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Lessons for topic Vocabulary

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 the verb 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 could say:
La gente le mostraría simpatía | People would show sympathy to 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") 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 feel so sorry), or the more emphatic cuánto lo siento (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 so sorry that you can't visit your family right now.
¡Cuánto lo siento que tuvieras que pasar por eso tú sola!
How sorry I am that you have to go through that all by yourself.

Just pay a lot of attention to the context and tone, because lo siento is also very commonly used in a sarcastic way:


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. Or, you can say 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 (literally "to throw 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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¿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!

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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.

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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 (usteddisculpe 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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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!

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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

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Vocabulary for the Holidays

Christmas is a very important celebration in all Spanish-speaking countries. Let's review vocabulary related to this Holiday.


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. 

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

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Emergency Words

Let's learn some Spanish vocabulary related to emergency situations. We really hope you never find yourself needing to use these words, but it’s not a bad idea to keep them on hand.  


Some of the most well-known emergency words in Spanish are ayuda and auxilio:

¡Uy, auxilio! ¡Callen a ese gallo!

Oh, help! Shut up that rooster!

Caption 12, NPS No puede ser 1 - El concurso - Part 9

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The word socorro is less known:

¡Socorro! ¡Sáquenme!

Help! Get me out!

Captions 9-10, Yago - 2 El puma - Part 7

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Remember that being able to cry for help is just as important as remaining calm:

Cálmate, Yas. Para que te tranquilices, te voy a regalar un poquito del agua.

Calm down, Yas. So that you calm down, I am going to give you a little bit of the water.

Captions 19-21, Kikirikí - Agua - Part 2

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Lately, the world has seen many natural disasters, especially massive hurricanes and earthquakes. You have to know what to do if you hear the phrase alerta de followed by the word huracán or ciclón (hurricane), or terremoto or sismo (earthquake):

En plena tormenta cuando va a entrar un huracán...

In the middle of the storm when a hurricane is coming...

Caption 17, Antonio Vargas - Artista - Comic

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El terremoto destruyó muchas casas.

The earthquake destroyed many houses.

Caption 18, Lecciones con Carolina - La voz pasiva - Part 2

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Maybe you'll need to go to an albergue or refugio (shelter):

Los tenemos en el albergue.

We have them at the shelter.

Caption 29, Otavalo - Patrulla Amigo Fiel - Salvemos a los perros callejeros

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Mieke y su hija viven en Amsterdam y acaban de llegar al refugio.

Mieke and her daughter live in Amsterdam and they have just arrived to the shelter.

Caption 7, Los Reporteros - Caza con Galgo - Part 5

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Certain phrases are very helpful in case of an emergency, for example, to call for medical help:

Alguien que llame a una ambulancia, por favor.

Someone should call an ambulance, please.

Caption 54, Muñeca Brava - 2 Venganza - Part 6

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Me duele (it hurts) is vital:

Gün, me duele la cabeza mucho.

Gün, my head hurts badly.

Caption 61, Escuela Don Quijote - En el aula - Part 1

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As is the phrase he tenido un accidente (I've had an accident):

Para que no tengamos ningún accidente...

So that we don't have any accident...

Caption 58, Adícora - Venezuela - Darío y el Kitesurfing

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Can you think of other emergency words that you would like to learn?

Continuar lendo

Expressing Disgust in Spanish

By definition, nobody likes to feel disgusted, and yet disgust is sadly a very common sentiment. Let's learn a few ways in which Spanish speakers express their disgust.


Let's start with the most basic. The expression me da asco (literally "it gives me disgust") has many different translations, depending on the context:


Me da asco, la verdad, mire, señor...

You make me sick, truthfully, look, sir...

Caption 23, Muñeca Brava - 18 - La Apuesta - Part 1

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Cuando te duele la cabeza, tenés unas náuseas que te da asco todo.

When your head hurts, you have nausea that makes everything disgusting to you.

Caption 73, Muñeca Brava - 43 La reunión - Part 5

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This expression is also very interesting because of the idiomatic use of the verb dar (to give), which is used a lot in Spanish to express a wide variety of feelings, from me da miedo (it frightens me), to me da pena (I feel ashamed) and me da gusto (it pleases me). In order to learn it and remember it, we suggest you recall an expression in English that uses the same verb in the same way: "it gives me the creeps," which in Spanish could translate as me da asco or me da escalofríos (it makes me shrivel), or something else, depending on the context. Our friends from Calle 13 use dar repelo (repelo is a coloquial word for "disgust"):

Oye jibarita si te doy repelillo, Residente te quita el frenillo

Listen, peasant girl, if I give you the creeps, Residente will take away your stutter

Caption 44, Calle 13 - Tango del pecado

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Other phrases that can also be used in Spanish are me enferma (it makes me sick), and me da náuseas (it makes me feel nauseous). Check out this example:

Verla me da náuseas.

