Whenever you’re learning another language, you may often hit a common stumbling block – being able to truly express what you are feeling. I often struggle with this in both languages now. Since each language has its own unique, wonderful phrases to express an idea, my brain often goes to mush as I sort out how to express what I think and need in one language, instead of the Spanglish that I normally think in. Unfortunately, not everyone I talk to can understand my Spanglish ramblings…including my husband.
I have had the amazing opportunity to be completely immersed in the Spanish language by dating and marrying someone who speaks only Spanish. He can handle a basic conversation in English, but our home language is Spanish. If you ever have the opportunity to talk with other people who speak the same languages as you do, it’s a very interesting phenomenon as you decide which language you want to speak in with that particular person – it depends on numerous factors, and it is not always the same! Either way, whether my husband one day becomes fluent in English or not, the language for our relationship is Spanish. This means that I had to learn to express how I felt in my second language. This isn’t something normally taught in a high school Spanish class, so I learned as I went.
If you are in the same position as me, or if you are just wanting to take your Spanish to a whole other level and be able to truly express yourself in Spanish, this blog is for you! We are going to look at several common phrases that you can use with your significant other – whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not!
To be completely honest, I am not a huge fan of lovey-dovey names for your significant other in English. I don’t know what it is about them, but I just don’t feel comfortable using them with my partner. However, I am a big fan of (most) Spanish pet names. Check them out!
The first ones seem great right? My love, queen, heaven – those sound great. But my daughter? Fatty? Aren’t we talking about or beloved significant other? These may sound funny, or even offensive, in English, but trust me – they do not all have the same connotation in Spanish. Mija is actually my favorite pet name that my husband uses. It expresses so much love, warmth, and affection in just one word. Now, you’ve probably heard mamita or papito used a lot, mostly in flirtatious conversations. While these two names are very often used to pursue someone and comment on their physical appearance, they can be used in a much more caring and loving way between a couple. Or, if you want to comment on your partner’s lovely physical appearance, you can use these words. Speaking of physical appearance, let’s talk about flaco/gordo. Yes, it sounds absolutely awful in English. However, these are very endearing terms in Spanish. My husband is my no means fat, nor is he skinny. Despite that, I have called him both mi gordo and mi flaco. Why? It’s endearing! He is also (sometimes) allowed to call me his gorda/flaca because these are not degrading terms about my weight but a way to tell me he loves me and my body.
It is very important to note that these words are not just for couples. If you walk through the market in Antigua, Guatemala, you will hear the vendors calling you any of these names to make you feel like the most important person in the world… and get you to buy their product. I have to tell you – it often works on me. Hearing people call me ‘queen, beautiful, and heart’ really puts me in a good mood! It is also very common to call kids ‘gordo/gorda’ out of affection. My husband and I are blessed with a little one-year-old boy, and he is just the cutest. He was not a fat baby when he was born, and now that he is a toddler, he is still not a fat kid. However, what have I and everyone else called him since he was born? Gordito. It may have to do with the general squishiness of babies, but he will forever (yes, even as an adult) be my gordito.
Spanish is a very expressive language, especially when it comes to communicating your love to those you care about. These pet names can be used in many different circumstances and potentially be misconstrued, so I encourage you to be cautious using them with people who are not your significant other. I once called my friend papito thinking it was just a fun nickname, and his face went bright red. Turns out it is not just another nickname but has a more sensual meaning. Oops! Learn from my mistakes, and make sure the nicknames you are using are appropriate for the situation.
One of my favorite things about Spanish is the many ways to describe your feelings. In English, we say we love everything; we have one word, ‘love,’ for everything. I love pizza, movies, sleeping, my dog, my sister, my husband. The reality is that our feelings are different for each of these things, and Spanish offers us more ways to express those particular feelings. For a more in-depth look at these phrases, click here.
Alright, we have our pet names and different verbs to express our level of love for someone. However, there is so much more to look at when we think about expressing our deep feelings for our significant other.
I hope all these phrases will help you better express yourself to your significant other in Spanish! It is important to note that all of these phrases use the pronoun tú to refer to your other half. Not all couples refer to each other with tú. Some couples keep it formal with usted to express respect for each other, while others use vos to express a deep closeness. Use whichever pronoun you feel most comfortable with, but make sure to change the verb conjugations accordingly!
Spanish Poems about love
If you are looking for some beautiful sayings and quotes in Spanish to put on a card or send to your significant other, try one of these!
Prefiero un minuto contigo a una eternidad sin ti.
“I prefer one minute with you than an eternity without you.”
Te amé, te amo y te amaré. Aunque pasaran cien años y mi corazón ya esté cansado y quiera dejar de latir, quiero que sepas que mi último latido será para ti.
“I loved you, I love you, and I will love you. Even when a hundred years have passed and my heart is tired and wants to stop beating, I want you to know that my last heartbeat will be for you.”
En la tierra, en la luna, en las estrellas, en marte, en cualquier parte del universo. En la lluvia, en el frío, en el dolor y el temor, en el laberinto sombrío y los caminos más difíciles de cruzar, pero contigo, sin contratos ni condiciones.– Irene T. Gómez
“On Earth, on the moon, in the stars, on Mars, in any part of the universe. In the rain, in the cold, in pain and fear, in the gloomy labyrinth and the most difficult paths to cross, but with you, without contracts or conditions.”
