We all need a day to pamper ourselves, right? The stress of work, life, school, family, and kids all builds up and drains us. Take some time for yourself and go to a nail salon or spa! Relájate. Now, if you are in a Spanish-speaking area and don’t know how to ask for a relaxing spa treatment, you might find it next to impossible to get the relaxing day you hoped for. Knowing the right Spanish vocabulary to overcome this hurdle is the key to treating yourself to the fullest. If you want to also get a haircut, brush up on the words and phrases you’ll need before you head off to the hair salon!
Cuál versus Qué
In your first couple of Spanish classes, your teacher probably taught you the question words: ¿Quién? ¿Qué? ¿Dónde? ¿Cuándo? ¿Por qué? ¿Cómo? ¿Cuánto? ¿Cuál? If your classes were anything like mine, you learned that qué means “what,” and cuál means “which.” Right? Well, it’s not quite as simple as that.
After living in Guatemala for several years, people have asked me my name a lot—by asking ¿Cómo te llamas? or ¿Cuál es tu nombre? However, they have never asked me ¿Qué es tu nombre?
Wait, what? That last sentence is incorrect? Yup. You should never say ¿Qué es tu nombre? When I realized this, I felt completely decepcionada. Why did my teacher tell me that qué means “what,” and cuál means “which,” if that’s not the case?
To be fair, cuál often translates to “which,” but not always. There are a couple of rules to remember when deciding whether to use qué or cuál in a question. (For the full list, you can visit this article on Qué vs Cuál.) Let’s take a look at them here:
4 Rules to Remember
- If the question word is followed by a noun, use qué. (¿Qué libro te gusta más?)
A common question in Spanish is “what/which type…?” and translates to ¿cuál tipo…? Since the question word is followed by a noun (tipo), we always use qué. While in English we could say something like “Which book do you like best?” we could never say ¿Cuál libro te gusta más?
- If the question word is followed by de, use cuál.
If you want to express a choice between things (nouns) without using qué, you can say cuál de. For example, ¿Cuál de los libros es tu favorito? This is essentially asking the same thing as our question in the previous point, but it is worded in a slightly different manner.
- If you are asking to define something, use qué.
My favorite question is ¿Qué significa…? This is a perfect example of how we use qué when looking for a definition. As a Spanish learner, this is also a really important question to learn, along with ¿Qué es eso? Both questions are looking for clarification or a definition to something, which calls for the question word qué.
- If it is an open-ended question, use cuál.
This last rule might be the most confusing one and may be difficult to get used to. In one of our previous examples, we looked at the correct question ¿Cuál es tu nombre?Here, we must use cuálbecause we are not looking for a definition. And the answer could be any number of things—it is an open-ended question. Another common question that is often said incorrectly is ¿Cuál es tu color favorito? Yes, here we also use cuál! It may take time to break the habit of using quéfor all these questions, but with practice, you can master it!
Do you remember learning about compound words in elementary school? Some examples are butterfly, raincoat, sunflower, and haircut. This combination of two words to make one word also happens in Spanish, but it is not as common. Luckily for us, we have several examples in our charts above. Can you find them?
The first one, quitaesmalte, breaks into quita and esmalte. Quita means “remove,” and esmalte is “nail polish,” so when we put them together, it means “nail polish remover.” Pretty simple, right? Normally, with compound words in Spanish, you can deduce the meaning of them by breaking them into separate words. It’s not always that easy in English (take butterfly and sunflower, for example), but in Spanish, you can easily figure out the meaning of compound words if you understand their components.
Break It Down
Let’s see if we can break down pintaúñas. Do you know what words we can separate this into? Great! Pinta (or paint) and uñas (or nails). This literally means “paint for nails,” which we would call nail polish. The last example starts with the same word, pinta (paint), and is followed by labios (lips). Again, this would literally be “paint for lips,” but we call that lipstick. Can you see how easy it is to find the meaning of compound words?
Check the Spelling
Warning, be careful with the spelling! Although pintalabios ends in s, it can be both singular and plural: el pintalabios or los pintalabios. The s comes from the word labios and does not automatically make the compound word plural. Look out for changes in gender in compound words, as well. Although both pinta and uñas end in a, and uña is a feminine noun by itself, these words come together to form a masculine noun. While the components of the individual words are still there (like the gender and singular/plural), when they come together, they give up their individuality to create a new word. It can be confusing, but just memorize the compound words with their corresponding articles.
You are now ready to pamper yourself in Spanish! Head on over to your local salon or spa or have a relaxing day in with your friends and use your new vocabulary words. If you have any questions or would like to practice with a certified teacher, sign up for a FREE trial class with us. Our teachers will help you to speak fluently in no time!Read More
Working in a Guatemalan city where tourists often frequent has given me the chance to meet numerous different people from all over the world, each with their own unique story of how they ended up coming to the area. A vast majority of them came specifically to learn Spanish or to spend a good part of their time studying the language. These visitors’ motivation to learn Spanish generally falls into one of a few categories, like wanting to communicate better with the locals or for travel purposes. However, a surprisingly large number of people learn Spanish for mission work. Why is Spanish so popular with missionaries? Why should you learn Spanish if you are considering doing mission work?
Before we delve into why missionaries should learn Spanish, I want to preface this by saying that I don’t want to pressure you into choosing to do missions work in a Spanish-speaking area. Certainly, there is a need for missionary support all over the world, even in your own neighborhood. The purpose of this article is to show you the opportunities available if you learn Spanish as a missionary. If you’re on the fence about where to go or what language you should learn to further your missionary career, this blog is just for you! Personally, I am a fan of learning as many languages as possible; if you’re anything like me, why not learn Spanish and then some? With that in mind, let’s see why Spanish can be a huge asset to someone wanting to go into mission work.
You Meet People From Around the World
There are 572 million Spanish speakers in the world. Considering there are approximately 6,500 languages spoken in the world, 527 million (7.5% of the world population) is quite notable! That number is expected to increase by almost 200 million by 2050. In other words, if you speak Spanish, you will be able to communicate with a significant number of people in the world. Keep in mind that this number includes both native and non-native speakers, so we are talking about the possibility of meeting people who have learned (or are learning) Spanish anywhere in the world!
In my time in Germany, I attempted to use my broken German to get around, hoping that I was understanding directions correctly. While waiting at a bus stop, someone asked if I needed help in what I thought was a Spanish accent. Much to my relief, they were from Spain, and I was able to speak Spanish with them! It was such an amazing experience to meet someone with whom I could speak Spanish in a country where I never expected to use that language. I have also had the same experience with several Korean and Dutch friends – since we did not speak each other’s native tongue, we used our mutual second language, Spanish, to communicate.
You Better Serve the Community
As a missionary, you need to be able to communicate with the people you intend to serve and work with. If you decide to learn Spanish, you’ll be able to communicate with people in over 20 countries and territories, as well as people around the world that also speak Spanish. Knowing another language is always a great asset – especially if it’s a language as common as Spanish!
