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
Do you want a guaranteed way to learn Spanish while enjoying yourself completely? It’s through music! Ten long years ago, I started learning Spanish from scratch and my constant companions were clear and catchy Spanish songs. I spent at least an hour daily listening to my favorite songs, hoping to get them to stick in my head (they always did). This method has worked wonders for me in French, as well, where I spent thousands of hours of my teenage years listening to French pop, polishing my accent, and increasing my fluency. While you’re not here to learn French, you will be happy to know that this trick works for any language! With regular auditory exposure to Spanish music such as the songs I share below, you will build your vocabulary, practice your accent, learn some useful phrases, and pick up a thing or two about the cultures that produced them. So, grab your favorite headphones, curl up in a comfy spot, and let’s get to listening. ¡Escuchemos música!
10 Spanish Songs to Study
To make the most of out of each song here (and others you may add to your playlist), be sure to study them one by one. Start with one song and listen to it while you read the lyrics. Jot down some words or phrases that are confusing to you. Use a dictionary to translate the meaning and create a picture of what’s happening in the song. And most importantly—sing along! By singing the songs, you get all the benefits of becoming more familiar with Spanish, like an increase in your pace of speech, refined pronunciation, and a boost in fluency.
How does this work? Each song has a Youtube link to follow. Start listening while you come back to this blog post and try to hear the lyrics in bold. The verbs, words, and phrases precede the lyric and give you a chance to use them on your own. Let’s get to it!
Julieta Venegas, from Mexico
Song: “Limón y Sal”
Album: Limón y Sal
Tener que – to have to (tengo que confesar = I have to confess)
Desaparecer – to disappear (tu me desapareces = you disappear on me)
Ponerse – to become/get (te pones de un humor extraño = you get in a weird mood)
Volver a + verb – again (vuelvo a empezar = I start again)
tal y como – just/such as (yo te quiero tal y como estás = I love/want you just as you are)
hacer falta – to lack/to be necessary (no hace falta cambiarte nada = there is no need to change anything about you)
Los Amigos Invisibles, from Venezuela
Una mentira – a lie (esas son puras mentiras = those are pure lies)
Andar – to walk/hang around (esa noche yo no andaba allí = that night I wasn’t hanging around there)
Contar – to tell (te cuentan que me vieron paseando en la ciudad = they tell you that they saw me taking a walk in the city)
Portarse – to behave (cuando no estás conmigo, yo me porto bien = when you’re not with me, I behave well)
Contento – happy, distraido – distracted (yo estaba muy contento y como distraido = I was really happy and as distracted)
Ricardo Arjona featuring Gaby Moreno, both from Guatemala
Song: “Fuiste Tu”
Album: Independiente + demos
Ser – to be (Fuiste tú = it was you)
la melancolía – melancholy (Lo tuyo fue la intermitencia y la melancolía = yours was intermittence and melancholy)
un chantaje – blackmail (Jamás te dije una mentira o te inventé un chantaje = I never told you a lie or blackmailed you)
el motor de arranque – the starter motor (cuando los besos fueron el motor de arranque que encendió la luz = when the kisses were the starter that ignited the light)
disfrazarse – to disguise/dress up (Así se disfraza el amor para su conveniencia = that’s how love is disguised for convenience)
Juanes, from Colombia
Song: “La camisa negra”
Album: Mi Sangre
De luto – in mourning (hoy mi amor está de luto = today my love is in mourning)
Herir – to hurt/wound (Y eso es lo que más me hiere = and that’s what hurts me most)
Quedarse – to stay/to be left (mal parece que solo me quedé = it seems bad that I was left alone)
Con disimulo – surreptitiously/furtively (Te digo con disimulo = I tell you furtively)
Amargo – bitter (Respiré de ese humo amargo de tu adiós = I breathed the bitter smoke of your good-bye)
Mostrar – to show (Ni siquiera muestras señas = you don’t even show signs)
Bomba Estereo, from Colombia
Song: “Somos dos”
Llenar – to fill up (tus ojos me están llenando solo con verlos = your eyes are filling me up just by seeing them)
Abrazarte – to hug you (no necesito si no abrazarte para sentirlo = I need only to hug you to feel it)
Emoción – feeling/excitement (que emoción = how exciting)
Ser parte de – to be a part of (ser parte de tu sonrisa y de tu alegría = to be a part of your smile and your happiness)
