The Spanish verb asistir (to be present, to attend) has many different meanings depending on the context. Let's learn how to use this interesting verb.
The verb asistir derives from the latin assistĕre, which literally means "to stop next to," and that’s the basic meaning of this verb:
Para asistir a una reunión de trabajo.
To attend a business meeting.
Caption 4, Raquel - La Compra de un Billete de Tren
This verb is always accompanied by the preposition a. Here's another example using a conjugated form of the verb:
Así que, por primera vez en Animales en familia, asistimos a una doble cirugía.
So, for the first time on "Animales en familia," we witness a double surgery.
Caption 9, Animales en familia - La operación de Yaki
As you can see in the example above, the verb asistir may have different translations. The following example uses the imperative form of the verb:
So, don't stop educating yourself. Lee libros, asiste a seminarios.
So, don't stop educating yourself. Read books, go to seminars.
Caption 60, Raquel y Marisa - Español Para Negocios - Crear una empresa
In certain contexts the verb asistir means "to attend to," in which case it's very common to use the passive voice. The passive voice uses the participle asistido and the preposition por(by), as you can see in the following example:
La enfermera asiste al paciente / El paciente es asistido por la enfermera.
The nurse attends to the patient / The patient is attended by the nurse.
Additionally, asistir also means "to give help or assistance":
El principal rol de un asistente quirúrgico es asistir al cirujano durante una operación.
The primary role of a surgical assistant is to assist the surgeon during an operation.
As in English, the verb asistir is also used in sports to describe the act of enabling another player making a good play:
¡Messi asistió a Suárez sin siquiera tocar la pelota!
Messi assisted Suarez without even touching the ball!
Finally the verb asistir is used to express the idea of reason or law being on somebody's side:
Al demandate le asiste el derecho y la razón.
The plaintiff has the law and reason on his side.
The Spanish verb atender (to serve, to see to, to attend to, among other uses) is a common source of confusion since it doesn't always mean what it sounds like it should to English speakers. Let's see some examples.
The verb atender meaning “to serve” or “to attend” can be very useful in any context that involves providing or receiving a service:
Quisiera saber si la doctora Castaño me podría atender hoy.
I would like to know if Doctor Castaño could see me today.
Caption 9, Cita médica - La cita médica de Cleer
Most of the time this verb is accompanied by the preposition a, but not always. In the following example the preposition a was omitted:
Por el momento ustedes se pueden ir un rato a hablar con sus amigos, a atender [a] la visita,
For the moment you can go for a while to talk with your friends, to serve your guests,
Caption 40, Cocinando con Miguelito - Pollo sudado
This can be done because the expression la visita is depersonalized. But it's very different when the object of the verb atender is an individual or group of individuals, in which case you must always use the preposition a:
Mi ocupación es atender a la gente.
My job is to serve people.
Caption 67, Perdidos En La Patagonia - El Aeropuerto - La Sala De Esperas
The omission of the preposition a occurs more frequently when the verb atender means "to respond to," "to meet," "to answer to," or "to look after" something. For example:
Por ahí lo llamo, se da cuenta que soy yo, no atiende el teléfono.
I might call him, he realizes that it's me, he doesn't answer the phone.
Caption 47, Yago - 10 Enfrentamientos - Part 6
...y de pronto los que atienden [un] negocio,
...and suddenly those who look after a business,
Caption 10, Festivaliando - Mono Núñez - Part 12
You always need to use the preposition a before atender when it means "to pay attention.” In the following example, Raquel uses the contraction al (a + el):
No tendrás dudas si atiendes al contexto de lo que se dice.
You will have no doubt if you pay attention to the context of what is said.
Caption 14, Raquel - Diminutivos y aumentativos
The verb atender is also frequently combined with personal pronouns (used instead of direct and indirect objects):
Voy a tratar de dejarme que me atiendan, que me hagan lo que necesite.
I am going to try to let them take care of me, do to me whatever I need.
Caption 23, Transformación - Estética
It's also common to reiterate the object of the verb in these expressions, even when a pronoun has already been used. For example, it's not incorrect to say dejar que me atiendan a mí (let them take care of me). Saying es mejor que el doctor la atienda a ella primero is as correct as saying es mejor que el doctor la atienda primero (It's better if the doctor sees her first). Here's an interesting example:
No sé, como nervios [de] que lo atiendan a uno y sentirse tan bien atendido.
I don't know, like nerves that one is taken care of and to feel so well taken care of.
Caption 20, Transformación - Estética
¡Gracias por atender a esta lección!
The word in Spanish for empathy is empatía and the word for sympathy is simpatía. You can combine both nouns with the verbs tener (to have), mostrar (to show), expresar (to express), among others:
La gente le tendría simpatía y admiración al mismo tiempo. Y hasta lástima.
People would feel sympathy and admiration for you at the same time. And even pity.
Caption 57, Muñeca Brava - 43 La reunión - Part 3
To use the verbs mostrar and expresar instead of tener you can say:
La gente le mostraría simpatía | People would show sympathy to you.
La gente le expresaría simpatía | People would express sympathy to you.
But how can you directly express your sympathy to a person? The expressions te tengo simpatía ("I sympathize with you" but also "I like you") and soy empático contigo (I'm empathetic toward you) are correct but not very colloquial. There are other expressions that you can use instead, for example estoy contigo (I'm with you):
¿Confías en mí? -Sí. -Yo estoy contigo.
Do you trust me? -Yes. -I'm with you.
Another good way to show support is by simply saying te apoyo (I support you):
Ay, amigui, yo te apoyo.
Oh, friend, I support you.
Caption 11, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 11
In the case of more serious situations, for example when receiving bad news about something, the most common way to show your support is by saying lo siento mucho (I feel so sorry), or the more emphatic cuánto lo siento (how sorry I am). There are different ways to use these phrases, depending on what you want to say. For example:
-Mi papá está muy enfermo. -Oh, lo siento mucho.
-My dad is very sick. -Oh, I'm so sorry.
-Siento mucho que no puedas visitar a tu familia ahora.
