Saturday, October 30, 2010

Some Common -ar Verbs(Regular)

The following is a list of common -ar verbs that you can practice conjugating. They are regularly conjugated, so they will follow the same pattern as verbs like hablar and pagar:

to advise
to save
to rent
to turn off
to arrange
to help
to dance
to look for
to walk
to cook
to answer
to let, leave
to enter
to hand in
to listen to
to wait for
to study
to sign
to speak
to call
to carry, wear
to drive
to need
to pay for
to spend time, to pass
to practice
to prepare
to take out
to finish
to play an instrument, to touch
to take, to drink
to work

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Verb Ir and its Uses

The verb ir(to go) is a highly irregular verb, but it is conjugated like a regular -ar verb. It is possibly one of the most common verbs in the Spanish language. The yo form ends quite odd as well; it ends with an -oy ending.

Here is the conjugation for the verb ir:

to go
yo voy
nosotros vamos
tú vas
vosotros vais
él, ella, Ud. va
ellos, ellas, Uds. van

The verb phrase formula ir + a + infinitive is used to denote an action that will take place in the future, and is the English equivalent of to be going to. For example, check out the following sentences:

Daniel va a ver a su abuela en Nueva Jersey. Daniel is going to see his grandma in New Jersey.

Nosotros vamos a escribir un ensayo. We are going to write an essay.

Yo voy a poner mi mochila en la esquina. I'm going to put my backpack in the corner.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Common Irregular Verbs- The "(G)" Change

In the yo form of several verbs, there is a "g" that is inserted in the suffix of the conjugation.

The following verbs have an irregular "g" in the yo form:

yo caigo*, I fall
yo hago, I make
yo pongo, I put
yo salgo, I leave
yo traigo*, I bring
yo valgo, I am worth

*The verbs caer, traer and verbs similar to them such as extraer(to extract) have an additional "i" before the g is placed.

These verbs are regular for the rest of the conjugation. Verbs that share these base roots exhibit the same conjugation pattern: componer(to compose), imponer(to impose), and deshacer(to undo) are just some examples.

There is yet another group of quite common "g"-changing verbs that also have further stem changes:

to say, to tell
yo digo
nosotros decimos
tú dices
vosotros decís
Ud. dice
ellos dicen

to have
yo tengo
nosotros tenemos
tú tienes
vosotros tenéis
Ud. tiene
ellos tienen

to come
yo vengo
nosotros venimos
tú vienes
vosotros venís
Ud. viene
ellos vienen

The verb ir(to go), is conjugated very irregularly:

to go
yo voy
nosotros vamos
tú vas
vosotros vais
Ud. va
ellos van

The verb ir is used to express the action of going, or to start an expression that is equivalent to is going to in English:

Marcos va a trabajar en esa tienda. Marcos is going to work at that store.

Ellos van a venir a nuestra fiesta. They are going to come to our party.

Yo voy a llevar unas cervezas. I am going to bring some beer.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Uses of the Present Tense

The present tense is the first tense anybody really learns in practically any language. This is because it is naturally the entry point for trying to communicate in another language, since we're more likely to be talking about what is happening at that very moment than rather what happened months ago, or something that might happen in the future.

The present tense of a Spanish verb can describe the general action of the verb, such as

Juan enseña el inglés los fines de semana. Juan teaches English on the weekends.

or it can even depict what is occurring at the very moment:

Mi madre hornea un pastel. My mom is baking a cake.

If used with a specific time in the future, the present tense can be used to depict some action that will occur:

Los pasajeros llegan en treinta minutos. The passengers will arrive in thirty minutes.

The present tense is also used to offer a question:

¿Me llevas la cuenta? Will you bring me the bill?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Demonstrative Adjectives and their Pronouns

There are three demonstrative adjectives in Spanish: este (this), ese (that), and aquel (that over there). Each exhibits four forms to encompass the noun's gender as well as whether or not it is singular or plural. This shouldn't be a surprise to learners of Spanish; most every adjective will be modified to fit the corresponding noun.

