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How Do You Say "Good Luck" in Spanish?

According to Holden Caulfield in J.D Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye: "I'd never yell, 'Good luck!' at anybody. It sounds terrible, when you think about it." Well... whether or not you agree with this somewhat cynical viewpoint, most of us can concur that everyone could use a little extra luck, and every culture employs different expressions to wish others well. In fact, Spanish-speakers are very likely to use many of these daily! So... how do you say "good luck" in Spanish? Today's lesson will teach you a plethora of ways.

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Buena suerte

The most literal translation for "good luck" in Spanish is buena suerte. Let's hear it in action:

 

¡Buena suerte!

Good luck!

Caption 91, Extr@: Extra en español Ep. 2: Sam va de compras - Part 6

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There are many variations of (buena) suerte, including mucha suerte (lots of luck), which are often used with the subjunctive form of the verb tener (to have) in expressions like Que tengas mucha suerte (I hope you have a lot of luck) or the verb desear (to wish) as in Te deseo mucha/buena suerte (I wish you a lot of/good luck). 

 

Suerte

Another way to say "good luck" in Spanish is to say simply "Suerte," which literally means just "Luck." 

 

Suerte, Fernando. 

Good luck, Fernando.

Caption 23, Confidencial: Asesino al Volante Capítulo 3 - Part 8

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In Latin America, you might notice that both people you know well and people you just met, such as store clerks and taxi drivers, will often say this to you when you depart. 
 

La mejor de las suertes

Another common expression to wish someone "the best of luck" in Spanish is La mejor de las suertes, which could be said alone or with the verb desear :

 

te deseamos la mejor de las suertes, ¿oís? 

we wish you the best of luck, you hear?

Caption 47, La Sucursal del Cielo Capítulo 1 - Part 5

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Éxito(s)

Saying ¡É​xito! (Success!) to someone in the singular or plural is another way of wishing someone "good luck" in Spanish, which could also be used with the verb desear:

 

Les deseamos muchos éxitos, ehm... 

We wish you a lot of success, um...

Caption 68, Doctor Krápula Entrevista

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Así que les deseo lo mejor, éxito en todo

So I wish you the best, [I wish you] success with everything

Caption 66, Outward Bound Danny

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Note that this second example contains yet another way of wishing someone well in Spanish: desear(le a alguien) lo mejor, or "wishing (someone) the best." Another alternative to this manner of wishing someone good luck and best wishes in Spanish is to say simply Mis mejores deseos (My best wishes). 

 

Que te vaya bien

Que te vaya bien is yet another expression that friends and strangers alike often utter to wish you good luck and best wishes in Spanish. It's literal meaning is "(I hope) everything goes well for you," but it might sometimes be translated with the similarly well-wishing English phrase "Take care":

 

¡Qué te vaya bien! -¡Qué te vaya bien! ¡Qué tengas suerte! -¡Chao! -¡Chao! ¡Suerte! ¡Chao! 

Take care! -Take care! Good luck! -Bye! -Bye! Good luck! Bye!

Captions 67-69, Salvando el planeta Palabra Llegada - Part 5

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Cruzar los dedos 

Just like English-speakers, Spanish speakers sometimes use the phrase cruzar los dedos (to cross one's fingers) to describe a superstitious action thought to promote good luck.

 

Bueno pues, crucemos los dedos para que todo salga bien

Well then, let's cross our fingers for everything to go well

Caption 17, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 4 - Part 12

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(Mucha) mierda

Yep, you read that right! Although it literally means "crap" or "shit," telling someone ¡Mierda! or ¡Mucha mierda! (A lot of crap) is one to say "good luck" in Spanish slang and can be thought of as an equivalent expression to the English "Break a leg!" Interestingly, in the theater world, Spanish speakers often use the French version, merde.

 

Now that you know how to say "Good luck" in Spanish, we'd like to leave you with the following:

 

OK, buena suerte al aprender español.

Okay, good luck learning Spanish.

Caption 29, Cabarete Escuela de trapecio

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And don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments!

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The Many Uses of the Spanish Verb Echar

The Spanish verb echar can be used in many different ways and appears in a host of different Spanish idiomatic expressions. Let's explore the many meanings and uses of the Spanish verb echar.

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Standard Meanings of the Verb Echar

While the first definition of echar in dictionaries is typically "to throw," it can refer to any literal or figurative movement from one point to another and can thus be translated in many fashions depending upon the context. Let's take a look at several of its most common meanings with examples from our Yabla Spanish library.

 

To Throw:

Although the Spanish verb echar can literally mean "to throw," "toss," or "hurl" something, it is probably more common to hear verbs like tirar, lanzar, or arrojar used with this meaning. That said, let's take a look at an example where echar means to physically throw something:

 

y le echas harina y se lo pones en el pelo y... ¡Chwak!

and you throw flour on her and you put it in her hair and... Bam!

Caption 17, Club 10 Capítulo 1 - Part 1

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To Throw Out/Away:

The Spanish verb echar can also be used in the way we use the verbs "to throw" something "out" or "away," whether literally or figuratively. Let's look at an example of each: 

 

Por lo general, tenemos cuatro contenedores: el azul, donde echamos el papel, cartón, revistas, 

Generally, we have four trash bins: the blue one, where we throw away paper, cardboard, magazines,

Captions 3-4, Rosa Reciclar

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Todo estaba tranquilo y lo echaste a la basura

Everything was calm and you threw it in the garbage

Caption 3, Sondulo Que te vaya mal

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To Add/Put in:

The verb echar in Spanish often appears in recipes and other contexts when talking about "adding" or "putting in" some ingredient, etc. Let's take a look:

 

Le voy a echar un poco de nata...

I'm going to add a bit of cream to it...

Caption 47, Cómetelo Crema de brócoli - Part 9

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Bueno, también le podemos echar diferentes clases de condimentos.

Well, we can also put in different kinds of seasoning.

Caption 24, Cocinando con Miguelito Pollo sudado - Part 2

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To Pour:

Along these same lines, echar can also be used to mean to pour something into something else: 

 

Solo falta echarla en el molde 

We just need to pour it into the mold

Caption 38, Cleer y Lía El día de la madre

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To Kick Out/Throw Out/Expel/Fire: 

The verb echar in Spanish may also refer to getting rid of someone in the sense of throwing or kicking them out, temporarily or permanently:

 

No sé qué hace este señor todavía acá, lo eché esta misma tarde.

I don't know what this gentleman is still doing here. I threw him out this very afternoon.

Caption 33, Muñeca Brava 3 Nueva Casa - Part 4

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Se mueren por saber por qué echó a la chirusa.

They're dying to know why she fired the vulgar girl.

Caption 42, Carlos y Cyndy Comentario sobre Muñeca Brava

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To Expel/Emit/Give Off: 

And speaking of "expelling" and "fire," the verb echar in Spanish can also mean to "expel," "emit," "give off," or "spew" fire or smoke, for example: 

 

Pero eso no lo iba a entender un dragón al que solo le interesaba rugir y echar fuego por la boca.

But a dragon who was only interested in roaring and spewing fire from his mouth wasn't going to get it.

Caption 49, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 1 - Part 7

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To Start:

And, to conclude with our more standard uses of the Spanish verb echar, the formula echar + infinitive means "to start" [doing something]:

 

y ven la batidora, echan a correr.

and they see the blender, they start to run.

Caption 31, Cómetelo Crema de brócoli - Part 8

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This meaning might also be seen with the reflexive version of the verb, echarse.

 

Pero ya las lágrimas se echaban a correr

But the tears were starting to fall

Caption 8, Jeremías Uno y uno igual a tres

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More Meanings of the Reflexive Verb Echarse

Let's take a look at some additional uses of the reflexive verb echarse. 

 

 

To Lie Down/Get Down/Throw Oneself

The reflexive verb echarse can be used to talk about "lying down" as in Me voy a echar en la cama (I'm going to lie down in bed) or generally "throwing oneself" or "getting down":

 

Los hombres que cuando se les dicen de echarse al suelo es que no quieren ninguno.

When men are told to get down on the ground, the thing is that no one wants to.

Captions 52-53, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 8

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To Move

The reflexive verb echarse can additionally have the connotation of moving from one place to another, as in the first example, and is therefore heard often in songs, as in the second, with various translations to tell people how they should move.

 

donde el pueblo se echa a la calle junto a miles de visitantes

where the town goes out onto the street along with thousands of visitors

Caption 57, Viajando con Fermín Frigiliana, Málaga

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Échate pa' un lado

Move aside

Caption 8, Javier García EPK - Part 2

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Idiomatic Expressions with the Spanish Verb Echar

Now, let's look at several Spanish idioms that involve the Spanish verbs echar or echarse with examples in context:

 

Echar la culpa (to blame)

 

¡Y me echó la culpa de todo!

And she blamed everything on me!

Caption 13, Guillermina y Candelario La Peluqueria del Mar - Part 1

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Echarse a reír/llorar (to burst out laughing/crying)

 

El marido se echó a reír al ver la cara de sorpresa de su esposa.

The husband burst out laughing when he saw his wife's surprised face.

Caption 32, Cleer El espejo de Matsuyama

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Después de haberse marchado todos, estaba sola en casa y se echó a llorar.

After everyone had left, she was alone in the house and burst out crying.

Captions 29-30, Cuentos de hadas Cenicienta - Part 1

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Echar la/una siesta (to take a nap/siesta)

 

Después de comer, solemos echar la siesta

After eating, we usually take a nap

Caption 20, El Aula Azul Actividades Diarias

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Echar la llave (to lock)

 

Ahora cerramos la puerta, echamos la llave

Now we close the door, we lock it,

Caption 12, Escuela BCNLIP Clase con Javi: el futuro - Part 1

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Echar de menos (to miss)

 

De España echo mucho de menos el clima,

From Spain, I really miss the weather,

Caption 39, Álvaro Arquitecto Español en Londres

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Echar la/una mano (to lend a hand)

 

para que nos eche una mano y les vamos a dar

so that he can lend us a hand and we are going to give them

Caption 50, Club de las ideas Bioparc

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Echar(le) un vistazo (to take a look)

 

De acuerdo, deje que eche un vistazo.

OK, let me take a look.

Caption 63, Negocios Empezar en un nuevo trabajo - Part 2

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Echarle ganas (to work hard)

 

Así es y pues aquí mira, trabajando, echándole ganas y...

It's so, and well, [we] are here, [you] see, working, giving it my all and...

Caption 17, Edificio en Construcción Hablando con los trabajadores - Part 2

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Echar a perder (to mess up/spoil/ruin or bankrupt)

 

No puedo, negrita, ya eché a perder como diez laburo'.

I can't, honey. I already messed up like ten jobs.

Caption 3, Muñeca Brava 3 Nueva Casa - Part 5

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Echar (más) leña al fuego (to add (more) fuel to the fire)

 

¡Callate, Rufino! No eches más leña al fuego, ¿querés?

Shut up, Rufino! Don't put more wood into the fire [don't add fuel to the fire], will you?

Caption 23, Yago 8 Descubrimiento - Part 2

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Echar las campanas al vuelo (to vehemently celebrate prematurely)

 

Todavía no ha jugado el partido de fútbol y ya está "echando las campanas al vuelo", 

He hasn't played the soccer match yet, and he's already "throwing the bells in the air,"

Captions 45-46, Aprendiendo con Silvia Campanas - Part 2

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Although the literal meaning is totally different, this Spanish expression is comparable to the English idiom about "counting one's chickens before they are hatched." For more such examples, check out this lesson on Spanish idioms and their (very different) English equivalents.

 

As there are so many standard and idiomatic ways to use the Spanish verb echar that it would be impossible to name them all, we've provided just a smattering! Don't hesitate to write to us with any more you come across, or with any ideas for future lessons. ¡Hasta la próxima!

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How Do You Say "No" in Spanish?

How do you say "no" in Spanish? Today's lesson will teach you a multitude of ways!

 

Saying "No" in Spanish

If you are wondering how to say "no" in Spanish, like in English, there are many different ways. For starters, we could just say "no" like we do in English (with a slightly different pronunciation, of course)!

 

Elena, por favor, ¿te sentís bien? No.

Elena, please, do you feel alright? No.

Captions 1-2, Yago 13 La verdad - Part 5

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How Do You Say "No, Thank You" in Spanish?

For a more polite choice, use the Spanish equivalent of "No, thank you":

 

¿Quieres? No, gracias. Tengo unas galletas aquí.

