An interesting challenge of learning a foreign language is recognizing that it’s not spoken in the same way all around the world. This situation is especially common with Spanish, which is not even spoken the same way throughout Latin America, not to mention Spain! Latin American and Castilian Spanish have different idioms, words, and expressions that are specific to a region, and you must know them in order to express your ideas correctly.
To add to the complication, there are times where the exact same word means two completely separate things in two different Latin American countries. For example, the word lola means a young lady in Chile, but it means the bust of a woman in Argentina, and in Mexico, it’s a common nickname. Like these, there are many different words and meanings that you need to know in order to say what you really mean and to avoid the shame you would feel if you said something totally wrong.
Today let’s discuss a popular topic among Spanish learners: the difference between Latin American and Castilian Spanish.
Locations of the Two Dialects
For starters, it’s very important to know that Spanish is the official language of 18 Latin American countries (including the Caribbean), which means that more than 418 million people speak it. These countries are divided into four areas: North, Central, South, and the Caribbean. The respective order is:
- El Salvador
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
On the other hand, Castilian Spanish is spoken in northern and central Spain, with around 46.6 million speakers. Interestingly, it became the language of the court of the kingdoms of Castile and León in the 12th century, after which it became the official language of the state.
In addition to this, it’s important to know that there are around 50 million Spanish speakers in the United States, remember a lot of people from Latin America move there and now it’s a very popular language too.
The Main Differences between Latin American and Castilian Spanish
Now that we’ve covered where you find these dialects in the map, let’s see some of the differences between the two. First, Latin American Spanish has a number of regional dialects, which are derived from Castilian but have different sounds from European Spanish. According to Britannica, typical of Latin American Spanish has these sounds:
- The use of the “s” sound where Castilian has the lisp-like “th” sound (for words spelled with a z or c before e or i).
For example, in Latin America when you say gracias it’s pronounced “gra-see-us”, and in Spain it’s pronounced “gra-thee-us”. It’s the same dynamic for all the words that have a z or c before the letters e or i.
- Replacement of the Castilian “ly” sound (spelled ll) with a “y” sound.
For example, in Latin America, the word yo has a “y” sound, but in Spain, it sounds like “llo”.
Ustedes or Vosotros?
Despite these differences, both dialects of Spanish use specific pronouns and verb endings to distinguish between “you singular” and “you plural”, as well as between “you informal” and “you formal.” So, both in Latin America and Spain, if you address one person informally, like a friend or an adult you’ve known for a long time, you use the pronoun tú. And if you talk to one person formally, you use usted.
Let’s see some examples:
- You, singular, informal: Que bonita eres tú. (You’re so pretty.)
- You, singular, formal: ¿A usted le gusta el helado? (Do you like ice cream?)
On the other hand, if you talk to a bunch of people in Latin America you say ustedes, while in Spain you say vosotros. For example:
- You, plural, informal: Ustedes son muy bonitas (You all are so pretty.)
- You, plural, formal: ¿A vosotros les gusta el helado? (Do you [all] like ice cream?)
Fun Expressions in Both Dialects
It’s time to bring the fun part of language-learning to the table: the slang! No one teaches us the colloquial words or phrases when we learn a new language, making it hard to understand mostly young people when we travel or make new friends.
Latin American Slang
Here are some of the most popular words and phrases you should know in Latin America:
- Echando la hueva: it translates literally to “throwing the egg,” but it means you’re just chilling and being lazy at the moment.”
Example: ¿Saldrás hoy a la fiesta? La verdad no, estoy echando la hueva. (Are you going to the party tonight? Honestly no, I’m just chilling right now).
- Guácala: it’s an expression you say when you find something nasty.
Example: ¡Guácala! ¡Que asco ese caracol! (Ew! That snail is so nasty!)
- ¡Qué padre!: it’s a Mexican expression that translates to “how father!” but culturally it means something is cool, nice, or amazing.
Example: ¡Qué padre tu reloj! (Your watch is so cool!)
- Por si las moscas: it culturally means “just in case” but it translates literally to “in case of flies.”
Example: Voy a llevar un paraguas solo por si las moscas (I’m going to take an umbrella just in case it rains).
