Is your older child indifferent toward learning Spanish? It can be frustrating and challenging to get them to understand the benefits of speaking another language. Read on for useful tips to help your child get (and stay) interested.
First of all, you could be motivating your child all wrong! The key to encouraging tweens and teens to learn Spanish is to show them why another language is fun and useful!
Children are motivated in different ways, try to find what suits your child for the best results. Some children are eager to set goals and achieve them, while others want to do the bare minimum to pass their classes. The key here is to find your child’s strengths and work within those limits.
Benefits of Learning Spanish
Some children are exposed to Spanish-speakers and understand the purpose of knowing another language – to communicate with family, friends and community members. Other children are not exposed to Spanish on a daily basis and will need you to show them the value of speaking another language.
Being bilingual gives you an advantage over monolinguals.
Why? Speaking Spanish will increase your child’s competitive edge when it comes time for high school and college admissions, give them the ability to communicate with a wide range of people from various countries and territories (21 to be precise!) – thus opening doors for studying and volunteering abroad, and kids can pick up accents and mimic sounds quicker than adults; thus helping them develop an accent similar to a native speaker.
Let’s Get Real
Do the above reasons make you yawn? Then let’s explore other benefits:
- Listen in on conversations in Spanish that you wouldn’t otherwise understand. This comes in very handy when traveling or if you’re bored on the subway and want to catch up on the latest gossip of the two people sitting across from you.
- Impress your friends or show off at parties/family gatherings with your amazing Spanish accent.
- Understand the lyrics to songs on the radio, like Camila Cabello or Despacito.
- Follow YouTubers in Spanish on cooking and fashion. Set yourself apart in the kitchen and with your wardrobe.
- Watch soccer on Spanish language television and gain a new perspective.
- Order amazing food!
Motivating Your Child
One of the best books to help motivate your child and to encourage them is to determine the “language” your child speaks and understands. The book, The 5 Love Languages of Children, helps you do just that. This book identifies which of the five languages actually work with your child’s personality. The languages children (and adults!) communicate in are physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and acts of service. Which one are you using?
Discovering your child’s primary love language can be really useful in unlocking and fostering potential in your child. Understanding how your child thinks and feels (and is motivated) will help you foster growth for many things, including learning.
Another way to get your child interested in language learning is to try something unconventional. Focus on finding ways to make Spanish useful. Plan a trip to a Spanish-speaking country and have your child be prepared to get you from the airport to the Airbnb…in Spanish. Or, go to church conducted in Spanish and ask them to give you an overview of the service that they heard. They may not have an interest in speaking Spanish until they realize they will be the ones solving the puzzle of language in real-time.
My Experience in Motivation
English is my primary language and I speak Spanish as a second language. My family is Dutch, so speaking Spanish is far away on the map of European languages. Growing up, my family would take vacations to Mexico every year. Often times, I was the only family member who could help with directions (this was before Smartphones and Google Translate y’all!), ask for the checkout time at the hotel, and converse with people on the street. I remember being so interested in the culture and history of a city that I would ask the locals question after question. I became highly motivated to improve my Spanish language skills so that when we returned to Mexico the following year, I could understand better and interpret more accurately. Essentially, I became more interested in Spanish when I understood its purpose and I had a meaningful reason to learn another language.
How I Motivate My Older Child
I have a pre-tween at home and it has been challenging at times to get her motivated to speak Spanish. Why? Because English is everywhere and there isn’t a great need to speak another language. I also have many friends who speak Spanish as a first language and want their kids to speak Spanish fluently. Unfortunately, like my child, their child has found it convenient to lean heavily on English.
What do we do? How do we expose them to Spanish and motive them in a mostly English-speaking country? To solve this, my friends and I put our kids in Spanish class together with an amazing teacher who only speaks Spanish!
Other Ways to Inspire your Child
Here are some other great ways to motivate your child to learn Spanish:
- Find out what speaks to them – Games, Movies, Books – and find one in Spanish.
- Stay upbeat – Set realistic goals for your child and stay positive when the goals are met.
- Inspire – Share success stories of children who speak Spanish and the benefits (short-term and long-term).
- Don’t be afraid to fail – Learning another language is challenging and you are not going to be perfect. With language, you have good days and bad days, so go with the flow.
- Consider rewards – Your child is willing to complete a semester or year of Spanish class? Then plan that trip to Guatemala! Or buy them that Lego set they have been asking for and have them use the directions in Spanish to put it together.
