Grammar

Spanish grammar points


Three verbs to talk about length time in Spanish: “tardar”, “llevar” and “durar” 6

Do you know how to use the verbs “tardar”, “llevar” and “durar” in time expressions? Their use is fairly common to express how long it takes to do something, how long something goes on for or how long something has been going on. Let’s see the best way to use them:

  •  Durar: ‘to go on, to last’

durarWe use durar+ length of time to express how long something lasts.

– La película dura dos horas.
The movie lasts (for) two hours.

– ¿Cuánto dura el vuelo?
– How long is the flight? / How long does the flight take?

– La conferencia durará cuatro días.
– The conference will last four days.

  • Tardar: ‘to take (time)’

tardarWe use ‘tardar’ + amount of time + en  + infinitive to say how long it takes for someone (person, animal or thing) to do something.

Tardamos tres horas en llegar al pueblo.
– We took three hours to get to the village.

– ¿Cuánto se tarda en llegar de Madrid a Burgos en autobús?
– How long does it take to go from Madrid to Burgos by bus?

Tardar‘ also means to take too much time, as in delaying.

– Pedro tarda en llegar.
– Pedro is late in arriving.

  • Llevar

llevar– ‘Llevar‘ + time + gerund: ‘to be, to take’

We use this expression to refer to how long an action has been going on.

Llevo media hora esperando.
– I’ve been waiting for half an hour.

– ¿Cuánto tiempo llevas buscando a tus padres biológicos?
– How long have you been looking for your biological parents?

– ‘Llevar’ + time + sin + infinitive: ‘to go / to be for + length of time + without’

Lleva dos días sin comer.
– He hasn’t eaten for two days.

– ‘Llevar’ + amount of time (+ en) + place

We use this expression to say how long someone or something has been somewhere.

– La estatua lleva tres años en la plaza.
– The statue has been here for three years.

– ¿Cuánto tiempo llevas aquí?
– How long have you been here?


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

 


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.


Irregularities of the Pretérito Indefinido tense in Spanish. Talking about the past (III) 7

Few days ago, a follower of my Facebook page asked me for help about his personal nightmare in Spanish. For him, the irregular verbs in the Pretérito Indefinido (Past Tense) were just something he couldn’t understand, so he wrote me few lines asking me for some tips. As this week, I also had a class with one of my students, working on the same topic, I decided I was going to spend some time answering all your prayers about the irregularities of the verbs in the Pretérito Indefinido in Spanish. 

❉  ❉  ❉

The past tense – Pretérito Indefinido – is used to talk about the past in Spanish. We used to talk about actions accomplished in a particular moment in the past.

El año pasado mis padres y yo nos mudamos a nuestra nueva casa. – Last year, my parents and I moved to our new house.

So, the action (mudarse = ‘to move’) was accomplished, finished in an specific time in the past (el año pasado = ‘last year’). We also use the pretérito indefinido to express an action that happens in the past, occurs in the middle of other action.

– Justo cuando estábamos pasándolo mejor, tuvo que irse. – Right when we were having more fun, he had to go.

As you can see, there are two actions: one extended in time (pasarlo bien = ‘have fun’) and one that happens in the middle of the previous one (tener que irse = ‘have to go’). In those cases, the action that happens in the middle of another action goes in pretérito indefinido.

Form

To conjugate a regular verb in the “Indefinido”, you just need to drop the endings -ar, -er or -ir from the infinitive form and add the endings.

Indefinido

 

Irregular verbs

Unfortunately there are quite a few irregular verbs in this tense. Verbs with an irregular root:

Indefinido_Irregular

Indefinido_Irregular

Some other irregularities:

  • Verbs ending by -ducir in the infinitive (like “producir”, “conducir”, “traducir”) C > J

The “c” in the root becomes “j”.

– Conducir: Conduje, condujiste, condujo, condujimos, condujisteis, condujeron.

  • Verbs that have an “-i-” between vowels with the verbs that en in “-er” and “-ir” in the infinitive, change the “i” for a “y” in the 3rd person of the singular (he/she) and of the plural (they). I > Y

– Leer: Le-ió > Leyó / Le-ieron > Leyeron – Contruir: Construyó / Construyeron – Oir: Oyó / Oyeron

  • Verbs ending by -zar in the infinitive (empezar, comenzar, cazar…) Z > C

The “z” becomes “c” only in the 1st person singular (yo).

– Empezar: Empecé, empezaste, empezó, empezamos, empezasteis, empezaron.

  • Verbs ending by -car in the infinitive (sacar, aparcar…) C > QU

The “c” in the rot becomes “qu” for the 1st person singular (yo).

– Sacar: Saqué, sacaste, sacó, sacamos, sacasteis, sacaron.

  • Verbs ending by -gar (llegar, jugar…) G > GU

The “g” in the root becomes “gu” in the 1st singular (yo).