Do you want [some]? No, thank you. I have some cookies here.

Captions 12-13, Conversaciones en el parque Cap. 2: Cafe y bocadillos

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How Do You Say "No Way" in Spanish?

To answer with a more emphatic "no," try one of the many expressions that mean "No way" in Spanish. The first one can be translated quite literally:

 

No, de ninguna manera. 

No, no way.

Caption 45, Muñeca Brava 18 - La Apuesta - Part 6

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Now, let's look at some additional options. Qué va is another way to say "no way" in Spanish:
 

¿No muerde, no, Suso? -No, qué va

He doesn't bite, right, Suso? -Right, no way.

Caption 22, Animales en familia Un día en Bioparc: Coatís

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Yet another equivalent of "no way" in Spanish is ni hablar, which literally means that the person answering "doesn't even" want "to talk" about something:
 

Eh... Entonces de hablar, ni hablar

Um... Then about talking, no way.

Caption 85, Muñeca Brava 47 Esperanzas - Part 10

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And finally, ni de broma literally means "Not even as a joke," as in the following examples:
 

¿Quieres salir conmigo? -¡Ni de broma!

Do you want to go out with me? -No way!

 

¡No te escapas ni de broma! -¡El arma secreta del grupo! -¡Hombre! 

There's no way you'll get out of this! -The secret weapon of the band! -Man!

Caption 56, Orishas Entrevista Canal Plus

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How Do You Say "Of Course Not" in Spanish?

To remember how to say "Of course not" in Spanish, let's first recall two ways to say "Of course," claro and por supuesto, then look at their negative versions:

 

¡Por supuesto que no! ¡No! ¿Mm? 

Of course not! No! Hmm?

Caption 44, Extr@: Extra en español Ep. 4: Sam busca un trabajo - Part 3

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No, no, no, claro que no. Además... 

No, no, no, of course not. Besides...

Caption 37, NPS No puede ser 1 - El concurso - Part 11

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How Do You Say "Don't Even Think About It" in Spanish?

While the first, most literal way to say "Don't even think about it" in Spanish is Ni lo pienses, there are several others, such as Ni se te ocurra, which literally means "Don't even let it occur to you":

 

Si yo dejé mi departamento... -Ni se te ocurra

If I left my apartment... -Don't even think about it.

Caption 14, Muñeca Brava 45 El secreto - Part 6

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Let's see one more:

 

¡Ni lo sueñes!

Don't even think about it [literally "Don't even dream about it"]!

Caption 19, Extr@: Extra en español Ep. 7: La gemela - Part 5

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An alternative variation would be: ¡Ni en tus sueños! In English, of course, we would merely say "In your dreams" (as opposed to the literal translation "Not in your dreams").   

 

How Do You Say "I Don't Feel Like It" in Spanish?

In Spanish, a common way to say you're just not in the mood (to do something) is no tener ganas de + infinitive, as follows

 

Dale. -Sí. -Sí. -Te toca. Gracias, Merycita, pero no tengo ganas de jugar.

Go ahead. -Yes. -Yes. -It's your turn. Thank you, Merycita, but I don't feel like playing.

Captions 57-58, Club 10 Capítulo 1 - Part 3

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To say simply "I don't feel like it," you might choose No tengo ganas or the alternative expression No me da la gana.

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More Dramatic Ways to Say "No" in Spanish

Let's look at a few more common Spanish expressions that make abundantly clear that one's answer is negative: 

 

No, no, no, para nada, no, ¿cómo se te ocurre?

No, no, no, not at all, no, how can you think that?

Caption 12, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 4 - Part 8

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De eso nada. ¡Es mía, sólo mía!

None of that. It's mine, just mine!

Caption 21, Los casos de Yabla Problemas de convivencia - Part 1

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No, en absoluto.

No, absolutely not.

Caption 76, Muñeca Brava 7 El poema - Part 8

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And, let's conclude with the most dramatic option of all:

 

¡¿Estás loco o qué?! 

Are you crazy or what?!

Caption 34, Extr@: Extra en español Ep. 4: Sam busca un trabajo - Part 1

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We hope you've enjoyed this lesson on how to say "no" in Spanish. Can you think of any additional Spanish ways to say "no"? Don't forget to let us know!

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15 Spanish Words that Start with W

There are many words in English that start with the letter W. But, what about Spanish? How many Spanish words that start with W do you know? If you can't think of any, we would like to invite you to read this lesson, where we will unveil some of the most commonly used words that start with W in Spanish.

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A Couple of Things about the Letter W in Spanish

To begin with, the letter W is one of the letters of the Spanish alphabet. However, since this letter wasn't part of the Latin language, its adoption into the Spanish language came from terms and words that are original to other languages (extranjerismos).

 

In terms of the name and pronunciation of this consonant, as there are many ways of referring to the letter W in Spanish, you can use any the following four options:

 

1. uve doble

2. ve doble

3. doble ve

4. doble u

 

Let's hear the pronunciation of the recommended option uve doble:

 

te, u, uve, uve doble,

t, u, v, w,

Caption 23, Fundamentos del Español 1 - El Alfabeto

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And let's see how to pronounce the alternative option doble ve:

 

ve, doble ve, equis, ye, zeta.

v, w, x, y, z.

Caption 11, Graciela Alfabeto y formación de sílabas

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Now that we know the various names for this letter and the type of words that contain it, let's take a look at some of the most common words that start with the letter W in Spanish.

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Technology-Related Spanish Words That Start with W

There are several technology-related words in Spanish that start with W. Please keep in mind that most of them are terms that have been borrowed from the English language with the same spelling. Let's look at a few:

 

1. walkie-talkie (walkie-talkie)

 

2. walkman (walkman)

 

3. watt (watt)

Even though the Spanish term vatio is the recommended one for its English equivalent, the word watt is also accepted. 

 

4. web (web)

The word "web" is used in Spanish in the same way as in English. However, this term can also be employed when talking about a single website or web page:

 

Más información en esta web.

More information on this website.

Caption 9, Tecnópolis Viaje por la red

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5. webinario (webinar)

Keep in mind that you can also use the term seminario web when talking about a webinar in Spanish.

 

6. wifi (Wi-Fi)

 

Tenemos también wifi y hay ordenadores disponibles.

We also have Wi-Fi and there are computers available.

Caption 20, El Aula Azul Las actividades de la escuela - Part 1

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Spanish Words That Start with W That Come from English 

As we saw in the previous section, there are many Spanish W words that come from the English language. Let's see some more:

 

7. windsurf (wind surf)

 

8. whisky (whisky)

 

9. washingtoniano/na (Washingtonian)

 

10. waterpolo (water polo)

You might also see the term waterpolista to describe a water polo player. 

 

Additional Words That Start with W in Spanish

English is not the only language that has given Spanish some of its W words. There are numerous words in Spanish that start with W that come from other languages. Let's take a look.

 

11. wagneriano/na (Wagnerian)- from German

 

12. wahabismo (Wahhabism)- from Arabic

 

13. wantán (wonton)- from Chinese

 

14. wasabi (wasabi)- from Japanese

 

de salsa de soja o wasabi

with soy sauce or wasabi,

Caption 32, El Aula Azul Adivinanzas de comidas - Part 2

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15. westfaliano/na (Westphalian)- from German

 

 

As you can see, there are some easy Spanish words that start with W as well as some more challenging ones. Can you think of any additional words that start with W in Spanish? Be sure to let us know, and don't forget to leave us your questions and comments

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El Zodiaco 101

What is el Zodiaco (the zodiac)? In la astronomía (astronomy) and la astrología (astrology), this word (or its alternative spelling, Zodíaco) refers to a band in el cielo (the sky) that los cuerpos celestes (celestial bodies) like el Sol (the Sun), la Luna (the Moon), and los planetas (the planets) appear to move through when viewed from la Tierra (the Earth). This band includes twelve constelaciones (constellations) named for los signos del Zodiaco (the zodiac signs), which said celestial bodies are said to be "in" when moving into the portion of this band that includes them. One's zodiac sign is thus determined by the constellation the sun was in on his or her fecha de nacimiento (birthdate in Spanish).

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Signos y fechas (Signs and Dates)

Armed with this understanding, let's take a look at the Spanish names for the twelve signs of the zodiac, as well as the date ranges for each (you might want to review this lesson on the months in Spanish):

 

Aries21 de marzo al 19 de abril

                (Aries: March 21st to April 19th)

 

Tauro: 20 de abril al 20 de mayo

                (Taurus: April 20th to May 20th)

 

Géminis:  21 de mayo al 20 de junio

                (Gemini: May 21st to June 20th)

 

Cáncer:  21 de junio al 22 de julio

                (Cancer: June 21st to July 22nd)

 

Leo: 23 de julio al 22 de agosto 

                (Leo: July 23rd to August 22nd)

 

Virgo: 23 de agosto al 22 de septiembre

                (Virgo: August 23rd to September 22nd)

 

Libra: 23 de septiembre al 22 de octubre 

                (Libra: September 23rd to October 22nd)

 

Escorpio/Escorpión23 de octubre al 21 de noviembre 

                (Scorpio: October 23rd to November 21st)

 

Sagitario: 22 de noviembre al 21 de diciembre 

                (Sagittarius: November 21st to December 19th)

 

Capricornio: 22 de diciembre al 19 de enero 

                (Capricorn: December 22nd to January 19th)

 

Acuario: 20 de enero al 18 de febrero 

                (Aquarius: January 20th to February 18th)

 

Piscis19 de febrero al 20 de marzo 

                (Pisces: February 19th to March 20th)

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Types of Signs

The twelve zodiac signs are furthermore grouped into four elementos (elements): aire (air), agua (water), fuego (fire), and tierra (earth). Let's take a look at which signs fall into each of these categories:

 

Los signos de fuego (The Fire Signs): Aries, Leo, Sagitario

 

Los signos de aire (The Air Signs): Géminis, Libra, Acuario

 

Los signos de agua (The Water Signs):  Cáncer, Escorpio, Piscis

 

Los signos de tierra (The Earth Signs): Tauro, Virgo, Capricornio

 

What's Your Sign?

So, how do you ask someone what his or her sign is in Spanish? The most common way is "¿Qué signo eres/es?" or "What sign are you?" with tú (informal "you") or usted (formal "you"). The answer might be Yo soy Tauro (I'm a Taurus), etc. However, you might notice that in some countries like Argentina, they tend to use the preposition de (of/from) to ask and answer this question, as in the following examples:

 

¿Y de qué signo sos? Yo, de Sagitario

And what is your sign? Me, Sagittarius.

Captions 82-83, Muñeca Brava 3 Nueva Casa - Part 8

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Sí, la madre superiora es de Aries ¡y la verdad que tiene un humor! Es re agreta. 

Yes, the Mother Superior is Aries and the truth is that she has a temper! She is so grumpy.

Captions 80-81, Muñeca Brava 36 La pesquisa - Part 10

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Horoscopes and Astrological Charts

As we can see from the second quote above, specific astrological signs and elements tend to be associated with certain rasgos de personalidad (character traits). Of course, as not all members of a particular sign can be exactly alike, a tool for predecir (predicting) a person's personality in a more detailed fashion is una carta astral (astrological chart):

 

Nos valemos de la carta astral, que es la fotografía que se toma del cielo en el momento en que alguien nace, para ver la ubicación que tenían los planetas en ese momento 

We use the astrological chart, which is the photograph that is taken of the sky at the moment in which someone is born, to see the location that the planets had at that moment

Captions 5-7, Conversaciones con Luis Astrología

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And, in addition to predicting a person's character, one's future is thought, by proponents of astrology, to be predecible (predictable) based on his or her chart. Said predictions are called los horóscopos (horoscopes), and more generalized versions for the twelve signs can often be seen in newspapers and magazines:  

 
 

Cáncer: Hoy habrá problemas en casa. 

Cancer: Today there will be problems at home.

Caption 1, Extr@: Extra en español Ep. 6: El día de la Primitiva - Part 5

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However, just like you can't generalize about personalities, you certainly can't predict con exactitud (accurately) what's in store for each sign: 

 

Los horóscopos son una aproximación a una predicción signo por signo pero no son tan precisos puesto que no hay una carta específica de una persona, sino es en general para los signos

Horoscopes are an approximation of a prediction sign-by-sign, but they are not so accurate since there isn't a chart specific to a person, but rather it is in general for the signs.

