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
While telling our kids what to do is generally just another parental chore, teaching them to follow our instructions in Spanish can actually be fun! Giving commands in Spanish is possible through the use of imperatives. This type of verb conjugation tends to be a bit complicated with four separate distinctions, but here we simplify it to how you will speak to your child using one form, the tú form. Learning ways to use commands with your child will increase daily Spanish use, improve their listening skills, and enrich their lesson experiences with Spanish instruction.
In English, it is much more common to use the “soft imperative” that goes something like this: “Could you come here?” instead of blurting out, “Come here!” However, in Spanish, while the soft imperative can be used (¿Podrías venir acá?), it is much more common to hear the unsoftened version: ¡Ven acá! and it is not rude. Keep in mind for this article, we are using the tú form instead of the usted form.
Do or Don’t
Imperative verbs can be affirmative or negative. In order to make affirmative imperative, you use the 3rd person indicative form. This rule applies to all regular verbs. For example:
In order to make a negative imperative, you use the subjunctive tú form. For example:
Now that you know how the imperative is formed in both affirmative and negative forms using any regular verb, you can practice using your favorite verbs with your child!
The irregular verbs, however, do not follow a predictable pattern. They are many very useful verbs that are irregular in this sense and so they must be memorized. That is why our Top 10 Commands are all irregular!
Top 10 Commands to Use with Kids
Here is a list of the top 10 most useful imperatives to use with your child:
As you can see, the affirmative imperative form is irregular and you will simply have to memorize it and use it often with your little one to help them learn it, too. The negative imperative form is, as we learned above, made from the subjunctive tú form. Here are some ways to use your new command words in example instruction scenarios:
Some more useful phrases:
Recoge tus juguetes – pick up your toys
Bajate de allí – get down from there
Limpia tu cuarto – clean your room
Lava los trastes – wash the dishes
Vístete – get dressed
Improve with Imperatives
By teaching your child to follow your instructions in Spanish, they will be much more likely to use these words on their own. It will bolster their listening skills, improve their memory of commonly-used verbs, and it may just make your child love following instructions! Give your child a chance to use their new knowledge of imperatives with a native Spanish speaker by signing up for a free online class. Your child is guaranteed to speak Spanish after the first class!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
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
Alright, guys. This one is for all you grammar nerds and advanced Spanish learners. If you are just starting to learn Spanish, I would not recommend this blog. You can learn more about simple reflexive verbs here. Even if you are an intermediate learner, there still may be some advanced topics discussed in this blog. However, the general topics are good to keep in mind!
Get out your Spanish notebook, your favorite pens, and a cup of tea or coffee and settle in! We’ve got a lot of grammar to cover.
What in the World are Pronominal Verbs?
I’m sure you’ve heard of reflexive verbs in Spanish, right? Cepillarse, bañarse, vestirse. Well, reflexive verbs are actually also pronominal verbs. Let’s see why.
If you look at the word ‘pronominal,’ can you take a guess at what it means? ‘Pronominal’ has the same root as the word ‘pronoun,’ or pronombre in Spanish. Now, how can verbs also be pronouns? Well, this word isn’t saying that the verbs are actually pronouns, but that they use pronouns.
The definition of pronominal verbs according to the Real Academia Española is:
[un] verbo que se construye en todas sus formas con pronombres reflexivos átonos que no desempeñan ninguna función sintáctica y que concuerdan con el sujeto”
Translated, this says:
“A verb that is constructed in all of its forms with non-accented reflexive pronouns that don’t hold any syntactic function and that agree with the subject.”
Let’s break this down.
- ‘Constructed in all its forms’ refers to the conjugations for each personal pronoun. In other words, when pronominal verbs are conjugated, they use a pronoun in the conjugations for each person (subject pronoun), not just certain ones.
- ‘Non-accented reflexive pronouns’ are just the specific pronouns for pronominal verbs (see the chart below). Some pronouns do have accents in Spanish, like mí and él, but pronominal verbs use only pronouns that are not stressed or accented.
- ‘That don’t hold any syntactic function’ basically means that these reflexive pronouns do not change the structure of a sentence.
- ‘And that agree with the subject’ means that each reflexive pronoun must be in concordance with the subject. Just like you need to conjugate the verb to agree with the subject, you must use the correct pronoun that matches the subject of your sentence.
Let’s summarize this. Pronominal verbs always come with a reflexive pronoun, and both agree with the subject when conjugated.