Eres mi promesa de nunca romper, eres cada uno de los latidos de mi corazón. Eres mi sonrisa, después de un mal día, eres vida, eres mi vida.– Robinson Aybar
“You are my promise of never breaking; you are every one of my heartbeats. You are my smile after a bad day. You are life; you are my life.”
Te quiero no por quien eres, sino por quien soy cuando estoy contigo.– Gabriel García Márquez
“I love you not for who you are, but because of who I am when I’m with you.”
Tardé una hora en conocerte y solo un día en enamorarme. Pero me llevará toda una vida lograr olvidarte.
“It took an hour for me to meet you and just a day for me to fall in love. But it will take a whole lifetime to be able to forget you.”
Share the love!
Take everything that you’ve learned here and go express your love to your significant other! You can use whole quotes, bits and pieces, or just the pet names to express what you are feeling in Spanish. Don’t forget to practice what you’ve learned with our native Spanish-speaking teachers! You can sign up for a FREE class here! You can come up with some sentences of your own in Spanish and run it by them – they would love to help!
For more practice, check out our video on the different ways to say ‘I love you’ in Spanish. You can get a first-hand glimpse of how many Spanish speakers use different phrases to express themselves. Test your Spanish skills with the video as well by seeing how much you understand. Then, follow along with the subtitles to check your comprehension.Read More
One of the most enjoyable aspects of learning Spanish with preschoolers is learning colors! Kids love the hands-on experience of mixing, painting, or playing coloring games. While they are happily engaged in play, you will have the added bonus of knowing they are improving their Spanish skills. The color theme is a perfect one to use to add on other themes, such as shapes and me gusta (I like) grammar phrases. You can find out more about these additional themes below. Use this handy guide for teaching colors to preschoolers to enhance your child’s Spanish-learning journey and make playtime that much more colorful!
While we are keeping this guide super simple for young learners, it’s useful for you to know some basics about colors. Firstly, you may remember that Spanish uses a grammatical gender for all nouns. Secondly, we know that when colors are acting as adjectives, they describe a noun. This means that the gender of the color will change depending on the gender of the noun. For example, el carro (the car) is masculine and so el carro morado (the purple car) uses a masculine form of the color purple. La hoja (pronounced OH-ha) is a feminine noun and so la hoja morada (the purple leaf) uses a feminine form of the color purple. Basically, every color word that ends in -o can also end in -a, depending on what it is describing. Keep this rule in mind as you teach your child, but don’t feel like you have to give an explicit lesson on it. By consistently using the colors correctly as you expand your lessons with more and more nouns, your child will likely pick up on this pattern automatically.
Now, on to our list of colors!
Colors are everywhere and there is no limit to the possible activities you can use to teach them. We have some favorite activities listed below and hope that you feel inspired to add to them with your own great ideas. What are some ways you can play with colors in Spanish?
- Flashcards – check out our exclusive Homeschool Spanish Academy Color Flashcards (download below) and read about flashcard games here.
- Color sorting – using different mediums, such as fruit loops, nature, or toy food, have your little one sort the objects by color. Repeat the Spanish color word each time a new object is placed correctly.
- Color science and mixing – Do a double lesson on mixing primary colors and naming them in Spanish. This is especially fun using finger paints. It’s okay to use a little ‘Spanglish’ here when your child begins to shout “rojo and azul make morado!”
- Coloring book – instruct your child how to color a picture with the Spanish colors you say. As they begin to color, they repeat the word. Expand your child’s vocabulary with our exclusive Homeschool Spanish Academy Greetings Coloring Pages.
- Color scavenger hunt – whether inside or outside, designate an area where you and your little one will explore all the colors, naming them as you go. You could also make color cards (or use our flashcards) to encourage your child to focus on one specific color at a time.
- Playdough – while learning new vocabulary to go with colors, playdough comes in handy. For example, use our shape guide below to teach colorful shapes and have your child make them out of playdough! Or, make playdough together and practice the new color words while cooking it.
- Color hop with chalk – take to the sidewalk or a patio of your house and draw big squares (or any shape, if working with shapes) of different colors. Instruct your child to jump on a specific color and say the name out loud. They get to tell you where to jump, too!
- Libro de colores (Book of Colors) – Use a packet of craft paper and look together for the colors you will be learning. Cut out the papers the same size and make a booklet. With a marker, write the appropriate Spanish color name on each page. If your child is learning to write, have them write the word underneath your example. Then, find together little one-colored objects to glue onto each color page! You can also make this booklet out of regular white paper and use colored cut-outs from craft paper to glue into the book. You can incorporate pages for many themes, including shapes and even some grammar. Label each page accordingly.
As you teach colors to your eager little learner, dive deeper to include shapes! This way you can begin to explore the gender changes that colors make when describing a noun. Remember that Spanish adjectives (in this case, colors) always come after the noun. Some examples are:
El círculo azul – the blue circle
La estrella amarilla – the yellow star
El rectángulo marrón – the brown rectangle
Here is a list of shapes you can start with:
Me Gusta (I like)
In addition to learning colors, you may want to teach your child how to express their preferences. Here is a quick list of variations of me gusta that you can use in your lessons.
