Grammar

Spanish grammar points


“Ser bueno” and “Estar bueno”: not the same thing? 1

“Ser” and “estar” are not the same thing, as the Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz tells us is his song “No es lo mismo” (here you can have a look at the lyrics in Spanish and its translation into English)

 

In a previous post, I wrote about the differences between “bien, bueno/a” and when to use one or the other. In another previous blog post I wrote about the million dollar question, the differences between “ser” and “estar”. In this one, I am going to combine both questions and shed some light on them. Don’t need to thank me now, guys, I’m here to help… 😉

Ok, here we go!

SER BUENO vs. ESTAR BUENO

– Ser bueno:

1. Talking about a person: ‘virtuous, upright

– Mi hijo es muy bueno, siempre se porta muy bien.
– My son is very upright, he always behaves.

2. Talking about a thing: ‘of good quality’, ‘beneficial

– Mi cazadora de cuero es buena, me costó carísima.
– My leather jacket is of good quality, it was very expensive.

– Hacer deporte es bueno.
– Sport is good for you.

– Estar bueno:

1. Talking about a person: ‘being healthy or very handsome

– Juan Diego Botto está muy bueno.
– Juan Diego Botto is very handsome.

2. Talking about food: ‘having a good taste

– Esta sopa está muy buena.
– This soup is very tasty.

SER MALO vs. ESTAR MALO

– Ser malo:

1. Referred to a person: ‘being evil, wicked

– Norman Bates es malo, malísmo.
– Norman Bates is evil, very evil.

2. Talking about a thing or an action: ‘of bad quality’ or ‘ harmful

– Este libro es muy malo, no pude terminar de leerlo.
– This book is very bad, I couldn’t even finishing reading it.

– Fumar es malo para la salud.
– Smoking is bad for you.

– Estar malo:

1. Talking about a person: ‘being sick, ill

– Hoy no voy a trabajar porque estoy malo.
– I am not going to work today because I am sick.

2. Referred to a food: ‘rotten‘.

– Esta manzana está mala, dáme otra.
– This apple is rotten, give me another one.

A VERY USEFUL LIST

Now, there are many other adjectives that change meaning depending on if they are with “ser” or “estar. Let’s see some of them and learn some new vocabulary and expressions.

+ SER + ESTAR 
aburrido'boring'
- Este libro es muy aburrido .
- This book is very boring.
aburrido'bored'
- Estoy aburrida hoy, la clase es un tostón.
- I am bored, today's class is a drag.
atento'thoughtful, courteous'
- Mi novio es muy atento, siempre me trae flores por mi cumpleaños.
- My boyfriend is very courteous, he always brings me flowers for my birthday.
atento'attentive'
- Tengo que estar más atenta en clase.
- I need to be more attentive in class.
despierto'bright, sharp'
- Es un niño muy despierto.
- He is a very sharp boy'
despierto'not sleep'
- Estoy despierta desde las 7 am.
- I am awake since 7 am.
verde'green color', 'sexual'
- El vestido es verde.
- The dress is green.
- Es un chiste un poco verde.
- It's a blue joke.
verde'unripe, immature, not ready'
- La manzana está verde
- The apple is green.
- Aún estoy muy verde para presentarme al examen.
- I am not ready yet to do the exam.
negro'black color'
- No me gusta el negro.
- I don't like black.
black'being angry'
- Estoy negra, se me ha roto el coche dos veces en una semana.
- I'm furious, my car broke twice in a week.
orgulloso'arrogant'
- Sofía es demasiado orgullosa, no me gusta.
- Sofia is too arrogant, I don't like her.
orgulloso'pleased'
- Estoy muy contenta con el resultado.
- I'm very pleased with the outcome.
listo'smart, intelligent'
- Este chico es muy listo, llegará lejos.
- This boy is very smart, he will go a long way.
listo'ready'
- ¡Espérame, no estoy lista!
- Wait, I'm not ready!
claro'light, pale'
- No me gustan los colores tan claros.
- I don't like such light colors.
claro'obvious, clear'
- Está claro que no es el culpable.
- It's obvious he's not guilty.
abierto'extroverted'
- Ella es muy abierta, habla con todo el mundo.
- She is very outgoing, she talks with every body.
abierto'open'
- La puerta está abierta.
- The door is open.

 

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!).


