One of the best feelings you can get while abroad is that moment when you are lost, confused, or just making a fool out of yourself and a kind stranger approaches you to help out. Whether you’re looking for a street name or trying to decipher the bus chart like it’s an ancient pharaoh’s tomb, the kindness of those who help stands out more when you’re travelling. Acts of kindness from foreigners have even been the subject of old tales such as ‘The Good Samaritan’, and it gets me thinking on why is it that we notice kindness more when it’s in a strange place? Maybe it’s because we feel lost, or maybe it’s because we don’t expect it. Either way, I see it as an opportunity to appreciate how most people are willing to help out regardless of where you come from.
Latinoamérica has a culture that holds religion and family in high regard. I’m sure most Latinos will say familia is on their top 5 things they’re grateful for. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s relevant to point out that this holiday is not yet celebrated in most Spanish speaking countries. There are a few exceptions, though. In my case specifically, I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving with my coworkers from the US, since they usually organize a dinner with friends to keep their traditions alive even when living elsewhere. Here are some of the ways we express gratitude in Spanish!
Non-verbal ways to express gratitude
Just as we are a family-centered culture, we’re also a food-centered culture. Most, if not all of our celebrations involve food, and this includes displays of gratitude! One of my best friends saved my bacon a couple of weeks ago. She went out of her way to print my essay and hand it in on time while I was running late in a panic because the teacher was about to leave. To say thanks, I bought her a candy bar on the campus vending machine to express my gratitude. Inviting someone to dinner, coffee, or a snack is a very Latino way of saying thanks! Just make sure it’s someone you’re friends with since most of the time we only do this at a more personal level. Some people in our culture will refuse when you ask them to pay back, so this is often an alternative that’s easier to accept – and more fun too!
Another way to express gratitude is through the written word. In our modern era where technology has facilitated communication in ways we’ve never experienced before, a written letter is something that still holds power and conveys meaning through the ink itself. Culturally, letters are given as birthday gifts, love letters, and as gifts to loved ones who are about to leave for a while. These can also work as nice mementos of people you meet along your travels, so writing a letter to a host family, or the lady that sold you breakfast on the streets during your stay in Guatemala is a nice way to thank them for their hospitality! Here’s an example letter so you can write a letter in Spanish to someone you care about.
Querida familia anfitriona,
Quiero agradecerles por su hospitalidad mientras estuve viviendo en su casa. ¡No sé qué hubiera hecho si no me hubieran ayudado cuando me dejó el bus en mi primer día como voluntario! Nunca voy a olvidar nuestro viaje a Cobán, estoy seguro que a mis hermanos les va a encantar el ceviche que me enseñaron a cocinar.
Les deseo lo mejor y espero poder venir a visitarlos pronto.
Dear host family,
I want to thank you for your hospitality while I was living here with you. I don’t know what I’d done if you hadn’t helped when the bus left me behind on my first day as a volunteer! I’ll never forget our trip to Cobán, I’m sure my siblings will love the ceviche you taught me how to cook.
I wish you all the best and hope I can come visit soon.
As you can see, we have different words to say ‘dear’, one is formal, and the other one isn’t. Also, take into account that te quiero and ‘I love you’ carry two different meanings. In short, te quiero is less serious than ‘I love you’. You can read about this concept and more in our blog about Spanish concepts not found in English! So now you’re ready to go out there and express your gratitude! If you want to learn Spanish, take a free class at Homeschool Spanish Academy today.Read More
If you grew up (or are still growing up!) in the church, you know that youth group is a big part of the church community. It is a place where teens and pre-teens can come together, find community, have fun, and learn about God in a more relatable way. I personally remember attending several different youth groups because it was a great way to find friends outside of school. One youth group even had their facility open every day after school, and I would go and do homework or just hang out with other kids and the staff. It was a great, friendly environment, and I would always invite my friends, whether or not church was their ‘thing.’ At that age, I didn’t speak Spanish very well, so I couldn’t invite any Spanish-speaking friends to youth group with me! Hopefully, with these helpful vocab lists, you will be prepared to invite your Spanish-speaking friends to youth group in their native language.
