - Part 1

Combining Parts of Speech - Part 3

Combining Parts of Speech - Part 4

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Let's continue reviewing examples of phrases that combine prepositions, articles and pronouns. In the previous lesson we talked about combining the preposition con (with) with the indefinite articles (el, la, los, las) and the pronoun que (that, which): con la que, con el que, con los que, con las que (with whom or with which). Let's see the examples, because in real context these phrases can be quite tricky. 
 

Les preguntaron cómo debería ser la escuela con la que ellos sueñan.

They were asked the question of what the school that they dream of should be like.

Captions 6-7, Club de las ideas - La escuela que queremos

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We can try a more literal translation just to see how Spanish works:  "what the school of/with which they dream should be like." Here's another example:
 

No me parecía el tipo de gente con el que yo me quería involucrar.

They didn't seem to be the kind of people I wanted to get involved with.

Caption 81, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 2

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Do you want a literal translation? Here it is: "they didn't seem to be the kind of people with which I wanted to get involved."

It seems that Spanish and English are more parallel when using the plural forms:
 

Estos espacios recrean un capítulo histórico con los que el coriano convive a diario.

These spaces recreate a historic chapter with which the Corian resident coexists daily.

Caption 38, Ciudades - Coro Colonial

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...y para beneficiar las comunidades con las que trabajamos.

...and to benefit those communities with whom we work.

Caption 48, De consumidor a persona - Short Film - Part 5

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Now let's see how to combine el que, la que, los que, las que with two similar prepositions: por and para. Understanding the difference between these two is a constant challenge, even for advanced learners, so you can never study them too much!

 

...aquí están las puertas abiertas para el que quiera trabajar.

...here the doors are open for whomever wants to work.

Caption 38, Circo Infantil de Nicaragua - Learning the Trade

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...por el que transitan trece millones de clientes al año.

...through which thirteen million customers pass per year.

Caption 14, Los Reporteros - Crecen los robos en tiendas - Part 2

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Esa es buena para la que fuma el puro.

That one is good for the one who smokes cigars.

Caption 44, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 7

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Y ésta es la razón por la que cuando se piensa en un nombre que contribuya a...

And this is the reason why when one thinks of a name that contributes to...

Captions 22-23, El Instituto Cervantes - Director del Instituto

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Existe el metro y el autobús para los que tienes que comprar billetes.

There is the subway and the bus for which you have to buy tickets.

Captions 69-70, Blanca - Cómo moverse en Barcelona

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De las etapas por las que pasan los conjuntos...

Of the stages that groups go through...

Caption 74, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 3

 Play Caption

 

Continuar lendo

Combining Parts of Speech - Part 1

Combining Parts of Speech - Part 2

Combining Parts of Speech - Part 3

Combining Parts of Speech - Part 4

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Using Spanish articles and pronouns is not always easy, and learning to combine them is even more complicated. Let's study some interesting examples to learn more about these combinations.
 
The phrases la que, el que mean "the one that" or "the one who":
 

...que es la que está con el niño atrás.

...who is the one who is with the little boy back there.

Caption 14, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 3

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Aligerar, hacer ritmo. -Y el que venga conmigo...

To hurry up, to make it quick. -And, whoever comes with me...

Caption 81, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 4

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As you can see, the English translations may be different, but the meaning is still the same in both examples. In the second case, a more literal translation is also possible: el que venga conmigo (the one who comes with me).

It's important to always have in mind the variations of gender and number: los que and las que ("the ones that" or "the ones who"):
 

los que se pueden coger con la mano desde abajo...

the ones that can be picked by hand from below...

Caption 88, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 16

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Now, in Spanish it's also possible to combine these expression with prepositions. For example, you can add the preposition and form a los quea las quea la que, and al que (remember that a + el + que al que).
 
These phrases could mean, literally, "to/for the one(s) that" or "to/for the one(s) who":
 

Al que llegó sin avisar

To the one who arrived without warning

Caption 21, Calle 13 - Pa'l norte

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Depending on the context, the English equivalent of these phrases is different, though. For example, check out the following caption including an extra pronoun (a reflexive one): nos (to us).
 

