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Entorno vs. en torno

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

 

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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The Articles in Spanish Grammar

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

 

What is an article in Spanish?

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

 

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

 

Definite articles in Spanish

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Hoy tengo clase con los alumnos principiantes de español.

Today I have class with the beginner Spanish students.

Caption 5, Español para principiantes - La hora

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

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

 

Indefinite articles in Spanish

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

 

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

 

Let’s look at a couple of examples:

Compré un regalo para unos amigos.

I bought a gift for some friends.

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

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

 

¿Unas entradas para ver un musical?

Some tickets to see a musical?

Caption 35, Blanca y Mariona - Planificación de cena

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

 

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

 

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

 

Explore more lessons:

Lo: the Neuter Article

Irse de boca

A Common Past: ser and ir

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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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The preposition a in Spanish

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

 

Uses of the preposition a in Spanish

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

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

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

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

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Llegué a Londres hace tres meses.

I arrived in London three months ago.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

El horario es de lunes a viernes

The schedule is from Monday to Friday

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

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

Estamos situados a cuarenta kilómetros de Barcelona

We are located forty kilometers from Barcelona

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

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Me levanto todas las mañanas a las siete

I get up every morning at seven o'clock

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

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

A mi hermana le gusta el color rojo.

My sister likes the color red.

Caption 7, Español para principiantes - Los colores

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

So, we buy from people so that...

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

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The contraction al  in Spanish

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

No quiero viajar al mundo espacial

I don't want to travel to the space world

Caption 20, La Gusana Ciega - Invasión Estelar

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pero sí os recomiendo que vengáis aquí al parque

but I do recommend that you come here to the park

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

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

No quiero viajar a el mundo

… que vengáis aquí a el parque

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

 

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

 

Explore more lessons:

The preposition sobre

A que sí / A que no

Ser vs Estar - Yo estoy

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Había or habían muchos libros?

Let’s start this lesson with a short quiz. Imagine that you want to say the following sentence in Spanish:

“There were many books in that apartment.” You have two options:

a. Había muchos libros en ese apartamento

OR

b. Habían muchos libros en ese apartamento

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

 

Using the verb haber in Spanish

To answer our question, we need to say that había and habían belong to the imperfect tense of the Spanish verb haber. Let’s take a look at that conjugation:

 

  • Yo había
  • Tú habías
  • Él/Ella había
  • Nosotros/as habíamos
  • Vosotros/as habíais
  • Ellos/as habían

 

Now, very often, we use the verb haber as the auxiliary verb “to have”:

 

...todas las cosas que había estado buscando, ¿no?

...all the things that I had been looking for, right?

Caption 5, Belanova - Entrevista - Part 2

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However, in the sentence we are discussing here, we are not using haber as the auxiliary verb “to have,” but rather as an element that allows us to make a reference to the existence of many books in a particular place (the apartment). In other words, we are using haber as the equivalent of there is / there are in English.

When we use haber with that intention, we ALWAYS have to use its singular form even if what comes after it is a plural noun! Because of that, the correct answer to our opening question is the following:

a. Había muchos libros en ese apartamento

 

How to use había when talking about existence

Now that we understand that we need to use the singular había and not the plural form habían, let’s look at a couple of examples of how to properly use había when talking about the presence or existence of things or people in a particular place:

 

Aquí había unas comidas para llevar.

There were some takeout places here.

Caption 8, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 10

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porque había diferentes explicaciones de…

because there were different explanations of…

Caption 31, El Aula Azul - Dos historias

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porque había muchos obstáculos para ese encuentro.

because there were many obstacles for that meeting.

Caption 34, La Sub30 - Familias - Part 4

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había muchos seres extraños

and there were many strange beings.

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

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no había máquinas de estas,

there were no machines like these,

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

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By the way, it is worth saying that many Spanish speakers make the mistake of using habían instead of había in the context we just discussed. In fact, many people think that what comes after the verb haber is the subject of the sentence, which is not the case.