We’ll start with some activities and people that you’ll find when you go to youth group:
Pretty straightforward, right? You can use these words to give your friends an idea of what will happen at the event. Now, you can’t predict everything will be said at youth group, but here are some phrases that you can use to invite your friend to youth group and then introduce them to the whole gang!
I hope those phrases help you get up the nerve to ask your Spanish-speaking friends to the next youth group event! Even if they can’t understand everything that happens that night, the most important thing is to make sure they feel welcome! If you have more specific phrases that you want to learn how to say in Spanish, be sure to ask your teacher in your next Spanish class! ¡Diviértete!Read More
When I was just starting to learn Spanish, I remember that my Spanish teacher told me that each letter has only one sound, and you always pronounce every letter in a word. That was incredibly reassuring when I was just starting to learn the language. However, when I immersed myself in the language, I discovered that when pronouncing some words, you do not enunciate each individual letter. This, of course, was confusing to me since it contradicted what my first Spanish teacher had said. Once I learned about diphthongs, triphthongs, and hiatus, though, it made much more sense!
Don’t panic – these words may seem very complicated (they’re sure difficult to spell with all those ‘h’s!), but they are much simpler than you think. Each of these terms refers to a combination of vowels. Do you remember how to say the vowels in Spanish? Let’s review:
I hope that refreshed your memory! Let’s delve into the first group of vowel combinations: diphthongs
Do you remember how to say ‘grandfather’ in Spanish? If you need help, refer to our family blog!
Yes! It’s abuelo. Now, how do you pronounce it? Would you say ah-boo-ay-loh? Or maybe ah-bway-loh?
If you said the second pronunciation, you are correct! We don’t pronounce every single vowel separately in this word but make a new sound with two of the vowels. Instead of oo-ay we say way for the vowel combination ‘ue.’ This is called a diphthong.
The Real Academia de Español defines a diphthong, or diptongo, as:
Secuencia de dos vocales diferentes que se pronuncian en una sola sílaba.
A sequence of two different vowels that are pronounced in just on syllable.
Keep in mind that just because there are two vowels together does NOT mean that they are pronounced in one syllabus, and therefore means that they are NOT always diphthongs (we’ll explore more on this topic in a bit). So, how do you know when to pronounce vowel combinations as one syllabus? Well…
In Spanish, we have hard and soft vowels.
Hard vowels: A E O
Soft vowels: I U
You can think of the hard vowels as dominant in the pronunciation. Let’s go back to our previous example: abuelo. What vowel sound to you hear most in the ‘ue’ combination? Exactly! The ‘e.’ We hear the ‘e’ more because it is a hard vowel, or more dominant.
Hard Vowel + Soft Vowel
Whenever you see a hard and soft vowel together, it is called a diphthong. Basically, the hard vowel dominates the combination and makes the two vowels have only one sound. Let’s look at some examples:
Abuelo – (ah-bway-loh)
Bailar – (bai–lahr)
Huevo – (way-boh)
Hielo – (yay-loh)
Oigo – (oi-goh)
If you look at the pronunciations, you can see bits of both vowels in the new singular sound, but the hard vowel has the emphasis. It is also very interesting to note that when the ‘u’ is the first vowel in the combination, it has a ‘w’ sound; likewise, when the ‘i’ is the first letter in the combination, it has a ‘y’ sound. Finally, it does not matter if the hard vowel comes first (like in bailar) or second (like in hielo), it is always the dominant sound.
