Has this ever happened to you?
Liz.—Buenas tardes. ¿Puedo ordenar dos tacos de carnitas, por favor?
“Taco vendor: Here you go. Anything to drink?”
Liz.—No, gracias ಠ_ಠ.
It can be pretty discouraging to speak to someone in your best Spanish and get a response in English. You might even begin to doubt your ability to learn foreign languages or assume that your level of Spanish isn’t good enough for a conversation.
The truth is that how much Spanish you know is not the only factor that determines whether you get an English or a Spanish response—you also have to consider the type of native that you’re talking to.
When it comes to verbs of change, Spanish seems to be overflowing with options:
Se hizo rica.
She became rich.
Se volvió loco.
He became crazy.
Se puso enferma.
She became sick
Se quedó soltero.
He became single.
- Why hacerse rico, but volverse loco?
- Why ponerse enfermo, but quedarse soltero?
- And above all, how can I choose between four different verbs that all mean to become?
One of the benefits you unlock when you start studying Spanish is the privilege of flirting with the natives. If you haven’t done a lot of Spanish flirting so far, now is your chance to get started.
If you’re in a happy relationship and have no interest in flirting, I’ll just tell you now that this whole post is a scam to get you to have more productive conversations with Spanish speakers, irrespective of your ultimate goals. Treat the flirting part as a bonus.
Rachel.—El camarero de detrás de la barra lleva media hora haciéndome ojitos.
Rachel: "The waiter behind the bar (carries / has spent) half (an) hour (making me little eyes / eyeing me up)."
Amiga de Rachel.—Pues acércate a hablar con él, chica.
Rachel’s Friend: "Then (approach yourself / go) to talk with him, girl."
Rachel, listen to your friend.
I recently came across this question on the Learn Spanish reddit page.
How do you keep improving your Spanish once you have reached a high level?
I have a pretty good grasp on the language, but I feel that I still have some improving to do. For those of you who have a high level of Spanish, what do you do to keep improving and learning?
In other words, how do I get out of Intermediate Purgatory?
You’ve probably made a pretty significant time investment throughout your Spanish journey to internalize the verb conjugations: Yo prefiero (“I prefer”), tú querías (“you wanted”), él deseó (“he wished”).
What your Spanish teacher forgot to tell you is that natives rarely start their sentences with subject pronouns.
Ser and estar have been fighting an epic existential battle for the past five hundred years.
What started out as an innocent mix-up between three Latin verbs (esse to be, sedere to sit and stare to stand, to stay) has been escalating into the foggy quagmire of meaning that we find ourselves in today.
Before we can navigate this complex landscape we need to find our true north: the difference between the essence of things and their state.
OHMYGOD OHMYGOD OHMYGOD!!!
You’re finally going to meet your long-lost Spanish relative/lover/best friend!
How do you share this feeling of raging excitement with them?
You might be tempted to go for:
Llego dentro de nada. ¡No puedo esperar!
I arrive within (no time). I (literally) cannot wait
No te imaginas lo excitado (o excitada) que estoy.
You (can’t) imagine how (aroused) I am!
Unfortunately, that would place you smack in the middle of Literal Translation Land.
I recently came across a question about the meaning of this sentence:
No estoy alegre, sino más bien triste.
I’m not happy, (I’m actually) somewhat sad.
The question was:
What’s the difference between sino and más bien, and why are they used together?
Let’s answer it by taking out the pieces, studying them in isolation and putting them back together again. Starting with sino.
¡Hola! Por mí unos tacos al pastor, por favor.
Should have said para mí
Meet young Mike McCurley.
He is celebrating his first spring break in Cancun and is currently trying to order some tacos. It looks like Miss Lopez’s 3rd period Spanish class is a distant memory, but that’s okay because today we’re going to learn the secret to choosing correctly between por and para.
Getting the right sounds to come out of your mouth is just a matter of muscle memory (magic is rarely involved). If you want to nail the pronunciation of a tricky sound in Spanish, you only have to follow these 4 simple steps:
- Listen to a native speaker make the sound.
- Try your best to imitate.
- Notice the largest difference between what you said and what the native said.
- Try to minimize the difference.
Easy? Hell no!