Captions 30-32, Conversaciones con Luis Astrología

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All that said, whether you view astrology as a reliable science or a fun hobby, we hope you've learned some useful vocabulary to be able to converse about it in Spanish. And don't forget leave us your suggestions and comments

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Para que: Saying "So That" in Spanish

Today's lesson will focus on the oft-used conjunction para que, which means "so that" or "in order for" in Spanish. 

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Examples of para que in Spanish Sentences

Beginning with a few sentences that contain the Spanish conjunction para que, see if you can identify elements that they all have in common.

 

y ahora colocaré esta mezcla en la refrigeradora, para que se enfríe un poco,

and now, I'll put this mixture in the refrigerator so that it cools down a bit,

Captions 33-34, Ana Carolina Ponche navideño

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¿Pueden dejar de llorar para que empecemos la competencia?

Can you stop crying so that we can start the competition?

Caption 53, NPS No puede ser 1 - El concurso - Part 5

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y los invito a que pongan en práctica todas estas reglas para que puedan usar correctamente estas preposiciones.

and I invite you to put all these rules into practice so that you can use these prepositions correctly.

Captions 70-71, Carlos explica Las preposiciones 'por' y 'para' - Part 3

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Para que Parameters

Did you come up with any commonalities? Let's lay down a couple of ground rules for using para que in Spanish.

 

1. Para que should only be used when there is a change of subject.  

In other words, one thing is done by one entity so that another entity "can" do something else.  

 

Using the English translations, in the first example, "I" (the first subject) will put the mixture in the fridge so that "it" (the second subject) is able to cool down. In the second, "you guys" (the first subject) should stop crying so that "we" (the second subject) can commence the competition, and in the third, "I" (the first subject) am doing the inviting in order for you "you guys" (the second subject) to use the prepositions right.

 

* Note that in these Spanish sentences, the subjects are implied by their verb conjugations rather than explicitly stated (for example, as invito is the first person singular of the verb invitar (to invite), we know the subject is "I").

 

2. Para que is always followed by a subjunctive tense.

If we think of this in terms of our W.E.I.R.D.O. formula for when to use the subjunctive in Spanish, it makes sense since just because something "could" happen based on an initial action, we aren't sure if it will. You will note that two of three translations include the word "can," although this is not always the case, and there are often many ways to translate a Spanish that includes para que into English. 

 

Although all of the examples we have seen thus far have included verbs in the present subjunctive tense, you might come across examples in other subjunctive tenses, such as the imperfect subjunctive when the action takes place in the past. Let's take a look at some examples: 

 

Les dimos los juguetes, los bolígrafos, uno para cada uno para que pudieran escribir.

We gave them the toys, the pens, one for each one so that they could write.

Captions 8-9, Con ánimo de lucro Cortometraje - Part 4

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Lo que hice fue preparar todos los burros, para que estuviesen acostumbrados a recibir a visitas,

What I did was to prepare all the donkeys so they were used to getting visitors,

Captions 35-36, Amaya Apertura del refugio

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Alternative translations for this second example might be "so that they would be used to getting visitors" or "so that they could get used to getting visitors."

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Expressing "So That" With No Subject Change

Although you might hear it done occasionally in spoken Spanish, remember that you should not use para que to connect clauses when there is no change of subject. For example, what if you wanted to say, "I'm going to call the restaurant as soon as possible so that I can get a table"? You shouldn't say Yo voy a llamar el restaurante lo antes posible para que (yo) pueda conseguir una mesa" but instead use para + the infinitive as follows:

 

Yo voy a llamar el restaurante lo antes posible para poder conseguir una mesa.

I'm going to call the restaurant as soon as possible so I can get a table (literally "to be able to get a table"). 

 

Let's see some more examples:

 

mis toallitas desmaquillantes, y mi espejo, donde me miro todas las mañanas para saber que estoy bien.

my makeup remover towelettes, and my mirror, where I look at myself every morning in order to know I look OK.

Captions 55-56, Amaya "Mi camper van"

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An alternative translation could be "so that I know I look OK."

 

Siempre hemos de asistir personalmente a la entidad bancaria para poder realizar la firma de todos los documentos originales.

We should always go personally to the banking entity in order to be able to do the signing of all the original documents.

Captions 13-14, Raquel Abrir una cuenta bancaria

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Another way to say this in English could be "so we can sign all of the original documents." In any case, because there is no change in subject in either of these examples (in the first one, it's yo/I and in the second one, it's nosotros/we), the formula para plus the infinitive was used in lieu of para que

 

¿Para qué?

To conclude, remember that when para qué is used in question or implied question form, it has an accent and means "why?" or "what for?" Let's see some examples:

 

¿Y para qué lo necesito?

And what do I need it for?

Caption 6, Clase Aula Azul Planes para el futuro - Part 1

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¿Para qué fuiste al cine?

Why [for what purpose] did you go to the movies?

Caption 53, Carlos explica Las preposiciones 'por' y 'para' - Part 1

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Keep in mind that although para qué can also be translated as "why" in some contexts, it has a slightly different meaning than por qué (which also means "why") in that it focuses on goal or purpose rather than strictly reason. For more on this subtle distinction, check out this video on the Spanish prepositions por vs. para.

 

That's all for today. We hope that this lesson has made the expression para que more clear para que la puedan usar bien (so that you can use it correctly) and sound like a native speaker. And don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments

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The Preposition desde in Spanish

Are you familiar with the preposition desde in Spanish? In this lesson, we'll learn many of the various ways to use it. Let's take a look. 

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Indicating an origin or starting point

This is one of the most common uses of desde and includes three subcategories:

 

1. Describing movement or direction

 

El autobús que va desde el aeropuerto a la Plaza de España

The bus that goes from the airport to the Plaza de España

Caption 10, Raquel Oficina de Turismo

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2. Referring to a particular time period

 

desde la Época Prehispánica hasta el siglo veinte.

from the Pre-Hispanic Era to the twentieth century.

Caption 11, Paseando con Karen Monterrey - Museo de Historia Mexicana

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3. Referencing a particular fact or situation

 

Desde que llegué a Misiones, lo único que has hecho es estar encima mío.

Since I arrived at Misiones, all you have done is breathe down my neck.

Caption 12, Yago 6 Mentiras - Part 1

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Providing a point of reference

This is another very common use of the Spanish preposition desde. Just like with the previous category, there are three different ways to use it to give a reference point.

 

1. Measurement

 

Su interior mide, desde la pared interior hasta fuera, diecinueve con cinco metros,

Its inside measures, from the inside wall to the outside, nineteen point five meters,

Captions 22-23, Rosa Los Dólmenes de Antequera

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2. Perception

 

pero desde aquí, desde Hotel Kivir, vemos Triana. Triana es el barrio más conocido de Sevilla.

but from here, from the Hotel Kivir, we see Triana. Triana is the best-known neighborhood in Seville.

Captions 30-31, Sevilla, España Hotel Kivir - Part 1

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3. Location

 

Los saludo desde Popayán, Colombia.

I greet you from Popayan, Colombia.

Caption 2, Viajando con Carlos Popayán - Colombia - Part 1

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Expressing a personal viewpoint or opinion

One's opinion or point of view can be relayed by combining the preposition desde with terms like punto de vista (point of view), perspectiva (perspective), ángulo (angle), or enfoque (approach).

 

El arquitecto, eh... desde mi punto de vista, nace.

The architect, um... from my point of view, is born.

Caption 16, Leif El Arquitecto Español y su Arte - Part 1

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¿En qué marco describiría usted, desde la perspectiva del gobierno nicaragüense... el trabajo del desminado?

In what framework would you describe, from the perspective of the Nicaraguan government... mine-clearing work?

Captions 34-35, Tierra Envenenada Desminando - Part 3

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Indicating cause

In rare cases, the preposition desde in Spanish can be used to express something's cause. Let's see an example:

 

Algo tan absurdo solo se puede decir desde la ignorancia.

Something so absurd can only be said from ignorance.

 

Expressing correlation with the prepositions a and hasta

The Spanish preposition desde can be used with both a and hasta.

 

Quiero que recorramos juntos esa zona, desde Santa Marta hasta La Arenosa

I want to traverse that area together, from Santa Marta to La Arenosa

Caption 28, Carlos Vives, Shakira La Bicicleta

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desde la nota aguda a la nota grave

from the high note to the low note,

Caption 23, Música andina La zampoña

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On this note, we've reached the end of this lesson. We hope you learned something new today, and don't forget to send us your suggestions and comments.

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Feliz Día de las Madres (Happy Mother's Day)!

What holiday falls on el segundo domingo de mayo (the second Sunday in May) in the United States?

 

Es el Día de las Madres.

It's Mother's Day.

Caption 3, Cleer y Lía El día de la madre

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Although the day on which se festeja (it is celebrated) varies from country to country in the Spanish-speaking world, many of las costumbres  (the customs) overlap. That said, let's talk about some ideas for celebrating your mother while learning some pertinent vocabulary in Spanish! 

 

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Ways to Say "Mother" in Spanish

Just like in English, there are many ways to refer to one's mother in Spanish! Let's take a look: 

 

madre: mother 

 

Tenía que comprar un regalo para mi madre

I had to buy a gift for my mother.

Caption 9, El Aula Azul La Doctora Consejos: Por y para

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mamá: mom 

 

Es que eran unas flores muy bonitas, y se las quería regalar a mi mamá.

It's just that they were some very beautiful flowers, and I wanted to give them to my mom.

Captions 12-13, Guillermina y Candelario El Rey de la Selva

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ma: ma/mom/mommy

 

Aquí estoy, ma.

Here I am, Mom.

Caption 45, X6 1 - La banda - Part 11

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mami: mommy

 

Ah. -Tú le diste el teléfono, ¿no, mami?

Oh. -You gave him the phone number, right, Mommy?

Caption 26, Yago 11 Prisión - Part 8

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However, note that in certain contexts, "mami" is a slang term for "baby":

 

Mami, te prometo que esto se va a arreglar

Baby, I promise you that this is going to get fixed

Caption 19, DJ Bitman El Diablo

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Another word that could be used to say either "mommy" or "baby" in Spanish is mamita (whereas mamacita would always refer to an attractive female rather than an actual mom).

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Mother's Day Gifts 

You may have noticed in the examples above the Mother's Day-appropriate vocabulary words regalar (to give, as in a gift), el regalo (the present), and las flores (the flowers). What might be another typical item to give to your mother on Mother's Day?

 

Estoy leyendo mi tarjeta de felicitación.

I am reading my greeting card.

Caption 9, Marta Vocabulario de Cumpleaños

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While the speaker in this caption is referring to a birthday card, la tarjeta de felicitación could refer to any type of "greeting card" (if you'd like to brush up on your birthday vocabulary, check out this lesson on Todo sobre los cumpleaños (All About Birthdays) in Spanish). Other typical Mother's Day gifts, like una caja de chocolates (a box of chocolates) might overlap with your Spanish vocabulary for Valentine's Day

 

Additional Gift Ideas 

What might be another way to  sorprender (surprise) your mom (the noun for "a surprise" in Spanish is una sorpresa)?

 

Mi mamá es muy buena conmigo siempre y por eso decidí sorprenderla con una torta de chocolate

My mom is always very good to me, and that's why I decided to surprise her with a chocolate cake

Captions 5-6, Cleer y Lía El día de la madre

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As Cleer mentions, cocinar (cooking) or hornear (baking) something for her could be nice, as would servirle un desayuno en la cama (serving her breakfast in bed). And, if you want to include a scrumptious beverage in the equation, we recommend this tutorial on how to make mimosas

 

Alternatively, you could invite your mom to salir a... (go out to...) desauynar (breakfast/brunch), almorzar (lunch/brunch), or the anglicism, brunchear (brunch).

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How About a Spa Day?

A day at the spa or un tratamiento de belleza (beauty treatment) might be just what mom needs to relajarse (relax) and sentirse valorada (feel appreciated). Let's take a look at the names for some services she might enjoy: 

 

Tenemos, eh... la facial de una hora que es la clásica

We have, um... the one-hour facial, which is the classic one,

Caption 10, Cleer y Lida Conversación telefónica - Part 2

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un largo y tierno masaje,

a long and tender massage,

Caption 23, Aprendiendo con Silvia Pequeños grandes placeres - Part 2

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También ofrecemos manicure y pedicure.

We also offer manicures and pedicures.