- No sea sapo: translates to “don’t be a toad,” but it’s used in reference to someone who likes gossiping.
Example: No seas sapo, no digas de quién está enamorada ella (Don’t say who she likes, stop gossiping).
- Apapacharse: the verb apapachar means to pamper or coddle
Example: Me gusta cuando mi mamá me apapacha (I like it when my mom pampers me).
- Estar salado: it translates literally to “being salty”, and it’s used to describe someone who is unlucky.
Example: Qué mala suerte que llovió justo el día de tu fiesta, qué salado estás (It’s so unfortunate that it rained the day of your party, you’re so unlucky).
- Hablar paja: means “speak straw”, but it’s used in reference to the habit of talking too much or talking about something that is not true.
Example: Deja de hablar paja, todos sabemos que eso no es verdad (Stop saying lies, we all know that’s not true).
Also, many countries in Latin America have a different word for “friend”:
- Pana in Ecuador and Venezuela
- Cumpa in Bolivia
- Maje in El Salvador
- Wey in Mexico
- Fren in Panama
- Parce in Colombia
- Mae in Costa Rica and Honduras
- Boludo in Argentina
- Muchá in Guatemala
Colloquial Words in Spain
Now, some examples of colloquial words that can use in Spain are:
- Guay: it refers to something or someone cool.
Example: ¡Qué guay tu camisa! (Your shirt is so cool!
- Vale: it’s a commonly used agreement word, like “ok”
Example: ¿Podrías ir a recoger mi saco a la lavandería? Vale vale, yo lo hago (Would you please get my jacket from the laundry? Okay okay, I’ll do it).
- Tío: it directly translates to “uncle”, but in Spain it’s used to replace “man” (or “woman” as tía) in every conversation
Example: ¡Qué bueno verte tío! (So good to see you man!)
- Hombre: it translates literally to “man,” but it’s culturally used as an interjection.
Example: ¡Hombre! Cuánto tiempo sin verte (Man! Really long time no see)
- Chaval: this word refers to kids or young people in general. The feminine version is chavala.
Example: Ese chaval es muy divertido (That boy is so funny).
- Cabrearse: to get upset
Example: Ella se cabreó cuando su novio no le contestó (She got upset when her boyfriend didn’t respond to her).
- Flipar: you use it when you are absolutely blown away by something you didn’t know
Example: ¡Flipas viendo esa película! (You’ll be so impressed with that movie!)
- Ligar: to flirt or get someone’s attention in order to woo them.
Example: Creo que ese hombre te está tratando de ligar (I think that guy is trying to flirt with you).
Learn Through Practice
It’s amazing how Spanish can be so different around the world! Remember it’s a language that can be a little tricky so you need to practice it continually. Join us at Homeschool Spanish Academy for more tips and fun learning. See you around!
Would you like more tips for your trip abroad? Check these out!
- Differences between Latin American and Castilian Spanish
- For Your Mission Trip in Spanish: Vocabulary and Phrases
- Youth Group Spanish to Go on Outreach
- How to Use Your Phone in a Spanish-Speaking Country
- How to Pamper Yourself in Spanish
- Celebrate New Year’s in Latin America
- Why Missionaries Need Spanish
- Speak Spanish in the Hair Salon!
- Going to the Doctor in Spanish
- Cool Spanish Phrases
What is Beauty?
Beauty is something that has evolved alongside humans throughout history. It’s amazing how the definition of beauty is different for every culture in the world, for example: in Thailand the longer a woman’s neck is, the prettier she is; in Africa, stretched earlobes mean pure beauty; in France people like when women don’t use cosmetics at all; and in New Zealand a lot of women adorn a tattoo on their chin as a means to attract someone.
As you can see, every country has a different idea of what “beautiful” is, which is amazing because it means we have a diverse world. However, one factor affects most countries’ meaning of beauty and that is makeup. Many consider makeup and cosmetics to be the best way to enhance your appearance in some way. Beauty in Latin America has become a huge industry and has influenced people in different ways.
