Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Spanish delight: Enrique Iglesias

With the November 1999 release of Enrique, his fourth album but first on Interscope Records, Enrique Iglesias became one of pop music's biggest stars. The platinum-certified Enrique spun off his first two number-one pop smashes: Bailamos, which hit number one in late summer 1999, and Be With You (a.k.a. Sólo me importas tú), which topped the pop chart in summer 2000 for three weeks and was also number one on Billboard's Dance Club chart.

Learning SpanishAs evidence of his worldwide appeal, Enrique has also sold more than three million copies outside the US, with the album a spectacular success in countries as diverse as Canada (quadruple platinum), Germany (platinum) and Taiwan (gold). The album's next single would be Sad Eyes, written by Bruce Springsteen.

In the meantime, Could I Have This Kiss Forever, which first was heard on Enrique, has been recorded as a duet with superstar Whitney Houston for her 2000-released Greatest Hits album. Enrique and Whitney also filmed its popular music video together. Renowned for his live performances (seen by hundreds of millions during the most recent Super Bowl halftime extravaganza), and following an extensive world tour supporting Enrique, Iglesias would next be seen and heard on stage with a European jaunt that launches August 23 in Oslo, Norway, and concludes September 23 at the Algarve Festival in Portugal. He will then return for further U.S. dates.

Of his heralded concert performances, the Washington Post has written: "It's not just Enrique Iglesias' smoldering good looks that make millions of women swoon over the 'sexiest man in the world.' …He [has a] gift for delivering romantic Latin ballads convincingly and dramatically.… [Iglesias is] a particularly engaging, charismatic performer" (Jan. 28, 1999).

The Los Angeles Times concurred: "For the most compelling and consistently satisfying live show in Latin pop, look no further than Enrique Iglesias. He's the real thing…thanks to the most effective weapon available to the live performer: the human touch" (March 13, 1999).

The path to this sort of Enrique-mania began in Madrid, Spain, where he was born on May 8, 1975. With a filipina mother and a dad, none other than the legendary Julio Iglesias, he naturally got music in his genes. Living in Miami since he was seven, he began his career in 1995 with the release of his first album, songs for which he'd been writing and arranging secretly since he was 16, with not even his family aware of his aspirations. Enrique Iglesias sold more than a million copies in its first three months on store shelves (he earned his first gold record in Portugal in a scant seven days).

To date, Iglesias' eponymous debut has sold more than six million units worldwide. Its follow-up, 1997's Vivir, has enjoyed global sales of more than five million discs. He supported Vivir by embarking on his first world tour (backed by sidemen for Elton John, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel). The international jaunt travelled to 78 venues in 16 countries, visiting stadiums with capacities of more than 50,000. In the U.S., Iglesias performed at 19 arenas. A total of 720,000 people attended the planet-spanning concerts and the critically acclaimed road trip was an immense commercial success. He set off on his second world tour, in support of Cosas del amor, in February 1999. The first tour ever sponsored by McDonald's, Iglesias offered more than 80 performances.

Iglesias was already a major star singing in Spanish before Enrique became his first English-language album. 1995's Grammy-winning Enrique, and 1997's Vivir, are each RIAA-certified platinum in the U.S., with 1998's Cosas del amor, gold and nearing platinum. The singer-songwriter sold more than 13 million albums of his first three releases- in a mere three years. In the Americas, Europe and Asia, songs such as Si tú te vas, Por amarte, Experiencia religiosa, Trapecista, No llores por mí, Enamorado por primera vez, Sólo en tí, Miente, Revolución, Esperanza and Nunca te olvidaré reached number one on various charts in the US and 18 other countries.

Iglesias racked up 132 platinum records, 251 gold albums and scores of awards. Among the latter are the 1996 Grammy for Best Latin Performer; 1996's Artist of the Year from Billboard, 1998's American Music Award for Best Latin Artist, 1997's Billboard Album of the Year for Vivir, a World Music Award for Best-Selling Artist, eight Premio Lo Nuestro Awards, two ACE Performer of the Year Awards; and ASCAP prizes for Best Composer of 1996 and 1997.

