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This Learn Spanish BLOG* takes regular tips of useful and interesting Spanish learning bits and pieces, put up whenever and wherever things pop up. Things that will be of interest to learners of Spanish language. If you have any tidbits to contribute do contact us via the Learn Spanish Blog Contact Us form below.
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1 feb, 2011

Standing in your leather means you are naked... but do be careful!

The Spanish for leather is el cuero.

It also means animal skin or animal hide.

En cueros, is a colloquial idiom for naked!

In Chile/Mexican Spanish cuero is an adjective meaning gorgeous.

Ser un cuero... means 'she is a babe, a stunner' or 'he is a hunk!'

However be careful as reader Dan Borges explains:
Please, refrain from calling any lady a "cuero" if you travel to Puerto Rico. You would be calling her a whore. And not even whores like the sound of the very disparaging "cuero"! These are the pitfalls of making generalizations based upon your knowledge of Spanish as used in a given region of Latin America. We don't have hundreds, but thousands of regionalisms throughout Latin America and you better get some advice from a local about what to say and what NOT to say when in that particular region of Latin America.

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02 septiembre 2010

La Quinceañera

Throughout Latin America a girl's fifteenth birthday - her coming of age as a woman - is celebrated with family, friends, and a big party.

Read the article - La quinceañera - and practice your Spanish, with English translation.

19 agosto 2010

Reader José Feliciano says:

I wouldn't say "valer" and "costar" are completely interchangeable. Valer means "to be worth" and is sometimes used idiomatically for usage where costar would not work:

No vale la pena. It's not worth the trouble.
Valte bien. Show them how it's done.
¡Válgame Dios! Bless my soul!
Su tarjeta no vale. Your card is not valid.

19 julio 2010

How much does it cost?

The verbs costar and valer - to cost - mean the same thing and are interchangeable and it doesn't really matter which one you use. There are two forms of the verbs, singular and plural:

Singular (when buying one item)

¿Cuánto cuesta? / ¿Cuánto vale? = How much does it cost?

¿Cuánto cuesta el jugo? / ¿Cuánto vale el jugo? = How much does the juice cost?

¿Cuánto cuesta este mesa? / ¿Cuánto vale este mesa? = How much does this table cost? / How much is this table?

Plural (when buying more than one item)

¿Cuánto cuestan? / ¿Cuánto valen? = How much do they cost?

¿Cuánto cuestan/valen los zapatos? = How much do the shoes cost?

¿Cuánto cuestan/valen estas toallas? = How much do the towels cost?

You can also say:

¿Cuánto es? = How much is it?

¿Cuánto son? = How much are they?


¿A cuánto está? (singular) or ¿A cuánto están? (plural)
= How much is it/are they? ... where prices may vary due to seasonal changes, e.g. a fruit shop.

el costo (m) = the price, cost

costoso (m) / costosa (f) (adj) = costly, expensive

02 julio 2010

Si ganamos!

If we win!

Si ganamos, todos nuestros jugadores más su técnico se convertirán en deidades. Saldremos a la calle a compartir nuestra alegría con todos. Veremos los goles que nos llevaron al triunfo tantas pero tantas veces que nos llevara al hartazgo.

If we win, all our players plus the coaches will turn into Gods/deities. We will go out onto the street(s) to share our happiness with everyone. We will see the goals that carried us to triumph so many times until we can no more.

Que ocurre si perdemos? Entonces diremos que aquellos jugadores fueron mal elegidos, que no dieron todo, que el director técnico se equivocó; e inventaremos muchas excusas para justificar tantos días de solo fútbol a cambio de nada.

What happens if we lose? Then we will say those players were badly selected, they didn’t give it their all, the manager made the wrong decisions; and we will invent many excuses to justify all those days of nothing but football.

Por que tanta pasión por algo que es solo un juego?
Solo el fútbol sabe!

