María


Gerund in Spanish (form and uses)

Gerund. And what’s that?

FORM

We make it by replacing the endings “-ar, -er, -ir” of the infinitive with -ando (verbs that ends in -ar) or -iendo for the verbs that end in -er, -ir

ger_1

Note: if the stem of the verb ends in vowel, ie. caer — ca-er, the ending for the infinitive would be -yendo.

ger_2

There are some irregular verbs in the gerund form

The verbs ending in -ir with an –e or an –o in the radical change those vowels by -i, or -u.

ger_3

 

USES

1. Temporal = while / when

Abriendo la puerta, descubrí al ladrón. (Cuando abrí la puerta)
– When I opened the door, I discovered the thief.

2. Causal = because / since

Viendo que se encontraba incómoda, nos fuimos de la fiesta. (Como se sentía incómoda)
– Seeing she was feeling uncomfortable, we left the party.

3. Conditional = if

Estudiando mucho desde hoy, podremos aprobar el examen (Si estudiamos mucho)
– If we study a lot from now on, we will be able to pass the exam.

4. Concessive (+ aun) = although

Aun lloviendo, iré a correr (Aunque llueva)
–  Even if it rains, I will go for a run.

5. Modal = answer the question “how” and the gerund is equivalent to “this way”

– Los sueños se cumplen trabajando en ellos (¿Cómo se cumplen los sueños? Así = Trabajando)
– The dreams are come true by working on them.

6. Relative = sentence with “that” and works as an adjective.

– La niña hablando con el policía es mi prima. (La niña que habla con el policía)
– The girl speaking with the policeman is my cousin.

Valores del Gerundio

And, if you are an English speaker, this is a very important part of the post.

We don’t use the gerund…

As a subject, in which case we use the infinitive.

Estudiar español es muy fácil.
Studying Spanish is very easy.

 

Ficha de teoría: Valores_gerundio_teoria

 


“Echar”: 7 meanings + 7 common expressions

“Echar” is a very tricky but I’m here to help! 🙂

If you look for the meanings of “echar” in the RAE (Royal Spanish Academy Dictionary) you will find about 48 meanings and as many expressions that use this verb.

But despite all this abundance of meanings, the idea of “echar” implies movement from inside to outside or put away. Some of the meanings are ‘to throw’, ‘to expel, fire’, ‘to pour’, amongst many others…

Let’s see with detail some of the most used and useful meanings of “echar”

MEANINGS

1. ‘To throw, throw away’ – ‘Hacer que algo vaya a parar a alguna parte, dándole impulso’ (rae) ( to put (something) in a particular place in a careless or forceful way, to cause to move suddenly or forcefully to or away from a particular place) (merriam-webster).

– No deberíamos echar desperdicios al mar.
– We shouldn’t throw waste into the sea.

– ¡Échalo a la basura ahora mismo!
– Throw it away right now!

2. ”To throw out, to fire, to expel’ – ‘Hacer salir a alguien de algún lugar, apartarle con violencia, por desprecio, castigo, etc. // Deponer a alguien de su empleo o dignidad, impidiéndole el ejercicio de ella’ (rae). ‘To remove from a place, office, or employment usually in a sudden or unexpected manner (merriam-webster).

– La profesora me ha echado de clase esta mañana.
– The teacher threw me out of class this morning.

– Tengo que aceptar todos los proyectos que me dan si no quiero que me echen del trabajo.
– I have to take on all the projects they give me if I don’t want to get fired.

3. ‘To move, to lean, to push’ – ‘Inclinar, reclinar o recostar’ (rae). ‘To incline, deviate, or bend from a vertical position’ (merriam-webster).

– Puedes echar la cabeza a un lado que no veo bien?
– Can you tilt the head because I can’t see properly?
4. ‘To post, to give’ – ‘Dar o repartir’ (rae) ‘To post a letter // to give’ (merriam-webster)
– He echado la carta al buzón. Llegará en tres días.
– I post the letter. It will arrive in three days.
– Mamá pato echa de comer a los patitos.
– Mum duck feed the ducklings.
5. ‘To reckon, to count, to estimate’ – ‘Hacer cálculos, cuentas. Suponer o conjeturar el precio, distancia, edad, etc., que nos son desconocidos’. ‘To think or suppose, to believe that something is true or possible. To calculate or guess (an amount, number, value, etc.). To have or form a general idea about something’ (merriam-webster).
– ¿Qué edad le echas?
– How old do you reckon he is?
6. ‘To take time, to spend time’ – ‘Invertir o gastar en algo el tiempo que se expresa’. ‘To allow (time) to pass in a particular place or while doing a particular activity’ (merriam-webster).
– ¿Cuánto tardarás en llegar? – Échale dos horas.

