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Lessons for topic Vocabulary

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:


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.


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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Palabras Graves: Accent on the second-to-last Syllable

In this lesson, we’ll talk about Spanish words that have the accent on the second-to-last syllable. We call these words palabras graves. In a previous lesson, we talked about palabras agudas, which are words with the accent on the last syllable. 



Before we talk about palabras graves, let’s briefly discuss the meaning of the word “accent” in Spanish.


When we pronounce words in Spanish, the accent is the emphasis we give to a particular syllable of a word. We create that emphasis by giving the syllable a greater intensity, a longer duration, or a higher pitch. With that in mind, let’s review the way we categorize words in Spanish, according to their accent:


- Palabras agudas (oxytone words) | accent on the last syllable

- Palabras graves (paroxytone words) | accent on the second-to-last syllable

- Palabras esdrújulas (proparoxytone words) | accent on the third-to-last syllable

- Palabras sobresdrújulas (over-proparoxytone words) | accent on any syllable before the third-to-last syllable


Now we can focus on palabras graves, which are also known as palabras llanas. Let’s look at a couple of words:


Palabras como "lápiz" o "cereza" son palabras graves.

Words like "lápiz" [pencil] or "cereza" [cherry] are paroxytone words.

Caption 33, Carlos explica - Acentuación Cap. 4: Clasificación de las palabras según el acento

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The word lápiz has two syllables (lá | piz) and the accent goes on the second-to-last syllable “.” Similarly, the word cereza has three syllables (ce | re | za) and the accent also goes on the second-to-last syllable “re.”


We note that the word lápiz has a graphic accent (tilde) on the “á,” while the “e” in the second-to-last syllable of cereza doesn’t have that accent. Why not? It’s because paroxytone words need that graphic accent ONLY if they DO NOT end with “n,” “s,” or a vowel: Cereza ends in a vowel, so we don’t need the tilde.


y luego pasa en botella, donde se añade azúcar y eh... levadura.

and then goes into the bottle, where sugar is added and um... yeast.

Caption 26, Feria de Vinos Españoles en Londres - Bodegas Castell D'Age

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The word azúcar has three syllables (a | zú | car) and the accent goes on the second-to-last syllable “”. Since this word doesn’t end in “n,” “s” or a vowel, we need to put a tilde on the vowel of the second-to-last syllable.


La vida de músico es muy difícil, Kevin, es muy sacrificada.

The musician's life is very difficult, Kevin, it's very demanding.

Caption 16, Los Años Maravillosos - Capítulo 3 - Part 8

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Likewise, the word difícil (di | fí | cil) has the accent on the second-to-last syllable “” and we need to put the graphic accent on the “í” since this word ends in a consonant (“l”), which is neither an “n,” an “s” nor a vowel.


There are, however, many palabras graves in Spanish that don’t need a graphic accent. Let’s take a look:


El lunes, por ejemplo, fui a trabajar.

On Monday for example, I went to work.

Caption 6, El Aula Azul La Doctora Consejos - El pasado

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Both lunes ( lu | nes) and ejemplo (e | jem | plo) have the accent on the second-to-last syllable. However, since lunes ends in “s” and ejemplo ends in a vowel, neither word needs the tilde.


One last thing: There are many words that are agudas in the singular and graves in the plural. Take a look at the following list (stressed syllable are in boldface):


- Organización [organization] | organizaciones [organizations]

- Nación [nation] | naciones [nations]

- Doctor [doctor] | doctores [doctors]

- Pared [wall] | paredes [walls]


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



Explore more lessons:

Palabras agudas: Stress at the end

Some Unique Words and Expressions

Too Fast? Blame the Sinalefas - Part 1


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Learning Idiomatic Expressions

We use idiomatic expressions all the time in our conversations. However, learning to use idiomatic expressions in a foreign language is something that most students find particularly challenging. Let’s find out how to say “a piece of cake,” “raining buckets,” “get away with it,” and “feel like” in Spanish.


In English, when something is extremely easy to do we say that it"s “a piece of cake.” In Spanish, the equivalent expression is pan comido (eaten bread):

porque componer para mí es pan comido.

because for me composing is a piece of cake.