Este contains the following forms:


Este pupitre está sucio. Límpiamelo, por favor. This desk is filthy. Clean it for me, please.

Esta taza de café está tan caliente. This cup of coffee is too hot.

Estos libros son antiguos. These books are old.

Estas tiendas contienen de una variedad de verduras. These stores contain a variety of produce.

The demonstrative ese refers to "that", usually near the person you are talking to. It carries with it a sense of tangibility or physicality.


Me gusta ese suéter que llevas. ¿Donde lo compraste? I like that sweater you're wearing. Where did you buy it?

¿Me dejarías ver esas fotos? Would you let me see those photos?

Aquel is meant to point out an object that is removed from both the speaker and the listener; it is also the demonstrative for metaphysical or non-tangible objects or ideas.


Aquel amor que se sintía de ella era profundo. That love he felt for her was profound.

¿Te acuerdas de aquellas casas que vimos en Beverly Hills? Eran grandes y maravillosas. Do you remember those houses that we saw in Beverly Hills? They were big and marvelous.

Without exception, demonstrative adjectives can also act as pronouns by simply dropping the noun associated with it. Careful; this can only occur when the noun is understood or clarified. An accent (sometimes omitted) is placed on the second-to-last syllable to emphasize the sounding of the demonstrative pronoun:

¿Qué camisa te gusta...ésta o ésa? Which tee shirt do you like...this one or that one?

Me encantan las verduras naturales. No me gustan éstas porque están heladas. I like fresh vegetables. I don't like these because they are frozen.

There are also three demonstratives that are considered neutral: esto, eso and aquello. These usually point out an abstract notion or non-physical noun, such as an idea or concept:

Esto es tan malo. ¿Qué vamos a hacer? This is really bad. What are we going to do?

Eso me molesta increíblemente. That bothers me incredibly.

¿Te acuerdas del viaje que hicimos a Europa? Aquello ocurrió hace muchos años. Do you remember the trip that we did to Europe? That happened along time ago.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Negative Commands

A little more difficult it is to form a negative command. You'll notice that the negative command is the same as the present tense subjunctive form of the second person.

No toques el oso. Don't touch the bear.

No pongas los codos sobre la mesa. Don't put elbows on the table.

No hables tan rápido. Don't talk so fast.

If you must place a pronoun anywhere, unlike its affirmative command cousin you mustn't affix the pronoun to the end of the command verb. Instead it precedes it:

No te pongas ese sombrero. Don't put on that hat.

No me des esas miradas. Don't give me those glances!

No lo abras hasta la Navidad. Don't open it until Christmas.

Double object pronouns follow the same hierarchical rule, whereas the indirect object pronouns come before the direct object pronouns:

¡Mentiras! No me las digas... Lies! Don't tell them to me.

No se los presentes a tus padres todavía. Espera un rato. Don't present them to your parents just yet. Wait for awhile.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Students! Por Favor, Lean (Read)

Just wanted to give you all a brief on what I find happens a lot in our lessons. I notice a lot of you tend to ask me questions regarding other topics when I am in the middle of a thought or making a grammar point, that our discussion kind of tangents off into some other inter-planetary extreme. Now, while I champion you all getting excited in the lessons, and getting so enthralled to be learning the great language of Spanish, it kind of makes it difficult for me to get back to the lesson plan. I really do customize a lot of our lessons and tailor them to your individual needs, so I would really like to stay focused on the the main lesson point. Now , you figure that we will only be dedicating 45 minutes to grammar, so that leaves 15 minutes for you to ask questions. We'll call it the Ask Anything...uh, 15 minutes.

Also, the homework. Our foe. Yes, you need to do the assignment and present it for the next lesson. If I don't specifically assign a page or exercise in the book, then at the very least READ about the grammar point covered that day. If you haven't done so, and you are committed to learning, go and buy the Spanish textbook offered. I assure you, it is the only supplement worth having for a semi-fast learning approach. It's only like 15 bucks after delivery, or you can buy it for the same price at a Bookstore. The title is The Ultimate Spanish Review and Practice by Gordon and Stillman. I form pretty much my entire curriculum around that book.