Additionally, many churches organize missionary trips abroad throughout the year. Of course, not every team goes to a Spanish-speaking country. However, because of the United States’ close proximity to Latin America, many short-term and long-term missionaries travel to a Spanish-speaking country to serve. Having the ability to speak Spanish will make you a great asset to these teams and you will be able to connect quickly with the locals and build better relationships with them.
You Share Your Skills Locally and Abroad
Speaking of traveling for mission work, knowing Spanish gives you the option to serve the community either abroad or locally. As you might have guessed, the number of Spanish speakers in the United States is growing at a rapid pace; you don’t even have to leave the country for your Spanish skills to be put to use!
Some missionaries travel abroad and live full-time in other countries, while others travel just for a week or two each year. Both methods are valid, but if you are learning Spanish for mission work, it can get a little dusty if you only use it for a couple of days each year. The good thing about learning Spanish as a second language is that you can use it even when you’re home!
Whether you are a full-time missionary home on furlough, a short-term missionary looking for local service opportunities to do when not on the field, or a missionary focusing on serving in the States, you can find ways to use your Spanish skills in your neighborhood. It can be as simple as helping to translate for your neighbor in the grocery store, participating in your local Spanish-speaking church, or tutoring kids in Spanish. Or, if you are looking for more of a commitment, you can look for local ministries that work specifically with the local Latino community.
Furthermore, when missionaries come off the field after an extended period abroad, it can be difficult to readjust to the culture and find work. Speaking Spanish can open up a lot of opportunities back in the States whenever you are ready to go back home. It can also connect you with Latino communities, which will help as you readjust to life back in the States after living in Latin America.
You Explore the Globe With Short-Term Trips
As I’ve previously mentioned, missionaries don’t always live permanently in foreign countries. Missionaries can be people who do short-term trips or those who spend their time serving in the States. Whatever type of missionary you are (or want to be), you will more than likely be a part of a short-term team in some shape or form. Personally, I have gone on short-term trips to Latin America, hosted them in Guatemala, and translated for teams working for different organizations. I have been a part of almost every aspect of short-term teams, both in the States and abroad. So, whatever type of missionary work you want to do, I can tell you with much confidence that you will probably be involved with short-term teams. What does that have to do with Spanish, though?
Whether you are the leader organizing the team, the group hosting them, the translator accompanying the team, or the person preparing the team for the cross-cultural experience, language skills are a necessity! Again, because of our close proximity to Latin America, many short-term teams decide to go there. Speaking Spanish will give you the ability to lead, host, or translate for short-term teams heading to Latin America. Basic Spanish skills are better than nothing when your purpose is to serve the community.
Even if you are serving as a missionary in an African, European, or Asian nation, you will more than likely host short-term teams from around the world. You may have team members that are native Spanish-speakers, just like I have!
You Sharpen Your Cultural Sensitivities
Now, when you’re working with short-term teams or as a full-time missionary, it is imperative that you learn about the culture of the place you’re going. One way of preparing yourself is by learning the language. Language and culture are so intertwined that you end up learning the intricacies of a culture through the language. Again, since Spanish is so popular around the world, it is a good language to start with as a missionary because you can travel to so many different places with confidence that you know a little bit about the culture.
For example, one of the first things you learn in Spanish class is how to greet people. In the States, (at least where I’m from), people don’t always greet each other; it is a much colder environment. However, with just the basics of the Spanish greetings, you are prepared to respond to everybody who greets you on the street daily in a Latin American country. Imagine how much more you can learn about the culture with regular Spanish classes! You learn how to be polite, how to joke, what are the cultural values, and how to respectfully decline things. As a missionary, you need to be very careful not to unintentionally offend people when you are trying to help. By learning Spanish (and consequently the culture), you can be prepared to enter a culture of over 20 countries and territories!
If you are considering becoming a missionary (or maybe you already are), think about learning Spanish to open additional doors and connect you to more people all around the world! It is a relatively easy language to learn as a native English speaker, and it is a great skill to have both on and off the field. Just because you learn Spanish for mission work doesn’t mean you can’t learn any other language! It would be a good language to start with, but it in no means limits you to further language learning endeavors. If you are ready to start learning Spanish for your mission work, try a FREE class with some of our native Spanish-speaking teachers! They can help you with key phrases, colloquial terms, and missionary vocabulary. Sign up today to start on your journey!Read More
Spanish classes are great. They teach you general vocabulary, pronunciation, and conversational skills. The more you advance in your classes, the more in-depth conversations you’ll be able to have. However, there are some situations that most Spanish classes just don’t prepare you for at all. One of those situations is going to the hair salon!
During my first year in Guatemala, I needed to have my hair cut. Thinking I could easily handle the conversation, I went with no preparation, confident in my Spanish abilities. I quickly learned, though, that I was totally unprepared to ask for layers in my hair, using the word niveles (levels/floors) instead of capas. The hairdresser asked me more questions about style preferences, and I was completely lost. Since my hair routine only involves washing, drying, and brushing, I never had a need or interest to learn more detailed vocabulary about hairstyles. Nevertheless, there are some key vocabulary words and phrases that everyone (guys and girls!) needs to know if they plan to stay an extended period of time in a Spanish-speaking area. If you aren’t properly prepared, you may end up with the opposite haircut than what you wanted! Thankfully for me, the hairdresser understood what I meant by niveles and gave me exactly the cut I wanted. Now, I have the word capas forever seared into my brain to avoid further embarrassment in hair salons. I want to help you avoid that kind of embarrassment, so I’ve put together a list of words and phrases you might need when getting your hair cut or styled. Let’s check them out!
Alright. Now that you’ve looked at this list, I want to discuss a couple of these words and phrases. Firstly, it is important to note that many vocabulary words have one or more translations in Spanish. Since Spanish is such widespread language, each country – and even region! – has its own way of saying certain things. If you are in a Spanish-speaking country, try using one of the options for a particular word. If you are corrected, then use the word most common in that region. For example, to say “split ends” I use flores because that is the only way I have ever heard it talked about. That is not a technical term, however, and you won’t find in translated as “split ends” in any dictionary or translator. While it is good to know the technical terms for things, be flexible and open to learning how the local people refer to different things!
Tricky Hair Salon Verbs
You might have noticed that to say “I want to get a haircut” we say Quiero cortarme el pelo. This pronominal verb makes it seem that we are going to be the ones cutting our own hair because of the -me at the end of cortar. However, this is an idiomatic pronominal verb and does not actually mean that you will be doing the cutting yourself. For this type of phrase, you need to remember that you cannot translate literally. The phrase literally translated from English would be yo quiero conseguir un corte de pelo. That is a mouthful! Instead, it is the short quiero cortarme el pelo. Additionally, remember that we say el pelo and not mi pelo. This is the same for phrases like me duele la cabeza (my head hurts). For body parts we use the regular article (el/la/los/las) beforehand and not the possessive pronoun (mi(s)/tu(s)/su(s)/nuestro(s)).