Then came Bailamos. Will Smith caught an Iglesias show in L.A. and made a special request of him to contribute to the soundtrack for his film Wild Wild West (released jointly by Overbrook Records, Smith's label, and Interscope Records). Fusing full-throttle dance beats with Latin rhythms and Iglesias' characteristically rich, seductive vocals, Bailamos (pronounced "By-LA-Mos" and translated as "Let's Dance") was bootlegged by US radio stations playing European versions well before its official release, and it quickly became the most-requested track in several of the largest markets in the country, including Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Dallas.

Upon its official debut, Bailamos shot to the top and so has Iglesias. As a co-writer, he won yet another ASCAP award for the song. An international artist in every sense of the word, he was named both Favourite Latino Artist at the 2000 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards and Male International Artist of the Year at the CCTV-MTV Music Honours in Beijing, China.

With Enrique, he has now recorded in four languages-Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and English. An inveterate consumer of any and all music that comes his way, no matter its origins, he is deeply grateful for the musical education afforded by his immersion in three cultures-Latin, European and American.

Enrique Iglesias: Bailamos

In English, Bailamos means "We Dance", or in this case, "Let's Dance".

Enrique Iglesias first released Bailamos on a limited edition of his Spanish album Cosas Del Amor and then as a single in parts of Latin America and Europe. Bailamos was chosen for the soundtrack of the movie, Wild Wild West on Will Smith’s request to Enrique for a contribution after he attended one of Enrique’s concerts.

After the song rapidly became the most requested on pop radio in New York, Los Angeles and Miami, it was released as a single throughout the world due to it’s popularity.

A portion of this video was shot in Mexico, while most of it shot in the backlot at Universal Studios. In this video, Iglesias is depicted as a wanted man with the opening shot being a poster calling for his capture "dead or alive". Entering a sleepy Mexican town. He attracts several women who dance around him. Picking one out, they kiss until they are interrupted by people trying to claim the reward. Both Iglesias and the love interest manage to escape. The video also contains small snippets of scenes from Wild Wild West movie.
Here are the lyrics of the song:

Esta Noche Bailamos
De Noite - da mi vida
Quedate conmigo

Tonight we dance
I leave my life in your hands
We take the floor
Nothing is forbidden anymore

Don't let the world in outside
Don't let a moment go by
Nothing can stop us tonight


Bailamos - let the rhythm take you over Bailamos
Te quiero amor mio - Bailamos
Wanna live this night forever - bailamos
Te quiero amor mio - Te quiero

Tonight I'm yours
We can make it happen I'm so sure
I won't let it go
There is something I think you should know

I won't be leaving your side
We're going to dance through the night
I want to reach for the stars.


Bailamos - let the rhythm take you over Bailamos
Te quiero amor mio - Bailamos
Wanna live this night forever - Bailamos
Te quiero amor mio - Te quiero

Tonight we dance
Like no tomorrow
If you will stay with me
Te quiero mi amor

Quidate conmigo
esta noche - bailamos

Bailamos - let the rhythm take you over Bailamos
Te quiero amor mio - Bailamos
Wanna live this night forever - Bailamos
Te quiero amor mio Bailamos

Como te quiero
Como te quiero
Como te quiero


Se encuentran dos amigos.

Two friends run into each other.)

- Oye, macho, ¡tengo un pato que habla!

"Hey [listen], man, I have a duck that talks!”)

- Amos, hombre, no digas tonterías.

("Come on, man, don't say stupid things.")

- Que sí, ya verás. Ven a mi casa y lo ves.

("But it's true, you'll see. Come to my house and you'll see it.")

Llegan a la casa, abren la puerta y aparece un pato.

(They arrive at the house, open the door, and a duck appears.)

- A ver. Pato, tráeme una corbata.

("Watch. Duck, bring me a tie.")

- ¡Cuaaa!


- Pst...¡la de rayas misma!

("Geez . . . the striped one! [Cuál = Which?])

Hearing aid

- Jo, tío, me acabo de comprar un aparato para la sordera que es una maravilla. Me lo puedo meter en la oreja y nadie se da cuenta.

("Hey, man, I have just bought myself an aid for deafness that is a wonder. I can put it in my ear and nobody realizes it.”)

- Jo, ¡qué cosas...! ¿y cuánto te ha costado?