Before we move on, check out this chart with all the diphthongs made up with a hard and soft vowel and an example of each one:
Soft Vowel + Soft Vowel
Now, the combination of a hard and soft vowel is not the only combination classified as a diphthong. Whenever there are there soft vowels together, it is also called a diphthong! But which one has the dominant sound if they are both soft vowels? Great question! Unlike in our previous group of diphthongs where the order didn’t matter, here it does. When two soft vowels form a diphthong, there is an emphasis on the second one. Of course, since there are only two soft vowels, we only have two options for combinations. Do you remember which vowels are soft?
Exactly! I and U. So, we can have the combination ‘iu’ or ‘ui.’ Let’s check out some examples!
These words have very similar spellings, but because of their unique diphthongs, the pronunciations are distinct. Remember that when an ‘i’ is the first letter, it sounds like ‘y,’ and when ‘u’ is the first letter it sounds like ‘w.’ However, the second letter in each combination still carries the emphasis.
Alright – those are a lot of diphthongs! However, what if two hard vowels are paired together? What happens then? It is called a hiatus.
So, we established that diphthongs, or diptongos, are when two vowels come together to make one sound. If you remember, though, not all vowel combinations are diphthongs. Sometimes when there are two vowels together, they have two distinct syllabi – which is called a hiatus, or hiato. The Real Academia de Español puts it this way:
Secuencia de dos vocales que se pronuncian en sílabas distintas.
Sequence of two vowels that are pronounced in separate syllables.
To ensure that each vowel is pronounced in separate syllabi, both must be hard vowels – a, e, or o.
Let’s take the word real, for example. In English, this word is one syllable, and the vowels actually form a diphthong. However, the pronunciation in Spanish is ray-ahl with two syllables because ‘a’ and ‘e’ are both hard vowels. Interestingly, if we had double vowels in a word, whether they are hard or soft, they are a hiatus!
Here are all the possible forms of hiatos with some examples:
Before we move onto our last group, we need to talk about some exceptions to these rules. Yes, yes, I know – the last thing you want to hear about are exceptions. These, however, and pretty simple and you are probably already putting them into practice without even knowing it!
As you’ve probably noticed by now, Spanish utilizes a lot of accent marks! They are what mark the difference between llamo (I call) and llamó (he/she/it called) as they show where the syllabic emphasis is. Accent marks are needed when the accent of the word goes against general spelling and pronunciation rules. So, it makes sense then that when an accent mark is over a vowel combination, our rules about diphthongs and hiatuses go out the window; the accent mark takes precedence. Let’s look at an example:
If we follow our rules for diphthongs, we would pronounce the ‘ia’ as the single sound ‘ya.’ However, the accent mark over the ‘a’ breaks up that diphthong. We, therefore, pronounce this word as: ah-see-ah-tee-coh, where the ‘i’ and ‘a’ are in separate syllables.
The bottom line is, if there is an accent mark over one of the letters in a diphthong, it is no longer a diphthong! The vowel sounds are in separate syllabi.
The Tricky ‘u’
If you remember from our vowel blog, we talked about hard and soft Gs and Cs. These two letters’ pronunciation changes based on the vowel that follows them. There are several instances in Spanish were the spelling is adapted to match the pronunciation. For example, to conjugate the verb llegar in the simple past tense of yo, it would be llegé according to the rules of conjugating regular verbs. However, that would make the pronunciation yay-hay, not yay-gay as it should be. So, to correct the spelling, we add a ‘u’ to form llegué. In these instances where a ‘u’ is added to match the spelling to the pronunciation, the diphthong rules do not apply. The letter ‘u’ is just a filler and does not need to be pronounced at all – it’s silent!
Alright, are you ready for our last vowel combination? Don’t worry, it’s not too hard because it’s not quite as common as diphthongs! So far, we have only looked at instances where two vowels come together. There are words, though, that have more vowels together!
Just like a diphthong is when two vowels make one sound, a triphthong is when three vowels make one sound. The Real Academy de Español says:
Secuencia de tres vocales que se pronuncian en una sola sílaba.
Sequence of three vowels that are pronounced in just one syllable.