Afeitarse + Rasurarse
Both of these words mean ‘to shave.’ This is a perfect example of how multiple words can have the same translation in English. These words are both understood, but each one is more common in different areas. If you look at our chart above, you will see that these verbs do not have the pronominal ending -se. These verbs are only pronominal when the subject is doing this action on itself. For example:
Yo me rasuro.
Él se afeita.
Yo quiero rasurarme.
In these examples, the subject is (or wants to) shave him/herself. You may remember from previous blogs that this is a reflexive verb because the subject is doing something to itself. The accompanying pronouns reflect this. Why don’t they have the -se ending in the chart, then?
If you are going to the hair salon, someone else is cutting your hair or shaving your head. Someone else is doing the action to you. That means that it is no longer a reflexive action, and therefore we do not need the reflexive pronouns.
I want to take a bit of time to explain this wonderful word which is not quite as simple as it seems. As a noun (sustantivo), peinado means ‘hairdo.’ Imagine you are sitting at the hair salon or barbershop, flipping through a book of hairstyle options. Each one that you see is called a peinado, including the more extravagant ones for special events. Easy, right?
As an adjective, peinado becomes one of those interesting Spanish words that doesn’t translate well into English. Again, this is not something that was taught to me in class, but an idea I had to learn through several (slightly embarrassing) experiences. I was an English teacher for several years and my younger students would often comment that I always looked despeinada. I was confused, at first, thinking about the verb peinar (to comb).
My hair is a bit unruly, with a mind of its own, but I always had it in some style for class. A lot of hair just always escapes and, to be honest, I like it that way. However, that look is not necessarily considered a good one where I live. Whenever they asked me why I was despeinada, I would argue that yes, I swear I did comb my hair and yes, I do like when it looks like this. I slowly began to realize that the standard to be bien peinado is to have every hair in place, slicked into a nice hairdo with gel or water.
Do you think you understand what peinado means now? To be peinado means to have a nice hairstyle/hairdo or to be well put together with every hair in place. Despeinado is the opposite of that – to have your hair wild or unruly. Since I have too much hair to handle, I have accepted I will always be despeinada even if I did do style my hair! Remember that in Spanish it is estar despeinado not tener pelo peinado.
Put It Into Practice!
It’s time for you to practice what you’ve learned! If there isn’t a peluquería near you that speaks Spanish, you can practice with your friends, classmates, or Spanish teacher at Homeschool Spanish Academy! I hope you have learned from my embarrassing experiences what not to say when getting a haircut. If you have any questions or want more practice, schedule a FREE class with the Spanish Academy! Happy learning!Read More
It’s moving day guys! How many times have you moved? In the first 3 months of our marriage, my husband and I moved 4 times, and we are constantly traveling to visit family. Suffice it to say, I have a lot of experience packing and moving – and I don’t particularly like it! It can be such a stressful experience, especially if you’re doing it in a foreign country. With all this experience of moving around a Spanish-speaking country, though, I have picked up some key vocabulary in Spanish that will hopefully help make your next move go smoothly.
If you ever need to move to a Spanish-speaking country, or if you have Spanish-speaking workers help you move in the States, the following vocabulary and phrases will definitely help you make the moving process go smoothly. Let’s check them out!
One English Word, Two Spanish Words
Did you catch that first word in the chart? To move? It is not mover, as you might have thought, but mudarse! Be very careful with this one, as it is a common mistake for Spanish learners to use mover when talking about moving to a new home. Mover is for every type of movement, except moving to a new house! That is exclusively mudarse. I’m not quite sure why moving to a new home has a separate word in Spanish, but if you think about all the work that goes into packing, relocating, and unpacking, it is a quite different idea from other movements that we do throughout the day. It is a pronominal verb as well, so keep that in mind when talking about where and when you’re moving. Check out these phrases to help you in your conversations:
Nos vamos a mudar a Argentina.
We’re going to move to Argentina.
Me mudé a Guatemala en 2013.
I moved to Guatemala in 2013.
¿Estás pensando en mudarte?
Are you thinking about moving?
Él se muda a España el viernes.
He is moving to Spain on Friday.
Remember that with pronominal verbs, we include a reflexive pronoun. The placement of that pronoun can vary depending on the sentence, as shown in the sentences above. For more information on where to place the reflexive pronoun, click here.
Another English word that has two potential Spanish translations is ‘to live.’ Yes, as you probably guessed, the most common translation in vivir. However, there is another word that translates to live, which is morar. The first time I saw this word, it was in the past participle form he morado (I have lived), and I was thoroughly confused. I have purple? Purple is a verb? While it may look like the word for purple in Spanish (morado), it is not! It is another way to say ‘to live,’ or more formally, ‘to dwell.’ In English, ‘to dwell’ sounds very formal, and so you may tend to reserve the use of morar for equally formal occasions like I have (I’m not sure that I have ever used morar in conversation). However, it does not exclusively mean such a formal idea! It is also a synonym for vivir, and I have heard it used several times in informal conversation. This is just something to keep in mind as you talk to people in Spanish about where you have lived and are living.
What is your role on moving day? Are you the one listening to commands, obediently carrying and packing boxes? Or are you the one giving the commands, making sure everything is in order? Either way, you need to know how to use and understand commands in Spanish! For a more in-depth look at the imperative voice (commands), check out Spanish Commands Part 1 and Part 2.
In English, the verbs don’t change when we give a command:
I put it over there. / You put it over there.
Put it over there!
Can you see how the verb ‘put’ stays the say in general statements and a commanding sentence? Unfortunately, the Spanish command form isn’t quite that simple. There are different conjugations for each person you could give a command to (tú, usted, ustedes). We don’t have a conjugation for all the pronouns in the imperative form because you can’t give a command to yourself or to him or her. While we can’t give commands to ‘us,’ we do have a unique way of encouraging teamwork in both English and Spanish! In English, we would say something like, ‘let’s do this!’ or ‘let’s work together.’ In Spanish, the verb would actually take the subjunctive form to represent that idea of ‘let’s.’ It is often considered part of the command conjugations but is technically the subjunctive form!
In our chart above, there are several commanding sentences. Can you find some? They are all referring to either tú or nosotros. If you want to use those sentences with usted or ustedes, the verb would have to change. Let’s look at how some of them would change so you are completely prepared if you want to give a command to a group of people or someone you respect.
Are you able to see some patterns in how to conjugate the verbs in the imperative? Click here for more help! Poner is probably the most useful verb for moving day, and it is, unfortunately, an irregular verb. However, the imperative tú form is quite simple – pon. If you want to have just one simple phrase to remember for moving day, I would recommend the following: Pon eso allí. Put that there. It will get you through a lot of conversations when moving. Even if you don’t quite understand everything being said, the most important thing is where to put the boxes! With that little sentence, you can survive moving in Spanish!
