Leçons Espagnol

Thèmes

Lessons for topic Expressions

A Useful Verb: Hacer

The Spanish verb hacer primarily means "to do" or "to make." This verb is used in a wide range of expressions, which makes it one of the most versatile verbs in Spanish. However, and maybe for the same reason, the meanings and uses of hacer are not always easy to grasp. The fact that this is an irregular verb doesn't make it any easier either. So, to successfully master the verb hacer, the first step would be to memorize its conjugation (the past tense is especially challenging). After that, we recommend that you study it using a case-by-case approach. Luckily, the use of hacer is extremely common, so our catalog of videos offers you plenty of examples. 

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Let's quickly review the two basic meanings of the word hacer. The first meaning is "to make":
 

Vamos a hacer un arroz.

We're going to make rice.

Caption 74, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa

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The second basic meaning of hacer is "to do":
 

¿Y ahora qué hacemos?

And now what do we do?

Caption 12, Guillermina y Candelario - Una película de terror

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Keep in mind that these meanings of the verb hacer as "to do" or "to make" can be used in many different situations that don't necessarily correspond to the uses of "to make" and "to do" in English. For example, in Spanish you can use the verb hacer to say quiero hacer una llamada (I want to make a call), and hazme un favor (do me a favor). But you can also use it in expressions like me haces daño (you hurt me), and ella hizo una pregunta (she asked a question). Here's another example:
 

Tú me hiciste brujería.

You put a spell on me.

Caption 38, Calle 13 - Un Beso De Desayuno

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Hacer is also extensively used in Spanish to express time or duration. It can be used to express for how long you have been doing something:
 

Tengo veinte años y estoy hace dos años acá en Buenos Aires.

I'm twenty years old and I've been here in Buenos Aires for two years.

Caption 40, Buenos Aires - Heladería Cumelen

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Or to express the concept of "ago":
 

Hace unos días me olvidé la mochila en el tren.

A few days ago I forgot my backpack on the train.

Caption 22, Raquel - Oficina de objetos perdidos

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Hacer is also used in weather expressions:
 

Hoy hace tanto viento que casi me deja caer.

Today it is so windy that it almost makes me fall [over].

Caption 22, Clara explica - El tiempo - Part 2

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And other impersonal expressions, such as hacer falta (to need/be lacking):
 

Se puede poner entero, no hace falta quitar corteza.

It can be put in whole; it's not necessary to remove the crust.

Caption 84, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli - Part 4

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To indicate taking on a role:

Siempre quieres que haga el papel de villana.
You always want me to play the role of the villain.

Or to indicate that someone is pretending to be something: 
 

Digo si pasa algo con mi hijo, no te hagas la ingenua.

I'm saying if something is happening with my son, don't play dumb.

Caption 13, Muñeca Brava - 44 El encuentro - Part 5

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The reflexive form hacerse is commonly used in this way in many expressions such as hacerse el loco (to pretend to be crazy), hacerse la mosquita muerta (to look as if butter wouldn't melt in one's mouth, literally "to pretend to be a dead fly"), hacerse el muerto (to play dead), etc. Here is another example:
 

Mira, no te hagas la viva.

Look, don't play smart.

Caption 3, Yago - 3 La foto - Part 4

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Hacer can also express the idea of getting used to something:
 

No hacerme a la idea de que esto está bien

Not to get used to the idea that this is OK

Caption 32, Xóchitl - Vida en Monterrey

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Hacer is also used to express that something doesn't matter in expressions such as no le hace (it doesn't matter), or no hace al caso (it doesn't pertain to the matter). Or it can mean "to refer to": Por lo que hace al dinero, tú no te preocupes (Concerning money, you don't worry). The list of its possible uses goes on and on! Let's see one last use of hacer, which was sent to us by one of our subscribers:

The expression hacer caso means "to pay attention," "to obey," or "to believe":

 

Nada, hay que hacerle caso al médico.

No way, you have to pay attention to the doctor.

Caption 63, Yago - 8 Descubrimiento - Part 6

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Hazme caso que tú eres perfecta.

Believe me that you are perfect.

Caption 58, Biografía - Enrique Iglesias

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Pero yo siempre, siempre, siempre le hago caso a Sor Cachete.

But I always, always, always, do as Sister Cachete says.

Caption 35, Muñeca Brava - 44 El encuentro - Part 2

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Thank you for reading and sending your suggestions.

 

Continuer la lecture

Cool Expressions

How do you say "cool," as in "this video is cool," in Spanish? What is the best equivalent of this slangy English word meaning "good," "nice," or "great"? Let's find out.

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In Mexico, people use padre and chido. While the use of padre is more generalized, chido is usually more popular among younger generations:
 

Y, y en cuanto la vi... No, ésta tiene que ser mía. -¡Qué padre!

And, and as soon as I saw it... No, this one has to be mine. -How nice!

Caption 34, Sergio en Monterrey - El ámbar mexicano

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...que está chido que estemos en Estados Unidos.

...it's great that we're in the United States.

Caption 47, Belanova - Entrevista - Part 3

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Of course, since Mexico has such a great diversity of people living across quite a vast territory, you'll find other similar expressions too. Conmadre (literally, "with mother") and suave (smooth) are good examples. You can hear suave in one of our videos from Monterrey, Mexico. This expression is not very common in that particular city though; the girl is a student from another state.
 

Aunque a veces sí está pesado, está muy suave porque se te van volando.

Although sometimes it is hard, it's very cool because they go flying by for you.

Captions 28-29, Yo estudio en el Tec - de Monterrey

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Colombia, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Perú, and Ecuador (mostly) use the word chévere:
 

¡Súper chévere que la... el hijo de uno diga "No, mi mamá es una chef"!