Last thing: payment. I do appreciate your business, surely I do. But when your lessons are expired and you want to renew your purchase, make sure it is done before the next round of lessons begin. We need to make sure we keep things on an even keel here, and that the bookkeeping works in nobody's favor extraordinarily.

Thanks for bearing with me, y sigan estudiando..


Some Administrative Stuff

Hope everybody is well. I thought I would every now again try to communicate important goings-on on our Spanish blog here, rather than relay them to you via email individually.

The main thing I wanted to mention is that due to the ever-burgeoning Spam requests on Skype, if you request me as a Contact, your Request will only be good for 1 Hour. So, if you are interested, please include the following: Your name, where you live or your GMT Time Zone, and the best time to contact you. It will be within one hour that I contact you and accept your request.

Thanks, y ¡muchas gracias!


Friday, October 15, 2010

Noun Gender and their Articles

Spanish nouns are unlike their English counterparts in that they are inherently associated with a certain gender. English nouns are all neutral. Spanish nouns are either masculine or feminine. This doesn't necessarily mean the noun exhibits either of these qualities; but rather, these nouns are linked with certain articles.

The Spanish articles, much like English, are either indefinite or definite. The indefinite articles are either un, una, unos, or unas and are the English equivalents of "a", "an", or "some". Notice that there are four forms in Spanish, and they are respectively associated with nouns that are singular-masculine, singular-feminine, plural-masculine, or plural-feminine. Look at the following examples:

un dependiente
a store clerk
una manzana
an apple
unos libros
some books
unas bufundas
some scarves

On the other hand, the definite article only has one English use, namely "the". Again, there are four forms to match the possible gender and number combination of the given noun. They are el, la, los, and las. Here are some more examples:

el mostrador
the counter
la taza de café
the coffee cup
los relojes
the watches
las lámparas
the lamps

Although it will take awhile for you to solidify your understanding of noun gender in the Spanish language, you will start seeing patterns take shape, and it will allow you to use pronouns with more efficiency as you advance in your knowledge acquisition of the Spanish language.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Vocabulario - La Ropa (Clothes and Clothing)

Below is a vocabulary list of very common articles of clothing in their Spanish equivalents. Remember to not only learn the word for the article of clothing, but also the definite article of the word, as that will be useful when referring to these objects in their pronoun forms.

el abrigo
coat, overcoat
la blusa
las botas
la bufunda
los calcetines, las medias
socks, stockings
la camisa
la camiseta
tee shirt
el cinturón
la corbata
la chaqueta
el gorro
los guantes
el impermeable
los jeans, los bluejeans
blue jeans, Levi's
los pantalones
los pantalones cortos
el saco
las sandalias
el sombrero
el suéter
el traje
el traje de baño
bathing suit
el vestido
los zapatos
los zapatos de tacón alto
high heeled shoes
los zapatos de tenis
tennis shoes

A great way to practice this vocabulary is by using the reflexive verb ponerse, which when used in conjunction with an article of clothing means "to put on oneself". Observe the following examples:

Me pongo los zapatos. I'm putting on my shoes.

Pónte el traje de baño antes de nadar en la piscina. Put on your swimsuit before swimming in the pool.

Mamá quiere que nos pongamos la chaqueta porque hace mucho frío afuera. Mom wants us to put on our jackets because it is very cold outside.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Saber v. Conocer

Both the verbs saber and conocer mean to know, but they are not interchangeable in the Spanish language.

Saber is used to mean to know information, facts, or how to do something. It is conjugated as follows, and is pretty regular with the exception of the first person singular (the yo form):

to know
nosotros sabemos
vosotros sabéis
él, ella, Ud. sabe
ellos, ellas, Uds. saben

¿Sabes que España ganó la Copa Mundial? Do you know that Spain won the World Cup?