Caption 13, Cleer y Lida Conversación telefónica - Part 2

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Manicures and pedicures might also be referred to as la manicura/la pedicura in Spanish. 

 

Spending Time with Mom

In addition to the aforementioned suggestions, pasar tiempo (spending time) with your mom in any capacity is bound to go over well. You could opt for the previously suggested meal together, or perhaps some outing to hacer senderismo (go hiking), ir al cine (go to the movies), or in the best of cases, ir de vacaciones (go on vacation). And, if you don't live near your mother, llamarla (calling her) would certainly make her day. 

 

Sweet Things to Say to Mom

We'll conclude this lesson with a few nice things you might say to your mom on el Día de la Madre (another way to say "Mother's Day" in Spanish), or any day! 

 

Te quiero/Te amo: I love you (Note that in some countries, the verb amar (to love) refers to only romantic love, while in others, it is appropriate for family members).

 

Eres la mejor mamá del mundo: You're the best mom in the world. 

 

Gracias por todo lo que has hecho por mí: Thank you for everything you've done for me. 

 

Estoy muy agradecido/a: I'm very grateful. 

 

Another way to direct some kind words to your mother might be reciting a poem, such as this suitable one entitled A mamá (To Mom).

 

For more Mother's Day vocabulary (and a great chocolate cake recipe!), watch Cleer y Lía- El día de la madre, and don't forget to recognize your mom, grandma, or any other great mom you know on el Día de las Madres... and to leave us your suggestions and comments!

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"Hasta que" vs. "Hasta que no"? What's the Difference?!

The Spanish adverbial phrases  hasta que and hasta que no are both useful to describe situations in which one action depends upon another, in other words, what will or won't be done or happen "until" something else happens. However, because the literal translations for phrases involving the latter construction don't make sense in English, the hasta que no construction can be confusing for English speakers. We hope this lesson will clarify this confusion.

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Hasta que 

The adverbial phrase hasta que means "until" and can be used with many different verb tenses. However, in the sentences we will be talking about today, the verb that follows hasta que refers to something that might happen in the future but has not yet happened and must thus be conjugated in a subjunctive tense. Let's take a look at several examples in the present subjunctive

 

y lo dejaremos ahí hasta que hierva.

and we'll leave it there until it boils.

Caption 19, Ana Carolina Ponche navideño

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y el jarabe se lo toma tres veces al día hasta que lo termine.

and you take the syrup three times a day until you finish it.

Caption 28, Cita médica La cita médica de Cleer - Part 2

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Note that these first two examples talk about what someone is going to do until something else happens. Now let's look at some examples of things one won't do until something else happens:

 

De momento no las saco fuera y las dejo que estén tranquilas, hasta que se sientan seguras 

For now, I don't take them out, and I leave them alone until they feel safe

Captions 9-10, Amaya Mis burras Lola y Canija

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¿Ya? Y no voy a descansar hasta que atrape a esa rata.

OK? And I'm not going to rest until I catch that rat.

Caption 30, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 1 - Part 10

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Hasta que no

Hasta que no functions in almost the exact same way as hasta que in such sentences. However, note that in contrast to hasta que, sentences with hasta que no always involve a double negative (i.e. what can't happen until something else does). Let's take a look:

 

pero de momento no puedo darle una respuesta hasta que no hayamos entrevistado al resto de candidatos.

but at the moment I can't give you an answer until we have interviewed the rest of the candidates.

Captions 61-62, Negocios La solicitud de empleo - Part 2

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Note that while the literal translation of "hasta que no hayamos entrevistado al resto de candidatos" would be "until we haven't interviewed the rest of the candidates," which wouldn't make sense, the actual meaning is "until we have interviewed the rest of the candidates." The word "no" is therefore an "expletive," which, in grammar, means an "empty word" that might add emphasis but doesn't add meaning. And interestingly, the form of this sentence with merely hasta que would work just as well with no difference in meaning, as follows:

 

pero de momento no puedo darle una respuesta hasta que hayamos entrevistado al resto de candidatos.

but at the moment I can't give you an answer until we have interviewed the rest of the candidates.

 

Let's see two more examples:

 

Pero vamos, eso nadie lo sabe hasta que no estemos en el terreno.

But come on, nobody knows that until we're in the area.

Caption 27, Los Reporteros Caza con Galgo - Part 2

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Sí. -...con él no podemos hacer nada... Ajá. -hasta que no desarrolle bien.

Yes. -...we can't do anything with him... Uh-huh. -until he develops well.

Captions 38-39, Animales en familia Un día en Bioparc: Coatís

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Once again, the literal translations "until we're not" and "until he doesn't develop" would be nonsensical, and hence the sentences have been translated in the same fashion as they would be if the word "no" weren't present since hasta que estemos/hasta que no estemos (until we're) and hasta que desarrolle/hasta que no desarrolle (until he develops) are synonymous. 

 

In conclusion, although there has been some debate among linguists about the legitimacy of hasta que no, which is more likely to be heard in Spain (to learn more such differences, check out this lesson on A Few Outstanding Differences Between Castilian and Latin American Spanish), the constructions hasta que and hasta que no have been deemed interchangeable when talking about what can't or won't happen until something else takes place. That said, we hope that this lesson has brought some clarity regarding the somewhat confusing hasta que no construction... and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments

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"To Meet," "Meeting(s)," and More in Spanish

In English, we use the verb "to meet" and the nouns "meet" and "meeting" in a plethora of nuanced ways. Let's explore the various manners in which these different types of meetings are expressed in Spanish. 

 

"To Meet" Someone (For the First Time) 

The English verb "to meet" can mean "to make acquaintance" with someone. Although the Spanish verb for "to meet" in this sense is conocer, remember that in the present and other tenses, this verb can also mean "to know" or "be familiar with":

 

Por ejemplo: Conozco a María.

For example: I know María.

Caption 11, Lecciones con Carolina Saber y conocer

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In the preterite tense, however, the meaning of the verb conocer typically changes to "meet" in the sense of having "met" someone for the first time: 

 

Conocí a mi marido, Carlos, hace unos dieciocho años.

I met my husband, Carlos, about eighteen years ago.

Caption 9, Burgos María de los Ángeles

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To find out more similarly-evolving verbs, check out this lesson on verbs that change meaning in the preterite tense

 

In other tenses, conocer can mean "to know," "to meet," or even to "have been" somewhere, and context will typically tell you which meaning is meant. But, since "meeting" is the topic at hand, let's take a look at a couple more examples where the verb conocer means just that:

 

Le gusta mucho conocer personas nuevas.

She likes very much to meet new people.

Caption 21, El Aula Azul Mis Primos

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Encantadísima de conocerte.

Very nice to meet you.

Caption 39, Yago 4 El secreto - Part 11

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For more things to say upon meeting someone for the first time, check out this lesson on introducing yourself in Spanish.

 

"To Meet" as in "Get Together" 

There are several verbs that mean "to meet" as in "get together" with someone in terms of some outing, for coffee, or even a more formal "meeting" in Spanish. Let's take a look at some of them in action:

 

Reunirse (con)

 

y ahí nos reunimos varias personas

and several of us get together there

Caption 41, Cleer Entrevista con Jacky

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Espero que esta situación pase rápido para poder reunirme con mis amigos, familiares

I hope this situation gets over soon so I can meet with my friends, relatives,

Captions 34-35, El coronavirus La cuarentena en Coro, Venezuela - Part 2

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Encontrarse (con)

 

Nos vamos a encontrar a las cuatro. -Ajá.

We're going to meet at four. -Uh-huh.

Caption 53, Yago 12 Fianza - Part 6

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Sí, me voy a encontrar con una amiga.

Yes, I'm going to meet a friend.

Caption 4, Muñeca Brava 46 Recuperación - Part 4

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To see more uses of the verb encontrar(se), be sure to look at this lesson on The Many Facets of the Verb Encontrar.

 

Quedar

 

y quedamos en la escuela por la mañana.

and we met at the school in the morning.

Caption 25, El Aula Azul Dos historias

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In Spain, where they often use the present perfect  more than in Latin America, the verb quedar is often heard in that tense to talk about "meeting" or "having made plans with" someone, as follows:

 

Hemos quedado a las ocho

We've made plans for eight o'clock/We're meeting at eight o'clock.

 

He quedado con Juan para ir al cine.

I've made plans with Juan to go to the movies. 

 

To learn more about this verb, check out this lesson on the various meanings of the verb quedar

 

Verse (con)

 

¿Usted cree que pueda verse con usted y con Amalia?

Do you think that he can meet with you and with Amalia?

Caption 43, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 1 - Part 5

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Juntarse (con)

 

A ver si nos juntamos,

Let's see if we can get together,

Caption 31, Festivaliando Mono Núñez - Part 13

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Asking Someone "To Meet"

If you want to ask a new (or old) friend, "Do you want to meet/hang out/get together"? you could use any of these verbs. Here are some examples of people asking other people to "meet" or get together: 

 

¿Nos podemos encontrar ahora?

Can we meet now?

Caption 51, Cuatro Amigas Piloto - Part 5

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Pero ¿en dónde nos podemos ver?

But where can we meet?

Caption 41, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 3 - Part 13

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You can also use the verb salir to ask someone "to go out" with you, which, like in English, might often (but not always) have a romantic connotation:

 

¿Te gustaría salir conmigo alguna vez? 

Would you like to go out with me sometime? 

 

"Meetings" in Spanish

So, how do you say "meeting" in Spanish, for example, a business or some other type of meeting? Let's take a look:

 

La junta

 

si acaso tengo alguna junta

if perhaps I have some meeting,

Caption 12, Yo estudio en el Tec de Monterrey

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La reunión

 

Yo sé pero entiéndame, tengo una reunión con mi jefe.

I know, but understand me, I have a meeting with my boss.

Caption 25, Tu Voz Estéreo Embalsamado - Part 6

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Note that when the noun la reunión means "the meeting" in Spanish, it can be thought of as a "false cognate," or word that sounds like an English word but actually means something different. However, along with el reencuentro and even el encuentro in some contexts, la reunión can also mean "reunion" as in "una reunión familiar" (a family reunion) or, alternatively, a social "meeting" or "gathering":

 

Usted me acaba de confirmar que ese tipo sí está aquí en esta reunión

You just confirmed to me that that guy really is here at this gathering,

Caption 30, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 5 - Part 10

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The noun el encuentro can additionally be used to talk about such a "gathering":

 

se crea un ambiente propicio para el encuentro familiar.

a favorable environment is created for family gatherings.

Caption 30, Coro, Venezuela La Zona Colonial

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Or, it might describe something on a larger scale, which might additionally be translated as something like a "conference":

 

vinimos a este encuentro nacional y... 

we came to this national meeting and...

Caption 25, Encuentro Volkswagen en Adícora Escarabajos en la playa - Part 2

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Chance "Meetings" (or "Encounters")

Note that you can also use el encuentro to describe an incident of "running into" someone, as in a chance "meeting" or "encounter," or even an "encounter" in terms of a "meetup" or "hookup" with a friend or more than a friend: 

 

Era Pablo Echarri, y luego de ese encuentro ya nada sería igual en la vida de ambos

It was Pablo Echarri, and after that encounter, nothing would be the same in their lives.

Captions 64-65, Biografía Natalia Oreiro - Part 6

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Bueno, yo creo que necesitaba un encuentro más personal.

Well, I think that I needed a more personal encounter.

Caption 3, Muñeca Brava 18 - La Apuesta - Part 12

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Note that the word "meeting" could be substituted for "encounter" in either one of these sentences.

 

Still More Ways "To Meet"

Although there are many more ways in which the verb and noun forms of "meet" can be used in English with different Spanish equivalents, let's conclude with a few additional examples:

 

Track Meets, etc.:

So, what if we are talking about a sports "meet"? This type of event is often referred to as una competencia (literally "a competition") or un campeonato (a championship), e.g. una competencia de atletismo (a track meet) or un campeonato de natación (a swim meet). And, although the noun el encuentro can sometimes refer to such events as well, in the context of sports, el encuentro might also be translated as "match" or "game":

 

el encuentro dura noventa minutos en total,

the game lasts for a total of ninety minutes,

Caption 17, Sergio El fútbol en España

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And, when two sports teams "meet" one another, the verb that is used is enfrentarse (literally "to face"), as in: Los dos equipos se enfrentaron (The two teams "met" or "faced off"). 

 

To Meet (As in "An Obligation"):

The verb used to talk about "meeting" or "fulfilling" a requirement or obligation is cumplir con:

 

El primer paso importante para ello es cumplir con todos los requisitos.