Seeing her makes me sick.

Caption 22, Muñeca Brava - 43 La reunión - Part 1

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Now let's learn some single words that you can use to express your dislikes. The interjection guácala (sometimes written huácala) is used in Mexico, Colombia, Honduras, el Salvador, República Dominicana, and many other Latin American countries. By the way, this word has nothing to do with guacamole (from Nahuatl ahuacatl "avocado" + molli "sauce"), which is delicious. 

¡Ay guácala! No, no se puede. ¡Huele a muerto!

Oh, gross! No, it's not possible. It smells like a corpse!

Captions 4-5, Kikirikí - Agua - Part 5

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A similar word is fúchila, which you could also find shortened as fuchi. This word is also used in many Latin American countries, Venezuela, for example:

¡Fuchi! Mejor no respires, pero cálmate, ¿sí?

Ew! Better you don't breathe, but calm down, OK?

Caption 51, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 5

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In Spain people use the interjections puajpuah, or aj:
¡Puaj, este pescado está podrido!
Yuck, this fish is rotten!

Now, in Spanish the antonyms of the verb gustar (to like) and the noun gusto (like) are disgustar (dislike) and disgusto (dislike). However, you should pay attention to the context to learn how to use them. Take, for example, the expression estar a disgusto (to be uncomfortable or unhappy):

Yo ya estaba muy a disgusto en México.

I was already unhappy in Mexico.

Caption 42, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 1

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If you want to use the verb disgustar to express your dislike about something, you have to remember to always use it with a reflexive pronoun:

Me disgustan las achoas.
I dislike anchovies.

However, it's more common to simply say:

No me gustan las achoas.
I don't like anchovies.

Notice that when you use the verb disgustar (to dislike) the verb is conjugated in the third-person plural (in agreement with las anchoas) and not the first-person singular (yo). If you ever were to say something like me disgusto, which is possible but as common as me enojo (I get angry or upset), that would mean something different:

Me disgusto con Antonio siempre que llega tarde.
I get angry with Antonio whenever he's late.

The noun disgusto, on the other hand, is used as the noun asco (disgust), that is, with the verb dar (to give). The expression dar un disgusto means "to cause displeasure," or "to make someone angry, sad, or upset"). 

Mi hijo me dio un disgusto muy grande al abandonar la escuela.
My son made me so upset when he quit school.


Finally, the expression matar de disgusto (literally, "to kill someone by means of upsetting him or her") is a common expression that overly dramatic people really like to use:


This daughter of mine is going to kill me with disappointment.

Caption 42, Muñeca Brava - 3 Nueva Casa - Part 3

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Continuar lendo

Las Vacaciones

Summer is a good time to take some time off... or learn how to properly use the Spanish word for vacation: vacaciones.  Let’s do just that.


For starters, even though the Dictionary of the Spanish Language of the Royal Spanish Academy or DRAE includes the singular vacación, the plural vacaciones (vacation) is the only form people use:


Sí, se ha ido hasta de vacaciones a Italia con el zoquito.

Yes, she has even gone on vacation to Italy with the zoquito.

Caption 74, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 4

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Spanish also has the verb vacacionar (to vacation), but it's much more common to use expressions that involve the use of another verb combined with the word vacaciones, for example: ir de vacaciones (to go on vacation). This expression requires the use of a reflexive pronoun (se, in this case) and the preposition de (on). You must also be careful to conjugate the verb ir (to go) properly. In the example above, for example, you see the perfect tense ha ido de vacaciones (has gone on vacation). But you can also use other tenses. The following example includes the reflexive pronoun me, the preposition de, and the first-person singular form of the verb ir (to go) in present tense, which is voy (I go): voy de vacaciones, compro regalos, tengo la cena.

...I go on vacation, I buy gifts, I have dinner.

Caption 62, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 1

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But you can use other verbs too. You can use the verb estar (to be), for example, which doesn't need the use of reflexive pronouns:

Como todos sabemos, estamos de vacaciones.

As we all know, we're on vacation.

Caption 6, El bulevar - de Adícora

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Or the verb tomar (to take), which doesn't need the preposition de and can be used with or without a reflexive pronoun:

Tomó vacaciones de un mes. Regresó otra vez a Alemania.

She took a one-month vacation. Then she went back to Germany again.