Callarse – to hush/be quiet (cuando el silencio se calle la boca y no pide perdón = when silence hushes the mouth and doesn’t ask for forgiveness)
Mientras – while, meanwhile (mientras los mundos se juntan = while the worlds come closer together)
Song: “Te Voy a Amar”
Album: Un Nuevo Sol
Poco – little/not much (Es poco decir = it’s not enough to say)
Alcanzar – to reach/catch (no me alcanzan las palabras = I can’t find the words)
Volverse – to become (Lo blanco y negro se vuelve color = black and white become color)
Medir – to measure (Porque me das tu amor sin medir = because you give your love without measure)
Junto – (quiero vivir la vida entera junto a ti = I want to live my whole life next to you)
Alex Ubago, from Spain
Song: “Mil Horas”
Preguntarse – to wonder (Yo me pregunto para qué sirven las guerras = I wonder what wars are for)
Alrededor – around (como la nieve a mi alrededor = like the snow all around me)
Hace (impersonal verb) – it has been (hace tiempo que estoy sentado sobre esta piedra = it’s been awhile that I’ve been sitting on this rock)
Esperar – to wait (La otra noche te esperé bajo la lluvia dos horas = the other night I waited for you in the rain for two hours)
Malu Trevejo, from Cuba
Song: “Una Vez Más”
Una vez – one time (una vez más = one more time)
Seguir – to follow (Que si tú te vas al cielo te sigo = if you go to heaven, I’ll follow you)
Alejarse – to go away (Quieres que me aleje = you want me to go away)
Cualquiera – ordinary/any (Sé que no soy cualquiera = I know I’m not ordinary)
Decir – to say (El corazón dirá más = the heart will say more)
Venir – to come (Dime que por mí vendrás = tell me you will come for me)
CNCO, boy band formed from the show La Banda
Song: “De Cero”
Album: Que Quiénes Somos
Sufrir – to suffer (dicen que estás sufriendo = they say you are suffering)
Entregarse – to surrender (Sin mente yo me entregaré = without thinking, I will surrender)
Empezar – to start (de cero empezamos = we start from zero)
Dejar – to leave/abandon/forget (Mejor dejamos la estupidez = we better leave behind the nonsense)
El tuyo – yours (Yo soy lo tuyo y tu eres la mia = I’m yours and you’re mine)
Un regalo – gift (La vida es corta y tu eres un regalo = life is short and you’re a gift)
Jesse y Joy, brother and sister duo from Mexico
Descifrar – to decipher/to figure out (Tú dices que soy imposible de descifrar = you say that I’m impossible to figure out)
Tanto – so much (Te amo tanto = I love you so much)
Tonta/tonto – silly (Tanto que me siento tonta = so much that I feel silly)
Sumar – to add (Cuenta todas las estrellas y súmale una más = count all the stars and add one more)
Soler – to tend to (me suele incomodar = it tends to make me uncomfortable)
Bulk Up Your Playlist
Seeking out more songs is so much fun. Once you finish absorbing the material from the 10 songs above, you can start adding your own! Here is a set of criteria to use while searching for the most effective songs for Spanish learning:
- Clarity – Make sure that endings of words and complete syllables aren’t chopped off, that the pronunciation of words is as accurate as possible and that the speed is understandable.
- Simple – Choose songs with fairly easy lyrics that don’t complicate the message.
- Catchy – Find songs you like! With a nice beat and fun rhythm, the lyrics you’re learning are more likely to stick in your head.
- Repetition – Gravitate toward songs with plenty of repetitive parts that encourage you to practice over and over.
Practice with a Native Speaker
After you spend some time learning new words and phrases, you will feel really motivated to use them in speech. Sign up for a free online class with a native Spanish-speaking teacher from Guatemala, and let them know all about your favorite Spanish songs!Read More
Do you like learning about make-up or trying different types of nail polish? All the colorful and curious items that women use to enhance their appearance or fragrance is defined as cosméticos or cosmetics. This vibrant and varied world can be overwhelming to explore, even in your native language. With this introductory guide to cosmetics in Spanish, you will learn how to discuss your favorite types of make-up and cosmetic accessories in another language. ¡Hablemos de cosméticos!
Here is a list of some of the most popular types of cosmetics with a downloadable set of flashcards for practicing! While these words are understood in all Spanish-speaking countries, it’s important to note that the vocabulary varies by region. For example, in some countries, people say blush instead of colorete, or rímel instead of máscara de pestañas. Lastly, don’t forget to practice rolling your r’s for words like corrector and rizador (check out this video for a refresher).