Caption 80, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 9

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In English, there’re several expressions that can be used to express that it’s raining heavily, for example “to rain buckets” or “to rain cats and dogs.” If we want to express the same idea in Spanish we must use the expression llover a cántaros [literally "to rain jugs"]:

Sí, llueve a cántaros.

Yes, it's raining buckets.

Caption 45, Español para principiantes - Saludos y encuentros

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In English, when someone manages to do something bad without being punished or criticized for it, we say that he/she “gets away with it.” In Spanish, the phrase used to express the same idea is salirse con la suya:

Yo no pienso dejar que esa sifrina se salga con la suya.

I don't plan to let that snob get away with it.

Caption 79, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 10

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Finally, when we want to say that someone has the desire to do something, we use the expression “to feel like.” In Spanish people use the phrase tener ganas de:

Si tienes ganas de más aventuras,

If you feel like more adventures,

Caption 20, Marta - Los Modos de Transporte

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¿Tienes ganas de practicar más? [Do you feel like practicing more?]. Try finding more idiomatic expressions in our catalog of videos! And don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to

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Palabras agudas: Stress at the end

Let's talk about stress — not the kind you are feeling during this pandemic — the kind we use in speech, where we give more emphasis to one syllable of a word or another. In all Spanish words, there's one syllable that gets stressed, so we divide words into four groups according to which syllable gets the stress. Let's take a look:


Palabras agudas (Oxytone words) | Last syllable
Palabras graves (Paroxytone words) | Second-to-last syllable
Palabras esdrújulas (Proparoxytone words) | Third-to-last syllable
Palabras sobresdrújulas (Over-proparoxytone words) | Any syllable before the third-to-last syllable
Today, we will talk about palabras agudas. Let’s look at a couple of words:

Palabras como "corazón" o "tambor" son palabras agudas.

Words like "corazón" [heart] or "tambor" [drum] are oxytone words.

Caption 22, Carlos explica - Acentuación Cap. 4: Clasificación de las palabras según el acento

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

La manera más simple de llegar a Barcelona es con el autobús

The simplest way to get to Barcelona is by bus

Caption 27, Blanca - Cómo moverse en Barcelona

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El coquí es un sapito que tenemos aquí en Puerto Rico.

The coquí is a little frog that we have here in Puerto Rico.

Caption 31, Carli Muñoz - Niñez - Part 1

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


There are many oxytone words in Spanish. In fact, all verbs in the infinitive are palabras agudas:

¿Quieres tomar algo de beber, Raquel?

Do you want to have something to drink, Raquel?

Caption 22, Raquel - Presentaciones

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

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

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Primero, Segundo and Tercero: Ordinal Numbers in Spanish

Let’s talk about numbers today. Ordinal numbers such as "first," "second," and "third," express position, order or succession in a series. Let's take a look at some of the rules that you need to keep in mind when using ordinal numbers in Spanish.


The first ten ordinals are very often used in spoken Spanish so let’s take a moment to review them: Primero (first), segundo (second), tercero (third), cuarto (fourth), quinto(fifth), sexto (sixth),

séptimo (seventh), octavo (eighth), noveno (ninth) and décimo (tenth).
Generally speaking, the ordinal numbers in Spanish go before the noun and agree in gender and number with the noun they are describing:

Las primeras imágenes que veo son impactantes, la verdad,

The first images that I see are shocking, truthfully,

Caption 34, Iker Casillas - apoya el trabajo de Plan

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


Y por ejemplo este nuevo disco es vuestro tercer disco creo... tercero o cuarto.

And for example this new record is your third record I believe... Third or fourth.

Caption 65, Bajofondo Tango Club - Mar Dulce - Part 1

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

En el dos mil diecisiete, El Real Madrid ganó su décima segunda '"Champions".

In two thousand seventeen, Real Madrid won its twelfth championship.

Caption 39, Carlos explica - Los Números: Números Ordinales

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

Fuimos a la beatificación del Papa Juan Pablo Segundo.

We went to the beatification of Pope John Paul the Second.