Muriel sabe que la leche viene de las vacas. Muriel knows that milk comes from cows.

tocar la guitarra muy bien. I know how to play the guitar very well.

In the preterit, saber means to find out:

Mis padres supieron que ya nos casamos. My parents found out that we already got married.

The verb conocer means to know as in a person, place, or thing. It takes on the significance of "being familiar" with someone or something. The conjugation is regular with the exception of the yo form.

to know
yo conozco
nosotros conocemos
vosotros conocéis
él, ella, Ud. conoce
ellos, ellas, Uds. conocen

A lot of times, the verb conocer is accompanied by a personal "a":

Miguel conoce a Adriana. Miguel knows Adriana.

Nosotros conocemos la ciudad de Bogotá muy bien. We know(are familiar with) the city of Bogotá very well.

Like saber, the verb conocer means something a little different in the preterit tense. It signifies "to meet":

Yo conocí a Maribel el año pasado. I met Maribel last year.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Double Object Pronouns

You can actually place a direct object pronoun with an indirect object pronoun in the same sentence. The indirect object pronoun comes before the direct object pronoun, and as you recall, means "to or for someone or something" and are translated into the Spanish pronouns le or les.

Necesito el libro que lees. ¿Me lo prestas? I need the book that you're reading. Will you loan it to me?

Te lo presto mañana. Me lo necesito a mi hoy. I will loan it to you tomorrow. I need it for myself today.

If the indirect object is in the third person ("to/for him", "to/for her", or "to/for them"), then the pronoun becomes converted to se.

Tengo en la mano unos chicharrones para mi perro. Se los voy a dar luego. I have in my hand some pork rinds for my dog. I will give them to him later.

When there is a reflexive verb, whatver direct object is associated with the reflexive action can turn into a pronoun as well, as long as it is understood. For example, we know ponerse + article of clothing means to put on said article of clothing; however, we can convert the noun(article of clothing) into a pronoun as long as the listener and speaker are in accordance with the meaning:

¿Los zapatos? Ya me los puse. The shoes? I already put them on.

¿You know where the Bob Marley tee shirt is? David put it on and left for Jamaica. ¿Sabes en donde está la camiseta de Bob Marley? David se la puso y se fue para Jamaica.

Sometimes, you'll need to clarify the meaning of the sentence when there is a "se" replacing the "le" or "les" to lessen confusion over the sentence and avoid ambiguity. This can be done with the introduction of a prepositional phrase including the agent "a", as in a mi, a mi madre, and so on.

¿Las zapatos? Yo se las puse a mi hija. A ella no se las pone porque se equivoca los pies. The shoes? I put them on my daughter. She doesn't put them on herself because she gets them on the wrong feet.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

La Pronunciación - Fun with Phonetics

It's great if you are really getting the handle on grammar; your confidence in learning Spanish is soaring. But guess what? If you don't know how to pronounce some words you are going to get some really impatient Spanish-speakers out there, listening to you slurring slovenly in Spanish.

Basically, the default rule when sounding out a word is to stress what's called the penultimate syllable. This means second-to-last syllable for the layperson. Let's look at the following examples. I've included some approximate phonetic representations of the words. Also, the stressed syllable is in ALL CAPS:

Spanish Word
Approximate Phonetic Representation

You'll notice that in each word above, the second-to-last syllable is pronounced with a more stressful tone. Hence, the penultimate syllable.

Now, there are exceptions to practically every rule in Spanish, and phonetic ones are no different. The LAST syllable is stressed when the word ends in a hard consonant, such as d, t, r, or z. The ones ending in r should be no surprise to you, since every infinitive verb ends in an r, and you've been stressing the last syllable there. Observe:

Spanish Word
Approximate Phonetic Representation
tolerar (v.,to tolerate)

Still other words incorporate the diacritical(accent) mark to override the previous 2 rules. In these cases, the accent is either part of the word itself, or is necessary to be added when another syllable is added to the end of the word, which usually happens when pluralizing. For example, joven doesn't contain an accent, but when another syllable is added to it, the stress of the singular word follows the modification. Therefore, el joven(sing.) becomes los jóvenes. Here are some other words that contain accent marks:

Spanish Word
Approximate Phonetic Representation

Reversing the example dealing with joven--->jóvenes, we also see that when we pluralize canción, we can drop the accent this time because the stress will be placed on the penultimate syllable already: las canciones. The new phonetic representation will be kahn-SYOHN-ehs.