¡Me gusta! – I like it!
Me gusta el color verde. – I like the color green.
Me gusta amarillo. – I like yellow.
¿Cuál es tu color favorito? – What is your favorite color?
¿Qué color te gusta más? – What color do you like the most?
Colorful Spanish Lessons
We hope you enjoy this guide to teaching colors in exciting and educative ways. Add to the fun with our colorful video lesson here! If you would like your child to practice their new color skills with a native Spanish teacher from Guatemala, sign up for an online class! The first class is free and your child is guaranteed to speak Spanish after the first lesson.Read More
Do you know the opposite of gordo in Spanish? After exploring this guide to Teaching Spanish Opposites to Preschoolers, you’ll know the answer to that (if you don’t already) and much more! Part of the excitement of teaching Spanish to your child is learning (or brushing up on) fun vocabulary like opposites. With knowledge of opposites, your child will be able to describe things in more detail and easily compare two objects or people. They will continue to develop their understanding of concrete concepts like texture, temperature, size, and more. Opposites provide one of the building blocks to success in the four major skills for language acquisition: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. As determined as you may be to start learning this vocabulary right away, keep in mind that a child does not generally understand the concept of opposites before age 4. Once your little one is making connections in their native language, it’s time to introduce new words from Spanish opposites! ¡Aprendamos los opuestos!
The words in this list are all descriptive adjectives, perfect for use in conjunction with whichever nouns you are teaching your child at the moment. Do remember that Spanish is a gendered language, where the adjectives change depending on the gender of the noun they are describing. You will notice that there are also some that do not change, such as grande and joven. Any adjectives that end in -o will change their ending to -a when in relation to a feminine noun. Here are some examples:
Feminine noun and adjective: La casa pequeña (the small house), la mosca lenta (the slow fly), la bebida fría (the cold drink)
Masculine noun and adjective: El niño pequeño (the little boy), el burro lento (the slow donkey), el té frío (the cold tea)
Gender-neutral adjectives: el libro grande (the big book), la rana grande (the big frog), el horno caliente (the hot oven), la piedra caliente (the hot stone), la chica joven (the young girl), el chico joven (the young boy).
Here is a list of 24 opposite words with a pronunciation guide!
There are lots of potential activities to do with opposites! Mixing up your lessons with movement, crafts, imaginary play, and card games will keep your child fully engaged. Here is a list of great ideas that you can build upon with your own creativity:
- Flashcards are versatile essentials for teaching. Enjoy our exclusive Homeschool Spanish Academy Opposites Flashcards (download below) as a must-have learning tool! Be sure to laminate them for durability. See what else you can do with flashcards here.
- Play “Memory Match” flashcard game: lay all flashcards face down and each player takes turns trying to make a match of opposites. The player with the most matches wins.
- Traditional Go Fish card game: Deal 5 cards to each player. You start by asking, “Do you have the opuesto of viejo (or whichever Spanish word you have)?” The other player looks for the opposite. If they have it, they give it to you and you set out your winning pair face up on the table. If they don’t have the card, they say, “Go Fish!” and you must pull another card from the deck. The winner has the most pairs!
- Space Travel imaginary play: Explain to your child that they will be going to space to find opposites. Place them on a chair in the middle of the room, let them know that the chair is a rocket ship and that they are going up into space. Count to 10 and blast off! Turn out the lights. Once your child is floating in space, give them a flashlight and show them one flashcard. Instruct them to find the opposite flashcard, hidden somewhere in the room. When they find all the opposites, they can sit back down on the chair (the rocket ship!) and head back down to Earth.
- Book of Collages: cut out magazine pictures to reflect the meaning of each new word you’re teaching and glue them down on construction paper. Gather up all the papers and make a book by stapling them three times down the left side.
- Play “I Spy the Opposite”: Start with your child saying “I spy _____” using one of the opposite words (“I spy delgado”). Then you reply, “I spy gordo!” This game is really fun and very effective if you couple it with specific movements, called TPR.
While learning opposites, you can teach your child relevant phrases and vocabulary that helps them express themselves. Here are a few useful phrases you can use with this lesson:
El opuesto – the opposite
¿Qué ves? – What do you see?
Yo veo a _______. – I see _______.
¿Qué es el opuesto de _______? – What’s the opposite of _______?
El opuesto de _______ es _______. – The opposite of _______ is _______.
Here is an example mini-lesson using the questions and answers from above, using a parent and their child:
Parent: ¿Qué ves?
Child: Yo veo a un hombre viejo. (I see an old man.)*
Parent: ¿Qué es el opuesto de viejo?
Child: El opuesto de viejo es joven.
Parent: ¡Muy bien!
First model the conversation above with your child by using a doll or puppet. Then have your child repeat after you a few times. Soon your child will begin to remember how to say the phrases. This lesson will be lots of fun with the Homeschool Spanish Academy Opposites Flashcards.
*If you are not yet working with a collection of nouns, you can substitute the noun with the word “algo,” (ahl-goh) which means “something.” Example: Yo veo algo viejo. (I see something old.)
