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Unit: 1: Introduction

1.1 Abbreviations

You may see the following abbreviations used in this text. Their meanings are as follows:

        • adj. – adjective
        • C.A. – Central America
        • coll. – colloquial
        • def. art. – definite article
        • dem. adj. – demonstrative adjective
        • d.o. – direct object
        • esp. – especially
        • f. – feminine
        • fam. – familiar (informal)
        • fig. – figurative
        • form. – formal
        • gram. – grammar term
        • ind. art. – indefinite article
        • inf. – infinitive
        • i.o. – indirect object
        • lang. – language
        • lit. – literary, literature
        • m. – masculine
        • neut. – neuter
        • n. – noun
        • pl. – plural
        • p.p. – past participle
        • poss. adj. – possessive adjective
        • prep. – preposition
        • prep. obj. pron. – prepositional object pronoun
        • pron. – pronoun
        • refl. pron. – reflexive pronoun
        • s. – singular
        • L.A. – Latin America
        • Sp. – Spain
        • sub. pron. – subject pronoun
        • v. – verb


Unit: 18: Reference

Pronunciation Guide

The following is intended to give you a general idea of Spanish pronunciation. Although not necessary for reading purposes, knowledge of the sounds is helpful if you also plan to speak the language.

The English words given below are not always exact equivalents of the Spanish sounds. When not, they are the closest approximation in English.

I. Vowels

Spanish vowels are pronounced quickly, clearly and sharply. They are never drawn out.

a, as in “father” amigo – friend
casa – house
e, as in “café” mesa – table
leche – milk
i, as in “machine” día – day
yanqui – Yankee, American
o, as in “open” lobo – wolf
todo – all, everything
u, as in “rule” or “moon” uno – a, an, one
mucho – many, much

II. Consonants 

b and v (pronounced identically)

As in “boy,” when occurring initially or after an n or m:

banco – bank, bench
vaso– glass
ambos – both
enviar – to send

In all other positions, this sound is very weak and the lips do not touch, or do so only barely:

Cuba – Cuba
saber – to know
uva – grape
abrir – to open


As in “cat,” before a, o, and u:

cama – bed
actor– actor
indicar – to indicate
Cuba – Cuba

As in “sun,” before e and i:

cinco – five
cero – zero
cansancio – tiredness

In most of Spain, the ce– and ci– combinations are pronounces like the -th in “thin.”

ch as in “chew”

chico – boy, small
ocho – eight

As in “dawn,” when occurring initially or after n and l:
diez – ten
donde – where
andar – to walk
aldea – villageAs in the th in “they” in all other positions:
lado – side
pared – wall
ciudad – city
tarde – late

F, lmnp and t are pronounced approximately as in English.

As in “go,” when occurring before a,o, and u, or after a consonant:
goma – rubber, tire
ganar – to gain (to win, to earn)
grande – great, largeAs in “house,” but stronger, when occurring before e and i:
gente – people
viaje – trip, voyage
gitano – Gypsy

h, always silent 

hacha – ax
hora – hour, time
coherente – coherent

j, as in the h in “house,” but stronger (same sound as occurs in ge– and gi– combinations): 

jota – J (letter of alphabet)
hija – daughter
lujo – luxury

k, as in English. Used only in foreign words. 

ll, as in “million” or as in the y in “yes”:

calle – street
millón – million
llover – to rain

ñ, as in “canyon”:

año – year
español – Spanish
panameño – Panamanian

qu, always followed by e or i as in English k (the u is silent): 

cheque – check
quizás – perhaps
equis – X (letter of alphabet)

r, pronounced by tapping the tip of the tongue against the gums of the upper front teeth: 

pero – but
caro – expensive
querer – to want, to love

rr, or the single initial r, or after n and l, pronounced by trilling the tip of the tongue against the gums of the upper front teeth: 

perro – dog
ron – rum
honra – honor


Usually as in “see”:
seis – six
casa – house
bastante – enoughAs in “rose,” when occurring before m, d, and g:
mismo – same
desde – since
desgracia – misfortune

w, as in English. Found only in foreign words.

As in “see,” when not between vowels:
extraño – strange
explicar – to explain
exclusivo – exclusiveAs in x in “exact,” when occurring between vowels:
existir – to exist
examinar – to examine
éxito – success

z, as in “see”: 

paz – peace
cazar – to hunt
zona – zone
In most of Spain, the z is pronounced like the th in “thin.”

Unit: 1: Introduction

1.2 Syllabication

A word is divided into as many syllables as it has vowels or diphthongs (ai, ei, eu, ie, io, ia, ue, uo, etc.). Single consonants are pronounced in the same syllable as the vowel that follows. Note that the capitalized syllables are the ones that are stressed when said aloud.

CA-sa house
za-PA-to shoe
su-pe-RIOR superior
si-len-CIO-so silent

Two consonants are usually divided into different syllables except in combinations of a consonant and l, a consonant and r, and the inseparable sounds ch, ll, and rr:

es-pa-ÑOL Spanish
a-BRIR to open
con-CEP-to concept
cons-TRUIR to construct
ex-pli-CAR to explain
ba-TA-lla battle

Unit: 1: Introduction

1.3 Accentuation

Rule 1

When a word ends in a vowel, s, or n, the stress falls on the second-to-the-last syllable:

MA-no hand
MA-dre mother
HA-blan they speak
HOM-bres men

Rule 2

When a word ends in a consonant, except s or n, the stress falls on the final syllable. All infinitives fall into this category.

pa-RED wall
re-LOJ watch (timepiece)
ca-PAZ capable
be-BER to drink

Rule 3

All words with a stress on the third-to-last syllable require an accent mark. These words are called palabras esdrújulas.

es-DRÚ-ju-la accented on the third-to-last syllable
SÁ-ba-do Saturday
a-ca-DÉ-mi-co academic
pa-RÉN-te-sis parenthesis


Exceptions to the above rules are indicated by a written accent mark on the stressed vowel. That means that if a word does not follow the rules above, an accent mark must be written in on the stressed vowel.

ÁR-bol (ends in an -l, but breaks rule 2) tree
in-GLÉS (ends in an -s, but breaks rule 1) English
si-LLÓN (ends in an -n, but breaks rule 1) armchair
a-ZÚ-car (ends in an -r, but breaks rule 2) sugar

Accent Marks to Distinguish Homonyms

Written accent marks are also used to differentiate between otherwise identical words. This can end up being of importance for reading comprehension in some situations. Note the following pairs:

el- the él- he
si- if sí- yes
mas- but más- more, most
mi- my mí- me (prepositional object pronoun)
tu- your tú- you
aun- even aún- still, yet
solo- alone, lonely sólo- only

As you progress through the text and study the different verb tenses, various cases will be pointed out in which the absence or presence of a written accent mark is the only distinction between two otherwise identical forms of different persons or verb tenses of several verb tenses.

Unit: 1: Introduction

1.4 Punctuation and Capitalization

A. An inverted question mark is placed at the beginning of a sentence to indicate intonation:

  • ¿Estás listo?
  • Are you ready?

B. An inverted exclamation is placed before exclamations for the same reason:

  • ¡Qué bien hablan!
  • How well they speak!

C. An initial dash is usually used instead of quotations marks to indicate dialogue:

  • -¿Vas o no vas?
  • “Are you going or not?”
  • -No, me quedo aquí.
  • “No, I’m staying here.”

D. Spanish does not use capital letters in the following cases in which English does:

1. Days of the week:

      • Hoy es viernes.
      • Today is Friday.

2. Months of the year:

      • Mañana comienza abril.
      • April begins tomorrow.

3. Adjectives of nationality:

      • Hugo es uruguayo.
      • Hugo is Uruguayan.

4. Names of languages:

      • El húngaro no es fácil.
      • Hungarian is not easy.

5. Titles:

      • El señor Sotomayor vino hoy.
      • Mr. Sotomayor came today.

Unit: 1: Introduction

1.5 Cognates

Cognates are words that are recognizable in form and meaning. Conversely, words identical or similar in form but which have a different meaning are “false friends.” These words can present particular problems when trying to deduce meaning, and are indicated throughout the text and also appear in a list at the end of the textbook (see section 18.2). One example is pariente, which means “relative” and not “parent” (padre).

A. Words identical or almost identical in spelling and meaning:

ideal, hospital, final, mental, federal, altar, popular, superior, error, doctor, noble, acceptable, terrible, hotel. unión, televisión, ocasión, radio, comercial, imposible, región, remoto

B. Most words ending in -ción correspond to the English suffix -tion:

perfección perfection
nación nation
ambición ambition
construcción construction

C. Many words ending in -tad or -dad correspond to the English suffix -ty:

libertad liberty
estabilidad stability
entidad entity
dificultad difficulty

D. Many words ending in -ez correspond to the English suffix -ity or –ness:

sencillez simplicity
escasez scarcity, scarceness
timidez timidity, timidness
vejez oldness, old age

E. Spanish words ending in -oso, and their feminine and plural forms, almost always correspond to the English suffix -ous:

industrioso-a industrious
supersticioso-a superstitious (fem.)