Caption 9, Latinos por el mundo - Chilenas en Venecia

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

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Gentilicios: Adjectives of Nationality in Spanish

Let's talk about gentilicios (demonyms)! Gentilicios are words that we use as adjectives when we want to say the place where someone or something comes from. In other words, they are adjectives of nationality in Spanish! Some examples of demonyms are words like “Brazilian,” “African” or “Chinese.”


Unlike English, we don’t capitalize demonyms in Spanish:


Mejor dicho, esas que son una mezcla entre peruana y colombiano.

In other words, those that are a mix between a Peruvian girl and a Colombian guy.

Caption 35, La Sub30 - Familias - Part 1

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

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


cuando realmente veo otros mexicanos, otros latinos,

when I see other Mexicans, other Latin people,

Caption 13, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 5

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

De padre austriaco y madre francesa, es casi políglota de nacimiento.

From an Austrian father and French mother, he's pretty much multilingual from birth.

Caption 12, Europa Abierta - Alejandro Hermann - El arte de pintar

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


madrileñomadrileña, de Madrid, la capital de España.

or "madrileño," "madrileña," [from Madrid], from Madrid, the capital of Spain.

Caption 34, Carlos explica - Geografía y gentilicios

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Just like iraní, the demonym estadounidense (from the United States) is the same for the masculine and feminine forms. Some people use americano or americana when referring to someone from the US. However, if you are travelling across Latin America try to use estadounidense instead. Most people in Latin America treat the word América as a continent and not a country so using that demonym when referring to the US will certainly leave a nice impression across the Americas.


That's all for now. We would like to leave you with the following exercise: Choose 20 countries from the world and try to write the gentilicios for each one. And don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to

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Irse de boca

Let's continue learning idiomatic expressions that use names of body parts. This lesson focuses on the word boca (mouth).


The expression llevarse algo a la boca (literally "to put something in one's mouth") means "to eat." You can see an example in the following quote from our catalog of videos:

que te lleves algo a la boca. -¡Hombre, algo a la barriga!

you put something in your mouth. -Man, something to put into my belly!

Caption 88, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 10

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

Túmbese, boca arriba.

Lay down, face up.

Caption 34, Club de las ideas - Técnico en imagen para diagnóstico

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

Eso sí, miralo y no abras la boca hasta que volvamos a hablar vos y yo, ¿eh?

Mind you, watch it and don't open your mouth until we speak again, you and I, OK?

Caption 6, Muñeca Brava - 9 Engaños - Part 8

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

No te habrás ido de boca diciéndole la verdad a ese Sirenio, ¿no?

You wouldn't have been indiscreet by telling that Sirenio guy the truth, right?

Caption 52, Yago - 9 Recuperación - Part 12

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


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


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


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

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A que sí / A que no

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

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



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


Pues yo te invito a que lo pruebes.

Well, I invite you to try it.

Caption 87, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 6

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


Mi padre era muy reacio a que [yo] las tocara.

My father was very reluctant for me to touch them.

Caption 57, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 10

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

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

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

¿Tú la cuidas bien a que sí?

You take good care of her, right?

Caption 23, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 16

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

¿A que no adivinas dónde estuvimos?

I bet you won't guess where we were?

Caption 9, Guillermina y Candelario - Carrera de Relevos

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You can think of this expression as a short version of the phrase apuesto a que no (I bet that you don't...)which is also used in positive terms: apuesto a que sí (I bet you do...), by the way. It's just much more common to use the negative form to stress the daring nature of this expression. But it's perfectly correct to say: ¡A que sí puedes. Inténtalo! (I bet you can. Try!).


That's all for now! We'll explore more of these combinations in future lessons. Don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to

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A mano

Let's continue learning idiomatic expressions in Spanish that use body parts. This lesson focuses on the word mano (hand).


The expressions echar una mano (to throw a hand) or dar una mano (to give a hand) mean "to help." Frequently, people use this expression with negation in the interrogative form: ¿no me echas una mano? or ¿no me das una mano? are common ways to ask for help in Spanish:


¿No me das una manita con Pablo?

Won't you give me a little hand with Pablo?

Caption 44, Muñeca Brava - 30 Revelaciones - Part 4

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


En ocasiones más formales también podemos darnos la mano.

For more formal occasions, we can also shake each other's hands.