Are you ready to move? Hopefully, with this blog, you are able to take away some of the stress of moving by having a straightforward list of key phrases for packing and moving in Spanish. If you think of any more words that you need to use for moving day, or if you want to translate a specific command or sentence, talk with one of our teachers! They are all native Spanish speakers, and they would love to help you. You can sign up for a FREE trial class here, or you check out how our classes work here. You don’t want to miss a chance to perfect your Spanish-speaking abilities. Sign up today and happy moving day! ¡Feliz día de mudanza!Read More
The first couple of times I traveled abroad, I got extremely sick. One time I had a nasty parasite, which is considered very common for foreigners, but the second time I got pneumonia, a pretty common infection. The thing is, you can’t guarantee you won’t get sick while you’re abroad. While it may be more common for foreigners to get a parasite, you can also just as easily get the flu, a rash, or an infection. Hopefully, you won’t have any health issues while traveling, but it’s best to be prepared! You don’t want to end up feeling sick and not be able to communicate your symptoms to the doctor (trust me, I’ve been there). To help you avoid that, I have put together a list of common words and phrases you may use at the doctor’s office or hospital. Granted, this is not a comprehensive list – that would make for a never-ending blog! If you are concerned about a particular organ or disease that is not on this list, be sure to look it up before going to the see the doctor.
Let’s start with some basic vocabulary to get yourself to the doctor and to explain your symptoms.
Now, doctors often use vocabulary that the beginner Spanish learner might not understand. For example, they won’t say ‘poop and pee,’ but instead heces y urina. The first time I heard heces from a doctor, I had to stop and think about it because I had never used that word in conversation before! Check out these phrases to describe what’s wrong and be sure to write them down. I don’t want you to be in a situation where you can’t properly describe what you are feeling.
When talking about pain, you need to remember two very important things about the structure of Spanish phrases. First of all, you need to include a pronoun with the verb doler. For example, we don’t say duele la cabeza. You must include a reflexive pronoun, like me, before the verb for this to make sense. Me duele la cabeza. It is literally saying that ‘my head hurts me.’ If you look at this sentence, you’ll also notice that the subject comes at the end of the sentence. Cabeza is the subject, not me. This is a great example of how fluid Spanish can be! While we can write this sentence either way, – la cabeza me duele / me duele la cabeza – it is much more common to use the latter form. It may be confusing at first, but if you practice the phrase me duele, it will come easily to you in no time!
The… or My?
You might have also noticed that instead of saying mi cabeza (my head), we say la cabeza (the head). Usually, when we talk about the parts of our body, we use the regular article (el /la /los /las) instead of a possessive article (mi[s] /tu[s] /su[s] /nuestro[s]). This may seem very weird to you if you are new to the Spanish language. Once you start using this form, though, it will become more natural.
Remember, these rules apply to other verbs as well, not just doler. Check out these examples and practice using different body parts!
Me duele la pierna. – My leg hurts.
¿Te duele el estómago? – Does your stomach hurt?
Le arde la garganta. – His/her throat burns.
Me pica la cabeza. – My head itches.
Sentir / Sentirse
Did you notice how some of our handy-dandy phrases used the verb sentir (no reflexive pronoun), while others used the verb sentirse (with a reflexive pronoun)? If not, go back, look at the chart, and identify the sentences that use sentir and sentirse. Both of these verbs translate to ‘feel’ in English, but they are used in different situations in Spanish. Can you identify why some sentences use the reflexive pronoun while others do not? If not, don’t worry! I’ll make it easy for you:
Sentir answers the question ‘what.’
What do you feel? I feel strong pain. Siento un dolor fuerte.
What do you feel? I feel great sadness. Siento una gran tristeza.
Sentirse answers the question ‘how.’
How do you feel? I feel sick. Me siento enfermo.
How do you feel? I feel excited. Me siento emocionado.
In other words, sentirse is followed by an adjective describing the subject. Me siento enfermo. Enfermo describes the (unspoken) subject yo. The verb sentir is followed by a noun or by a phrase starting with que. Siento un dolor fuerte. What do you feel? You feel strong pain.
Let’s look at the examples from our “What’s Wrong?” chart above:
Siento que me voy a desmayar.
Here, we have a phrase starting with que directly after the verb, so we must use sentir.
Siento un hormigueo en los dedos.
This sentence answers the question ‘what do you feel.’ Since it talks about ‘what’ and not ‘how’ we feel, we must use sentir.
Me siento muy mal.
This sentence talks about how you feel, so we must include the reflexive pronoun, or the verb sentirse.
Me siento mareado/a.
Just like the previous sentence, this one answers the question ‘how.’ Because of that, we must use the verb sentirse.
El dolor se siente como un cuchillo.
Se siente como si alguien me estuviera apretando.
These last two sentences seem a little different. While they do answer the question ‘how,’ the verbs are not followed by adjectives that describe the subject. Here, we see examples of the passive voice referring to what an object feels like. Since it is still answering the question ‘how,’ and because the passive voice commonly uses the pronoun se (se vende, se busca), we use the pronominal verb sentirse.
The next time you want to talk about feeling something in Spanish, think about whether you are describing what you feel or how you feel. If the answer is what, use sentir. If the answer is how, use sentirse. Furthermore, keep in mind that if you use a phrase starting with que after the verb, you must use the word sentir.
Write it Down and Study Up
There are a lot of things you need to memorize. To make it easier for yourself, write these phrases down, pin them on the wall, or download the chart and practice them whenever you can. Even if you are just practicing them on yourself, that is better than nothing! Repeat the phrases you see here, and then when you go to make your own sentences in a real conversation, you will remember these sample sentences and use them as a guideline for your new sentences.
How do you feel after studying these words and phrases? ¿Te sientes confundido? ¿Sientes que estás listo para hablar con el doctor en español? I hope this blog helped you expand your vocabulary and prepare you for your next doctor’s visit. If you have questions, want to learn more vocabulary, or would like more practice with some tricky verbs like sentir, doler, and arder, sign up for a FREE class with one of our native Spanish-speaking teachers. They can explain these concepts further, give you more materials to practice with, and help you gain the confidence to use these ideas in conversation. Get started today!Read More
If you grew up (or are still growing up!) in the church, you know that youth group is a big part of the church community. It is a place where teens and pre-teens can come together, find community, have fun, and learn about God in a more relatable way. I personally remember attending several different youth groups because it was a great way to find friends outside of school. One youth group even had their facility open every day after school, and I would go and do homework or just hang out with other kids and the staff. It was a great, friendly environment, and I would always invite my friends, whether or not church was their ‘thing.’ At that age, I didn’t speak Spanish very well, so I couldn’t invite any Spanish-speaking friends to youth group with me! Hopefully, with these helpful vocab lists, you will be prepared to invite your Spanish-speaking friends to youth group in their native language.
We’ll start with some activities and people that you’ll find when you go to youth group:
Pretty straightforward, right? You can use these words to give your friends an idea of what will happen at the event. Now, you can’t predict everything will be said at youth group, but here are some phrases that you can use to invite your friend to youth group and then introduce them to the whole gang!