Cosmetics Throughout Latin America’s History
Beauty industry wasn’t born in Latin America. Actually, every known human society in history has used beauty products. Some of them were made at people’s homes or in small batches by craftsmen, and they were used for medical purposes or because of a local matter. Interestingly, in the 19th century beauty became a booming business. Cosmetics, skin creams, and perfumes filled factories in Western Europe and the United States. The world started to associate beauty with these countries, and they became globally-renowned, beauty capitals.
Radio Created the Beauty Star
European and U.S. firms brought the modern beauty industry to Latin America after World War II. At the time, this continent had low incomes and couldn’t afford expensive products such as fragrances, body creams, or color cosmetics, so bathroom soap and toothpaste were the first products to be introduced in the region. Later, the firm’s strategy was to use radios, which made women want to have and use the products. Then, Mexican and Brazilian models began to promote some beauty products, causing multinational companies (such as Revlon and Avon) to open factories in Mexico (1948), Chile (1952), Brazil (1954), and Argentina (1957). This created a perfect direct-sell to Latin America.
Fame and Makeup Glam
Multinational companies were able to entice Latin Americans to buy cosmetics because they were associated with the aspirational glamour of the United States and Europe to which so many Latin Americans were attracted. Time passed and the beauty industry became more popular every time. Hair and nail salons, beauty contests, and makeup artists were some of the things that gained popularity and began to be part of Latin America’s beauty history.
The Beauty Industry in Latin America Is Growing
Some of the most popular products in the beauty industry are fragrances, skin care products, makeup products, hair care products, and hygiene products. However, makeup has become more popular throughout the years. In fact, according to Goldstein Research, Latin America cosmetics market has reached a value of USD 31.98 billion in 2017, and it’s expected to grow 4.49% by 2025.
It’s interesting how Nielsen Company categorizes the Latin American consumer by age. First, millennials (ages 23 – 38) are the ones willing to pay for premium products mostly in the hair care section. Second, generation X (ages 39 – 54) wants premium products mostly in the oral care section and is willing to pay higher prices for them. Then, baby boomers (ages 55 – 73), just like millennials, are also willing to pay mostly in the hair care section. And last but not least, the silent generation (ages 74 – 91) are the ones willing to pay for premium products in the body care section.
Also, it’s no secret that the preference for vegan, organic, and natural beauty products has increased exponentially in the past years in order to decrease the effects of pollution and to help the environment.
Beauty Trends that Latin American People Support
The Latin American market for beauty has seen huge improvements in both innovation and growth. Some of the trends that have helped this industry keep busy are:
- Personalization: Latin America has a lot of diversity, so it is very important to give the consumers the possibility of choosing the product that fits them more.
- Sustainability: climate change, the depletion of natural resources, and pollution are big problems nowadays, so being able to provide products that motivate people to help the environment brings more consumers.
- Hair care: there are new ingredients targeting different hair care needs, for example, conditioner and protecting agents (2×1).
- Sun care: unprotected exposure to UVA damages the DNA in skin cells, so products that provide this protection are very popular within this decade.
El día de los Muertos Makeup
Now, even though Latin American countries have similar customs, each one has its own unique traditions. For example, Mexico is known for its Catrina’s makeup, which has come to symbolize not only El día de los Muertos, but also as a reminder that everyone is the same in the end (we all die). The Mexican illustrator José Guadalupe Posada created the first Catrina, and years later the Mexican artist Diego Rivera modified it by dressing it up in one of his murals. This figure became very famous and expanded through all Latin America, causing people to feel identified with this character in some way.
Catrina’s makeup consists of painting your face to look like a (pretty) skull. You need black and white face makeup, light tones of eyeshadows (red, pink, orange, etc.), a black eyeliner, a small makeup brush, and small colored rhinestones in order to paste them on your face. It is very common in Latin countries to paint your face as a Catrina for Halloween, however, it was originally intended only for El día de los Muertos.
Some useful vocabulary
Now that you know a little bit more about the beauty industry’s history and actual situation, it’s time to learn some useful vocabulary in order to know the names of the products and be able to ask for them in Spanish if you need to. For more vocabulary and a set of flashcards to use for studying, check out our Cosmetics in Spanish lesson!