That’s it for now. We hope this lesson will help you to avoid making this very common mistake in Spanish. And don’t forget to send us your feedback and suggestions.

 

Explore more lessons:

Using "haber de" to Express Necessity or Possibility

Haber+De+Infinitive: Something you should learn

Va a haber: Related forms of "Hay"

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Regular AR verbs in Spanish

In Spanish language, all infinitive verbs belong to one of the following groups: verbs ending in ‘-ar’, verbs ending in ‘-er’ and verbs ending in ‘-ir’.

 

Likewise, each infinitive verb is formed using the following formula: verb stem + infinitive ending. Let’s look at some of the most common regular ‘AR’ verbs in Spanish:

 

  • Hablar (to speak) = Habl + ar
  • Comprar (to buy) = Compr + ar
  • Estudiar  (to study) = Estudi + ar

 

What makes a verb regular?

A verb is considered regular when the verb stem doesn’t change from the infinitive form to the conjugated form of the verb. Let’s take the regular verb hablar (to speak) and see its conjugation in the simple present. Notice how the stem stays the same but the endings vary:

 

  • Yo hablo (I speak)
  • Tú hablas (You speak)
  • Él/Ella habla (He/She speaks)
  • Nosotros/as hablamos (We speak)
  • Vosotros/as habláis (You speak)
  • Ellos/as hablan (They speak)

 

... o cuando mis alumnos hablan español.

... or when my students speak Spanish.

Caption 84, Lecciones con Carolina - Adjetivos posesivos - Part 2

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

 

  • Yo compré (I bought)
  • Tú compraste (You bought)
  • Él/Ella compró (He/She bought)
  • Nosotros/as compramos (We bought)
  • Vosotros/as comprasteis (You bought)
  • Ellos/as compraron (They bought)

 

¿Recuerdas el regalo que compré? -Mm-hm.

Do you remember the gift that I bought? -Mm-hm.

Caption 17, El Aula Azul - La Doctora Consejos - El pasado

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Let’s use a different verb to see the conjugation of a regular ‘AR’ verb in the simple future. Let’s take the verb estudiar (to study):

 

  • Yo estudiaré (I will study)
  • Tú estudiarás (You will study)
  • Él/Ella estudiará (He/She will study)
  • Nosotros/as estudiaremos (We will study)
  • Vosotros/as estudiaréis (You will study)
  • Ellos/as estudiarán (They will study)

 

La Comisaría de Pesca dice que estudiará la forma de pagar esa indemnización.

The Fisheries Commissioner says that she will evaluate the way to pay that compensation.

Caption 50, Europa Abierta - Aguas en discordia

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Do you want to know more regular ‘AR’ verbs in Spanish?

Take a look at the following list featuring some of the most used 'AR' verbs in Spanish:

 

  • Cantar (to sing) 
  • Bailar (to dance) 
  • Bajar (to go down) 
  • Caminar (to walk) 
  • Contestar (to answer) 
  • Descansar (to rest) 
  • Entrar (to enter) 
  • Escuchar (to listen to) 
  • Llegar (to arrive)
  • Limpiar (to clean)

 

Now, a final challenge: take one of the verbs we just mentioned and try conjugating it in simple present, past and future. And don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions.

 

Explore more lessons:

The complicated world of reflexive verbs

Combining verbs in Spanish - Part 1 - Infinitives

Combining verbs in Spanish - Part 2- Gerundios y participios

 

 

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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 newsletter@yabla.com.

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, usted and vos

Let's talk about pronouns. In English, when we talk with someone we use the second person singular pronoun ‘you’. In Spanish, we have three different options for that same pronoun: usted and vos. Which one we use depends on things like the relation that we have with the person we are talking to or the place where we are. Generally speaking, we use usted when we want to talk in a more respectful way with someone:

¿Usted qué... qué me recomienda, doctor?

What do you... what do you recommend to me, Doctor?