Why such passion for something that is just a game?
Only football knows!

ganamos (ganar) = we win (to win)
il técnico = coach, expert
la deidad = deity
Saldremos a la calle. = We will go out onto/into the street(s).
compartir nuestra alegría = to share our happiness
il gol / los goles = goal / goals
triunfo tantas pero tantas veces = triumph so many times
el hartazgo = the point of being gorged/stuffed full, the limit
hartarse (vr) = to get fed up / gorge oneself / get sick of
perdemos (perder) = we loose (to lose)
mal elegidos = wrongly/badly selected
no dieron todo = they didn’t give it (their) all
el director técnico se equivocó = the manager made wrong decisions
muchas excusas = many excuses
solo fútbol a cambio de nada = nothing but football
es solo un juego = it is just a game

Eduardo Luis Aceto

28 junio, 2010

La magia del fútbol

The Magic of Football

Quizás la magia del fútbol este en que uno se vuelve niño durante noventa minutos.

Perhaps the magic is that one becomes a child again for ninety minutes.

Se pierde el miedo al ridículo y entonces nos pintamos la cara con los colores de nuestra bandera. Como si fuese un maquillaje barato para película de guerra de bajo presupuesto.

We lose the fear of making a fool of ourselves and so paint our faces with the colours of our flag. The way one puts on cheap make-up as if (assuming) for a low-cost war movie.

La única preocupación es acompañar el destino de esa pelota de cuero que viaja acrobáticamente de pie en pie.

The only concern/worry is to follow the destiny of that leather ball travelling acrobatically from foot to foot.

la magia (f) = magic
el niño (m) = toddler
perderse el miedo al ridículo. = to lose one's fear of making a fool of oneself
la bandera (f) = flag
la maquillaje barato (f) = cheap make-up
la película de guerra de bajo presupuesto = low-cost war movie
presupuesto = past participle of presuponer = to assume, to presuppose
única (adj) = only, sole, unique
la preocupación = worry, concern, problem
acompañar (v) = to accompany, to go with, to 'follow'
el destino (m) = destiny; destination; also post, placement, appointment.
el destino de esa pelota de cuero = the destiny of that leather ball
acrobáticamente (adj) = acrobatically

Eduardo Luis Aceto

21 junio, 2010

La persona que ame el fútbol ...

The Football Lover

Cuantos pibes estarán pidiendo a sus padres la nueva camiseta de la selección?

How many kids are asking their parents for the new team shirt?

O preguntando: Papi, donde queda Sudáfrica? Puede venir un león de la selva y meterse en las tribunas? Con mis ahorros, podré estar allá? Si como bien, podré ser tan rápido como Tevez y tan hábil como Messi?

Or are asking: Daddy, where is South Africa? Can a lion come from the jungle and get into the stands? With my savings, can I be (get) there? If I eat well, can I be as quick as Tevez or as skilful as Messi?

Cuantos adultos estarán estudiando si los horarios de los partidos no se sobreponen con la jornada laboral?

How many adults are studyng the match schedules to see if they don't overlap with their working hours.

Que persona que ame el fútbol no soñó alguna vez con poder estar en el estadio cuando juegue el equipo de su país? Alentando personalmente a sus jugadores. Gritando un gol hasta quedar afónico y abrazándose con alguien a quien no conocía pero que tiene los mismos colores.

Which football-lover doesn’t dream with all their might of one time being in the stadium when their country’s team is playing. Personally supporting the players. Shouting at a goal until they lose their voice and embracing someone they don’t know but who is wearing the same colours.

los pibes = kids (in Argentina and throughout Latin America)
Also: los chavales = kids (used in Spain)
los padres = parents.
la nueva camiseta de la selección = new national team shirt
Papi, donde queda Sudáfrica? = Daddy, where is South Africa?
el león de la selva = the lion from the forest
meterse en las tribunas = to get into the stands
los ahorros = savings
Si como bien … = if I eat well …
tan rápido como = as quick as
hábil = skilful
estudiando = checking
los horarios de los partidos = matches schedules/timetables
sobreponerse (vr) = to superimpose / overlap
la jornada laboral = working hours
soñar con = to dream of/about
con poder = with power/might
estar en el estadio = to be at the stadium
alentando = supporting
gritando = shouting
quedar afónico = to lose one's voice
abrazándose = embracing

Eduardo Luis Aceto

14 junio, 2010

La Selección

Es tanta la pasión por el fútbol que “la selección de jugadores de fútbol que forman el equipo representativo del país” es llamada simplemente “la selección”. Que gracia puede hacerle esto a los integrantes de la selección nacional de cualquier otra disciplina, por ejemplo: Polo!