Condition and Location
The opposites in the list refer to the condition or location of something. If you want to teach a bit more complicated lesson, you can include these phrases using estar:
- Condition (mode of being for a person or thing)
Adjectives: grande, pequeño, limpio, sucio, cerrado, abierto, lento, rápido, mojado, seco, frío, caliente, gordo, delgado, lleno, vacio, joven, viejo
¿Cómo está? – How is it?
¿Cómo está el/la _______? – How is the _______?
Está _______. (Está vacío.) – It is_______. (It is empty.)
El/La _______ está _______. (El hombre está mojado.) – The _______ is _______. (The man is wet.)
- Location (a place or situation occupied):
Adjectives: dentro, fuera, cerca, lejos, arriba, abajo
¿Dónde está? – Where is it?
¿Dónde está el/la _______? – Where is the _______?
Está _______. (Está lejos.) – It is_______. (It is far.)
El/La _______ está _______. (La mujer está arriba.) – The _______ is _______. (The woman is above.)
Learning opposites is super fun for young children. It helps them to better understand their surroundings and to describe in detail what they are experiencing. We hope you are inspired to teach Spanish opposites to your little one by taking advantage of this starter guide. If you would like to have your child practice their new vocabulary with a native speaker from Guatemala, sign up for a free online class today and they’ll start speaking Spanish immediately!Read More
Halloween is a celebration of all that’s scary. It’s one of the oldest holidays we celebrate and a personal favorite of mine! Traditionally, Mexico and Central America only celebrated Día de los Muertos on November 1st. Halloween has been celebrated to a lesser extent, and it only became a big holiday in recent years.
As the month of October creeps in, you can start to hear people talking about what their costume plans are and where they plan to show them off. Venues start scheduling themed events, costume contests with cash prizes, and spooky rock bands to entertain ghouls and ghosts all night long.
Popular Costumes in Latinoamérica
You’ve probably seen these in movies before, and there’s no going wrong when you dress as a Catrín or Catrina. On any normal day, Catrín is a word to describe someone who’s high class and elegant, but on Halloween, Catrín is the name of the traditional decorated skull costume from México. These costumes usually have the person wear a suit or a dress coupled with the makeup. If you’re in México, you can get your Catrín makeup in almost any street! It’s common for locals to go out and offer to paint your face for cheap, and they do a great job too. Don‘t worry, they also take hygiene into account.
- El Sombrerón
One of the old folk tales in Latinoamérica, El Sombrerón, is a short man with a huge hat that hides his evil intentions. Young girls beware, for he’ll perch upon your window at night and sing a hypnotizing serenade that will deprive you of sleep and hunger, ultimately leading to an untimely death. To rid yourself of El Sombrerón’s evil song, you must cut your hair short, for this will make him lose interest in you and move on to his next victim.
To dress as El Sombrerón, all you need is a Mariachi outfit with a BIG hat and a tiny guitar. Alternatively, you can dress in all white with a straw hat as well!
As the young man walks through the night, ready to go home after a night of partying, he finds the silhouette of a beautiful woman by the river, brushing her hair with a golden comb. Entranced by her beauty, he slowly approaches her. When he is close enough, the young man shrieks in fear as La Siguanaba reveals her face is actually a horse skull, and then he dies of shock as La Siguanaba devours his soul.
- La Siguanaba
If you want to dress as this character, all you need is a dress, a straight black wig, and a horse mask (you can even make a comical version of the costume using the famous internet horse mask!). It’s an easy costume that reminds young men to be loyal to their partners, for La Siguanaba hunts unfaithful men!
Words and Phrases to Celebrate Halloween
And how do you say Halloween in Spanish, you ask? That’s easy, Halloween! Just like ‘taco’ was adopted from Spanish to Egnlish, Halloween was adopted from English to Spanish. You’ll find some more common Halloween words and phrases below so you too can be ready to be scary with your Spanish speaking friends!
November 1st Is Also an Important Day in Latinoamérica!
If you’ve ever been to a graveyard you’ll know it’s not the happiest place to be in. Día de los Muertos changes that. Starting early in the morning, families visit their loved ones in the graveyard. They decorate the tombs and eat festive foods of all kinds, one of which is the famous pan de muerto, or dead man’s bread. Decorations are usually colorful and vibrant, like giant kites and sugar skulls. If you’re in México or Central America, I highly recommend you ask around about November 1st celebrations. Even though it’s mostly a family holiday, most towns make events open to everybody, and they’re usually a lot of fun.
Learning Spanish can be scary – make it fun by trying a free class at Homeschool Spanish Academy and start practicing today!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
The government structure is probably not a fun topic for most people. If you’re like me, it brings back memories of my least favorite class in high school – U.S. history. I just could not get interested in the different acts passed, what order the presidents were in, or how the government came to be structured as it is today. I was, however, fascinated by world history; I loved learning about faraway countries and cultures, so different than my own.
Now, I have lived in Guatemala for over 5 years. When I first moved here, I thought that the culture wasn’t that different, but the longer I live here, the more I learn about what makes this culture unique – and one thing that stands out is the election process. Who knew that it was so interesting? I surely didn’t.