Captions 24-25, Gonzalo el Pintor - Vida - Part 2

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Yes, it's also correct to say: se tomó vacaciones de un mes (she took a one-month vacation).
Also very common is the use of the verb andar (literally "to walk"):
Genaro anda de vacaciones.
Genaro is on vacation.

Or venir (to come), which needs the preposition de and could take a reflexive pronoun:

Qué bien que te has venido aquí de vacaciones.

How nice that you have come here on vacation.

Caption 2, Clara y Cristina - Hablan de actividades

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or not:
Qué bien que has venido aquí de vacaciones.
How nice that you have come here on vacation.
Can you think of more verbs that can be combined with the word vacaciones? We can. One example is the verb salir (to go out): salimos de vacaciones (we go out on vacation, we leave on vacation). Try to find some more examples in our catalog!

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Abbreviated Expressions in Spanish

Let's learn a few abbreviated expressions and words in Spanish. They are really useful to make your Spanish sound more natural:

Entre nos comes from entre nosotros (between us). It's used to indicate that what you are about to say should not be shared with anyone else, it's between you and your interlocutor:

Aquí entre nos, quien sí me importa es Leo.
Between you and me, the one that does matter to me is Leo.

 Instead of por favor, you can simply say porfa:


Tranquilo, tranquilo. -Tranquilo, pibe, tranquilo. -Gardel, porfa... -Pero...

Calm down, calm down. -Calm down, boy, calm down. -Gardel, please... -But...

Caption 55, Yago - 11 Prisión - Part 5

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Some people prefer to use porfis for a more playful or silly tone:


Porfis, porfis, reporfis.

Pretty please, pretty please, extra pretty please.

Caption 58, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 10

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As in English, there are many words that are usually abbreviated in Spanish. For example most people say bici instead of bicicleta (bicycle), moto instead of motocicleta (motorcycle), refri instead of refrigerador (fridge), conge instead of congelador (freezer), compa instead of compadre (buddy), depa instead of departamento (apartment), or peli instead of película (movie). 


A mí que ni me busquen, compa

For me, don't even look, buddy

Caption 51, DJ Bitman - El Diablo

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y ahí nos mo'... nos movíamos en bici,

and from there we mo'... we would move around by bike,

Caption 4, Blanca y Mariona - Proyectos para el verano

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Another classic example of an abbreviated expression in Spanish is the use of buenas as a greeting instead of buenas tardes, buenas noches, or buenos días:


¡Muy buenas, Mar! -Encantada. -Soy de 75 Minutos.

Very good afternoon, Mar! -Delighted. -I'm from 75 Minutes.

Caption 5, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 6

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It's also common to use abbreviated versions of names and titles. For example you can use abue instead of abuela (grandmother), ma or pa instead of mamá (mother) and papá (father), poli instead of policía (police, cop), profe instead of profesor (teacher), secre instead of secretaria (secretary), dire instead of director (principal), ñor and ñora instead of señor (sir) and señora (madam) [or seño instead of both], peques instead of pequeños (the little ones, kids), etc. 


Felipe López. -Yo lo planché ahorita. -Acá, profe.

Felipe Lopez. -I'll iron it right now. -Here, Teach.

Caption 43, Misión Chef - 2 - Pruebas - Part 2

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Continuar lendo

The Skinny Cows of January

Last week we published the last part in the Nicaraguan series Cuentas claras about how to survive the so-called cuesta de enero (Literally, "January's hill") in Spanish, and "hard January" or "post-holiday budget crunch” in English. Let's review some financial vocabulary that you can learn by watching this series.


The expression cuesta de enero is widely used in Spain, Mexico and many other Latin American countries. There are other expressions that are synonyms, for example, resaca de navidad (Christmas hangover) and resaca de Reyes (King's Day hangover). In Part 1 of the series, the guest of Cuentas claras says:

...una dolencia después cuando comienza enero porque estoy endeudado. La resaca financiera. ailment afterwards when January starts because I am in debt. The financial hangover.

Captions 64-65, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 1

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The show also shares different antidotes to cure a financial hangover. Making a budget is a key one:

Entonces, eh... siempre tu arma, tu aliado número uno, va a ser un presupuesto.

So, um... always your weapon, your number one ally, is going to be a budget.

Caption 33, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 1

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Making a budget helps people save money and get out of debt:

...y en el lado financiero, quiero salir de deudas, quiero comenzar a ahorrar.

...and on the financial side, I want to get out of debt, I want to start to save.

Caption 24, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 1

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The expressions estoy gastado and estoy endeudado are great additions to your vocabulary when trying to avoid excesos financieros (financial excesses):

Primero porque terminás bien gastado y bien endeudado de diciembre.