The passion for football is so great that 'the selection of football players that form the national team' is simply called 'the selection'. How funny that must be for national squad members of any other discipline (ie sports), for example, polo!

Los vendedores de televisores o dueños de los canales de televisión estarán exultantes antes del torneo. Gracias a este evento, tendrán la oportunidad de incrementar sus ventas de sobremanera, de la misma forma en que ocurriera 4 años atrás, para el mundial anterior.

Vendors of televisions or owners of television channels will be jubiliant before (ie in the lead-up to) the tournament. Thanks to this event, they will have the opportunity to greatly increase their sales, as happened in the same way four years earlier, with (for) the previous World Cup.

la pasión = passion
el equipo representativo del país = national team/squad
los integrantes / las integrantes= members (m/f)
de cualquier otra disciplina = of any other discipline
los dueños de los canales de = TV channel owners
exultante = jubilant
el torneo = tournament
las ventas = sales
(de) la misma forma = (in) the same way
anterior = previous
de sobremanera = alot, greatly, very much

Eduardo Luis Aceto

07 junio, 2010

La Copa del Mundo ... La Copa Mundial
... El Mundial

En Español, la copa mundial de fútbol cambia su nombre para ser solamente el mundial. Por ejemplo, Messi en lugar de "estar en el equipo de fútbol de Argentina que ira a la copa del mundo"; se dirá que Messi "va al mundial."

Esto vuelve a los demás deportes casi inexistentes.

The Cup of the World ... The World Cup
... "The World ..."

In Spanish, the Football World Cup changes its name to just being "El Mundial".

For example, instead of saying: "Messi is in the Argentinian Football team that's going to the World Cup", people say that "Messi is going to "el Mundial" (lit. The World ...)

This applies to most sports bar none.

el mundo = world.
mundial, adj = world (before a noun), worldwide/global, of the world.
de fama mundial = world famous.
el equipo = team
el equipo de fútbol = football team

Eduardo Luis Aceto

llegar, the Spanish verb for to arrive:

Expressions using llegar:

llegar a - to reach

llegar a ser - to become

llegar a saber - to find out

llegar tarde - to arrive late

la llegada (f) - arrival

al llegar - upon arriving, upon arrival

llegar hasta - to go as far as, to go all the way (to)

For the full conjugations of llegar, please visit:

llegar - full conjugations

la aceituna = olive

aceitunas rellenas = stuffed olives
aceitunas sin huesos = pitted olives
aceituna negra = black olive
aceituna verde = green olive
aceitunas aliñadas = seasoned olives

¿Has probado las aceitunas? = Have you tried (the) olives?


la oliva (f) = olive
aceite de oliva = olive oil
el oliva (m) = olive tree
el olivar (m) = olive grove

Uso aceite de oliva para todas las comidas. = I use olive oil in all meals.

Of course!?

Talking to our friend from Pontevedra in Galicia, North-west of Spain yesterday, she asked me a question, and I responded:

¡Sí, cómo no!

She said, "I can see you've spent a lot of time with South Americans!"

How did she know that?

Apparently, ¡Sí, cómo no! - is used a lot in Latin America - our Argentinian friends use this expression all the time, meaning:
Why not! Of course! Sure!

When I asked her what she would say in Spain, her reply was:

¡Claro! = Of course!

¡Claro que no! = Of course not!

Some other ways of saying "Of course!":

¡desde luego!

¡por supuesto!