Before I go into those details though, let’s take a look at the general governmental structure in Guatemala and how similar it is to what we have in the United States.
Guatemala is considered a constitutional republic and has three governing bodies: the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.
As you might already know, Guatemala is run by a president and vice president, just like in the U.S. They are both elected for 4-year terms. Interestingly enough, the president is not allowed to run for office again, but the vice president is after a 4-year respite.
This branch handles the laws and is comprised of the congress. El Congreso de la República has 158 members, who also serve 4-year terms.
There are two groups that form the judicial branch: the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Justice. The Corte Constitucional has five judges that exclusively handle constitutional matters. These judges are chosen for 5-year terms by different government groups, one being the president. The Corte Supremo de la Justicia, which is the highest court in the nation, has 13 members who also serve for 5-year periods.
Besides the three main branches, there are numerous other officials who govern locally. Instead of states, Guatemala is divided into 22 departments, or departamentos, and each one has a capital. Be careful when talking about these capitals, though! In Spanish, you don’t use the word capital, but instead cabecera departamental, which means ‘department head.’ The president chooses a governor to run each of these departments. The people, though, elect mayors, or alcaldes, for each of the 340 municipalities in Guatemala. You can compare these municipalities, municipalidades, to the counties that divide each state in the U.S. The mayors are allowed to run for office as many times as they wish.
Sadly, Guatemala has had a rocky ride when it comes to politics. If you would like a complete list of all the past presidents, click here. In short, ever since Guatemala’s independence from Spain in 1821, the government has been plagued by corruption. From 1960-1996, the country suffered from a bloody civil war, which the people are still recovering from. There have been multiple military takeovers and coups, the most recent being in 2015.
Each of these major historical events warrants their own blog to go into the detail of what happened, but we will go into more depth at a later date. The main idea that you need to understand in regard to politics is that this country has suffered a lot of corruption, and the people are tired of it.
Elections – A long and festive process
One way that the population is trying to combat this corruption is by forming their own political parties and promoting individuals who they believe to be just and fair. There are currently 19 political parties – yes, 19! New ones are constantly being created, and political candidates have run for president as part of various political parties. As someone who grew up in the States, I was shocked to hear how many parties there were – and just how many people supported each one!
If you look at this image of the preliminary results (with 97% of the votes counted, not quite the final results) of the most recent election, you can see that there were a significant number of votes for 10 of the 19 parties. Now, whether these results are accurate is a whole other question! What this shows, however, is that it is difficult for a president to be chosen by popular vote because the voters are splitting their votes between almost 20 candidates. This leads us to one of the most interesting things about Guatemalan elections (in my opinion!).
If one single candidate does not win 51% or more of the popular vote, the country will hold another election, or segunda vuelta, between the two candidates that won the most votes. This happens months after the first election, and the results can be quite surprising. If one person won 49% of the votes, and the next highest percentage of votes was 10%, those two people would go head-to-head in the segunda vuelta. It may seem unfair because there seems to be a clear favorite; however, the outcome is not a given.
Just like in the States, talk about the election begins long before the actual election day. However, in Guatemala, the campaigning begins only a couple of months beforehand. Now, these campaigns are very interesting. While the candidates do visit different cities and neighborhoods and give out free things such as food and building supplies, the general population also shows their support by heading a lot of the campaigning. They paint their favored political party’s logo on every possible surface, from houses and walls to cliff sides on the highway. They march (rain or shine) on the side of the rode and have parades with blaring music. All of this is done not only for presidential candidates but also for local mayors. As you might imagine, the campaign time is a bit overwhelming, since the election day is the same for the mayors and the president! With so many political parties and numerous candidates (both local and national), there are a lot of festivities leading up to election day.
As I have mentioned, I have lived in Guatemala for a good while now. I was here for the 2015 protests and removal of the president, as well as the following two elections. However, I did not pay much attention to politics during those first issues in 2015. I am now married to a Guatemalan who takes the time to answer my thousand questions about what is going on. So, in this most recent election of 2019, I was a lot more aware of what was actually happening.
Sandra Torres (UNE): 22.1%
Alejandro Giammattei (Vamos): 12.1%
Edmond Mulet (PHG): 9.8%
Thelma Cabrera (MLP): 9.0%
Roberto Arzú (Pan – Podemos): 5.3%
There are a couple of interesting things to note about this election. Firstly, the top two candidates who won the most votes are the ones who have their party’s logo on literally everything. As a foreigner, if you asked me to name some political parties, I would say UNE and Vamos, as I have seen their propaganda all over the country on every paintable surface. Guatemala is a developing country, and the adult literacy rate is only 79%. This means that a large portion of the country is not educated on political matters, and they will probably not read or research about current issues. So, in order to get the people’s votes, political parties make sure their names and logos are the most well-known across the country through visual propaganda and giving the people gifts. Throughout the campaigning process, both presidential and mayoral candidates were giving away food and construction materials to meet the people’s immediate needs and therefore win their vote.