I hope those phrases help you get up the nerve to ask your Spanish-speaking friends to the next youth group event! Even if they can’t understand everything that happens that night, the most important thing is to make sure they feel welcome! If you have more specific phrases that you want to learn how to say in Spanish, be sure to ask your teacher in your next Spanish class! ¡Diviértete!Read More
Teaching your little ones to read and write can be hard. My son is not quite that age yet, but I did teach an English as a Second Language class to kids aged 5-8. Some of them could read and write in Spanish, some of them couldn’t. Teaching them the letters and how to sound out words in their second language, English, was quite a struggle! When you’re teaching your own children to learn to read and write, you do have the advantage of spending more time with them and knowing how your child learns best. Now, there are many theories and methods to teach kids how to read and write in English, but where would you start teaching them the same concepts in Spanish? Well, hopefully by the end of this blog you will have an idea of how to teach your child to read and write in Spanish!
Differences in English and Spanish
There is a lot of discussion on how to teach kids to read and write in English; many people favor phonetics-based learning, while others prefer sight words. When choosing your teaching method, it is important to take into consideration the type of language you want your child to read and write.
For example, English is generally not a phonetic language. There are words that can be sounded out, but the vast number of exceptions can be very frustrating for little learners when they are trying to sound out words. Take a look at the following words and how they are pronounced:
In the first group of words, the ‘ough’ has a different pronunciation in each word. Likewise, the vowel ‘a’ has a unique pronunciation in each of the three words above. Can you see how it could be hard to teach a lot of words phonetically in English? There are some rules that explain the different sounds, but they are too complex to teach to a budding reader.
On the other hand, Spanish is a very phonetic language. There are very few times when letters have more than one possible sound (the C and G, the Y, and diphthongs/triphthongs). For the most part, we can say that each letter has one sound, all the time. Once a new reader knows the sound each letter makes, it is extremely easy to sound out new words.
Know Your Learner
Like I previously mentioned, when you are choosing a method to teach your child how to read, it is important to take into consideration your child’s age and how they learn. If you are starting with a preschooler, keep in mind that they cannot handle rote memorization as well as an older student. You can look at the activities below and choose which one is best for your child’s age level. Additionally, the way your child learns is extremely important to keep in mind. Consider this quote from Cindy Gaddis:
“A right-brained reader learns to read by translating words into pictures. This is because of their highly visual nature. This high level of visualization ability is what helps a right-brained child learn to read and comprehend what they read. These readers will more likely learn to read “giraffe” before any of the Dolch words because it can be visualized…For young left-brained readers, who are part-to-whole leaners, it makes a lot of sense to discover that a c-a-t makes cat. They get excited. But quickly they convert that knowledge into sight word reading.”
There are a couple of key points here. The first is the difference between right and left-brained learners. As an adult, you probably have heard of this a lot and are able to identify what type of learner you are. For younger kids, though, it may take a bit of investigation to figure out which type of learner your child is. If you aren’t sure how your child learns best, try the two methods of teaching the words mentioned above. Give them a word that is easy to visualize and teach it using engaging pictures. Then, give them a word they can sound of and show them how the letters form the word. Whichever method your child responds to best is the way to go!
The next important thing to note is the idea of part-to-whole and whole-to-part learners. This is another way of talking about right/left-brained learners that might be easier to make sense of rather than trying to remember which side of the brain is more creative. Right-brained children are whole-to-part learners – in other words, they look at the big picture first to help decipher the small parts, or in this case the letters that make up a word. Left-brained children are part-to-whole learners who need to understand the parts to reach the whole picture. Oftentimes your child learns differently than you do, so it is helpful to understand them as much as possible to make the teaching process as smooth as possible.
Lastly, the author mentions Dolch words. You may have already heard of these, but they are the most frequent words that appear in written English. If you choose to use sight words as the way to teach your kids how to read, it would be a good idea to start with the Dolch words in English. For Spanish, we’ll look at some of the most common words a bit later on.
The Case for Sight Words
So far, we have looked at a couple of different ways of teaching kids how to read and write, each of which has its pros and cons. Always remember that each kid is unique, and what works for one may not work for another.
For kids learning to read and write in their second language, Spanish, I would highly recommend the use of phonetical sight words. Now, we already looked at how Spanish is a highly phonetical language, and it would make logical sense to teach kids to read it by sounding out the letters. However, when kids are learning to read in two separate languages, it is, in my opinion, a lot to ask of a young child to memorize the phonetics for two alphabets. While English and Spanish have comparable alphabets, some letters are pronounced very differently, which may cause students to get confused between the two languages as they’re learning to read and write.
What do I mean by phonetical sight words? Well, let’s first define what sight words are. They are words that are recognized by sight without the need to sound them out, letter-by-letter. Once you are an affluent reader, the majority of words you read are sight words, with just newer vocabulary needing to be sound out. Now, since Spanish is a phonetical language, I believe that it is important to recognize that and teach students to look for phonetical patterns in words.
How to Teach Phonetical Sight Words
Instead of teaching the alphabet all at once and expecting young children to memorize another set of sounds all at once, it is best to go letter by letter, starting with the easiest and most common letters in Spanish. I recommend using the following order to start out:
A L O S E N I T U M D P B
These first letters are easy to pronounce, have only one possible pronunciation, and are the most common letters in Spanish. Notice that the vowels are not lumped together or in alphabetical order. This is because the Spanish A, O, and E are called open vowels because your mouth is open when you say them. Vowels I and U are closed since your mouth is tighter when you pronounce them. Since open vowels are easier to pronounce, they should be taught first. Furthermore, there are consonants and vowels alternating so that the child can immediately form sight words with the letters they learn.
For example, with the first four letters, you can teach the following sight words:
A la lo sol los las ala alas ola olas sal sala sola solo oso osos
Look at how many words you can make with just four letters! You can even begin to make phrases like:
A la sala
The majority of the remaining letters to teach have more difficult pronunciations (like the R and J) or have two sounds (like the Y, C, and G). Be sure to teach the correct pronunciation using our blogs here.
Considering all of this, let’s go back to the idea of phonetical sight words. The first step is to teach individual letters and what sound they make, then use them to teach sight words. You can use the learned phonetics to help the student sound out the word, then continue with more common sight word activities.
Sight Word Activities
Alright. We’ve made a case for sight words, making sure to start with the phonetics of the individual letters. However, what’s the best way to teach sight words? Let’s look at some fun ways to help your young learner commit common Spanish words to memory. Again, remember to choose activities (or modify them) that fit your child’s learning style.
- Sand drawing
If you have a small, shallow sandbox, have your child copy the letters in the word by tracing them in the sand. They can sound out each letter as they write them, then say the word as a whole. This is a fun tactile activity for kids that learn better with hands-on activities.
- Craft recreation
There are several ways you can interpret this activity. The main idea is to do some sort of craft to form the letter of the word. You can have them form the letters with glue, tissue paper, raw noodles, popsicle sticks, etc. Whatever you have on-hand can work!