- Don’t micromanage – Let your child have a say in the learning experience. Give them control over their class time, let them pick their teacher or when they will study. This will also teach them life-skills.
The Purpose of Learning Spanish
Language exists so that people can communicate with each other. Your child is successful in English because they have a daily purpose for using this language: communicating among peers, talking to family, and getting around. If you are having a difficult time getting your child to speak Spanish, then help them understand its purpose.
The blog, Perks of Being Bilingual, will give you a starting point for having that conversation with your child about the benefits of Spanish. Being bilingual will benefit them as global citizens and set them apart as valued employees. Now is the time to let them know so they can begin developing their understanding of basic Spanish vocabulary and grammar rules.
Take your first step today by signing up for a free class with Spanish Academy! Find a teacher that inspires your child and get them speaking Spanish!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
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
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
I don’t know about you, but I love dreaming and making plans. Daydreaming is quite possibly my favorite pastime, and I talk about my hopes for the future all the time. A lot of our culture is about planning for the future – saving money, getting an education for a good job, outlining 5 and 10-year plans. We are always looking towards the future!
Since future plans make up such a big part of our life and conversation, we need to be able to talk about them in whatever language we are learning. In Spanish, we can use a couple of different tenses to talk about the future. If you have not already, check out our first two blogs on the future tenses: futuro simple + futuro próximo.
With this blog, we are going to go over a tense that is technically not a future tense but is commonly used as such.
The Simple Present
Yes, you read that correctly. We often use the simple present to talk about future plans! Before we get into when and how we use it, I want to go over the basics of conjugating verbs in the present simple just to refresh your memory. Please note that there is a lot more to talk about regarding the present simple (like stem-changing verbs and irregulars), but that’s for another blog.
I hope that all looks familiar! Now comes the big question – how do we use this to talk about the future?
How do we use it?
There is one big idea that encompasses the uses of the simple present in the future: set plans.
If you remember from our other blogs about the future tenses, none of them were used for set plans. The futuro próximo is used for plans in the making and intentions, but not for things set in stone. The futuro simple is also used for intentions, but still not for set plans.
Whenever we have a plan completely established, we can use the present simple. Think of it this way. If you got accepted to college for the coming fall and you finally have everything packed, all the paperwork is done, and financial aid is set up, you would say it was certain you were going. Of course, things happen that can’t be foreseen. However, based on what we know and what we can plan, everything is set for you to go to college. How would you express your plans for the fall?
I will go to college in a couple of months.
I’m going to college in a couple of months.
More than likely, you would use the second sentence as it expresses much more certainty. Wait, though. That’s the present continuous, not the present simple!
If you remember from our last future blog, the uses of the present simple and present continuous in English and Spanish are not as similar as you may think. We often use the present simple in Spanish when we would use the present continuous in English.
The present continuous in Spanish is used for things happening in this exact moment, while the English present continuous extends to plans we have in the future.
We’re going to Colombia in January.
Vamos a Colombia en enero.
I’m going to college in the fall.
Voy a la universidad en el otoño.
Can you see how these are set plans in the future? We often express this idea in English with the present continuous, but in Spanish it would be the present simple.
Some set plans are not always represented with the present continuous in English, however.
I’ll see you tomorrow.
Te miro mañana.
This is a very common statement, and this was actually my first introduction to this idea of using the presente simple for future plans. I often use the futuro simple to express set future plans, but I was translating directly from English and it was incorrect. I would say things like:
Te miraré mañana.
While this is definitely understandable, it does not accurately convey what I meant. This sentence is saying that it is my intention to see you tomorrow, not a set plan. To express a set plan, we need to use the presente simple – Te miro mañana.
There is yet another way to translate the presente simple into English.
Ella se casa el 17 de diciembre.
She gets married on December 17th.
Woah! We’re using the simple present in both English and Spanish! Sometimes it makes sense to use the simple present in English for things in the future. Here, we are looking at an event completely set in stone – the venue is booked, the caterer hired, the dress bought. Everything is set up and she is definitely getting married.
Using the presente simple to express things in the future is pretty straightforward in Spanish: use it to talk about set plans. However, the tricky part comes in when you are trying to talk about a set plan that would be talked about using a different tense in English. Something that will help you overcome this translation hurdle is to stop translating! Yes, you read that right. Stop thinking of the sentence in English first and translating it to Spanish. You are more likely to make mistakes trying to literally translate.