Very cool for one's child to say, "No, my mom is a chef!"

Caption 13, Misión Chef - 2 - Pruebas - Part 1

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In Colombia, a newer alternative to chévere is bacano (and bacán in Cuba, Perú, Chile):
 

Mi papá era un médico muy bacano, muy interesante.

My father was a very cool doctor, very interesting.

Caption 13, La Sub30 - Familias - Part 2

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In Spain, you'll hear guay:
 

Y realmente la improvisación fue... fue la clave. Era muy guay.

And really the improvisation was... was the key. It was very cool.

Captions 31-32, Blanca y Mariona - Proyectos para el verano

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In Argentina, people use copadomasa, groso:
 

Podemos sacar algo copado esta noche.

We can get something cool tonight.

Caption 87, Muñeca Brava - 7 El poema - Part 3

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¡Soy una masa!

I'm so cool!

Caption 69, Muñeca Brava - 7 El poema - Part 1

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Finally, we want to remind you that, no matter the culture, country, or language, slang words are inextricably linked to the identity of the people who use them. You can never be too respectful of that! In that spirit, it's always wise to learn more "neutral" alternatives to the use of a slang word, don't you agree? Genial and, to a certain extent, bárbaro are a good fit to express the idea of "cool" and be cool in Spanish:
 

¿Te parece que tus patrones se enojarán? -¡No, está bárbaro!

Do you think that your bosses would get mad? -No, it's cool!

Caption 16, Muñeca Brava 30 Revelaciones - Part 6

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¡Este grupo está genial!

This group is great!

Caption 27, Raquel - Expresiones para un festival de música.

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The superlative of bueno (good), buenísimo, is also a good alternative:
 

Bueno, buenísimo, como anillo al dedo.

Well, very good, it fits like a glove [literally: like a ring to a finger].

Caption 69, Muñeca Brava 9 Engaños - Part 8

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BTW: If you are not a purist, you could even go for "cool," just like that! Many Spanish speakers in the Americas use it a lot: Tienes un look muy cool ("You have a very cool look").

Continuer la lecture

Using 'Si Clauses' as Part of a Question - Part 1

Using 'Si Clauses' as Part of a Question - Part 2

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The conditional si (if) is used to express probability, possibility, wonder or conjecture in Spanish. One of the most common ways to use this conjunction is in the so called "si clauses," i.e. conditional sentences that have two parts: the condition, or si clause, and the main clause, which indicates what will happen if the condition of the si clause is met. Here is an example of a si clause in its classic form:
 

Dicen que si los sueños se cuentan después no se cumplen, loco.

They say that if you tell your dreams, then they won't come true, dude.

Caption 43, Muñeca Brava - 41 La Fiesta - Part 7

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However, the use of si clauses in Spanish is very versatile. Not only are there several types of si clauses, but also several ways to actually use them in real speech. One notable example is the use of si clauses in questions. Let's review some examples:

In one of our newest videos, we hear a member of the Kikiriki crew using a si clause to make a proposal:
 

¿Y si nos conseguimos un abrigo de piel de jaguar para que él piense que somos primos de él?

How about we get a jaguar fur coat so that he thinks that we are cousins of his?

Captions 24-25, Kikirikí - Animales - Part 4

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The use of the conjunction y (and) before the si clause in this type of question is very common, even when it's posible to get rid of it without altering its meaning:

Another common way to introduce a si clause in this type of question is using the phrase qué tal (how about):
 

Qué tal si yo me inyecto el pulgar en la boca

Maybe if I stick my thumb into my mouth

Caption 59, Calle 13 - Un Beso De Desayuno

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It's also very common to combine both the conjunction y (and) and the phrase qué tal (how about) to introduce the si clause:
 

¿Y qué tal si hablo así?

And what about if I speak like this?

Caption 14, Guillermina y Candelario - Una película de terror

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Of course, in the previous two examples, you could perfectly get away with not using the y (and) and qué tal (how about) introductions. But using them would definitely make your speech sound much more like that of a native speaker. 

In Spanish, there are even longer phrases that people use in order to introduce a si clause in a question. For example, you can use another question: qué les parece (what do you think):
 

¿Qué les parece si ahora que se acercan las fiestas navideñas, nos apuntamos a un servicio online... ?

Now that the Christmas holidays are coming up, how about signing up for an online service... ?

Captions 29-30, Tecnópolis - Empresas del mar en Almería

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Finally, we want to share an interesting substitution of the conditional si (if) for the word tal (such), which you may hear in Colombia and other South American countries:

 

Entonces, qué tal que nosotros le llevemos un concierto.

Therefore, how about we take a concert to them.

Caption 14, Festivaliando - Mono Núñez - Part 12

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¿Y qué tal si continúas aprendiendo español con uno de nuestros nuevos videos(And how about you continue learning Spanish with one of our new videos?)

Continuer la lecture

Se Trata de Tratar [It's About Trying]

In one of our latest videos, Raquel tells us about a very traditional festival in Spain: The "Fallas." When she explains what these "Fallas" are, she uses an expression that is worth exploring:

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Se trata de unas figuras de gran tamaño hechas de cartón y de madera.

It's about some large-sized figures made of cardboard and wood.

Captions 26-27, Raquel - Fiestas de España

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The verb tratar means "to treat," "to try" or "attempt," but also "to deal with" and, like in the previous example, "to be about." Let's review some examples to master this useful verb.

 When tratar means "to treat," is used the same way as in English:
 

¿Podrías tratarlo un poco mejor a tu hijo, no?

You could treat your son a little better, no?

Caption 31, Muñeca Brava - 1 Piloto

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In Spanish, however, this verb has many different applications. For example:
 

Necesitamos tratarnos.