Captions 11-12, Raquel Presentaciones

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


Bachué se despidió llorando y tomó la mano de su esposo.

Bachué said goodbye crying and took her husband's hand.

Caption 49, Aprendiendo con Carlos - América precolombina - El mito de Bachué

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


Un helado, un paseo, tomados de la mano

An ice cream, a stroll, holding hands

Caption 4, Alberto Jiménez - Causalidad - Part 2

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

Estaríamos a mano. ¿Eh?

We would be even. Huh?

Caption 30, Muñeca Brava - 2 Venganza - Part 6

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

Los que se pueden coger con la mano desde abajo, se cogen a mano.

The ones that can be picked by hand from below are picked by hand.

Captions 88-89, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 16

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


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

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

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

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


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

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How to Express Support in Spanish

The word in Spanish for empathy is empatía, and the word for sympathy is simpatía. You can combine either noun with verbs like tener (to have), mostrar (to show), or expresar (to express), among others:


La gente le tendría simpatía y admiración al mismo tiempo. Y hasta lástima.

People would feel sympathy and admiration for you at the same time. And even pity.

Captions 72-73, Muñeca Brava - 43 La reunión - Part 3

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To use the verbs mostrar and expresar instead of tener, you might say:

La gente le mostraría simpatía | People would show sympathy for you.

La gente le expresaría simpatía People would express sympathy to you.


But how can you directly express your sympathy to a person? The expressions te tengo simpatía ("I sympathize with you" but also "I like you" in some contexts) and soy empático contigo (I'm empathetic toward you) are correct but not very colloquial. You can use other expressions instead, for example, estoy contigo (I'm with you):
¿Confías en mí? -Sí. Yo estoy contigo.
Do you trust me? -Yes. I'm with you.

Another good way to show support is by simply saying te apoyo (I support you):

Ay, amigui, yo te apoyo.

Oh, friend, I support you.

Caption 8, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 11

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In the case of more serious situations, for example, when receiving bad news about something, the most common way to show your support is by saying lo siento mucho (I'm very sorry), or the more emphatic cuánto lo siento (literally "how sorry I am"). There are different ways to use these phrases, depending on what you want to say. For example:
Mi papá está muy enfermo. -Oh, lo siento mucho.
My dad is very sick. -Oh, I'm so sorry.
Siento mucho que no puedas visitar a tu familia ahora.
I'm very sorry that you can't visit your family right now.
¡Cuánto lo siento que tuvieras que pasar por eso tú sola!
I'm so, so sorry that you had to go through that all by yourself.

Just pay close attention to the context and tone because, like in English, lo siento is also used commonly in less serious situations:


Lo siento, pequeña, pero aquí las cosas hay que ganárselas.

I'm sorry, little one, but here things have to be earned.

Captions 30-31, NPS No puede ser 1 - El concurso - Part 5

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You can also use lo siento mucho to offer your condolences. Altenatives include te ofrezco mis condolencias (I offer you my condolences) or recibe mis condolencias (receive my condolences), expressions that many people shorten to just mis condolencias (my condolences), or mis más sentidas condolencias (my heartfelt condolences):
Mis condolencias, Sr. Gutiérrez. -Gracias. 
My condolences, Mr. Gutierrez. -Thank you.


Finally, showing support is also about extending a helping hand, right? In Spanish you can use expressions such as ¿en qué te puedo ayudar? (how can I help you?), ¿te puedo ayudar en algo? (can I help you with something?), cuenta conmigo (you can count on me), estoy para lo que necesites (I'm here for whatever you need), among others. A very colloquial expression is echar una mano (to lend a hand):


...para echarle una mano a la familia. lend a hand to the family.

Caption 61, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 5

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We hope you've enjoyed this lesson, and don't forget to leave us your comments and suggestions.

Continuar lendo

¿De cuándo acá? and Other Rhetorical Questions

In the first installment of Tu Voz Estéreo, our brand new series from Colombia, we hear a conversation between two not very pleasant characters who are planning to steal a guide dog (ಠ_ಠ!) from his blind owner:

Ay, pero ¿cómo y de cuándo acá nos gustan tanto los perros?

Oh, but how and since when do we like dogs so much?