One easy way to spot pronominal verbs is in their infinitive forms. Remember, infinitive verbs are ones that end in -AR, -ER, or -IR. If a verb is pronominal, it will have an -se after those infinitive forms. For example, if you remember the pronominal verbs we looked at previously, they all end in -se. Cepillarse, bañarse, vestirse. The ‘-se’ is actually a reflexive pronoun that we stick to the end! When the verbs are conjugated, this ‘se’ can stay as ‘se’ or will change to one of the other reflexive pronouns listed in the chart above. The pronoun also does not always stay joined with the verb; the placement in the sentence can vary greatly, and you can find out more about that here.
Types of Pronominal Verbs
Now, most Spanish students (including me) don’t ever hear about these pronominal verbs. Reflexive verbs are taught pretty early on, and I actually thought all verbs with a ‘se’ at the end were reflexive verbs.
In terms of form and pronoun use, you can think of reflexive and pronominal verbs as one and the same. Differentiating between will not affect how they are conjugated or how the reflexive pronoun is used.
Knowing the types of pronominal verbs will help you more deeply understand the meanings of some verbs and the ideas that are being expressed.
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Various websites will tell you different things about how many different types of pronominal verbs there are. For this blog, we will break them into six groups:
- Reflexive pronominal verbs
- Reciprocal pronominal verbs
- Idiomatic pronominal verbs
- Psuedo-reflexive pronominal verbs
- Occasional pronominal verbs
- Pure pronominal verbs
1. Reflexive Pronominal Verbs
If you look up the definition of reflexive verbs in the Real Academia Española, you will find a link redirecting you to the pronominal verbs. This probably explains why most Spanish learners think that pronominal verbs and reflexive verbs are the same. They are not, though.
All reflexive verbs are also pronominal verbs.
All pronominal verbs are not also reflexive verbs.
Basically, reflexive verbs are a subcategory of pronominal verbs. You can probably tell from its name that reflexive verbs express an action done by the subject to the subject. The subject is reflecting the action back on themselves. The most common reflexive verbs are the ones that we use when we get ready in the mornings:
Yo me levanto.
I get up
Tú te cepillas los dientes.
You brush your teeth.
Ella se baña.
She takes a bath.
While these verbs are reflexive in Spanish, they are not translated reflexively in English. Remember that we express reflexive actions in English with the following pronouns: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, themselves. Even though they are not technically reflexive actions in English, in Spanish they are considered as such because the action is being done to the subject by the subject.
2. Reciprocal Pronominal Verb
Reciprocal verbs are those that show a reciprocated action, or one that people do to each other. Since an action can be reciprocated with just one person, that means that reciprocal verbs cannot be used with any of the singular subject pronouns yo, tú, usted, ella, and él. That just leaves nosotros, nosotras, ellos, and ellas. Let’s look at an example to make this clearer.
¡Nos vemos mañana!
See you tomorrow! (literal: we will see each other tomorrow)
Ellos se hablan mucho.
They talk to each other a lot.
Ellas se abrazaron antes de despedirse.
They hugged each other before saying goodbye.
You can see that in English we can represent this reciprocal idea with the phrase ‘each other,’ while Spanish uses pronominal verbs!
3. Idiomatic Pronominal Verbs
These reflexive verbs have caused me a lot of grief over the past couple of years. I would hear them used and understand the sentence but have no idea why they were using reflexive verbs. Turns out, of course, that they weren’t using reflexive verbs, but pronominal verbs. While these phrases aren’t necessarily classified as idioms, they do lay outside the other groups of pronominal verbs. Let’s see why.
Cómete todas las verduras.
Eat all the vegetables.
You are probably thinking, just as I did for years, why in the world does comer have a reflexive pronoun! Well, it is added for emphasis. You can say either Come todas las verduras or cómete todas las verduras, and the idea would be the same – Eat all your veggies! However, the added reflexive pronoun puts emphasis on you actually eating them.
Another example of idiomatic pronominal verbs would be the following:
I hear this one all the time in reference to my son. Everyone comments on how cute he is and tells me to take care of him. This would translate to, “Take care of him for me.” The ‘for me’ is communicated with the reflexive pronoun ‘me’ added onto the verb. Watch out for this tricky ‘me!’ If you ever hear it in conversation (and you definitely will because it’s quite common), don’t get confused. Just remember that the person is making their statement more personal, asking you to do something for them.
4. Psuedo-Reflexive Pronominal Verbs
This group of verbs looks and acts like reflexive verbs but aren’t actually – they’re just pronominal verbs! Remember, reflexive verbs only refer to those pronominal verbs that express the subject doing and action to themselves.