F. Many Spanish nouns ending in -cio or -cia correspond to the English suffix –nce:

inocencia innocence
silencio silence

G. Spanish words ending in -mento or -miento usually have the same meaning as their English counterpart:

movimiento movement
parlamento parliament

Unit: 2: Basics

2.1 Gender of Nouns and Definite and Indefinite Articles

All nouns in Spanish are masculine or feminine in gender. * (A very small number can be both.) Masculine nouns are generally preceded by the masculine definite article corresponding to English “the” or indefinite article corresponding to English “a” or “an” in the singular, “some” or “a few” in the plural. Feminine nouns follow the same pattern.

Masculine Feminine
definite article el libro – the book la clase – the class
indefinite article un libro – a book una clase – a class
definite article los libros – the books las clases – the classes
indefinite article unos libros – some (a few) books unas clases – some (a few) classes

Most nouns ending in -o are masculine, and most ending in -a are feminine, though exceptions exist. Gender of nouns, in any case, does not present comprehension problems or translation difficulties.

*Some nouns and pronouns are neuter in gender. You will see these later in the text.

Unit: 2: Basics

2.2 Negation

To render a sentence negative, the word no is placed before the verb.

Isabel no está aquí. Isabel is not here.

Be aware that no means “no” as well as “not”:

No, Isabel no está aquí. No, Isabel is not here.

Vocabulario básico (Basic Vocabulary) 

a- to, at
ahora- now
allí- there
aquí- here
con- with
de- of, from, about
e- and (before words beginning in -i, hi)
en- in, on
entre- between, among
es- (he, she, it) is/(you) are*
está- (he, she, it) is/(you) are*
muy- very
o- or
pero- but
y- and

*The difference between these forms will be studied in Section 3.4.

Unit: 2: Basics

2.3 Plurals

Words ending in a vowel add an -s to make them plural; those ending in a consonant add -es. Words that end with a -z change the to c, then add -es:

Singular Plural
la ciudad – the city las ciudades – the cities
el día – the day los días – the days
el pez – the fish  los peces – the fish

Unit: 2: Basics

2.4 Use of the Definite Article

Use of the definite article, as well as the indefinite article, corresponds to English usage and omission in the majority of cases. In a minority of cases Spanish employs the definite article in circumstances in which English speakers would not expect to find it. Nouns denoting an abstract concept, used in a general sense or referring to a general class, titles, the names of a few countries and cities, languages, and nationalities are routinely preceded by a definite article, which is not translated into English:

El fútbol es un pasatiempo nacional para los hispanos, brasileños, españoles y portugueses. Soccer is a national pastime for Hispanics, Brazilians, Spaniards, and Portuguese.
La libertad es necesaria. Liberty is necessary.
El señor Villareal no está aquí. Mr. Villareal isn’t here.
La India es una nación grande.* India is a large country.
La Habana es la capital de Cuba. Havana is the capital of Cuba.
El ruso es difícil, pero el español es fácil, Russian is difficult, but Spanish is easy.
¿Son religiosos los españoles? Are Spaniards religious?

*India is the only country before which it is considered mandatory to use the definite article, not translated into English. Other countries that use it in Spanish also employ it in English:  La República Dominicana, El Salvador, El Reino Unido (The United Kingdom). There are some countries that use the definite article in English (The United States, The Philippines) that may not be seen with it in Spanish, in which case you will want to add it. While the definite article has traditionally been used to precede a number of countries (el Perú, la Argentina, el Brasil, el Uruguay, el Japón, el Canadá), the tendency is for it to be used less and less frequently.

The definite article is, however, usually used when the country or city is modified by an adjective or phrase: la España del siglo XV (“Spain of the 15th century”) or la Roma del pasado (“Rome of the past”).

In a sentence such as Los brasileños aman la música, there are four possible translations. One translation could be the generalization “Brazilians love music.” The sentence could also mean “The Brazilians love the music,” referring to specific Brazilians and specific music. The other two combinations mix specific and general meanings: “The Brazilians [those specific Brazilians there] love music [in general]” or “Brazilians [in general] love the music [a specific kind].” Depending on the overall context in which this sentence appears, you should be able to clarify the meaning.

The masculine singular and plural definite article, el and los, are used before days of the week to translate “on.” The singular is used, for example, to translate “on Monday” and the plural “on Mondays”:

Elena está aquí el lunes. Elena is here on Monday. (one specific Monday)
La señora Lozano no está allí los sábados. Mrs. Lozano is not there on Saturdays. (all Saturdays implied)

Vocabulario básico

Verbos (Verbs):

están-(you, they) are*
hay-there is, there are
son-(they, you) are*

Sustantivos (Nouns):

el campo-country, countryside, rural area, field
la chica-girl
el chico-boy
los chicos-boys and girls (or “boys”)**
la ciudad-city
el/la estadounidense-American, U.S. native
el fútbol-soccer
el fútbol americano-football
el hombre-man
la muchacha-girl
la muchacho-boy
los muchachos-boys and girls (or “boys”)**
la mujer-woman, wife
el país- country, nation
el pasatiempo-pastime

Días de la semana (Days of the Week):

el lunes-Monday
el martes-Tuesday
el miércoles-Wednesday
el jueves-Thursday
el viernes-Friday
el sábado-Saturday
el domingo-Sunday

Números (Numbers):


Otros adjetivos (Other Adjectives):

estadounidense-of or pertaining to the United States
mucho-many, much, a lot
pobre-poor, unfortunate
poco-few, a little
rico-rich, delicious

Otras palabras (Other Words):

casi-almost (cognate:quasi)
también-also, too

*The difference between these forms will be studied in Section 3.4.

**The masculine gender dominates in Spanish if the group is mixed, that is, of boys and girls. Chicos could also refer to a group made up of boys only. If it is important to know which of the two translations is the correct one, the situation should clarify the meaning.

***The difference between these two prepositions will be studied in Section 5.5.

Unit: 2: Basics

2.5 Possession

Ownership or possession is expressed by the verb ser + de + owner. You will never see an apostrophe +s in Spanish.

El libro es de Jorge. The book is George’s.
Los libros son de las chicas. The books are the girls’.
Cien años de soledad es una de las novelas de García Márquez.  One Hundred Years of Solitude is one of García Márquez’s novels.   



Unit: 2: Basics

2.6 Contractions

There are two contractions that must happen in Spanish. Whenever el appear (unless the latter is part of a proper name, e.g., El Salvador), they contract to form al. When de + el appear, they contract to form del. Note in the last example that the contraction del may also indicate possession.

Estoy al punto de volverme loco. I’m at the point of going crazy.
Estamos a diez minutos del hotel. We are ten minutes from the hotel.
Los periódicos son del vendedor. The newspapers are the vendor’s.


Unit: 2: Basics

2.7 Interrogation

Spanish usually inverts the order of the subject and verb when forming a question. (In addition, as you have seen, a question is both preceded and followed by a question mark.)

In colloquial speech -and, on occasion, in writing- subject and verb are not always inverted, though punctuation will always indicate that the sentence is indeed a question.

¿Están los muchachos en la ciudad? Are the boys and girls in town (in the city)?
¿Cecilia está allí? Is Cecilia there?

¡Ojo! (This literally means “eye,” but used here means “watch out” or “pay close attention” and is used like the Italian Nota bene [N.B. or “note well”].) In many cases, when someone is asking whether someone is “here,” “there,” or “at home,” the words aquí, allí and en casa are understood and not expressed:

¿Está Mamá? Is Mom here (there, at home)?
¿Están los señores Alférez? Are Mr. and Mrs. Alférez home (here, there)?


Vocabulario básico 


la abuela-grandmother
el abuelo-grandfather
la esposa-wife
el esposo-husband, spouse*
los esposos-husband and wife
el hermano-brother
la hermana-sister
los hermanos- brothers and sisters, siblings, brothers
la madre-mother
el marido-husband
el padre-father, priest
los padres-parents (priests [occasionally, “fathers”])
el pariente-relative (false friend)
el periódico-newspaper
el/la primo/a-cousin
la tía-aunt
el tío-uncle
los tíos- aunt and uncle (occasionally, “uncles”)


dieciséis (diez y seis)**-sixteen
diecisiete (diez y siete)**-seventeen
dieciocho (diez y ocho)**-eighteen
diecinueve (diez y nueve)**-nineteen


¿cómo?-how (used alone, “what?”)
¿cuál/es?- which?, what?
¿cuánto?****-how many?, how much?
¿de quién?, ¿de quiénes?-whose?
¿dónde?, ¿adónde?, ¿de dónde?-where?, where to?(to where?), where from?
¿por qué?-why?
¿qué?-what?, which?
¿quién?, ¿quiénes?-who?


cerca (de)-near (to)
lejos (de)-far (from)

Without the de these words are adverbs of place. (La ciudad está lejos. = The city is far away.) With the de, they are prepositions and are followed by an object (Mis parientes están cerca de mí. = My relatives are near me.)

*When the first three letters of a Spanish word are e + s + consonant, it may help to recognize it by imagining the word without the initial e. As Spanish does not permit words to begin in s + consonant, an e very frequently appears at the beginning. Among many other such words that that undergo the same phenomenon are : escuela, estado, español, escándalo, espinaca, etc.