Download your flashcards here: Spanish Cosmetics
Body Parts in Spanish
Although cosmetics are used in different parts of the body, the grand majority of products are designed to improve the face’s appearance. Let’s take a look at some of these words so you can talk about makeup with your Spanish-speaking friends. You will also learn how to explain that you’re applying a product on a particular part of your face using maquillarse or aplicarse.
Verbs and Example Sentences
Here are some very useful verbs to use while discussing cosmetics or your makeup routine. Check out the following list with examples on how to use them in a sentence:
Maquillarse (to put on makeup) is a reflexive verb:
Yo me maquillo todos los días. – I put on makeup every day.
Me gusta maquillarme. – I like to put on makeup.
Desmaquillarse (to take off makeup) is a reflexive verb:
Ella se desmaquilla con agua y jabón. – She takes off makeup with water and soap.
Yo me desmaquillo antes de dormir. – I take off my makeup before going to sleep.
Aplicar (to apply, to put on):
¿Cómo te aplicas la sombra de ojos? – How do you apply eyeshadow?
Yo me aplico la máscara de pestañas después de usar un rizador de pestañas. – I put on mascara after using an eyelash curler.
Yo me aplico mucho perfume. – I put on a lot of perfume.
Curious About Cosmetics
Anyone can learn about cosmetics in Spanish! Being curious about both familiar and new things while learning a foreign language will always be beneficial. We hope you enjoyed this Spanish guide to cosmetics and how to use them. If you have any questions or would like to discuss what you’ve learned, sign up for a free online class with a native Spanish speaker. Here at Homeschool Spanish Academy, our teachers enjoy talking about all sorts of topics!Read More
The world we live in is a result of the decisions of billions of people across the globe. In one way or another, everything our ancestors did bears some level of influence in modern culture. One of the most compelling aspects of this influence is met through proverbs. The proverbs our grandparents and parents say have an impact on the way we, as a younger generation, think and speak. These bits of common wisdom not only tell us about our culture, but also what we value and how we look at the world. Some of these famous Spanish proverbs might have English translations or parallels, while others might be completely new to you. Either way, Spanish-speaking people will be pleasantly surprised to hear that you know these sayings! Keep in mind that some of these may sound strange in English because the rhymes and rhythms get lost in translation. However, the meaning behind the phrases is the same.
“Camarón que se duerme, se lo lleva la corriente”
This proverb talks about patience, opportunity, and attention. It translates as “If a shrimp falls asleep, the current will take them away.” You can say this to someone who’s taking too long to decide something, or to someone who’s being lazy and distracted. This is also an example of proverbs made into songs, as we will soon see in some of the other sayings in our list here. An artist called Ricky Maravilla (Ricky Wonder in English) made a song about this proverb. Check out the video to learn some Spanish!
“El comal le dijo a la olla: ¡Qué tiznada estás!”
This one I also learned about through a song by Cri Cri, a well known Mexican band that sings songs for kids. The song “El Comal le Dijo a la Olla” talks about this saying. This one actually has an English translation: “The pot calling the kettle black.” Interestingly, comal actually means griddle, but not just any kind of griddle. Comales are clay or metal griddles that are widely used in Central and South America to cook things like tortillas, nuts, or meat. If you want to know more about tortillas and comales, make sure to check out our blog on tortilla culture!
“El que madruga Dios lo ayuda”
Translates to “He who gets up early is helped by God,” but the parallel to this in English is “The early bird gets the worm.” I always thought this phrase was funny in English. I remember thinking to myself: Wouldn’t the early worm get eaten by the bird? Worms that get up early make easy prey for birds, so maybe waking up early is not as great as it seems! It’s all a joke though, there’s a reason this saying spans across different languages. I just like to sleep in!
Dare to be wise!
These are only some of the proverbs that grandmas all over Latinoamérica share with us. These beautiful bits of wisdom help us grow up and learn about the world. Asking people to share some common wisdom can be a great way to meet locals during your travels. If you want to learn more proverbs, why not take a free class at Homeschool Spanish Academy? With enough practice, you’ll learn all kinds of quotes and phrases!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
The holiday season always runs strong in Latinoamérica. A large portion of us are Christian (around 80%), and there’s no shortage of decorations, food, and jingles all around the country since early November. We have lots of fun traditions that are important to our culture, like building a miniature model of the Nativity Scene, eating tamales with the family, and setting off countless fireworks at midnight. I’ve had foreign friends tell me how crazy our celebrations are, and they’re not wrong! In my family, we have food, prayer and family reunions from the morning of the 24th all the way to midnight on Christmas. Depending on where you are, you can go out in the streets filled with families having posadas, which is a much more crowded version of Christmas caroling.