We need to get to know each other.

Caption 18, El Ausente - Acto 3

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Bueno, a Felipe he tenido el privilegio de tratarlo.

Well, I have had the privilege to know Felipe.

Caption 38, Felipe Calderón - Publicidad

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Encerrarlos y maltratarlos es una cosa muy cruel.

To lock them up and abuse them is a very cruel thing.

Caption 33, Kikirikí - Animales

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Para tratar a alguien de "tú", tienes que tener una cierta cercanía...

To address someone with "tú," you have to have a certain closeness...

Captions 22-23, Fundamentos del Español - 6 - Tú y Usted

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Me gusta tratar con... con el público, con las personas que vienen.

I like dealing with... with the public, with the people who come.

Captions 22-23, El Instituto Cervantes - Jefa de biblioteca

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Just as, in English, you can't use the verb "to treat" to translate the previous examples, in Spanish you can't use the verb tratar to express an idea such as "to treat someone to something." Instead you have to use the verbs invitar or convidar (to invite, to share):
 

Ni siquiera te convidé un café.

I didn't even treat you to a cup of coffee.

Caption 55, Muñeca Brava - 7 El poema

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Additionally, tratar can also mean "to try or attempt":
 

Pero en Andalucía varias iniciativas tratan de protegerlo.

But in Andalucia several initiatives attempt to protect it.

Caption 26, Club de las ideas - Batería de breves

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But don't ever try to use the verb tratar in the same way we use "to try" in expressions such as "try the food" or "try on the jeans." For that, Spanish uses another verb: probar. So, you must say prueba el pastel ("try the cake"), and me probé los pantalones ("I tried on the jeans") but never ever: trata el pastel or me traté los pantalones.

Tratar de (to try to) looks like tratarse de (to be about) but has a different meaning and it's not reflexive. Here is another example of tratarse de, using negation:
 

Ya ves que el juego no se trata de vestir mejor

You see that this game is not about dressing better

Caption 24, Hector Montaner - Apariencias

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These two examples are interesting. The same expression is used in Spanish, but English requires the use of different wording:
 

Es posible que alguna vez haya pensado usted, al escuchar el nombre del famoso arqueólogo Federico Kauffman Doig, que se trata de un investigador extranjero.

It's possible that some time you have thought, when hearing the name of the famous archeologist Federico Kauffman Doig, that he is a foreign researcher.

Captions 9-11, Federico Kauffman Doig - Arqueólogo

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Y más aún si se trata de ti

And even more so when it's related to you

Caption 7, Gloria Trevi - Cinco minutos

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Do you want to find more examples of the verb tratar in our catalog? You can use the search tool at the top of the screen in the Videos tab of our site to do so. Maybe you can find a use of tratar that we haven't discussed here. ¡Todo se trata de tratar, verdad?! (It's all about trying, right?). If you find some, tweet us @yabla or share them with us at support@yabla.com.

Continuer la lecture

Llevar and Traer - Part 2

Llevar and Traer - Part 1

Let's continue our lesson on llevar (to take, to carry) and traer (to bring). 

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We have said that the verb llevar (to bring) expresses that something or someone has (or contains) something:
 

¿Quién es el que ha hecho el arroz? ¿Qué lleva el arroz, Manolo?

Who is the one who has made the rice? What does the rice have in it, Manolo?

Captions 21-22, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 12

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The previous example could have used the verb haber (to have): ¿Qué hay en el arroz, Manolo?, or the verb tener (to have, to be): ¿Qué tiene el arroz, Manolo?

This is not the only way llevar can be used instead of haber or tener. For example, it can replace tener when it's used to express the duration of time:

 

Yo ya llevo veintitrés años aquí ya.

I have already been here for twenty-three years now.

Caption 65, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa

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Compare to: Yo ya he estado veintitrés años aquí and yo ya tengo veintitrés años (which mean exactly the same). 

The construction llevar + gerund is also very popular in Spanish. It's used to indicate how much time you are 'carrying' under your belt (so to speak) performing a given action:
 

¿Cuánto tiempo llevan intentando vender el piso?

How long have you been trying to sell the apartment?

Caption 51, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos

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Compare to: ¿Cuánto tiempo han estado intentando vender el piso? and ¿Cuánto tiempo tienen intentando vender el piso? (which mean exactly the same). 
 

El caso es que llevo esperando un rato en la puerta de embarque B siete.

The issue is that I have been waiting for a while at the boarding gate B seven.

Caption 37, Raquel - Avisos de Megafonía

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Equivalent expressions are: He estado esperando un rato, and Tengo esperando un rato.

Llevar is also used in the expression para llevar, which means "to go" or "takeout":
 

¿Y aquí, antes qué había? Aquí había unas comidas para llevar.

And here, what was there before? There were some takeout places here.

Captions 7-8, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos

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The expression llevarse con alguien means to get along with someone, either badly or well:
 

Mi amiga María se lleva muy bien con mi amigo Alberto.

My friend Maria gets along very well with my friend Alberto.

Caption 10, El Aula Azul - Mis Amigos

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No se lleva muy bien con Aldo, Lucio.

Lucio doesn't get along very well with Aldo.

Caption 7, Yago - 6 Mentiras

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Check out too: Me llevo mal con mi jefe | I get along badly with my boss.

In Mexico, the expression llevarse con alguien, means to treat someone in a overfamiliar, playful, usually disrespectful way. There is even a saying that goes, El que se lleva se aguanta. Literally, it means something like "One who plays the game must endure it," similar to the English expressions "If you play with fire, you will get burned," and "If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen."

Curiously, the verb traer (to bring) is used in a similar expression: traerla con alguien, or traerla contra alguien, which means to "hold a grudge," or "to have a certain animosity toward somebody:"
 

¿Por qué la trae con nosotros?

