Leçons Espagnol

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Making Comparisons in Spanish - Part 2

In the first part of our lesson on comparative structures, we covered comparisons of inequality. However, what if we would like to talk about similarity? Part two of this lesson will deal with comparisons of equality as well as superlatives, and considering that 2020 has been uno de los años más difíciles para muchos (one of the hardest years for many people), superlative structures could definitely come in handy. 

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Comparisons of Equality

 

1. tan + adjective/adverb + como 

 

Let's start by using the Spanish equivalent of as ___ as (as good as, as fast as, etc.). We can use this structure with both adjectives and adverbs.

 

Oye, no, no es tan fácil como tú lo ves, ¿eh? 

Hey, no, it's not as easy as you see it, huh?

Caption 21, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 17

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tampoco saliste con una mina tan finoli como ella. 

you haven't dated a woman as elegant as her either.

Caption 18, Yago 12 Fianza - Part 9

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Notice that we use tan rather than tanto before the adjective or adverb. Thus, in the previous examples, it would be a mistake to say tanto fácil or tanto finoli. We can, however, say tanto más or tanto menos fácil (as explained in part one of this lesson). 

 

On the other hand, the similar structure tanto como is the Spanish equivalent of "as much as." In the following example, note that because tanto is an adverb, it is unmarked for gender and number. 

 

Espero que hayáis disfrutado al menos tanto como yo disfruto estando todos los días con vosotros. 

I hope that you have enjoyed at least as much as I enjoy being here every day with you guys.

Captions 76-78, Cómetelo Crema de brócoli - Part 11

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2. tanto + noun + como

 

Unlike the examples with adjectives and adverbs above, tanto must be marked for gender when used with nouns. We will therefore use tanto/s before masculine nouns and tanta/s before feminine nouns as follows:

 

Tiene tanto dinero como su hijo. 

She has as much money as her son does. 

 

Tiene tanta paciencia como tú.

She has as much patience as you do. 

 

Tienes tantas hermanas como yo.

You have as many sisters as I do. 

 

3. parecido(s)/parecida(s)           

 

When talking about things (cosas) that are similar, we can employ this term as an adjective (marked for number and gender) to say that they are parecidas. On the other hand, to express that something is done in a similar way, we use the unmarked adverb: parecidoas in Juana y su hermana hablan parecido. And to top it all off, parecido is also a noun that indicates resemblance.  

 

La [cultura] gitana es muy parecida a la cultura árabe. 

Gypsy [culture] is very similar to Arab culture.

Caption 37, Europa Abierta Jassin Daudi - Con arte

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Notice the use of the preposition a following the adjective parecida to indicate "to."

 

Now, let's look at parecido as a noun as it appears in this caption from Clase Aula Azul, which explains the use of the verb parecer:

 

Hablamos de parecidos físicos, ¿sí? Se parece es como decir, es parecido, es similar, ¿mmm?

We're talking about physical similarities, right? "Se parece" [It looks like] is like saying, it's alike, it's similar, hmm?

Captions 37-38, Clase Aula Azul El verbo parecer - Part 6

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4. idéntico/igual/mismo 

 

While we can use parecido or similar to describe similarities, what if the items being compared are exactly the same? When items are virtually indistinguishable, idéntico, igual, or mismo are suitable terms. Remeber that these are adjectives and are therefore marked for number and gender, except for igual, which is gender neutral. It is worth mentioning that only el/la mismo/a or los/las mismos/as can come before the noun. Thus, if one has the same t-shirt someone is wearing, he or she might say the following:

 

Tengo la misma remera (I have the same t-shirt).

Tengo una remera igual (I have a t-shirt shirt just like that).

Tengo una remera idéntica (I have an identical t-shirt). 

 

Let's take a look at some additional examples: 

 

Porque uno idéntico a este embarcó en el Titanic en mil novecientos doce. 

Because one identical to this one embarked on the Titanic in nineteen twelve.

Captions 24-25, Málaga Museo del automóvil

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Si hay diez personas trabajando con los mismos medios y las mismas herramientas,

If there are ten people working with the same media and the same tools,

Caption 73, Lo que no sabías Arte electrónico - Part 5

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As a side note, the interesting expressions me da igual or me da lo mismo mean "it's all the same to me" or "I don´t really care":

 

Ya lo que digan me da igual 

What people say doesn't matter to me anymore

Caption 22, Alejandro Fernandez Eres

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5. Como 

 

Another keyword when it comes to making comparisons is como (like). 

 

Juli, vas a quedar como una cobarde, como si te diera miedo. 

Juli, you're going to look like a coward, as if it scared you.