**The three-word forms of these numbers are becoming outdated. In the rare case when numbers are spelled out, which form you will see will likely depend on the date of the text.

***All interrogatives in Spanish, when directly asking a question or indirectly implying one (No sé cuándo es = I don’t know when it is), take a written accent mark.

****Cuánto also has feminine, and masculine and feminine plural endings. See section 3.2.


Unit: 2: Basics

2.8 Subject Pronouns

Subject pronouns are the most common and the first of various sets of pronouns you will see.

Note that Spanish has four different ways of expressing “you,” because like all other Romance languages (and some non-Romance languages, e.g., German) it has both familiar (informal) and formal modes of address.

  • Tú and vosotros are the familiar forms and are in general used to address children, close friends, people of one’s own age and animals.
  • Usted and ustedes are mainly used with one’s elders, people not known well, in business, and to show respect. There can, however, be substantial differences to these guidelines, depending on country, region, social, class, mental, or emotional state, and other special situations.
  • Vosotros is used only in Spain and, as those reading Spanish are most likely to see it only in fiction and poetry from there, it is not studied in this textbook, although the verb forms corresponding to it will be listed. In the rest of the Spanish-speaking world, ustedes is used as the plural form of the familiar “you” (as well as of the formal “you”).


yo I
 you (fam. s.)
él, ella he, she, it
usted (Ud., Vd.) you (form. s.)



nosotros/-as we
vosotros/-as you (
ellos, ellas they (m. and f.)
ustedes (Uds. Vds.) you (form. pl. [fam. pl. in L.A.])

More Information on Subject Pronouns

  • For usted and ustedes, the Ud. and Uds. abbreviations are most commonly used, but you may see the Vd. and Vds. abbreviations in older texts. 
  • The forms nosotras and vosotras are only used for all-female groups.
  • As verb endings (studied in section 3.1 and after) in the first and second persons always differ from each other, subject pronouns are routinely omitted in Spanish and many times are used only for emphasis:
    • Yo soy el inocente y tú eres el culpable.
    • I’m the innocent one and you’re the guilty one.
  • In the third persons, as each verb form can refer to any one of multiple subjects, the tendency is to use subject pronouns more often for clarification. However, in the third persons, once the antecedent is known, the subject pronoun is routinely omitted:
    • María está en clase hoy. Es una estudiante muy popular y diligente. Y es de una familia pobre.
    • María is in class today. She’s very popular and diligent student. And she is from a poor family.
  • Always be sure to find or deduce what is the subject when translating. If it is not apparent, look for the previous noun antecedent, and chances are you have found it. The frequent omission of subject pronouns makes reading and translating in Spanish somewhat more challenging at times.

Unit: 3: Present Tense -ar Verbs, Adjectives, The Verbs ser,estar and tener

3.1 Present Tense of -ar Verbs

Infinitives (which correspond to the English “to go,” to drink,” etc.) end in –ar-er and -ir. -Ar verbs are by far the most common of the three:

hablar to speak
beber to drink
abrir to open

When a regular –ar verb is conjugated, the -ar of the infinitive is dropped and the following endings are added: -o, -as, -a, -amos, -áis, -an. Thus the verb hablar, conjugated in the present tense, is:

Person Singular Plural
1st yo hablo (I speak) nosotros/-as hablamos (we speak)
2nd hablas (you speak)
vosotros/-as habláis (you speak)
3rd él, ella, Ud. habla (he/she/it speaks) ellos, ellas, Uds. hablan (they/you speak)

The subject pronouns listed in parentheses will not be present in the texts you read and are given here only to help initially. As you learn more and more verb forms, it will become challenging to guess the meanings if you do not really recognize the forms, so taking the time to memorize the endings now will help you save time when translating in the future .

A few generalizations can be made about verb endings, which are true of all regular verbs (-ar, -er, and -ir) in the present tense (and in some other tenses):

  • The only form ending in an unaccented –o corresponds to yo, meaning “I.”
  • The only forms ending in –s correspond to tú and vosotros , both meaning “you” (fam.).
  • The form ending in vowel + mos always corresponds to nosotros, meaning “we,” in all tenses.
  • The only form ever to end in –n corresponds to ellos/-as and Uds., meaning “they” and “you” (pl.), in all tenses. 

The present tense has four possible and common translations. Using hablo as the model, these are:

  1. I speak (the most frequent translation)
  2. I am speaking (the progressive form [see also section 8.5.])
  3. I do speak (the emphatic form)
  4. I will (am going to) speak (near future meaning, common in speech)

Context usually dictates that one of these translations is more logical than others, though hablo español could just as easily mean “I am speaking Spanish” as “I speak Spanish.” Often the presence of an adverb of time will indicate the most logical meaning or best translation.

Hablo español ahora. I’m speaking Spanish now.
Te hablo mañana. I’ll speak to you tomorrow.

When the meaning is emphatic, it is common to insert the word  after the subject. The  itself is not translated, but is rather rendered by the inclusion of the emphatic “do” or “does”:

Giorgio sí habla español e italiano. Giorgio does speak Spanish and Italian.
Yo sí quiero visitar el museo contigo. I do want to visit the museum with you.

There are also three less frequent meanings of the present tense. Occasionally it is used for a command. (See section 11.4.) It is also used in questions when the English translation is “shall” or “will.” (¿Compro la ropa? [“Shall I buy the clothes?”]) At times, its meaning is past, when used at the “historical present.”

Vocabulario básico 


ayudar- to help
buscar- to look for, to search for
caminar- to walk
cenar- to dine, to have dinner, to eat the evening meal
comprar- to buy
descansar- to rest
entrar (+ a/en + object)- to enter, to go in
escuchar- to listen
esperar- to wait, to hope, to expect
llegar- to arrive*
llevar-to carry, to take
mirar- to look at (cognate- to admire) 
nadar- to swim (cognate: natatorium)
necesitar- to need
pagar- to pay
preguntar- to ask
preparar- to prepare
sacar- to take (photos), to take out, to get a grade
tomar- to take (in/by the hand), to drink, to eat (when what is consumed is not solid)
usar- to use, to wear
viajar- to travel (cognate- voyage)

* It may help to remember that the verb of motion of the two is llegar, which has the g, as in the verb of motion “to go.”


el agua (fem.)- water*
el/la alumno/-a- student (false friend)
el árbol- tree (cognate-arbor, arboreal)
el bolígrafo- pen
la casa- house, home
el centro- center, center of city, uptown, downtown
la comida- food, meal, evening meal
el cuaderno- notebook
la cuenta- bill**
el cuento- story, short story**, ***
el disco- record, (computer) disk
la escuela- school
el/la estudiante- student
la frase- sentence, phrase
la historia- story (in a general sense), tale, history ***
el lápiz- pencil
la mesa- table
la nota- grade; bill (currency); note
el papel- paper
la pared- wall
la pizarra- chalkboard
la pregunta- question
la puerta- door**
el puerto- port**
la ropa- clothes, clothing (false friend)
la silla- chair
la telenovela- soap opera
el tiempo- time, weather
la ventana- window
la vez- time, occasion
el viaje- trip
la vida- life (cognate- vital, vitality)


treinta- thirty
cuarenta- forty
cincuenta- fifty
sesenta- sixty
setenta- seventy
ochenta- eighty
noventa- ninety
cien(to)- one hundred
mil- one thousand


bueno- good
gran/ grande- great, large
malo- bad


por- because of


a casa- home (to home) (expresses motion)
a la vez- at the same time
a tiempo- on time
en casa- at home (expresses location)
por eso- therefore, for that reason, that’s why

Otras palabras:

como- like, such, as, how
más- more (or with adjective- most)

*Agua takes the masculine definite article for phonetic reasons only. It remains feminine and all adjectives modifying it are feminine (see section 3.2.): El agua está fría hoy. 

**Be careful to differentiate between the very similar nouns cuento and cuenta, as well as puerto and puerta. 

***Cuento and historia are often not synonymous. The former often refers to the literary genre while the latter mean “story” in a general sense. If one wrote of “the story of Romeo and Juliet,” la historia de Romeo y Julieta would be used.

Helpful Notes on Vocabulary Lists in This Text

  • Whenever possible and helpful, English cognates are given in parentheses immediately after vocabulary listings. They are routinely omitted in very obvious cases (such as entrar, preparar, estudiar, visitar, etc.), but are given in other less or not obvious cases. At times, they may seem obscure or relatively so. The larger your English vocabulary is, the easier it will be to recognize them.
  • The examples of vida and “vital/-ity” as well as nadar and “natatorium” are two of many in which you see a d in Spanish taking the place of a in English. In general, these two consonants are similar.
  • The amount of vocabulary presented, if you are a true beginner, may at times seem overwhelming. Nonetheless, many of the new words are related to each other, e.g., preguntar (“to ask”) and pregunta (“question”); estudiar (“to study”), estudiante (“student” [n.]) and estudiantil (“student” [adj.]). At the beginning of this text, most of the vocabulary given should be taken to be basic. As you progress in the text, you may be able to choose which vocabulary items may be useful to you and your field of study/interest and which may not.
  • Noticing patterns in word families, such as the examples in the previous bullet point, and making note of the words you think you may encounter in your own research and reading are two to of the best practices you can develop while taking this class. 