– Llegar: Llegué, llegaste, llegó, llegamos, llegasteis, llegaron.

  • Verbs whose root end by “-ll” and “-ñ” (bullir, tañer…) won’t have the “i” in the 3rd person of singular and plural.

– Bullir: Bulló (not bullió) / Bulleron

  • Some verbs ending by “-er” and “-ir” in the infinitive change their vowel (E > I // O > U) in the 3rd person singular and plural. They are the same that change their vowel in the present of indicative (irregular verbs in the Present).

– Pedir: Pedí, pediste, pidió, pedimos, pedisteis, pidieron. – Dormir: Dormí, dormiste, durmió, dormimos, dormisteis, durmieron.

Otros verbos irregulares:

Andar > anduv-                             Caber > cup-
Haber > hub-                                 Poder > pud-
Poner > pus-                                  Saber > sup-
Decir > dij-                                   Querer > quis-
Traer > traj-                                  Venir > vin-

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)


Humor, movies, songs and lots of Spanish: “Mucha Guasa”

Last week, a friend and I launched Mucha Guasa (‘Much Banter’) an educational page intending to teach Spanish in a fun way.

A daily video of my friend singing or performing a line from a song or a movie translated into Spanish, which you, my dear Spanish lovers / learners can try to guess which movie or song he is performing.

Accompanying those highly entertaining videos, and contributing to the educational side, it’s me explaining some grammar point or idiom appearing in the translation.

Fun? Lots. Here is just an example of him singing.

Learning? Of course! So far, we have seen the use of the intensifier “demasiado / demasiada”, the “future simple”, the use of “ya” and “ya no” and the use of “como” as an adverb of manner, and we only launched last Wednesday!

Like us and start having fun while learning Spanish for free every day.


The most common phrasal verbs in Spanish, oh the joy! 1

Just as the English language has its phrasal verbs that cause so many headaches to the poor learners of English, Spanish has a quite nice list of phrasal verbs too.

Phrasal verbs in Spanish = Perífrasis

But first, what is a phrasal verb? It’s a combination of two verbs, one fully conjugated, called helper verb because it doesn’t keep its usual meaning, and another verb in a non-personal form (infinitive, gerund or participe), which provides the main meaning of the phrasal verb.

Helper verb (conjugated) + Main verb (infinitive/gerund/participe)

– Yo suelo trabajar los fines de semana.
– I usually work on weekends.

Sometimes, both verbs are linked by a preposition.

Vamos a salir esta noche.
– We are going to go out tonight.

One of the most used phrasal verbs in Spanish would be “ir a + infinitivo” (‘to be going to’) used to talk about future plans and “tener que + infinitivo” (‘have to’) which express obligation and necessity, but there are others, let’s see some:

  • estar + gerundio (‘to be doing something’)

– No puedo salir ahora, estoy estudiando para el examen del martes.
– I can’t go out now, I’m studying for Tuesday’s exam.

  • seguir + infinitivo (‘to continue to do something’)

– Laura sigue trabajando para la empresa.
– Laura continues working for the entreprise.

  • llevar + participio (‘to have done something’)

Llevo escritas 200 páginas de mi tesis.
– I have written 200 pages of my thesis.

  • llevar + gerundio (‘to lead to do something’)

–  ¡Llevo haciendo dieta durante 3 semanas y aún no he perdido ni un kilo!
– 
I have been going on a diet for 3 weeks and I haven’t lost a kilo yet!

  • empezar a + infinitivo (‘to begin to do something’)

– Mi padre ha empezado a pintar mi retrato.
– My father has begun to paint my portrait.

  • ponerse a + infinitivo (‘to start to do something’)

Me tengo que poner a estudiar para el examen del martes. ¡Es pasado mañana!
– I have to start to study for Tuesday’s exam. It’s the day after tomorrow!

  • deber + infinitivo (‘to have to do something’)

Debéis leer El Quijote este verano.
– You have to read El Quixote this summer.

  • terminar de + infinitivo (‘to finish doing something’)

– No hemos terminado de limpiar los cristales todavía.
– We haven’t finished cleaning the windows yet.

  • poder + infinitivo (‘to be able to do something’)

– No puedo ver la tele y estudiar al mismo tiempo.
– I am not able to watch the T.V and study at the same time.

  • soler + infinitivo (‘to do something usually’)

– Los novios suelen bailar juntos después del banquete de boda.
– The bride and the groom usually dance together after the wedding reception.

  • tener que + infinitivo (‘to have to do something’)

Tienes que comer más frutas y verduras.
– You have to eat more fruit and vegetables.

  • acabar de + infinitivo (‘to have just done something’)

Acababa de salir de casa cuando empezó a llover.
– I had just left the house when it started to rain.