Captions 44-45, Club 10 Capítulo 1 - Part 5

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And you will definitely remember this comparative structure after listening to the Calle 13 song in this clip:

 

No hay nadie como tú

There is no one like you

Caption 29, Calle 13 No hay nadie como tú

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Superlative Structures

 

Finally, we have the superlative forms with the following structures: el/los/la/las/lo + más + adjective:

 

La prueba de sonido es lo más importante quizás porque es la preparación, ¿no?

The sound check is the most important thing, maybe because it's the staging, right?

Caption 6, David Bisbal Haciendo Premonición Live - Part 2

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Este es el aguacate más caro que hay en el mercado. 

This is the most expensive avocado that there is on the market.

Caption 38, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 1

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Note that there are a few irregular superlatives:

 

el mejor   (the best)

el peor      (the worst)

el mayor    (the oldest) 

 

For "the oldest," el más grande can also be used. While this is very common in some regions and can also mean "the largest," "the greatest," or "the biggest," it is important to remember that, as is the case with all irregular superlatives, mayor cannot be used in conjunction with más. Thus the sentence "Paul is the oldest in his class" can be translated as Paul es el más grande de su clase or Paul es el mayor de su clase but NOT Paul es el más mayor. 

 

We hope that you have enjoyed our newsletter, y lo que es más importante (what matters most) is that you have learned a lot! Don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments

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!

Gender in Spanish for Beginners

Welcome to our very basic lesson about gender in Spanish. How can we tell the gender of nouns in Spanish? Let’s look at the most general rule: Words that end in “a” are feminine, while those that end in “o” are masculine. Pretty easy, huh? Let's look at some examples:

 

Y la casa es súper bonita.

And the house is super nice.

Caption 86, Blanca y Mariona Vida en general

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Since the word casa is a feminine noun, the speaker uses the definite feminine article la before the noun. Let's see another one:

 

El libro es tan bueno

The book is as good

Caption 21, Karla e Isabel Comparativos

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In this case, the speaker uses the definite masculine article el before the masculine noun libro. By the way, please feel free to check our beginner-level lesson about definite and indefinite articles in Spanish grammar.

 

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The unfortunate thing, however, is that this simple rule is not always true, as our friend Arume proves when she correctly says “el tema” (the topic) and not “la tema,” which would be incorrect.

 

Y bueno ahí surge ya el tema de tengo novio, no tengo novio.

And well, that's when the topic of whether you have a boyfriend or not comes up.

Caption 75, Arume - La Vida Escolar

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Furthermore, in the first installment of our series on Andalusian farmers, “Del Campo a la Mesa,” the eldest picker illustrates another exception when he says, correctly, “las manos” (the hands): 

 

Pa' ganar cincuenta euros tienes que mover mucho las manos.

To be able to earn fifty Euros, you have to move the hands a lot.

Caption 29, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 1

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And it's not just such exceptions but also some rules that can complicate the situation. For example, do you know why the Mexican band Café Tacuba’s lead singer says el agua,” using the masculine article “el” (the) instead of the feminine article “la” (the)?

 

El agua derramada está

The water is already spilled

Caption 17, Café Tacuba - Volver a comenzar

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It’s not because agua is a masculine noun but rather because of a rule in Spanish that states that any feminine noun that begins with a stressed "a" should take the masculine articles (el and un) in its singular form in order to facilitate pronunciation (by avoiding two "a" sounds in a row). This is similar to the manner in which the indefinite article "a" in English changes to "an" before vowels.

 

You will note, however, that this rule does not apply to the plural forms, which maintain their feminine articles (which end in "s" rather than "a" and thus don't pose the same pronunciation challenge):

 

Ellos vinieron aquí, a las aguas de la Charca Larga, y había muchos seres extraños.

They came here, to the waters of Long Pond, and there were many strange beings.

Captions 42-43, Salvando el planeta Palabra - Llegada - Part 3

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And, in cases in which the "a" sound is unstressed, the rule doesn't apply, either:

 

La aceituna que yo he recogido está aquí.

The olive[s] that I have harvested [are] here.

Caption 19, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 1

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In conclusion, let’s just say that native Spanish speakers learn the gender of words by hearing and using them constantly in real situations and not by memorizing exceptions or wondering whether the word tristeza (sadness) feels more masculine or feminine. That said, the more we immerse ourselves in authentic Spanish, the more we, as learners, can begin to “intuitively” know the gender of nouns that we frequently encounter, including those that don’t follow the common pattern.

 

In any case, if you feel ready to explore some of the rules and exceptions of gender in Spanish, we invite you to take a look at our lesson about the gender of inanimate objects in Spanish. We hope that this brief introduction to gender in Spanish was useful, and please feel free to send us your suggestions and comments.

 

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