-I'm so sorry that you can't visit your family right now.
¡Cuánto lo siento que tuvieras que pasar por eso tú sola!
How sorry I am that you have to go through that all by yourself.
Just pay a lot of attention to the context and tone, because lo siento is also very commonly used in a sarcastic way:
Lo siento, pequeña, pero aquí las cosas hay que ganárselas.
I'm sorry, little one, but here things have to be earned.
Caption 31, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 11
You can also use lo siento mucho to offer your condolences. You can say te ofrezco mis condolencias (I offer you my condolences) or recibe mis condolencias (receive my condolences), expressions that many people shorten to just mis condolencias (my condolences), or mis más sentidas condolencias (my heartfelt condolences):
Mis condolencias, Sr. Gutiérrez. -Gracias.
My condolences, Mr. Gutierrez. -Than you.
Finally, showing support is also about extending a helping hand, right? In Spanish you can use expressions such as ¿en qué te puedo ayudar? (how can I help you?), ¿te puedo ayudar en algo? (can I help you with something?), cuenta conmigo (you can count on me), estoy para lo que necesites (I'm here for whatever you need), among others. A very colloquial expression is echar una mano (literally "to throw a hand"):
...para echarle una mano a la familia.
...to lend a hand to the family.
Caption 61, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 5
In the first installment of Tu Voz Estéreo, our brand new series from Colombia, we hear a conversation between two not very pleasant characters who are planning to steal a guide dog (ಠ_ಠ!) from his blind owner:
Ay, pero ¿cómo y de cuándo acá nos gustan tanto los perros?
Oh, but how and since when do we like dogs so much?
Caption 31, Tu Voz Estéreo - Laura - Part 1
The idiom de cuándo acá (since when) is a rhetorical question. In Spanish, asking ¿Desde cuándo te gustan los perros? is not the same as saying ¿De cuándo acá te gustan los perros? The first one is a simple question, while the second one is asked in order to create a dramatic effect of surprise, outrage, disbelief, or disapproval:
¿Y de cuándo acá eres mi juez?
And since when are you my judge?
Órale, ¿de cuándo acá tan bien vestidos? ¿Dónde es la fiesta?
Wow, since when you dress so well? Where's the party?
There are different ways to translate the English expression "how come?" into Spanish. As a standalone expression, you can use questions such as ¿cómo es eso? (literally "how is that"), ¿cómo así? (literally "how this way"), ¿cómo? (how), or ¿por qué? (why). It's important to add a special emphasis to the way you pronounce these questions:
No había nada interesante que hacer. -¿Cómo?
There was nothing interesting to do. - How come?
Caption 38-39, Guillermina y Candelario - Una aventura extrema - Part 1
But when the expression is part of a sentence (for example, "How come you don't know that?") you can use the idiom cómo que (literally "how that") or cómo es que (how is that):
¿Cómo es que no sabes eso!
How come you don't know that?!
¿Cómo que no trajiste nada de dinero?
How come you didn't bring any money?
You could say that by using this phrase cómo que we're simply omitting the verb decir (to say), as shown in this example:
¿Cómo (dices) que te echaron?
How come (you say) they fired you?
Caption 8, Verano Eterno - Fiesta Grande
In Colombia and other Latin American countries, some people add the word así after que:
¿Cómo así que chucho?
How come it's chucho?
Caption 32, Festivaliando - Mono Núñez - Part 4
Thank you for reading!
Have you ever found yourself in a foreign country and needing to do some banking other than just using an ATM? Here's a useful list of Spanish banking vocabulary.
The Spanish word for "bank" is banco. Occasionally, you may hear people using the expressions institución bancaria (banking institution) or entidad bancaria (banking entity) as well, but these two are more commonly used in written documents:
Las condiciones, mm... no se las acepta, eh... o no se las concede la entidad bancaria.
The conditions, mm... are not accepted, um... or are not granted by the banking entity.
Caption 57, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 12
Note that in Spanish el banco (the bank) is not the same as la banca (banking), a feminine noun you can hear or read quite often if you follow Spanish-speaking world news. Here’s an example:
El candidato a la presidencia de México afirmó que "la banca es uno de los mejores negocios del país".
The candidate for the presidency of Mexico affirmed that "banking is one of the best businesses in the country."
In Spanish the acronym ATM is rarely used. Instead, Spanish speakers use the expression cajero automático (automatic cashier), which is frequently shortened to cajero.
¡Oh! ¿Dónde está el cajero automático?
Oh! Where's the ATM?
Caption 36, Natalia de Ecuador - Palabras de uso básico
As in English, the word cajero or cajera (cashier) is also used to refer to the person who handles the caja (cash register, literally "box"). This word can be used anywhere a financial transaction takes place—at stores, banks, entertainment venues, and even zoquitos clubs:
Hay días que la caja tiene más zoquitos que euros? -No.
Are there days when the register has more zoquitos than euros? -No.
Caption 70, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 5
Finalmente, debes ir a la caja y pagar lo que quieras comprar.
Finally, you should go to the cash register and pay for whatever you want to buy.
Caption 41, Raquel - Haciendo compras
In Spanish as in English, if a cash register is located behind a glass wall or a small window, you may call it ventanilla (window); hence the use of expressions such as pague en ventanilla (pay at the window) or pase a ventanilla 8 (go to window 8). In movie theaters, for example, you may hear people say ventanilla instead of taquilla (box office) quite often. Of course, sometimes a ventanilla is just a window:
¿Y quiere asiento de ventanilla o de pasillo?
And do you want a window or aisle seat?
Caption 36, Raquel - La Compra de un Billete de Tren
The word depósito means "deposit," and depositar means "to make a deposit." Some useful expressions are: quiero hacer un depósito or quiero depositar (I want to make a deposit, I want to deposit). And the same formula applies for transferencia (transfer), giro (wire), and retiro (withdrawal).
The word for "currency" is moneda (which also means "coin"):
"Zoquitos" es una... una red de moneda local.
"Zoquitos" is a... a network of local currency.