¡Feliz cumpleaños! = Happy Birthday!

el cumpleaños (m) = birthday.

Some useful phrases:

cumplir .... años = to reach the age of ...

¿Cuándo cumples años? = When's your birthday?
lit: When do you reach (your) years?

¡Mañana cumplo diez/veinte/cincuenta años.
= I'll be ten/twenty/fifty years old tomorrow.
lit: I am reaching ten/twenty/fifty years of age tomorrow.

¡Que cumplas muchos más! = Many happy returns!
lit: May you reach/have many more!

From the verb:
cumplir = to carry out; to obey (law); to honour; to keep (a promise), to peform; to serve (e.g. prison sentence, military)

Hoy cumplimos diez años de casados.
= Today we are (have been) married for ten years.
lit. Today, we are reaching ten years of marriage.

cumplirse (reflexive) = to be realized, to be fulfilled, to come true.

cumplir con = to fulfil one's obligations.

COME and SEE. They can be the same word! VEN


The Spanish word for COME! when addressing a friend, relative, child or subordinate is VEN!

Ven, ven, ven Maria te quiero ven, ven, ven go the lyrics of a popular Spanish song.
This means, Come, come, come Maria I love you, come, come, come.

VEN also means see, as in ellos ven, which is Spanish for they see.

So Ven. Ellos ven. can mean 'Come here! They see!

So do remember this useful word VEN. Which can mean come! or 'they see'.

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GRETA GARBO appears from a crack in the wall!

I am always compiling new material for future courses. Here's one that just got added to the list...

la grieta

To remember this word imagine the actress GREAT GARBO appearing from a CRACK in the wall. Greta is feminine, so it reminds you that the gender of the Spanish word is feminine.

So this will go to one of the artists for illustration. We use pictures as the brain more easily absorbs visual images, and researchers tell us that the brain never forgets a picture. Using a famous person makes the memorizing process easier too!

A native Spanish speaker will be recorded saying the word, la grieta, which is Spanish for crack, and the Memory Trigger will be recorded too.

It will all then go in to our 200 Words a Day! Spanish Course #3, where it is part of a multi-media learning, testing and progress tracking system.

Meantime we are busy with the Excelerated Spanish Verbs course, which is slowly nearing completion. It will be worth the wait!!

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I'm RESTLESS, can I just MOVE DIS O-ver here and here and here....

The word for RESTLESS in Spanish is...


To remember this useful Spanish word and bolster your vocabulary, just imagine that a RESTLESS boy, fidgeting and watching a MOVIE, and he keeps MOVING A DIESEL tractor while watching the MOVIE. Imagine that he is saying,"I need to MOVE A DIS O-ver here, and here, and here... I need to MOVE A DIESEL tractor while I am unsettled!"

By adding a famous person to the mix, you can make such a MEMORY TRIGGER more memorable.

So make the boy in the visualisation, DIESEL the singer.

The word movedizo also means unsteady, unsettled, changeable. When referring to a person it can mean fickle.

The feminine word for this adjective is, of course, movediza.

Remember you can play around with these words, and Memory Triggers. You can add your own interpretations, bits and pieces and characters, and in the 200 Words a Day! Learn Spanish software you can actually keep your own notes. If a certain word reminds you of something, you can write such notes into the programme, using the 'Students Notes' function. All these words also get stored in a separate lesson, so that you can refer to those words on which you have made notes.

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Arrest Pavarotti. STOP!

Find out how stopping and arresting the big TENOR Pavarotti can help your Spanish. Get your imagination going now. Click here to learn more on stopping Pavarotti in Spanish!
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Make even more verbs from the AR verbs in the last Learn Spanish Blog

And further to the last Learn Spanish Blog entry of 27 October - 'Making some Spanish 'AR' verbs into nouns is easy', we can easily take this concept one step more, thereby easily adding more vocabulary to your tool-box, and consolidating your knowledge of the Spanish verb tenses.

Read, or reread the 27 Oct blog entry before this one.

Now, take the verb, or the noun, for example trabajo and

simply add an accent to the o to make ó...