Caption 9, Tu Voz Estéreo - Laura - Part 1

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The idiom de cuándo acá (since when) is a rhetorical question. In Spanish, asking ¿Desde cuándo te gustan los perros? is not the same as saying ¿De cuándo acá te gustan los perros? The first one is a simple question, while the second one is asked in order to create a dramatic effect of surprise, outrage, disbelief, or disapproval:

¿Y de cuándo acá eres mi juez?
And since when are you my judge?

Órale, ¿de cuándo acá tan bien vestidos? ¿Dónde es la fiesta?
Wow, since when you dress so well? Where's the party?

There are different ways to translate the English expression "how come?" into Spanish. As a standalone expression, you can use questions such as ¿cómo es eso? (literally "how is that"), ¿cómo así? (literally "how this way"), ¿cómo? (how), or ¿por qué? (why). It's important to add a special emphasis to the way you pronounce these questions:


No había nada interesante que hacer. ¿Cómo?

There was nothing interesting to do. - How come?

Captions 38-39, Guillermina y Candelario - Una aventura extrema - Part 1

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But when the expression is part of a sentence (for example, "How come you don't know that?") you can use the idiom cómo que (literally "how that") or cómo es que (how is that):

¿Cómo es que no sabes eso!
How come you don't know that?!

¿Cómo que no trajiste nada de dinero?
How come you didn't bring any money?

You could say that by using this phrase cómo que we're simply omitting the verb decir (to say), as shown in this example:

¿Cómo (dices) que te echaron?

How come (you say) they fired you?

Caption 8, Verano Eterno - Fiesta Grande - Part 5

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In Colombia and other Latin American countries, some people add the word así after que:

¿Cómo así que chucho?

How come it's the chucho?

Caption 33, Festivaliando - Mono Núñez - Part 4

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Thank you for reading!

Continuar lendo

Banking Vocabulary

Have you ever found yourself in a foreign country and needing to do some banking other than just using an ATM? Here's a useful list of Spanish banking vocabulary.
The Spanish word for "bank" is banco. Occasionally, you may hear people using the expressions institución bancaria (banking institution) or entidad bancaria (banking entity) as well, but these two are more commonly used in written documents:

Las condiciones, mm... no se las acepta, eh... o no se las concede la entidad bancaria.

The conditions, mm... are not accepted, um... or are not granted by the banking entity.

Captions 56-57, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 12

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Note that in Spanish el banco (the bank) is not the same as la banca (banking), a feminine noun you can hear or read quite often if you follow Spanish-speaking world news. Here’s an example:
El candidato a la presidencia de México afirmó que "la banca es uno de los mejores negocios del país".
The candidate for the presidency of Mexico affirmed that "banking is one of the best businesses in the country."
In Spanish the acronym ATM is rarely used. Instead, Spanish speakers use the expression cajero automático (automatic cashier), which is frequently shortened to cajero.

¡Oh! ¿Dónde está el cajero automático?

Oh! Where's the ATM?

Caption 36, Natalia de Ecuador - Palabras de uso básico

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As in English, the word cajero or cajera (cashier) is also used to refer to the person who handles the caja (cash register, literally "box"). This word can be used anywhere a financial transaction takes place—at stores, banks, entertainment venues, and even zoquitos clubs:

Hay días que la caja tiene más zoquitos que euros? -No.

Are there days when the register has more zoquitos than euros? -No.

Caption 70, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 5

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Finalmente, debes ir a la caja y pagar lo que quieras comprar.

Finally, you should go to the cash register and pay for whatever you want to buy.

Captions 40-41, Raquel Haciendo compras

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In Spanish as in English, if a cash register is located behind a glass wall or a small window, you may call it ventanilla (window); hence the use of expressions such as pague en ventanilla (pay at the window) or pase a ventanilla 8 (go to window 8). In movie theaters, for example, you may hear people say ventanilla instead of taquilla (box office) quite often. Of course, sometimes a ventanilla is just a window:

¿Y quiere asiento de ventanilla o de pasillo?

And do you want a window or aisle seat?