Ah, a los que nos gusta surfear,

Ah, for those of us who like surfing,

Caption 9, Antonio Vargas - Artista - ilustración - Part 1

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Also, depending on the context, and since the preposition a has many different meanings, the literal meaning of these phrases could also be "to the ones that" or "to the ones who" =  "whom" or "to which."  
 

Al que llamaban Speedy Gonzales.

Whom they called Speedy Gonzales.

Caption 4, A. B. Quintanilla - Speedy Gonzalez

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...a la que pertenecieron sus primeros moradores.

...to which its first inhabitants belonged.

Caption 17, Club de las ideas - Mi entorno

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Check out this example, also with an extra reflexive pronoun: se (to it, to him, to her, to them)
 

El principal problema al que se enfrentan la mayoría de las PYMEs europeas

The main problem that most of the European SMEs face

Caption 5, Europa Abierta - Empuje para Pymes

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Tricky, right? The English translation is simply "that," but you can think of a literal one just to see how Spanish works: "the main problem to the one (to which) most of the European SMEs face."
 
You can also combine these phrases with a different preposition, for example the preposition con (with). Then you have con la que, con el que, con los que, con las que (with whom or with which). But let's save that for a future lesson. 

Continuar lendo

Getting Impersonal

An impersonal statement is one that has no determinate subject. In English you'll hear impersonal expressions like "you shouldn't point your finger at people" or "one would think the airlines would have to close down." 

Spanish has a different way to express the impersonal voice, though. To make general statements Spanish adds the pronoun se in front of verbs. Let's see some examples:

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 In the new episode of Yago - Pasión Morena we hear a distressed Yago stating a very basic and general principle indeed:

 

No se mata lo que se ama.

You don't kill what you love.

Caption 25, Yago - 11 Prisión - Part 7

 Play Caption

 
Of course, to express this idea in Spanish you can also do as in English and simply conjugate the verb in the second person:

No matas lo que amas.
You don't kill what you love.

However, in Spanish the use of se is much more common, expressive and emphatic.

Actually, in Spanish it's also possible to use the word uno (one) instead. In this case you must use the third person:

Uno no mata lo que ama.
One shouldn't kill what ones loves.

Here are another two examples from our catalog, both using the verb decir (to 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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Ay, ¿cómo se dice? -Las imperfecciones.

Oh, how do you say it? -The imperfections.

Caption 18, Maquillaje - Con Cata y Cleer

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And then with the verb hacer (to do, to make):

 

...s' se hace como un... té.

...o' one makes like a... tea.

Caption 12, Recetas - Capirotada

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Take note, both the Spanish impersonal and singular passive voice use the same construction. You can clearly see it by comparing the above example with the following one using the same verb hacer (to do, to make):
 

¿Esto se hace en otros puntos de... de Europa?

Is this done in other parts of... of Europe?

Caption 59, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 13

 Play Caption

 
Luckily, being able to make this distinction is really not that relevant because the difference is mostly just grammatical. For example, for practical purposes, you could also interpret this example as a case of the impersonal and translate it as, "Do you do this in other parts of... of Europe?"

Finally, note that Spanish also uses the plural to express impersonal ideas. In this case, however, you don't need to use the pronoun se, you only use the third-person plural ellos (they).
 

Y el futuro que vendrá, dicen que pende de un hilo

And the future that will come, they say that it hangs by a thread

Caption 79, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 2

 Play Caption


The beautiful thing about the Spanish plural impersonal is that it doesn't use the pronoun ellos (they)—just the verb conjugated in the third-person plural dicen (they say). In fact, in Spanish it can't be impersonal at all if you include the pronoun, if you actually say ellos dicen (they say). If the same example were to include the pronoun ellos (them), then it would mean that the subject is actually known from context. Check out the modified version of the previous example to which we added one of many possible contexts in brackets:

[Los dioses llegaron en sus naves blandas.Y el futuro que vendrá, dicen ellos que pende de un hilo.
[The gods arrived in their soft vessels.] And the future that will come, they say that it hangs by a thread.