These pseudo-reflexive verbs do not actually represent actions, but feelings! This makes them pseudo-reflexive verbs, since they look and act like reflexive verbs, but do not include an action done on the subject, taking away their ‘reflexive’ status.
Me siento muy contenta por tenerte aquí.
I feel so happy to have you here.
Ella se emocionó al ver el perro.
She got excited when she saw the dog.
Can you see how they might be deceiving? You can even call theses emotional pronominal verbs to remind you that they are not reflexive verbs!
Let’s look at one last example.
Me aburrí tanto en la clase de física.
I got so bored in physics class.
This is talking about a feeling – boredom – so it can be classified as a pseudo-reflexive pronominal verb. However, there is more to it than that…
5. Occasional Pronominal Verbs
These pronominal verbs are not just verbs that can or cannot take reflexive pronouns; they are verbs that actually change meaning when they have a reflexive pronoun. You can find more of these here, but let’s look at just a few.
We just said that aburrirse was a pseudo-reflexive verb, but it is also an occasional pronominal verb! Yes, these verbs can be classified as different types of verbs depending on the situation. (Don’t panic – we will touch on this later.) So, aburrir (without the reflexive pronoun) means ‘to bore someone,’ while aburrirse (with the reflexive pronoun) means to get bored. While the general idea is the same, there is a clear distinction between the two verbs. Here are a couple more examples:
Fijar – to set
Fijarse – to notice
Probar – to taste
Probarse – to try on
Now, those changes in meaning are quite drastic! Be very careful with these occasional pronominal verbs because you could be saying something you don’t mean to say!
6. Pure Pronominal Verbs
After looking at all these examples, you may be wondering if some verbs are always pronominal verbs or just sometimes. Let’s take ver, for example. We had the sentence ¡Nos vemos pronto! classified as a reciprocal pronominal verb, but it doesn’t always need a reflexive pronoun!
Estamos viendo una película. (not pronominal)
¡Nos vemos pronto! (pronominal – reciprocal)
Ellos comieron cinco pizzas. (not pronominal)
Cómete todas las verduras. (pronominal – idiomatic)
Él levantó la mesa. (not pronominal)
Yo me levanto. (pronominal – reflexive)
See how all the verbs we’ve looked at so far don’t HAVE to have a reflexive pronoun? That means that they are not pure pronominal verbs. Their status as pronominal verbs depends on the situation and the ideas being expressed in each sentence. There are actually very few pure pronominal verbs, or verbs that MUST always be accompanied by a reflexive pronoun. You can find a full chart here, but we’ll explore a few now.
Antojarse: to get a desire for something
Se me antoja un cafecito caliente.
Suicidarse: to commit suicide
Lastimosamente, él se suicidó anohce.
Arrepentirse: to regret
Ya nos arrepentimos de nuestra decisión.
These verbs that are pure pronominal verbs cannot be used without a reflexive pronoun – ever. Thankfully, there aren’t very many of them, so you don’t have to memorize too many verbs. Plus, several of them are not very common in everyday conversations.
Now, before you go classifying every verb a pronominal verb, there are some things to remember.
- Most verbs can be either pronominal or not, depending on the situation.
- Verbs can be classified as different types of pronominal verbs depending on the sentence.
- All reflexive verbs are pronominal verbs.
- Not all pronominal verbs are reflexive verbs.
- Pronominal verbs are those that are accompanied by a reflexive pronoun.
Read that last sentence very closely. Only reflexive pronouns make a verb pronominal. Direct object pronouns and indirect object pronouns do NOT make a verb pronominal. This can be a bit confusing because a lot of the pronouns are the same!
Can you see how many of the pronouns are the same? How do you kno w when a pronoun is reflexive and therefore makes the verb pronominal? Well, ‘se’ is usually a giveaway since it is never an indirect object or direct object pronoun. Another way to know is if the pronoun matches the subject. Check these out:
Te llamo después de mi clase. (not pronominal)
Me llamo Rogelio. (pronominal – idiomatic)
Ella nos habló sobre matemáticas. (not pronominal)
Nos hablamos cada noche. (pronominal – reciprocal)
Me preocupó mucho su ausencia. (not pronominal)
¡No te preocupes! (pronominal – psuedo-reflexive)
Are you starting to see the difference? Don’t worry; it takes practice, but you’ll get it soon. Another sign to look out for is the passive voice, which uses the pronoun ‘se’ a lot. The passive voice may look like a pronominal verb, but it is not!
¿Dónde se venden carros?
Where are cars sold?
¿Cómo se dice…?
How do you say…
No se puede.
It can’t be done.