Uses of a nightmarish couple: “quedar” and “quedarse” 8

 

Today I’m determined to solve one of my students’ worst nightmare. (*cheers and applauses…*)

When do we use “quedar” and when “quedarse”? What does it mean “quedar”? and “quedarse”?

These two verbs have completely different meanings and uses, let’s take a look at them:

Quedar

Quedar has a few meanings:

1. To be left, remain. (= haber, hay)

– No queda leche. Voy al super a comprar un par de cartones.
– There isn’t any milk left. I’ll go to the supermarket to buy a couple of bricks.

2. To be away from (= faltar + tiempo / espacio)

– Quedan 2 meses para Navidad.
– Christmas is two months away.

– Quedan 70km para llegar a la ciudad.
– The city is 70km away.

3. To arrange to meet (= citar)

– Hemos quedado en la puerta del cine a las 5, ¿te vienes?
– We have arranged to meet outside the cinema at 5 ¿are you coming? 

4. To be, in this sense, “quedar” describes a location, where something is (= estar).

– Mi casa queda en el centro, al final de la calle Elwood.
– My house is in downtown, at the end of Elwood Street.

5. To suit, fit clothing, hairstyle… (= sentar una ropa, un peinado…)

– Estos pantalones me quedan bien.
– This trousers fit me.

Quedarse

1. To remain, stay  (= permanecer en un lugar o estado).

– Ella se quedó en casa en lugar de ir a la clase .
– She stayed at home instead of going to class.

– Me quedé triste cuando se fue.
– I was sad when she left.

2. To keep something.

– Me quedé con el libro de mi profesor.
– I kept my teacher’s book.

– No te quedes con lo que no es tuyo. Devuélvelo.
– Don’t keep what’s not yours. Give it back.

3. To run out of something.

– Me he quedado sin dinero.
– I’ve run out of money.

 

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!).


Describe in the past (Pretérito Imperfecto de Indicativo) 1

The Imperfect – Pretérito Imperfecto – is used to talk about the past in Spanish. In the majority of situations, when we use the imperfecto is not to give the main information but to give the context that surrounds the main information.

– El pasado fin de semana estuve tomando el sol en la playa, hacía mucho calor y brillaba el sol.
– Last weekend I was sunbathing on the beach, it was very warm and the sun shone.

The main information is that I was sunbathing on the beach and the secondary information, the context of the situation, is that the weather was warm and sunny.

Form

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

Imperfecto Regular

Imperfecto Regular

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are only 3 irregular imperfect verbs forms, “ser” (to be), “ir” (to go) and “ver” (to see).

Imperfecto Irregular

Imperfecto Irregular

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use

  • The main use of the imperfecto is for describing things, people, animals or situations in the past:
  1. Describe qualities, characteristics or attributes.
  2. Describe habitual actions in the past. It’s the equivalent of “used to…
  3. Describe specific situations in the past.

Examples:

1.

– Mi casa era pequeña y oscura.
– Mi house was small and dark.

– Mi padre era rubio y llevaba bigote.
– Mi father was blond and wore a moustache.

2.

– Iba a la piscina todas las mañanas el año pasado.
– I used to go to swimming pool every morning last year.

– Cuando era joven podía tocarme los dedos de los pies con la mano.
– When I was young I could touch my toes with my fingers.

3.

– Estaba en casa de mi novio y comimos una pizza.
– I was at my boyfriend’s house and we ate a pizza. 

  • We also use the imperfect for actions happening in the past that are not seen as completed (the past action did not have a definite beginning or end).

– Cuando estudiaba en la universidad, salía de fiesta todas las noches.
– When I studied in college, I went out partying every night.

– Hacía mucho frío y llovía a menudo.
– It was very cold and it rained often.

  • It’s used to tell the time and stating one’s age.

– Eran las 3 de la tarde cuando sonó el teléfono.
– It was 3 o’clock in the afternoon when the telephone rang.

– Tenía 25 años aquel verano.
– I was 25 that summer.

  • When we want to tell a story we can combine the imperfecto and the indefinido.

– Era de noche y la calle estaba vacía. Yo volvía a casa sola cuando que alguien me llamaba. Me di la vuelta y no vi a nadie. Estaba muy asustada, así que eché a correr.
– It was dark and the street was empty. I was coming back home when I heard someone calling my name. I turned around and I didn’t see anybody. I was very scared so I started running.