In order for three vowels to make one sound, they must be in the following order: soft vowel + hard vowel + soft vowel. It’s like a soft vowel sandwich! Let’s look at some examples:
Paraguay – (pahr-ah-gwai)
(here, the ‘y’ acts a vowel just like in hoy and estoy)
Guau – (gwow)
Confiéis – (cohn-fyays)
This last example is a conjugation of confiar in the vosotros form. A lot (NOT all) of the vosotros conjugations end in triphthongs! If you plan on visiting Spain, it would be good to practice the triphthongs more because vosotros is used very commonly there.
Practice Makes Perfect
That was a lot to take in! If you are a beginner Spanish learner, I would recommend you do not try to memorize all these rules at once. Instead, practice the 5 main vowels and look at the examples throughout this blog. If you get the pronunciation of these examples down, you will recognize the patterns in other words you see throughout your Spanish learning journey. These rules are important but don’t get caught up in them as you work towards fluency. Spanish vowels are much easier and straightforward in their pronunciation than the vowels in English.
For more practice on how to pronounce diptongos, watch our video below! With this tool, you’ll be on your way to a pronunciación perfecta in no time! ¡Tú puedes!Read More
A couple of years ago, a friend and I were on a stakeout. We sat in her car for hours on end, eating hotdogs and looking for clues. We found what we were looking for halfway through the second hotdog. A big brown dog was walking in the streets of the neighborhood where we were parked. My friend, Gaby, rescues stray dogs as a hobby. Her house always has at least 5 dogs running around! We were watching the dog because she had signs of having had puppies recently, and we wanted to know where she kept them so we could take the whole family to the shelter instead of just the brown dog. That way, the puppies could be with their mom.
In most Latin American countries stray dogs are a fairly common sight, but not all of them are having a bad time! In some places, there are ‘town dogs’ who have no owner in particular, but people from the town will feed them and give them shelter. In my previous neighborhood, the town dog was named Tocino, which translates to bacon! Pets have always been friends, companions, helpers… some even consider pets part of their family. Today, we’re going to learn about different pets and how to say their names in Spanish, see if you can guess which animal I’m talking about!
Pronounced pair-row, this is one of the first animals humans domesticated, and they’ve been with us for approximately 15,000 years! They come in many shapes and sizes, but the thing they have in common is that they will love you unconditionally. Still haven’t guessed? Let me give you another clue. They are also known as el mejor amigo del hombre, or ‘man’s best friend’. I’m of course talking about dogs! Some people keep dogs on a leash, una correa. To identify them, we give them collares, or collars.
Next, we have hurones, pronounced oo-rohn-ais. These slithery mammals were used for hunting back when we used horses to get around. They are playful, have small, sharp teeth and a long furry body. These are ferrets! They’re known for having qualities of both cats and dogs, but any ferret owner will tell you there’s much more to them than that. Ferrets are furry, or peludos, and have dientes filosos, sharp teeth! If you ever encounter an hurón juguetón, that means that your pet likes to play around a lot.
This one’s a freebie; iguana is pronounced the same in English and Spanish! The only difference is that instead of the ‘i’ sound, you have to say ‘ee’ instead. Iguanas are pets for people who like to sit down and chill out. The hardest part of owning an iguana, I’d say, is having to give them bichos, bugs for lunch; however iguanas eat vegetales too, like carrots and lettuce. Did you know the word ‘reptiles’ is the same in English and Spanish? The pronunciation changes, though. In Spanish, we say rep-tee-lays. With reptiles, it’s always a good idea to research before you buy, because our scaly friends have different diets and care instructions based on the species.
Mischievous, mysterious, and cuddly – these three words can be used to describe this next pet. Unlike perros, these animals domesticated themselves by helping humans get rid of rats and pests in exchange for food. This role was very important thousands of years ago because these pests carry disease that we couldn’t deal with back then. As a result, some cultures came to worship them, and I would argue that we still worship them today on the walls of the internet. If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m talking about cats! Cats eat ratas, or rats. They catch them with their sharp garras, unless they get them trimmed at the groomer. One of the cool things about gatos is that they don’t need to be potty trained! They go by themselves on their caja de arena, or litter box.