Unit: 3: Present Tense -ar Verbs, Adjectives, The Verbs ser,estar and tener

3.2 Agreement and Placement of Adjectives

Adjectives in Spanish agree in number and gender with the noun they modify, as, for example seen in the previous reading: una ciudad moderna, próspera (feminine, singular), or centro económico (masculine, singular). In these examples, as the noun ciudad is feminine and singular, it takes the feminine singular form of the adjectives, moderna and próspera. Likewise, the masculine singular noun centro takes the masculine singular form of the adjective, económico

Adjectives ending in –o have four forms:

mucho muchos
mucha muchas

Adjectives ending in –e have two forms, one for all singular nouns and one for all plural ones:

importante importantes
pobre pobres

Adjectives ending in a consonant have four endings:

trabajador (“hard-working”) trabajadores
trabajadora trabajadoras

These include adjectives of nationality:

español españoles
española españolas

When reading in Spanish, try to get used to looking for adjectives after the noun and translating them before the noun. In theory, an infinite number of adjectives can follow a noun:

Es un país libre, democrático, próspero, moderno, y joven. It is a free, democratic, prosperous, modern, and young country.

Adjectives that follow the noun inherently imply a contrast:

La ciudad vieja es bella, pero la ciudad nueva no. The old city is beautiful, but not the new city.

Adjectives of quantity (including numbers, almost all of which are adjectives) precede the noun they modify:

Muchos chicos están aquí. There are many boys here.
Hay pocas ciudades en el desierto. There are few cities in the desert.
Existen tres países en la región. There are three countries in the region.

At times an adjective that normally follows the noun may precede it for emphasis, when no contrast is implied:

La blanca nieve es muy bella. The white snow is very beautiful.
La vieja ciudad es muy interesante. The old city is very interesting.

Although there may not necessarily be a way to render the difference in translation of many nouns with an adjective placed before versus after, remember that post-placement (adjective after noun) implies if not states a contrast; pre-placement is for emphasis. The speakers in the two sentences above are emphasizing the whiteness of the snow and oldness of the city, without any implicit contrast with anything else.

In a few cases, however, placing the same adjective before versus after the noun normally changes its meaning. Two such adjectives are grande and antiguo. (Grande changes form, to gran, whenever it precedes a singular noun.)

Es un país grande.  It is a large country. 
Es un gran país. It’s a great country.
Es una ciudad antigua, de los tiempos romanos. It’s an ancient (a very old) city, from Roman times.
Pedro es mi antiguo marido. Pedro is my former (ex) husband.

Occasionally in the plural when grandes precedes a noun, it may have the meaning of “major,” which in some cases can be a synonym of “great”: ¿Quiénes son los grandes poetas de Perú?” (“Who are the major [great] poets of Peru?”) Also, grande does not shorten to gran when used in the superlative. (See section 7.2.)

The above should be taken as a general guideline for the placement and meaning of antiguo, as there are times when for emphasis it is placed before the noun and mean “very old.”

Unit: 3: Present Tense -ar Verbs, Adjectives, The Verbs ser,estar and tener

3.3 Inversion of Subject in Declarative Sentences

Spanish very often inverts the order of subject (+ adj.) and verb for emphasis or style. Although in simple sentences, as those below, the subject should be apparent, in longer sentences, you may have to stop and study the sentence in order to be sure you have found it. This inversion does not typically cause any change in translation except, perhaps, emphasis.

Es muy rápida la vida en la ciudad.

Es la vida en la ciudad muy rápida

Life in the city is very fast.
Es muy difícil el griego.

Es el griego muy difícil.

Greek is very difficult.

Both of these examples would be more frequently expressed as:

La vida es muy rápida en la ciudad. Life in the city is very fast.
El griego es muy difícil. Greek is very difficult

As in English, there is a great variety of placement for prepositional phrases. The first sentence could also be expressed as:

En la ciudad la vida es muy rápida.

La vida en la ciudad es muy rápida.

Es la vida muy rápida en la ciudad.

Life in the city is very fast.

Vocabulario básico


el año- year
el día- day
la mañana- morning*
el mes- month
la noche- evening, night
la semana- week
la tarde- afternoon

Adjetivos: Los colores:

amarillo- yellow
anaranjado- orange
azul- blue (cognate: azure)
blanco- white (cognate: to blanch)
castaño- brown, chestnut, hazel
color de café- brown
gris- gray
marrón- brown
morado- purple
naranja- orange
negro- black
pardo- brown
púrpura- purple
rojo- red
rosado- pink
verde- green (cognate: verdant)


alemán- German
austríaco- Austrian
brasileño- Brazilian***
canadiense- Canadian***
español- Spaniard
francés- French
griego- Greek
inglés- British
noruego- Norwegian
portugués- Portuguese
sueco- Swedish
suizo- Swiss

Otros adjetivos:

alguno- some
difícil- difficult, hard
fácil- easy
nuevo- new
otro- other, another
todo- all, every
viejo- old

Adverbios temporales (Adverbs of Time):

ante- before
después- after, afterwards
esta mañana- this morning
esta tarde- this afternoon
esta noche- tonight
tarde- late
temprano- early
todos los días- everyday

¡Ojo! When todo or one of its forms precedes a noun (used as an adjective), no comprehension problem is presented. When todo is used a pronoun, however, you must distinguish between singular and plural meaning:

  • Todos están aquí.
  • Everyone is here.
  • Todo es fácil.
  • Everything is easy.


*When mañana is preceded by an article, its meaning is “morning.” When not, it is an adverb of time and means “tomorrow.”

**As appropriate, the masculine form of nationalities also serves as nouns for the language of the country. Both forms function as nouns referring to natives of these countries.

***These endings (-eño and –ense) are very common adjective endings referring to the natives or inhabitants of countries and cities:

madrileño native of Madrid
limeño native of Lima
costarricense Costa Rican/ native of Costa Rica
estadounidense American/ native of the United States

All such words can also carry meaning of “pertaining to” without indicating a person:

Es (una) costumbre madrileña cenar muy tarde. It’s a Madrid custom (custom of Madrid) to eat dinner very late.


Unit: 3: Present Tense -ar Verbs, Adjectives, The Verbs ser,estar and tener

3.4 Present Tense of SER and ESTAR

Spanish uses two basic verbs that mean “to be,” the infinitives of which are ser (of which you have seen the forms es and son) and estar (of which you have seen the forms está and están). Their complete conjugations follow:


Person Singular Plural
1st soy somos
2nd eres sois
3rd es son


Person Singular Plural
1st estoy estamos
2nd estás estáis
3rd está están

Ser is used to:

    • equate one thing to another
    • tell time
    • show possession and origin, and, with adjectives
    • to describe a condition that is viewed as the norm or is an inherent characteristic when used with adjectives
    • Spanish also uses it when “to be” means “to take place,” such as an event
El español es un lengua romance. Spanish is a Romance language.
Son las dos y media. It’s two thirty.
La casa es de los señores Cantú. The house is Mr. and Mrs. Cantú’s.
Ana es de Lanzarote; una de las Islas Canarias. Ana is from Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands.
El agua es calma. The water is calm.
La fiesta es mañana. The party is (takes place) tomorrow.

Estar is used to:

  • show location
  • to show conditions, changes from the norm, and to express appearance or surprise when used with adjectives.

In the latter usages, see how the translation may differ from a form of “to be.”

Los padres están en casa. The parents are at home.
Las ventanas están abiertas. The windows are open.
Ella está vieja. She looks (seems, appears) old.
¡La paella está rica! The paella tastes(is) delicious!

Although ser and estar do not usually present comprehension problems, it is useful to be aware of the nuances of possible translations that are not a form of “to be.”

Unit: 3: Present Tense -ar Verbs, Adjectives, The Verbs ser,estar and tener

3.5 Adjectives that Change Meaning with SER and ESTAR

These, among other adjectives, change meaning when used with ser and estar. This is not, however, a long list to be memorized; many of the uses with ser describe what is the norm or an inherent characteristic while those of estar reflect a condition or state that differs from the norm or is subject to change.

ser estar
ser aburrido – to be boring estar aburrido – to be bored
ser (un) borracho – to be a drunk estar borracho – to be drunk
ser distraído – to be absentminded estar distraído – to be distracted
ser enfermo – to be an invalid estar enfermo – to be ill
ser interesado – to be selfish estar interesado – to be interested
ser libre – to be free (unrestrained) estar libre – to be unoccupied
ser listo – to be smart, clever estar listo – to be ready
ser nuevo – to be new estar nuevo – to be different, new in appearance
ser orgulloso – to be haughty estar orgulloso – to be proud
ser rico – to be rich, to taste good estar rico – to be delicious
ser seguro – to be safe estar seguro – to be sure
ser solo – to be lonely estar solo – to be alone
ser verde – to be green, to be without experience estar verde – to be unripe
ser vivo – to be sharp, alert estar vivo – to be alive

Vocabulario básico


el café- coffee, café
la cosa- thing
la hija- daughter
el hijo- son
los hijos- children
el señor (Sr.)- Mr.
la señora (Sra.)- Mrs.
los señores (Sres.)- Mr. and Mrs.
la señorita (Srta.)- Miss


barato- cheap, inexpensive
borracho- drunk
caliente- warm, hot
caro- expensive, dear
distraído- absentminded, distracted
enfermo- ill, sick (“invalid,” as noun)
frío- cold
medio- half (media- half past the hour)
orgulloso- proud, haughty
pequeño- little, small
rico- rich, wealthy, delicious
seguro- safe, sure
solo- alone, lonely
vivo- alive, clever, sharp


bien- well
mal- bad, badly
pronto- soon
siempre- always
todavía- still, yet
ya- already (sometimes, “now” or “later”; See section 12.4.)