The first important step for it is to meet all of the requirements.

Caption 4, Raquel Abrir una cuenta bancaria

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Hence the noun for not fulfilling or "meeting" such duties, etc. is incumplimiento (nonfulfillment). 

 

To Meet (As in "Converge")

For our final example, the verbs that mean "to meet" in the sense of things "converging" or "coming together" include confluir and unirse. Let's look at an example with the latter (although the former could be substituted with the same meaning):

 

mucho movimiento, mucho tráfico porque se unen muchas calles importantes de la ciudad.

a lot of movement, a lot of traffic because many important streets of the city meet.

Captions 38-39, El Trip Madrid

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We hope that this lesson has taught you how to talk about the many forms of "meeting(s)" in Spanish. There are, of course, a lot more Spanish nouns and verbs that could be translated as "meet" or "meeting" in English in different contexts. Can you think of any more? Let us know with your suggestions and comments.

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The Personal a in Spanish

Whenever a person is the object of a sentence in Spanish, the word a (which can literally mean "to," "at," etc., depending upon the context) must be included prior to the person. This is called the "personal a" in English and the "a personal" in Spanish.

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What is an Object?

In both English and Spanish, the subject of a sentence is the person or thing that performs an action and the object is the person or thing that receives it. For example, in the English sentence "Edison ate cake," "Edison" is the subject and "cake" is the object. And in the sentence "Gonzalo hugged Eva," "Gonzalo" is the subject while "Eva" is the object. So, while the translation for the first example, Edison comió torta, would not require the personal a, the second one would since Eva is a person: Gonzalo abrazó a Eva​.

 

Examples of the Personal a

Now that we understand a bit how the personal works, let's see a few examples where the same verb in the same tense either has a personal or doesn't, depending upon whether the object of the sentence is a person. You will note that there is no direct translation for the personal a in the English sentences. 

 

Ver:

 

Pero yo vi sombras.

But I saw shadows.

Caption 26, Tu Voz Estéreo Feliz Navidad - Part 4

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Yo vi a Pablo Escobar,

I saw Pablo Escobar

Caption 28, Los Tiempos de Pablo Escobar Capítulo 2 - Part 8

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Entender:

 

me di cuenta que no entendía todos los conceptos

I realized that I didn't understand all the concepts

Caption 73, Guillermo el chamán La tecnología maya

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De verdad, en ese momento no entendía a las niñas.

Really, at that moment, I didn't understand girls.

Caption 53, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 11 - Part 6

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Conocer:

 

Conocí las islas Barú de... de Colombia

I visited the Barú Islands in... in Colombia

Caption 89, Cleer y Lida Juego de preguntas y respuestas - Part 2

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Conocí a María ayer.

I met María yesterday.

Caption 22, Lecciones con Carolina Saber y conocer

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Using the Personal a with Pronouns

When a pronoun like alguien (someone), nadie (no one/anyone), quien, alguno/a(s) (some/someobody/one),  or ninguno/a(s) (none/no one/any) replace a person or people as the direct object in a sentence, the personal is used as well:

 

No queremos alarmar a nadie.

We don't want to alarm anyone.

Caption 52, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 5 - Part 8

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Perdón, eh, ¿busca a alguien?

Excuse me, um, are you looking for someone?

Caption 1, Muñeca Brava 8 Trampas - Part 10

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Todos los años, tengo que reñir a alguno.

Every year, I have to tell someone off.

Caption 46, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 10

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Additional Uses of the Personal a

The personal a is also used with animals or inanimate objects when the person speaking about them "personifies" them or has affection for them. One example is pets:

 

¿Federico te regaló a Zazén? 

Did Federico give you Zazen?

Caption 9, Tu Voz Estéreo Laura - Part 6

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However, if an animal is not a pet, the personal a is not used:
 

Generalmente acá se ven elefantes marinos 

Generally, here you see elephant seals

Caption 37, Perdidos en la Patagonia La Punta Cantor

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Another example could be one's country:
 

Me fascina, quiero ayudar a mi país,

I love it. I want to help my country

Caption 24, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Manuel Orozco Sánchez - Part 1

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And someone might even have a particular affection for some other inanimate object:

 

Yo amo a mi carro. -Se nota. -Único, bello.

I love my car. -You can see that. -Unique, beautiful.

Caption 97, Encuentro Volkswagen en Adícora Escarabajos en la playa - Part 2

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This is definitely the exception to the rule, though. In most cases, the personal a would not be used with such inanimate objects:

 

Vaya a lavar el auto, por favor!

Go to wash the car, please!

Caption 31, Muñeca Brava 30 Revelaciones - Part 5

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When Not to Use the Personal a

The Verb Tener

The personal a is not generally used with the verb tener:

 

¿Tienes hijos? -No.

Do you have children? -No.

Caption 87, Adícora, Venezuela El tatuaje de Rosana

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However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. One is when one has an emotional or close relationship with someone:

 

Tengo a Alejandrita que tiene diez y James que tiene diecinueve.

I have little Alejandra who is ten and James who is nineteen.

Captions 59-60, 75 minutos Gangas para ricos - Part 20

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Another is when someone is physically holding someone:

 

Él tenía a mi hija en sus brazos

He had my daughter in his arms.

 

A third is when one "has" someone "somewhere":

 

Teníamos a los gemelos en una clase de baile

We had the twins in a dance class. 

 

The Verb Haber

The personal a is not used with the verb haber, either:

 

hay muchas personas que se oponen a que haya paz en Colombia.

there are many people who are opposed to there being peace in Colombia.

Caption 32, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 9 - Part 1

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había una mujer que podía ser la protagonista de mi canción.

there was a woman who could be the main character of my song.

Captions 48-49, Luis Guitarra Historia de Lucía - Part 2

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In conclusion, although the personal a in Spanish can be a bit counterintuitive for English speakers since we don't have anything like it, we hope that this lesson has helped you to understand what it is and when it is and isn't used, and... don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments,

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Yabla's Top 10 Verbs Like Gustar

The focus of today's lesson will be "verbs like gustar." But... what is gustar like?! 

 

The Verb Gustar 

The Spanish verb  gustar describes the concept of "liking" someone or something. In contrast to English, where we'd say "We" (the subject) "like cheese" (the object), in Spanish, whatever "we like" becomes the subject that projects the action "onto us." This is similar to how the English verb "to please" functions, e.g., "Cheese pleases us," where "the cheese" carries out the action of "pleasing" (us). For an in-depth exploration of this topic, we recommend this two-part lesson on Gustar vs. "To Like": A Difference in Perception. In the meantime, we'll give you a few tips regarding conjugating the verb gustar and verbs that act in a similar fashion. 

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1. An indirect object pronoun (me (to me), te (to you), le (to him/her/formal "you"), nos (to us), os (informal plural "to you"), and les ("to them" or plural "to you")) is used to indicate who is "being pleased," or, in English, the person who "likes" someone or something. 

 

2. Regardless of tense, the verb gustar is conjugated in accordance with the Spanish subject (what is "being liked" or "pleasing").

 

3. If the subject is a noun, the definite article is used (el, la, los, las, which mean "the").

 

4. Optionally, a phrase with a (to) + a prepositional pronoun ( (me), ti (you), él (him), ella (her), usted (formal "you"), nosotros (we), vosotros (informal plural "you"), or ustedes (plural "you")) can be added before or after the verb for emphasis. A direct object may also be introduced with a.

 

Armed with this information, let's look at a few examples:

 

A mí me gustan las hamburguesas.

I like hamburgers.

Caption 11, Español para principiantes Los colores

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Me gustas. 

I like you.

Caption 44, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 4 - Part 12

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¡A las niñas grandes les gustan los coches deportivos, les gusta el dinero, les gusta bailar!

Big girls like sports cars, they like money, they like "bailar"!

Captions 22-23, Extr@: Extra en español Ep. 3 - Sam aprende a ligar - Part 3

 Play Caption

 

In accordance with our tips, in all of these examples, the indirect object pronoun indicates or agrees with who is "liking"/"being pleased," with me being "I" and les agreeing with the direct object, las niñas grande. The verb gustar, on the other hand, agrees with who or what "pleases"/"is liked" in English: the plural gustan with las hamburguesas and los coches deportivosgustas with the implied tú (you), and gusta with el dinero and the infinitive bailar.

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Yabla's Top 10 Verbs that Function Like Gustar

Now that we've recalled how gustar functions, we bet you're dying to know Yabla's Top Ten Verbs Like Gustar in the sense of the "reversal" of the roles of the traditional subject and object. Let's take a look.

 

1. Doler (to hurt)

Although this verb is most often translated as just "hurt(s)," it might help you to think of the more literal translations for the examples below: "My legs hurt (me)" and "your head hurts (you)," respectively. 

 

¡Me duelen las piernas!

My legs hurt!

Caption 45, Extr@: Extra en español Ep. 3 - Sam aprende a ligar - Part 1

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Cuando tú estás enfermo, te duele la cabeza,

When you're ill, your head hurts,

Captions 32-33, El Aula Azul Las Profesiones - Part 2

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2. Encantar (to love)

Note that as gustar can be translated as "to like," encantar is most often translated as "to love." However, it might behoove you to think of the English word "enchant(s)" to help remember the Spanish structure, e.g.  "Feathers enchant me." 

 

Me encantan las plumas.

I love feathers.

Caption 33, Ariana Cena especial

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Aquí, a los alemanes les encanta sentarse afuera

Here, Germans love to sit outside

Caption 21, Venezolanos por el mundo Zoraida en Alemania - Part 2

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3. Fascinar (to fascinate/be fascinated)

Interestingly, although fascinar can be translated as "to fascinate," it is more commonly used in Spanish than its English equivalent and can often mean something comparable to the verb encantar, or "to love." 

 

Es una ciudad que me fascina,

It's a city that fascinates me

Caption 16, Venezolanos por el mundo Gio en Barcelona

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y me fascinaba perderme entre sus calles

and it fascinated me to get lost in its streets

Caption 11, Venezolanos por el mundo Gio en Barcelona

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An alternative translation for this second caption might be: "and I loved getting lost in its streets."

 

4. Hacer falta (to need/be necessary)

While "need" is the most often-heard translation for the verb hacer falta, you can think of the following examples with "to be necessary for" to more closely imitate their Spanish structure, i.e., "the only thing that's necessary for us" and "Those songs are necessary for me."

 

lo único que nos hace falta es una voz líder.

the only thing we need is a lead singer.

Caption 31, X6 1 - La banda - Part 3

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Me hacen falta esas cantadas

I need those songs

Caption 66, Félix Carlos Hello Chamo

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5. Importar (to matter/be important to)

While the English verbs "to matter (to)" and "be important (to)" work much like the Spanish verb gustar, importar plus an indirect object pronoun can also occasionally be translated as "to care about."

 

Me importás vos.

You matter to me.

Caption 23, Yago 6 Mentiras - Part 2

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¡Mis hijos me importan!

I care about my children!

Caption 60, Yago 3 La foto - Part 6

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This second example could also be translated more literally as "My children matter to me!"

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6. Interesar (to interest/be interested in)

The verb interesar can be translated as either "to interest" or "be interested." For example, if you say, Me gusta la ciencia, either the more literal "science interests me" or "I'm interested in science" suffice as possible translations. Let's see a couple of examples, noting the inclusion of the word atraer (to attract), which also functions like gustar.

 

no me atraen ni me interesan...

they neither attract me nor interest me...

Caption 8, Enanitos Verdes Amores Lejanos

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si les interesa saber cómo es la cumbia, en Yabla pueden encontrar un video

if you're interested in knowing what cumbia is like, you can find a video on Yabla

Captions 90-91, Cleer y Lida El Carnaval de Barranquilla - Part 2

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7. Molestar (to bother)

Since the English verb "to bother" works much like the Spanish molestar, the translations for sentences with the verb molestar plus an indirect object pronoun should seem pretty straightforward for English speakers. 

 

¿Por qué te molestan tanto?

Why do they bother you so much?

Caption 3, Guillermina y Candelario La Peluqueria del Mar - Part 2

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¡No, no me molestas para nada! -Adiós.

No, you don't bother me at all! -Goodbye.