Here are some of the must-know products:
|Los polvos selladores||Setting powder|
|Los polvos traslúcidos||Loose face powder|
|Las sombras de ojos||Eyeshadows|
|El delineador de ojos||Eyeliner|
|La crema de cuerpo||Body cream|
|El exfoliante de cuerpo||Body scrub|
|La cera depilatoria||Depilatory wax|
|El pintauñas||Nail polish|
|La mascarilla||Face mask|
|La crema hidratante||Moisturing cream|
|El agua micelar||Micellar cleansing water|
|El aceite de coco||Coconut oil|
|La brocha para maquillaje||Makeup brush|
|El gel de baño||Body wash|
Now you are ready to rock the beauty industry and enjoy the benefits of it! If you would like to learn more about Latin American culture and learn more Spanish words, try a free class here at Homeschool Spanish Academy!
When teenagers get to high school, they tend to feel nervous not only because of classes, but because of new people, situations, and most of all, feelings! Various experts consider adolescence to be the best time of life because most physical and mental functions—such as the development of the body, the individual creation of their self-esteem, their need to be independent, and their social skills—are more fully developed during the teenage years.
Also in adolescence, new, radical, and divergent ideas have a profound impact on the imagination. Creativity works in so many ways for teenagers: it gives them the ability to come up with an idea to hand in projects at the last minute, it helps them to think about funny jokes, gives them the chance to make new friends all the time, and, the funniest part of all, it lets them think about cheesy Spanish pickup lines in order to woo someone they like.
How Cheesy Pickup Lines Work
Corny Spanish pickup lines are a true challenge—they either work wonders or fail miserably. They have the potential to be funny and sweet or the complete opposite: overly degrading and too forward.
The key to finding the right pickup line is to make sure they come across as non-threatening, and they can totally work.
For example, if a guy says to a girl:
Ojalá fueras bombero para apagar el fuego de mi deseo.
(If only you were a firefighter to be able to put out the fire of my desire.)
The girl on the receiving end is likely to feel offended or threatened in some way, and she will never talk to him again.
Instead, if the guy says something smoother like:
Perdí mi número, ¿puedo tener el tuyo?
I lost my number, can I have yours?
She’s probably going to laugh, which is a good thing! Girls like a funny guy, and she’s also more likely to give him her number.
As a woman, I assure you that if you are original, funny, flirtatious, and you know how to deliver your message correctly, you’ll definitely get the girl’s attention.
Flirt in Latin America
If you find yourself traveling or living abroad in Latin America, how can you know which pickup lines to use? It’s important to know that in this part of the world countries are collectivists, which means that societies here maintain close family ties and individuals express pride and loyalty in organizations and family. And in relation to high schoolers, this loyalty is a little bit more intense because of the life stage they’re going through.
For example, if you want to get someone’s number in Latin America, don’t try to make jokes about their family or friends (even if they’re harmless and innocent) because first, you might offend the other person and second, you’ll definitely lose your chance.
So, What Do You Say to Get Attention?
I’ve compiled a list of the best, the cheesiest, and the funniest Spanish pickup lines that you can use to get a person’s attention while also making them laugh (with you, not at you!):
|¿Cómo se siente ser la mujer más linda en esta sala?||What does it feel like to be the most beautiful girl in this room?|
|Pasas tanto tiempo en mi mente, debería cobrarte alquiler.||You spend so much time on my mind, I should charge you rent.|
|¿Crees en el amor a primera vista, o debo pasar enfrente tuyo otra vez?||Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I walk by you again?|
|Hey, siente mi suéter. ¿Sabes de qué está hecho? De material de novio. *insertar guiño*||Hey girl, feel my sweater. Know what it’s made of? Boyfriend material. *wink*|
|¿Hablamos o seguimos jugando a mirarnos?||Do we talk, or keep playing around looking at each other?|
|¡Eres tan linda que se me olvidó el piropo que te iba a decir!||You are so pretty I forgot the pickup line I was gonna tell you!|
|¿Acaso me estabas mirando? Porque eso estaría súper.||Were you looking at me? Because that would be super.|
|Lo que sea que estés buscando, no lo necesitas. *insertar guiño*||Whatever you are looking for, you don’t need it. *wink*|
|No pude evitar notar que te pareces mucho a mi próxima novia.||I couldn’t help but notice that you look a lot like my next girlfriend.|
|Perdona, creo que me debes un lapicero. (Espera a que la otra persona pregunte por qué) Porque se me cayó el mío mirándote.||Excuse me, I think you owe me a pen. (Wait for the other person to ask why) Because I dropped mine staring at you.|
Tone is Everything
Remember everything is in the tone you use, make sure to deliver your message correctly because if you don’t, the other person will feel offended, embarrassed or even angry. To have success at executing pickup lines, remember to:
- Be casual
- Be respectful
- Be flirtatious
- Be funny
If you follow these easy tips, your chances will definitely increase and you will have so much more fun in high school!