– How long will it take you to arrive? -Let’s say two hours.

7. ‘To show‘ – ‘Representar o ejecutar comedias u otros espectáculos’ (rae). ‘To give a theatrical performance, to be staged or presented’ (merriam-webster).

– Echan una peli de Julia Roberts en la tele esta noche. No me la pierdo.
– There’s a Julia Roberts movie on TV tonight. I won’t miss it.

EXPRESSIONSechar_expressions

• echar a perder: ‘to spoil, to go off’.

– Con este calor la carne se echa a perder enseguida.
– With this heat, the meat goes off immediately.

• echar de menos: ‘to miss someone’.

– Juan está tan triste porque echa de menos a su amiga Marta que está de viaje.
– Juan is so sad because he misses his friend Marta who is traveling.

• echarse atrás: ‘to cry off’.

– Estaba todo organizado para la compra del piso pero se echaron atrás en el último minuto.
– It was all organized for the purchase of the house but they cried off at the last minute.

• echar un cable: ‘give a hand’.

– No te preocupes, te echaré un cable hasta que encuentres otro trabajo.
– Don’t worry, I’ll give you a hand until you find another job.

• echarse encima de alguien: ‘pounce on’.

– Los alumnos se me echaron encima cuando les mandé más tarea para el lunes.
– The students pounced on me when I gave them more homework for Monday.

• echar un vistazo: ‘have a look, take a look, take a glance’.

– He echado un vistazo al examen y no parece difícil.
– I have taken a look at the exam and it doesn’t seem difficult.

• echar en cara: ‘throw something is someone’s face’.

– No aguanto más que Pedro me eche cosas en cara constantemente. 
– I can’t stand anymore Pedro throwing things at my face constantly.


Info DELE 2016 – Get your Official Spanish Diploma!

 

dele_exam_2016

These are official diplomas accrediting your level of Spanish, issued by Instituto Cervantes on behalf of Spain’s Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. They are valid indefinitely and are widely recognized internationally.

Enroll in a DELE exam for the April 2016 sitting!

There are 5 sittings planned for 2016, here you have the dates:

DELE EXAM – APRIL 2016

DELE EXAM – MAY 2016

DELE EXAM – JULY 2016 

DELE EXAM – OCTOBER 2016

DELE EXAM – NOVEMBER 2016

Dates and registration times are for each exam are the following:

APRIL EXAM  (15th April)

Levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 y C2
Registrations open from February 15th until March 16th

MAY EXAM

Date: 20th, school levels: A1, A2/B1
Date: 21st, levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1
Registrations open from February 15th until April 13th 

JULY EXAM (15th July)

Levels: A2, B1, B2, C1
Registrations open from February 17th until June 8th 

OCTOBER EXAM (21st October)

Levels: A2, B1, B2
Registrations open from February 17th until September 14th

NOVEMBER EXAM (26th November)

Levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 y C2
Registrations open from February 17th until October 19th

 Do you need a teacher?  If you are interested in getting the DELE certificate, don’t hesitate in contacting me and we will organize a program of work for you to pass the exam. I am an official DELE examiner so I have experience preparing students to the exam as well as being part of the process as an examiner.

Click HERE to get information about the  DELE Preparation Course 

Click HERE to get information about the prices of this DELE preparation course

 

 


Uses of the 4 Past Tenses in Spanish 3

In previous posts you have learned about how to talk about the past, and you learned how to form and use the Pretérito Perfecto (Present Perfect), the Pretérito Imperfecto (Past Continuous), the Pretérito Indefinido (Past Simple) and Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto (Past Perfect).

Now you have all the tenses required to talk about the past, but you might be wondering when to use one or the other, aren’t you? I hear you, it seems tricky but it is not that much.