Timer markers used with the imperfecto:

antes                                   a veces                               a menudo
muchas veces                       de vez en cuando                frecuentemente
cada día/semana                   cada mes/año                      cada verano
todos los días                      todas las semanas                 en aquellos días
generalmente                      normalmente                      mucho
nunca                                  siempre                              de joven

 


Forms of address in Spanish – Uses of the pronouns “ustedes / vosotros” 1

 

As a petition from one of the followers of my Facebook page Online Spanish Tutor (Check it out to learn daily idioms and expressions and post questions or suggest topics you want to learn about in this blog) I am going to dispel all doubts about the use of the pronouns “tú, vosotros” versus “usted, ustedes“.

I am going to explain, in first place, how we use the politesse forms in Spanish.

is the standard form of the second person of the singular, whereas vosotros / vosotras is the standard form for the plural.

Usted is the courtesy form of the second person of the singular, and ustedes is the courtesy form of the second person of the plural.

So vosotros is the plural of (standard form) and ustedes is the plural of usted (courtesy).

That happens in the majority of Spain but it works differently in South América and some parts of Spain (mainly in the south: Andalucía and Isles Canaries).

Now look at these examples translated all by “what are you doing this weekend?”

¿Qué haces este fin de semana? <— Tú
¿Qué hacéis este fin de semana? <— Vosotros

¿Qué hace este fin de semana? <— Usted
¿Qué hacen este fin de semana? <— Ustedes

As you can see, is followed by the verb in the 2nd person of singular and vosotros by the 2nd person of plural, whereas usted is followed by the 3rd person of singular and ustedes by the 3rd person of plural.

However there are different uses in different parts of Spanish speaking countries. There is no standard form for the 2nd person, as they only use the form “usted / ustedes” with the verb in the 3rd person in Latin America, and the south of Spain prefer using “ustedes” (only in the plural)  but followed by the 2nd person instead of the 3rd!

Look at these examples:

(General Spain) Vosotros vais al cine. (familiar) / Ustedes van al cine. (courtesy)

(South of Spain) Ustedes vais al cine. (both familiar and courtesy forms)

(Latin America) Usted van al cine. (both familiar and courtesy forms)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Remember! If you have any questions about Spanish language, vocabulary, grammar… that you would like me to solve here, in this blog, just follow my Facebook page and tell me all your doubts!!!

 


Bien or Bueno? Muy or Mucho? Erase any doubt! 9

 

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)


Taking the confusion out of “por” and “para” 1

This two prepositions “por” and “para” are frequently mixed up because they are often used for the English word “for”.

They key to understand which preposition has to be used is to think about the meaning you want to convey. In this post I’m going to show you the major uses of these two prepositions:

PARA POR 
Purpose- Estudio español para hablar bien con mis amigos españoles.
- I study Spanish in order to speak properly with my Spanish friends.
Cause / Reason- Llegué tarde por el tráfico.
- I arrived late because of the trafic.
Time limit- Quiero el informe en mi oficina para el jueves.
- I want the report in my office by Thursday.
Length of time / Duration of an action (= durante)- Estuvimos encerrados por cinco horas.
- We were locked for five hours.
Destination / Movement towards a place (= hacia)- Voy para el teatro.
- I go to the theatre.
Movement through / by a place- Paseamos por las calles de Paris.
- We walked by the streets of Paris.
Addressee- Este regalo es para ti.
- This present is for you.
Agent- Esta carta fue escrita por Mary.
- This letter was written by Mary.
Comparison- Está muy alto para su edad.
- He is very tall for his age.
Substitution- Estaba enfermo por lo que vine a trabajar por él.
- He was ill so I came to work in his place.

* The preposition “por” in this case is often omitted: Ej: Estuvimos encerrados 5 horas.

Besides this uses there are few more uses and phrases to have into consideration. Here I will indicate a few.

POR

  • Rate or unit of measure:

Elena gana muy bien, casi 60€ por hora. (Elena has a very good salary, almost 60€ per hour).

  • Means of transportation:

Viene por avión. (He comes by plane).

  • Supporting or in favor of:

Trabajo por los Derechos Humanos. (I work for Human Rights).

PARA

  • Perspective or opinion:

Para mi, el arte es muy importante. (The art is very important to me).

PHRASES

  • Por si acaso = In case
  • Por eso = Because of that, so
  • Por fin = Finally, at last
  • Por ahora = For now
  • Por lo menos = At least
  • Por cierto = By the way