Caption 14, Los médicos explican - El tratamiento de las fracturas - Part 1

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However, if you are following the Colombian series Los Años Maravillosos, you have probably noticed that people usually use usted even when talking with family members or close friends. Why? That’s just how people speak in Bogota, Colombia:

¿Y a usted qué le pasa, mi hijito?

And what's going on with you, my little boy?

Caption 35, Los Años Maravillosos - Capítulo 1 - Part 4

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Regardless of its use, there is something quite unique about using usted:  we conjugate usted as we would conjugate él (he) or ella (she):

Él trabaja entre las nueve de la mañana

He works between nine in the morning

Caption 48, La casa - De Chus

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¿Dónde trabaja usted?

Where do you work?

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

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As you can see in the captions above, the conjugation of the verb trabajar (to work) with él (he) and usted (you) is exactly the same (trabaja), something that doesn’t occur with  and vos:

Tú trabajas | You work
Vos trabajás | You work
Él/Ella/Usted Trabaja | He/She/You work


To wrap things up, we use usted as a second person singular pronoun. However, we conjugate it as a third person singular pronoun!
 
And don’t forget that this also occurs with the plural form ustedes (you all), which we conjugate as the third person plural pronoun ellos/ellas (they). Notice how ustedes and ellos share the same conjugation of the verb saber (to know) in the following captions:

Toda la vida he estado en el PAN, como ustedes saben, y he estado muy contento.

All my life I have been in PAN, as you know, and I have been very happy.

Caption 37, Felipe Calderón - Publicidad - Part 2

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Ellos saben de los sitios que son hábitat de reproducción,

They know about the places that are reproduction habitats,

Caption 31, Instinto de conservación - Parque Tayrona - Part 2

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That's it for now. If you want to learn more things about the use of usted and vos make sure to check out our series about Tuteo, Ustedeo y Voseo. And don’t forget to send us your feedback and suggestions.

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The preposition sobre in Spanish

Let's talk about prepositions! Today, we will discuss a very useful preposition that also has lots of meanings. Our guest today is the preposition sobre!

 

How to use the preposition sobre in Spanish

 

We usually use sobre as the equivalent of the English preposition about (with regard to):

 

Os voy a contar a... cosas sobre uno de los lugares más típicos de Barcelona

I'm going to tell you about... things about one of the most typical places in Barcelona

Caption 24, Blanca - Sobre la ciudad de Barcelona

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Te cité porque quiero escribir un libro sobre meditación,

I called you here because I want to write a book about meditation,

Caption 6, Escribiendo un libro - Algunos consejos sobre cómo comenzar - Part 1

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The preposition sobre can also be used as the equivalent of the English adverb about (approximately) when we want to indicate an approximate time, quantity or number:

 

Perfecto. Y, ¿sobre qué hora te vendría bien?

Perfect. And, about what time would be good for you?

Caption 14, Raquel y Marisa - Español Para Negocios - Nuestro perfil profesional en la red

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Very often, the preposition sobre indicates the position of a particular person or object. In this case, sobre acts as the English prepositions over and on:

 

No quieras caminar sobre el dolor... descalza

Don't wish to walk over the pain... barefoot

Caption 6, Camila - Aléjate de mi

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Vamos a ponerlas sobre un papel aluminio.

We are going to put them on a piece of aluminum foil.

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

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While we usually use sobre as a preposition, this isn’t always the case. For instance, the preposition sobre is often used next to the word todo to form the adverbial phrase sobre todo, which means especially or particularly. You can see how the following sentence uses both sobre (about) and sobre todo (especially):
 

hay varios artículos sobre esto y sobre todo en dependencia a la edad del niño

there are several articles about this and especially depending on the age of the child,

Caption 85, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 4

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Don't get confused with envelope in Spanish

 

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

 

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

and which are in this envelope that are sent to Claridad

Caption 56, Seva Vive - 2. La copla

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de recoger todos esos sobres que repartió la Mojiganga...

of collecting all those envelopes that the Mojiganga gave out...