Caption 48, Yago 9 Recuperación - Part 1

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8. Parecer (to seem/seem like/think)

In our first example below, a more literal translation would be "it seems cool to them." However, "to think" is a very common translation for parecer(le) a alguien (to seem to someone). For more on the verb parecer, check out Clase Aula Azul's seven-part series on El verbo parecer as well as Doctora Consejo's video on Parecer y parecerse.

 

Están muy interesados en la música, les parece chévere.

They're very interested in the music, they think it's cool.

Caption 54, Cleer Entrevista a Lila

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¿Te parezco una mujer?

Do I seem like a woman to you?

Caption 29, Muñeca Brava 8 Trampas - Part 1

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9. Preocupar (to worry)

When you want to talk about "being worried" or "worrying" yourself, the reflexive verb preocuparse (to worry) is the one to choose. But in the case that something worries you, the verb preocupar plus an indirect object pronoun can help you to describe this. 

 

Sí, te preocupa. -¿A mí qué me preocupa? -¿Morena?

Yes, it worries you. -What worries me? -Morena?

Caption 32, Yago 9 Recuperación - Part 4

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para hablarles de un tema que parece del pasado pero que nos preocupa a todos en el presente.

to talk to you about a topic that seems [to be] from the past but which concerns us all in the present.

Captions 28-29, La Sub30 Familias - Part 1

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10. Quedar (to have left)

In literal terms, quedar plus an indirect object pronoun can be thought of as "what remains" or "is left for" someone or something. Let's take a look at this verb in action:

 

Como: Todavía me queda tiempo.

Like: I still have time.

Caption 110, Escuela BCNLIP Clase con Javi: el futuro - Part 10

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todavía nos quedan muchos más prefijos para ver.

we still have a lot more prefixes left to look at.

Caption 52, Carlos explica Los prefijos en español - Part 4

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Note that this very same verb can also refer to how something "looks on" or "fits" someone when accompanied by adjectives such as bien, mal, grande, etc. 

 

Que me pasa a mí es que los guantes siempre me quedan grandes.

What happens to me is that the gloves are always too big for me.

Caption 78, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 5

 Play Caption

 

 

With this final example, we conclude our list of Yabla's Top Ten Verbs Like Gustar. While these are just a handful of the many verbs that function like gustar in Spanish, we hope that this lesson has aided your understanding of how they work and look forward to your suggestions and comments.

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In Sickness and in Health... in Spanish!

Like in English, wedding vows in Spanish mention loving a person en la salud y en la enfermedad (literally "in health and in sickness"), both of which it would behoove us to learn to converse about. 

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Asking Someone How They Feel

In order to ask someone how he or she feels, you might use the verb sentirse (to feel). Let's take a look:

 

¿Cómo te sientes, mi amor?

How are you feeling, my love?

Caption 18, Confidencial: Asesino al Volante Capítulo 3 - Part 6

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While this is the version with(the informal "you"), the one with usted (the formal "you") would be: ¿Cómo se siente? Some different ways of asking how someone is/how they are feeling with both tú and usted include:

 

¿Cómo te encuentras/se encuentra? (How are you feeling?/How do you feel?)

 

¿Cómo estás/está? (How are you?)

 

Conveying How You Feel

If you feel "fine" or "good" or "well," you might answer with Estoy bien (I'm well/fine), Me siento bien (I feel well/fine), or Me encuentro bien (I feel/am well/fine). But, what if you don't feel well? You might start with the negative versions of these utterances, such as No estoy bien (I'm not well), etc. Let's take a look:

 

porque no me encuentro bien

because I don't feel well.

Caption 10, Ariana Cita médica

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No me siento muy bienestoy un poco enferma

I'm not feeling too wellI'm a bit sick.

Caption 14, Disputas La Extraña Dama - Part 12

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Notice that the word for "sick" is enfermo/a. An alternative way to say you're sick in some countries is: Estoy malo/a (literally "I'm bad").

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¿Qué te pasa?

If someone says they aren't feeling well, you might ask that person: ¿Qué te pasa (a ti)? or ¿Qué le pasa (a usted )? (which might be translated as "What's wrong (with you)?" or "What's going on (with you)?) or the similar-meaning ¿Qué tiene(s)? (literally "What do you have?"). 

 

One way to answer this question might be to say what "hurts" (you), which is expressed with the verb doler (to hurt) plus an indirect object pronoun. Note that this verb falls into the category of verbs like gustar (to like), where there is a reversal in the traditional roles of the subject and object. Let's see a couple of examples:

 

Me duele la garganta,

My throat hurts,

Caption 11, Ariana Cita médica

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y ahora me duele mucho la cabeza.

and now my head hurts a lot.

Caption 31, Clara explica El cuerpo

 Play Caption

 

Another way to talk about pain in your head or some other body part (if you need to review the parts of the body in Spanish, check out this lesson on Body Parts in Spanish from Head to Toe or the video Clara explica- El cuerpowould be with the noun el dolor (the ache/pain), as in the following caption:

 

y otro tipo de dolor de cabeza que es el que explicábamos como migraña,

and another kind of headache which is the one that we were explaining as a migraine,

Caption 16, Los médicos explican Las migrañas

 Play Caption

 

And, if you want to talk about injuring those body parts in a more specific way, the following reflexive verbs might come in handy:

 

lastimarse: to hurt get hurt/injured or  hurt/ injure oneself

romperse: to break 

torcerse: to twist/sprain 

esguinzarse: to sprain

hacerse un esguince: to sprain

lesionarse: to get wounded/injured

 

Let's take a look at some examples in context:

 

Es... también me lastimé una rodilla, este... desgraciadamente. 

The thing is that I also hurt my knee, um... unfortunately.

Captions 29-30, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Manuel Orozco Sánchez - Part 1

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y me caí y me rompí la pierna.

and I fell and broke my leg.

Caption 19, 75 minutos Gangas para ricos - Part 16

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Las enfermedades

Although the noun la enfermedad can mean "disease" in the sense of a more serious issue, it can also refer to less serious maladies. Let's take a look at the Spanish names for a few of these:

 

La tos puede ser el resultado de un resfriado, una gripe,

The cough could be the result of a cold, a flu,

Caption 10, Cita médica La cita médica de Cleer - Part 2

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Although one way to say you "have a cold" is Estoy resfriado, the verb tener is typically used to say you "have" such sicknesses, as in the following captions: 

 

Tengo un resfriado.

I have a cold.

Caption 24, Extr@: Extra en español Ep. 2: Sam va de compras - Part 1

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Tengo fiebre.

I have a fever.

Caption 12, Raquel Visitar al Médico

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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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Additional things that you might "have" would be vómitos (vomiting), mareos (dizziness), or diarrea (diarrhea).

 

Sentirse mejor (Feeling better)

In order to help you sentirte mejor (feel better), the doctor might prescribe you some medicine. The verb for "to prescribe" is recetar, while the noun la receta means "the prescription" (it also means "recipe"). 

 

De mi parte, le voy a recetar Complejo B

As for me, I'm going to prescribe to you Complex B

Caption 77, Los médicos explican Diagnóstico: nervios y estrés

 Play Caption

 

Now, let's look at a few different ways to talk about "medicine":

 

te tomás tu remedio y te espero abajo.

take your medicine and I'll wait for you downstairs.

Caption 44, Muñeca Brava 48 - Soluciones - Part 1

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La medicina puede ayudar, puede colaborar,

Medicine can help, can contribute,

Caption 51, Muñeca Brava 8 Trampas - Part 9

 Play Caption

 

Adrián, deberías tomar las pastillas que te di. 

Adrian, you should take the pills that I gave you.

Caption 40, El Aula Azul La Doctora Consejos: Subjuntivo y condicional

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También le recetaré un jarabe.

I will also prescribe you a syrup.

Caption 26, Cita médica La cita médica de Cleer - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

However, the best medicine of all might be good old-fashioned rest:

 

Adicional, lo que yo le voy a recomendar es a descansar.

Additionally, what I am going to recommend to you is to rest.

Caption 73, Los médicos explican Diagnóstico: nervios y estrés

 Play Caption

 

We hope that this lesson has provided a good introduction to talking about how you feel, some various ailments, and some remedies for them, and we urge you to check out our supplemental materials such as the videos Visitar al médico (Visiting the Doctor) and La cita médica de Cleer (Cleer's Medical Appointment) as well as our series Los médicos explican (The Doctors Explain). And don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments

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The Passive Voice in Spanish

Let's talk about the passive voice in Spanish!

 

What is "Voice"?

Let's start by understanding the concept of voz (voice) in a sentence- in English or Spanish. This refers to the relationship between a sentence's subject and verb. A sentence's voice can be active or passive. But what's the difference?

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The Active Voice

In the active voice, the subject performs a verb's action onto an object and is thus considered the sentence's actor or agent (the person or thing that carries out the action). Let's see some examples:

 

Pedro come galletas. 

"Pedro come galletas" [Pedro eats cookies].

Caption 21, Carlos explica La concordancia gramatical - Part 2

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In this caption, Pedro is the subject/agent who executes the action of "eating" the object (the cookies).

 

eh... pintábamos muchísimos fondos oscuros

um... we painted a ton of dark backgrounds

Caption 99, María Marí Su pasión por su arte - Part 1

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In this example, "we" is the subject/agent who carried out the action of "painting" the object, "a ton of dark backgrounds."

 

Gabriel García Márquez escribió muchos libros.

Gabriel García Márquez wrote a lot of books.

Caption 50, Carlos explica El pretérito Cap. 1: Perfecto simple o Indefinido

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And finally, here, Gabriel García Márquez is the subject, and agent, who performed the action of "writing" the object (a lot of books).  

 

The Passive Voice

In the passive voice, on the other hand, what was previously the object in the active voice actually becomes the subject, but, this time, receives the action of the verb. At the same time, the previous subject becomes a "passive agent" who may or may not be mentioned at the end of the sentence. That said, before finding out how to convey sentences in the passive voice in Spanish, let's convert our previous English examples of the active voice to the passive voice:

 

Active: Pedro eats cookies

Passive: Cookies are eaten by Pedro

 

um... we painted a ton of dark backgrounds

um... a ton of dark backgrounds were painted by us

 

Active: Gabriel García Márquez wrote a lot of books.

Passive: A lot of books were written by Gabriel García Márquez.

 

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Two Formulas

Now that we have a better concept of the passive voice, how do we express it in Spanish? Let's learn two different formulas for doing so. 

 

1. Ser + past participle + (por + agent)

In this first formula, the verb ser (to be) is conjugated in accordance with the subject of the sentence and followed by a past participle (you may wish to consult this lesson that covers conjugating the past participle). In this construction, the participle (the equivalent of English words like "spoken," "eaten," "gone," etc.) must agree with the subject in terms of number and gender. Subsequently, por plus an agent may be optionally added to explain who or what completed the action. Let's take a look at some examples of this formula in Spanish:

 

y es escrito por mí personalmente.

and is personally written by me.

Caption 46, Los Tiempos de Pablo Escobar Capítulo 1 - Part 7

 Play Caption
 
Since the speaker is referring to a singular, masculine object (un libro/a book), the verb ser is conjugated in its third person singular form, and the participle, escrito, is masculine and singular. Let's see another example:
 

En el Siglo dieciocho, las costas de San José en Almería eran asaltadas frecuentemente por piratas 

In the eighteenth century, the coasts of San José in Almería were assaulted frequently by pirates

Captions 32-33, Club de las ideas Batería de breves - Part 1

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Here, what "were assaulted" were the plural, feminine "las costas," so the plural conjugation of ser is followed by the feminine/plural participle asaltadas. Let's see one more:
 

Las tarjetas fueron usadas

The cards were used

Caption 32, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 3 - Part 12

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Note that in accordance with las tarjetas, the third person plural of serfueron, is used along with the feminine plural participle usadas. However, in contrast to the other two examples where por is used to identify the person or people who carried out the action, here, the agent is unknown and thus unmentioned. Let's move on to our second formula.

 

2. Se + verb in third person

This construction is formed with se and a verb in third person singular or plural, depending upon whether what is being spoken about (the subject) is singular or plural. Let's see a few examples:

 

Este vino se hace con una de las uvas más populares 

This wine is made with one of the most popular grapes

Caption 21, Amaya Cata de vinos

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las corridas se celebraban en la Plaza Mayor.

bullfights were held in the Plaza Mayor.

Caption 5, El Trip Madrid

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"Garr", no entiendo para qué se hicieron esos uniformes.

Garr, I don't understand why those uniforms were made.