Caption 36, Raquel - La Compra de un Billete de Tren

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The word depósito means "deposit," and depositar means "to make a deposit." Some useful expressions are: quiero hacer un depósito or quiero depositar (I want to make a deposit, I want to deposit). And the same formula applies for transferencia (transfer), giro (wire), and retiro (withdrawal).
The word for "currency" is moneda (which also means "coin"):

"Zoquitos" es una... una red de moneda local.

"Zoquitos" is a... a network of local currency.

Caption 23, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 2

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The word divisa means "foreign currency." To ask for a currency conversion, you can say quiero hacer un cambio de divisas (I want to make a currency exchange). However, for a more colloquial touch, use something like quiero cambiar dólares a pesos (I want to exchange dollars for pesos).
To learn more about financial terms, try our series Cuentas claras.

Continuar lendo

How to Say I'm Sorry in Spanish - Discúlpame and Perdón

Let's continue our lesson about the most common ways to say “I'm sorry” in Spanish. Thank you to everybody who sent us feedback and suggestions about this lesson!


We discussed the expression lo siento (I'm sorry) in our previous lesson. Let's now focus on the use and meaning of perdóna[me] and discúlpa[me]. As we mentioned before, these two words have a clear and very distinctive apologetic nature and both translate as "I'm sorry," given the appropriate context.


Ay... ¡perdón! ¡Perdón!

Oh... sorry! Sorry!

Caption 21, Amigos D.F. - Consejos para la calle

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Te recuerdo, no me digas así porque no lo soporto. Ay, disculpa.

I remind you, don't call me that because I can't deal with it. Oh, sorry.

Captions 30-31, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 3

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Remember that perdón and disculpa are also nouns that mean "forgiveness" and "excuse" respectively. So you can say te pido perdón (I ask your forgiveness) or te pido disculpas (literally "I ask you to excuse me"):

Y si he fallado en algo, te pido perdón

And if I have failed in something, I ask your forgiveness

Caption 11, Enrique Iglesias - Mentiroso

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¿Ya, contento? Te pido disculpas.

Happy now? I beg your forgiveness.

Captions 67-68, Yago - 3 La foto - Part 8

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But by simply saying perdón or disculpa you are actually using these words as verbs in the imperative form, just like "forgive me" and "excuse me" in English. That's made more evident when you attach the personal pronoun me as a suffix to either perdón or disculpa, which is very common (and adds a personal touch to the expression):

¡Qué mala onda, perdóname!

Jeez, forgive me!

Caption 2, Verano Eterno - Fiesta Grande - Part 5

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Pero, discúlpame, amiga.

But, sorry, friend.

Caption 15, Sofy y Caro - Entrevistar para un trabajo

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You may want to know that even though both perdóname and discúlpame can be translated as "I'm sorry," there are subtle differences between them. In general, perdón is seen as a more heartfelt apology, and more personal. So, thoughtful people who really value precision reserve it for occasions in which they made an actual mistake, personally hurt somebody, etc. Saying disculpa or discúlpame is seen as more casual. Perhaps that's why disculpa is preferred as a simple polite expression equivalent to "excuse me" or "pardon me," phrases that don't necessarily imply you've made a mistake. Remember that, depending on your personal preference and the context, you may want to address people politely by saying (usted) disculpe or discúlpeme:


Disculpe, ¿y usted quién es?

Excuse me, and who are you?

Caption 39, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 4

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Continuar lendo

How to say I'm sorry in Spanish - Lo siento

As long as we are human, we are bound to make mistakes—a simple rule that applies doubly if you are a human trying to learn a foreign language! But what distinguishes a successful learner from an intransigent one is whether one can admit to one’s mistakes and redress them, right? So, don't shy away from speaking if you make mistakes in your Spanish. Sweeten your friends up instead with a candid apology! Here's a lesson about the most common ways to say “I'm sorry” in Spanish.


Lo siento
One short and very common way to say "I'm sorry" in Spanish is lo siento (literally, "I feel it"). Using the proper intonation, this phrase can help you get out of almost any sticky situation or mistake, but, and this is very important, you have to really mean it! Why? Because, just like "I'm sorry," this little Spanish phrase can also be used in a dismissive way, for example:

Lo siento, pequeña, pero aquí las cosas hay que ganárselas.