- Letter blocks
For this activity, you can use blocks, magnets, or even just paper cut-outs with letters written on them. Show your child the word and have them form it themselves while pronouncing each letter and then the whole word.
There are a lot of worksheets you can find online for this type of activity. If you are feeling ambitious, you can even make your own! Your little learner can trace the word and color a visual representation of the word. Some worksheets even have the object made out of the letters (a perro made out of the letters p-e-r-r-o). For ‘whole-to-part’ learners, this activity is great.
Check out our blog about using songs to teach preschoolers Spanish and find a song that has the Spanish sight word you are teaching your child. Play the song several times and sing along with your child. Every time the sight word is sung, hold up a card with the word written on it. This method will help them connect the word with the pronunciation.
- Practice Reading
This activity isn’t quite as hands-on, but it is a great tool to get your child reading. Take a card and write the Spanish sight word on it, and have the child sound out the word letter by letter, pointing to each one as they say them. As they get better, they will go faster and faster until the word is pronounced fluidly and stored in long-term memory!
- Scavenger Hunt
Once your learner has practiced with some sight words, write them on pieces of paper and hide them around the room. Say a word and have them search for that specific sight word. To take it a step further, you can have another piece of paper with all the sight words written down. When they find a sight word, they can match it to the same word on the paper and glue it there.
There are so many more activities you can do with sight words! I encourage you to get creative with these activities and explore some of the links. Before you get started, though, be sure to use Spanish words that are common, simple, and relatively short. Click here to find the most frequent Spanish words and here for some sample sheets of sight words for different grade levels. Remember, the idea of sight words doesn’t have to be just for preschoolers or new readers. Learning a new language and letter sounds is hard! Sight words can help kids of any age learn to read in Spanish much faster. If you need recommendations of sight words, feel free to ask your Spanish teacher in your next class! Happy reading!
When I was just starting to learn Spanish, I remember that my Spanish teacher told me that each letter has only one sound, and you always pronounce every letter in a word. That was incredibly reassuring when I was just starting to learn the language. However, when I immersed myself in the language, I discovered that when pronouncing some words, you do not enunciate each individual letter. This, of course, was confusing to me since it contradicted what my first Spanish teacher had said. Once I learned about diphthongs, triphthongs, and hiatus, though, it made much more sense!
Don’t panic – these words may seem very complicated (they’re sure difficult to spell with all those ‘h’s!), but they are much simpler than you think. Each of these terms refers to a combination of vowels. Do you remember how to say the vowels in Spanish? Let’s review:
I hope that refreshed your memory! Let’s delve into the first group of vowel combinations: diphthongs
Do you remember how to say ‘grandfather’ in Spanish? If you need help, refer to our family blog!
Yes! It’s abuelo. Now, how do you pronounce it? Would you say ah-boo-ay-loh? Or maybe ah-bway-loh?
If you said the second pronunciation, you are correct! We don’t pronounce every single vowel separately in this word but make a new sound with two of the vowels. Instead of oo-ay we say way for the vowel combination ‘ue.’ This is called a diphthong.
The Real Academia de Español defines a diphthong, or diptongo, as:
Secuencia de dos vocales diferentes que se pronuncian en una sola sílaba.
A sequence of two different vowels that are pronounced in just on syllable.
Keep in mind that just because there are two vowels together does NOT mean that they are pronounced in one syllabus, and therefore means that they are NOT always diphthongs (we’ll explore more on this topic in a bit). So, how do you know when to pronounce vowel combinations as one syllabus? Well…
In Spanish, we have hard and soft vowels.
Hard vowels: A E O
Soft vowels: I U
You can think of the hard vowels as dominant in the pronunciation. Let’s go back to our previous example: abuelo. What vowel sound to you hear most in the ‘ue’ combination? Exactly! The ‘e.’ We hear the ‘e’ more because it is a hard vowel, or more dominant.
Hard Vowel + Soft Vowel
Whenever you see a hard and soft vowel together, it is called a diphthong. Basically, the hard vowel dominates the combination and makes the two vowels have only one sound. Let’s look at some examples:
Abuelo – (ah-bway-loh)
Bailar – (bai–lahr)
Huevo – (way-boh)
Hielo – (yay-loh)
Oigo – (oi-goh)
If you look at the pronunciations, you can see bits of both vowels in the new singular sound, but the hard vowel has the emphasis. It is also very interesting to note that when the ‘u’ is the first vowel in the combination, it has a ‘w’ sound; likewise, when the ‘i’ is the first letter in the combination, it has a ‘y’ sound. Finally, it does not matter if the hard vowel comes first (like in bailar) or second (like in hielo), it is always the dominant sound.
Before we move on, check out this chart with all the diphthongs made up with a hard and soft vowel and an example of each one:
Soft Vowel + Soft Vowel
Now, the combination of a hard and soft vowel is not the only combination classified as a diphthong. Whenever there are there soft vowels together, it is also called a diphthong! But which one has the dominant sound if they are both soft vowels? Great question! Unlike in our previous group of diphthongs where the order didn’t matter, here it does. When two soft vowels form a diphthong, there is an emphasis on the second one. Of course, since there are only two soft vowels, we only have two options for combinations. Do you remember which vowels are soft?
Exactly! I and U. So, we can have the combination ‘iu’ or ‘ui.’ Let’s check out some examples!
These words have very similar spellings, but because of their unique diphthongs, the pronunciations are distinct. Remember that when an ‘i’ is the first letter, it sounds like ‘y,’ and when ‘u’ is the first letter it sounds like ‘w.’ However, the second letter in each combination still carries the emphasis.
Alright – those are a lot of diphthongs! However, what if two hard vowels are paired together? What happens then? It is called a hiatus.
So, we established that diphthongs, or diptongos, are when two vowels come together to make one sound. If you remember, though, not all vowel combinations are diphthongs. Sometimes when there are two vowels together, they have two distinct syllabi – which is called a hiatus, or hiato. The Real Academia de Español puts it this way:
Secuencia de dos vocales que se pronuncian en sílabas distintas.
Sequence of two vowels that are pronounced in separate syllables.
To ensure that each vowel is pronounced in separate syllabi, both must be hard vowels – a, e, or o.
Let’s take the word real, for example. In English, this word is one syllable, and the vowels actually form a diphthong. However, the pronunciation in Spanish is ray-ahl with two syllables because ‘a’ and ‘e’ are both hard vowels. Interestingly, if we had double vowels in a word, whether they are hard or soft, they are a hiatus!
Here are all the possible forms of hiatos with some examples:
Before we move onto our last group, we need to talk about some exceptions to these rules. Yes, yes, I know – the last thing you want to hear about are exceptions. These, however, and pretty simple and you are probably already putting them into practice without even knowing it!