Why does he hold a grudge against us?

Caption 23, El Ausente - Acto 3

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The expression ¿Qué te traes? (What's up with you?) could be used in different situations with different purposes:

He notado tu tristeza estos días. ¿Qué te traes?
I've noticed your sadness these days. What's up with you?

¿Tú qué te traes? ¿Quieres pelea?
What's up with you? Do you want a fight?

¿Qué se traen ustedes dos? ¿ Qué están tramado?
What are you two up to? What are you planning?

 

Continuer la lecture

Llevar and Traer - Part 1

Llevar and Traer - Part 2

Llevar (to take) and traer (to bring) are very similar verbs. Both refer to the action of moving objects from one location to another. Llevar is used when an object is being taken to a place other than where the person who is talking is. On the other hand, traer is used when an object is being transported towards the speaker. It sounds pretty straightforward, right? Well, it is, but deciding when to use llevar or traer in context is sometimes tricky. That's because in many cases there is only a subtle difference of meaning between these two verbs, and because both are used in many idiomatic expressions, and, finally, because in some cases they can be used as synonyms.

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So let's start with the basic difference between llevar (to take) and traer (to bring). When Luciana and Julia save Valente from being beaten to death by some thugs, Luciana says:
 

Ayúdame, vamos a llevarlo a mi casa.

Help me. We are going to take him to my house.

Caption 3, El Ausente - Acto 2

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But when Guillermina finds that her Grandpa has fallen into a pit, she says:
 

Ya sé, abuelo. Voy a traer la red de pescar para intentar subirte.

I know, Grandfather. I'm going to bring the fishing net to try to get you up.

Captions 34-35, Guillermina y Candelario - Una película de terror

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When the direction of the movement is being stated in the phrase, it's possible to use traer or llevar to express the same idea, with just a subtle difference in meaning. In the next caption, we included "traer/to bring" between parentheses so you can compare:
 

Trabajan duramente para llevar el producto del campo a la mesa.

They work hard to take the produce from the field to the table.

Captions 5-6, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa

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Note that the only difference between the two options is the perspective from which the person is talking. With llevar, the person's perspective is from the field; with traer, the person's perspective is from the table.

You should also remember that llevar and traer are both transitive verbs, so they will always be accompanied by a direct object, or direct pronoun. If we add to that the inclusion of indirect objects or indirect pronouns, the many possible ways to combine all these elements can be a real challenge. We suggest you study the rules on how to correctly place and combine all these pronouns. You may also like to check out your conjugation tables, especially for traersince it's an irregular verb. Study these examples too:

Julio trae el dinero para Raquel. |  Julio lo trae para Raquel.  Él lo trae para Raquel. | Él se lo trae.
Julio brings the money to Raquel. Julio brings it to Raquel. He brings it to Raquel. | He brings it to her.

No olvides llevar el carro a mamá. | No olvides llevarlo a mamá. | No olvidesllevárselo. | ¡Llévaselo!
Don't forget to take the car to mom Don't forget to take it to mom. | Don't forget to take it to her. | Take it to her!

Now, for the good part: both llevar and traer are used figuratively in so many expressions that we are going to need a second part of this lesson to explore them. Let's just see a couple now.

Llevar and traer are used to express that something or someone has, contains, or wears something:
 

En español, todas las palabras tienen una sílaba fuerte. Y muchas de ellas llevan tilde.

In Spanish, all the words have a strong syllable. And many of them have a written accent.

Captions 50-51, Fundamentos del Español - 1 - El Alfabeto

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Me gusta llevar faldas normalmente, sobre todo en invierno.

I like to wear skirts usually, especially in winter.

Captions 6-7, El Aula Azul - Actividades Diarias

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It's also correct to say Me gusta traer faldas ("I like to wear skirts"). Check out this one:
 

Por eso traen pantalones.

That's why they wear pants.

Captions 47-48, El Ausente - Acto 2

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You will find llevar and traer meaning "to have" or "to contain" when talking about food or recipes:
 

Le pusimos una pancetita y lleva pollo.

We put in some bacon and it has chicken.

Caption 92, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa

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Le quitamos la posible arenita que pueda traer.

We remove the possible bit of sand that it might have.

Caption 68, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli

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We'll stop here to leave some for Part 2. Thanks for reading!

Continuer la lecture

Using Qué, Cómo, and Cuánto in exclamatory sentences

The use of the orthographic accent on Spanish words such as qué (what), cómo (how), and cuánto/s (how much/many) usually indicates that those words are part of an interrogative or exclamatory sentence. The following examples review how to use quécómo, and cuánto as exclamatory words.

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Qué can be used right in front of nouns, adverbs, and adjectives.  It means "how" or "what a." In our newest episode of Muñeca Brava, Mili uses qué with an adjective when she talks about the Christmas party:

 

¿Viste todos los regalos? ¡Qué linda! -Sí, estuvo estupenda.

Did you see all the presents? How lovely! -Yes, it was great.

Caption 2, Muñeca Brava - 30 Revelaciones

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Qué can also be combined with an adverb to express surprise about the way an action was done:

 

¡Qué bueno he sido pa' ti Y qué mal te estás portando!

How good I've been for you And how badly you're behaving!

Captions 17-18, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa

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Qué can also be placed in front of a noun:

 

¡Ay, qué espanto! ¡Y pensar que el hombre ese estaba en mi cama!

What a scare! And to think that man was in my bed!

Caption 4, Muñeca Brava - 18 - La Apuesta

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Cuánto (how much) can be used in front of nouns and verbs. When used with a noun, this exclamatory word must agree in gender and number:

 

¡Cuántos frijoles hubiéramos hecho!