Pájaros (pah-ha-rows) have been a source of inspiration for many artists and musicians. They can be kind, energetic, uplifting, funny, and sometimes scary. Such a wide range of personalities comes from an even wider range of species to choose from. Their most distinctive characteristic is their ability to sing. Have you guessed? I’m talking about birds! These little friends are very delicate, and another species that requires research before getting one. Birds sleep in their cages, or jaulas. They have colorful plumas on their body and they can cantar beautiful songs.
El loro, pronounced loh-roh, is a specific kind of bird. You can find loros in jokes, movies, and on buccaneer shoulders. These birds are known for being able to imitate us, imitar, and are quite popular in Latinoamérica. Naturally, I’m talking about parrots! Parrots are coloridos, meaning they can sport many colors of the rainbow in their plumas.
Let’s finish with another freebie! Hamsters are also pronounced the same in English and Spanish. The only difference being the ‘ha’ at the beginning is pronounced ‘hah’. Normally, the ‘h’ is silent in Spanish, but since the word hamster was adopted from German, we say it the same in both languages. These little guys are famous for running around, squeaking and eating sunflower seeds, or semillas de girasol. They run around in their ruedas. Don’t forget to put some viruta de madera, bedding, for your hámster to sleep on!
More pet vocabulary to practice
How many pet names did you guess? Pets are as important to us as we are to them. We have created relationships with them that enable us to grow as people through cuddles. How cool is that?! Remember to always love and care for pets and other animals, and don’t forget to practice your Spanish at Homeschool Spanish Academy!Read More
Whenever you’re learning another language, you may often hit a common stumbling block – being able to truly express what you are feeling. I often struggle with this in both languages now. Since each language has its own unique, wonderful phrases to express an idea, my brain often goes to mush as I sort out how to express what I think and need in one language, instead of the Spanglish that I normally think in. Unfortunately, not everyone I talk to can understand my Spanglish ramblings…including my husband.
I have had the amazing opportunity to be completely immersed in the Spanish language by dating and marrying someone who speaks only Spanish. He can handle a basic conversation in English, but our home language is Spanish. If you ever have the opportunity to talk with other people who speak the same languages as you do, it’s a very interesting phenomenon as you decide which language you want to speak in with that particular person – it depends on numerous factors, and it is not always the same! Either way, whether my husband one day becomes fluent in English or not, the language for our relationship is Spanish. This means that I had to learn to express how I felt in my second language. This isn’t something normally taught in a high school Spanish class, so I learned as I went.
If you are in the same position as me, or if you are just wanting to take your Spanish to a whole other level and be able to truly express yourself in Spanish, this blog is for you! We are going to look at several common phrases that you can use with your significant other – whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not!
To be completely honest, I am not a huge fan of lovey-dovey names for your significant other in English. I don’t know what it is about them, but I just don’t feel comfortable using them with my partner. However, I am a big fan of (most) Spanish pet names. Check them out!
The first ones seem great right? My love, queen, heaven – those sound great. But my daughter? Fatty? Aren’t we talking about or beloved significant other? These may sound funny, or even offensive, in English, but trust me – they do not all have the same connotation in Spanish. Mija is actually my favorite pet name that my husband uses. It expresses so much love, warmth, and affection in just one word. Now, you’ve probably heard mamita or papito used a lot, mostly in flirtatious conversations. While these two names are very often used to pursue someone and comment on their physical appearance, they can be used in a much more caring and loving way between a couple. Or, if you want to comment on your partner’s lovely physical appearance, you can use these words. Speaking of physical appearance, let’s talk about flaco/gordo. Yes, it sounds absolutely awful in English. However, these are very endearing terms in Spanish. My husband is my no means fat, nor is he skinny. Despite that, I have called him both mi gordo and mi flaco. Why? It’s endearing! He is also (sometimes) allowed to call me his gorda/flaca because these are not degrading terms about my weight but a way to tell me he loves me and my body.