Caption 53, Club 10 Capítulo 1 - Part 2

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In the first caption, the verb hacer is conjugated in the third person singular to agree with el vino, while celebrar and hacer in the second and third examples are plural in agreement with las corridas and los uniformes. Notice that there is no mention of the entity who performed the action in any of these sentences since this second formula rarely mentions the action's agent. 

 

When Is the Passive Voice Used?

The passive voice is more commonly encountered in the media or literature or when the agent that carried out the action is unknown or considered less relevant. It can only be used with transitive verbs, or verbs that are capable of transmitting some action onto a direct object. In terms of tenses, you may have noticed that our examples have included the presentimperfect, and preterite. While the passive voice formulas contain particular grammatical specifications, there is no mention of any of the specific Spanish verb tenses because active Spanish sentences in any verb tense can be converted to the passive voice. With this in mind, let's conclude this lesson with a present perfect tense example of the verb descubrir (to discover) in the active as well as both formats of the passive voice:

 

Active:

 

Científicos han descubierto que cuando un abrazo dura más de veinte segundos se produce un efecto terapéutico

Scientists have discovered that when a hug lasts more than twenty seconds, a therapeutic effect is produced

Captions 5-7, Aprendiendo con Silvia El abrazo

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Passive 1:

 

Ya que ellos, pues, han sido descubiertos en Inglaterra

Since they, well, have been discovered in England

Caption 40, Hugo Rodríguez Duendes artesanales

 Play Caption

 

Passive 2:

 

porque se han descubierto muchas virtudes

because many virtues have been discovered

Caption 9, Cómetelo Crema de brócoli - Part 1

 Play Caption

 

That's all for today. For more information on the passive voice in Spanish, check out this four-part video series on La voz pasiva as well as this lesson on the passive vs. impersonal se constructions. And don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments.

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Todo sobre los cumpleaños (All About Birthdays) in Spanish

Let's talk about cumpleaños (birthdays) in Spanish!

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Talking about Age in Spanish

To kick off our lesson on birthdays in Spanish, let's first recall that the way to say that you are a certain edad (age) in Spanish is tener años (literally "to have years"). So, if you wanted to ask someone how old they were in Spanish, you could say:

 

¿Cuántos años tienes?

How old are you?

Caption 11, El Aula Azul Los tutti frutti

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(or ¿Cuántos años tiene? when addressing someone as the more formal usted). And if someone asks you how old you are, you could say tengo (insert a number) años, as we see here:

 

Tengo dieciséis años.

I'm sixteen years old.

Caption 7, Cleer Entrevista a Lila

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Like in English, if you wanted to say just "I'm sixteen" without the "years old," you could omit the word años and say simply, "Tengo dieciséis." And, as you could say, "What's your age?" in English, in Spanish, you could say: 

 

¿Tú qué edad tienes? ¿Yo? Veinticuatro.

How old are you? Me? Twenty-four.

Captions 6-7, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 8

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(This question could be translated as "How old are you?" as well). If you need a refresher on the numbers in Spanish, we invite you to read this lesson on The Numbers from One to One Hundred in Spanish.

 

Finally, if you wish to speak more generally about age in Spanish, you might use adjectives like jóven (young), viejo/a (old),

adolescente (teenage/adolescent), de edad media (middle-aged), or anciano/a (elderly), although you shouldn't forget that la edad es solo un número (age is just a number)!

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How Do You Ask "When's Your Birthday?" in Spanish?

The Spanish word for birthday, (el) cumpleaños, comes from the verb cumplir años, which means "to have a birthday." Its literal meaning is something like "to complete" or "accomplish years," which makes sense since getting to the next age sometimes feels like an accomplishment! So, to ask someone when his or her birthday is, you might say: 

 

¿Cuándo cumple(s) (años)?

When's your birthday?

 

Cumple is, of course, the usted (formal "you") form, while cumples is the less formal version with . And the word años (years) is in parentheses because including it is optional, as you will see in the following clip that includes both versions (notice that the second instance of cumplir is conjugated with vos, or the informal "you" in certain regions):

 

¡No lo puedo creer! -¡Yo cumplo mañana! ¿Mañana cumplís años? -¡Sí, mañana! -¡Llegué pa' la fiesta!

I can't believe it! -My birthday is tomorrow! Tomorrow is your birthday? -Yes, tomorrow! -I arrived [just in time] for the party!

Captions 89-90, Muñeca Brava 3 Nueva Casa - Part 8

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We also see the first person conjugation with yo (I), which will come in handy when you want to tell someone when your birthday is:

 

Cumplo el dos de abril

My birthday is April second. 

 

Note that when this verb is used with a certain number, it means "to turn (a certain number of) years old."

 

Yo hoy cumplo treinta y seis años;

Today I turn thirty-six;

Caption 46, Clase Aula Azul Pedir deseos - Part 1

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And to say you "just turned" a certain age, you might say:

 

Tengo nueve años recién cumplidos. [Paula y Ester]

I just turned nine years old. [Paula and Ester]

Caption 3, Paula y Ester Los objetos de Paula

 Play Caption
 
Alternative ways to say this include "Acabo de cumplir nueve añosand "Recién cumplí nueve años.

 

To conclude this section, let's take a look at slightly more literal options for asking someone when his or her birthday is and saying when yours is, noting that tu and su are the less and more formal ways to say "your," respectively:

 

¿Cuándo es tu/su cumpleaños? -Mi cumpleaños es el dos de abril

When is your birthday? -My birthday is April second. 

 

Or, you could use the more colloquial, abbreviated form and say merely: "¿Cuándo es tu/su cumple?"

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Formal Birthday Terms

Another, more formal way to ask someone when they "were born" is with the verb nacer, with a question like:  "¿Cuándo naciste (tú)?" or "¿Cuándo nació (usted)?" Now, let's see how to say "I was born":

 

Nací el catorce de enero de mil novecientos ochenta y siete.

I was born on January fourteenth, nineteen eighty-seven.

Caption 18, Raquel Poner una denuncia

 Play Caption

 

As this question might evoke a more detailed response involving your birth month/year, if you need to review how to say these things in Spanish, check out these lessons on How to Write and Say the Months in Spanish and Saying Years in Spanish. And remember that, like in English, Spanish has a different word for "birthdate" (as opposed to "birthday"), which is fecha de nacimiento

 

Birthday Party Vocabulary

Now that you know how to talk about age and birthdays in Spanish, let's learn some vocabulary to festejar or celebrar (both mean "to celebrate") a feliz cumpleaños (happy birthday). 

 

Perhaps you want to plan a fiesta de cumpleaños (birthday party). The verbs for having, or throwing a party in Spanish include hacer (to make/do), preparar (to prepare), or organizar (to organize) una fiesta (a party):

 

Karla, sabes, me gustaría hacer una fiesta

Karla, you know, I'd like to have a party

Caption 10, Karla e Isabel Preparar una fiesta

 Play Caption

 

First, you'd better send out some invitaciones (invitations) to the lista de invitados (guest list). 

 

Ya he enviado las invitaciones a todos mis amigos

I have already sent the invitations to all my friends

Caption 3, Marta Vocabulario de Cumpleaños

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When the guests arrive, they just might come bearing regalos (gifts). The verb for giving a gift is regalar. They might also give you a tarjeta de cumpleaños, which can also be called a tarjeta de felicitación (literally a "congratulations card"). In fact, in addition to telling you "Feliz cumpleaños" on your birthday, Spanish speakers might say "Felicitaciones" (Congratulations) or "Te/le felicito" (I congratulate you).  

 

In terms of the decoraciones (decorations), you've got to have balloons! While globo is probably the most common word for "balloon" in Spanish, different countries have different words like balónvejiga (which also means bladder!), chimbombaor just bomba.

 

O una bomba de papel metalizado.

Or a silver paper balloon.

Caption 1, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 10 - Part 6

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And don't forget the cake! Words for "cake," which also vary from country to country, include la tarta, el pastel, la torta, and el bizcocho. Let's hear a couple of these in action:

 

Mirad, aquí está la tarta. Cumplo treinta y seis.

Look, here's the cake. I'm turning thirty-six.

Caption 11, Clase Aula Azul Pedir deseos - Part 1

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Un rol protagónico lo tiene el pastel de la quinceañera

The birthday girl's cake plays a leading role

Caption 33, Venezuela La tradición de los quince años

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In the second example, quinceañera refers to the birthday girl at a special, coming-of-age celebration for girls' fifteenth birthday that is celebrated in many Latin American countries (this word can also refer to the party itself). The video La tradición de los quince elaborates on this custom. 

 

And finally, let's talk about las velas (candles) that go on a birthday cake. The verb for "blowing" them (out) is soplar, during which the cumpleañero/a (birthday boy/girl) should pedir deseos (make wishes):

 

Y yo que soy la cumpleañera, pido un deseo y soplo las velas.

And I, as I'm the birthday girl, make a wish and blow out the candles.

Captions 13-14, Marta Vocabulario de Cumpleaños

 Play Caption

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The Happy Birthday Song in Spanish

And we mustn't forget the "Happy Birthday" song, which shares the same tune in English and Spanish. Let's listen to a couple of different versions in Spanish:

 

Cumpleaños feliz Cumpleaños feliz Cumpleaños felices Te deseamos a ti

Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthdays We wish to you

Captions 6-9, Curso de guitarra Para los que empiezan desde cero - Part 3

 Play Caption

 

Que los cumplas feliz.

Happy birthday to you.

Caption 10, Marta Vocabulario de Cumpleaños

 Play Caption

 

That's all for today. To hear many of these Spanish birthday vocabulary words in action and learn some more, you might watch Marta- Vocabulario de cumpleaños. In the meantime, we hope you've enjoyed this lesson, and... don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments

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The Pluperfect Tense in Spanish

Like in English, the Spanish pluperfect tense describes something that happened before something else, for example, something that "had" already happened at a certain point in time or before another past action. Let's find out how to conjugate the Spanish pluperfect tense and hear several examples in action.

 

Conjugating the Spanish Pluperfect

The Spanish pluperfect tense, which is sometimes referred to as the past perfect tense, is pretty easy to conjugate! It is very similar to the Spanish present perfect tense (the verb haber in the present tense + the participle) except that haber will be conjugated in the Spanish imperfect tense. So, the formula for the pluperfect tense in Spanish would be:

 

haber in the imperfect tense + the participle

 

Let's first take a look at the imperfect conjugation of haber:

 

Personal Pronoun: Conjugation of Haber:
yo había
habías
él/ella/usted había
nosotros/as habíamos
vosotros/as habíais
ellos/ellas/ustedes habían

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Now we need a Spanish participle. These correspond to English participles (which often but not always end in -ed or -en). Examples include regular -ar verbs like hablado (talked/spoken) and mirado (looked), regular -er verbs like comido (eaten) and aprendido (learned), regular -ir verbs like recibido (received) and dormido (slept), and irregular verbs like abierto (opened), visto (seen), and dicho (said). For a list of more irregular Spanish participles as well as a detailed explanation of how to conjugate participles in Spanish, we invite you to consult this lesson on the present perfect tense in Spanish

 

Meaning of the Spanish Pluperfect

Whereas the verb haber in the present tense can be translated as "have" in the context of the present perfect in examples like Yo he comido (I have eaten), Tú has comenzado (You have begun), or Nosotros/as hemos hablado (We have talked/spoken), the translation for the imperfect conjugation of haber within the pluperfect tense is "had." That said, let's look at those same verbs conjugated in the pluperfect, noting their translations:

 

Yo había comido: I had eaten

Tú habías comenzado: You had begun

Nosotros/as habíamos hablado: We had talked/spoken

 

Examples of the Spanish Pluperfect

Now that we know how to conjugate the Spanish pluperfect and how to translate it, let's view a few examples. You will note from the translations that the Spanish pluperfect is used in very similar situations as the pluperfect in English. 

 

Cuando Cenicienta quiso dar las gracias, el hada ya había desaparecido.

When Cinderella tried to say thank you, the fairy had already disappeared.

Caption 1, Cuentos de hadas Cenicienta - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

Here, the pluperfect is used to indicate that the fairy "had disappeared" prior to the moment that Cinderella "tried" to say goodbye (as described by the preterite verb quiso).  Let's see another one:

 

Pero es que nunca había visto una anguila.

But the thing is that I had never seen an eel.