How many beans we would have produced!

Caption 28, Con ánimo de lucro - Cortometraje

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When cuánto is accompanied by a verb, we always use the masculine, singular form. If a direct object pronoun is required, we must place it between the two words:

 

¡Ay, no sabes cuánto lo lamento!

Oh, you don't know how much I regret it!

Caption 17, Muñeca Brava - 7 El poema

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Finally, the exclamatory cómo is used in front of verbs. This example requires the use of a reflexive pronoun (me), which is also placed between the two words:

 

¡Guau, cómo me gustan esos hobbies!

Wow, how I like those hobbies!

Caption 38, Karla e Isabel - Nuestros hobbies

 Play Caption

 

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We hope you have enjoyed this brief review on exclamatory words.

Continuer la lecture

Ir [to go], Irse [to leave], and irse + gerund [to start]!

Ir ("to go") is a challenging verb, not only because it's an irregular verb but also because it's used in many idiomatic expressions. Equally challenging is the verb irse ("to leave"), which is formed by adding a reflexive pronoun to ir. Some people, in fact, consider ir and irse as two different verbs, while others think of them as the same verb with an alternative reflexive form that alters its meaning. Examples of similar verbs are dormir ("to sleep") and dormirse ("to fall asleep"), caer ("to fall") and caerse ("to abruptly fall"), poner ("to put") and ponerse ("to put on"). The meanings of ir ("to go") and irse ("to leave"), however, are especially different, and people often have trouble distinguishing when to use them.

Ir ("to go") does not use a direct object and focuses on the destination, using prepositions such as a, hacia, and hasta ("to") to indicate where the person is going. You can see two examples (one conjugated and one in the infinitive form) here:

¿Quieres ir a la fiesta? | Do you want to go to the party?
Las niñas fueron al concierto temprano | The girls went to the concert early.

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On the other hand, irse ("to leave") focuses the action on the starting point, so it uses prepositions such as de or desde ("from") to express the act of leaving. Note the difference in meaning of the examples if we substitute ir for irse

¿Quieres irte de la fiesta? | You want to leave the party?
Las niñas se fueron del concierto (desde) temprano | The girls left the concert early.

Now, there is a particular expression that uses the verb irse that has nothing to do with what we have discussed here so far. It is a special construction that links irse directly with another verb in the gerund form (-ndo). These types of constructions are called linked verbs, and while they may use an infinitive or a gerund as the second verb, they all link the verbs without any punctuation or conjunction between them. In particular the irse + gerund construction is used to express the start or continuation of a process. Some examples are below. Pay especial attention to how irse remains in the infinitive form but changes its ending (the reflexive pronoun) to match the subject:

Los niños deben irse preparando para el examen

The kids must start preparing for the exam.

Yo no quiero irme enamorando de ti 

I don't want to start falling in love with you.

Tú decidiste irte vistiendo mientras me escuchabas 

You decided to start dressing up while listening to me.

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The verb irse can be used in the infinitive form, like in the examples above, but it can also be conjugated:

 

Dejamos el pan ahí fuera, y se va... se va poniendo blandengue, blandengue.

We leave the bread there out, and it starts... it starts getting soft, soft.

Captions 9-10, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoli - Part 5

 Play Caption

 

Continuer la lecture

Using que [that] + subjunctive to express good wishes

The holidays are always a great opportunity to practice the que + subjunctive construction, which is one of the most common (and shortest) ways to express hope and good wishes in Spanish. This particular construction is very interesting because it involves the omission of the main verb, usually desear ("to wish"), but also querer ("to want"), esperar ("to hope for"), and others followed by the subjunctive. The result of doing this is a short phrase that is practical and meaningful. So, instead of saying deseo que te diviertas ("I wish you have fun") you can simply say ¡que te diviertas! ("[I wish] you have fun") which is more likely what a native speaker would use in a casual conversation.

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Since this particular construction is used to express wishes or hopes to someone right on the spot, it makes use of the present tense and the present subjunctive. The main omitted verb desear ("to wish") is in the present tense: yo deseo ("I wish"). Therefore the action that you are wishing to happen must be expressed, after the conjunction que ("that"), in the present subjunctive: te alivies ("you get well"). The condensed resulting phrase is then: ¡Que te alivies! ("[I wish] you get well"), which we may as well just translate as "Get well!" Let's see more examples.

Mexicans use this construction a lot to wish you well while saying goodbye:

 

Hasta luego, nos vemos y... que se la pasen bien.

See you later, see you and... hope you guys have a good time.

Caption 59, La Banda Chilanguense - El habla de México - Part 3

 Play Caption

 

Argentinians also like to use it: 

 

Chau, que le vaya bien, chau.

Bye, have a good day, bye.

Captions 38-39, Muñeca Brava - 9 Engaños - Part 4

 Play Caption

 

You can wish someone all sorts of good things using this construction, like to have a good night:

 

Bueno, yo también me retiro, que tengan muy buenas noches. -Buenas noches.

Well, I will also retire, good night to you all. -Good night.

Captions 98-99, Muñeca Brava - 43 La reunión - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

Or simply to enjoy something:

 

Eso es todo, gracias. Que disfruten de, del folklore de Puerto Rico.

That's all, thank you. Enjoy the, the folklore of Puerto Rico.

Captions 31-32, Baile Folklórico de Puerto Rico - Los Bailarines

 Play Caption

 

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Or to wish someone a nice Christmas:

¡Que tengas una feliz Navidad!
I wish you (have) a merry Christmas!

Continuer la lecture

Using o sea in Spanish

Have you ever heard someone using the expression o sea? Chances are high because this is a very popular and useful expression in Spain and Latin America. Let's see how to use it.