Another important point is the number of votes that Thelma Cabrera won. Now, you may be thinking that 9% is almost nothing, but with 19 candidates and the largest percentage being 12%, Thelma’s 9% is noticeable. She is one of the very few Mayan women that have run for president, and she won a significant number of votes on her platform for indigenous rights. While she didn’t win, she sure made history in fighting for the rights of the indigenous people groups.
So, who won? Sandra Torres looks like a clear favorite in the primera vuelta, but did she manage to win again against Alejandro Giammattei? The answer is no. Giammattei won the segunda vuelta this past August with 58% of the votes. He will take office in 2020, while the current president, Jimmy Morales, continues as president for the rest of this year.
The Big Picture
As in any country, the factors contributing to different political views are countless. If you are interested in politics, I would encourage you to read further using the linked articles so you can learn more about the big issues being addressed by current Guatemalan politicians. Yes, some of these articles are in Spanish! This will be the perfect opportunity to strengthen your Spanish skills in a practical way! If you have any vocabulary questions while reading these articles, be sure to ask your Spanish teacher in your FREE trial class with us! ¡Sigue aprendiendo!Read More
Learning Spanish can be tough at times – verb conjugations, irregular verbs, subjunctive mood, and even articles can trip up a lot of Spanish learners. However, one thing that makes the learning adventure a lot easier is that there are hundreds of cognates in English and Spanish. Cognates are words that are either spelled the same or similar and often sound alike. Because English and Spanish have some of the same roots, there are numerous cognates that make communicating in Spanish a lot easier.
I remember when I was first immersed in Spanish conversation that 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.
Let’s look at some cognates that are spelled exactly the same:
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:
Easy right? Now, some more words sound like you just add ‘o’ or ‘a’ to the English word, but 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. Now, all of these words that we have looked at so far are nouns, or sustantivos. There are many more adjectives, adjetivos (look at that! Another example of cognates!), that follow the rule of “just add an ‘o/a.’”
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.’
Now, keep in mind that these adjectives will not ALWAYS end in ‘o.’ If you remember, the 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, remember that they change to maintain the noun-adjective agreement! 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!
Are there more patterns to making Spanish cognates, you ask? Why, of course! This next group of words are more nouns; check out how easy it is to make their Spanish equivalent!
-Y to -IA
As you can see, all these English words end in a -y. To make the Spanish cognates, you keep the base of the word but change the -y to a -ia. Be careful, though, because some words have an accent on the final ‘i.’
There is another group of cognates that changes to an -ia at the end of a word. Check out these nouns!
-ANCE to -ANCIA
-ITY to -IDAD
Now, not all words that end in -y in English end in -ia in Spanish. For those words nouns that end in -ity, the rule is a little different. The -ity becomes an -idad. Practice with these examples:
There’s one more cognate group of nouns; these are probably some of the most well-known ones.
-TION to -CIÓN
Phew! That’s a lot of noun cognates! Do you remember talking about some adjective cognates in Spanish? Well, there’s more. English words that end in -ous can change in two different ways in Spanish, either changing that ending to a -oso or just an -o.
-OUS to -OSO
-OUS to -O
Don’t forget what we previously talked about concerning adjectives – the ‘o’ ending is only for adjectives describing masculine words. If it is describing 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? You guessed it! There are many verbs that 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!
Now, not every cognate follows a rule or pattern. There are some words that unique – but are still cognates nonetheless!
Wow! There are so many cognates in English and Spanish, and there are countless more than just the ones listed here – this is just to get you started! Now that you know some of the main patterns to form Spanish cognates, you can try using them when you get stuck in a conversation. If you are not sure how to say a word in Spanish, try forming a cognate; more times than not, you’ll be correct! So many times, when I ask how to say a word in Spanish, it is just a cognate of the English word!
However, do be warned. These rules are not written in stone, and there are many exceptions and false cognates. Be sure to brush up on the false cognates before traveling to a Spanish-speaking country or immersing yourself completely in the language. In my experience, though, people are very forgiving and generally understand the idea you’re trying to get across. Trust me – if you make a mistake with cognates, you won’t be the first one!
Be sure to practice with a native Spanish speaker by trying a FREE class with us! Our teachers can give you more cognates and help you with your pronunciation!
Hello Spanish Learners! You are working so hard on mastering Spanish by taking classes, reading our blogs, and watching our YouTube videos – way to go! To be fluent in Spanish, you will need to understand through listening and reading as well as communicate by speaking and writing. You are almost there – keep working hard and expose yourself to Spanish every day! Whether it is through music, a podcast, noticias, telenovelas, speaking a tu mejor amiga or reading a terrific book!
Speaking of books, there are so many wonderful options to begin with! You will be so incredibly proud of yourself when you complete a proper book, cover to cover, en español!
Read below for tips on finding a book in Spanish that suits your needs:
Find a Topic That Interests You
We all have finite time during the day, so you will want to choose a book that appeals to you! Similar to reading in your native language, you will be more likely to start (and finish) a book that you enjoy on a subject/topic that holds your interest.
Choose a Book that is Not Too Long
You want to accomplish the task of finishing your first Spanish book! Begin with one that is a good length and not too overwhelming. Something you can easily fit into your school, sports, and homework schedule.