("Huh, what things [will they think of next]! And how much did it cost you?")

- Las dos y cuarto.

("A quarter past two.")

What a memory!

Unos tíos están subidos a un árbol cuando les ve un policía.

(Some guys are up in a tree when a policeman sees them.)

- Pero, bueno, ¿ustedes qué hacen ahí? Venga hombres, bajen. ¡No sea que se caigan y se rompan algo!

("Well, what are you all doing there? Come on men, come down. Let's not have any of you falling and breaking something!")

Y cuando llegan al suelo...

(And when they arrive on the ground . . .)

- A ver, ¿ustedes quiénes son?

("O.K. now, who are you?")

-¡Pucha, qué memoria! ¡Los del árbol!

("Geez, what a memory! The ones from the tree!")

Jenny from the block

Jennifer's mother, a kindergarten teacher, and her father, a computer analyst, nurtured her ambitions early on by enrolling the young star-to-be in dance lessons. It was as a dancer that her career really started: she started in musicals and soon graduated to the small screen. Lopez later beat out thousands in a national dance in order to earn herself a place as one of Rosie Perez's Flygirls on the '80s comedy show In Living Colour.

Lopez was able to turn her success as a Flygirl into more television work, and appeared in a series of new but short-lived sitcoms. Despite the setbacks, she was still able to move on to better things, this time on the big screen. Landing a part in Gregory Nava's critically acclaimed Mi familia helped get Lopez into the eyes of the right people.

In 1995, she appeared in Money Train alongside Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson, and in 1996 she had a role as Miss Marquez in the rather forgettable Jack. 1997 was a defining year for Lopez. Her role as the lead in Selena put her well in the public eye. Selena was very successful and propelled Jennifer Lopez into the spotlight. The film also allowed Lopez to showcase her singing talents and also introduced her to Ojani Noa, whom she married but later divorced.

Later that year, Lopez continued her rise to fame in Anaconda and Oliver Stone's U Turn. 1997 also saw Lopez get listed in People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People! In 1998, Lopez turned it up a notch in Out of Sight with George Clooney. This box-office hit helped confirm that she was here to stay. But she was not content with movie stardom yet. Later that year, Lopez took the Billboard charts by storm with If You Want My Love. Lopez made herself a sex symbol with her moves in that video and she's been gaining ground ever since.

Latino legend: Ricky Martin

Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Ricky Martin's first taste of stardom came in grade school when he acted in school plays and sang in the choir. As a young boy Ricky appeared in numerous television commercials and immersed himself in singing lessons. At the age of 12, Ricky landed a spot with the Latin boy group of the '80s, Menudo. For five years, Ricky maintained a gruelling regime of recording work and tours.

It wasn't until 1989 that he decided to move to New York and go solo with his career. A year went by with no work for the aspiring entertainer. This misfortune led him to Mexico, where he became a cast on the soap opera Alcanzar una Estrella II. While in Mexico, Ricky completed his first two Spanish Albums, Ricky Martin and Me amarás. Each achieved gold status in several countries. Having this great success, Ricky decided to return to the States. 1995 would see a breakthrough in his professional career, with the release of Medio vivir, an album that combined Latin styling with a rock orientation. More success would turn his way when he was awarded the prestigious role of Marius in the Broadway production of Les Miserables.

February 1999 was when Ricky established himself as a household name in America. This was due to his electrifying performance of his smash hit, La copa de la vida at the Grammy Awards show. International superstar Ricky Martin detonated the Latin Pop explosion, paving the way for other Latin Pop stars like Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias, Luis Miguel, and Mark Anthony. Ricky Martin appears to be handling his success with great style, but this Latin heartthrob's success is far from over. The Ricky Martin fever will continue to burn in the music industry, as long the Latin Sensation is out there singing and shaking his Bon Bon.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Common Spanish expressions in 9 minutes!

Can you learn Spanish in 9 minutes? No. But, can you learn to utter a few basic Spanish statements essential for a survival conversation in 9 minutes? Definitely yes! This video introduces you to some of the most common Spanish expressions used over a regular day’s speech to express needs, wants, future possibilities, and much more, all packed in a 9-minutes presentation from ESAUDIO.net!