The plural impersonal is used a lot to spread gossip when combined with the verbs decir (to say), contar (to tell), etc.
 

Dicen que nadie puede seguirte el tren

They say nobody can keep up with you

Caption 14, Bahiano - Oyelo

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Or popular knowledge:

 

Dicen que si los sueños se cuentan después no se cumplen, loco.

They say that if you tell your dreams, then they won't come true, dude.

Caption 43, Muñeca Brava - 41 La Fiesta - Part 7

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Using the Word "Sea" - Subjunctive | Verb Ser (to be)

The present subjunctive of the verb ser (to be) is the same in both the first- and third-person singular: sea. This little word is used profusely in Spanish for the most varied purposes. Let's explore and learn a few.
 

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The first person yo (I) uses sea. You can use it to express other people's wishes or expectations placed on you:
 
Quieres que [yo] sea cuidadosa
You want me to be cautious
 
or to deny hypothetic situations or conditions:
 
No es que yo sea mala...
It's not that I'm bad...
 
The third person (he, she, it) also uses sea. Here are examples using sea to talk about people (he, she). The tricky part is that Spanish usually gets rid of the pronouns él or ella, so you will only hear or see the verb sea.
 

No importa que sea morena, blanca, rubia o canela

It doesn't matter if she is dark-skinned, white, blonde or brown

Caption 52, Alberto Barros - Mano a mano

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¿Cómo me voy a andar fijando en él por más simpático... alto, caballero y bello que sea?

How am I going to go around thinking about him no matter how nice... tall, gentlemanly and handsome he might be?

Captions 74-75, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 11

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It's the same when you use sea to, for example, talk about a poisonous mushroom:
 

Por tocarlo no pasa nada. Aunque sea mortal.

Nothing happens by touching it. Even though it's lethal.

Captions 114-115, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 11

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However, the use of sea extends far beyond that in Spanish. Many idiomatic expressions use it. For example, the expression sea lo que is used to express fatalistic sentiments. Use this model phrase to learn it: sea + lo que dios mande (literally, let it be what God commands). Note that it uses subjunctive plus subjunctive:
 
Que sea lo que dios mande
Let it be God's will.
 
Of course, it's possible to get rid of the pronoun que (that) and combine the phrase with a different verb, like querer (to want):
 

Sea lo que Dios quiera.

Let it be God's will.

Caption 9, Baile Folklórico de Puerto Rico - Los Bailarines

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But there's also the expression sea lo que sea, literally meaning "let it be whatever it might be," or more simply put: "whatever it may be."
 
Sea lo que sea, quiero saber la verdad.
I want to know the truth, whatever that may be.

The shorter expression lo que sea (whatever) is even more common:
 

No es solamente utilizar una moneda local o lo que sea.

It's not just to use a local coin or whatever.

Caption 67, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 4

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...sea hombre, mujer, o lo que sea.

...whether it's a man, a woman or whatever.

Caption 60, Arume - Barcelona

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The clause para que sea (for it to be, so that it is) is also a great addition to your Spanish vocabulary:
 

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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Para que sea más fácil, le cortáis por la mitad.

So that it is easier, you cut it in half.

Caption 49, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli - Part 3

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Finally, don't forget the expression o sea (I mean, meaning):
 

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¡O sea, esto es más de lo que cualquier chica popular puede soportar!

I mean, this is more than any popular girl could bear!

Caption 1, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 4

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Different ways to use como

The Spanish word como (an adverb but also a conjunction) has many different meanings. Let's explore a few examples to learn how to properly use it.
 
Generally speaking, the adverb como has a comparative meaning. You can use it with the verb ser (to be) to compare things, people, actions, etc. There are different ways in which this como can be used, but it usually translates as "as" or "like."

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Nadie como tú me llena

No one fulfills me like you

Caption 18, Michael Stuart - Me Siento Vivo

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Yo tenía cuidado de no pisarlas como tú me enseñaste.

I was careful not to step on them as you taught me.

Caption 33, Guillermina y Candelario - La Isla de las Serpientes - Part 1

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But the adverb como can also mean “about” and be used to make an estimate, or approximation (which in a way is also a comparison).
For example, to estimate an amount of money:

 

Que esto ya cuesta como veinticinco soles.