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How to use o sea in Spanish

This expression is generally used to introduce an explanation or a consequence of something you have already said. If you think of it, the meaning is quite literal: The phrase is formed out of the disjunctive conjunction o ("or") and the word sea ("would be"), the third person present subjunctive form of the verb ser ("to be"). Let's see some examples.

 

Porque Barcelona no aburre nunca. O sea, siempre hay actividades,

Because Barcelona is never boring. I mean, there are always activities,

Captions 41-42, Escuela BCNLIP Presentación de la directora - Part 2

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Nos lo hemos pasado muy bien, muy bien. -Qué bien, o sea que buenísimas vacaciones.

We had a great time, great. -How nice, I mean an amazing vacation.

Captions 48-49, El Aula Azul Conversación: Vacaciones recientes

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You can also think of o sea as the English expression "in other words":

 

O sea que ¿el tipo de hoy era Wilson Ríos?

In other words the guy from today was Wilson Rios?

Caption 33, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 1 - Part 6

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Sometimes the word que ("that") is added after o sea, without altering the meaning:
 

Sé surfear, ¿no? O sea que tengo una profesión ahora.

I can surf, right? I mean I have a profession now.

Caption 43, Costa Azul Surf Shop Hablando con los Empleados Del Surf - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

Be careful: the combination "o + sea" can sometimes have a totally different meaning, so always be observant of the context:

 

... sea bueno o sea malo.

... whether it's good or whether it's bad.

Caption 34, Club de las ideas - Intuición - Part 1

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In Latin America, there's another use of o sea very popular among snobby and superficial upper/middle-class youngsters. In this case, o sea is used as a sarcastic remark that can be translated as "obviously," "duh," "come on," "give me a break," or "I mean," depending of the context. Let's see that use in action:

 

¡Ay pues, obvio que va a querer! ¡Porque nadie le dice que no a una chica popular, o sea!

Oh well, [it's] obvious that he is going to want to! Because no one says no to a popular girl, duh!

Captions 21-22, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 10

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Punctuation and o sea

Although there's some ambiguity as far as the punctuation of o sea goes, generally speaking the word o sea is followed by a comma when the expression is used to introduce an explanation. However, there's no need for comma when the expression introduces a consequence. Let's take a look:

 

Introducing an explanation:

 

Después de las bisílabas tenemos las palabras trisílabas, o sea, las que tienen tres sílabas.

After the disyllabic words we have trisyllabic words, in other words, the ones that have three syllables.

Captions 38-39, Carlos explica Acentuación Cap. 2: Clasificación por número de sílabas

 Play Caption

 

 

Introducing a consequence:

 

¿Qué curso estás haciendo? Estoy en once. O sea que ya pronto vas a terminar.

What grade are you in? I'm in eleventh. Which means you're going to finish soon.

Captions 16-18, Cleer Entrevista a Lila

 Play Caption

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O sea in two words!

Finally, keep in mind that the expression o sea is written in two words so it is wrong to write it as a single word (osea). Furthermore, some people use as an alternative the expression o séase, which should be also avoided. 


That's it for today. We invite you to incorporate this useful expression into your vocabulary and don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions

 

Continuer la lecture

Mi casa es su casa, ¡compadres!

We all have routines and actions that we "usually" carry out. We met a young lady at the El Aula Azul Language School in San Sebastian, Spain, who typically does the same things every day.

Yo normalmente me levanto a las siete de la mañana.

I normally wake up at seven in the morning

Caption 1: El Aula Azul - Actividades Diarias

 
Silvia "normally" gets up at seven, expressed in Spanish much the same as we would in English. 
However, where we English speakers tend to use the adverb "usually," Spanish speakers opt for the present tense of soler—a verb that means "to be accustomed to."

 

Silvia tells us:

 

Suelo ducharme con agua caliente.

I usually take a hot shower.

 

Caption 2: El Aula Azul - Actividades Diarias

 

She "is accustomed to" showering with hot water; it is what she usually does.

 

Después, suelo lavarme los dientes en el baño, y después desayuno.

After that, I usually brush my teeth in the bathroom, and then have breakfast.
Caption 3: El Aula Azul - Actividades Diarias
 

 

Then, she usually brushes her teeth in the bathroom, it's what she is accustomed to doing. Notice that in Spanish people "wash" (lavarse) their teeth. It's possible to use cepillarse (to brush), which is closer to the English, but lavarse is the more common way to express this activity.

 

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This is also a good time to remind ourselves that Spanish tends not to use possessive pronouns when talking about body parts. Notice that Silvia says that she brushes "los dientes," not "mis dientes." We discussed this before in the lesson "Ojo - Keep an eye on this lesson."

 

Speaking of past lessons, we also took a look at soler before, but focusing on the imperfect tense, solía—which indicates that someone "was accustomed to" doing something, typically expressed in English as "used to.”

 

 

Continuer la lecture

Spice up your Spanish with Some Mexican Sayings

Pura palabra... pura palabra... nos divertimos a puras cosas de puro hablar

Merely words... merely words... we have fun just by talking

caption 18, La Banda Chilanguese:  El habla de México - Part 2 of 3
 

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Have you checked out the construction workers from Mexico City that we are callingLa Banda Chilanguese? These guys really do have a lot of fun just chewing the fat!



One of the ways they and other Mexicans spice up their conversation is through the use of refranes. A refrán is a popular saying or expression.



We see an example when aluminum worker Antonio says:



Voy a ir a darle porque es mole de olla

I’m going to get down to it, because it’s “mole de olla”

caption 29, La Banda Chilanguese: El habla de México - Part 1 of 3



This is from the refrán “A darle que es mole de olla  which means “Get down to it [the task] because it’s hard and arduous.” Why this analogy to mole de olla? Because preparing mole de olla (literally “mole in a pot,” a type of beef stew) is hard work and time-consuming. (For those of you far from the gastronomic border, we are talking about “mo-lay,” a genre of Mexican sauces—not the funny-looking mammal known in Spanish as  topo).