Caption 3, Guillermina y Candelario Un pez mágico - Part 2

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In this example, rather than expressing that "he'd" never "seen" an eel before some other past action, the speaker employs the pluperfect to explain that, at the moment in the past that he is describing, he "hadn't seen" an eel ever in his life. Let's look at one more: 

 

decidieron regresar al lugar de donde habían venido.

they decided to return to the place where they had come from.

Caption 44, Aprendiendo con Carlos América precolombina - El mito de Bachué

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In this final example, the preterite verb decidieron lets us know that in that moment in the past, "they decided" to go back to the location where they "had come from" (at some other moment in time prior to deciding to go back, of course!). 

 

That's all for today. We hope that this lesson has helped you to understand how the Spanish pluperfect tense is conjugated and used... and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments

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The Spanish "Second Conditional": A Simple Hypothetical Formula

What would you do if you won the lottery? Spanish uses a type of conditional sentence known as the segunda condicional (second conditional) to describe these types of scenarios, which is formed with a simple formula that we will cover today. 

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The Second Conditional in Spanish

There are many different types of Spanish conditionals, or conditional sentences. These are sentences that describe the result "if" a certain condition were in place. They are formed with a conditional si, or "if" clause, plus a main clause, and are classified according to the likelihood of the hypothetical situation. The second conditional typically focuses on scenarios that are unlikely or hypothetical, but can also be used to make an utterance extra polite

 

The Spanish Second Conditional Formula

Let's take a look at the formula for the second conditional in Spanish:

 

Si + imperfect subjunctive verb + conditional verb 

 

If you need to learn or review these tenses or how to conjugate them, we recommend these lessons on the Spanish imperfect subjunctive tense, which describes the unlikely or hypothetical action, and the Spanish conditional tense which conveys the action(s) that "would" happen if some other condition "were" in place.

 

Examples of the Spanish Second Conditional 

Let's take a look at several examples of the Spanish second conditional and some situations in which it could be employed. We'll start with some sentences that describe very unlikely situations:

 

Si me tocara la lotería, viajaría por todo el mundo, y me alojaría en los hoteles más lujosos. 

If I won the lottery, I'd travel around the whole world, and I'd stay at the most luxurious hotels.

Captions 26-27, El Aula Azul La Doctora Consejos: La segunda condicional

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Si tuvieras que morir, no podrías dejarme aquí

If you had to die, you couldn't leave me here

Caption 8, La Gusana Ciega No Me Tientes

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Si pudiera bajarte una estrella del cielo Lo haría sin pensarlo dos veces

If I could lower you down a star from the sky I'd do it without thinking twice 

Captions 5-6, Enrique Iglesias Cuando me enamoro

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Now, let's take a look at some situations that are hypothetical but less outlandish, including the equivalent for the common English expression, "if I were you":
 

Y si tuvieras hijos, ¿te gustaría que practicaran el surf también?

And if you had kids, would you like them to surf as well?

Captions 63-64, El Aula Azul Un día de surf

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Si tuviera que definirla en una sola palabra, sería amor.

If I had to define her in just one word, it would be love.

Caption 22, Fermín y los gatos Mi gata Poeska

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Bueno, si yo fuera tú, hablaría con él. 

Well, if I were you, I would speak with him.

Caption 24, El Aula Azul La Doctora Consejos: Subjuntivo y condicional

 Play Caption

 

And finally, let's see an example where the second conditional is used in a likely scenario for the sake of politeness:

 

Pues, si pudiera venir a la oficina mañana a las nueve, la ubicaríamos en su puesto enseguida. 

Well, if you could come to the office tomorrow at nine, we would get you acquainted with your position right away.

Captions 28-29, Negocios Empezar en un nuevo trabajo - Part 1

 Play Caption
 

Note that while the first conditional si puede venir a la oficina mañana a las nueve, la ubicaremos en su puesto enseguida (if you can come to the office tomorrow at nine, we will get you acquainted with your position right away) could also have been used in this situation, the second conditional in Spanish is sometimes chosen to infuse a sentence with extra formality. 

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Reversing the Formula

In some cases, the order of the imperfect subjunctive and the conditional verbs can be flipped. Let's take a look at a couple of examples:

 

Pero, por eso, estamos imaginando qué pasaría si nos tocara la lotería,

But that's why we're imagining what would happen if we won the lottery,

Captions 34-35, Clase Aula Azul La segunda condicional - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

¿Qué harías si te encontraras un sobre con cincuenta mil euros?

What would you do if you found an envelope with fifty thousand euros?

Caption 19, El Aula Azul La Doctora Consejos: La segunda condicional

 Play Caption

 

That's all for today. We hope that this lesson has helped you to understand a very common formula for talking about hypothetical situations in Spanish. For further information on this topic, we recommend this entertaining video entitled La Doctora Consejos: La segunda condicional (Doctor Advice: The Second Conditional) by El Aula Azul, or this more in-depth lesson called La Segunda Condicional by Clase El Aula Azul. And as always... don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments

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All About "You" in Spanish: The Many Ways to Say It

How do you say "you" in Spanish? In contrast to English, where "you" just say "you," there are a plethora of different ways to say this in Spanish, which we'll explore today. 

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Spanish Subject Pronouns for "You"

Subject pronouns in Spanish (e.g. yo (I), (you), él/ella (he/she), etc.) are the most basic way to say "you." While in English, "you" is the only second person subject pronoun, in Spanish, there are five different ones, and the one you choose will depend on such factors as whether you are addressing one or more than one person, if the situation is more or less formal, and what region you are in. Let's take a closer look. 

 

1.

Simply put, tú means "you" for speaking to just one person in less formal situations, such as speaking to someone you already know. This is the most common familiar second person subject pronoun in most Spanish-speaking countries.

 

hablas obviamente muy bien el español, pero

You obviously speak Spanish very well, but

Caption 10, Carlos y Xavi Part 4 Tradiciones y comida de Barcelona

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2. Vos

Vos is used in a similar fashion as tú in certain countries/regions. It is heard predominantly in Argentina and Uruguay but also in certain areas of Paraguay, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Mexico, and Venezuela. 

 

¿Y vos hablás de mí?

And you talk about me?

Caption 51, Muñeca Brava 18 - La Apuesta - Part 11

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3. Usted

Usted is used to address just one person in more formal situations. Examples might be when you don't know someone and wish to be polite or, perhaps, when addressing an elder. 

 

¿Usted habla del ganso ese? -Sí.

Are you talking about that goose? -Yes.

Caption 54, Muñeca Brava 1 Piloto - Part 10

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4. Vosotros/Vosotras

Vosotros and vosotras are employed to address more than one person informally and are thus the plural equivalent of . Vosotros is used for a group of all males or a mixed male-female group, while vosotras is used for more than one person when everyone is female. Vosotros and vosotras are only used in Spain. 

 

Vosotros habláis.

You [plural] speak.

Caption 11, Fundamentos del Español 7 - Ser y Estar

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5. Ustedes 

Ustedes is used in all Spanish-speaking countries except Spain as the only plural form of saying "you," regardless of formality. However, in Spain, it is used more formally as the plural equivalent of usted (to distinguish it with the less formal vosotros/as). 

 

Y es que hay muchas diferencias entre la forma en que ustedes hablan el español

And it's just that there are a lot of differences between the way in which you guys speak Spanish

Captions 44-45, Carlos y Xavi Part 2 Ustedes y Vosotros

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All of the aforementioned subject pronouns in these clips have been translated as "you" with the exception of the last one, which was translated with the informal "you guys" to emphasize that it is directed to more than one person. However, it would be perfectly acceptable to translate ustedes as merely "you" since English often employs this pronoun to address multiple people.

 

For an abundance of additional information on these five subject pronouns for "you" in Spanish, we recommend Carlos' five-part video series on the Tuteo, ustedeo y voseo

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Verb Conjugation 

As you may have noticed in the examples above, all of which contain the simple present form of the verb hablar (to speak), the form of "you" utilized affects the verb conjugation. Although this happens in every verb tense in Spanish, let's start by taking a look at the simple present tense conjugations of three common Spanish verbs with their various "you" forms highlighted. 

 

Personal Pronoun Hablar Comer Subir
Yo  hablo como  subo
hablas  comes  subes
Vos hablás comés subís
Él/ella habla come sube
Usted habla come sube
Nosotros/nosotras hablamos comemos subimos
Ellos/ellas hablan  comen suben
Ustedes hablan comen suben
Vosotros/vosotras habláis coméis subís

 

You will note that the verb conjugations for all of the five forms of "you" in Spanish differ from one another. Additionally, the conjugation for usted is the same as the conjugation for the third person singular él/ella (he/she) while the conjugation for ustedes is the same as the third person plural conjugation for ellos/ellas (they). Additionally, the conjugations for vos and vosotros/as are the same for -ir verbs.

 

Remember that in Spanish, you don't necessarily need to explicitly say the subject pronoun in order to know which one is in use because the verb tenses themselves make that clear. That said, let's examine a few examples with different forms of "you" and the verb saber (to know). 

 

¿Sabéis qué es un volcán?

Do you know what a volcano is?

Caption 18, Aprendiendo con Silvia Los volcanes

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Ay, ¿sabes qué?

Oh, you know what?

Caption 21, Club 10 Capítulo 1 - Part 1

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¿Sabe que no me parece suficiente?

Do you know that it doesn't seem like enough to me?

Caption 62, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 3 - Part 3

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Despite the absence of subject pronouns, you can tell from the verbs' conjugation that the first example refers to vosotros, the second example refers to , and the third example refers to usted, and for this reason, all three have been translated with "you know." While the third example could technically refer to él or ella as well since the conjugations for all three are the same, the context (one person speaking directly to another rather than talking about anyone else) alerts you that the speaker is addressing the other person as usted

 

Alternative "You" Pronouns in Spanish

Subject pronouns are not the only way to represent the word "you" in Spanish. Other types of Spanish pronouns (direct object, indirect object, and prepositional) also mean "you." Let's see which of each of these types of pronouns correspond with which "you" subject pronouns:

 

Subject Pronoun Direct Object Pronoun Indirect Object Pronoun Prepositional Pronoun
te te ti
Vos  te te vos
Usted lo, la le usted
Ustedes los, las les ustedes
Vosotros/as os os vosotros/as

 

While we won't delve too deeply into these topics, we will provide a brief summary of each of them and give you some examples.

 

Direct Object Pronouns

Direct object pronouns take the place of the direct object (the recipient of an action) in a sentence and answer the question of "what" or "who." Let's see a couple of examples:

 

Vale, no... no os veo... no os veo con mucha...

OK, I don't... I don't see you... I don't see you with a lot...

Caption 39, Escuela BCNLIP Clase con Javi: el futuro - Part 3

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Los veo en el próximo video.

See you in the next video.

Caption 44, Manos a la obra Postres de Minecraft

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In both examples, the translation of the direct object pronoun is "you." In the first, os takes the place of vosotros, and in the second, los takes the place of ustedes

 

Indirect Object Pronouns

Indirect object pronouns answer the question "to who/whom" or "for who/whom" an action is carried out. Let's take a look:

 

De verdad, yo le doy la plata que tengo ahí;

Seriously, I'll give you the money I have there;

Caption 25, Confidencial: Asesino al Volante Capítulo 1 - Part 1

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Otra recomendación que les puedo hacer es que traigan zapatos para el agua,

Another recommendation that I can give you is to bring water shoes,

Captions 35-36, Alan x el mundo Mi playa favorita de México! - Part 2

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In the first example, le lets you know that the speaker will give the money "to" usted, while in the second, the recommendation is being given "to" ustedes. While the indirect object pronouns in these two captions have been translated with simply "you," the translator might also have opted for "I'll give the money I have there to you" and/or "Another recommendation that I can give to you is to bring water shoes."

 

To learn more about indirect and direct object pronouns, check out this two-part lesson on How to Use Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns.

 

Prepositional Pronouns

Prepositional pronouns are pronouns that follow a preposition (words like para (for), de (of, about), en (in, about), etc.) in a sentence. 

 

Este libro es para ti. Este libro es para vos.

This book is for you. This book is for you.

Captions 47-48, Carlos y Cyndy Uso del Voseo en Argentina

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y hoy, he preparado para ustedes estos objetos

and today, I've prepared these objects for you

Caption 3, Ana Carolina El uso correcto de los adjetivos

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Interestingly, ti is the only prepositional pronoun meaning "you" that differs in form from its corresponding subject pronoun.

 

We hope that this lesson has made clear the many different ways that Spanish expresses the concept of "you." That's all for today... and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments

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