Yes, yes, I know. This is a lot easier said than done. I’ve been there, and I can tell you from experience that when you embrace the idea of not trying to translate everything and understand word-by-word what things mean, your understanding of the Spanish language will deepen and your conversational skills will flourish.
This requires a large learning curve, though, and a lot of patience. The first step can be practicing using the presente simple for future things! Remember that in Spanish, we use it to talk about set plans in the future. Don’t think about how sometimes it’s translated to English with the present continuous, sometimes with the present simple, and sometimes with the future simple. Embrace it for what it is in Spanish alone!
To help you in this process, try a FREE trial class with one of our native Spanish-speaking teachers. Practice your future tenses with them and have trial conversations! ¡Aprende más!Read More
Alright, guys. This one is for all you grammar nerds and advanced Spanish learners. If you are just starting to learn Spanish, I would not recommend this blog. You can learn more about simple reflexive verbs here. Even if you are an intermediate learner, there still may be some advanced topics discussed in this blog. However, the general topics are good to keep in mind!
Get out your Spanish notebook, your favorite pens, and a cup of tea or coffee and settle in! We’ve got a lot of grammar to cover.
What in the World are Pronominal Verbs?
I’m sure you’ve heard of reflexive verbs in Spanish, right? Cepillarse, bañarse, vestirse. Well, reflexive verbs are actually also pronominal verbs. Let’s see why.
If you look at the word ‘pronominal,’ can you take a guess at what it means? ‘Pronominal’ has the same root as the word ‘pronoun,’ or pronombre in Spanish. Now, how can verbs also be pronouns? Well, this word isn’t saying that the verbs are actually pronouns, but that they use pronouns.
The definition of pronominal verbs according to the Real Academia Española is:
[un] verbo que se construye en todas sus formas con pronombres reflexivos átonos que no desempeñan ninguna función sintáctica y que concuerdan con el sujeto”
Translated, this says:
“A verb that is constructed in all of its forms with non-accented reflexive pronouns that don’t hold any syntactic function and that agree with the subject.”
Let’s break this down.
- ‘Constructed in all its forms’ refers to the conjugations for each personal pronoun. In other words, when pronominal verbs are conjugated, they use a pronoun in the conjugations for each person (subject pronoun), not just certain ones.
- ‘Non-accented reflexive pronouns’ are just the specific pronouns for pronominal verbs (see the chart below). Some pronouns do have accents in Spanish, like mí and él, but pronominal verbs use only pronouns that are not stressed or accented.
- ‘That don’t hold any syntactic function’ basically means that these reflexive pronouns do not change the structure of a sentence.
- ‘And that agree with the subject’ means that each reflexive pronoun must be in concordance with the subject. Just like you need to conjugate the verb to agree with the subject, you must use the correct pronoun that matches the subject of your sentence.
Let’s summarize this. Pronominal verbs always come with a reflexive pronoun, and both agree with the subject when conjugated.
One easy way to spot pronominal verbs is in their infinitive forms. Remember, infinitive verbs are ones that end in -AR, -ER, or -IR. If a verb is pronominal, it will have an -se after those infinitive forms. For example, if you remember the pronominal verbs we looked at previously, they all end in -se. Cepillarse, bañarse, vestirse. The ‘-se’ is actually a reflexive pronoun that we stick to the end! When the verbs are conjugated, this ‘se’ can stay as ‘se’ or will change to one of the other reflexive pronouns listed in the chart above. The pronoun also does not always stay joined with the verb; the placement in the sentence can vary greatly, and you can find out more about that here.
Types of Pronominal Verbs
Now, most Spanish students (including me) don’t ever hear about these pronominal verbs. Reflexive verbs are taught pretty early on, and I actually thought all verbs with a ‘se’ at the end were reflexive verbs.
In terms of form and pronoun use, you can think of reflexive and pronominal verbs as one and the same. Differentiating between will not affect how they are conjugated or how the reflexive pronoun is used.
Knowing the types of pronominal verbs will help you more deeply understand the meanings of some verbs and the ideas that are being expressed.