Find the ‘Just Right’ Book – One That is Challenging but Not Too Difficult
Remember when you read your first book in English around 1st grade? Chances are you picked up a book, flipped to a random page, read a few words and then decided if it was too easy or too difficult. Similar to Spanish, you want to find a good balance that is challenging, but not too easy. Using the Five Finger Rule helps you do just this:
- Choose your book and read a random page
- Hold up a finger for every word you don’t know
- If you have held up 5 fingers before finishing the page then the book is too difficult.
- Likewise, if you have held up only 1 finger, the book is too easy. You want to find the ‘just right’ book which is 2-4 fingers.
Finding your ‘just right’ book will encourage you to continue on with the story, challenge you just enough, and build your confidence!!
Choose Spanish and English ‘Side-by-Side’ Text
Have you ever read a paragraph in Spanish and you’re pretty sure you grasped the meaning, but there was that one word, or phrase, that left you questioning the meaning behind all the words? This happens to the best of us when reading in a new language. One way to self-check yourself is to read the Spanish text, and then verify you are on track with the English translation. Side-by-Side bilingual books are perfect for reading in Spanish and then testing your comprehension by reading the English section.
On a side note: I would recommend these text tools for your first few books, but then move on to books in Spanish only. You don’t want to rely on the translation and inhibit your immersion into the Spanish text.
Consider the Tense
Spanish is a complicated language with many tenses. If you are a beginner, then most likely you are most familiar with present, preterite and imperfect Spanish conjugations. Choose a book with this in mind!
Here are some great books to begin with:
Books with ‘Side-by-Side’ Translation in English and Spanish
- First Spanish Reader: A Beginner’s Dual-Language Book – This book is less than 100 pages with 41 stories. Each story increases in difficulty – beginning with stories in the present tense, and building from there. The book also includes exercises in Spanish.
- Stories from Latin America/Historias de latinamérica – 16 short stories from Central and South American authors. It includes free audio downloads of four chapters from the book! Good for advanced beginners, it provides cultural insights and includes a helpful vocabulary list.
- Spanish Short Stories 1/ Cuentos hispánicos 1 and Spanish Short Stories 2/ Cuentos hispánicos 2 – Short stories from Spanish-speaking authors. Instead of translating word for word, the English translation paraphrases the Spanish portions thus translating ideas. The book is recommended for advanced beginners and beyond.
Beginner Books in Spanish
- Papelucho– The author has published 12 books in the Papelucho series that are described as humorous, interesting and creative. The book speaks about everyday life in the present tense.
- Manolito gafotas/Manolito Four-Eyes – Follow 10-year-old Manolito as he navigates life in Madrid. This is a children’s classic in Spain and other parts of Europe and has inspired films and a TV series.
- Las tres reinas magas – This book is a modern twist on Los Reyes Magos (The three Kings- Spanish Christmas Story). The queens are holding down the castle as the Kings are away at war.
- Muerte en Buenos Aires -Spanish novels for beginners. There are many in the series by this author and they are simple to understand with fun and interesting detective plots.
Get started today
There are so many books out there. Comment below and let us know which one is your favorite! Also, enjoy a free class on us and ¡empieza a mejorar tu español ya!
In the last couple of years, I’ve had the pleasure to meet some wonderful and interesting people. Among them, there’s an American friend of mine who’s very special. She was born in Guatemala and adopted at a very young age by a Jewish family in the US. I met her because she came to her birth country to get to know the culture, customs, and language of the people that lived here, the place she was born. We became great friends and keep in touch to this day.
Years later, I met a French girl who was born in Guatemala and came to the country to meet her biological parents… that was a weird coincidence! Most surprisingly, today I was told about a 15-year-old boy who came to Guatemala with his parents so he could meet his biological mother. It was very strange for me to suddenly start meeting adopted Guatemalans left and right, until a teacher at my university talked to me about the time when Guatemala used to be third in the world on adoption rates, right below China and Russia. A bit of research led me to this page, which explains the issue in more detail, and I learned that there’s a network for adoptees that wish to connect to their Guatemalan roots! All of these adopted kids are now grown up, so them coming to Guatemala shouldn’t come as a surprise.
My American friend fell in love with her birthplace, and now she’s planning to move here to spend her days making Guatemala a better place. I have had the pleasure of accompanying her on her journey, and through it, we came to face an interesting challenge: she has to set up a Guatemalan bank account. In order to do this, I helped her by calling several banks and asking what she should do in order to open an account here, if possible. Some banks were laxer, and others were quite strict, so I’ll write down what I learned so you can better know what to expect if you’re ever in need of opening an account while abroad.
What do I need to have?
According to the banks I spoke to, the following are required if you’re to open a bank account in Guatemala:
- Proof of residence (usually in the form of electricity or water bill)
- Minimum amount of cash required to open the account (it varied from $15 – $150, roughly)
These things were required only by some of the banks I contacted:
- Proof of employment
Some banks required proof of employment that would guarantee that the resident had a job in Guatemala. I asked them about cases where the resident works remotely for a website or company, to which they replied it was no problem as long as the company they worked for could provide said proof of employment to confirm the person opening the account has a steady source of income.
