María


Tener or Haber: solving a confusing verb pair (I) 1

 

All Spanish courses focus since early stages in the learning of language in how to distinguish the scary verb pair “ser” and “estar” translated in english by just one verb, “to be”, however some of other confusing pairs are often overlooked only because they are used less often.

That’s the case of verbs pairs like “pedir” and “preguntar” (to ask), “salir” y “dejar” (to leave), “tocar” y “jugar” (to play) or “haber” y “tener” (to have), which is the pair that we’ll be exploring in this post.

First of all, it’s worth mentioning that both, tener and haber are irregular.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • The difference is very clear once I explain it here.

Tener” has the sense of ‘posses’ or ‘to hold’. For instance:

Tengo cuatro bolsos de Luis Vuitton.
-I have four Luis Vuitton bags. (In the sense of I own / posses four really expensive bags).

In contrast, “haber” is the auxiliar verb that goes with the past participle in the perfect tenses, like here:

He visto la última película de Nathalie Portman.
– I have seen Nathalie Portman last movie.

It’s easy up to this point?

  • However both verbs, tener and haber, can also be used with “queto express necessity and obligation.

Look at this examples:

Tengo que comprarme una mochila.
– I have to buy a backpack.

Hay que comprarse una mochila.
– It is necessary to buy a backpack.

In any case, you can check the differences between “hay que” and “tener que” with more detail in this post.

 


Bien or Bueno? Muy or Mucho? Erase any doubt! 8

 

This is a common question between the Spanish students and a great source of confusion so in this article you will learn to differentiate the two pair of terms and use them correctly.

The simple answer is that one is an adjective and the other is an adverb, but that doesn’t help much of you don’t have a clear understanding of the function of adjectives and adverbs themselves.

ADJECTIVE vs. ADVERB: THE GRAMMATICAL ANSWER

So, let’s make a quick explanation about these two concepts.

  • An adjective always modifies a noun, which means that an adjective talks about or is referred to a noun and therefore will accord always with the noun in genre and number. Look at the example:

– El perro mojado corre.
– The wet dog runs.

Here “mojado” is an adjective that talks about the noun, “perro“.

  • Whereas adverbs always modifies a verb, an adjective or another adverb or phrase, which means that an adverb talks about or is referred to a verb or other adverb / adjective but not a noun.

– El perro mojado corre rápidamente.
– The  wet dog runs quickly.

In this example “rápidamente” is an adverb that talks about the verb, “corre“, and answers the question: “how the action (verb) is done?”.

It’s easy to see the difference between the adjectives and verbs with these kind of words: “mojado” is a participle and they work as adjectives, whereas the words that end in “-mente“, the equivalent of “-ly” in English, are adverbs and always talk about how the action is done.

Well, the problem arrives with the 2 pairs of words I presented you at the beginning of the post.

 CLEAR DOUBTS: THE DEFINITE ANSWER

The previous answer is helpful but if you still have doubts about when to use bien or bueno, muy or mucho, keep reading this article and you won’t have any doubt left once you finish reading this article.

  • BIEN or BUENO (BUEN)

Bien is an adverb, so it will be referred to the verb, the action, of the sentence. So, as an adverb, the word “bien” won’t appear close to a noun but close to a verb and it will answer the question “How…?”. Look at the examples:

– No he dormido bien.
– I didn’t sleep well. (¿How did you sleep?)

– Desde que hago ejercicio estoy muy bien.
– Since I do exercise I am very well. (How are you?)

Bueno, on the other hand, is and adjective, so it will accord with the noun it goes with.

– La película buena.
– The good film.

– El libro bueno.
– The good book.

When “bueno” is used before the noun it becomes “buen” but only in the masculine.

– El libro bueno > El buen libro.

So basically bien is translated by well and bueno by good.

So far so good but… when to use “bien” or “bueno” with “ser” and “estar“?

I think that’s the most complicated part to understand but here is my attempt to make you finally understand this. “Ser” express a quality and “estar” a temporary thing or the result of something. Having this in mind, look at these examples:

– Yo estoy bien.
– I am well, fine, ok.

Yo soy bueno.
– I am a good person.

But:

Yo estoy bueno.
– I am good looking. So careful with this if you don’t want to sound cocky 😀

Oh, and remember we never use “bien” with “ser” . So, “Esto es bien is wrong, you either say “Esto está bien“, which means that ‘this is right, correct or good’,  or “Esto es bueno”, meaning ‘This is good, beneficial’ depending on what you actually want to express.

  • MUY vs. MUCHO

This is the last pair of words that cause some headache to my students.

First thing: “muy” is an adverb and is referred to other adjectives and adverbs while  “mucho” an adjective referred to a noun.