Let me explain.

  • Pretérito Perfecto: Is used for past actions that have a feeling of continuing into the present, or continuing to affect the present, or without mention of when.

– Esta tarde he tomado un café con Sara.
– This afternoon I have had a coffee with Sara.

  • Pretérito Indefinido: Is used for past actions that are seen as completed at a definite time in the past.

– El año pasado fuimos de vacaciones a Portugal.
– Last summer we went on holiday to Portugal.

It is also used for actions in the past that have no relation with the present, such as single events that contain a date or a specific period of time.

– Viví en Paris desde 1997 a 2001.
– I lived in Paris from 1997 to 2001.

– Trabajamos en el proyecto la semana pasada.
– We worked in the project last week.

– Ayer no fui a trabajar.
– Yesterday I didn’t go to work.

The Indefinido is used for a series of actions in the past, to talk about past actions that happen one after the other.

– Ella se levantó, se vistió, tomó un café y fue al trabajo.
– She got up, got dressed, had a coffee, and went to work.

  • Pretérito Imperfecto: This tense Is used for actions in the past that are not seen as completed. It’s use implies that the past action did not have a definite beginning or a definite end.

– Cuando vivía en Londres, todavía no conocía a Peter.
– When I was living in London, I still didn’t know Peter.

The Imperfecto is also used for habitual actions (used to…).

– Hacía yoga todas las mañanas.
– I used to do yoga every morning.

The Imperfecto is the tense of the description, so it is used to describe things, people, animals, situations in the past. Also for telling time and stating one’s age.

– Mi padre era alto, moreno y llevaba un bigote muy gracioso.
– My father was tall, dark and he had a funny moustache.

– Hacía mucho frío y no tenía un abrigo.
– It was very cold and I didn’t have a coat.

– Cuando tenía 12 años jugaba en el parque.
– When I was 12 years old I played in the park.

– Eran las 10 de la noche.
– It was 10 o’clock at nigh.

We combine the imperfecto with the indefinido to tell a story.

– Hacía mucho frío cuando él llegó a casa y preparó una taza de té.
– It was very cold when he arrived home and prepared a cup of tea.

  • Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto: Used to talk about an action that happened in the past, previous to another action also in the past.

– Cuando llegué a casa, él ya se había ido.
– When I arrived home, he had already gone.

And now all in combination! Woohoo!

– Pedro estaba (description) muy cansado porque se había acostado    (action 1º) muy tarde la noche anterior por lo que no oyó (action 2º) el despertador a la mañana siguiente.

– Pedro was very tired because he had gone to sleep very late the previous night, and that’s why he didn’t hear the alarm the following morning.

 

Finally, you can download a printable version of this lesson in the link below. You will also find a second link to a pdf with some exercises to practice and reinforce the knowledge. Remember that you can get a personalized correction for free by sending your answers to learn@mariaortegagarcia.com and I will get back to you with the corrections as soon as my busy teaching schedule allows me to.


Talking about the past (IV): Pluscuamperfecto de Indicativo (Past Perfect) 1

In previous posts we have learnt about the “Pretérito Perfecto”, the “Imperfecto” and the “Indefinido”. In this post we are going to learn how to form and use the “Pluscuamperfecto”, the last of the past tenses in Spanish. In a next post we will learn how to use all the four in combination.

Form

The Pluscuamperfecto is a compound tense, which means that is formed with the auxiliary verb, “haber” in the imperfect tense and followed the participe of the verb.

Pluscuamperfecto

Pluscuamperfecto

Use

We use this tense to talk about a past and finished action previous to another finished action or moment also in the past. Note: It is equivalent to the Past Perfect in English.

– La película ya había terminado cuando llegamos a casa.
– The movie had already finished when we arrived home.

Habíamos estudiado mucho para el examen, pero suspendimos.
– We had studied a lot for the exam but we failed.

As you can see, in both examples, the sentences talked about two past situations, and there are two actions in each sentence: the one in pluscuamperfecto (past perfect) is previous in time to the one in the indefinido (past simple).

Finally, you can download a printable version of this lesson in the link below. You will also find a second link to a pdf with some exercises to practice and reinforce the knowledge. Remember that you can get a personalized correction for free by sending your answers to learn@mariaortegagarcia.com and I will get back to you with the corrections as soon as my busy teaching schedule allow me.