Caption 23, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 2
The word divisa means "foreign currency." To ask for a currency conversion, you can say quiero hacer un cambio de divisas (I want to make a currency exchange). However, for a more colloquial touch, use something like quiero cambiar dólares a pesos (I want to exchange dollars for pesos).
To learn more about financial terms, try our series Cuentas claras.
Let's continue our lesson about the most common ways to say “I'm sorry” in Spanish. Thank you to everybody who sent us feedback and suggestions about this lesson!
We discussed the expression lo siento (I'm sorry) in our previous lesson. Let's now focus on the use and meaning of perdóna[me] and discúlpa[me]. As we mentioned before, these two words have a clear and very distinctive apologetic nature and both translate as "I'm sorry," given the appropriate context.
Ay... ¡perdón! ¡Perdón!
Oh... sorry! Sorry!
Caption 21, Amigos D.F. - Consejos para la calle
Te recuerdo, no me digas así porque no lo soporto. -Ay, disculpa.
I remind you, do not call me that because I can't deal with it. -Oh, sorry.
Caption 31, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 3
Remember that perdón and disculpa are also nouns that mean "forgiveness" and "excuse" respectively. So you can say te pido perdón (I ask your forgiveness) or te pido disculpas (literally "I ask you to excuse me"):
Y si he fallado en algo, te pido perdón
And if I have failed in something, I ask your forgiveness
Caption 11, Enrique Iglesias - Mentiroso
¿Ya, contento? -Te pido disculpas.
Happy now? -I ask your forgiveness.
Caption 68, Yago - 3 La foto - Part 8
But by simply saying perdón or disculpa you are actually using these words as verbs in the imperative form, just like "forgive me" and "excuse me" in English. That's made more evident when you attach the personal pronoun me as a suffix to either perdón or disculpa, which is very common (and adds a personal touch to the expression):
You may want to know that even though both perdóname and discúlpame can be translated as "I'm sorry," there are subtle differences between them. In general, perdón is seen as a more heartfelt apology, and more personal. So, thoughtful people who really value precision reserve it for occasions in which they made an actual mistake, personally hurt somebody, etc. Saying disculpa or discúlpame is seen as more casual. Perhaps that's why disculpa is preferred as a simple polite expression equivalent to "excuse me" or "pardon me," phrases that don't necessarily imply you've made a mistake. Remember that, depending on your personal preference and the context, you may want to address people politely by saying (usted) disculpe or discúlpeme:
Disculpe, ¿y usted quién es?
Excuse me, and who are you?
Caption 39, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 4
As long as we are human, we are bound to make mistakes—a simple rule that applies doubly if you are a human trying to learn a foreign language! But what distinguishes a successful learner from an intransigent one is whether one can admit to one’s mistakes and redress them, right? So, don't shy away from speaking if you make mistakes in your Spanish. Sweeten your friends up instead with a candid apology! Here's a lesson about the most common ways to say “I'm sorry” in Spanish.
One short and very common way to say "I'm sorry" in Spanish is lo siento (literally, "I feel it"). Using the proper intonation, this phrase can help you get out of almost any sticky situation or mistake, but, and this is very important, you have to really mean it! Why? Because, just like "I'm sorry," this little Spanish phrase can also be used in a dismissive way, for example:
Lo siento, pequeña, pero aquí las cosas hay que ganárselas.
I'm sorry, little one, but things here have to be earned.
Caption 14, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 5
Perhaps that's why it's very common to add the adverb mucho (a lot) to this phrase, as in lo siento mucho (I'm very sorry) as a way to make sure that the apologetic nature of one's lo siento gets properly transmitted. Another alternative is to use repetition to stress the importance of what you are saying... You can never be too sorry, right?
Bueno, sí, sí, sí, lo siento mucho, Andrea, por favor. -Ay, mire, lo siento, lo siento.
Well, yes, yes, yes, I am very sorry, Andrea, please. -Oh, look, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.
Caption 20, Confidencial - El rey de la estafa - Capítulo 2 - Part 3
But even lo siento mucho is not exclusively used to offer apologies. You can say it as a sarcastic remark, for example, or you can use the phrase lo siento mucho pero to casually introduce an excuse:
Lo siento mucho Mateo pero tengo que irme.
I'm very sorry, Mateo, but I have to leave.
Caption 42, Yago - 3 La foto - Part 8
You may also hear people (especially in Spain) using que (as, since, that) instead of pero (but), as in lo siento mucho que:
Mariona... lo siento que llego de la biblioteca.
Mariona... I'm sorry as I'm coming from the library.
Caption 1, Blanca y Mariona - Vida en general
Note that the expression siento que (without the pronoun lo) is also used to express empathy about an unfortunate situation:
Siento que te hayan despedido, Tomás.
I'm sorry you got fired, Tomas.
It’s also a good option when offering condolences (besides using the classic phrase mis condolencias, which is more formal and more impersonal):
Siento que perdieras a tu mamá, Lucía.
I'm sorry you lost your mom, Lucia.
Perdóna[me] and Discúlpa[me]
Here are some truly apologetic words! The noun perdón (forgiveness) and the verb perdonar (to forgive) have heavy connotations in Spanish. The reason behind this is that these words are rooted in legislative or ecclesiastical contexts in which the notion of perdón is intrinsically linked to the notion of culpa (guilt, fault). The same is true of the noun disculpa (apology, forgiveness, literally "non-guilt") and the verb disculpar (to forgive, literally "to take away the guilt"). There are subtle differences between using perdón and disculpa though. We will tackle those in our next lesson, so stay tuned!
The Spanish word despectivo means "contemptuous," "derogative", or "pejorative." You can use this word in expressions such as No me hables con ese tono despectivo (Don't talk to me using that pejorative tone) or Él es un tipo muy despectivo (He's a very derogative guy).
The word despectivo is also used to describe adjetives and nouns that express disapproval or disdain. You can form these pejorative adjectives and nouns by adding suffixes to root words. The use of prefixes to form pejoratives is not very common, although the etymology of words such as imbécil (imbecile) shows that sometimes prefixes can be used to form words with a pejorative meaning as well. For example:
A veces soy un poco despistada.