Ese chico es muy alto.
– This guy is very tall.

–  Hay muchos libros encima de la mesa.
– There are a lot of books on the table.

 However, sometimes “mucho” works as an adverb and then you can find it referred to the verb / action.

– Estoy muy cansado porque he trabajado mucho.
– I’m very tired because I worked a lot.

As you see here, “mucho” is not talking about any noun but the verb “trabajar”.

So here is the rule:

– Muy + adjective

– Mi novio es muy listo.
– My boyfriend is very smart.

– Muy + adverb

– Hemos terminado el proyecto muy rapidamente.
– We have finished the project very quickly.

– Mucho + noun

– Tenemos mucho trabajo.
– We have a lot of work.

  • Verb + mucho

– Llueve mucho.
– It rains a lot.

・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・

If you liked this post, you might be interested in reading as well:
– “Ser bueno” and “estar bueno”: not the same thing?
“Ser” or “Estar”: the answer

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)


Relative clauses in Spanish 5

Introduction

In this post I will explain you the relative sentences in Spanish, which are the combination of two sentences that share a common noun, that means that one of the sentences gives more information, modifies or specifies the noun in common. Look at these examples:

– ¿Has visto a esa chica?
– Have you seen that girl?

Esa chica está bailando en medio de la calle.
– That girl is dancing in the street.

¿Has visto a esa chica que está bailando en el medio de la calle?
– Have you seen that girl (that) is dancing in the street?

Here the common noun is “esa chica” and the second sentence specifies what girl I am talking about.

– Ayer me visitó mi vecina con su hijo Manuel.
– Yesterday my neighbor visited me with her son Manuel.

Su hijo es médico.
– Her son is a doctor.

– Ayer me visitó mi vecina con su hijo Manuel, que es médico.
– Yesterday my neighbor visited me with her son who is a doctor.

Here the common noun is “hijo” and the second sentences adds more information about that person.

Relative pronouns

Pronouns are words that refer to a noun. Relative pronouns are called “relative” because they are “related” to a noun that has previously been stated.

  • QUE

The most common relative pronoun, and the one used in the previous two examples is “que“. It can be used to refer to both persons and things, in either the subject or the object position. “Que” can be translated in English by “who”, “whom”, “which” and “that”.

Observe these examples:

– Mi actor favorito, que es muy guapo, se ha casado con una modelo.
– My favorite actor, who is very handsome, has got married with a top model.

In this example the relative is referred to a person and is the subject.

– La película que vi la semana pasada fue malísima.
– The movie that I saw last week was really bad.

And here, the relative pronoun talks about a thing and is the object of the relative clause.

Remember that the relative pronoun is often omitted in English but it is never, ever, omitted in Spanish.

– El libro que estoy leyendo es muy interesante.
– The book (that) I am reading is very interesting.

  • QUIEN

The relative pronoun “quien” is used only to refer to people. There is no genre distinction but it  has a plural form “quienes” . It’s important to notice that when the relative pronoun refers to a person as the object in the relative clause, you can use either “que” or “quien” and both are correct, but when the relative is followed by a preposition we can only use “quien” and not “que”.

– Mi amiga Pepa, que / quien vive en Australia, viene a visitarme el mes que viene.
– Mi friend Pepa, who lives in Australia, is coming to visit me next month.

– Ese hombre, con quien me viste hablar, es mi jefe.
– That man, with whom you saw me talking, is my boss.

– Pedro a quien entregué el paquete está encargado del proyecto.
– Pedro whom I handed the packet is in charge of the project.

  •  EL QUE / LA QUE / LOS QUE / LAS QUE

The relative pronoun “el que, la que, los que and las que”  are used to refer to both people and things and are translated in English by “the one who / that”. We can use “el cual, la cual, los cuales and las cuales” instead of “el que…” but those are not used in everyday conversation but for written Spanish or a formal speaking.

– La botella de vino, la que tiene 20 años, está guardada en la bodega.
– The bottle of wine, the one that is 20 years, is kept in the cellar.

It’s important to notice that when the relative pronoun refers to an abstract idea, we have to use “lo que“.

Lo que quieres de él es imposible, es un insensible.
– What you want from him is impossible, he is an insensitive guy.

– No entiendo lo que está escrito en la pizarra.
– I don’t understand what is written in the blackboard.

  • CUYO / CUYA / CUYOS / CUYAS

This relative adjective relates the owner to that which is owned, is the equivalent of “whose” in English. There are four forms according to singular and plural, masculine and feminine.

– El perro cuyo dueño está en ese banco es una monada.
– The dog whose owner is sitting on that bench is a cutie.

– Estéban, cuyas ex novias están en la fiesta, está muy incómodo.
– Estéban, whose ex girlfriends are in the party, is very ill at ease.