Common Spanish verbs - VI

Extending our
series on common Spanish verbs, here is the sixth video installment of Spanish verbs from ESAUDIO.net. Listen to it carefully and pay close attention to the pictures and you’ll soon discover how seamless learning can be with all those illustrations and videos!

Spanish pronunciation: Accent rules for an authentic pronunciation

There are some things written lessons just can’t teach. For example, pronunciation. Yes, it’s extremely difficult to master a foreign language pronunciation rules without being able to listen to them. So, here’s a video lesson from SpanishBootCamp, just meant to address this particular challenge of our fellow Spanish learners who don’t get to hear much Spanish around them.

Spanish preterite tense: Some video illustrations

This video teaches all about that mysterious
Spanish preterite tense, usage rules, conjugations, examples and its English equivalents, all in a span of 10-minutes flat! This video was exclusively crafted by Mr. Richard de Meij for our Spanish learners on YouTube.

Common Spanish verbs - V

This video lesson teaches you some elementary Spanish verbs using pictures for illustrations and forms a part of the video
series on Spanish verbs. This series is a must-have resource for any serious learner of Spanish, and has already been an established success. Play and watch through the video and don’t forget to thank ESAUDIO.net for their efforts!

Common Spanish verbs - IV

Continuing the video series on
Common Spanish verbs, here we present before you, the fourth video where you learn some new verbs in this interesting language just my watching and listening, all thanks to ESAUDIO.net! Pay attention to the pronunciation and do replay if and wherever necessary. Hope you enjoy your learning.

Common Spanish verbs - III

Here’s the third installment of our videos teaching Spanish verbs through pictures and voice. This is the third in a series of videos on Spanish verbs and have been taken from
ESAUDIO.net exclusively for you learners, the other videos being at Common Spanish verbs - I and Common Spanish verbs - II. Don’t hesitate to replay the video a few times to draw the maximum benefit

Common Spanish verbs - II

This is in continuation to the earlier article on Spanish verbs, courtesy ESAUDIO.net, where you can learn some more commonly used Spanish verbs in an easygoing, smooth narration. You might want to replay it several times to fully learn the verbs taught.

Common Spanish verbs - I

This video, courtesy
ESAUDIO.net, teaches some common Spanish verbs in an easy, smooth narration. You might want to replay it several times to fully learn the verbs taught.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Spanish preterite tense: Kill the confusion, now!

The preterite tense is a well known confusion among most English-speaking learners of Spanish. They have this natural tendency to confuse the preterite with the imperfect and vice versa. Both tenses describe actions that took place in the past. The confusion stems from the fact that in English, in certain instances we sometimes use the same form of a verb to describe an action that took place in the past. But in Spanish, in the same instance, you cannot use any of the preterite or the imperfect, randomly. Only one would be correct.

For example, in English , we can use the past tense of the verb "to go" (i.e. "went") to describe two different actions that took place in the past.

1. I went to the shopping mall thrice.

2. When I was young, I went to the shopping mall.

(Note: In English, for second statement, you could also say, "When I was young, I used to go to the shopping mall.”)

Both sentences use the same verb "went" to describe the action that took place in the past. But in Spanish, you cannot use the same verb tense. In the first sentence, you must use the preterite of "ir" (fui), and the imperfect form (iba) in the latter.

Yo fui al centro comercial tres veces.

Cuando yo era joven, yo iba al centro comercial.

We will cover the imperfect verb tense in greater detail in a future lesson. But for now, think of it as a form used to describe "how things used to be" or to describe an action that was continuous or habitual in the past.

The preterite form is generally used to tell what happened:

a. During a fixed period of time. For example, “yesterday, I bought a hammer” (ayer, compré un martillo).

b. A specific number of times either stated or implied. For example, “he lost my screwdriver twice” (él perdió mi destornillador dos veces), “I went to the hardware store”(yo fui a la ferretería). Here, it is implied that you went to the hardware store once.

c. During an enclosed period of time. For example, “you hammered the nail for an hour” (tú martillaste el clavo por una hora).