Sometimes I'm a bit airheaded.
Caption 14, Raquel - Oficina de objetos perdidos
The word despistada is formed with the Spanish prefix de- (meaning a lack or absence of something) and the word pista (clue); hence another possible translation for this word is "clueless."
Suffixes are, however, much more commonly used to form augmentative, diminutive, and pejorative words in Spanish (actually, in most languages). For example, the suffix -acho/-acha is used to form the pejorative populacho (pleb, mob). Another common pejorative suffix is -ucho/-ucha. You can add it to the root of the word casa (house) to form casucha (hovel, shack), to the word pueblo (town) to form the word pueblucho (hick town), and to practically any other Spanish noun!
The pejorative suffix -astro/-astra can be used to form words such as camastro (rickety old bed). It's actually in the origin of words such as madrastra (stepmother), hijastro (stepson), etc.:
Y mi padrastro, porque mi padre murió, se llama Luis Manuel.
And my stepfather, because my father died, is named Luis Manuel.
Caption 32, Peluquería La Percha - Félix
It's also very common to use augmentative or diminutive suffixes as pejorative ones, due to the fact that the excess or lack of something is usually perceived as a negative thing. For example, the Spanish augmentative suffix -ón/-ona is commonly used to form pejorative words such as gordinflón (fatty), panzón (potbellied), comelón (glutton), llorón (cry baby), and mandón:
La verdad es que Camilo es un poco mandón y un poco raro.
The truth is that Camilo is a bit bossy and a bit strange.
Caption 43, X6 - 1 - La banda - Part 1
Some diminutive suffixes can be used pejoratively as well. For example the suffix -illo/-illa is used in words such as trabajillo (insignificant job) or lucecilla (dim light). If you want to learn more about these suffixes, we recommend you watch Raquel's video on the topic: Raquel - Diminutivos y aumentativos.
Thank you for reading!
One of our latest videos includes an example of an interesting way to pose a question:
¿En qué le puedo ayudar?
How can I help you?
Caption 6, Cita médica - La cita médica de Cleer
In this example, the combination of the preposition en (in, on) and the interrogative word qué (literally “in what”) means how (cómo). Even though the expression cómo puedo ayudarle (how can I help you) exists in Spanish, using en qué instead is a very common choice for native speakers, especially when the expression is meant to be a greeting. In fact, it can be argued that there's a subtle difference between saying ¿en qué puedo ayudarle? (literally "what can I help you with") and ¿cómo puedo ayudarle? (how can I help you): the first one is a polite greeting, while the second one is a general question. Compare the following examples:
Hola ¿en qué puedo ayudarle? - Quiero ordenar a domicilio.
Hi, how can I help you? -I want to order for delivery.
¿Cómo puedo ayudarle, tía? - Ayúdame a rebanar el pan.
How can I help you, Aunt? -Help me slice the bread.
But that’s not the only meaning of en qué. Here’s a notable example:
Oye, y ¿en qué trabajas?
Hey, and what do you do [for a living]?
Caption 82, Ricardo - La compañera de casa
En qué can also be used to ask about a location. It's roughly equivalent to dónde (where):
¿En qué lugar se enamoró de ti?
In what place did he fall in love with you?
Caption 7, Marc Anthony - Y cómo es él
En qué can also be used to talk about time. It's roughly equivalent to cuándo (when):
¿En qué momento sucedió?
When (in what moment) did it happen?
There are many fixed questions that use en qué. The question en qué consiste is worth learning:
¿En qué consiste tu trabajo, Paco?
What does your job consist of, Paco?
Caption 42, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 13
Finally, there are also idiomatic expressions that use en qué. For example, en qué quedamos (literally "in what we agreed”):
¿En qué quedamos? ¿Va tener una herencia o no?
What did we settle on? Is he going to have an inheritance or not?
Caption 38, Muñeca Brava - 30 Revelaciones - Part 9
Let's review some unique Spanish words that you may not have heard of before.
Spanish uses a specific word to describe the rheum (more commonly known as "sleep" in English) found in the corner of the eye after sleeping: lagaña (also legaña). This odd word has an uncertain origin, though some experts believe it to be inherited from a Paleohispanic language! It's important to note that lagaña is not a specialized term as "rheum" is in English, but a common word used in everyday conversations:
Esto es que una... una de las glándulas que se encarga de fabricar la lagaña...
This is because one... one of the glands that is in charge of producing rheum...
Caption 79, Animales en familia - La operación de Yaki
Other unique Spanish words related to the body are entrecejo (the space between the eyebrows).
Y esta parte se llama entrecejo.
And this part is called "entrecejo" [the space between the eyebrows].
Caption 16, Marta explica el cuerpo - La cabeza
and chapas (blush, the pink tinge on the cheeks):
...para obtener las clásicas chapitas de Pikachu.
...to get the classic Pikachu rosy cheeks.
Caption 25, Manos a la obra - Separadores de libros: Pikachu
Do you know any Spanish words or expressions used to describe different types of rain? The expressions está chispeando and está lloviznando both mean "it's drizzling." The verb chispear comes from the noun chispa (spark), while the verb lloviznar comes from the noun llovizna (drizzle). On the other end, when the rain is really heavy, people may use the noun tormenta (storm) to describe it, though aguacero (downpour) is also very common:
Aguacero de mayo, me lleva, papá
May downpour, it's taking me away, man
Caption 44, Kikirikí - Animales - Part 6
Of course, people also use idiomatic expressions to talk about the rain. One example is llueve a cántaros (the equivalent of "it's raining cats and dogs," literally "it's raining as if pitchers were being poured from the sky"). Other words that you may want to explore on your own are: chubasco (a very intense, windy storm) and chaparrón (an intense, sudden, and short storm).
Another interesting set of unique Spanish words is the group used to talk about family in-laws, a list that is quite big, as you can imagine. It's not only suegro, suegra (father- and mother-in-law), but also yerno, nuera (son- and daughter-in-law), cuñado, cuñada (brother- or sister-in-law), and even concuño, concuña (brother, husband, sister, or wife of one's brother-in-law or sister-in-law)!