As you’ve probably noticed by now, Spanish utilizes a lot of accent marks! They are what mark the difference between llamo (I call) and llamó (he/she/it called) as they show where the syllabic emphasis is. Accent marks are needed when the accent of the word goes against general spelling and pronunciation rules. So, it makes sense then that when an accent mark is over a vowel combination, our rules about diphthongs and hiatuses go out the window; the accent mark takes precedence. Let’s look at an example:
If we follow our rules for diphthongs, we would pronounce the ‘ia’ as the single sound ‘ya.’ However, the accent mark over the ‘a’ breaks up that diphthong. We, therefore, pronounce this word as: ah-see-ah-tee-coh, where the ‘i’ and ‘a’ are in separate syllables.
The bottom line is, if there is an accent mark over one of the letters in a diphthong, it is no longer a diphthong! The vowel sounds are in separate syllabi.
The Tricky ‘u’
If you remember from our vowel blog, we talked about hard and soft Gs and Cs. These two letters’ pronunciation changes based on the vowel that follows them. There are several instances in Spanish were the spelling is adapted to match the pronunciation. For example, to conjugate the verb llegar in the simple past tense of yo, it would be llegé according to the rules of conjugating regular verbs. However, that would make the pronunciation yay-hay, not yay-gay as it should be. So, to correct the spelling, we add a ‘u’ to form llegué. In these instances where a ‘u’ is added to match the spelling to the pronunciation, the diphthong rules do not apply. The letter ‘u’ is just a filler and does not need to be pronounced at all – it’s silent!
Alright, are you ready for our last vowel combination? Don’t worry, it’s not too hard because it’s not quite as common as diphthongs! So far, we have only looked at instances where two vowels come together. There are words, though, that have more vowels together!
Just like a diphthong is when two vowels make one sound, a triphthong is when three vowels make one sound. The Real Academy de Español says:
Secuencia de tres vocales que se pronuncian en una sola sílaba.
Sequence of three vowels that are pronounced in just one syllable.
In order for three vowels to make one sound, they must be in the following order: soft vowel + hard vowel + soft vowel. It’s like a soft vowel sandwich! Let’s look at some examples:
Paraguay – (pahr-ah-gwai)
(here, the ‘y’ acts a vowel just like in hoy and estoy)
Guau – (gwow)
Confiéis – (cohn-fyays)
This last example is a conjugation of confiar in the vosotros form. A lot (NOT all) of the vosotros conjugations end in triphthongs! If you plan on visiting Spain, it would be good to practice the triphthongs more because vosotros is used very commonly there.
Practice Makes Perfect
That was a lot to take in! If you are a beginner Spanish learner, I would recommend you do not try to memorize all these rules at once. Instead, practice the 5 main vowels and look at the examples throughout this blog. If you get the pronunciation of these examples down, you will recognize the patterns in other words you see throughout your Spanish learning journey. These rules are important but don’t get caught up in them as you work towards fluency. Spanish vowels are much easier and straightforward in their pronunciation than the vowels in English.
For more practice on how to pronounce diptongos, watch our video below! With this tool, you’ll be on your way to a pronunciación perfecta in no time! ¡Tú puedes!Read More
Whenever you’re learning another language, you may often hit a common stumbling block – being able to truly express what you are feeling. I often struggle with this in both languages now. Since each language has its own unique, wonderful phrases to express an idea, my brain often goes to mush as I sort out how to express what I think and need in one language, instead of the Spanglish that I normally think in. Unfortunately, not everyone I talk to can understand my Spanglish ramblings…including my husband.
I have had the amazing opportunity to be completely immersed in the Spanish language by dating and marrying someone who speaks only Spanish. He can handle a basic conversation in English, but our home language is Spanish. If you ever have the opportunity to talk with other people who speak the same languages as you do, it’s a very interesting phenomenon as you decide which language you want to speak in with that particular person – it depends on numerous factors, and it is not always the same! Either way, whether my husband one day becomes fluent in English or not, the language for our relationship is Spanish. This means that I had to learn to express how I felt in my second language. This isn’t something normally taught in a high school Spanish class, so I learned as I went.
If you are in the same position as me, or if you are just wanting to take your Spanish to a whole other level and be able to truly express yourself in Spanish, this blog is for you! We are going to look at several common phrases that you can use with your significant other – whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not!
To be completely honest, I am not a huge fan of lovey-dovey names for your significant other in English. I don’t know what it is about them, but I just don’t feel comfortable using them with my partner. However, I am a big fan of (most) Spanish pet names. Check them out!
The first ones seem great right? My love, queen, heaven – those sound great. But my daughter? Fatty? Aren’t we talking about or beloved significant other? These may sound funny, or even offensive, in English, but trust me – they do not all have the same connotation in Spanish. Mija is actually my favorite pet name that my husband uses. It expresses so much love, warmth, and affection in just one word. Now, you’ve probably heard mamita or papito used a lot, mostly in flirtatious conversations. While these two names are very often used to pursue someone and comment on their physical appearance, they can be used in a much more caring and loving way between a couple. Or, if you want to comment on your partner’s lovely physical appearance, you can use these words. Speaking of physical appearance, let’s talk about flaco/gordo. Yes, it sounds absolutely awful in English. However, these are very endearing terms in Spanish. My husband is my no means fat, nor is he skinny. Despite that, I have called him both mi gordo and mi flaco. Why? It’s endearing! He is also (sometimes) allowed to call me his gorda/flaca because these are not degrading terms about my weight but a way to tell me he loves me and my body.
It is very important to note that these words are not just for couples. If you walk through the market in Antigua, Guatemala, you will hear the vendors calling you any of these names to make you feel like the most important person in the world… and get you to buy their product. I have to tell you – it often works on me. Hearing people call me ‘queen, beautiful, and heart’ really puts me in a good mood! It is also very common to call kids ‘gordo/gorda’ out of affection. My husband and I are blessed with a little one-year-old boy, and he is just the cutest. He was not a fat baby when he was born, and now that he is a toddler, he is still not a fat kid. However, what have I and everyone else called him since he was born? Gordito. It may have to do with the general squishiness of babies, but he will forever (yes, even as an adult) be my gordito.
Spanish is a very expressive language, especially when it comes to communicating your love to those you care about. These pet names can be used in many different circumstances and potentially be misconstrued, so I encourage you to be cautious using them with people who are not your significant other. I once called my friend papito thinking it was just a fun nickname, and his face went bright red. Turns out it is not just another nickname but has a more sensual meaning. Oops! Learn from my mistakes, and make sure the nicknames you are using are appropriate for the situation.
One of my favorite things about Spanish is the many ways to describe your feelings. In English, we say we love everything; we have one word, ‘love,’ for everything. I love pizza, movies, sleeping, my dog, my sister, my husband. The reality is that our feelings are different for each of these things, and Spanish offers us more ways to express those particular feelings. For a more in-depth look at these phrases, click here.
Alright, we have our pet names and different verbs to express our level of love for someone. However, there is so much more to look at when we think about expressing our deep feelings for our significant other.