The Mexican Institute of Sound also makes use of a popular saying:



Si te cae el saco, póntelo pa´ bailar

If the jacket suits you, wear it to dance

caption 5, Mexican Institute of Sound: Alocatel



This is a play on another popular refrán, Si te queda el saco, póntelo which literally means “if the jacket suits you, wear it.” In English we have a similar expression which expresses the same thing, “If the shoe fits, wear it.” It means, “if you are worried that we are talking about you, it is because you think it applies to you, so accept it and don’t complain.” 



Here are two more refranes that you might hear when visiting Mexico:



Entre menos burros, más olotes

The fewer the donkeys, the more cobs of corn 



When would you say this? When some members of a party have to leave... the consolation is that there is more food and drink left for those who stay. 



But what if more guests arrive than expected, and rations run low?



A falta de pan, tortillas

When there’s no bread, tortillas will do

 

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This expression is used to express that we must make do with what we have.



Aside: It’s interesting to note that the well-known English expression “the more, the merrier,” as it was first recorded in 1520, contained a corollary that echoes the same sentiment as “entre menos burros...” The complete expression was this: "The more, the merrier; the fewer, the better fare" (meaning "with fewer there would be more to eat").

Continuer la lecture

Merecer la pena

The dictionary tells us that the verb "merecer" means "to deserve." 
 
No merezco algo así.
"I don't deserve something like this."
 
But songstress Julieta Venegas does not believe that living "deserves the pain" but rather that living "is worth it."
 

Es contigo, mi vida, con quien puedo sentir que merece la pena vivir.
It's with you, dear, with whom I can feel that life is worth living.

Captions 7-8, Julieta Venegas: El Presente

 

 

 

 A few more examples:
 
Merece la pena estudiar.
Studying is worth it.
 
¿Merece la pena leer este libro?
Is it worth reading this book?


Merece la pena is synonymous, though perhaps a bit more formal and poetic, with its extremely common cousin, vale la penaOur amigos in Mexico City demonstrate nicely:

Al igual que pues que tiene sus pros y sus contras y... pues aun así vale la pena. ¿OK?
At the same time it has it pros and cons and... well, even so it's still worth it. OK?
Caption 31, Amigos D.F.: Te Presento

  

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The verb valer commonly means "to be worth."
  
Una imagen vale más que mil palabras.
A picture is worth more than a thousand words. 
 
Also of note:

If you've ever been to Spain, you know that ¿Vale? (OK?) or Vale. (OK.) is slang that is thrown around a lot amongst Spaniards. ¿Vale?

Continuer la lecture

Perder la silla

In addition to Dutch, Papiamento, and English, most Arubans can also speak perfect Spanish, as Landa Henríquez attests to by singing it with ease. The island has deep seated and ongoing ties with Venezuela, only fourteen miles to the south, and neighboring Colombia. So it should be of little surprise that Landa peppers her song with a common Colombian expression.

Ya sabes, te vas de Barranquilla y te pierdes tu silla.
You know, you leave Barranquilla and you lose your chair.
Caption 30, Landa Henríquez > Mujer Cuarenta

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The expression is actually a take on a popular saying from Spain which goes Él que se va a Sevilla, pierde su silla ("He who leaves Sevilla, loses his chair"). Either way, the meaning is the same: if you're not vigilent, you'll lose what is yours.

There is another way to express the same sentiment, and we hear it in a cumbia song playing at that disco that Milagros and Gloria have snuck out of the orphanage to visit in Muñeca Brava

Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente.
 The shrimp that sleeps is taken away by the current.
Caption 30, Muñeca Brava > Pilot > Part 6

American English also expresses this idea with an analogy to sleep: "You snooze, you lose."

 

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Continuer la lecture

Estar harto

In the Argentine drama Provócame, we hear an ugly exchange between Mariano and his mamá. First, she calls her son an imbecile and then, a little later, Mariano spits:

¡Estoy harto de que te metas en mis cosas, mamá!  
I'm sick of you sticking your nose in my business, mom!
Estoy harto de vos.  
"I'm fed up with you."

[Captions 33-4, Provócame > Capítulo Seis > 1]

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Yes, he's had it up to here, as we might say in English. Hearing these lines, we were reminded of the theme song for another drama in our library: Disputas. The song goes like this:

Me llamas para decirme que te marchas...  
"You call me to tell me that you're leaving..."
que ya no aguantas más...  
"that you can't take it anymore... "
que ya estás harta de verle cada día...
"that you're fed up by seeing him each day... "
de compartir su cama...  
"of sharing his bed..."

[Captions 13-8, Disputas > La Extraña Dama > 2]

Did you notice it's "harta" instead of "harto" in the song? The "you" is obviously female. You see, "harto(a)" is an adjective that on its own means "full." It agrees with the person who's, well, had it.

In this song, a similar sentiment is expressed with "ya no aguantas más" ("you can't take it anymore"). We wrote about the verb
"aguantar" ("to endure, to bear, to stand, to put up with, to tolerate") before, in
this lesson. As it happens, we also hear the word uttered in the newest installment of Provócame by young Julieta who claims to be running a very high fever (40º C = 104º F!). She says:

No parece porque me aguanto
"It doesn't look like it because I tolerate it"
[Caption 46, Provócame > Capítulo Seis >1]

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You see, Julieta is enduring her illness in a way someone who's fed up with sickness might not. In a sense, you can tolerate (aguantarse) something until you are sick of it (estar harto).