Phew! That’s a lot of information. I hope you are not too confused, but if you have follow-up questions, you can talk with one of our live, native Spanish-speaking teachers! Sign up for a FREE class today to keep practicing with the different types of verbs! ¡Tú puedes!Read More
Before you get started on this blog, this is part 2. Check out the futuro simple blog here if you haven’t already!
What are you going to do today? What are you going to do this summer/weekend? What are you going to do about it?
How many times have you heard these questions or asked them? Our plans and intentions for the future make up a larger part of our daily conversations. Make sure you can talk about these big ideas and plans in your budding second language, Spanish!
‘Going to’ Future
What is it?
Now that we’ve mastered the futuro simple, it’s time to move onto the futuro próximo, or the futuro idiomático. I would argue that this is much more commonly used in Spanish (at least where I live), and quite possibly in English.
If you remember the structure of the futuro simple, it involved a lot of new endings and accents. Luckily for you, the futuro próximo doesn’t have any new endings! This is a great thing because once you get the formula down, you won’t have to memorize any new verbs endings!
Firstly, let’s look at an example in English.
I am going to call you later.
If we make a formula out of this, it would look like the following:
Pronoun + conjugation of ‘to be’ in present simple + going + to + verb
If you are familiar with some different tenses, you may notice that we use the present continuous to create this future form in English. We can write the formula this way:
Pronoun + present continuous + infinitive verb
If you may recall, the present continuous forms in English and Spanish are very comparable:
I am eating.
Yo estoy comiendo.
However, the uses of the present simple and present continuous are NOT the same in English and Spanish. Before we go any further, we need to talk about these differences.
Present Simple vs. Present Continuous
In English, we use the present simple for habitual things and permanent situations (among other more complex situations that we can explore later). For example:
I go to school every day.
We eat cereal every Sunday for breakfast.
She goes to Spain every summer.
He likes chocolate.
We use the present continuous for things we are doing in the moment (or in the close future).
I am studying right now.
We are going to the store.
Now, in Spanish, the present simple (presente simple) is not as limited. We still use if for habitual things and permanent situations, just like in English, but it is more extensive than that. For example:
Voy a la tienda. – I am going to the store (soon).
Here, we don’t say Estoy yendo a la tienda in Spanish, unless you are actually on your way, and even then, it is more common in many areas to say ‘voy’ instead of ‘yendo.’
Even when you want to ask someone what they are doing right now, you can ask them ¿Qué haces? (presente simple) or ¿Qué estás haciendo? (presente continuo). You would generally respond using the present continuous, but the fact that you can use the present simple to talk about an action happening right now is very important to note.
Let’s take this all back to our future tense, el futuro idiomático.
I am going to call you later.
Would you say Estoy yendo a llamarte más tarde? No. Estoy yendo implies current movement, and if you remember, it is not as common as just saying ‘voy.’ So, when we’re talking about something we are going to do soon, we need to use ‘voy.’
Te voy a llamar más tarde.
What you need to remember is that while the present continuous is used to express things happening soon in English, we used the presente simple to express the same idea in Spanish.
Salimos en 5 minutos. – We’re leaving in 5 minutes.
Therefore, if you carry that logic through that we use the presente simple for future events, we must use the presente simple to form the futuro idiomático. Let’s look at our previous example.
I’m going to call you later.
Te voy a llamar más tarde.
Can you make a formula for the futuro idiomático?
Present simple conjugation of ir + a + infinitive verb
- Always use the present simple conjugations of the verb ir.
- Always include the word a between ir and the infinitive verb.
- An infinitive verb in Spanish is one that ends in -AR, -ER, and -IR.
If you already have the present simple conjugations of the verb ir memorized, then this form will be very easy for you! If not, you can use this following chart to refresh your memory:
You have everything you need to form the futuro próximo. But…when should you use it?
When do we use it?
Lo voy a hacer ahorita. – I am going to do it right now (soon).
¿Vas a venir con nosotros? – Are you going to come with us?
If you are talking about what you are going to do shortly (ahorita), you need to use the futuro próximo. This could include things that you’re going to do in 5 minutes or 5 days – it all depends on your definition of ‘soon.’ Either way, the futuro próximo is the appropriate tense to use.
Vamos a ir de vacaciones a México en diciembre. – We’re going on vacation to Mexico in December.
Ella va a tener una fiesta el sábado. – She’s going to have a party on Saturday.
When we say plans here, we are talking about plans that are made but that might not be set in stone. This would be for plans that we are currently making. Maybe you haven’t yet bought your flight to Mexico yet, but you are looking for a cheap one. Maybe your friend hasn’t invited everyone to the party yet, but she marked it down in her calendar.