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Various websites will tell you different things about how many different types of pronominal verbs there are. For this blog, we will break them into six groups:
- Reflexive pronominal verbs
- Reciprocal pronominal verbs
- Idiomatic pronominal verbs
- Psuedo-reflexive pronominal verbs
- Occasional pronominal verbs
- Pure pronominal verbs
1. Reflexive Pronominal Verbs
If you look up the definition of reflexive verbs in the Real Academia Española, you will find a link redirecting you to the pronominal verbs. This probably explains why most Spanish learners think that pronominal verbs and reflexive verbs are the same. They are not, though.
All reflexive verbs are also pronominal verbs.
All pronominal verbs are not also reflexive verbs.
Basically, reflexive verbs are a subcategory of pronominal verbs. You can probably tell from its name that reflexive verbs express an action done by the subject to the subject. The subject is reflecting the action back on themselves. The most common reflexive verbs are the ones that we use when we get ready in the mornings:
Yo me levanto.
I get up
Tú te cepillas los dientes.
You brush your teeth.
Ella se baña.
She takes a bath.
While these verbs are reflexive in Spanish, they are not translated reflexively in English. Remember that we express reflexive actions in English with the following pronouns: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, themselves. Even though they are not technically reflexive actions in English, in Spanish they are considered as such because the action is being done to the subject by the subject.
2. Reciprocal Pronominal Verb
Reciprocal verbs are those that show a reciprocated action, or one that people do to each other. Since an action can be reciprocated with just one person, that means that reciprocal verbs cannot be used with any of the singular subject pronouns yo, tú, usted, ella, and él. That just leaves nosotros, nosotras, ellos, and ellas. Let’s look at an example to make this clearer.
¡Nos vemos mañana!
See you tomorrow! (literal: we will see each other tomorrow)
Ellos se hablan mucho.
They talk to each other a lot.
Ellas se abrazaron antes de despedirse.
They hugged each other before saying goodbye.
You can see that in English we can represent this reciprocal idea with the phrase ‘each other,’ while Spanish uses pronominal verbs!
3. Idiomatic Pronominal Verbs
These reflexive verbs have caused me a lot of grief over the past couple of years. I would hear them used and understand the sentence but have no idea why they were using reflexive verbs. Turns out, of course, that they weren’t using reflexive verbs, but pronominal verbs. While these phrases aren’t necessarily classified as idioms, they do lay outside the other groups of pronominal verbs. Let’s see why.
Cómete todas las verduras.
Eat all the vegetables.
You are probably thinking, just as I did for years, why in the world does comer have a reflexive pronoun! Well, it is added for emphasis. You can say either Come todas las verduras or cómete todas las verduras, and the idea would be the same – Eat all your veggies! However, the added reflexive pronoun puts emphasis on you actually eating them.
Another example of idiomatic pronominal verbs would be the following:
I hear this one all the time in reference to my son. Everyone comments on how cute he is and tells me to take care of him. This would translate to, “Take care of him for me.” The ‘for me’ is communicated with the reflexive pronoun ‘me’ added onto the verb. Watch out for this tricky ‘me!’ If you ever hear it in conversation (and you definitely will because it’s quite common), don’t get confused. Just remember that the person is making their statement more personal, asking you to do something for them.
4. Psuedo-Reflexive Pronominal Verbs
This group of verbs looks and acts like reflexive verbs but aren’t actually – they’re just pronominal verbs! Remember, reflexive verbs only refer to those pronominal verbs that express the subject doing and action to themselves.
These pseudo-reflexive verbs do not actually represent actions, but feelings! This makes them pseudo-reflexive verbs, since they look and act like reflexive verbs, but do not include an action done on the subject, taking away their ‘reflexive’ status.
Me siento muy contenta por tenerte aquí.
I feel so happy to have you here.
Ella se emocionó al ver el perro.
She got excited when she saw the dog.
Can you see how they might be deceiving? You can even call theses emotional pronominal verbs to remind you that they are not reflexive verbs!
Let’s look at one last example.
Me aburrí tanto en la clase de física.
I got so bored in physics class.
This is talking about a feeling – boredom – so it can be classified as a pseudo-reflexive pronominal verb. However, there is more to it than that…
5. Occasional Pronominal Verbs
These pronominal verbs are not just verbs that can or cannot take reflexive pronouns; they are verbs that actually change meaning when they have a reflexive pronoun. You can find more of these here, but let’s look at just a few.