Want More Practice?
Now you are ready to call Latin American people’s attention with some funny opening lines to strike up a conversation. If you want to learn and practice more Spanish, try a free class with us at Homeschool Spanish Academy! We hope to see you soon!
Want more Spanish humor? Check these out!Read More
Sometimes, going to the doctor is incredibly awkward. When a patient has to share private information with a specialist, it can get pretty uncomfortable—not to mention impossible, if the patient and the doctor can’t understand each other. Patients often already don’t know the medical terms a doctor is trying to explain to them, so it is important for these health professionals to be able to communicate effectively using conversational and medical Spanish.
As you may know, doctors from many organizations, such as Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in the United States, come to help ill people in Latin-American countries. If you are one of those doctors, it’s important that you prepare to use medical Spanish prior to or during your visit.
What I’ve Seen as a Medical Spanish Translator
Can you imagine how confusing it must be for someone to go to a consultation and not even speak the same language as the expert? This situation happens all the time in Latin America! In fact, I have witnessed this first-hand since my family and I have acted as translators in small towns when American doctors come to Guatemala. People from those towns usually don’t speak English and American doctors rarely speak Spanish. As a translator, I act as a bridge between them to allow them to understand each other. I’ve seen how people with different illnesses are desperate to see a doctor and to find out what is wrong with them but it proves impossible to achieve when they run into a language barrier.
The Deadly Consequences of Miscommunication
A few years ago, I met a man in his 70s named Alfonso who lived in a small village. He was looking for a doctor to cure his lower back pain. It was a serious situation as he could see a large ball-like protrusion forming on his body, but it stayed hidden inside his clothing. One day, several doctors from an American organization went to a town close to his; they were traveling through Latin America to help the ill, so he was able to go and check his back.
Before Alfonso could show it to the doctor, he tried to explain to him what he was feeling, but didn’t even know how to say espalda (back) in English. At that moment, I stepped in and began translating. Soon after, the doctor asked him to lift his shirt up. To all of our horror, when the man exposed his back, the doctor realized that he had a huge tumor that had been slowly killing him. Thankfully, the doctor immediately scheduled an emergency surgery for Alfonso.
At that moment, I realized that it’s essential to have doctors who know how to use medical Spanish. Although it may seem that the doctor could have helped Alfonso without a translator, the unfortunate truth is that Alfonso himself needed that introductory conversation to provide him with a sense of confidence toward the doctor and his professional experience.
The fact is, not being able to tell someone what their diagnosis is hinders their ability to get the treatment they need. Of course, Alfonso’s case is extreme in that it was obvious he had a tumor—but what would happen if the tumor wasn’t visible? What if he had a cluster of symptoms that he couldn’t express, but he was still slowly dying from an undiagnosed disease? The consequences could have been disastrous.
The Benefits of Doctors’ Speaking Medical Spanish
It is true that we can find volunteers to translate, however, in times of unavailability, doctors are left to their own devices. Naturally, bilingual doctors are the solution to this common problem. Here are some reasons why doctors need Spanish:
- To help patients feel safer, less anxious, and more willing to comply with treatment.
- To improve a sense of trust with the doctor, which is necessary for saving lives.
- To use their language knowledge when translators are unavailable.
- To create a good rapport with first-time patients and encourage them to return for frequent well-checks.