Caption 35, Estado Falcón - Locos de la Vela - Part 3

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That's all for now. Try to write some sentences with all the different uses that we mentioned for the word sobre. And don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to newsletter@yabla.com.

Continuar lendo

Idiomatic expressions with the verb Tener

In this lesson, we will review some very useful idioms and expressions with the verb tener (to have).
 
Very often, we use idiomatic expressions with tener in the present so let’s review the conjugation of this verb in the present tense:
 
Yo tengo | I have
Tú tienes | You have
Él/Ella tiene | He/She has
Nosotros tenemos | We have
Vosotros tenéis | You have
Ellos tienen | They have
 
There are many idiomatic expressions with the verb tener that Spanish speakers use to express physical sensations. These include expressions like tener frío/calor (to be cold/hot), tener hambre (to be hungry) and tener sueño (to be sleepy):

Bueno, pero tengo frío.

Well, but I'm cold.

Caption 31, Natalia de Ecuador - Palabras de uso básico

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Y más que tenemos hambre ya a esta hora.

And plus, we're already hungry at this hour.

Caption 106, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 5

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Tenemos sueño.

We are sleepy.

Caption 38, El Aula Azul - Estados de ánimo

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Apart from physical sensations, we can also use the verb tener to express other more psychological states such as tener miedo (to be afraid), tener ganas (to want/to desire), tener prisa (to be in a hurry) and tener vergüenza (to be ashamed):

¡Tengo miedo, tengo miedo, tengo miedo!

I'm afraid, I'm afraid, I'm afraid!

Caption 42, Muñeca Brava - 43 La reunión - Part 2

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Siento que te cansaste y tienes ganas

I feel that you got tired and you want

Caption 4, Circo - Velocidades luz

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la gente parece que siempre tiene prisa...

people seem to always be in a hurry...

Caption 38, Maestra en Madrid - Nuria y amigo

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En este momento duda porque tiene vergüenza de ir a la escuela,

At this moment she hesitates because she's ashamed to go to school,

Caption 49, Con ánimo de lucro - Cortometraje - Part 4

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And finally, don’t forget that you also need to use an idiomatic expression with the verb tener when you talk about age:
 

Tengo veintiún años y soy estudiante de negocios internacionales.

I'm twenty-one years old and I'm a student of international business.

Caption 2, Amigos D.F. - Consejos para la calle

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That's all for now. We challenge you to try finding more idiomatic expressions with the verb tener in our catalog of videos! And don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to newsletter@yabla.com.

Continuar lendo

Palabras agudas: Stress at the end

Let's talk about stress. In Spanish, all words are stressed on one syllable. Depending on the syllable where that stress falls, words in Spanish are divided into the following four groups:
 
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 newsletter@yabla.com.

Continuar lendo

A Common Past: Ser and Ir

We all know that irregular verbs are tricky. Very often, however, we can take advantage of those special rules that make the learning process a bit easier. Today, we will explore the past tense of the irregular verbs ser (to be) and ir (to go).
 
First of all, the good news: the verbs ser and ir share the same simple past conjugation! By simple past, we are referring to what is known in Spanish as pretérito perfecto simple or just pretérito (preterit). Let’s review the simple past conjugation of the verb ser:

Yo fui | I was
Tú fuiste | You were
Él/Ella fue | He/She was
Nosotros fuimos | We were
Vosotros fuisteis | You were
Ellos fueron | They were

 

Pensar que un día fui la respuesta

To think that one day I was the answer

Caption 15, Belanova - Tal vez

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Aprendí que los primeros en hacer cómic fueron los aztecas.

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

Captions 47-48, Antonio Vargas - Artista - Comic

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And now, let’s take a look at the simple past conjugation of the verb ir:

Yo fui | I went
Tú fuiste | You went
Él/Ella fue | He/She went
Nosotros fuimos | We went
Vosotros fuisteis | You went
Ellos fueron | They went

 

Y sí, definitivamente fuimos a tomar un café, fuimos a cenar.