I hope all these phrases will help you better express yourself to your significant other in Spanish! It is important to note that all of these phrases use the pronoun tú to refer to your other half. Not all couples refer to each other with tú. Some couples keep it formal with usted to express respect for each other, while others use vos to express a deep closeness. Use whichever pronoun you feel most comfortable with, but make sure to change the verb conjugations accordingly!
Spanish Poems about love
If you are looking for some beautiful sayings and quotes in Spanish to put on a card or send to your significant other, try one of these!
Prefiero un minuto contigo a una eternidad sin ti.
“I prefer one minute with you than an eternity without you.”
Te amé, te amo y te amaré. Aunque pasaran cien años y mi corazón ya esté cansado y quiera dejar de latir, quiero que sepas que mi último latido será para ti.
“I loved you, I love you, and I will love you. Even when a hundred years have passed and my heart is tired and wants to stop beating, I want you to know that my last heartbeat will be for you.”
En la tierra, en la luna, en las estrellas, en marte, en cualquier parte del universo. En la lluvia, en el frío, en el dolor y el temor, en el laberinto sombrío y los caminos más difíciles de cruzar, pero contigo, sin contratos ni condiciones.– Irene T. Gómez
“On Earth, on the moon, in the stars, on Mars, in any part of the universe. In the rain, in the cold, in pain and fear, in the gloomy labyrinth and the most difficult paths to cross, but with you, without contracts or conditions.”
Eres mi promesa de nunca romper, eres cada uno de los latidos de mi corazón. Eres mi sonrisa, después de un mal día, eres vida, eres mi vida.– Robinson Aybar
“You are my promise of never breaking; you are every one of my heartbeats. You are my smile after a bad day. You are life; you are my life.”
Te quiero no por quien eres, sino por quien soy cuando estoy contigo.– Gabriel García Márquez
“I love you not for who you are, but because of who I am when I’m with you.”
Tardé una hora en conocerte y solo un día en enamorarme. Pero me llevará toda una vida lograr olvidarte.
“It took an hour for me to meet you and just a day for me to fall in love. But it will take a whole lifetime to be able to forget you.”
Share the love!
Take everything that you’ve learned here and go express your love to your significant other! You can use whole quotes, bits and pieces, or just the pet names to express what you are feeling in Spanish. Don’t forget to practice what you’ve learned with our native Spanish-speaking teachers! You can sign up for a FREE class here! You can come up with some sentences of your own in Spanish and run it by them – they would love to help!
For more practice, check out our video on the different ways to say ‘I love you’ in Spanish. You can get a first-hand glimpse of how many Spanish speakers use different phrases to express themselves. Test your Spanish skills with the video as well by seeing how much you understand. Then, follow along with the subtitles to check your comprehension.Read More
I don’t know about you, but I love dreaming and making plans. Daydreaming is quite possibly my favorite pastime, and I talk about my hopes for the future all the time. A lot of our culture is about planning for the future – saving money, getting an education for a good job, outlining 5 and 10-year plans. We are always looking towards the future!
Since future plans make up such a big part of our life and conversation, we need to be able to talk about them in whatever language we are learning. In Spanish, we can use a couple of different tenses to talk about the future. If you have not already, check out our first two blogs on the future tenses: futuro simple + futuro próximo.
With this blog, we are going to go over a tense that is technically not a future tense but is commonly used as such.
The Simple Present
Yes, you read that correctly. We often use the simple present to talk about future plans! Before we get into when and how we use it, I want to go over the basics of conjugating verbs in the present simple just to refresh your memory. Please note that there is a lot more to talk about regarding the present simple (like stem-changing verbs and irregulars), but that’s for another blog.
I hope that all looks familiar! Now comes the big question – how do we use this to talk about the future?
How do we use it?
There is one big idea that encompasses the uses of the simple present in the future: set plans.
If you remember from our other blogs about the future tenses, none of them were used for set plans. The futuro próximo is used for plans in the making and intentions, but not for things set in stone. The futuro simple is also used for intentions, but still not for set plans.
Whenever we have a plan completely established, we can use the present simple. Think of it this way. If you got accepted to college for the coming fall and you finally have everything packed, all the paperwork is done, and financial aid is set up, you would say it was certain you were going. Of course, things happen that can’t be foreseen. However, based on what we know and what we can plan, everything is set for you to go to college. How would you express your plans for the fall?
I will go to college in a couple of months.
I’m going to college in a couple of months.
More than likely, you would use the second sentence as it expresses much more certainty. Wait, though. That’s the present continuous, not the present simple!
If you remember from our last future blog, the uses of the present simple and present continuous in English and Spanish are not as similar as you may think. We often use the present simple in Spanish when we would use the present continuous in English.
The present continuous in Spanish is used for things happening in this exact moment, while the English present continuous extends to plans we have in the future.
We’re going to Colombia in January.
Vamos a Colombia en enero.
I’m going to college in the fall.
Voy a la universidad en el otoño.
Can you see how these are set plans in the future? We often express this idea in English with the present continuous, but in Spanish it would be the present simple.
Some set plans are not always represented with the present continuous in English, however.
I’ll see you tomorrow.
Te miro mañana.
This is a very common statement, and this was actually my first introduction to this idea of using the presente simple for future plans. I often use the futuro simple to express set future plans, but I was translating directly from English and it was incorrect. I would say things like:
Te miraré mañana.
While this is definitely understandable, it does not accurately convey what I meant. This sentence is saying that it is my intention to see you tomorrow, not a set plan. To express a set plan, we need to use the presente simple – Te miro mañana.
There is yet another way to translate the presente simple into English.
Ella se casa el 17 de diciembre.
She gets married on December 17th.
Woah! We’re using the simple present in both English and Spanish! Sometimes it makes sense to use the simple present in English for things in the future. Here, we are looking at an event completely set in stone – the venue is booked, the caterer hired, the dress bought. Everything is set up and she is definitely getting married.
Using the presente simple to express things in the future is pretty straightforward in Spanish: use it to talk about set plans. However, the tricky part comes in when you are trying to talk about a set plan that would be talked about using a different tense in English. Something that will help you overcome this translation hurdle is to stop translating! Yes, you read that right. Stop thinking of the sentence in English first and translating it to Spanish. You are more likely to make mistakes trying to literally translate.
Yes, yes, I know. This is a lot easier said than done. I’ve been there, and I can tell you from experience that when you embrace the idea of not trying to translate everything and understand word-by-word what things mean, your understanding of the Spanish language will deepen and your conversational skills will flourish.
This requires a large learning curve, though, and a lot of patience. The first step can be practicing using the presente simple for future things! Remember that in Spanish, we use it to talk about set plans in the future. Don’t think about how sometimes it’s translated to English with the present continuous, sometimes with the present simple, and sometimes with the future simple. Embrace it for what it is in Spanish alone!
To help you in this process, try a FREE trial class with one of our native Spanish-speaking teachers. Practice your future tenses with them and have trial conversations! ¡Aprende más!Read More