Es una champiñonera tradicional que estableció mi suegro.
It's a traditional mushroom farm that my father-in-law established.
Caption 6, La Champiñonera - El cultivo de champiñón
Estaba en la casa de mi suegra y mi cuñada, la hermana de mi marido...
I was in my mother-in-law's house, and my sister-in-law, my husband's sister...
Caption 52, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro - Part 1
Interesting tidbit: The equivalent of "in-law family" in Spanish is familia política. You can use the adjective político (political) to describe less close relatives such as primo político (in-law cousin).
In a previous lesson, we learned about how the verb volver can be used figuratively to express the idea of becoming:
Después se volvió más profesional y me encantó más aún todavía, ¿no?
Afterwards, it became more professional and I loved it even more still, right?
Caption 10, Los Juegos Olímpicos - Adrián Gavira
But other Spanish verbs also translate as "to become," for example the verbs transformarse and convertirse (to become, to turn into). These verbs are just as common as volverse but they work differently. That's why you can't just substitute se volvió with se transformó or se convirtió in the example above. When using these verbs you need to be more specific and always remember to use the preposition en (into) to introduce a complement that gives more information about the transformation in question. For example:
...pronto se convierte en una carrera de obstáculos.
...quickly becomes a highway of obstacles.
Caption 41, Animales en familia - La operación de Yaki
El pergamino se transforma en "cisco" y en almendra.
The parchment is transformed into the leftover "cisco" and the bean.
Caption 41, Una Historia de Café - La Bodega
You can switch convertirse and transformarse in the examples above and obtain correct expressions:
...pronto se transforma en una carrera de obstáculos.
...quickly becomes a highway of obstacles.
El pergamino se convierte en "cisco" y en almendra.
The parchment is transformed into the leftover "cisco" and the bean.
But with the verb volverse you don’t need the preposition en (into), so you say:
...pronto se vuelve una carrera de obstáculos.
...quickly becomes a highway of obstacles.
El pergamino se vuelve "cisco" y almendra.
The parchment is transformed into the leftover "cisco" and the bean.
However, to use transformarse or convertirse instead of volverse in the first example you'll have to do more than that, because you can't just say that something or someone se transformó en más profesional (transformed into more professional), right? The expression is incomplete. “Transformed into a more professional what?” people would ask. So you have to say something like:
Después se transformó en una actividad más profesional...
Después se convirtió en una actividad más profesional...
Afterwards, it became a more professional activity...
Finally, an interesting tidbit: You can use both transformarse and convertirse alone as reflexive verbs to express the idea that a person transforms herself or himself, without the need of any complement or preposition, but you can't do the same with volverse:
Me transformo (I transform myself).
Me convierto (I transform myself).
Me vuelvo (This is incomplete; you have to state what you are turning into, for example: me vuelvo un vampiro, which means "I become a vampire").
The verb volver is translated as "to return," but it actually has a great variety of other meanings. Let's see how real Spanish speakers use it in real situations.
Usually, the verb volver means "to come back." It's very common to use its infinitive form combined with another verb, like querer (to want) or ir (to go). Learning how to use the infinitive form of verbs in phrases is actually very useful, especially if you haven't yet mastered the conjugation of irregular verbs such as this one.
¿Y quieres volver al centro? -Efectivamente.
And you want to come back to the center [of the city]? -Exactly.
Caption 48, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 12
You can also use the verb volver figuratively. The following example translates as "again":
Otra vez, volver a hacernos daño.
One more time, hurting each other again.
Caption 24, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 15
Another possible translation of this example is: "Again, going back to hurting each other."
The combination of volver with the preposition a (to) is also a very useful one. You can combine it with other verbs in phrases such as volver a vernos (to see each other again), volver a empezar (to start all over again), volver a entrar (to reenter), etc. Or, you can use conjugated forms:
Pero bueno, cuando pueda, me vuelvo a inscribir en otro gimnasio y me meto.
But well, when I can, I'll enroll again in another gymnasium and I'll go.
Caption 29, Patricia Marti - Diversión y Ejercicio - Part 1
Did you notice the use of the reflexive pronoun me? Well, the verb volver also has a reflexive form: volverse. It's not always easy to know how to use it, though. it usually depends on the verb you are combining it with. As a general rule, you can't use the reflexive form if the following verb is a transitive verb (with a direct object). Compare these examples:
Luisa se volvió a desmayar (Luisa fainted again). It's a mistake to say "Luisa volvió a desmayar" only.
Luisa volvió a romper mi juguete (Luisa broke my toy again). It's a mistake to say "Luisa se volvió a romper mi juguete".
But this is not always the case. You can actually use the reflexive form with transitive verbs as well, when the action of volver has a reflexive meaning (loosely, when the direct object is also the subject of the sentence). This is why me vuelvo a hacer la tarea (I [myself] get back to doing my homework) is different from vuelvo a hacer la tarea (I do my homework again).
Sometimes, the use of a personal pronoun is not an indication of a reflexive action but simply of the existence of a direct or indirect object. In the following example, the pronoun te substitutes for a direct object:
Hijo, móntate adelante pero no te vuelvo a sacar a pasear más, ¿oíste?
Son, get in the front seat, but I am not going to take you out for a ride again, did you hear?
Caption 9, Chiste de Carlito - No. 3 - Part 1
But here the pronoun te substitutes for an indirect object:
Te vuelvo a repetir...
I repeat it to you again...
Caption 74, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro - Part 8
As a last example, a very common figurative meaning of the reflexive volverse is "to become":
Entonces, el asunto se vuelve más complicado.
So, the issue becomes more complicated.
Caption 32, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 3
Quedar is a very useful and interesting Spanish verb because it has a great number of different meanings. Let's learn a few!
Quedar ("to stay" or "to remain") is commonly used alone (quedar) or accompanied with reflexive pronouns (quedarse). This verb can be followed by different complements and prepositions such as con (with), en (in, on), or de (of, from).