It is very important to note that these words are not just for couples. If you walk through the market in Antigua, Guatemala, you will hear the vendors calling you any of these names to make you feel like the most important person in the world… and get you to buy their product. I have to tell you – it often works on me. Hearing people call me ‘queen, beautiful, and heart’ really puts me in a good mood! It is also very common to call kids ‘gordo/gorda’ out of affection. My husband and I are blessed with a little one-year-old boy, and he is just the cutest. He was not a fat baby when he was born, and now that he is a toddler, he is still not a fat kid. However, what have I and everyone else called him since he was born? Gordito. It may have to do with the general squishiness of babies, but he will forever (yes, even as an adult) be my gordito.
Spanish is a very expressive language, especially when it comes to communicating your love to those you care about. These pet names can be used in many different circumstances and potentially be misconstrued, so I encourage you to be cautious using them with people who are not your significant other. I once called my friend papito thinking it was just a fun nickname, and his face went bright red. Turns out it is not just another nickname but has a more sensual meaning. Oops! Learn from my mistakes, and make sure the nicknames you are using are appropriate for the situation.
One of my favorite things about Spanish is the many ways to describe your feelings. In English, we say we love everything; we have one word, ‘love,’ for everything. I love pizza, movies, sleeping, my dog, my sister, my husband. The reality is that our feelings are different for each of these things, and Spanish offers us more ways to express those particular feelings. For a more in-depth look at these phrases, click here.
Alright, we have our pet names and different verbs to express our level of love for someone. However, there is so much more to look at when we think about expressing our deep feelings for our significant other.
I hope all these phrases will help you better express yourself to your significant other in Spanish! It is important to note that all of these phrases use the pronoun tú to refer to your other half. Not all couples refer to each other with tú. Some couples keep it formal with usted to express respect for each other, while others use vos to express a deep closeness. Use whichever pronoun you feel most comfortable with, but make sure to change the verb conjugations accordingly!
Spanish Poems about love
If you are looking for some beautiful sayings and quotes in Spanish to put on a card or send to your significant other, try one of these!
Prefiero un minuto contigo a una eternidad sin ti.
“I prefer one minute with you than an eternity without you.”
Te amé, te amo y te amaré. Aunque pasaran cien años y mi corazón ya esté cansado y quiera dejar de latir, quiero que sepas que mi último latido será para ti.
“I loved you, I love you, and I will love you. Even when a hundred years have passed and my heart is tired and wants to stop beating, I want you to know that my last heartbeat will be for you.”
En la tierra, en la luna, en las estrellas, en marte, en cualquier parte del universo. En la lluvia, en el frío, en el dolor y el temor, en el laberinto sombrío y los caminos más difíciles de cruzar, pero contigo, sin contratos ni condiciones.– Irene T. Gómez
“On Earth, on the moon, in the stars, on Mars, in any part of the universe. In the rain, in the cold, in pain and fear, in the gloomy labyrinth and the most difficult paths to cross, but with you, without contracts or conditions.”
Eres mi promesa de nunca romper, eres cada uno de los latidos de mi corazón. Eres mi sonrisa, después de un mal día, eres vida, eres mi vida.– Robinson Aybar
“You are my promise of never breaking; you are every one of my heartbeats. You are my smile after a bad day. You are life; you are my life.”
Te quiero no por quien eres, sino por quien soy cuando estoy contigo.– Gabriel García Márquez
“I love you not for who you are, but because of who I am when I’m with you.”
Tardé una hora en conocerte y solo un día en enamorarme. Pero me llevará toda una vida lograr olvidarte.
“It took an hour for me to meet you and just a day for me to fall in love. But it will take a whole lifetime to be able to forget you.”
Share the love!