Otras palabras:

algo- something
porque- because
¿por qué- why
que- that, which, who


hay que + inf.- it is necessary (to do something)
¿qué tal + (form of estar)?- how are you/ is he, she, etc. (doing)?

Unit: 3: Present Tense -ar Verbs, Adjectives, The Verbs ser,estar and tener

3.6 Present Tense of tener and Idioms with tener

Tener means “to have” in the sense of “to own” or “to possess.”

Person Singular Plural
1st tengo tenemos
2nd tienes tenéis
3rd tiene tienen


Tengo tres hijos. I have three children.
¿Tienes una casa grande? Do you have a large house?

Many of its most common uses come in the form of idioms, almost all of which are translated as “to be”:

tener … años to be … years old
tener calor to be hot, warm (applied to a person [or animal])
tener celos to be jealous
tener cuidado to be careful
tener la culpa to be at fault, to be to blame
tener éxito (false friend) to be successful
tener frío to be cold (applied to a person [or animal])
tener hambre* to be hungry
tener miedo to be afraid
tener prisa to be in a hurry
(no) tener razón to be right (wrong)
tener sed to be thirsty
tener suerte to be lucky
tener vergüenza to be ashamed

Translated literally, these expression, when conjugated, are stating, “I have… years, she has cold, etc.,” As such, años, calor, and all other words presented here are nouns, which are modified by adjectives. Therefore, you will see a form of the adjective mucho (or poco [“little”] or the phrase un poco de [“a little (bit of)] modifying these nouns, not the adverb muy: 

Tienen mucha sed. They are very thirsty.
Alonso tiene mucho éxito. Alonso is very successful.
Tengo un poco de prisa I’m in a little bit of a hurry.

Two other common idioms with tener exist. In the first one, after the conjugated form of the verb, que is used followed by an infinitive, translating as “to have to do something.” Tener ganas de + infinitive means “to feel like doing something.” As ganas (literally, “desires” or “hunger”) is a noun, like in the idioms above, it too is modified by a form of mucho, as you can see in the last example.

Tenemos que esperar. We have to wait.
¿Tienes que estudiar? Do you have to study?
Tengo ganas de descansar. I feel like resting.
Amelia no tiene muchas ganas de estudiar. Amelia does not feel much like studying.

*Although the cognate is not obvious, it is “famine.” In the evolution of Spanish, a late shift occurred, by which many words beginning with f changed to h, to put it very simply. You will encounter other such words in this text that underwent the same phenomenon. Huir (“to flee”), for example, was once fuir and is related to “fugitive” (someone who flees, Spanish fugitivo).

Vocabulario básico 


cocinar- to cook (cognate: cuisine)
dejar- to leave (behind), to abandon, to let, to permit
lavar- to wash (cognate: lavatory)
limpiar- to clean


el cine- movie theater
el dinero- money (false friend)
el mundo- world
la niña- child (female)*
el niño- child (male)*
la película- film, movie
el reloj- watch (timepiece)
el valor- value, worth; courage, bravery, valor


menos- less (combined with adjective- least)
sólo- only

Pronombre (Pronoun):

todo el mundo- everyone (synonymous with todos)


no sólo … sino también- not only … but also

*Hijos are always one’s own children, regardless of age. Niños refers to small children, which may or may not be one’s own.

Unit: 3: Present Tense -ar Verbs, Adjectives, The Verbs ser,estar and tener

3.7 Possessive Adjectives

The following are the short forms of the possessive adjectives in Spanish:

Singular Plural
mi, mis (my) nuestro/-a, nuestros/-as (our)
tu, tus (your (fam.)) vuestro/-a, vuestros/-as (your (fam. pl.))
su,sus (his, her, its, your (form.)) su, sus (they/their, your (form. pl. [fam. pl. also in L.A.]))

Spanish possessive adjectives agree with the noun possessed, not the possessor or owner, unlike English. They agree both in number and gender for what is owned.

Tengo mi dinero. I have my money.
Aquí está nuestra casa. Here is our house.
Tenemos tus libros. We have your books.

That the possessive adjective agrees in number and gender with the noun modified should not cause comprehension problems.

Due to the ambiguity of sand sus, a prepositional phrase can clarify the meaning if necessary. When the prepositional phrase is used, the possessive adjective is dropped and is replaced by the corresponding article. For example, the sentence ¿Dónde está su perro? is ambiguous out of context. If the meaning remains unclear, you should see one of the following prepositional phrases to clarify su:

¿Dónde está el perro de él? Where is his dog?
¿Dónde está el perro de ella? Where is her dog?
¿Dónde está el perro de Ud.? Where is your (s.) dog?
¿Dónde está el perro de ellos/-as? Where is their dog?
¿Dónde está el perro de Uds.? Where is your (pl.) dog?

Vocabulario básico


los apuntes- notes (taken in class)
la bolsa- purse
el bolso- sack, bag
el carro- car (L.A.)
el coche- car (Sp., esp.)
el cumpleaños- birthday
el espejo- mirror
la fecha- date (of month, year)
las gafas- eyeglasses
el/la gato/-a- cat
el jabón- soap
la maleta- suitcase
la mochila- backpack
el peine- comb
el/la perro/-a- dog
el regalo- present
la toalla- towel


cada- each, every


cada uno/-a- each one, every one

Unit: 4: Present Tense -er and -ir Verbs, Personal a, Other Irregularities in the Present Tense

4.1 Present Tense of -er and -ir Verbs

When a regular –er or -ir verb is conjugated, the –er or –ir of the infinitive is dropped, and the following endings are added: -o, -es, -e, emos (for –er verbs) or -imos (for -ir verbs), éis (for -er verbs) or ís (for -ir verbs), and -en.

Note the similarity with hablar: all of the consonants are the same; only the vowels differ.

Hablar Beber Abrir
yo hablo bebo abro
hablas bebes abres
él, Ella, Ud. habla bebe abre
Nosotros hablamos bebemos abrimos
Vosotros habláis bebéis abrís
ellos, ellas, Uds. hablan beben abren

Verb forms from now on will be presented without the subject pronouns. As each form has its unique vowel or vowel + consonant ending, you should regularly be able to deduce the subject from the verb form.

Remember the four possible common translations of the present tense. Bebo, for example, may translate as:

  1. I drink.
  2. I am drinking.
  3. I do drink.
  4. I will (am going to) drink. (According to the context.)

Vocabulario básico 


abrir- to open
aprender- to learn
asistir- to attend (false friend)
beber- to drink (cognate: imbibe)
comer- to eat
contestar- to answer
creer- to believe (cognates: credible, credo)
discutir- to argue, to discuss
enviar- to send (cognate: envoi)
escribir- to write
leer- to read (cognate: legible)
mandar- to send, to order (cognate: mandate)
recibir- to receive
subir- to go up, to climb
vender- to sell
vivir- to live


el asunto- matter, issue, affair (esp. in pl.), question
el barrio- neighborhood
la calle- street
la carta- letter, playing card
el colegio- high school (false friend)
el correo- mail
el correo electrónico- e-mail
la dirección- address, direction on compass
el estado- state
el extranjero- abroad, foreign countries
el extranjero/-a- foreigner
la guerra- war
la letra- letter of alphabet, handwriting (false friend)
la oficina de correos- post office
el sello- stamp
la tarjeta- card, greeting card (tarjeta postal- postcard)
la tienda- store
el/la vecino/-a- neighbor (cognate: vicinity)


extranjero- foreign


contra- against
durante- during


al extranjero- abroad (destination)
creer que no- to think not, not to think so
creer que sí- to think so
en el extranjero- abroad (location)
por lo menos, al menos- at least

Unit: 4: Present Tense -er and -ir Verbs, Personal a, Other Irregularities in the Present Tense

4.2 Present Tense of Other Irregular Verbs: Part 1

The following verbs are very high-frequency and all are irregular in the first-person singular, while ir is irregular throughout.

Decir (To say, tell) Hacer (to do, make) Ir (to go)
yo digo hago voy
dices haces vas
él, Ella, Ud. dice hace va
Nosotros decimos hacemos vamos
Vosotros decís hacéis vais
ellos, ellas, Uds. dicen hacen van

The verb ir often combines with the preposition a + infinitive to render future meaning (esp. near future), as in English.