Saturday, July 14, 2007

"Mexicanos, al grito de guerra:" A brief history of the Mexican national anthem

On November 12th, 1853, during the presidency of General Mariano Arista, a literary contest was held to select the lyrics of the National Anthem. On February 3rd, 1854, the Official Journal of the Federation published the name of the winner: Francisco González Bocanegra, from San Luis Potosí. This same day, another competition was staged to set music to the lyrics of the National Anthem. The commission formed to select the music from a total of 15 compositions. On August 12th, 1854, the composition, God and Freedom, by Jaime Nunó, was declared the winner. Jaime Nunó was born in San Juan de las Abadesas, Gerona, Spain, in September 1825. The National Anthem of the United Mexican States was heard in public for the first time on September 16th 1854.

Friday, July 13, 2007

A tale of 4 penguins

This 7-minutes video clip, again, courtesy
SpanishBootCamp, relates the lives and adventures of a family of 4 naughty, bratty penguin kids and their worried mother. Listen to the crisp narration and try to relate the narrated words to the scripted subtitles and see how far you understand the speech. Best for kids who love listening to stories at bedtime.

Learn Spanish possessive pronouns in 6 minutes!

This clip, courtesy YouTube, teaches you how to use demonstratives, weak and strong possessive pronouns, and possessives used as nouns, all in a crisp and smooth 6 minutes!

Spanish language story of two lovebirds

Watch out this video taken from SpanishBootCamp! An amazingly sweet and entertaining story of two lovebirds out to make a nest for themselves told in animation with Spanish narration and bi-lingual subtitle. For best use, watch this video over and over again till you understand the meaning of the narration without reading the subs. And say your thanks to

Spanish language used in a restaurant

Here’s an excellent video that teaches you how to use Spanish while ordering something in a restaurant. Pay attention to the video and listen to it carefully. You’ll notice the peculiar ‘zh’ pronunciation of ‘ll’ (pollo-->’po-zho’). This pronunciation is typical of most South-American countries, especially Argentina and Peru.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Learn common Spanish phrases through videos

Here is a yet another revolutionary tool for you to learn Spanish quickly: Spanish video! It is often said, and said for the right reasons, that videos are a much better tool in the learning of a language as compared to traditional text resources. The most logical reason is equally obvious too. Since human mind comprehends and retains visual and animated information better and for longer than text data, hence expediting the whole learning process, videos play a vital role in any kind of learning. How? Discover it for yourself in this post.

Learn Spanish question words using these mnemonics

The importance of knowing how to ask a question is obvious, but a large number of people tend to mix up the question words or simply can't remember them. Try to use these
mnemonic (memory) tricks to help you remember the question words. The following examples are silly and will not elicit the exact question word, but they will jar your memory.

Cómo how (How did she get into a coma?)

Quién who (Who dates Barbie? Ken!)

Qué what (What do they sell at K -mart?)

Cuándo when (When did you use a condom?)

Most questions that have a question word are created exactly like a yes or no question with the question word in front. Take the question “does he speak Italian?” ¿ Habla él italiano? There are several question words that could simply be placed in front of the question to elicit more information than yes or no. See the following sample sentences for examples on how different question words can elicit different answers:

¿ Cómo habla él italiano? (How does he speak Italian?)

¿ Dónde habla él italiano? (Where does he speak Italian?)

¿ Cuándo habla él italiano? (When does he speak Italian?)

¿ Por qué habla él italiano? (Why does he speak Italian?)

All of the sample questions can be created simply by switching the subject and the verb to create a yes or no question and then simply placing the specific question word in front.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Survival Spanish with 175 basic words!

This is called
survival Spanish. Yes, you don’t need to mug away heavy dictionaries in order to be able to get by in Spanish. This applies as much to Spanish, as to any other language. For a survival conversation, all you need is a vocabulary of the following 175 Spanish words!