- Why not? Spanish is one of the most spoken languages in the world, and being able to speak it helps doctors not only in their professional lives but in their daily lives too.
Go Global with the Hippocratic Oath
When students graduate from medical school, they promise to “treat the ill to the best of one’s ability” by swearing to uphold the hippocratic oath. If doctors don’t take advantage of their capacity to learn another language, they refrain from having a greater reach toward the people who need them most. In other words, doctors need medical Spanish in order to have better contact with their Latin American patients, to treat them correctly, and to even save their lives.
Essential Vocabulary and Phrases for Doctors
Now that we’ve seen some reasons why doctors need medical Spanish, it’s time to practice vocabulary and phrases that a doctor would use with their patients. For example, if I, a Latin American person, go to a doctor, these are some questions and phrases that he/she would say to me in order to understand how I feel:
|¿Te sientes mareado?||Do you feel dizzy?|
|¿Te has sentido débil últimamente?||Have you been feeling weak lately?|
|¿Tienes dolor de cabeza?||Do you have a headache?|
|¿Te has sentido estresado por algo?||Have you felt stressed about something lately?|
|¿Qué síntomas has tenido en los últimos días?||What symptoms have you had lately?|
|¿Has estado comiendo o tomando algo fuera de lo usual?||Have you been eating or drinking something out of the ordinary?|
|¿Desde cuándo te sientes así?||Since when do you feel this way?|
|Voy a tomarte el pulso.||I am going to take your pulse.|
|Inhala y exhala cuando te diga, por favor.||Inhale and exhale when I tell you to do so, please.|
Then, the doctor would proceed to give his proposal:
|Te recetaré este medicamento.||I will prescribe you this medication.|
|Puedes tomar un analgésico para reducir el dolor.||You can take a painkiller to reduce pain.|
|Te enviaré tu diagnóstico en las próximas horas.||I will send you your diagnosis in the next hours.|
|Tu tratamiento durará quince días.||Your treatment will last fifteen days.|
|Necesito que regreses en siete días.||I need you to come back in seven days.|
|No puedes tomar nada de alcohol.||You can’t drink any alcohol.|
It is important to notice that these are just some of the phrases a doctor would use, but if you would like to learn more, including a patient’s point-of-view in Spanish, read our blog post on going to the doctor!
Inside and Outside the Body
Now, we’ll see some of the medical words a doctor must know in order to describe something in their patient. For example, here is a short list of parts of the body. For a more detailed list, check out our blog post Spanish Body Parts: Vocabulary and Practical Implementation.
|El oído||Inner ear|
We’ve seen some basic Spanish words that a doctor needs to master. If you’d like to look at a few more words regarding symptoms, illnesses, places, treatments, etc., check out this long list of doctor-related vocabulary!
Practice Conversation Between Doctor and Patient
Now, let’s see how a typical conversation between a doctor and a patient would go in the clinic:
Paciente: Buenos días Doctor Mooney. (Good morning Doctor Mooney).
Doctor: Buenos días Malcolm. ¿Cómo puedo ayudarle? (Good morning Malcolm, how can I help you?)
Paciente: Me he estado sintiendo mareado y débil últimamente. (I’ve been feeling dizzy and weak lately).
Doctor: ¿Ha comido algo fuera de lo usual? (Have you eaten anything out of the ordinary?)
Paciente: Sí, mariscos. Creo que comí uno que no estaba bien cocinado. (Yes, seafood. I think I ate one that wasn’t well cooked).
Doctor: Debería de dejar de comer mariscos por algunas semanas, así veremos si eso fue lo que lo enfermó. ¿Tiene algún otro síntoma? (You should stop eating shellfish for a few weeks, that way we’ll see if that is what made you sick. Do you have any other symptoms?)
Paciente: En realidad, quería decirle que me duele la cabeza. (Actually, I wanted to tell you that I have a headache right now).
Doctor: Voy a revisar su pulso. (I’m going to take your pulse).
Paciente: Perfecto. (Perfect).
Doctor: Su pulso está bien. ¿Es alérgico a algún medicamento? (Your pulse is fine. Are you allergic to any medications?)