First because you end up quite spent and quite in debt from December.

Caption 30, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 1

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A little bit more dramatic is estar quebrado or estar en la quiebra (to be in bankruptcy):

...y encima llevo a la quiebra a la empresa.

...and on top of that bankrupt the company.

Caption 49, Muñeca Brava - 33 El partido - Part 4

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If you are planning a visit to Mexico, maybe you can use something more colorful like ando bien bruja (“I'm broke,” I'm spent,” but literally means "to go by like a witch"!). Colombians use estoy vaciado (literally, "I'm empty"), and Argentinians no tengo ni un mango (literally, "I don't have a single mango").

No, tomá, tomá... guardá esto que no quiero que te quedes sin un mango.

No, take it, take it... put this away since I don't want you to end up penniless.

Caption 34, Yago - 5 La ciudad - Part 3

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The word for “installment payment” in Spanish is abono. There's also a verb: abonar (to make installment payments). Note that abono is also a synonym of fertilizante (fertilizer).

¿...porque tenés que hacer abonos mensuales a todas las deudas?

...because you have to make monthly payments for all the debts?

Caption 7, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 2

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If you don't pay your debts on time you are una persona morosa (a delinquent payer, a slow payer), which comes from the noun mora (delay). Note that mora is also the name given in Spanish to different types of berries.

...manchás como dice la gente popularmente, tu record crediticio, caes en mora. stain as people say popularly, your credit record, you become delinquent.

Caption 24, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 2

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It's not ideal, but if you can't pay your debts maybe it's time for another préstamo (loan):

...en el caso de los préstamos personales o lo del extrafinanciamiento. the case of personal loans or extra financing.

Caption 17, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 2

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However, it's best to always have some ahorros (savings) to cover for unpredicted expenses:

...y básicamente consiste en ahorrar un dólar incremental cada semana del año.

...and basically it consists of saving an incremental dollar every week of the year.

Captions 6-7, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 4

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Finally, a curious Spanish expression that is not used in the show but you may still want to add to your lexicon. Spanish uses the phrases vacas gordas (fat cows) and vacas flacas (skinny cows) to refer to periods of material wealth and poverty respectively. It's a very common expression inspired by a famous biblical story. English also uses similar phrases that are probably inspired by the same source (“lean times”). Here's an example of how to use the Spanish expression:
Tenemos que ahorrar algo de dinero para tiempos de vacas flacas.
We have to save some money for leaner times.

Continuar lendo

Good and Cold and Handsome and Hot

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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

Caption 73, Yago - 10 Enfrentamientos - Part 3

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

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

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

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

Captions 58-59, Tecnópolis - El Coronil

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

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

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


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


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

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

Caption 23, Yago - 6 Mentiras - Part 1

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


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

Continuar lendo

Emphatic Uses of Sí & Si

Did you know that the Spanish words  (usually meaning "yes") and si (usually meaning "if") also have special uses that are for emphatic purposes? Let's look at some examples.



The word sí (yes) is used in a similar way to the repetition of the word "do" to express that someone indeed did something. For example, when someone says "you did not do it," one can reply, "I did do it." Well, in Spanish, you use the word  (the orthographic accent is important here) in a similar way: a declaration such as tú no lo hiciste (you did not do it) can be answered with yo  lo hice (I did do it).
Like the repetition of the word "do" in English, this use of sí has a purely emphatic effect. You could easily answer tú no lo hiciste (you did not do it) with a simple yo lo hice (I did it), but using yo sí lo hice (I did do it) is way more common. Let's look at some examples so you can learn how to throw in that emphatic  in conversation:


Ah claro, ahora lo entiendo hija, ¡qué torpe soy!

Oh, of course, now I do understand it, girl. How clumsy I am!

Caption 57, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 7

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The combination sí que is very common and is similar to the English phrase "does indeed”:


Traigo mi cargamento -La cintura de Shakira sí que tiene movimiento -De pura salsa

I bring my shipment -Shakira's waist does indeed have movement -Of pure salsa

Captions 48-49, Alberto Barros - Cargamento Colombiano - Part 1

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On the other hand, the word si (without the orthographic accent), commonly used in conditional clauses, can also be used to indicate that you are affirming something very emphatically. It's not always easy (or necessary) to translate it into English, but in the following examples we added "indeed”:


Te tengo que pedir un favor. ¡Sí, loco, otro más! Si estás para eso, ¿no?

I have to ask you a favor. Yes, dude, another one! That's [indeed] what you are for, right?