Quedarse con means "to stay with":
Y te quedas con los niños.
And you stay with the children.
Caption 29, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 3
It's useful to learn how to turn this expression into an order or request. All you have to do is use the reflexive pronoun as a suffix of the verb: quédate con los niños (stay with the kids). Here's another useful example:
Stay with me
Caption 42, Carlos Baute y Marta Sanchez - Colgando en tus manos
If you combine the verb quedar(se) with the preposition en (in, on), you can introduce an expression of place:
El azúcar se queda en la sangre.
Sugar stays in the blood.
Caption 5, Los médicos explican - La diabetes
You could also use it to express time using prepositions such as desde (since), or durante (during). For example: Elisa se quedará durante el verano (Elisa will stay during the summer); Nos quedaremos desde mayo hasta junio (We'll stay from May to June).
Do you remember how Spanish uses the word hay (there is, there are), the impersonal form of the verb haber (to have)? You can do something similar with queda or quedan (singular and plural third person of quedar) to express the idea "there is [something] left":
Pues ya no queda nada de qué hablar, nada...
For there is nothing left to talk about, nothing...
Caption 2, Bunbury - Entrevista Con Enrique Bunbury - Part 2
This combination of “queda + something” is very useful, and interesting too, because it uses the verb quedar as in a way similar to the impersonal verb hay (there's, there are). So, for example, you can say: ¿Queda café? (Is there any coffee left?), ¿Quedan plátanos en el refri? (Are there any bananas left in the fridge?).
Quedar can also mean "to end up," or "to result in." For example, in the question ¿En qué quedó eso? (How did that end up?). Or here:
Y así queda nuestro diseño.
And our design ends up looking like this.
Caption 7, Manos a la obra - Papel picado para Día de muertos
This can also be used with reflexive pronouns. You can say: Así nos queda nuestro diseño. Another example is:
...porque si no el brócoli sí que nos queda crudo.
...because if not the broccoli does end up raw [for us].
Caption 17, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli - Part 8
The expressions quedar con and quedar en can be used figuratively to express that you have agreed about something with someone. For example, agreeing to meet in a certain place:
Quedamos en vernos aquí a las tres en punto.
We agreed we will meet here at three o'clock.
Or just agreeing with someone on something:
Quedé con Esther en que me quedaría a cuidar a los niños.
I agreed with Esther that I would stay to take care of the kids.
The verb quedar can also be used to express the idea that someone has changed or ended up in a certain position or state of mind. For example: Juliana se quedó sola tras la partida de Esther (Juliana was left alone after Esther's departure). Me quedé sorprendido con su actuación (I was [left] surprised by her performance). Translations vary, however. For example:
Bueno, mi papá se quedó sin trabajo.
Well, my dad lost his job.
Caption 15, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro - Part 2
You can also use the verb quedar to express the idea that a person has gained a certain reputation after an action. For example: quedé como un idiota (I looked like an idiot). As a result, the fixed expression quedar bien means then "to look good" or "get in good with," while quedar mal means the opposite.
No me quedes mal, papá.
Don't let me down, Dad.
Además es una manera de quedar bien con la empresa.
Additionally, it's a way to look good with the company.
Caption 84, Raquel y Marisa - Español Para Negocios - Nuestro perfil profesional en la red
Quedar can also be used to express the idea that you will keep something with you. For example:
-Me quedaré con tu pluma porque me gusta mucho. -No, no puedes quedártela.
-I will keep your pen because I really like it. -No, you can't keep it.
Can you think of a way to answer the previous question with a positive? It's Claro, quédatela ("Sure, keep it")!
You can also use the expression quedar por + a verb in the infinitive to express the idea that something is left to be done. Translations vary depending on the context. For example:
Sólo queda por hacer la tarea.
Only homework is left to be done.
No quiero ni pensar en todo lo que nos queda por alcanzar.
I don't even want to think about how much we still need to achieve.
Finally, the verb quedar also means "to fit" or "to suit":
¿Me queda bien? Sí, ¿no? -Guapo, guapo, muy bien se ve.
Does it look good on me? It does, right? -Handsome, handsome, it looks very good.
Caption 52, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 6
Figuratively speaking, it means "to be appropriate”:
¡No queda que fumes en una fiesta infantil!
It's not appropriate for you to smoke at a children's party!
Let's continue studying phrases that combine prepositions, articles, and pronouns since these can be a source of confusion for Spanish learners. Take a look at Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 here.
Check out the following quote from one of our most recent videos. In this clip teacher Carolina is discussing common mistakes that her students make, and says:
El primer caso del que les quiero hablar hoy es...
The first case I want to talk to you about today is...
Caption 7, Lecciones con Carolina - Errores comunes - Part 5
The phrase del que les is used frequently in Spanish, and has no direct translation in English. If we break this phrase down, we find that it literally means "of the which to you:" the contraction del (preposition de + article el), plus the relative pronoun que (which), and the personal pronoun les (to you). But in English, we don't really say things like "of the which to you." Instead, English uses a very different structure that requires an additional word: "about."
In fact, a more literal translation of the example would be something like: "The first case about which I want to talk to you today is." In Spanish, by the way, there's a similar construction that uses the phrase acerca de, which literally means "about." So in fact, you can also say the following:
El primer caso acerca del que les quiero hablar hoy es...
The first case about which I want to talk to you today is...
However, these expressions are a bit over complicated, both in Spanish and in English. In Spanish, it's better and more straightforward to simply use the preposition de (of, from) combined with the appropriate articles and pronouns, which must agree with the nouns they refer to in both number and gender. For example:
El tipo del que les hablo nunca más apareció;
The guy about whom I speak to you never again showed up
Caption 5, ChocQuibTown - Oro
So, if you are talking about a noun that is both singular and masculine, like el caso (the case) or el tipo (the guy), you need to use del, that is de + el (the). Let's now see an example with a plural noun like artistas (artists), that needs de + los (or de + las if we were talking about female artists):
Pintó junto a grandes artistas de los que aprendió casi todo.