I'm sorry, little one, but here things have to be earned.

Captions 30-31, NPS No puede ser 1 - El concurso - Part 5

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Perhaps that's why it's very common to add the adverb mucho (a lot) to this phrase, as in lo siento mucho (I'm very sorry) as a way to make sure that the apologetic nature of one's lo siento gets properly transmitted. Another alternative is to use repetition to stress the importance of what you are saying... You can never be too sorry, right?

Bueno, sí, sí, sí, lo siento mucho, Andrea, por favor. -Ay, mire, lo sientolo siento.

Well, yes, yes, yes, I am very sorry, Andrea, please. -Oh, look, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.

Caption 20, Confidencial - El rey de la estafa - Capítulo 2 - Part 3

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But even lo siento mucho is not exclusively used to offer apologies. You can say it as a sarcastic remark, for example, or you can use the phrase lo siento mucho pero to casually introduce an excuse:

Lo siento mucho Mateo pero tengo que irme.

I'm very sorry, Mateo, but I have to leave.

Caption 42, Yago - 3 La foto - Part 8

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You may also hear people (especially in Spain) using que (as, since, that) instead of pero (but), as in lo siento mucho que:

Mariona... lo siento que llego de la biblioteca.

Mariona... I'm sorry as I'm coming from the library.

Caption 1, Blanca y Mariona - Vida en general

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Note that the expression siento que (without the pronoun lo) is also used to express empathy about an unfortunate situation:
Siento que te hayan despedido, Tomás.
I'm sorry you got fired, Tomas.
It’s also a good option when offering condolences (besides using the classic phrase mis condolencias, which is more formal and more impersonal):
Siento que perdieras a tu mamá, Lucía.
I'm sorry you lost your mom, Lucia.


Perdóna[me] and Discúlpa[me]
Here are some truly apologetic words! The noun perdón (forgiveness) and the verb perdonar (to forgive) have heavy connotations in Spanish. The reason behind this is that these words are rooted in legislative or ecclesiastical contexts in which the notion of perdón is intrinsically linked to the notion of culpa (guilt, fault). The same is true of the noun disculpa (apology, forgiveness, literally "non-guilt") and the verb disculpar (to forgive, literally "to take away the guilt"). There are subtle differences between using perdón and disculpa though. We will tackle those in our next lesson, so stay tuned!

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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!

Continuar lendo

Some Unique Words and Expressions

Let's review some unique Spanish words that you may not have heard of before. 


Spanish uses a specific word to describe the rheum (more commonly known as "sleep" in English) found in the corner of the eye after sleeping: lagaña (also legaña). This odd word has an uncertain origin, though some experts believe it to be inherited from a Paleohispanic language! It's important to note that lagaña is not a specialized term as "rheum" is in English, but a common word used in everyday conversations:

Esto es que una... una de las glándulas que se encarga de fabricar la lagaña...

This is because one... one of the glands that is in charge of producing rheum...

Caption 79, Animales en familia - La operación de Yaki - Part 1

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Other unique Spanish words related to the body are entrecejo (the space between the eyebrows).

Y esta parte se llama entrecejo.

And this part is called "entrecejo" [the space between the eyebrows].

Caption 16, Marta de Madrid - El cuerpo - La cabeza

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and chapas (blush, the pink tinge on the cheeks):

...para obtener las clásicas chapitas de Pikachu. get the classic Pikachu rosy cheeks.

Caption 25, Manos a la obra - Separadores de libros: Pikachu

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Do you know any Spanish words or expressions used to describe different types of rain? The expressions está chispeando and está lloviznando both mean "it's drizzling." The verb chispear comes from the noun chispa (spark), while the verb lloviznar comes from the noun llovizna (drizzle)On the other end, when the rain is really heavy, people may use the noun tormenta (storm) to describe it, though aguacero (downpour) is also very common:

Aguacero de mayo, me lleva, papá

May downpour, it's taking me away, man

Caption 44, Kikirikí - Animales - Part 6

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Of course, people also use idiomatic expressions to talk about the rain. One example is llueve a cántaros (the equivalent of "it's raining cats and dogs," literally "it's raining as if pitchers were being poured from the sky"). Other words that you may want to explore on your own are: chubasco (a very intense, windy storm) and chaparrón (an intense, sudden, and short storm).
Another interesting set of unique Spanish words is the group used to talk about family in-laws, a list that is quite big, as you can imagine. It's not only suegro, suegra (father- and mother-in-law), but also yerno, nuera (son- and daughter-in-law), cuñado, cuñada (brother- or sister-in-law), and even concuño, concuña (brother, husband, sister, or wife of one's brother-in-law or sister-in-law)!