Note: 

Much of the above type and style of clarifications, grammar, and other tricky elements are now covered in Compass Spanish (a new course comprised of daily mini-lessons delivered straight to your inbox). If you struggle to find the time or have a busy schedule, try out a free week (no strings attached and no credit card required!).

Spill the Beans (1)


Duolingo, Rosetta Stone or teacher based training: What’s the best approach?

Probably the majority of you, blog readers and language learners, already know, heard of, or even used one or both of the language learning platforms: Duolingo and Rosetta Stone.

The motivation of this post is personal experience and a recurrent flow of students coming to my arms, back to “traditional” learning methods in search of results.

I know both platforms and tried both. The software Rosetta Stone was probably the ,one I explored less time, mainly for the reason that I didn’t find much value. As a language teacher and independent learner I know that there are better ways of learning a language than learning words and sentences by heart.

Reagarding Duolingo I feel different because is free, entertaining and a great way of getting familiar with a language. However, after few weeks trying to learn German, I stopped and started to look for books and a regular teacher.

Here are the pros and cons about Duolingo for me:

  • Pros:

– Is free.
– It’s catching because you can compete with friends and we all know how motivating is to beat our friends and acquaintances.
– It’s fun, I particularly loved the part when I got that first email telling me that the owl was sad and missed me, as a reminder to continue with the practice…
– It’s very interactive so it’s good to learn words and sentences.

  • Cons:

– The pronunciation part is not great… sometimes I had to repeat the sentences because my pronunciation wasn’t correct…ahem, I mean, I was testing the Spanish training!
– It doesn’t give you many grammar explanations, which like it or not, is sadly necessary in order to understand how the language works.
– It doesn’t have any contexts and tasks.
– There is no communication or interaction whatsoever.

What's the best approach?

It’s all about independence.

To be able to reproduce a few sentences like a parrot doesn’t mean you are able to have a conversation.

These methods reminded me of the old school ways of learning languages. I even suffered myself at school where we learned all the grammar, to translate by writing and the speaking training consisted in learning conversations by heart… After all my school years learning English that way I went to England for a month and I wasn’t able to articulate a sentence, but mind you, I knew the list of all irregular verbs perfectly and  could write very good essays…

In real life there is no script one can follow. So, what’s the point of learning by heart whole dialogues about the weather, the hobbies, work, cooking… whatever, if, in real life you won’t likely have the opportunity of sneaking in those sentences?

An evolution of methods and approaches

By old school methods I mean the audio lingual (created by the USA Army to teach English to the non english speakers in WWII) and the audio-visual (created in the 60’s). Both methods work but to a certain extent: They require more time for the student to deduct the grammar rules behind the sentences and therefore the results, unless you spend hours and hours every day for a long period of time, will take longer, if they ever manifest at all… because if you have never learnt a second language as a foreign language previously, or didn’t learnt grammar at school, you won’t have the background, previous experience and structures necessaries to deduct them.

There is no magic method to learn a language. All require effort and constancy. All require real interaction, with either a native teacher (looking after number one… 😉 ), a native friend or a visit to the country of the language you aim to learn. The more real the situation, the better.

I don’t know if the communicative and task based approach are the best ones but they are the ones that works for me and for my students. I have received few new students lately that started learning Spanish with Duolingo and Rosetta Stone and had a good amount of vocabulary but weren’t able to speak, which is the goal of the majority of the language learners: communicate and being able to react in certain situations. They highlighted the fact that they felt they hadn’t got much results, they knew words but they didn’t know what to do with them, how to make sentences on their own…

I hate to say that, but sometimes a little grammar “pain” can help you a lot in the long run. If you understand how the structure of a sentence works, you will be able to make sentences yourself when needed, and you will learn the words as you need them. A 3 minutes explanation and few examples are all what the aforementioned grammar ordeal is. Besides, in a regular class based in the communicative and task based approach, it’s about talking, expressing your immediate needs and solve real life task in the target language. It’s not about learning sentences without a context but learning how to make yourself understood and understand others in a conversation or interaction.

It’s about communication not repetition.