Take everything that you’ve learned here and go express your love to your significant other! You can use whole quotes, bits and pieces, or just the pet names to express what you are feeling in Spanish. Don’t forget to practice what you’ve learned with our native Spanish-speaking teachers! You can sign up for a FREE class here! You can come up with some sentences of your own in Spanish and run it by them – they would love to help!
For more practice, check out our video on the different ways to say ‘I love you’ in Spanish. You can get a first-hand glimpse of how many Spanish speakers use different phrases to express themselves. Test your Spanish skills with the video as well by seeing how much you understand. Then, follow along with the subtitles to check your comprehension.Read More
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
Splash, thud, vroom, zap! What is going on in here!? It sounds like a bunch of superheroes are starting to battle it out at a pool party. Herein lies the wonder of onomatopoeia, or words that imitate a particular sound. Now, read those four words at the beginning one more time. What images do you see when you read them? These words have the ability to evoke an image or sensation in your mind, rendering the communication that much more effective. When we are young, we learn many of these words casually through socializing and watching movies or cartoons. For parents who are teaching Spanish to their preschoolers, be sure to include a rich variety of books and sounds! As a Spanish learner, using onomatopoeia will enhance the creativity of your speech and writing. Your understanding will improve now that you know even more useful vocabulary. What’s more, you can better convey your personality and strengthen the impact of your descriptions of people, things, and their actions. Since onomatopoeia is a word form of a sound, it is a word form of movement. As such, we have three categories of things that move and make noise while doing it: people, animals, and objects. These movements can express themselves as sound effects or they can function as verbs, which is a distinction we will explore below. Let’s check out the most popular and useful Spanish onomatopoeia for you to start using right away. ¡Zas!
Onomatopoeia as Sound Effects
If you are familiar with comic books or cartoons, you are no stranger to the value of sound effects. What would Batman have been without his staple ‘boom!’, ‘whack!’ and ‘pow!’ is a question we will never have to ask. The words we use to portray sound can enliven and enrich the scenes of a storyline and, if used correctly, it will do the same for your conversations! The following sound effects are divided into the three categories mentioned previously: people, animals, and objects. You will notice that some are similar or identical to English and that others can be used by any of the three categories.
Onomatopoeia as Verbs
In our native language, we are very likely to use onomatopoeia verb-forms, especially when we are trying to paint a picture with descriptive words. There is a big difference between “the dog made a mean sound” and “the dog growled.” In the latter example, you can practically hear the dog’s aggression and probably even picture him baring his teeth. Again, the power of onomatopoeia is all about creating images and sensations in the listener’s mind. Keep in mind that all three categories mentioned above – people, animals, and objects – can make use of these verbs. Here is a list of common onomatopoeia verbs that are useful when describing in detail the noise that something makes:
Practice Makes Perfect
By practicing these fun and useful onomatopoeia, you will improve your Spanish and boost the quality of your conversations! Try them out next time you have to write a descriptive essay in Spanish or plan to teach someone some entertaining vocabulary. Would you like someone to practice with? Check out our free online class that guarantees you’ll be speaking Spanish before it ends!
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
Among my group of friends and colleagues, business trips are as common as ordering your next latte at Starbucks. It is given that in most work environments, you are going to get on a plane and travel…very far… and oftentimes land in a Spanish-speaking country. Just in the past year I have heard business travel stories from Spain, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Bolivia, Peru and Guatemala – all wonderfully unique countries that speak Spanish as their official language.
Once you land at the airport, go through immigration and exit the airport, your senses immediately experience the new sights, sounds, and smells of entering a new part of the world. It is exciting and can be overwhelming. Herein lies an opportunity to speak Spanish!
Let’s review helpful Spanish phrases for your next viaje!
Let’s review Spanish greetings!
In English we often begin a conversation with ‘hi’ or ‘hello’ and then begin. Depending on where you live, the conversation can be rushed and to the point. Good Morning/afternoon/evening aren’t as common and are typically reserved for more formal situations or business meetings.