He painted alongside great artists from whom he learned almost everything.
Caption 15, Europa Abierta - Alejandro Hermann - El arte de pintar
The Spanish word lo can be used as a subject pronoun, an object pronoun or a definite article. We have several lessons on the topic, which you can read by clicking here. Lo is a very useful word, and there're many common phrases that use this particle. Let's study some examples.
The phrase por lo tanto means "as a result" or "therefore"
Este puerro, no lo he limpiado previamente, por lo tanto, vamos a limpiarlo.
This leek, I haven't cleaned it previously, therefore, we are going to clean it.
Caption 55, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli - Part 2
The phrase por lo pronto means "for now" or "for the time being"
...y yo por lo pronto pienso avisarle a toda la familia.
...and I for the time being plan to let the whole family know.
Caption 18, Yago - 9 Recuperación - Part 11
The phrase por lo visto means "apparently"
Por lo visto fue en una perfumería.
Apparently it was in a perfume shop.
Caption 42, Yago - 12 Fianza - Part 6
The phrase por lo general is equivalent to the adverb generalmente. It means "generally"
Pero por lo general encontramos sistemas de alarmas
But generally we find alarm systems
Caption 13, Los Reporteros - Crecen los robos en tiendas - Part 3
The phrase a lo largo de means "throughout"
al menos va cambiando a lo largo de las estaciones.
at least is changing throughout the seasons.
Caption 10, Clara explica - El tiempo - Part 1
While a lo lejos means "at a distance" or "in the distance"
El cielo está nublado y a lo lejos tú hablando de lo que te ha pasado
The sky is cloudy and in the distance you speaking of what has happened to you
Caption5-6, Christhian canta - Hombres G - Temblando
In fact, you can add the phrase a lo to certain adjetives to talk about the way something is being done or someone is doing something. For example, a lo loco means "like crazy."
Yo echo un poco de pintura ahí a lo loco
I put a bit of paint there like crazy [spontaneously]
Caption 92-93, Zoraida en Coro - El pintor Yepez
Another common example is a lo tonto (like a dumb, in a dumb way, for nothing).
Hazlo bien. No lo hagas a lo tonto.
Do it right. Don't do it foolishly.
¿Para qué esforzarse a lo tonto?
Why go to all that trouble for nothing?
This phrase always uses the neutral singular form of the adjective. Even if you are talking to a girl or a group of people, you will always use the same. For example:
Lucía siempre se enamora a lo tonto del primer hombre que cruza su camino.
Lucia always falls in love inanely with the first man that crosses her path.
In Mexico, you will also hear the expression al ahí se va (literally, "in a there-it-goes way"). It means to do things without care, plan, or thinking. This is pronounced quite fast, by the way, almost as a single word. Translations vary:
Completé el examen al ahí se va porque no estudié.
I completed the exam with mediocrity because I didn't study.
Tienen más hijos al ahí se va y sin planear en el futuro.
They have more kids without thinking and planning for the future.
Finally, there's the expression a la buena [voluntad] de dios (leaving it to God's goodwill). You may find it in phrases involving the idea of entrusting what you do to God, but it's more commonly used to express that something is done rather haphazardly, without care, skill, effort and or plan.
El aeropuerto se construyó a la buena de Dios.
The airport was built haphazardly.
Is there a topic you'd like covered in our lessons? You can send your suggestions to email@example.com.
Christmas is a very important celebration in all Spanish-speaking countries. Let's review vocabulary related to this Holiday.
One of the most endearing traditions for Christmas in the Hispanic world is the installation of nativity scenes at home or in public places. They are called belenes or nacimientos:
Lo más tradicional además del turrón, el champán y los Reyes Magos, es montar el belén en casa.
The most traditional [thing] besides nougat candy, champagne and the Three Wise Men, is to put up a Nativity scene at home.
Caption 49, Europa Abierta - Joaquín Pérez - Escultor de belenes
Another important tradition are villancicos which are the Spanish equivalent of Christmas carols. Lida and Cleer sing for us one of the most popular villancicos, El burrito de Belén (The Little Donkey from Bethlehem) also known as "El burrito sabanero" (The Little Donkey from the Savannah):
Con mi burrito sabanero voy camino de Belén
With my little savanna donkey I'm heading to Bethlehem
Caption 42, Lida y Cleer - Buñuelos
You may want to learn a few villancicos if you happen to be in a Spanish speaking country around Christmas. Just in case you get invited to a Posada. The word posada means "lodging" or "accommodation." traditionally, posadas are neighborhood celebrations held during the nine days preceding Christmas. They have a religious nature and involve participating in a communal re-enactment of the arrival of Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem who, according to legend, had to go door-by-door pidiendo posada (asking for a place to stay). These celebrations also involve praying, sharing food, and breaking a piñata in the shape of a Christmas star. By extension, the word posada also means "Christmas party" in many Latin American countries. For example, you can get invited to la posada de la oficina (the office Christmas party) or la posada del club de ajedrez (the chess club Christmas party).
Another important word for the Holidays is the word aguinaldo ("thirteen salary" or "Christmas bonus"):
¿Y... le han dado todos sus reglamentos de vacaciones, aguinaldo, todo eso?
And... have they given you all your statutory vacations, annual complementary salary, all that?
Caption 19, Doña Coco - La Vida De Una Cocinera
Día de Reyes or día de los Reyes Magos (day of the three Wise Men) is another popular Christmas celebration in many Spanish-speaking countries. Sometimes people just call it Reyes (Kings). In Mexico this day marks the end of the so-called Guadalupe-Reyes marathon of winter festivities.
Y en los Reyes, va a venir aquí con tus niños.
And at Epiphany, she is going to come here with your children.
Caption 49, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 9
Finally, there's an important distinction to make. The Spanish word for Christmas is Navidad, while the equivalent of Christmas eve is called Nochebuena (Literally, "the Good Night").
Ha pasado otra Nochebuena solo, encerrado. -No, no.
You have spent another Christmas Eve alone, locked inside. -No, no.