Lo voy a hacer mañana. – I’m going to do it tomorrow.
Voy a limpiar mi cuarto después. I’m going to clean my room later.
Intentions are like New Year’s goals – sometimes they happen, sometimes they don’t. Other times they happen, just not how we expected. Either way, we need to use the futuro próximo in Spanish to express things that we intend to do.
Did you notice how in every example, the English and Spanish tenses were equivalent? The ‘going to’ future in English is comparable in structure AND use to the futuro próximo in Spanish. This means that when you would use the ‘going to’ tense in English, more than likely, you need to use the futuro próximo in Spanish. This is good to keep in mind since you probably won’t remember the three uses of the futuro próximo I listed above in your next Spanish conversation.
Another thing to help you remember when to use the futuro próxmio is when you want to do something, but don’t have anything set in stone – in other words, tentative plans.
But wait! If you remember from our futuro simple blog, we said that you could use the futuro simple for your intentions. So…which do we use? The futuro simple or futuro próximo?
The answer is both. When it comes to our intentions, we can use either tense. They each have a slightly different connotation, or feel, to them which you will learn over time (or maybe you can already feel them in English). However, both are appropriate and completely acceptable when talking about your intentions. Don’t stress too much about deciding which future tense to use if you’re discussing your intentions!
Voy a practicar mi español más. – I’m going to practice my Spanish more.
Practicaré mi español más. – I will pracitce my Spanish more.
Vamos a hablar de eso después. – We’re going to talk about that later.
Hablaremos de eso después. – We will talk about that later.
Can you see how we can use both tenses when talking about our intentions – and they are very comparable to the English forms! That makes life a bit easier for you, right?
Of course, la práctica hace al maestro. To make sure you can use the futuro próximo with ease in your next Spanish conversation, check out our extra practice materials! You can find our video on all the future tenses in Spanish below. It is in Spanish, so it will give you extra practice! We also have a special PDF for you to test what you’ve learned in this blog. Don’t forget to check your answers with the answer key!
Even if you have everything memorized, it still may be hard to produce the futuro próximo fluently in conversation. If you would like help from a native Spanish speaker, try a FREE class with us! Our teachers would be more than happy to go over some of these rules or just have a practice conversation with you. Sign up today!Read More
What are you going to do this weekend? Will you get your homework done on time? Are you planning to study more?
What do all of those sentences have in common? Yup, you guessed it! They all talk about things happening in the future – whether they are certain or not. Every day, we talk about our future plans, intentions, and assumptions. However, I bet you don’t pay much attention to what grammatical tense you use to talk about said plans, right?
Well, when learning another language, you may find that you do begin to think about which tense you use for every little situation. This is completely normal! There will come a time when you don’t need to think about tenses as much, but there’s no need to rush yourself.
Now, to talk about future plans in Spanish, there are a couple of different tenses that we need to go over. For this blog, we will only be talking about one tense. Click through the links to find more about other future forms in Spanish! You may feel overwhelmed at first, but with practice, you’ll master the Spanish future tenses in no time!
What is it?
When you think about the future tense, what do you think of? If you’re like me, you think of the word ‘will.’
I will do that tomorrow.
He will not come to the party.
The Spanish equivalent of this tense is called the futuro simple. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as adding the word ‘will’ before the verb. Let’s look at the conjugations first, then talk about some common patterns!
What do you know – the futuro simple may actually be simple after all! Did you notice how all types of verbs, -AR, -ER, and -IR, use the same endings? That’s super helpful.
There are two main things you need to look out for, though. Normally, when we conjugate verbs in Spanish, we take off the -AR, -ER, and -IR (infinitive) endings before adding the new endings specific to each tense. However, with the futuro simple, we leave those infinitive endings and add additional endings onto the end of the verb! The second important point is to watch out for the accent marks. Every form of the futuro simple EXCEPT the nosotros form has an accent on the ending.
Of course, like all Spanish tenses, there are irregular verbs. I will break them down for you into three different groups, though, so you can see the patterns.
Alright. We have 12 irregular verbs here, and most of them fall into one of two categories – either taking out the last vowel or replacing it with a ‘d’ before adding the futuro simple endings. Now, it’s just up to you to memorize which verb falls into which category! A lot of the common irregular verbs, like ir and ser are actually regular verbs in the futuro simple! Easy, right?
When do we use it?
Now that we’ve mastered the conjugation of the futuro simple, we need to make sure we can use it in the right situations.
