Monday, April 18, 2011

Rave Review: María, Full of Grace

The working Spanish title of this film is María, llena eres de gracia. What a terrific movie this was. I highly recommend it to everyone; however, the Colombian accent is mighty thick so you'd be better served if you put the English subtitles on.

This movie is rich with the scenery of Ecuador (although the screenplay is said to have taken place in rural Colombia) and the cinematography is outstanding. It is basically about las mulas ("the mules") who are usually women charged with ingesting 50-100 cocaine-filled condoms and flying into the United States undetected by Customs officials(hopefully). Although, as we see in the film, it seldom goes smoothly. The movie graphically depicts the entire journey, from poverty and uncertainty, to possible instant wealth and even more uncertainty.

The star of the movie is definitely actress Catalina Sandino Moreno, the young Colombian who stole the movie with her on-screen command. She is only the third Spanish-speaking actress (after Salma Hayek and Penélope Cruz) to be nominated for a Best Actress Oscar, which is a fact largely unknown. The other players, including the vibrant Yenny Paola Vega, who plays her best friend Blanca, add a marvelous compliment to Moreno's performance. Joshua Marston, the director, did wonderfully for his first, yes, first, feature film.

If I had a 5 star rating system, it would largely receive at least 4 and a half. There are hardly any movies that come out that change your life (whether for the worse or better), so when one does, you're better off having witnessed it. Bravo.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Prepositional "A"

The "A" preposition is quite often the most overlooked part of Spanish grammar amongst learners. It took a vigilant (I can only assume) native Spanish speaker to send me a courtesy pointing out an error in my grammar on my website. I was guilty of not putting the "a" in the sentence

Los lobos me enseñaron aullar.


And thus began my adventure into researching the grammar surrounding enseñar(to teach). I discovered that indeed an "a" must accompany the verb phrase. So I should have said

Los lobos me enseñaron A aullar. The wolves taught me how to howl.


Gracias a aquel estudiante que me lo señaló....

So, being the sick-minded freak who has to stop everything and look it up if it involves Spanish, I research for a couple of hours the times to use "a". Prepare to be blown away as I regale you with my virtuosity:

1) Use the "A" when an actual person, or a thing that has been anthropomorphized to be an actual person (like a pet or a favorite car), is the direct object of the sentence. There is NO English equivalent to the "a" when it is used in this fashion. Observa, por favor:
Voy a ver a mi abuela mañana. I am going to see my grandma tomorrow.

El taxi lleva a Lucy por la ciudad. The taxi takes Lucy through the city.


2) The "a" is used to bridge two verbs together, such as in the common ir a + infinitive, or enseñar a +infinitive and a handful of others but not with querer.

3) It can begin a sentence with an interrogative pronoun when the pronoun is a direct object. Again, the "a" has no translation whatsoever:
¿A quién viste ayer? Who did you see yesterday?


4) The "a" is used as a preposition to mean "to", or "at", although when we want to say "at" in Spanish we usually replace "at" with "in", using "en":
Los chicos fueron a la fiesta. The boys went TO the party.

Los gallos van a estar en la 37 y Riverside. The gangstas are going to be AT 37th and Riverside. Simón.

5) Lastly, the "a" is used in idiomatic expressions and phrases with no real meaning to its inclusion:
Tengo que lavar los platos a mano. I have to wash the dishes by hand.

A propósito de su viaje a Europa, ¿han salido ya? Speaking of their trip to Europe, have they gone yet?


This should be very helpful to you as you navigate this Spanish minefield. Like this lesson? Leave me a comment below, Sr.

Monday, April 4, 2011

¡Vamos a practicar! - The Future Perfect

The future perfect is made up of the following verb phrase:

haber + past participle


with the auxiliary verb haber in the future tense. For the following, state what the following people will have done by the year 2012. Follow the model:

Lucy ______ (graduarse) de la Universidad para 2012.

Lucy se habrá graduado de la Universidad para 2012.


1. Miguel y Tomás _______ (empezar) estudiar latín.
2. El profesor _______ (casarse).
3. Yo _______ (enseñar) más que 1.000 lecciones de español.
4. Tú _______ (comprar) un nuevo automóvil.
5. Tu mamá y tú _______ (mudarse) de esta casa.
6. Los García _______ (llegar) en su nuevo destino.
7. Mi hermano _______ (contratar) un nuevo puesto.
8. Las hermanas _______ (volar) a Europa.
9. Facebook _______ (adquirir) más de trillón de integrantes.
10. Nosotros _______ (visitar) a nuestra abuela otra vez.

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