de of, from, by
la the
el the
a to, at
los the
un a, an, one
las the
del of the, from the, by the
una a, an, one
al to the, at the
dos two
uno a, an, one
cada each
tres three
unos some, a few


que that, than
y and
o or
como as, like
pero but
si if
porque because
cuando when
ni nor, neither
donde where
e and
aunque although, even though
sino but, except
mientras while


en in, on, into
por through, for (means), along, by
con with
para in order to, for (ends)
sin without
sobre about, above, on top of
entre between, among
hasta until
desde from, since
durante during, for (time)
contra against
hacia toward
según according to


se himself, herself, itself, yourself, yourselves, themselves
lo him, you
su his, her, your
me me
le him, her, you
sus his, her, your, their
yo I
qué what
mi my
nos us, ourselves
te you
eso that
él he, him
nada nothing
esto this
ella she, her
usted you
cómo how
les them, you
algo something
ellos they, them
nosotros we, us
tu your


no no, not
más more
ya already, now, soon
muy very
también also
así so
bien well
sólo (solamente) only
ahora now
siempre always
tan so
entonces then
después after, later
menos less
aquí here
antes before, earlier
hoy today
luego then, later
además besides, in addition
casi almost
nunca never


es is, are
ha has, have
son are
está is, are
hay there is, there are
ser to be
era was, were
había there was, there were
tiene has, have
fue was, were
puede can
han has, have
hacer to make, to do
hace make(s), do(es)
decir to say
va go(es)
estaba was, were
sea (might) be
ver to see
están are
sido been
dijo said
he I have
creo I believe
tienen have
tenía had
dice says, say
vamos we go, we are going
tener to have
parece seems, seem
poder to be able to
pueden can


este this
todo all
esta this
todos all, everyone
ese that
mismo same
otro other, another
esa that
bueno good
otra other, another
tanto so much
otros other, others
poco little (not much)
mucho much
gran great
estos these
general general
todas all, everyone
mayor bigger, older
mejor better
toda all
tal such, such a
otras other, others
estas these
primera first
algunos some
los años years
la vez time (una vez once)
la parte part
la vida life
el tiempo time, weather
el día day
el mundo world
el estado state, status
el gobierno government
la casa house
el hombre man
el país country
la forma way
el año year
el caso case
el hecho fact, act
el momento moment
las cosas things
España Spain
el trabajo work
los días days
la política policy, politics
las veces times
la gente people
el lugar place
el ejemplo example
las personas people
la mujer woman


pues well

Spanish humor: The best way to practise you Spanish skills

Here’s a short joke in Spanish with a line-by-line English translation. The short passage has been written using minimal Spanish that needs little more than an elementary knowledge of the language. Read this passage a few times and see if you can relate the Spanish sentences with their English translations.

El doctor llama por teléfono a su paciente:

(The doctor calls his patient by telephone:)

- Vera, tengo una noticia buena y otra mala.

("Vera, I have good news and bad news.")

- Bueno... dígame primero la buena.

("Well then, . . . tell me the good news first.")

- Los resultados del análisis indican que le quedan 24 horas de vida.

("The results of the analysis indicate that you have 24 hours left to live.")

- Pero, bueno, ¿eso es la buena noticia? ¿Entonces cuál es la mala?

("Well, that's the good news? Then what's the bad news?")

- Que llevo intentando localizarle desde ayer.

("That I have been trying to reach you since yesterday.")

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Trick to learn usage of Spanish "a" instantly

As a beginner learning Spanish, you may be told that the Spanish preposition a is the way of expressing the English preposition to. Indeed, this is often the case. But it won't take you long to find out that a also has a wide variety of other uses. In fact, it can be translated not only as to, but also as on, at, from, by or in — or various other prepositions. And in many cases it is not translated at all.

Rather than learning how to use a by its translation, it is probably best to learn the purposes for which a is used. Look over the chart below for some examples of how a is commonly used. This chart doesn't cover all its uses, but it does show the uses you are most likely to come across at the beginning stages of learning Spanish. Where a is translated, the translation is indicated in boldface. (Note: In a few places below you'll see the contraction, al, which is short for a + el.)

Best way to remember the usage? Well, remember the phrase: Infinite motion in a timely manner. Confused? Let me explain. The words of this phrase tell where to use this preposition, a:

INFINITE used to connect a verb with a following infinitive. E.g., empezó a salir (she began to leave), entró a hablar contigo (he came in to talk to you), él se negó a nadir (he refused to swim).

MOTION to indicate motion. Almost any verb indicating motion or such nouns can be followed by this preposition before the destination. E.g., llegamos a St. Louis (we arrived at St. Louis), se acercó a la casa (he got near the house), esa es la puerta al baño (that is the door to the bathroom).