...and now you have the word for he worked, she worked, or you worked (formal singular in the usted) form.

él trabajó - meaning he worked.
ella trabajó - Spanish for she worked.
usted trabajó - which is you worked, in the formal, singular case.

The pronunciation is different with the emphasis on the last syllable, the ó, otherwise it is very similar to the first person case - I worked - .

Let's try another one.

voto becomes votó - he or she voted, you voted.

This is of course identical to él votó, ella votó, usted votó, and the fancy-pants word for this conjugation is the third person preterit. The preterit is for actions that are completed. Done, finished. (We have a 7-part email free course on this topic Mini Course on the Spanish Preterit Tense).

Spanish speakers usually drop the pronoun (él, ella, usted - he, she, you) because the verb ending is unique to each pronoun, and therefore identifies the pronoun. Because the ending is unique, the native speaker knows which person it refers to, hence the reason for omitting it!

This makes things a little more difficult for people learning Spanish verbs because in English we always have the pronoun, so we know who we are talking about. Anyway our Excelerated Spanish Verbs Course is back under way and should be available in a couple of months, and this will make learning the SPANISH VERB FAMILIES and PATTERNS so much easier.

If we apply the same formula to the list below we get the following conjugations in the Spanish third person preterit tense:

cantó - he or she sang, you sang.

progresó - he or she progressed, you progressed.

dibujó - he or she drew, you drew.

odió - he or she hated, you hated.

robó, he or she robbed or stole, or you robbed, or stole.

besó, he or she kissed, or you kissed.

estudió which is he or she studied, or you studied.

insultó, he or she insulted, you insulted.

pesó, he or she weighed, you weighed.

refrescó he or she refreshed, or you refreshed.

triunfó, he or she triumphed, you triumphed.

archivó, he or she filed, you filed.

anunció, he or she advertised, you advertised.

cepilló which is he or she brushed, you brushed.

divorció, he or she divorced, you divorced.

fracasó, he or she failed, you failed.

gritó, he or she shouted, you shouted.

caminó, he or she walked, you walked.

cambió, he or she changed, you changed.

abrazó, he or she hugged, you hugged.

arregló, he or she arranged, you arranged.

saludó, he or she greeted, you greeted.

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Making some Spanish 'AR' verbs into nouns is easy...

A number of Spanish 'AR' verbs can be easily changed into nouns by doing the following:
  1. Drop the letters 'AR' from the end of the infinitive leaving what is called the STEM
  2. Add the letter 'O'
  3. You have the noun
  4. AND it is identical to the verb conjugation for 'I' (me - first person singular)

Let's look at an example.

  1. The verb to work is trabajar.
  2. Drop the 'AR' at the end of the infinitive = trabaj -
  3. Add the letter 'O' = trabajo
  4. The noun of the work is el trabajo
  5. ...which is identical to I work which is yo trabajo

They are masculine words, hence we color code them blue. (We use red for feminine words, and green for others like verbs etc.

votar becomes el voto, the vote, and the verb is voto - I vote, or I am voting.

cantar becomes el canto, the song, and the verb is canto - I sing, or I am singing.

progresar becomes el progreso, the progress, and the verb is progreso - I progress, or I am progressing.

dibujar becomes el dibujo, the drawing, and the verb is dibujo - I draw, or I am drawing.

odiar, to hate becomes el odio, the hate or the hatred, and the verb is odio - I hate, or I am hating.