We just said that aburrirse was a pseudo-reflexive verb, but it is also an occasional pronominal verb! Yes, these verbs can be classified as different types of verbs depending on the situation. (Don’t panic – we will touch on this later.) So, aburrir (without the reflexive pronoun) means ‘to bore someone,’ while aburrirse (with the reflexive pronoun) means to get bored. While the general idea is the same, there is a clear distinction between the two verbs. Here are a couple more examples:
Fijar – to set
Fijarse – to notice
Probar – to taste
Probarse – to try on
Now, those changes in meaning are quite drastic! Be very careful with these occasional pronominal verbs because you could be saying something you don’t mean to say!
6. Pure Pronominal Verbs
After looking at all these examples, you may be wondering if some verbs are always pronominal verbs or just sometimes. Let’s take ver, for example. We had the sentence ¡Nos vemos pronto! classified as a reciprocal pronominal verb, but it doesn’t always need a reflexive pronoun!
Estamos viendo una película. (not pronominal)
¡Nos vemos pronto! (pronominal – reciprocal)
Ellos comieron cinco pizzas. (not pronominal)
Cómete todas las verduras. (pronominal – idiomatic)
Él levantó la mesa. (not pronominal)
Yo me levanto. (pronominal – reflexive)
See how all the verbs we’ve looked at so far don’t HAVE to have a reflexive pronoun? That means that they are not pure pronominal verbs. Their status as pronominal verbs depends on the situation and the ideas being expressed in each sentence. There are actually very few pure pronominal verbs, or verbs that MUST always be accompanied by a reflexive pronoun. You can find a full chart here, but we’ll explore a few now.
Antojarse: to get a desire for something
Se me antoja un cafecito caliente.
Suicidarse: to commit suicide
Lastimosamente, él se suicidó anohce.
Arrepentirse: to regret
Ya nos arrepentimos de nuestra decisión.
These verbs that are pure pronominal verbs cannot be used without a reflexive pronoun – ever. Thankfully, there aren’t very many of them, so you don’t have to memorize too many verbs. Plus, several of them are not very common in everyday conversations.
Now, before you go classifying every verb a pronominal verb, there are some things to remember.
- Most verbs can be either pronominal or not, depending on the situation.
- Verbs can be classified as different types of pronominal verbs depending on the sentence.
- All reflexive verbs are pronominal verbs.
- Not all pronominal verbs are reflexive verbs.
- Pronominal verbs are those that are accompanied by a reflexive pronoun.
Read that last sentence very closely. Only reflexive pronouns make a verb pronominal. Direct object pronouns and indirect object pronouns do NOT make a verb pronominal. This can be a bit confusing because a lot of the pronouns are the same!
Can you see how many of the pronouns are the same? How do you kno w when a pronoun is reflexive and therefore makes the verb pronominal? Well, ‘se’ is usually a giveaway since it is never an indirect object or direct object pronoun. Another way to know is if the pronoun matches the subject. Check these out:
Te llamo después de mi clase. (not pronominal)
Me llamo Rogelio. (pronominal – idiomatic)
Ella nos habló sobre matemáticas. (not pronominal)
Nos hablamos cada noche. (pronominal – reciprocal)
Me preocupó mucho su ausencia. (not pronominal)
¡No te preocupes! (pronominal – psuedo-reflexive)
Are you starting to see the difference? Don’t worry; it takes practice, but you’ll get it soon. Another sign to look out for is the passive voice, which uses the pronoun ‘se’ a lot. The passive voice may look like a pronominal verb, but it is not!
¿Dónde se venden carros?
Where are cars sold?
¿Cómo se dice…?
How do you say…
No se puede.
It can’t be done.
Phew! That’s a lot of information. I hope you are not too confused, but if you have follow-up questions, you can talk with one of our live, native Spanish-speaking teachers! Sign up for a FREE class today to keep practicing with the different types of verbs! ¡Tú puedes!Read More
What are you going to do this weekend? Will you get your homework done on time? Are you planning to study more?
What do all of those sentences have in common? Yup, you guessed it! They all talk about things happening in the future – whether they are certain or not. Every day, we talk about our future plans, intentions, and assumptions. However, I bet you don’t pay much attention to what grammatical tense you use to talk about said plans, right?
Well, when learning another language, you may find that you do begin to think about which tense you use for every little situation. This is completely normal! There will come a time when you don’t need to think about tenses as much, but there’s no need to rush yourself.