IN to introduce an indirect object or a direct object that is a person or is treated as one. This usage is known as the personal a. The preposition in these cases usually is not translated. E.g., conozco a Pedro (I know Peter), encontré a Fido (I found Fido), veré a María (I’ll see Mary), le doy una camisa a Jorge (I am giving a shirt to George), compro una camisa a Jorge (I am buying a shirt for George), le robo una camisa a Jorge (I am taking a shirt from George), le pongo la camisa a Jorge (I am putting the shirt on George).

TIMELY in various expressions of time. E.g., salimos a las cuatro (we are leaving at four), estamos a lunes (today is Monday).

MANNER numerous expressions begin with a followed by a noun to indicate how something is done. The phrase starting with a functions as an adverb and is sometimes translated as one. E.g., vamos a pie (we are going on foot), hay que fijarlo a mano (it is necessary to fix it by hand), estoy a dieta (I am on diet), escribo a lapis (I’m writing with a pencil), andan a ciegas (they are walking blindly), llegamos a tiempo (we are arriving on time), lee el libro a escondidas (he is studying the book covertly).

Keep in mind that not all uses of a are listed here, and that in some cases other prepositions can be used for the same purpose. As you become more familiar with Spanish, you will come to instinctively know which preposition to use in various circumstances.

Quick tips: How to translate 'best' and 'worst' in Spanish!

Best" and "worst" as adjectives are usually expressed in Spanish using mejor (pl. mejores) and peor (pl. peores), respectively, and their usage is also pretty much similar to that of their English counterparts. Remembering them is easy:

Peor derives from the Latin, pejor, a common source for the more familiar English word, pejorative (having negative connotations). Mejor spells very similar to major; imagine a major event in your city, the best you had ever seen in your life!

Time for some practice now:

el mejor presidente, the best president
la mejor cámara, the best camera
los mejores estudiantes, the best students
el peor libro, the worst book
las peores películas, the worst films
mi mejor camisa, my best shirt
nuestras mejores decisiones, our best decisions
tu peor característica, your worst quality
• ¿Qué coche es el mejor? Which car is the best?
He comprado muchas computadoras, y ésta es la peor. I have bought many computers, and this one is the worst.

When mejor or peor is functioning as a noun, lo is used as the definite article when mejor or peor refers to no particular noun. In such cases, lo mejor frequently can be translated as "the best" or "the best thing"; lo peor frequently can be translated as "the worst" or "the worst thing." A few examples:

Lo mejor es olvidar. The best thing is forgetting.
Lo mejor es que me voy a casa. The best thing is that I'm going home.
El amor es lo mejor de lo mejor. Love is the best of the best.
Lo peor es cuando haces una pregunta y nadie responde. The worst thing is when you ask a question and nobody answers.
Vi lo mejor y lo peor de la humanidad. I saw the best and the worst of humanity.

In phrases taking the form "the best/worst ... in the ...," the "in" typically is translated using de:

lo mejor coche del mundo, the best car in the world
el mejor presidente de la historia, the best president in history
el peor libro de toda la existencia humana, the worst book in all human existence
las peores películas de la serie, the worst movies in the series.

Still find it difficult to remember how to say best and worst in Spanish?

Speak Spanish like a native, use fillers

The most valid way to sound like a native in any language is to use the fillers and verbal nods of that lingo. An often ignored aspect of any language that is never taught officially in any grammar books. Filler words are perhaps one of the strongest aspect of colloquialism in Spanish, like any other language.

In Spanish those "filler" words are called muletillas (or, less commonly, palabras de relleno) and are very common. But Spanish speakers tend not to use one-syllable utterances as much as in English. Instead, they tend to use common words like este (usually pronounced as esteeeee, depending on how nervous the person is), esto (or estoooo) or in Mexico o sea (which roughly means "I mean").

Che is often heard in Argentina. In other areas you may hear es decir (meaning, roughly, "that is to say"). The "er" has its equivalent in the sound "eeeehh," and em is similar to the English "ummm."

Also, it is very common to use pues, which loosely translates into the English ‘well.’ Pues can be used at the start of a sentence as a kind of filler while you can get your thoughts together. Or try a ver, which is to say, "let's see."