Lo haré mañana. I will do it tomorrow.
In this situation, we use the future simple in both English and Spanish. We are talking about an intention to do something. Is it certain? Not necessarily, but the intent is there, so we use the futuro simple.
Ya estará en camino mi esposo. My husband is probably on his way.
Here, you can see that in Spanish we use the futuro simple, while in English, we use the present simple. Whenever you are assuming something without knowing if it is true or not, you use the futuro simple in Spanish. This sentence is an example of an assumption in the present tense, but this rule also applies to future assumptions.
Hazlo ahora. No tendrás tiempo el fin de semana. Do it now. You won’t have time this weekend.
Interestingly enough, for future assumptions like this one, you use the future simple in both English and Spanish!
Ya es muy tarde. Debo irme. Mi mama estará preocupada. It’s late. I have to go. My mom is probably worried.
Here we can see someone talking about the possibility that their mom is worried. While we could possibly translate this to English as “My mom will be worried,” the reality is that the mom is probably worried now because it is late. Either way, we use the futuro simple in Spanish to represent the possibility that she is worried.
¿Cuánto costará ese carro? I wonder how much that car costs.
This sentence also represents a possibility, but it looks a little different. In Spanish, we don’t have a word for ‘wonder,’ so we often use the futuro simple to express the uncertainty and possibility of the situation. Interesting, right?
Alright! That was a lot of information about the futuro simple. If you would like to learn more about this tense, check out our video below! Don’t forget to download practice exercises to make sure you can use the futuro simple on your own. You’ll find the answer key at the end!
As always, if you have any questions or want one-on-one help, schedule a FREE class with one of our amazing native Spanish-speaking teachers! They would love to help you with your language learning journey. ¡Hasta luego!Read More
Learning Spanish can be tough at times—verb conjugations, irregular verbs, subjunctive mood, and articles can trip up the most astute of Spanish learners. One thing that seems to facilitate the learning adventure is the hundreds of similar-sounding words in English and Spanish. These words, called cognates, are words that are either spelled the same or similar and often sound alike in both languages. Because English and Spanish have some of the same roots, there are numerous cognates that make communicating in Spanish a lot easier.
When I first immersed myself in Spanish conversation, I understood a lot more than I expected because of cognates! Even though I hadn’t necessarily studied certain words, I was able to pick up on their meaning because the familiar structure and pronunciation reflected their English counterparts. Thanks to this blog post, you can do the same!
Let’s look at some cognates that are spelled exactly the same, but have a different pronunciation:
As you can see from these examples, while the cognates are spelled the same, the Spanish pronunciation is slightly different, mainly because of the vowels. Also, note that some cognates add an accent in Spanish!
Have you ever just added an o to the end of an English word to make its Spanish equivalent? While this doesn’t always work, there is some truth to it.
Let’s check out some nouns that can be changed into a Spanish word with just adding an –o or –a to the end:
Minor Spelling Changes
Now, the following words sound like you just add o or a to the English word, when in reality the spelling changes a bit more than that. Check them out!
Did you see how some vowels change or disappear, like in blusa and pingüino? In certain words, a ph is replaced by an f, like in teléfono, or a letter is added, like in carro. Either way, these words are extremely similar in both spelling and pronunciation.
All the words we’ve looked at so far are nouns, or sustantivos. Many more adjectives—adjetivos (another example of cognates!)—follow the rule of “just add an –o or –a.” Let’s see some examples:
Look for Patterns
Can you find any patterns to help you know which English adjectives just add an –o in Spanish? Here’s a hint: What do most of the English words end in? Yes! Most of them end in “-ic” or “-al.” The ones that end in “-ic” just need an –o added on to the end (and sometimes an accent mark) to turn them into their Spanish equivalent. For the words that end in “-al,” we need to take away those last two letters before adding on the –o.
Keep in mind that these adjectives will not always end in –o. You may remember that adjectives in Spanish change to agree with the noun. If the noun is feminine, the adjective will end in –a; if the noun is plural, the adjective will end need an –s at the end.
Ella es muy romántica. Él es muy romántico.
Ellas son muy románticas. Ellos son muy románticos.
So, while these cognates are pretty simple to form, they always change to maintain the noun-adjective agreement!
Tilde Adds Emphasis
Also, did you happen to notice that every Spanish word has an accent mark on the third to last syllable? Don’t forget those crucial tildes!