Bear in mind that this relative adjective agrees in number and gender with the thing being owned and not with the owner.

– El perro cuyo dueño está en ese banco es una monada.

– Pedro, cuya hermana es muy guapa, es mi amigo.

– Estéban, cuyas ex novias están en la fiesta, está muy incómodo.

– Los estudiantes cuyos exámenes están suspendidos deben pasar por el despacho del director.

TYPES OF RELATIVE CLAUSES

First of all, we have to distinguish two types of relative clauses:

  • Explicativas (explanatory): always between commas, are the ones that add information.

– Los estudiantes, cuyos exámenes están suspendidos, deben pasar por el despacho del director.
– The students, whose exams are failed, must visit the the Principal’s office. (All of them failed in the exam so all must visit the principal office)

  • Especificativas (defining): not between commas, specify which group.

–  Los estudiantes cuyos exámenes están suspendidos deben pasar por el despacho del director.
– The students whose exams are failed must visit the the Principal’s office.  (Only the ones that have failed must visit the principal office)

INDICATIVE OR SUBJUNCTIVE?

The explanatory clauses, “explicativas”, goes always with indicative.

– Mi novia, que es muy alta, nunca lleva tacones.
– Mi girlfriend, who is very tall, never wears high heels.

The defining clauses, “especificativas”, goes with indicative or subjunctive depending on the antecedent word the clause refers to.

For instance, if the antecedent exist or we know it, we use indicative:

– Los estudiantes que han hecho los deberes todos los días no tendrán que hacer el examen.
– The students who have done the homework every day, won’t need to do the exam.

In this example, I know that some of the students have done the homework every day, so only those ones won’t need to do the exam.

But if we don’t know if the antecedent exists or we don’t know it, we use subjunctive

The students que hayan hecho los deberes todos los días no tendrás que hacer el examen.
– The students who have done the homework every day, won’t need to do the exam.

Here, in this example, I don’t know yet what students have done the homework every day or if there are even students who have done the homework every day, but only those ones won’t need to do the exam.


“Ser” or “Estar”: the answer 2

One of the most difficult things of learning Spanish is that there are two verbs that are the equivalent of the verb “to be”, these two verbs are “ser” and “estar“. The uses of these two verbs is quite a complex thing that could be the subject of a whole thesis and still there would be unexplained nuances left.

The good news is that I’m going to give you the answer. I’ll explain you what you need to know in order to have a very good understanding of how these two verbs are used.

  • First difference: condition vs. essence

Look at these sentences:

1. This apple is green, it hasn’t fall from the tree yet.

2. This apple is green and the other is red.

As you can see this two sentences have different meanings even though they use the same words. The first sentence talks about the condition of the apple, it’s green, it’s not ripe but when the time passes the apple will no longer be green but ripe. Whereas in sentence number two, the verb is talking about an essential characteristic of the apple, its color is green and this color won’t change with the time.

In Spanish we use estar” to express the condition, something that is variable or might change with time, whereas we use ser” with the essential characteristics.

1. Esta manzana está verde, aún no ha caído del árbol.

2. Esta manzana es verde y la otra es roja.

One thing you can do to know which verb you should use in Spanish is ask “how that thing is?” or “what something is?”. If you use the the first question then you need to use “estar“, if you use the second, then you need to use “ser“.

Poner ejemplos:

  • Second difference: express origin, location and “take place”

Look at these sentences:

– Pierce Brosnan is Irish.
Pierce Brosnan es irlandés.

– The Blarney Stone is in Ireland.
La piedra de Blarney está en Irlanda.

– The Leperchaun party is in the Irish forests.
La fiesta de los Leperchaun es en los bosques irlandeses.

The first sentence express origin, where someone or something comes from we use “ser“, to express location, where someone or something is placed / located we use “estar” and to express where something takes place we use “ser“.

  • Other differences and review

SER 

  • Identify.

Esto es un ordenador portátil.
– This is laptop.

  • To say the nationality or place of origin and the profession.

Mi novio es suizo y es médico.
– My boyfriend is swiss and is a doctor.

  • To talk about the essential characteristics of a thing, person or place.

Esta ciudad es muy grande, tiene una superficie de 1.500 km2.
– This city is very big, the surface is 1.500 Km2.

  • To say the time and a period of time.

Son las 4 de la mañana. ¡Déjame dormir!
– It’s 4 am. Let me sleep!

  • To talk about where a event takes place.

– La conferencia de antropología es en la Universidad de Durham.
– The anthropology lecture takes place is Durham University.

ESTAR

  • To locate things, places or people.

– La Torre Eiffel está en París.
– The Eiffel Tower is in Paris.

  • To talk about a physical state or a state of mind.