Now, to talk about future plans in Spanish, there are a couple of different tenses that we need to go over. For this blog, we will only be talking about one tense. Click through the links to find more about other future forms in Spanish! You may feel overwhelmed at first, but with practice, you’ll master the Spanish future tenses in no time!
What is it?
When you think about the future tense, what do you think of? If you’re like me, you think of the word ‘will.’
I will do that tomorrow.
He will not come to the party.
The Spanish equivalent of this tense is called the futuro simple. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as adding the word ‘will’ before the verb. Let’s look at the conjugations first, then talk about some common patterns!
What do you know – the futuro simple may actually be simple after all! Did you notice how all types of verbs, -AR, -ER, and -IR, use the same endings? That’s super helpful.
There are two main things you need to look out for, though. Normally, when we conjugate verbs in Spanish, we take off the -AR, -ER, and -IR (infinitive) endings before adding the new endings specific to each tense. However, with the futuro simple, we leave those infinitive endings and add additional endings onto the end of the verb! The second important point is to watch out for the accent marks. Every form of the futuro simple EXCEPT the nosotros form has an accent on the ending.
Of course, like all Spanish tenses, there are irregular verbs. I will break them down for you into three different groups, though, so you can see the patterns.
Alright. We have 12 irregular verbs here, and most of them fall into one of two categories – either taking out the last vowel or replacing it with a ‘d’ before adding the futuro simple endings. Now, it’s just up to you to memorize which verb falls into which category! A lot of the common irregular verbs, like ir and ser are actually regular verbs in the futuro simple! Easy, right?
When do we use it?
Now that we’ve mastered the conjugation of the futuro simple, we need to make sure we can use it in the right situations.
Lo haré mañana. I will do it tomorrow.
In this situation, we use the future simple in both English and Spanish. We are talking about an intention to do something. Is it certain? Not necessarily, but the intent is there, so we use the futuro simple.
Ya estará en camino mi esposo. My husband is probably on his way.
Here, you can see that in Spanish we use the futuro simple, while in English, we use the present simple. Whenever you are assuming something without knowing if it is true or not, you use the futuro simple in Spanish. This sentence is an example of an assumption in the present tense, but this rule also applies to future assumptions.
Hazlo ahora. No tendrás tiempo el fin de semana. Do it now. You won’t have time this weekend.
Interestingly enough, for future assumptions like this one, you use the future simple in both English and Spanish!
Ya es muy tarde. Debo irme. Mi mama estará preocupada. It’s late. I have to go. My mom is probably worried.
Here we can see someone talking about the possibility that their mom is worried. While we could possibly translate this to English as “My mom will be worried,” the reality is that the mom is probably worried now because it is late. Either way, we use the futuro simple in Spanish to represent the possibility that she is worried.
¿Cuánto costará ese carro? I wonder how much that car costs.
This sentence also represents a possibility, but it looks a little different. In Spanish, we don’t have a word for ‘wonder,’ so we often use the futuro simple to express the uncertainty and possibility of the situation. Interesting, right?
Alright! That was a lot of information about the futuro simple. If you would like to learn more about this tense, check out our video below! Don’t forget to download practice exercises to make sure you can use the futuro simple on your own. You’ll find the answer key at the end!
As always, if you have any questions or want one-on-one help, schedule a FREE class with one of our amazing native Spanish-speaking teachers! They would love to help you with your language learning journey. ¡Hasta luego!Read More
Television often gets a bad rap in the realm of childhood development, but did you know that it can actually provide some benefit for your child learning a foreign language? For Spanish language learners, the regular (if not daily!) auditory experience of the target language is recommended in order to have the strongest impact. Television – in the right context – can help us achieve listening goals in Spanish and improve fluency. Additionally, by exploring what educational television has to offer, we can find what inspires and ignites in our child the curiosity to learn more! Let’s take a look at a few of the best educational TV shows in Spanish for kids. ¡Miremos tele!
- El Show de Perico (3-12 years)
This funny children’s show originates from Colombia. It mimics the style of a talk show, using its host, Perico, to interview a guest in each episode. Accompanying Perico are his friends, an egg who is afraid to crack his shell and an easily-offended tapir named Amanda. Together they discuss many topics, ranging from emotional awareness to the environment, as well as giving instruction on phonetics and spelling. At the beginning of each episode, the guest generally presents a problem to the young viewers. Perico and his friends try to find a solution throughout the course of the episode. You can find plenty of episodes for this show on YouTube.