Voy a trabajar esta noche. I’m going to work tonight.
Nidia va a cocinar mañana. Nidia is going to cook tomorrow.
Mis padres van a viajar esta semana. My parents are going to travel this week.
¿Uds. no van a ir con nosotros? You aren’t going to go with us?

The verb hacer is used to express various weather phenomena:

Hace calor. It’s warm/hot.
Hace mucho frío. It’s very cold.
Hace sol. It’s sunny.
Hace viento. It’s windy.
¿Qué tiempo hace? What’s the weather like?
Hace buen tiempo. The weather is good.
Hace mal tiempo. The weather is bad.

Note in the second example about that, like idioms with tener, those used with hacer also take nouns. Therefore, you will see a form of mucho, not muy modifying them.

Do not confuse Hace frío with Tengo frío or Hace calor with Tiene calor. The expressions with tener can only take a person (or animal) as subject:

Hace mucho frío en enero. It’s very cold in January.
Con frecuencia tengo frío. I’m frequently cold.

Also do not confuse hace with “have” o “has” when translating. Although they look similar, their meaning never is the same.

Vocabulario básico 


desear- to desire, to wish, to want
trabajar- to work


el/la amigo/-a- friend
la estación- season
el fin de semana- weekend
la gente- people
el invierno- winter
el jardín- garden, yard
el/ la maestro/-a- teacher, master
la mentira- lie
el otoño- autumn, fall
la playa- beach
la primavera- spring
el pueblo- town, people (in a national sense)
la selva- jungle
el sur- south
el trabajo- work, written work, term paper
el verano- summer
la verdad- truth

Los meses del año (Months of the Year):

enero- January
febrero- February
marzo- March
abril- April
mayo- May
junio- June
julio- July
agosto- August
septiembre- September
octubre- October
noviembre- November
diciembre- December


junto- together
primero- first
próximo- next
simpático- nice, friendly
último- last


adentro (dentro)- inside
afuera (fuera)- outside
junto- together


hacer un viaje- to take a trip
la semana que viene (la semana próxima)- next week
Es verdad.- It’s true
¿No es verdad?- Isn’t it so (true)?
¿verdad?- isn’t it so (true)?
¿no?- isn’t it so (true)? (used after an affirmative statement only)

Unit: 4: Present Tense -er and -ir Verbs, Personal a, Other Irregularities in the Present Tense

4.3 Personal a

When the direct object of a verb is a human being, the marker a is placed before it. (Often the marker is not used when the direct object is an indefinite person or persons [Buscan alumnos…], but this is not a translation problem). This a is never translated. It is at times also seen before countries, cities, concepts and animals when these are personalized, that is, the speaker feels strongly about them.


Mira a Juana. She’s looking at Juana.
Veo a David. I see David.
Dejamos al perro en casa. We’re leaving the dog at home.
Amo a la libertad. I love liberty.
Vamos a visitar a España. We’re going to visit Spain.

At times the personal a distinguishes between the subject and direct object. In the first example below, the personal a indicates the direct object, i.e., “She is waiting for someone.” (“Whom” is the direct object in the first example, and “who” is the subject in the second.) The main point is simply not to translate the a.

No sé a quién espera. I don’t know whom she waits for.
No sé quién espera. I don’t know who is waiting.

When followed by el, unless part of a proper name, the personal a contracts with it to form al.

¿Ayudas al vecino? Are you helping the neighbor?
No siempre creemos a Jacinta . We don’t always believe Jacinta.

The preposition a normally precedes an indirect object, and it is often translated as “to,” depending on how the English is rendered:

Voy a mandarle el dinero a mamá. I’m going to send the money to Mom.

I’m going to send Mom the money.

Llevan a Marta a la fiesta. They’re taking Marta to the party.

In very occasional cases, when both a direct and an indirect object are spelled out (not used in pronoun form), the personal a is omitted before the direct object so that the reader can tell which is the direct object and which is the indirect, as word order does not specify that the direct object must always precede the indirect.

Presenta su hija a Rafael. He introduces his daughter to Rafael.


Unit: 4: Present Tense -er and -ir Verbs, Personal a, Other Irregularities in the Present Tense

4.4 Adjectives Used as Nouns

It is very common for adjectives in Spanish to take the place of nouns. Study the following examples.

El viejo no está en el hospital. The old man is not in the hospital.
El joven asiste a la escuela. The young boy attends school.
La joven prepara la lección. The young girl prepares the lesson.
Los ciegos estudian en la universidad. The blind study at the university.

To write el hombre viejo, el muchacho joven, or las personas ciegas would normally be considered redundant. Although you may encounter it, it is much more common to see the noun omitted and the adjective used in its place.

Vocabulario básico 


amar- to love
deber- to owe; ought, should*
mantener- to maintain, to keep up; to support financially**


la botánica- botany
el/la médico/-a- doctor, physician
el/la novio/-a- boyfriend, girlfriend, fiancé, fiancée
la patria- country, native land, homeland
la tontería- nonsense, silliness, foolishness


ciego- blind
cierto- (a) certain
joven- young
largo- long (false friend)
mismo- same, very
mudo- mute
semejante- similar, such
sordo- deaf
tal- such, such a
tonto- silly, stupid

*Deber is not a synonym of tener que, which indicates strong obligation or necessity. Although they are at times quite close in meaning, deber tends to be “softer,” indicating what one should or ought to do.

**Mantener has all of the irregularities of tener, in the present tense, as well as others to be studied later.

Unit: 4: Present Tense -er and -ir Verbs, Personal a, Other Irregularities in the Present Tense

4.5 Omission of the Indefinite Article

The indefinite article is at times omitted in Spanish when it is used in English. In these cases, or when the English sounds awkward or incorrect, merely add the indefinite article to your translation. The common cases in which Spanish omits the indefinite article are:

1. Before a profession unmodified by an adjective:

Su padre es ingeniero. His father is an engineer.
Soy médica. ¿Y Ud.? I’m a doctor. And you?

But it is used when the noun is modified:

Su madre es una médica buena. His mother is a good doctor.

2. Before certain adjectives:

Cierto hombre desea su presencia. A certain man desires your presence.
No hago tal/ semejante cosa. I don’t do such a thing.
Leen otro libro. They’re reading another book.

3. In an exclamation, after Qué:

¡Qué día largo! What a long day!
¡Qué clase difícil es! What a difficult class it is!

4. Because of the ambiguity between the number one (uno) and the indefinite article, the latter is often omitted when the meaning is “a” or “an”:

¿Tienes carro? Do you have a car?
¿Tiene novio? Does he/she have a boyfriend?

To insert the indefinite article un in the above sentences could imply “one car” or “one boyfriend” versus two.

Unit: 4: Present Tense -er and -ir Verbs, Personal a, Other Irregularities in the Present Tense

4.6 Present Tense of Other Irregular Verbs: Part II

Here are the conjugations of more high-frequency verbs that are irregular in the first-person singular of the present tense. You need to be able to recognize all of these forms actively.

Dar (To give) Caer (To Fall) Oír (To hear) Poner (To Put)
yo doy caigo oigo pongo
das caes oyes pones
él, Ella, Ud. da cae oye pone
Nosotros damos caemos oímos ponemos
Vosotros dais caéis oís ponéis
ellos, ellas, Uds. dan caen oyen ponen

More verbs to memorize so that you can quickly translate them:

salir (to leave/go out) Traer (to bring) Venir (to Come) Ver (To See)
yo salgo traigo vengo veo
sales traes vienes ves
él, Ella, Ud. sale trae viene ve
Nosotros salimos traemos venimos vemos
Vosotros salís traéis venís veis
ellos, ellas, Uds. salen traen vienen ven

Vocabulario básico 


alquilar- to rent
barrer- to sweep
pasar- to happen; to spend (time); pasar por- to pass by; pasar a- to pass into
recoger- to pick up, to collect, to gather
secar- to dry


la alcoba- bedroom
la alfombra- rug, carpet
la antigüedad- antique
el baño- bathroom
la cama- bed
la cocina- kitchen
el comedor- dining room
el/la criado/-a- maid, servant
el cuarto- room, bedroom
el dormitorio- bedroom (false friend)
la escalera- stairway, stairs
el estante- shelf
el fondo- back, rear; bottom, bed (of a river, etc.)
la habitación- room
el hogar- home
la hoja- leaf; sheet of paper
el ladrillo- brick
el lugar- place, space
la mesa- table
el mueble- piece of furniture*
el pasillo- hallway
el piso- floor; floor/story (building); apartment
el quehacer- household (domestic) chore, task
el ruido- noise
la sala- room; living room; classroom
el salón- living room, drawing room, reception, salon
el siglo- century
la silla- chair


cómodo- comfortable
descompuesto- broken
incómodo- uncomfortable
limpio- clean
lleno- full
sucio- dirty, soiled
vacío- empty (cognate: vacant)


desde- of, from, since


pues- since, as, because, for


en alguna parte- somewhere
en ninguna parte- nowhere
en todas partes- everywhere
dar un paseo- to take a walk, ride
poner la mesa- to set the table
por todos lados- everywhere

*Mueble is one piece of furniture. The plural, or collective noun, is muebles.