Captions 42-43, Muñeca Brava - 30 Revelaciones - Part 4

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In the following example, a more literal translation of si me encanta could be "indeed, I love it" or just "I do love it," but we used "I'd love to" (me encantaría in Spanish), which better suits the context:


Ah, cuando quieras, no, si me encanta. ¿Yo te di mi teléfono, no?

Oh, whenever you want, no, I'd love to. I gave you my phone [number], right?

Caption 62, Muñeca Brava - 2 Venganza - Part 3

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The word si as an emphatic affirmation is also commonly used to express a protest or to contradict someone. It could be translated as "but,” but it doesn't actually need a translation, as you can see in the following examples:


¿Cuál es tu burla? ¡Si tú estás igualita! ¡Si yo estoy más fresca que una lechuga!

What are you making fun of? [But] You are the same! [ButI'm fresher than a [head of] lettuce.

Captions 8-9, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 6

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Si yo lo estoy diciendo hace rato ya, hombre.

But I've been saying it for a while already, man.

Caption 71, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 4

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That Fancy Spanish...

If you have spent some time learning and listening Spanish, you have probably noticed that many common Spanish words have cognates in the fancy English vocabulary. This happens because Spanish is a romance language, that is, a language that directly evolved from vulgar Latin (and was even later enriched with classic Latin during the Middle ages when Spanish became a written language), while approximately only 29% of the English vocabulary comes from Latinate sources.


That's the reason why it's very common for a Spanish speaker to use verbs like estrangular (to choke) or canícula(dog days, midsummer heat) in everyday speech. In fact, similar words exist in English (to strangulate and canicule) but they are cultisms that are way too fancy to be used in everyday situations. On the other hand, and quite surprisingly, very often using these words is the only alternative you have to express something in Spanish. That's the case for estrangular (to strangulate, to choke) and canícula (doy days); really, there is no better, more common way to express such ideas in Spanish than using those words.

Words that are used to describe diseases and medical terms in Spanish are also great examples. In Spanish it's common to say (and make the distinction between) el oculista (oculist) and el optometrista (optometrist), while an expression like "el doctor de ojos" (the Eye doctor) may be understood, but sounds very much like toddler talking to Spanish speakers. And there are even stranger examples, some of which may sound like tongue twisters for you. Take for example the common otorrinolaringólogo (ear nose and throat doctor, otorhinolaryngologist). But let's try to find examples from our catalog.

In Spanish, the verb aliviar means either "to get better" or "to cure," or "to alleviate" and it's just as common as the verb curar (to cure). In English the verb to alleviate is much more fancy, and it's only used in certain contexts, usually very formal or written speech:

Estoy enfermo, espérense a que me alivie.

I'm sick; wait until I get better.

Caption 19, El Ausente - Acto 1 - Part 2

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The nouns cicatriz (scar) and cicatrización (scar healing) as well as the verb cicatrizar (to heal a scar) are common in Spanish, while "cicatrix," "to cicatrize" or "cicatrization" are less common in English:

Tiene la cicatriz, vivió en Misiones y tiene la misma sonrisa de Franco.

He has the scar, he lived in Misiones and he has the same smile as Franco.

Caption 16, Yago - 10 Enfrentamientos - Part 4

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The adjetives primordial  and esencial are both commonly used in Spanish, usually as synonyms. English, on its part, does have the word "primordial," but the use of "essential" is more common in everyday speech:

Es importante, primordial, muy necesario.

It's important, essential, very necessary.

Caption 3, Bersuit Vergarabat - EPK - Part 2

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Another example is the word subterráneo ("subterranean", but most commonly "underground"):

Contaminación de las aguas superficiales o subterráneas

Pollution of surface and underground waters

Caption 7, 3R - Campaña de reciclaje - Part 2

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In Spanish the word docente is both an adjective meaning "teacher-related" and a noun that is synonymous with maestro (teacher). It's a common word in and it's used in many Spanish expressions. In contrast, the English word docent is far less common and, it has a slightly different meaning

Es más, es que no se entiende la labor docente de otra manera.

Moreover, the thing is that the teaching job should not be understood in any other way.

Caption 13, Club de las ideas - La motivación

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The list goes on and on. Let's see one more example. In Spanish it's common to use the noun equilibrio (balance) and the verb equilibrar (to balance), both words are just as common as balance (balance) and balancear ("to balance", but also "to swing"). In contrast, English reserves the use of "equilibrium" and "to equilibrate" for scientific or highbrow language.  


Tú eres todo lo que me equilibra.

You're everything that balances me.

Caption 28, Calle 13 - Un Beso De Desayuno

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