And here are some more too...

robar, to rob, becomes el robo, the robbery, theft...
- and the verb is robo, I rob or steal, or I am robbing, stealing.

besar, to kiss, becomes el beso, the kiss...
- and the verb is beso, I kiss, or I am kissing.

estudiar, to study, becomes el estudio, the study...
- and the verb is estudio which is I study, or I am studying.

insultar, to insult, becomes el insulto, the insult...
- and the verb is insulto, I insult, or I am insulting.

pesar, to weigh, becomes el peso, the weight...
- and the verb is peso, I weigh, or I am weighing.

refrescar, to refresh becomes el refresco, the refreshment...
- and the verb is refresco I refesh, or I am refreshing.

triunfar, to triumph becomes el triunfo, the triumph...
- and the verb is triunfo, I triumph, or I am triumphing.

archivar, to file, becomes el archivo, the file...
- and the verb is archivo, I file, or I am filing.

anunciar, to advertise, becomes el anuncio, the advertisement.
- and the verb is anuncio, I advertise, or I am advertising.

cepillar, I brush, becomes el cepillo, the brush...
- and the verb is cepillo which is I brush, or I am brushing.

divorciar, becomes el divorcio, the divorce.
- and the verb in Spanish is divorcio, I divorce, or I am divorcing.

fracasar, to fail, becomes el fracaso, the failure...
- and the verb is fracaso, I fail, or I am failing.

gritar, to shout, becomes el grito, the shout, or cheer...
- and the verb is grito, I shout, or I am shouting.

caminar, to walk, becomes el camino... the road or pathway or track...
- and the Spanish verb is camino, I walk, or I am walking.

cambiar, to change becomes el cambio, the change (and the money exchanger)...
- and the verb is cambio, I change, or I am changing.

abrazar, to hug, becomes el abrazo the hug or embrace...
- and the verb is abrazo, I hug, or I am hugging.

arreglar, to arrange in Spanish, becomes el arreglo, the arrangement...
- and the verb is arreglo, I arrange, or I am arranging.

saludar, to greet, becomes el saludo.
- and the verb is saludo, I greet, or I am greeting.

With the pronunciation - for the infinitive, stress the last syllable.

For the verb and the noun, the stress is on the next to last syllable.

These examples are taken and adapted from the marvellous book first published in 1951 by Margaret Madrigal called 'Madrigal's Magic Key to Spanish, A Creative and Proven Approach' published by Broadway Books, New York and available from all major booksellers online including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone learning Spanish!

It is packed with gems like this, albeit in book form, so there is no computerised learning element with all the wonderful benefits that computer multimedia learning can give.

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The Spanish for THUS is así...


For this Memory Trigger we have JESUS CHRIST on the Sea of Galliee...Check out Jesus and the Memory Trigger for THUS in Spanish which is así

Oh, I SEE! Actually if you say it with a Southern draaaaawl - Oh AAAH SEE! you will get the drift a bit better.

Check out the full blurb...more on the Spanish for THUS...

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You MUST learn about MUST in Spanish

There are two useful forms of the English phrase, word, expression 'must' in Spanish. Another equivalent is 'to have to.They are...

tener que and deber

tener que

Pablo tiene que levantarse una hora antes que nosotros para no llegar tarde a la oficina.
Pablo must get up an hour earlier than us so he does not arrive late at the office.

This sentence is taken from our course 'Understanding POR and PARA' which explains, in detail, the differences between the two tricky words para and por in Spanish. Broadly speaking both these words can mean 'for' or 'by' in Spanish. The course explores hundreds of sentences and phrases using the two words para and por in Spanish, and also covers all the main verb tenses and verb conjugations. So it is really a great deal more than just learning about a couple of important Spanish words. It incorporates a ton of language consolidation too.

Here are some other example of various sentences with different conjugations of tener que.

Tengo que aprender lo mas que pueda..
I must learn as much as I can.

Tengo que preparle eso.
I have to prepare that for him.

Tuve que llevar a mi hijo al hospital
I had to take my son to the hospital.

These sentences are taken from the Foreign Service Institute FSI Spanish Course Programmatic 1 (made for US State Department Diplomats which is we offer as a superb addition to our 200 Words a Day! excelerated** Spanish learning courses .


debo hacerlo
is Spanish for 'I must do it'.

More words incorporating the Spanish equivalents for 'must'

es imprescindible
is a useful expression equivlent of 'it is a must.'

**excelerated is a word we concocted to combine EXCEL and ACCELERATED! Click here to read more on the word EXCELERATED.

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