Es una champiñonera tradicional que estableció mi suegro.

It's a traditional mushroom farm that my father-in-law established.

Caption 6, La Champiñonera - El cultivo de champiñón - Part 1

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Estaba en la casa de mi suegra y mi cuñada, la hermana de mi marido...

I was in my mother-in-law's house, and my sister-in-law, my husband's sister...

Caption 52, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro - Part 1

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Interesting tidbit: The equivalent of "in-law family" in Spanish is familia política. You can use the adjective político (political) to describe less close relatives such as primo político (in-law cousin). 

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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"


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.


Is there a topic you'd like covered in our lessons? You can send your suggestions to

Continuar lendo

Christmas Vocabulary in Spanish

Christmas is a very important celebration in all Spanish-speaking countries. In this lesson, we will review some of the essential Christmas vocabulary in Spanish.


One of the most endearing traditions for Christmas in the Hispanic world is the installation of nativity scenes at home or in public places. They are called belenes or nacimientos:

Lo más tradicional además del turrón, el champán y los Reyes Magos, es montar el belén en casa.

The most traditional [thing] besides nougat candy, champagne and the Three Wise Men, is to put up a Nativity scene at home.

Captions 2-4, Europa Abierta - Joaquín Pérez - Escultor de belenes

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Another important tradition are villancicos which are the Spanish equivalent of Christmas carols. Lida and Cleer sing for us one of the most popular villancicos, El burrito de Belén (The Little Donkey from Bethlehem) also known as "El burrito sabanero" (The Little Donkey from the Savannah):

Con mi burrito sabanero voy camino de Belén

With my little savanna donkey I'm heading to Bethlehem

Caption 42, Lida y Cleer - Buñuelos

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You may want to learn a few villancicos if you happen to be in a Spanish speaking country around Christmas. Just in case you get invited to a Posada. The word posada means "lodging" or "accommodation." traditionally, posadas are neighborhood celebrations held during the nine days preceding Christmas. They have a religious nature and involve participating in a communal re-enactment of the arrival of Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem who, according to legend, had to go door-by-door pidiendo posada (asking for a place to stay). These celebrations also involve praying, sharing food, and breaking a piñata in the shape of a Christmas star. By extension, the word posada also means "Christmas party" in many Latin American countries. For example, you can get invited to la posada de la oficina (the office Christmas party) or la posada del club de ajedrez (the chess club Christmas party). 

Another important word for the Holidays is the word aguinaldo ("thirteen salary" or "Christmas bonus"):

¿Y... le han dado todos sus reglamentos de vacaciones, aguinaldo, todo eso?

And... have they given you all your statutory vacations, annual complementary salary, all that?

Caption 21, Doña Coco - La Vida De Una Cocinera

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Día de Reyes or día de los Reyes Magos (day of the three Wise Men) is another popular Christmas celebration in many Spanish-speaking countries. Sometimes people just call it Reyes (Kings). In Mexico this day marks the end of the so-called Guadalupe-Reyes marathon of winter festivities.

Y en los Reyes, va a venir aquí con tus niños.

And at Epiphany, she is going to come here with your children.

Caption 49, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 9

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Finally, there's an important distinction to make. The Spanish word for Christmas is Navidad, while the equivalent of Christmas eve is called Nochebuena (Literally, "the Good Night").

Ha pasado otra Nochebuena solo, encerrado. -No, no.

You have spent another Christmas Eve alone, locked inside. -No, no.

Captions 23-24, Muñeca Brava - 30 Revelaciones - Part 2

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Nochebuena is also one of the names given to the poinsettias flowerwhich is indigenous to Mexico and it's widely used in Christmas floral displays all around the world. 

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