La quema del diablo
In Guatemala, there’s a holiday called ‘la quema del diablo,’ or ‘the devil’s burning.’ Every year on September 7, people take out all of their old things to donate or get rid of while cleaning house. There are lots of little devil píñatas on the street, which people buy and then burn as a sign of cleansing the spirit. Controversy always arises with this holiday because people tend to go overboard, burning garbage and rubber, as well as large amounts of paper. Lots of PSAs roll around reminding people to be careful around fire and not to contaminate. But it’s not all bad! Some families celebrate by doing a night-time barbecue with friends, which is still burning something — only this time, it’s delicious! Overall, it’s a beautiful tradition, although I hope we can find a cleaner solution someday.
The New Year tradition is very similar in Latinoamérica when compared to the US. We have parties, countdowns, and fireworks for everyone! These few months sure are full of interesting things to discover. Learn more about New Year’s in Latin America here.
Holiday Words and Phrases
Whether you’re in a Spanish-speaking country, or you got invited to dinner by your Spanish-speaking friends, here are some festive words and phrases for you to practice:
Now you’re ready to go to that dinner and have a great time! Regardless of your country of origin or religion, this is a time to be together with your loved ones and eat yummy food, of course! If you want to get better at Spanish, grab a free class today at HSA and get ready to get jolly!Read More
On Part 1 of the Spanish subjuntivo series, we learned what the subjuntivo is. As you already know, the subjunctive is a mood that allows us to express ideas, thoughts, desires, possibilities, and doubts. Because it is a mood and not a tense, we can use it in both the present tense to refer to a current action – see Part 2 of the subjuntivo series – or in the imperfect tense to refer to actions or events that don’t occur in a specific point in time.
Today, we’ll explore the conjugation of the subjunctive in the imperfect!
Imperfect Subjunctive Conjugation
The conjugation of regular verbs in the subjunctive mood is just as simple in the imperfect as it is in the present tense! Have a look at the table below, and take a note of your observations!
These are some rules that will help you learn the conjugation of verbs in the imperfect subjunctive even faster:
- We always use a tilde – accent – on the first person plural, nosotros. In the case of the -ar ending, the tilde goes on the a before the r. In the case of the -er and -ir endings, the tilde goes on the e after the i:
- In the case of -ar endings, you add the conjugation after the infinitive -ar ending. This is similar to the ending of the simple future tense but without the tilde of the future tense – yo is an exception and you replace the ‘é’ with an ‘a’.
- The conjugations of –er and -ir verbs use the same endings, which are added to the stem after removing the ending -er and -ir:
-iera, -ieras, -iera, -iéramos, -ieran, -ieranExamples: tuviera, comieras, hubiera, saliéramos, bebieran
As with the present tense, the imperfect subjunctive has irregular verbs. Below you’ll find a list of some of the commonly used irregular verbs. Keep in mind that while the endings remain the same, the stem changes!
Uses of the Imperfect Subjunctive
We use the imperfect subjunctive in two different ways:
- In dependent clauses and adjective clauses introduced by the relative pronoun que when the previous clause uses a past tense verb. We always need to make sure our tenses match!
Example: Me gustó que trajeras postre. – I like that you brought dessert.
- In conditional clauses – si (if) clauses.
Example: Si fuera lunes, iría al mercado. – If it were Monday, I would go to the market.
To read a detailed explanation on how to use the subjunctive in both present and imperfect tenses, follow this link!
Test yourself by conjugating the verbs in parenthesis! Remember that Spanish doesn’t require you to use personal pronouns like you do in English, so use the English translations to make sure you conjugate the verb in the correct form!
- Ella me dijo que _____ (venir) mañana.
She told me to come tomorrow.
- No pensamos que _____ (ser) una buena idea.
We didn’t think it was a good idea.
- Su mamá le dijo que se _____ (poner) un suéter.
Her mom told her to put on a sweater.
- Nosotros le dijimos que ______ (ver) una película.
We told her to watch a movie.
- Ellos necesitaban que _____ (traer) un pastel.
They needed us to bring a cake.
The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll feel using the subjunctive in everyday conversation, so book a free class with us and let’s practice together everything we’ve learned on the subjuntivo series!