One must remember that Spanish is indeed a very phonetics-based language. Omitting, or adding unnecessarily, an accent mark can drastically destroy the meaning of what you are trying to convey. For example, a verb conjugated in the preterit has accent marks on the last part of the verb in the yo and él forms. Adding an accent forces the speaker to stress the last syllable, which naturally tells your listener that something happened in the preterit tense:

Hablo la verdad. I speak the truth.

There is a grand difference between the meaning of that sentence and one with an accent on the verb:

Habló la verdad. He/she/it spoke the truth.

I recommend the book Say It Right In Spanish: The Easy Way to Pronounce Correctly (Say It Right! Series). It is a great book to have in your library, and contains very simply explained examples.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

More About Forming Nouns from Verbs

Some nouns can also be formed with the addition of either the suffix -ancia or -encia to the roots of several verbs. Try to guess what the following verbs and nouns mean:

Newly Formed Noun
la coincidencia
la preferencia
la tolerancia
la vigilancia

Another common way for nouns to be formed out of verbs is by the addition of the suffixes ción and sión; the newly formed noun has a feminine gender, so they will begin with la. These nouns are counterparts to English words ending in "-tion".

Newly Formed Noun
la formación
la dominación
la preparación
la obligación
la complicación
la conversación
la participación

One other way to form a noun out of a verb is to add the suffix -miento. Check the following examples out. For these, we'll use the verbs agotar and entender, respectively:

A causa de él acaba de correr, tiene mucho agotamiento. Because he just finished running, he has a lot of exhaustion.

Los estudiantes tiene un buen entendimiento del sujeto. The students have a good understanding of the subject.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Infinitive

A verb that is not conjugated is, quite simply, infinitive. Infinitive verbs are verbs that either end in -ar, -er, or -ir. There is no use trying to locate an infinitive verb in a sentence that ends in another way. And yes, the only other way this form of the verb will end in a different suffix is when that infinitive verb ends in a pronoun, such as se, le, or lo.

Some examples of verbs, and including a couple with a root change diagram:

detener to stop

volver(o--->ue) to return, to go back

afeitarse to shave(*oneself)

*Notice the reflexive se in the infinitive of the verb above.

These are just one of a myriad ways the infinitive form of the verb exists in the Spanish language. Now, the infinitive is used in a couple of ways. First, it either follows a conjugated verb, or follows a verb phrase requiring an infinitive:

Ella quiere escribir un ensayo breve. She wants to write a brief essay.

Paco y yo tenemos que preparar unas enchiladas. Paco and I have to prepare some enchiladas.

The infinitive also expresses future occurrence using the ir + a + infinitive expression:

Ella va a caminar al mercado. She is going to walk to the market.

Plus, the infinitive has a unique way of showing up on signs, portraying rules or otherwise, when a subject of a sentence is not important to the meaning of it. This is similar to how we use "-ing" endings in the English language. These kinds of signs usually are in all CAPS:



The infinitive can also be used to express a noun in its most vague form; when using infinitives like this, you sometimes need to put the singular masculine definite article. In English we tend to omit that. Notice the parentheses around the:

(El) Pasar por acá es prohibido. (The) Passing through here is prohibited.

(El) Hablar en la biblioteca no es común. Speaking in the library isn't common.

You can also use the infinitive with the conjunction a + el (el because the infinitive defaults to the singular masculine) to be the equivalent of the English "upon..." Notice the following:

Al ver el cadaver, la muchacha gritó. Upon seeing the dead body, the girl shouted.

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