-Y to -IA Cognates
Are there more patterns to making Spanish cognates, you ask? Why, of course! This next group of words is more nouns whose English “-y” converts to a Spanish –ia. Check out how easy it is to make their Spanish equivalent:
As you can see, in order to make the Spanish cognates, you keep the base of the word but change the “-y” to –ia. Be attentive to pronunciation changes—some words have an accent on the final i.
-ANCE to -ANCIA Cognates
Another group of cognates changes to an –ia at the end of a word. Check out these nouns!
-ITY to -IDAD Cognates
Not all English words that end in “-y” end in –ia in Spanish. For those words nouns that end in “-ity,” the rule is a little different. The “-ity” becomes –idad. Practice with these examples:
-TION to -CIÓN Cognates
One more cognate group of nouns to go; these are probably some of the most well-known ones:
Back to Adjective Cognates
Phew! That’s a lot of noun cognates! Do you remember talking about some adjective cognates in Spanish? Well, there’s more. Let’s take a look.
-OUS to -OSO Cognates
English words that end in “-ous” can change in two different ways in Spanish, either changing that ending to a -oso or just add an –o.
-OUS to -O Cognates
Remember, the –o ending is for adjectives that describe masculine words. If it describes a feminine or plural noun, the ending will be slightly different.
Alright, we’ve looked at cognates with nouns and adjectives, but what about verbs? That’s right—many verbs are cognates as well. Before we start, do you remember the infinitive verb endings in Spanish? They are -ar, -er, and -ir. So, when we talk about verb cognates, we are referring to verbs in English that can be changed into Spanish verbs by just adding one of the infinitive endings. The trick is to know which one!
Cognates Without a Pattern
Not every cognate follows a rule or pattern. Some words are unique, but are still cognates nonetheless!
Wow! So many cognates exist in English and Spanish, including countless more beyond this starter guide. Now you know some of the main patterns that form Spanish cognates and you can use them as needed in a conversation.
The ultimate tip is: if you are not sure how to say a word in Spanish, try forming a cognate!
Trust me, if you make a mistake with cognates, you won’t be the first one! But, before you hit the ground running with your new cognate-forming skills, let me warn you—exceptions and false cognates are lurking everywhere. Catch up on false cognates before you travel to a Spanish-speaking country or start talking to a group of Spanish-speaking friends. (Luckily, people are pretty forgiving about mistakes in this area.)
Warm-up your skills by practicing with a native Spanish speaker for free in a trial class at Homeschool Spanish Academy (you know you want to!). Our teachers will happily give you more cognates and help you with your pronunciation!Read More
On Part 1 of the Spanish subjuntivo series, we’ve learned what the subjuntivo is all about! The Spanish subjunctive allows us to express ideas, thoughts, desires, possibilities, and doubts.
Always keep in mind that the subjunctive is not a tense, the subjunctive is a mood! This means that it can be found in different tenses! Today, we’ll explore the conjugation of the subjunctive in the present tense!
Subjuntivo Conjugation in Present Tense
The conjugation of regular verbs in the subjunctive mood is really simple! 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 subjunctive even faster:
- The conjugation of -er and -ir verbs use the same endings:
-a, -as, -a, -amos, -an, -an
- In the case of -ar endings, we use the same stem in the present subjunctive as in the present indicative, and replace the ‘a’ with an ‘e’ – yo is an exception to this as we replace ‘o’ with an ‘e’
- In the case of -er and -ir endings, we use the same stem in the present subjunctive as in the present indicative, and replace the ‘e’ with an ‘a’ – yo is an exception to this as we replace ‘o’ with an ‘a’
As we already know, the conjugation of Spanish verbs is plagued with exceptions. In order to make it a little easier for you to learn them, we’ve separated them into groups!
As you can see from the examples above, even irregular verbs seem to follow a pattern! I told you when we started looking at the subjuntivo that there was nothing to fear, and as we disentangle all the little details of this verb form, it starts to make even more sense!
Conjugate the verbs in parenthesis! Remember that in Spanish, you don’t need 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!
Yo quiero que _____ (venir) mañana.
I want you to come tomorrow.
Tú no crees que _____ (tener) suficiente tiempo.
You don’t believe we have enough time.
Ella busca una blusa que _____ (tener) rayas.
She’s looking for a shirt that has stripes.
Nosotros no pensamos que eso ______ (ser) cierto.
We don’t think it is true.
Ustedes dudan que _____ (llegar) a tiempo.
You all doubt he will be here on time.
Ellos necesitan que _____ (escribir) una carta.
They need you to write a letter.
Practice makes perfect! Book a free class with us and so that we can practice together everything we learned on the 1st Part of the subjuntivo series (when to use the subjuntivo), and combine it with what we’ve learned today (conjugation in the present tense)!