Unit: 5: Uses of the Infinitive, Stem- Changing Verbs, More on Adjectives, Commonly Confused Words

5.1 Uses of the Infinitive

1. The use of the infinitive that can most easily cause comprehension problems is when it comes after the contraction al and is the equivalent of “upon” or “on” + present participle:

Al llegar, veo a mis parientes. Upon/On arriving, I see my relatives.
Al terminar, vamos a salir a un restaurante. Upon finishing, we’re going to go out to a restaurant.

The above al (al llegaral terminar) is not the same as the contraction al (ael), which usually translates as “to the”: Vamos al concierto. (We’re going to the concert.)

Other uses, which seldom cause comprehension problems, include:

2. As in English, Spanish routinely uses the infinitive form of the verb after a conjugated one:

Lucía no desea cocinar. Lucía doesn’t want to cook.

3. The infinitive is the verb form used when the verb is the subject of the sentence. It is sometimes preceded by the masculine singular definite article, which is never translated. (The use or absence of the article does not change the meaning at all, however using the article makes slightly more formal Spanish.)

(El) Leer ficción me interesa. Reading fiction interests me.
Nadar es uno de mis pasatiempos. Swimming is one of my pastimes

4. The infinitive is the form of the verb you will see after a preposition in Spanish. The preposition is almost never translated*.

Vamos a trabjar. We are going to work.
Salgo después de estudiar. I go out after studying.
Amenaza con salir. He threatens to leave.
Enrique me ayuda a aprender. Enrique helps me to learn.
Nos invita a ir. She invites us to go.
Tratamos de ayudar. We try to help.

*One case in which the preposition happens to be translated in English is with the verb insistir: Insiste en hablar = she insists on speaking.

¡Ojo! There is a difference between salir de and salir aSalir a means to “to go out” as in “to go out into the street”: Sale a la calle. Salir de means “to leave a place” and the de is not normally translated: Salimos de la casa. (We leave the house.)


Vocabulario básico


amenazar (con)- to threaten (to) (cognate: to menace)
convencer (a)- to convince
enseñar (a)- to show, to teach
sumar- to add
tocar- to play (music), to touch
tratar- to treat; tratar (de + inf.)- to try (to do something)


el gobierno- government
la manera- manner, way
la medianoche- midnight
el medio- means, medium, middle
el mediodía- noon, midday
los medios de comunicación- media
la salud- health
la tarea- task, homework


alto- high, tall
bajo- low, short (height)
bastante- enough*
corto- short
extraño- strange


bastante- enough, fairly, sufficiently, rather*
hasta- even
tan- so


hasta- until, up to, as far as
sin- without

Conjunciones (Conjunctions):

lo que- what, that which
siempre que- whenever, provided that

*Note the different as well as overlapping meanings of bastante when used as an adverb versus adjective: Habla bastante. (He speaks enough.) ¿Hay bastantes sillas? (Are there enough chairs? Hablas bastante bien. (You speak fairly [rather, sufficiently] well.)

Unit: 5: Uses of the Infinitive, Stem- Changing Verbs, More on Adjectives, Commonly Confused Words

5.2 Stem-Changing Verbs

There are many -ar, -er and -ir stem- changing (sometimes called “radical” [“having to do with the root”]) verbs in Spanish.

In the most common patterns, the e of the stem changes to ie, the o to ue, and the e to i. All of these changes occur only in stressed syllables, in other words, in all persons except nosotros and vosotros. That the stems of these verbs change should not present comprehension problems, provided that you recognize the infinitives.

pensar (to think) dormir (to sleep) pedir (to ask for/request)
yo pienso duermo pido
piensas duermes pides
él, Ella, Ud. piensa duerme pide
Nosotros pensamos dormimos pedimos
Vosotros pensáis dormís pedís
ellos, ellas, Uds. piensan duermen piden

One exception to the above pattern is the verb jugar (“to play” [a sport, a game]), which used to have an o in the stem, but made a late shift to a u, which is the vowel that changes to ue.

In the vocabulary lists in this text, stem-changing verbs are indicated by the vowel(s) to which the stem changes, put in parentheses immediately after the infinitive.

Vocabulario básico 


almorzar (ue)- to eat lunch
cerrar (ie)- to close, to shut
comenzar (ie)- to begin, to start*
devolver (ue)- to return (an object)
dormir (ue)- to sleep (cognate- dormant)
empezar (ie)- to start, to begin*
encender (ie)- to turn on
encontrar (ue)- to encounter, to find
entender (ie)- to understand
jugar (ue)- to play (a sport, a game)
llover (ue)- to rain
mostrar (ue)- to show
nevar (ie)- to snow
pedir (i)- to request, to ask for
pensar (ie)- to think
pensar + inf.- to intend (to do something)**
pensar + en- to think about someone or something, to reflect on someone or something***
pensar + de- to think (in the sense of having an opinion about something), often used in a question****
perder (ie)- to lose
poder (ue)- to be able to, can
preferir (ie)- to prefer
querer (ie)- to want, to love
recordar (ue)- to remember, to remind
servir (i)- to serve, to be useful
soler (ue) (+inf.)- to be accustomed/ used (to doing something)
volar (ue)- to fly
volver (ue)- to return (to a place)


Chipre- Cyprus
la hora- hour, time (of day)

*These two verbs are generally used synonymously, with equal frequency.

**This frequent expression is easy to mistranslate as, for example, “I am thinking about …ing.” Be sure to translate it as “I intend to….”

***Pienso mucho en mi abuelo. I think about my grandfather a lot.

****¿Qué piensan Uds. de la nueva ley? What do you think of the new law?

¡Ojo! There are five verbs, four of which appear above, that because of their similarity may cause confusion in reading. These verbs have cognates in English, which may serve as a mnemonic device to help avoid confusion.

Verb Mnemonic Device
pensar (to think) is “pensive”
perder (to lose)  is “perdition”
pedir (to request/ask for)  is “to petition” (Remember that t and d are phonetically related consonants.)
poder (to be able to/can)  is “potent”
poner (to put)  is “to position” (or “to posit”)

The relationship between poner and “to position” will be seen in the preterite tense (section 8.2.), which in the first person singular is puse.

Unit: 5: Uses of the Infinitive, Stem- Changing Verbs, More on Adjectives, Commonly Confused Words

5.3 Demonstrative Adjectives and Pronouns

Spanish uses three demonstrative adjectives (each of which has its masculine and feminine, singular and plural forms) and shows a degree of subtlety absent in English:

este this (near the speaker)
ese that (somewhat further from the speaker)
aquel that (over there, far from the speaker)

Their forms are as follows:

Masculine Feminine
singular este esta
plural estos estas
singular ese esa
plural esos esas
singular aquel aquella
plural aquellos aquellas


Esta clase es mi favorita This class is my favorite (one).
¿Ves ese pequeño libro azul? Do you see that (nearby) little blue book?
Aquellos turistas son extranjeros. Those tourists (far away/over there) are foreigners.

The two keys to achieving accurate understanding of demonstrative pronouns are:

1. Remembering that ese and aquel should be thought of in terms of distance from the speaker and that their subtlety cannot be rendered by one single word in English.

2. Trying to distinguish between forms of este and ese (A possibly helpful mnemonic device is “This and these have the T’s. That and those don’t.”)

The demonstrative adjectives above may all stand alone and function as pronouns, meaning “this one,” “that one,” “these,” and “those.” Until 1959, the demonstrative pronouns were required to bear written accents, as in éste, ése, aquél, etc., but these accents were deemed unnecessary except to avoid ambiguity by the Royal Spanish Academy of the Language (La Real Academia de la Lengua Española), the most prestigious body that governs the standards of the written language. (This is in Spain. Some Spanish American countries have similar organizations, the linguistic norms of which at times differ from Spain’s. [See Mini-Capsule: I.]) In the early 21st century, there is still no agreed on uniformity regarding the use or omission of these accent marks. There is no ambiguity when the demonstrative adjectives are always followed by nouns or when the demonstrative pronouns stand alone. Accents on the latter are not used in the text.

Tengo dos regalos. Este es para mi hermana y ese es para mi prima. I have two gifts. This one is for my sister and that one is for my cousin.
Esta casa es donde viven mis padres. En aquella viven mis abuelos. This house is where my parents live. My grandparents live in that one (far away).

Demonstratives to say “the former” and “the latter”

The forms este and aquel, as well as their feminine and plural forms, when referring to two different antecedents also mean “the latter” and “the former,” respectively. Being unaware of this can cause major comprehension problems, unless the context is particularly illustrative of the meaning. Another complicating factor of this usage is that Spanish expresses este (or a form thereof) before aquel, in the opposite order from English, as well as the fact that they are used much more commonly in Spanish than in English and, therefore, cannot be considered “low frequency” items.