In Spanish, greetings are numero uno. It is very important that you greet Spanish speakers before you board the plane, begin a conversation at the ticket counter, ask for directions, or ask for help.
Buenos días. Estoy perdido/a. ¿Puede ayudarme a encontrar el área de reclamo de equipaje?/ Good Morning. I am lost. Can you help me find baggage claim?
You can also simply use Buenas, which is an informal greeting, but acceptable to use in many countries as a proper greeting in an informal situation. Review the usage rules for formal vs. informal here.
Now that you can greet others with confidence, let’s learn words that will help you navigate the airport and airplane.
Vocabulary Words for the Airport and Airplane
Useful Phrases for the Airport and Airplane
¿Dónde está la taquilla?
Where is the ticket counter?
¿Dónde recojo mis maletas?
Where is the baggage claim?
¿A qué hora viene el vuelo?
What time will the plane arrive?
¿En cuánto tiempo llegamos?
How much longer until we arrive?
¿A qué hora traen la comida?
What time will the food be served?
¿Hay problema si me levanto ahora?
Is it okay to get out of my seat now?
Asking for Directions and Exploring the City
Now you’ve landed and your eyes are wide open as you experience new sights and try to find your way to your hotel. Here are some useful phrases for asking and giving directions.
Vocabulary Words for Getting Around
Useful Phrases for Getting Around
Al final de la cuadra.
Walk to the end of the block
La tienda está en la esquina.
The stores is on the corner.
¿Dónde consigo un taxi?
Where can I get a taxi?
¿Dónde está la parada de autobús más cercana?
Where is the nearest bus stop/station?
¿Dónde está la estación de tren más cercana?
Where is the nearest train stop/station?
¿Cuánto cuesta el ticket de tren/bus?
How much does a bus/train ticket cost?
Me gustaría comprar un ticket para Juanito por favor.
I would like to buy a ticket for Juanito, please.
¿Qué tan lejos queda?
How far is it?
¿Cuánto me va a tardar?
How long will it take me?
¿Cómo llego al museo?
How do I get to the museum?
Checking in and out of the Hotel
At the hotel, you will want to use these keywords to communicate.
Vocabulary words for the Hotel
Useful Phrases for the Hotel
Perdón, no entiendo
Sorry, I don’t understand.
¿Puedes hablar más despacio, por favor?
Can you please speak more slowly?
¿Cuánto me cuesta por día?
How much will that cost per day?
¿Eso tiene cobro extra?
Is there an extra charge for that?
¿Tienen más cuartos disponibles?
Do you have additional rooms available?
¿Me puede dar la llave del cuarto 105?
Can I have the key/keycard for room 105?
Me gustaría una habitación con vista.
I would like a room with a view.
Necesito que lleven mis maletas al cuarto, por favor.
I need my luggage brought to my room, please.
¿En dónde puedo estacionar mi carro?
Where should I park the car?
¿Este precio incluye desayuno?
Is breakfast included in the price?
Registraré mi salido mañana en la mañana.
I will check-out tomorrow morning.
¿Puede llamar un taxi, por favor?
Can you call a taxi, please?
Do you have any….?
I would like….
Would you like…?
Mi cuarto aún necesita ordenar, gracias.
My room still needs to be made up, thank you.
See You Later!
You’re wrapping up your trip and want to express your gratitude and thanks. Here are some phrases to help you do so!
See you later!
¡Que tenga(s) un buen día!
Have a good day!
¡Que tenga(s) un hermoso día!
Have a beautiful day!
¡Espero verte de nuevo!
I hope to see you again!
Gracias, me ayudó mucho.
You have been so helpful, thank you.
Espero regresar pronto a este hermoso lugar.
I can’t wait to come back to this beautiful place.
You’re all set!
Before you pack your bags, enjoy a complimentary class with Spanish Academy and practice your new vocabulary words!