The Spanish word que: how can such a tiny word be so complicated? A pronoun that translates as "who," "which," "whom," and "that." A conjunction that translates as "that," "then," "so," "if," or even "of" and has many other uses that simply don't have a direct translation in English. How should we tackle the topic? Maybe let's start with some useful common phrases, the most popular ones that use this tiny word, and take it from there.
The word que is combined with certain verbs very often. For example, with the verb tener (to have). Tener que is used to express a necessity or an imperative, or simply put, that something must be done.
Tienes que trabajar sábado y domingo.
You have to work Saturday and Sunday.
Caption 36, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 19Play Caption
You have to learn how to conjugate the verb tener, of course. You would find this expression more frequently in the indicative mood, like in the example above, but you can also find it in the subjunctive:
Es posible que tenga que quedarme algún día más en Barcelona.
It's possible that I may have to stay one more day in Barcelona.
Caption 52, Raquel - La Compra de un Billete de TrenPlay Caption
But be careful, there's an idiomatic expression that uses the same construction, always combined with the verb ver (to see) and the preposition con (with). Tener que ver con (literally "to have to see with”) is used to establish a relationship or connection. Most of the time this expression is preceded by another que (meaning "that"). We have a lesson on this topic, but let's analyze additional examples:
Espero que por favor practiquen todo lo que tiene que ver con conjunciones disyuntivas y copulativas.
I hope that you please practice everything that has to do with disjunctive and copulative conjunctions.Play Caption
Keep in mind that it is also possible to use the verb ver (to see, to look) combined with tener que to simply express a necessity (literally "to have to see") and not as an idiom:
...y, eh... también tengo que ver el tráfico del sitio.
...and, um... I also have to look at the site's traffic.
Caption 53, Carlos Quintana - Guía de musica latinaPlay Caption
Note that, in this case, you won't use the preposition con (with). If you were to add it, then you would be using the idiom tener que ver con (to have to do with). Tengo que ver con el tráfico del sitio means "I have something to do with the site's traffic."
And there's another idiom that may get in your way here. You can also use tener que ver con meaning "to have to deal with something." The expression is not very common because we also have the verbs enfrentar (to face) and lidiar (to deal), but here's an example:
ahora tengo que... tengo que ver con las consecuencias.
now I have to... I have to deal with the consequences.
Caption 27, La Sub30 - Familias - Part 7Play Caption
From this idiom comes a threatening expression: te las tendrás que ver con... (you will have to deal with...). For example: Si lastimas a Jenny te las tendrás que ver conmigo (if you hurt Jenny you will have to deal with me). Keep in mind that Spanish allows for a playful use of the relative pronouns, so you can also say: Si lastimas a Jenny tendrás que vértelas conmigo, which is actually more common.
¡Esta lección tuvo que ver solamente con una frase que combina '”que”con el verbo “tener”!
This lesson was only about one phrase that combines “que” with the verb “to have”!
We'll explore more phrases in future lessons. Stay tuned! Tweet us @yabla or send your topic suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you ever feel frustrated when you can't make out what a Spanish speaker is saying because he or she speaks so fast that an entire sentence seems to sound like a single long word? Well, we won't lie to you: there's no easy solution to that problem, only listening practice and more listening practice. However, we can at least give you something to blame next time you find yourself lost in a conversation due to this problem: blame the synalepha.
A fancy word indeed, synalepha (or sinalefa in Spanish) is the merging of two syllables into one, especially when it causes two words to be pronounced as one. La sinalefa is a phonological phenomenon that is typical of Spanish (and Italian) and it's widely used in all Latin America and Spain. Native speakers use sinalefas unconsciously to add fluidity, speed and concision to what they are saying.
There are basically two types of sinalefas. Let's learn about them using examples from our catalog of videos. Maybe that'll help you catch them next time. And if you have a subscription with us, make sure you click on the link to actually hear how the sinalefas are pronounced!
The first type of sinalefa merges two vowels, the last one and the first one of two contiguous words. A single sentence can contain several of them, for example:
¿Cómo es el departamento comercial de una empresa que trabaja en setenta y dos países?
How is the commercial department of a company that operates in seventy-two countries?
Captions 1-2, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 21Play Caption
So, thanks to the sinalefas, this is how the speaker actually pronounces the sentence: ¿Cómoes el departamento comercial deunaempresa que trabajaen setentay dos países? Yes, the letter "y" counts as a vowel whenever it sounds like the vowel "i."
Here's another example, this time from Colombia:
¿Qué pensaría mi hermano si supiera de este vídeo que estamos filmando?
What would my brother think if he knew about this video that we are filming?
Caption 31, Conjugación - El verbo 'pensar'Play Caption
Again, thanks to the sinalefas, what the girl speaking actually pronounces is: ¿Qué pensaría mihermano si supiera deeste video queestamos filmando? Yes, the consonant "h" doesn't interfere with the sinalefa, because, as you probably already know, this letter is always silent unless it is next to the letter "c."
Now, the second type of sinalefa merges three vowels of two contiguous words. Here's an example:
¿O a usted le gustaría que lo mantuvieran encerrado?
Or would you like for them to keep you locked up?
Caption 21, Kikirikí - Animales - Part 2Play Caption
Oausted is what the character pronounces. Can you try to pronounce it the same way?
Here's another example, from Mexico this time:
cosa que no le corresponde a él.
something that is not his job.
Caption 6, ¡Tierra, Sí! - Atenco - Part 4Play Caption
Finally, one more example that is somewhat extreme. Hear the host of the Colombian show Sub30 posing a question that contains four sinalefas (loop button recommended):
¿Será que eso sólo pasa en nuestra época o ha pasado desde siempre?
Could it be that that only happens nowadays or has it always been like this?
Caption 3, La Sub30 - Familias - Part 7Play Caption
That girl surely speaks fast! Notice that she even merged two words that end and begin with the same consonant “n” into a single one, which, together with the sinalefas, results in what sounds like a super long word: pasaennuestraépocaoha.