- viniera (me – I – yo viniera)
- fuera (it – la idea – ella fuera)
- pusiera (her – she – ella pusiera)
- viera (her -she – ella viera)
- trajéramos (us – we – nosotros trajéramos)
Want More on the Subjunctivo Series? Check these out!
Part 3: Spanish Subjunctive – How to Conjugate the Imperfect Tense (you are here)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
One of the aspects of language is that it’s a fluid and ever-changing method of communication. Slang words pop up every other week and old words start feeling obsolete as time goes by. Some words used to carry different meanings as well! For example, in the 1800s the word “dude” was used when referring to a well-dressed man, sometimes in a pejorative way, implying the dude’s lack of knowledge of the world outside the city. Today, as you may know, dude is a word used to refer to another person, in a fraternal way. Sometimes, new words emerge all together, like ‘yeet.’ The same thing happens in Spanish, and today I’ll be writing about some of the colloquial phrases young people in Latinoamérica use every day. Keep in mind that Latin America is quite big, and some of these words may not apply to every single country. One of the fun things about going to a new country is learning all the local words, so I encourage you to try and say these phrases to your friends, and ask them what they mean in their country.
It’s not uncommon for countries to have different meanings for the same words, and a word that’s normal in one country may mean something completely different in another! This is a source of misunderstanding even amongst Latinos, so don’t worry if you run into one of these in your travels, because you probably will. These misunderstandings usually end with laughter, so you have nothing to worry about. For this blog, I’ll avoid the words and phrases that can cause misunderstanding, so you won’t have to think about their possible meanings. Also, keep in mind these words will be definitely understood in México and Central America, but may not be used in other countries
The word onda literally translates to ‘wave’, but when used as slang, the accurate translation would be ‘vibe.’ Depending on how you use it you’ll be saying different things. This is one of the most commonly used cool phrases in Spanish!
This is how most young people greet each other, and it means ‘What’s up?.’ This phrase can be used to say hi to your friends or to ask about something.
- ¿Qué onda? Llevo ratos sin verte.
- ¿Sabes qué onda con Ricardo? Llegó tarde a clase ayer.
- What’s up? I haven’t seen you in a while.
- You know what’s up with Ricardo? He was late to class yesterday.
This phrase can be used to say thank you, to refer to someone you’re fond of.
- Mi amiga Samantha es buena onda.
- ¡Buena onda por traerme mi cuaderno ayer!
- Mi friend Samantha is so cool.
- Thank you for bringing me my notebook yesterday!
It can also be used as an interjection when you’re excited about something. ¡Qué buena onda!
Bueno y malo are opposites, so mala onda is the opposite of buena onda. You can use this to talk about someone you don’t like, or more commonly as a way to express disapproval of someone’s actions.
- Rosa no me quiso compartir su tarea, qué mala onda.
- El guardia mala onda no nos quiso dejar pasar por la puerta principal.
- Rosa didn’t want to share her homework with me, that’s a bummer.
- The uncool guard didn’t let us through the main door.
Tipo tranquilo translates to ‘something chill.’ This phrase is used amongst friends who want to get together for the weekend to kick back and take it easy. This phrase is infamous for its deceptive nature because a lot of wild parties usually start on the pretense of tipo tranquilo, so be careful!
Since I’ve lived and worked in a bilingual environment most of my life, Spanglish is something I’m quite familiar with. Just like English has adopted Spanish words like tacos and enchiladas, we have anglicized (adopting Ebglish terms into Spanish) some words of our own too!
Yep, we use the word cool. It has the exact same meaning too! If you want to say something is cool, all you have to say is ¡eso está cool! Keep in mind that it is not the only way to say that, and each country has different ways of saying ‘cool.’ Here are some examples of ways to say cool:
Did you notice a lot of these start with ‘ch?’ That’s because a lot of our slang words are derivatives of native languages from native civilizations like the Aztecs and Mayans, for example.
It’s strange that a slang word from the ’80s made its way to Latin American slang, but it did! In Spanish, saying ‘fresh’ is the same as in saying ‘no worries.’ So saying Dale fresh means you should go ahead sin pena, without shame!
Órale is mainly a Mexican word, but Central America uses it too. It can be used to express agreement or to say goodbye.
- ¿Te traigo agua entonces? – Sí, gracias. – ¡Órale!
- ¡Órale! Que te vaya bien.
- I’ll bring you water, then? – Yes, please. – No worries!
- See ya! Have a nice one.
Hopefully, you’ve learned something new today, and always remember the best teachers are the ones you can directly talk to! Take a free class at Homeschool Spanish Academy and go from good to great!Read More