There comes a point in your Spanish learning journey when you hear about the infamous subjunctive: el subjuntivo. Many fear it without really knowing what it’s all about because they’ve heard that it’s hard. But hey, it’s not that bad at all! As I’ve mentioned before, there are elements of language that cannot be translated into another language as is. Sometimes, we need to create a new concept in our heads. While the subjunctive exists in English, we don’t use a specific subjunctive conjugation in every case – as we do in Spanish. Join me today as we disentangle the intricacies of the Spanish subjuntivo and learn why there’s no reason to fear it!
Don’t forget to follow these links to learn how to conjugate the subjunctive in the present tense and past tense. If you’re more of an auditory learner, check out our videos on the subjunctive here (and here – when we have the second one out)!
¿Qué es el subjuntivo?
What’s the subjunctive anyway? When we classify verbs, we can classify them according to different criteria. One of the criteria is the tense – present, past, future – which indicates when an action is taking place. Another one is the mood, which indicates the intention of the speaker. There are three moods in Spanish:
- indicative – expresses the meaning of the verb as a reality:
- Soy feliz. I am happy.
In this case, being happy is a reality, a fact.
- subjunctive – expresses the meaning of the verb as a non-reality:
- Si fuera feliz. If I were happy.
In this case, being happy is a wish, something that is not part of the current reality.
- imperative – expresses the meaning of the verb as a mandate or order:
- Sé feliz! Be happy!
We order someone to be happy. We use the imperative in the 2nd person, both singular (tú, vos, usted) and plural (ustedes) because these are the people we can “give orders”.
*We sometimes give an ‘order’ to a group of people we belong to: we – nosotros. Nosotros is the 1st person plural, not the 2nd person. While the mood is imperative, there’s no conjugation for nosotros in the imperative mood, so we ‘borrow’ the conjugation from the subjunctive.
Using the subjunctive in Spanish
Now that we know what the subjunctive is, we need to learn how and when to use it. As we learned above, the subjunctive is a mood that indicates the intention of the speaker. The fact that there are specific situations that call for the subjunctive makes it a lot easier to learn when we need to use it! You’ll see that it’s not that hard after all!
We use the subjunctive when we want to express uncertainty, desire, beliefs or possibilities. As you can see, all of these scenarios live in the realm of the unreal. These are all things that are not facts, but instead, what we think, guess, wish for, or believe.
1. Dependent clauses introduced by the relative pronoun que
Dependent clauses, also known as subordinate clauses, are a combination of words that cannot stand alone as a sentence since they are not a complete idea. They provide additional information to an independent clause. Independent clauses can stand alone because they do portray a full idea). Let’s look at some examples to understand this better:
Es posible + que vayamos al cine.
It’s possible + that we go to the movies.
We can see in these examples how the subordinate clause starts both in Spanish and English with que and that respectively!
Let’s look at some of the most common examples. All the expressions below are expressions that when followed by the relative pronoun que – that (written in the examples for clarity) require a subjunctive:
2. Adjective clauses introduced by the relative pronoun que
Adjective clauses are a set of words that describe a noun – they are a combination of words that work as an adjective. An adjective clause that begins with the relative pronoun que can either be in subjunctive or indicative. This depends entirely on the context of what we’re saying.
Let’s have a look at these two examples:
Questions and negative statements
Whenever you use adjective clauses starting with the pronoun que to question whether something is real or not, or when you negate the existence of something, you also use the subjunctive!
This is because you’re referring to something that is not part of your ‘reality.’ Let’s have a look at some examples:
3. After certain conjunctions
Conjunctions are words or sets of words that allow us to join words, phrases, and clauses. There are certain conjunctions that call for the subjunctive because they express doubt, uncertainty, or condition. These are the different conjunctions that can go along with the subjunctive if the context is right:
4. Conditional clauses – si (if) clauses
Conditional sentences have two parts (two clauses). The first one is the clause that indicates the condition – si clause -, and the second one is the clause that indicates the result if the condition is met.
There are 3 types of conditionals in Spanish. We use the subjunctive in two out of these three cases. While we won’t go into much detail in this blog post about each type, we’ll show you their structure:
This may seem a bit complicated, but the awesome thing is that these structures cannot be changed. If you’re using conditional sentences, anything other than what’s on the table above is wrong! That certainly makes it easy to learn!
We’ve explained the subjunctive and used many examples so that you can know exactly when to use it! Now, book a free class with one of our teachers so you can perfect your subjuntivo!Read More