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

9 words of Spanish in 5 minutes!

Try to visualize the tags given for the following Spanish words and see your vocabulary grow in minutes!
Here you go:

gana desire ("I'm gonna miss/desire her while she's away.")

gato cat (Garfield and Tom, funny cats both of’em!)

guapo good-looking (a good-looking girl eating an apple)

habitación living space (remember habitat?)

hablar to speak, to talk (keep talking...blah, blah, blah...)

idioma language (learning the idioms is the best way to practise any language)

labios lips (imagine dissecting a guinea pig’s lips in a Biology lab!)

madera wood (imagine some vintage Madeira wine stored in a wooden vat. Tempting, ain’t it?)

Mujer woman (imagine a female mummy with long hair in a pyramid)

Tip: Don’t target learning more than 10 words a day for best retention.

Tips to master those boring irregular verbs

Learning the conjugation of verbs often seems foreign in more ways than one to those of us who have English as a native language. In English, after all, the forms of most verbs vary little — just add a "-s" or "-es" in the third-person singular and add "-ed" for the past tense.

But it's not quite so easy in Spanish, with separate forms for the various tenses and the three verb endings (-ar, -er, and -ir).

And then there are those irregular pesky verbs. As if learning the regular conjugations weren't bad enough, the student of Spanish needs to memorize 50-plus different patterns for irregular verbs. If you're perplexed by the challenge of learning those irregular forms, here are some tips that might make the task easier:

1. Don't sweat it too much. Many of the verbs that are the most irregular are also the ones most commonly used, so you'll run across those verbs more often and use them more often. So it won't take long until the irregular forms seem natural.

It shouldn't come as a big surprise that the most common verbs are the most irregular; that tendency is a natural way that many languages develop. The same is true in English: "Am," "is," "was," and "been" are all forms of the verb "to be," and another common verb, "to go," also has highly irregular forms. The equivalent verbs in Spanish are highly irregular as well.

2. Remember the many of the verbs are irregular according to regular patterns. A number of verbs with an e in the stem change to an -ie- form when that syllable is emphasized. Thus calentar becomes calienta, comenzar becomes comienza, and perder becomes pierde — all follow a similar pattern in certain conjugations. In some ways, when you learn one irregular verb you also can learn dozens more.

3. Remember that some verb forms are based on others. Most notably, most verbs that are irregular in the future tense are irregular in the same way in the conditional form. For example, decir becomes diría in the first-person conditional and diré in the first-person future.

4. Finally, pay attention to the way the letters are pronounced, because some verbs are irregular only in their spelling. Thus sacar becomes saqué in the first-person preterite, because if it were spelled regularly it would be pronounced incorrectly.

If all else fails, you can always look up the conjugation.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Spanish subject pronouns: Interesting tips

The most vital starting point in learning any grammar would invariably be the subject pronouns. So, here's a post dedicated to this very topic: Spanish subject pronouns.


yo I
you (familiar)
Usted or Ud. you (formal)
él he
ella she


nosotros we (masc.)
nosotras we (fem.)
vosotros you all (familiar-masc.)
vosotras you all (familiar-fem.)
Ustedes or Uds. you all (formal)
éllos they (masc.)
ellas they (fem.)

Now, the tricks to learn them: Always remember that a Spanish word ending in -a is mostly feminine and any ending in -o, masculine. So, this explains the nosotros-nosotras, the vosotros-vosotras, and the él-ella combos. Plurals are generally, like in English, made by adding -s or -es. But éls doesn't sound great to Spanish ears (Spanish rarely allows consonants together) so, we get a cleaner, ellos (remember, the -os makes it masculine) Same applies for ella-ellas too. rhymes so well with you that it's hard to forget its meaning.

Don't really bother about vosotros/-as unless you plan to learn European Spanish, because it is only used in Spain. Mnemonics:

yo (spells like you but means exactly the opposite!)
(rhymes with you)
nosotros (do you know this: we all have some hair in our nostrils!?)
él (He and él combine to become hell. Boys from hell!)
ella (rhymes with a feminine name, Stella)

Do these mnemonics work? If they don't for you, please suggest something better and I promise I'll incorporate them in my coming posts.