Continuer la lecture

¡Guau! Jajajajaja

If you didn't know a word of Spanish, but you knew how to pronounce it, the following would instantly make sense to you:

¡Guau!
[Captions 22 and 37, Carli Muñoz > Niñez]

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Listen to our interview with musician Carli Muñoz and you'll hear him wowed. Yes, he says: "¡Guau!" (pronounced as the English "Wow") twice in our four-minute segment. The spelling of "guau" is good to keep in mind when pronouncing other Spanish words that start with "Gua...." Two famous ones are geographic locations: the oft-sung Guantanamera (

click here for a popular performance) and the infamous Guantánamo. If you're like many North Americans (like, say,  Harold and Kumar), you may pronounce the latter "Gwan-TAN-a-mo," with the initial "G" audible (or you may just use the nickname "Gitmo"). But if you listen to native Spanish speakers, that initial "G" is so soft it all but disappears and the "W" sound is much clearer. (Here's one example we found to illustrate.)

Before we move on, here are two more lines to decipher based on your knowledge of Spanish pronunciation:

www.vuenosairez.com
¡Ja ja ja!

Stumped? The first is an events-listing website in Buenos Aires, which makes sense when you remember that "V" often sounds like "B" throughout the Spanish-speaking world and "Z" sounds like "S" in Latin America. You see, the unique URL

buenosaires.com must have already been taken when the edgier vuenosairez.com (aka vuenoz.com) set up shop.
 

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The second line is laughing, pronounced "Ha ha ha!," but with a more guttural "H" than we typically use in English. Remember, in Spanish, "H" is always silent, while "J" sounds closest to the "ch" of Scotland, Wales or Germany (as in Achtung, baby.) But a good memory aid is that "J"s approximate the "H" of English, and so "je je" sounds like "heh heh" and "ji ji" sounds like "hee hee." For a few more, click here.

Continuer la lecture

Mangos, gansos - useful expressions for gamblers

Le debés quiniento' mango' a tu amiguito, quiniento' mango' a tu amig'... ¿Y querés saber otra cosa? A mí también me debés quinientos mangos...
"You owe your little buddy five hundred bucks, five hundred bucks to your li'l... And you want to know something else? You owe me five hundred bucks too..."
[Captions 7,8, Muñeca Brava > La Apuesta, Apuesta, Part 1]

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In our latest episode of Muñeca Brava, Mili is clearly looking for revenge. So why is she mumbling about mangos and gansos? Milagros is always shouting clever and poignant argentinismos, that’s why we have to head far south to figure out what she is saying.

Milagros asks Ivo for quinientos mangos (500 mangos) and later on for quinientos pesos (500 pesos), pesos
being Argentina's currency. So it's fairly clear that while everywhere else mango is a fruit, in the land of tango, it’s also a common slang for “money.”

That was easy to figure out, but then Mili says:

No te olvides de esto. Los quiero ahora. Poniendo estaba la gansa... ¡vamos!
Don’t forget about this. I want them now. Pay up... let's go!"
[Caption 19, Muñeca Brava > La Apuesta, Apuesta, Part 1]

Un ganso is a male goose (also known in English as a "gander"). As we learned previously, ser ganso means "being a fool." Gansa, however, is a female goose (known in English as a "goose"), and one of the meanings of poner is "to lay" (as in "laying an egg"), so poniendo estaba la gansa literally means "laying was the goose."

 

However, another meaning of poner is to "to contribute" or "shell out" or "pay up." Here are some examples:

¿Van a poner para el regalo de María?
"Are you going to chip in/contribute for María´s present?"

No te preocupes, si no podés poner $50, poné menos.
"Don´t worry, if you can´t put in $50, put in less."

Mi tío se puso con $1000 para el viaje de egresados.
"My uncle shelled out $1000 for my graduation trip."

Si te casás, tu papá va a tener que ponerse.
"If you get married, your father will have to shell out/cough up [the money]."

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Poniendo estaba la gansa plays on these two possible meanings of poner ("to lay" and "to pay"). Some sources report that the complete phrase is poniendo estaba la gansa, que era gorda y estaba mansa ("laying eggs was the goose, who was fat and was tame") and that it comes from an old children's game. In actuality, we can't find an Argentine who's ever played the game (and some doubt that such a game ever existed). All agree that this expression is considered rather vulgar and low-class, which is no less than what we would expect from Milagros.

No voy a pagar porque a alguien se le ocurra decir 'poniendo estaba la gansa'.
"I'm not going to pay just because someone says 'poniendo estaba la gansa'."

-Sergio Dalla Lasta, quoted in LasIntesis.Com.Ar

Continuer la lecture

Ni loca - No way

We also have a new segment from the Argentine telenovela, Verano Eterno posted for your edification. Amid the rapid banter, we heard:

Ni loca
"No way"
[Caption 66, Verano Eterno > Fiesta Grande > 13]

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"Ni loco" or "Ni loca" (for a female speaker) is basically a short-hand way to say "Not even if I were crazy," "No way" or "Not on your life."

Here are a few more short but colorful "ni" expressions that mean essentially the same thing:

Ni en broma
"Not even as a joke / No way"

Ni en pedo
"Not even drunk / No way"

Finally, there are some other phrases we thought of where "ni" + "que" means something like "como si" in Spanish. "Ni que" might be translated into English as "it's as if" or (with a negative slant) "it's not like." Here are two examples:

¿Por qué me gritas? ¡Ni que fuera sordo!
"Why do you yell at me? It's as if (you think) I'm deaf!"

Ni que fuera adivino, para saber lo que piensas.
"It's not like I'm a fortune teller who knows what you're thinking about."

 

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Continuer la lecture