- Migrópolis (3-9 years)
A moving mini-series based on real-life interviews; this show aims to educate even its smallest viewers on what it’s like to be an immigrant child living in another country. The scenes are animated with animal characters using the recorded children’s voices who talk candidly about their feelings toward moving to such a drastically different place. The program takes us all over the world to meet Spanish-speaking children whose stories will fill you with joy, curiosity, and sometimes even a bit of sadness. The colorful cartoon will keep the youngest viewers super engaged while the somewhat older children (5+ years) will be inspired by what they hear. Complete episodes of the first season are on YouTube.
- Érase una vez: el cuerpo humano (6-12 years)
“Once Upon a Time: The Human Body” is a series of Spanish animated television programs that tell colorful stories about the human body and how it works. Fun and unique characters describe detailed biological functions in simple terms and analogies that children can understand. All of the body parts and functions explored in the series appear as a real person. For example, the brain is a bearded old man whose name is Maestro (Master), neurotransmitters are little blue delivery guys who are always in a hurry, and any pathogens (bacteria and viruses) act as big and little bullies. It’s an excellent way to introduce the concept of a “society within the body” and to learn biology in Spanish! You can watch full episodes on YouTube.
Bilingual Educational TV Shows
In addition to these authentic Spanish shows, you can also include the English cartoons that your child knows and loves. If you use Netflix, Amazon Prime, or any other media-service provider, you can switch the language to Spanish and let your young one watch all of their favorite episodes. If you are looking for new material, try one of these educational programs:
- Creative Galaxy
- Peg + Cat
- Doc McStuffins
- Sid the Science Kid
Favorable Screen Time
Not all screen time is bad! With this list of educational TV programs in Spanish, you are equipped to help your child gain more experience listening to native speakers in interesting situations. If you’d like to give your child the gift of an interactive lesson with a native speaker, sign up for a free online class at Homeschool Spanish Academy. Your child will be speaking Spanish in the first class. What’s more, they will have someone to ask about the fun new shows they’re watching in Spanish!Read More
On Part 1 of the Spanish subjuntivo series, we’ve learned what the subjuntivo is all about! The Spanish subjunctive allows us to express ideas, thoughts, desires, possibilities, and doubts.
Always keep in mind that the subjunctive is not a tense, the subjunctive is a mood! This means that it can be found in different tenses! Today, we’ll explore the conjugation of the subjunctive in the present tense!
Subjuntivo Conjugation in Present Tense
The conjugation of regular verbs in the subjunctive mood is really simple! Have a look at the table below, and take a note of your observations!
These are some rules that will help you learn the conjugation of verbs in the subjunctive even faster:
- The conjugation of -er and -ir verbs use the same endings:
-a, -as, -a, -amos, -an, -an
- In the case of -ar endings, we use the same stem in the present subjunctive as in the present indicative, and replace the ‘a’ with an ‘e’ – yo is an exception to this as we replace ‘o’ with an ‘e’
- In the case of -er and -ir endings, we use the same stem in the present subjunctive as in the present indicative, and replace the ‘e’ with an ‘a’ – yo is an exception to this as we replace ‘o’ with an ‘a’
As we already know, the conjugation of Spanish verbs is plagued with exceptions. In order to make it a little easier for you to learn them, we’ve separated them into groups!
As you can see from the examples above, even irregular verbs seem to follow a pattern! I told you when we started looking at the subjuntivo that there was nothing to fear, and as we disentangle all the little details of this verb form, it starts to make even more sense!
Conjugate the verbs in parenthesis! Remember that in Spanish, you don’t need to use personal pronouns like you do in English, so use the English translations to make sure you conjugate the verb in the correct form!
Yo quiero que _____ (venir) mañana.
I want you to come tomorrow.
Tú no crees que _____ (tener) suficiente tiempo.
You don’t believe we have enough time.
Ella busca una blusa que _____ (tener) rayas.
She’s looking for a shirt that has stripes.
Nosotros no pensamos que eso ______ (ser) cierto.
We don’t think it is true.
Ustedes dudan que _____ (llegar) a tiempo.
You all doubt he will be here on time.
Ellos necesitan que _____ (escribir) una carta.
They need you to write a letter.
Practice makes perfect! Book a free class with us and so that we can practice together everything we learned on the 1st Part of the subjuntivo series (when to use the subjuntivo), and combine it with what we’ve learned today (conjugation in the present tense)!