This alone already costs about twenty-five soles.

Caption 41, Cocinas Peruanas - Short Film - Part 2

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Or to estimate an amount of time:

 

Estos muslitos se van a tardar como unos quince, veinte minutos.

These little thighs are going to take about fifteen, twenty minutes.

Caption 15, [Bears in the Kitchen] Osos en la cocina - Pollo asiático

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On the other hand, as a conjunction, the word como has even more uses, equally interesting. For now, let's just study the most common ones: como meaning "as" or "since" and como meaning "if."
 
When the conjunction como is used to establish an antecedent condition it means "as" or "since:"

 

Como ya les dije,

As I already told you,

Caption 26, Lecciones de guitarra - Con Cristhian - Part 1

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Y también como sos uruguaya,

And also since you are Uruguayan

Caption 62, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro - Part 7

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The conjunction como can also be used in a conditional clause that translates as an "if" clause. It's used with the subjunctive, it's not very common, and it's typically used to make threats or prevent people from doing or not doing something:
 

Como no vengas le digo todo a mamá.
If you don't come I'd tell mom everything.


Como no me hagas caso, lo pasarás mal
if you don't listen to me, there will be trouble

 

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As you can see, this como is more commonly used in the negative form. And, by the way, it's just an alternative to using a si clause (which doesn't need the subjunctive):

 

Si no vienes le digo todo a mamá.
If you don't come I'll tell mom everything.
 
Si no me haces caso, lo pasarás mal
if you don't listen to me, there will be trouble

 

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Commands in Spanish: The Formal Imperative

Let's continue learning the Spanish imperative. On a previous lesson we explored the use of the informal imperative used with  (singular "you"), vosotros (plural “you” in Spain) and ustedes (plural “you” in the Americas). Now let's see how to give orders with the formal usted (singular "you"), and ustedes (plural “you” in Spain and in the Americas). 

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Actually, the formal commands are very easy in Spanish, we just need to use the present subjunctive.  

For usted (formal you singular):
 

Vaya y coma todo el plancton que quiera,

Go and eat all the plankton that you want,

Caption 5, Kikirikí - Animales - Part 6

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For ustedes (formal you plural):
Vayan y coman todo el plancton que quieran,
Go and eat all the plankton that you want,

Actually, this is a great example that gives us the opportunity to introduce an important irregular verb, ir (to go) and it's formal imperative vaya (go).Let's see some variations of the example using the informal imperative. Pay attention to the verb ir (to go):

For  (you singular informal):
Ve y come todo el plancton que quieras,
Go and eat all the plankton that you want,

For vosotros (you plural informal in Spain):
Id y comed todo el plancton que queráis,
Go and eat all the plankton that you want,

For ustedes (you plural informal in the Americas*):
Vayan y coman todo el plancton que quieran,
Go and eat all the plankton that you want,

But let's continue with another regular verb and the formal imperative:
 

Sí, no espere que me ría. -No, ni por un momento, Madre.

Yes, don't expect me to laugh. -No, not even for a moment, Mother.

Caption 19, Muñeca Brava - 33 El partido - Part 5

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This is also another great example because it's showing us how to use the formal imperative with negation, which, good news, also uses the present subjunctive, so you only need to add the word "no," that' it! Here are examples using the regular verbs amar (to love), temer (to fear), partir (to leave) as models:

Ame (usted) a su hermano - No (ame) usted a su hermano | Love your brother - Don't love your brother
Tema (usted) a su hermano - No (tema) usted a su hermano | Fear your brother - Don't fear your brother
Parta con su hermano - No parta con su hermano Leave with your brother - Don't leave with your brother

Finally, an example of formal imperative with ustedes (you plural) that uses the regular verbs caminar (to walk) and perdonar (to forgive), this last one with a suffix pronoun!
 

¡Caminen! ¡Perdónenos la vida, patrón!

Walk! Spare our life, boss!

Captions 31-32, El Ausente - Acto 3 - Part 3

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And thus we have also learned that you can use the imperative to supplicate as well!

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