And yes, we definitely went for a coffee, went to dinner.

Caption 18, Enanitos Verdes - Luz de día

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¿Y te fuiste a vivir con tu novio con cuánto? -Con diecisiete.

And you went to live with your boyfriend when you were how old? -I was seventeen.

Caption 92, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 14

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We also use the simple past conjugation of the verb ir for the reflexive form irse (to leave):

Yo me fui de la casa cuando tenía nueve años.

I left home when I was nine years old.

Caption 41, La Sub30 - Familias - Part 5

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Desde aquel día que te fuiste, supe que eras para mí

From that day on which you left, I knew you were for me

Caption 1, Andy Andy - Maldito Amor

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That's all for now. But before we leave, a short exercise for you: Write 10 sentences in simple past with the verb ser and 10 sentences with the verb ir. And don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to newsletter@yabla.com.

Continuar lendo

First, Second and Third: The Ordinal Numbers

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

Continuar lendo

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 newsletter@yabla.com.

Continuar lendo

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 newsletter@yabla.com.

Continuar lendo

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 newsletter@yabla.com.

Continuar lendo

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 newsletter@yabla.com.

Continuar lendo

De ojos y narices

Let's continue learning idiomatic expressions in Spanish. This time, we’ll focus on expressions that use body parts.
 
Let’s start with nariz (nose). Spanish speakers use the plural form narices (noses) instead of the singular form nariz (nose) quite frequently. To do something in front of somebody's narices means to do something right in front of that person, desvergonzadamente (shamelessly):

 

Ese tipo se me burló hoy en las narices.
That guy today made fun of me in my face.

Te estás burlando de Lola en sus narices.
You're making fun of Lola in her face.

 

But meter las narices (stick one nose in) means entrometerse (to meddle) in other people's business, just like in English:

 

 No metas las narices en este asunto.
Don't stick your nose into this.

 

Let's move to el ojo (the eye). You can say mucho ojo (literally, a lot of eye) to ask someone to keep his or her eyes open, to be alert, to be careful:

 

Amigo, mucho ojo con la circular de la Interpol, ¿bueno? -Sí, señor.

Friend, be very careful with the Interpol newsletter, OK? -Yes, sir.

Caption 21, Carlos comenta - Confidencial - Vocabulario y expresiones

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Variations of mucho ojo are pon mucho ojo (literally, put a lot of eye in it), abre bien los ojos(wide open your eyes), mantén los ojos abiertos (keep your eyes open), etc. Or you can just say ojo (eye!):

 

¡Ojo que viene la estampida!

Watch out, as the stampede is coming!

Caption 44, Kikirikí - Animales - Part 2

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The expression hacer mal de ojo (give the evil eye) is also very common. It can be shortened to hacer ojo. Some examples are: descubre quién te hizo mal de ojo (get to discover who gave you the evil eye), el mal de ojo no existe, no seas supersticioso (the evil eye doesn't exist, don't be superstitious), me parece que alguien te hizo ojo por envidia (it seems to me that someone gave you the evil eye out of envy).
 
OK. Let's wrap it up with a cute expression. It's used to excuse yourself when you shed a tear out of sentimentality, happiness, emotion, etc. The expression is in tension between denial and acceptance, and sometimes people even use it to actually deny that they have been crying, for any reason. For example:

 

No, yo no salí llorando, lo que pasa es que me... me... me entró una basurita en el ojo y... ¿Qué? 
No, I didn't run out crying, the thing is that I... I... got a little junk in my eye and... So what?

 

A variant of the same expression is me entró una mugre en el ojo (I got some dirt in my eye) and, make a note, you can also use both expressions literally, given the unfortunate occasion.
 
That's all for this lesson. There're many more idiomatic expressions that use the word ojo(eye) in Spanish. Try typing dar en el ojo and pegar un ojo in our videos search tool to discover some of them! Don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to newsletter@yabla.com.

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