Caption 17, Muñeca Brava - 30 Revelaciones - Part 2
Nochebuena is also one of the names given to the poinsettias flower, which is indigenous to Mexico and it's widely used in Christmas floral displays all around the world.
Is there a topic you'd like covered in our lessons? You can send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In recent years, the Mexican celebration known as Día de muertos (Day of the Dead) has gained considerable popularity. The recent release of Coco, a Pixar animated movie inspired by this tradition that has been heavily marketed for Thanksgiving 2017, will likely consolidate the place of this holiday in the mainstream for many years to come.
Día de muertos is mostly aimed at honoring and remembering friends and family members who have died. In Mexico, Día de Muertos — largely celebrated Nov. 1 and 2 — is a syncretic holiday that goes back thousands of years to some pre-Hispanic civilizations including the Olmec, Zapotec, and Maya, but that is also intertwined with Catholic traditions brought in during the Conquest. For this reason, the celebration has both religious and cultural tones, and many regional variants only inside the Mexican territory! For example, people from the state of Michoacan call this celebration Animecha Kejtzitaka (the night of the dead) following indigenous Purepecha traditions, while Mayan people in Yucatan call it Janal Pixan (the food of the dead), a communal festival that lasts several days.
Don Salo, an artisan from Yucatan, talks to us about Janal Pixan:
Aquí se le llama Janal Pixan. En maya es "comida para difuntos".
Here it's called Janal Pixan. In Mayan means "food for the deceased.
Caption 68, Yabla en Yucatán - Don Salo - Part 2
He even mentions Xibalba, the name of the underworld in K'iche' Maya mythology:
y sucumbía en esta vida, para pasar al Xibalba, al inframundo,
and succumbed in this life, to go on to the Xibalba, to the underworld,
Caption 28, Yabla en Yucatán - Don Salo - Part 2
Nowadays the Día de muertos celebration in Mexico is still deeply rooted in religious practices, but it has also evolved into an important secular holiday, with distinctive elements and practices that are shared across the whole country and some US southern regions at least since the year 1900. One of these elements is el altar de muertos or la ofrenda de muertos(the offering to the dead), which is set up to honor the memory of a deceased person. Some of the most common elements that you will find in a Mexican altar de muertos are: papel picado (decorative pierced paper), marigolds, sugar skulls, candles, pan de muerto (bread of the dead), salt, water, and traditional food.
Our friend Meli shares a very contemporary take on Día de muertos while showing us how to make papel picado:
El papel picado es un producto artesanal, ornamental de papel,
The "papel picado" is an artisan ornamental product made out of paper,
Caption 46, Manos a la obra - Papel picado para Día de muertos
Meli is also aware that different people in Mexico have different Día de muertos traditions, an important thing a language learner interested in this cultural celebration must remember:
En algunos lugares de México las personas pasan parte de la noche en el panteón.
In some places in Mexico people spend part of the night at the cemetery.
Caption 54-55, Manos a la obra - Papel picado para Día de muertos
By the way, the words panteón (from Greek pantheon), cementerio, and camposanto all mean "cemetery" and they are all very common in Mexico. Many other words like tumba (tomb), sepultura (entombment), enterramiento (burial), etc. are also used to talk about the death... and joke about it. One such expression is levantar al muerto (to raise the dead) which literally means "to resuscitate" but it's also commonly used to refer to hangovers:
unos buenos chilaquiles levantan al muerto más muerto.
some good chilaquiles raise the deadest of the dead (cure the worst hangover).
Caption 23, Tatiana y su cocina - Chilaquiles
Keep in mind that, even though the Mexican Día de muertos is the most well-known rendition of this holiday, this celebration is also important in many other Spanish speaking countries, each with its own particularities. Our friend Julia, for example, tells us that in Ecuador people customarily drink colada de mora (blackberry smoothie) for Día de muertos:
y que en Ecuador y en otros países se la toma el dos de noviembre de todos los años, el Día de los Muertos.
and that in Ecuador and in other countries is consumed on November second every year, the Day of the Dead.
Caption 53, Otavalo, Ecuador - Conozcamos el Mundo de las Frutas con Julia
Have you witnessed a Día de muertos celebration while traveling in a Spanish speaking country? Share your stories with us on twitter @yabla and send your topic suggestions to email@example.com.
Let's continue studying examples of the use of the Spanish word ya.
Used emphatically, ya is equivalent to para (stop) and basta (enough):
Ya, ya, ya, para, para, para, para, para, para. -¿Ya?
Enough, enough, enough, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop. -Already?
Caption 35, Yago - 7 Encuentros - Part 11
But also to "now," "go," or "start":
A partir de este momento comienza la prueba. Ya. -¡Ya!
From this moment the test begins. Now. -Now!
Caption 39, Misión Chef - 2 - Pruebas - Part 6
Or something similar to "that's it":
Well, that's it.
Caption 104, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 9
Ya is also a short answer meaning "yes," "right," "agreed." It may be the case that this use originated from common phrases like ya entiendo (I understand [already]) and ya veo (I see [now]):
Mira que hasta en la forma de... de ejecutarlo varía mucho. -Ya.
Notice that, even the manner of... of playing it varies a lot. -Yeah.
Caption 1, Festivaliando - Mono Núñez - Part 5
Sí, ya veo.
Yes, I see.
Caption 77, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 11
Ya can also mean "since" when combined with the pronoun que:
ya que es muy pequeña y por... tener dos océanos,
since it is very small and due to... having two oceans,
Caption 39, World Travel Market" en Londres - María nos habla de Guatemala
But also "once" or "now that":
Ya que tenemos todo dentro de la licuadora,
Once we have everything inside of the blender,
Caption 26, Osos en la cocina - Carne asada
Ya mismo means "right now"
¿Está bien? -Esperando, ya mismo vamos a las castañas.
Are you OK? -Waiting, right now we're going to the chestnuts.
Caption 11, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 4
Ya está is a common phrase meaning "it's ready" but it can also be used as "that's it":
se pone en la caja y ya está.
it's put into the box and that's it
Caption 86, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 16