- Guatemalan ID
Specifically, having a native Guatemalan with an ID register as a creditor, so they could manage or delete the account if the resident left the country, for example. I personally don’t recommend opening an account if they ask for this, even if there’s a Guatemalan willing to be your creditor. These things, I believe, are best kept personal. I guess a spouse could be an exception, but if you’re married to a Guatemalan you can get an ID yourself, so it kind of defeats the purpose of a creditor!
Each bank I asked this question had a different answer, so my advice is to give them a call! Some of the banks had an English option for customer service, and they’re usually happy to give any info necessary.
Banking Terms in Spanish
“But I’m not going to live in Guatemala!”
Just like each bank has different requirements to open an account, so will each country. Something very important to take into account is the location you’re planning to live in when opening your account. Make sure your bank has a location set up near your home! In countries with large rural areas, banks can be few and far between, so don’t forget to double-check for banks that are close to you so you can visit anytime you need.
Either way, the first thing you should do before setting up an account abroad is to contact the bank so they give you the info you need! If you want to improve your Spanish so the conversation with the bank’s customer service is easier, make sure to try out a free class at Homeschool Spanish Academy!Read More
Teaching Greetings to Preschoolers
Teaching Spanish to very young learners can seem like a challenge at first. Where do you start? How do you engage your child or student? Luckily, there are plenty of activities, games, and songs that we can use to help our little ones achieve Spanish fluency. By starting with a simple theme like greetings, you can introduce new words and pronunciations while you play and have fun! With our quick guide to Teaching Greetings to Preschoolers, you will be teaching and speaking Spanish with your little one in no time. ¡Aprendamos a saludar!
(For a more detailed lesson on Spanish greetings, check this out.)
Greetings are an essential part of language learning. They are necessary for participating in a community and interacting politely with one another. For many of us, greetings were some of our very first words in our native language. Likewise, they are the first thing we learn in a foreign language. Here is a list of the most common and useful Spanish greetings for preschoolers.
It’s great to have a list of new words and phrases, but what to do with them? That’s where the activities come in! By using vocabulary lists in a meaningful and fun way, your child will be much more motivated to learn and retain new information.
Flashcards make an excellent visual tool for teaching new vocabulary. They help your young learner associate the pictures with the words and to understand better the meaning. They can also imitate the movements or ideas present in the pictures. Our colorful Greetings for Preschoolers Flashcards include all of the greetings in this guide. In order to print them as flashcards, click Print and go to Settings. Under Pages Per Sheet, choose 4 and for Scale, choose “Default”. When you print, it will give you four flashcards to each printed sheet that you can cut out and use right away. (Print -> Settings -> Pages Per Sheet: 4 -> Scale: Default) What can you do with flashcards?
- Sequencing: After exploring the meaning of the new words and phrases, you and your child can lay out all the cards on a table or the floor in the sequence that they might occur. Which comes first? Good morning or good night? Hello or good-bye? Allow your child to create sequences on their own to ensure they understand
- GoFish with rods and magnets: This activity requires small magnets and a rod or stick, but it is well worth it! Put a magnet on each flashcard and lay it down on the floor. Make a fishing rod out of a stick and string, tying a magnet to the end of the string. Have your child search for the words and phrases you say while they try to fish them out. This is guaranteed tons of fun!
- Total Physical Response (TPR): Create a specific movement for each of the 12 flashcards and use this every single time you practice it with your child. They will begin to associate the movement with the sounds of the words and the meaning will become even more clear to them through practice and repetition. Read more about TPR and other strategies for teaching Spanish to your child.
Combine motor skills with memory and give your child our exclusive Greetings for Preschoolers Coloring Pages. Each page uses the same vocabulary found in the flashcards that you can use for practicing and studying! Repeat each word and phrase while your little one has fun coloring. You can also focus on a few words a week, have your child color the pages, and then hang them in a place they will see frequently.
Model imaginary play for your child by getting out your Spanish puppet or other toys. Set them up in a conversation and show how they interact using the new words and phrases. Here is an example conversation the puppets could have using the list of greetings:
Puppet 1: Hola, ¿cómo te llamas?
Puppet 2: Hola, me llamo Pedro.
Puppet 1: Mucho gusto, Pedro. Me llamo María.
Puppet 2: ¡Mucho gusto, Maria!
The conversation should start out simple and easy, then you can build in new phrases later. After you show your child how the puppets talk, get them involved! One puppet can talk to your child or you can hand over one of the puppets for your child to use.
Reading books in Spanish is an effective and exciting way to teach your child new words and to reinforce vocabulary that is being learned. Check out our list of Spanish books designed for preschool learners. For books specifically about greetings, try out one of these:
- Hello Night / Hola Noche by Amy Costales
- Buenas Noches, Luna by Margaret Wise Brown
- How Are You? / ¿Cómo estás? By Angela Dominguez
Singing is not only fun, but an extremely powerful tool to help your child memorize new words and phrases. There are plenty of fun and educational songs for kids to choose from in Spanish. While we’re focusing solely on greetings in the guide, you might enjoy these:
Greetings Are Great
We hope that with access to this great guide, you and your child will have lots of fun while practicing Spanish. If you are interested in learning with a native Spanish teacher for free, sign up for an online class with Homeschool Spanish Academy!Read More