Doctor: Entonces, le voy a prescribir unos analgésicos y Liquiprin por el momento. Tome 1 tableta de cada una durante 3 días. También necesita hacerse un análisis de sangre y descansar por unos días. (So, meanwhile I’m going to prescribe you some painkillers and Liquiprin. Take 1 tablet of each for 3 days. You also need to have a blood test and rest for some days).
Paciente: Perfecto, lo haré. (Perfect, will do).
Doctor: Vuelva con los resultados y le daré un diagnóstico y un tratamiento. (Come back with the results and I’ll give you a diagnosis and a treatment).
Paciente: Gracias doctor. Que tenga un buen día. (Thank you doctor. Have a nice day).
Now It’s Your Turn!
We hope these tips are useful to know how to communicate in medical terms with a patient or another person. Try a free class with native Spanish speakers at Homeschool Spanish Academy in order to practice your vocabulary while you enjoy the fun of this awesome language!
Want more Spanish work-related resources? Check these out!
- Differences between Latin American and Castilian Spanish
- 9 Medical Specialist Jobs in the U.S. That Pay More to Be Bilingual
- It’s An Emergency! Why American Doctors Need to Know Medical Spanish
- Top 10 Careers of the Future—in Spanish!
- How to Use Your Phone in a Spanish-Speaking Country
Learning a new language is both daunting and exciting, but sometimes it’s simply just confusing. Is it really necessary to learn all the grammar rules? Isn’t there a short-cut? The hard truth is: grammar is a crucial to become fluent in a foreign language. An easy place to start is with prepositions in Spanish.
If we want to command Spanish like native speakers, we need to master the grammar and make it our friend throughout the process! In this post, we will explore a quick distinction between two oft-confused prepositions in Spanish: por and para. But first, what exactly are prepositions?
What Are Prepositions?
In Spanish, just as in English, prepositions are words that establish relationships between:
- Nouns: Pon el mantel sobre la mesa (Put the tablecloth on the table)
- Nouns and pronouns: El regalo es para él (The gift is for him)
- Nouns and verbs: Ella estaba jugando con sus amigos (She was playing with her friends)
Prepositions in Spanish
Spanish prepositions are: a, ante, bajo, cabe, con, contra, de, desde, durante, en, entre, hacia, hasta, mediante, para, por, según, sin, sobre, tras, versus, and vía.
As you can see, many different prepositions allow us to express our ideas correctly.
Por vs Para
If English is your native language, the use of these two similar-sounding prepositions is tricky since they both translate to “for.” In order to understand them, we need to think of the meaning we want to convey. For example, if I use the phrase “two for one” in English, the “for” has a different meaning than it does in “This Christmas card is for you.” In the first situation, “for” indicates an exchange or deal, while in the second it indicates a direction or purpose. The Spanish translations of the two sentences are: dos por uno and este regalo de Navidad es para ti.
In order to remember when to use por and when to use para, follow this small guideline:
- When it comes to a cause, motive or reason.
- Vine a ver esta película por ti (I came to watch this movie for you).
- With the meaning of “through”.
- Caminar por la calle (Walk through the street).
- With the meaning of “because of”.
- Esto pasó por tu culpa (This happened because of you).
- When denoting time or duration.
- Caminamos por tres horas (We walked for three hours).
- For exchanges.
- Dos por uno (Two for one).
- For frequency.
- Corro dos veces por semana (I run two times a week).
- With the meaning of “in order to”.
- Para llegar a tiempo (In order to get on time).
- When you want to specify a future moment in time.
- La tarea es para mañana (The homework is for tomorrow).
- With destination.
- El avión para Nueva York sale en 10 minutos (The plane to New York leaves in 10 minutes).
- When you mean “for the benefit of”.
- Este regalo es para ti (This present is for you).
- With the meaning of “in the direction of” when referring to a specific place.
- Voy para Antigua Guatemala (I am heading to Antigua Guatemala).
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Try It Out!
We hope these tips help you to know when to use por and para correctly. While you’re here, why not schedule a free class with a native Spanish speaker at Homeschool Spanish Academy. Practice your skills and get ready to enjoy the beauty of grammar while you become a master in Spanish!
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