Spanish Blog


Uneven couples in Spanish

As you all know, all nouns in Spanish have a genre, they are masculine or feminine. The main trait to distinguish if a word is masculine or female is by the ending. If the word ends by -o is masculine and if it ends by -a is feminine, although there are quite a few exceptions to this rule and other possible endings.

What I am going to focus in this post is about the regular pair of words that end in “o” and “a”, and the big change that “o” and an “a” make in terms of meaning.

Foco ≠ FocaUneven Couples I

El foco” is a ‘spotlight’ or a ‘torch’ which has nothing to do with “la foca“, that cute marine mammal, a ‘seal’.

Cigarra ≠ Cigarro

La cigarra” is the lazy insect of the Aesop fable called ‘cicada’, whereas “el cigarro” is a cigarette.

Cartera ≠ CarteroUneven Couples II

La cartera” is a wallet and “el cartero” is the profession of that man that always calls twice, the postman.

Puerta ≠ Puerto

La puerta” means the ‘door’, whereas que “el puerto” is a ‘port’, a ‘harbour’.

Caña ≠ Caño

La caña” has multiple meanings, from a ‘cane’, to a ‘rod’ (caña de pescar) and the very important ‘small draft beer’ that this teacher loves so much: “¡Una caña, por favor!“. These meanings have no connection whatsoever with “el caño“, that means a ‘pipe’, or ‘waterpipe’.

Tinta ≠ TintoUneven Couples III

Ok, here both are liquids but not of the same kind. “La tinta” means ‘ink’ and “el tinto” is that wonderful red beverage, red wine, that is.

Marca ≠ Marco

La marca” means a ‘brand’, whereas “el marco” is a ‘frame’.

Palo ≠ PalaUneven Couples IV

El palo” is a stick and “la pala” is a ‘shovel’.

Bala ≠ Bolo

“La bala” is a ‘bullet’ whereas que “el bolo” is a ‘bowling pin’.

There are other “uneven couple” of Spanish words that means completely different things depending on whether they are masculine or feminine. So, don’t forget to check out the gender!

 


False Friends (I): “to realize” in Spanish

In this short post you will learn how to translate the verb “to realize” in Spanish. This is a false friend in Spanish, because we have the verb “realizar” but it’s nothing alike “to realize”.

falsefriends1

To realize ➠ ‘darse cuenta’

Realizar ➠ ‘to make, accomplish’

See? Not the same.

Now, look at this sentence:

– I didn’t realize Elisa was in the party.

How would you translate it into Spanish?

– No realicé que Elisa estaba en la fiesta. ——> Wrong! 🙁
– No me di cuenta que Elisa estaba en la fiesta. ——> Right! 🙂

So, remember:

“To realize” in English means “darse cuenta de algo” in Spanish. Whereas “realizar” means “to make”.


Comprensión oral – #1

This is one of the latest activities I made for my advanced students in Spanish. You can practice your Spanish listening comprehension with it. Just watch the video and answer the questions below.

¡Buena suerte!

________________________________________________________________

Mira el video y responde a las siguiente preguntas.

[wpsqt name=”Primavera con espinas” type=”quiz”]

 

Hey, pssst, how did it go? 


Suggest, accept and refuse plans

Suggest plans

How useful is it to find the ways to propose, accept and refuse plans? In this post you will learn how to do exactly that.

There are several ways of suggesting plans. Here I’ll show you few:

– ¿Porqué no vamos a la playa mañana?
– Why don’t we go to the beach tomorrow?

– ¿Te apetece ir al cine?
– Do you fancy going to the cinema?

– ¿Quieres visitar el Museo del Prado esta mañana?
– Do you want to visit Museo del Prado this morning?

– ¿Y si vamos a cenar a este restaurante esta noche?
– What if we go to that restaurant tonight?

Podemos ir a casa de Pedro.
– We can go to Pedro’s place.

– Oye, ¿quedamos mañana para jugar al tenis?
– Hey, do we meet to play tennis 
tomorrow?

– ¿Nos vemos luego?
– See you later?

– ¿Qué tal si vamos a casa de Pedro?
– What about going to Pedro’s house?

– ¿Qué te parece si nos quedamos en casa hoy?
– What about staying at home tonight?

As you can see, it’s important to know the conjugation of the verb “poder” (‘can’), “apetecer” (‘feel like + -ing’ / ‘fancy’) and “querer” (‘want’) and “quedar” (‘arrange to meet someone’ remember “quedarse” and “quedar” are not the same, as I explained in this post).

 Accept plans (Aceptar)

To accept a plan that has been suggested to us, we can say:

Vale. (Ok)

De acuerdo. (Alright)

Bien. (Fine)

Refuse plans (Rechazar)

Whereas to refuse the plan we have been suggested, we can say:

No, lo siento, no me apetece. (No, I’m sorry, I don’t feel like it.)

No puedo. (No, I can’t.)


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.


“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!).