Mi jefe está muy gordo y su mujer está muy contenta.
– My boss is very fat and his wife is very happy.

  • Indicate the result of an action or process.

La comida que has preparado está muy sabrosa.
– The food you prepared is very tasty.

  • + gerondif: to express an action in course, developing.

Estoy estudiando español para mi examen.
– I’m studying Spanish for my exam.

  • Before “bien” and “mal”.

Estoy mal, me duele la cabeza. ¿Y tú cómo estás? Yo estoy bien.
– I feel bad, I have a headache. ¿And how are you? I am fine.

  • + de : to talk about a temporary job.

Estoy de cajera en un supermercado hasta que encuentre trabajo en un banco.
– I am working as a cashier in a supermarket until I find a job in a bank.

  • with 1st person of plural: situarnos en el tiempo to place us in the time

Estamos a lunes.
– It’s Monday.

 

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!).


Preparation DELE exam 2

DELE course

The target of this package is to prepare students for the DELE test, by providing both academic preparation on all 4 sections of the test, as well as test-taking skills (answering questions in the reading section without reading entire passage, elimination of multiple-choice possibilities, etc.).

First of all, what is DELE?

DELE means Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera (Diploma in Spanish as a Foreign Language).

These diplomas offer the only internationally accredited official titles which confirm a command of the Spanish Language and are awarded by the Spanish Ministry for Education, Culture and Sport.

The exams to obtain DELE are done every year in May, August and November, in many countries around the world (find where your closest examination centre in your city or country is here).

Get your official Spanish diploma! I help you!

I offer you an exam preparation course, online, intense and guided to help you to pass this Spanish exam. Learn online with a tailor-made programme and receive your tutor’s individual feedback and explanations.

Prepare for this official diplome from home, at your own pace with a personalized training designed in this Preparation for DELE course.

About the course

Levels: A2 to C2.

Duration / Length: That depends on the student needs and time he can invest in the training. So contact me to get a tailor-made course.

Prices: That also depends on the length of the course. But for you to get an idea, the prices for one month course will go around:

– 1 month course –

– Guided: 2 hours per week (1h in 2 days / 2 hours once a week) —> 350€

– Intensive: 4 hours per week ( 3 or 2 days a week) —> 600€

The price for a single one hour class is  30€.

This course includes all the materials to prepare the exam so that you don’t need to spend any more in getting a text book.

These are the prices for the fixed trainings, however, we can adapt the training to you, creating a tailor-made training, so the prices vary according to your needs.

Teacher:

  • Certified teacher by Instituto Cervantes and with an ample experience in preparation courses and creation of materials.

Structure of the course:

  • Intensive training in each of the four tasks (written task, conversation, listening comprehension, reading comprehension, integrated skills…)
  • Correction and feedback of every task done (via email and Skype).
  • Weekly mock exam of the conversation task with material created based on the real exam.

Included:

  • Online interactive material (audio recordings, videos, quizzes…)
  • Access to different text books (grammar, vocabulary, exam preparation books …)
  • Self-evaluation tests.
  • Written tasks corrected by tutor
  • 2h (guided)  to 4h (intensive) tutoring sessions  per week (via Skype).

Students who have already done this course and passed their exam or are doing it:

  1. Jane Roberts (Ireland) C1
  2. Mi Zheng (USA) C2
  3. Ann Sandoval (USA) C2 (in progress)
  4. Sylvie Chieu (France) C1 (in progress)

 

The following topics will be covered:

  • Writing:
    • Introduction to types of essays
    • Offer a mental template for addressing the essay structuring
    • Correct sentence-building
    • Practicing DELE essay topics.
  • Listening:
    • Getting acquainted with the different types of listening sections and questions
    • Elimination techniques
  • Speaking:
    • Practicing questions
    • Learning how to always prefer simple but correct answers.
  • Reading:
    • Questions
    • Arrange paragraphs, text logic.
    • Elimination technique.

 


Express habits in Spanish: “soler” (suelo / solía) 1

In Spanish we have the construction “soler + infinitive” to express the idea that something usually occurs, that someone does something as a customary practice or regularly in present time, or that someone used to do something in the past but not anymore.

This construction is equivalent to saying “used to” for the past or “usually” for the present. Look at these examples:

I need my beauty sleep so I usually sleep 9 hours.
Necesito un sueño reparador así que suelo dormir 9 horas.

My friend usually comes this way to go to work.
My amigo suele pasar por aquí para ir al trabajo.

It used to rain a lot here but now there’s a draught.
Solía llover mucho por aquí pero ahora hay sequía.

This is an unusual verb because it is only used in present indicative, imperfect indicative and present subjunctive. Here you have a box with the verb “soler” conjugated.