Colombia y Venezuela tienen costas en el Mar Caribe. Este tiene como capital a Caracas, aquel, a Bogotá. Colombia and Venezuela have coasts on the Caribbean Sea. The former has Bogotá as its capital, the latter, Caracas.
Eugenio y Claudia son nuevos estudiantes este año. Esta es chilena, aquel, neoyorquino. Eugenio and Claudia are new students this year. The former is a New Yorker, the latter, Chilean.

The demonstrative pronouns also have neuter forms: esto, eso, and aquello. These are used when there is no antecedent mentioned, or to refer to notions, abstracts or concepts.

Esto no es tan difícil como piensas. This isn’t so (as) difficult as you think.
Aquello simplemente no es verdad. That simply is not true.

One minor additional usage is that este (esto, in Spain) is the hesitation word in speaking that corresponds to “er…” or “uh” in English.

Vocabulario básico 


la corrida de toros- bullfight (running of the bulls)
la época- epoch, era, time
la era- era
la regla- rule


algunas veces- sometimes
a menudo- often
a veces- at times
muchas veces- often (many times)
la primera vez- the first time
rara vez, raras veces- seldom, infrequently, rarely

Unit: 5: Uses of the Infinitive, Stem- Changing Verbs, More on Adjectives, Commonly Confused Words

5.4 Verbs saber and conocer

Spanish has two verbs that often translate as “to know.” Saber is an irregular verb that means to know a fact, a piece of information, or to know something by memory. Conocer is a regular verb that means to know a city, place, person, or work of art.


Person Singular Plural
1st sabemos
2nd sabes sabéis
3rd sabe saben


Person Singular Plural
1st conozco conocemos
2nd conoces conocéis
3rd conoce conocen

Although the first person singular of conocer may appear irregular, it is not. The insertion of the z before the c serves to keep the “soft” sound of the s. (All verbs ending in vowel + –cer and -cir follow this pattern.)

Sé donde vive. I know where he lives.
¿Sabes la repuesta? Do you know the answer?
Sé el poema de memoria. I know the poem by memory.
Conozco el poema. I’m familiar with the poem.
¿Conocen Uds. Andalucía? Do you know (Are you acquainted/familiar with) Andalusia?
Ellas conocen a mi esposa. They know my wife.
¿Conoce el camino a la playa? Do you know the road to the beach?

Saber followed directly by the infinitive means “to know how to do something.” The omission of como is the norm, though when it occasionally appears it does not cause comprehension problems.

¿Sabes esquiar? Do you know how to ski?
Raquel sabe traducir documentos del latín al español. Raquel knows how to translate documents from Latin to Spanish.
No sabemos cómo explicar esto. We don’t know how to explain this.

(Cómo, in the last example, is another indirect interrogative and, as such, takes a written accent mark.)

Vocabulario básico 


conducir- to drive, to conduct
coser- to sew
esquiar- to ski
ofrecer- to offer
reconocer- to recognize
traducir- to translate


los calcetines- socks
el camino- road
la camisa- shirt
la camiseta – t-shirt
la falda- skirt
los pantalones- pants
la respuesta- answer (cognate: response)
el vestido- dress (cognate: vestment)
los zapatos- shoes


propio- own (false friend)


así (que)-so, this, therefore

Unit: 5: Uses of the Infinitive, Stem- Changing Verbs, More on Adjectives, Commonly Confused Words

5.5 Prepositions POR and PARA

Both of these prepositions often translate as “for.” In reading comprehension, problems may be posed in cases when they do not translate as such or you may miss the most accurate meaning when they have more specific possibilities of translation. This section focuses on those occasions.

Por is the more vibrant and dynamic of these prepositions, while para is the more flat, “neutral” one, as will be seen in some of the cases below. Whenever possible, opt for the translation that provides the most nuance, such as in the following cases.

Uses of para that do not always translate as “for”: 

1. Purpose: “to,” “in order to”

Estamos aquí para aprender español. We’re here (in order) to learn Spanish.
Luis estudia para (ser) ingeniero. Luis is studying to be an engineer.

2. Destination: “to,” “headed to,” “to leave for”

Mañana vamos a ir para San Andrés. Tomorrow we’re going to go to San Andrés

3. To be used for: noun + para (not translated) + noun

Necesitamos más vasos para vino. We need more wine glasses.

¡Ojo! Pay special attention to vasos para vino versus vasos de vino. The latter translates as “glasses (full) of wine”:

Hay varios vasos de vino en la mesa. There are several glasses of wine on the table.

4. Deadline: “by” (occasionally, “for”)

Hay que terminar los informes para el viernes. It’s necessary to finish the reports by Friday.

5. In the opinion of (or “for”)

Para ellos, viajar al extranjero es muy importante.
In their opinion (For them), traveling abroad is very important.

6. To be about to do something

Estamos para salir y suena el teléfono. We are about to leave and the telephone rings.

¡Ojo! The above construction is from Spain. In most of the rest of the Spanish-speaking world, the expression estar por + infinitive means “to be about to do something.” (See usage 12, below.) Context and origin of text should clarify meaning.

7. To be done

Tenemos mucho trabajo para hacer.
We have much work to be done (to do).

Contrast with usage 15 of por. Por indicates a stronger sense of urgency.

8. Comparison, Contrast (“considering”)

Para verano, hace bastante frío. Considering it’s (For) summer, it’s fairly cold.

9. Idiomatic Expressions

para siempre forever
para nada not… at all
para empezar for starters
para variar just for a change

Ejemplos con expresiones idiomáticas:

Van a ser amigos para siempre. They’re going to be friends forever.
A Lidia no le gustan las verduras para nada. Sólo quiere comer fruta. Lidia doesn’t like vegetables at all. She only wants to eat fruit.
Para empezar, tiene el hábito de interrumpir. For starters, he has the habit of interrupting.
Vamos a quedarnos en la ciudad este verano para variar. We’re going to stay in the city this summer just for a change.

Uses of por that do not always translate as “for”:

1. Indefinite place: “around”

¿Está Arturo por aquí? Is Arturo around here?

2. Movement: “along,” “by”

Caminan por la playa. They’re walking along the beach.

3. Movement: “through”

Este verano vamos a viajar por Costa Rica. This summer we’re going to travel through Costa Rica.

¡Ojo! Contrast this with usage 2 of para which indicates destination

Este verano vamos a viajar para Costa Rica. This summer we’re going to travel to Costa Rica.

4. Explanation: “because of,” “on account of,” “out of”

Por miedo, Soledad no entra en el agua. Soledad doesn’t go into the water out of fear.

5. Indefinite time: “around”

Por noviembre, es necesario comenzar a estudiar mucho. Around November, it’s necessary to begin studying a lot.

¡Ojo! Contrast this with usage 4 of para:

Para noviembre, es necesario comenzar a estudiar mucho. By November, it’s necessary to begin to study a lot

6. “In place of,” “instead of”

Como mi hermano no puede asistir, voy por él. As my brother can’t attend, I’m going in his place (instead of him).

7. “For the sake of,” “on behalf of”

Hago esto por mis padres. I’m doing this for my parents’ sake (on behalf of my parents).

8. By means of: “by”

Mandamos el paquete por avión. We’re sending the package by plane.
¿Vienes por autobús o por tren? Are you coming by bus or by train?

9. Agent: “by” (following a past participle in a passive voice construction [See section 15.6.]

Son detendios por la policía. They are detained (arrested) by the police.

10. Parts of the day: “in,” “at”

Pilar estudia por la tarde y trabaja por la noche. Pilar studies in the afternoon and works at night.

11. From the Latin: “per”

¿Cuánto gana por hora un abogado? How much does a lawyer earn per hour?

Also common instead of por is a: Vienen al pueblo una vez a la semana [They come to the town once a (per) week.]

12. Opinion: “in favor of”

¿Estás por ir allí?
Are you in favor of going there?

13. Object of a search: Verb of motion + “to get”

Va por ayuda. He’s going to get help.
Salen por más agua. They’re going out to get more water.

14. “On one’s honor”

Juro por mi honor que es verdad. I swear on my honor that it’s true.

15. “To be done” (“to”)

Tengo un informe por escribir. I have a report to be written.

This is in essence synonymous with Tengo un informe para escribir (usage 7 of para), but the sentence with por connotes greater urgency, that it is incumbent on the speaker to write the report. The sentence using para lacks this urgency and is a more “neutral” utterance.

16. Purpose: “in order to”

Hago todo lo posible por hacer ir a Manuel. I’m doing everything possible in order to make Manuel go.

This sentence is similar to usage 1 of para, however the use of por connotes strong resolve and deliberate effort, if not emotion. In comparison, the sentence Hago todo lo posible para hacer ir a Manuel is more “flat.”

17. Strong opinion: “as far as one is concerned”

Por ella, puedes hacer lo que quieres. As far as she’s concerned, you can do what you want.

This can be contrasted with usage 5 of para: Para ella, puedes hacer lo que quieres. The sentence with para is simply less emotional or less strong, just as “as far as one is concerned” is a stronger expression in English than “in one’s opinion.”

18. In exchange for

Por su testimonio recibe mucho dinero. In exchange for his testimony, he gets (receives) a lot of money.

19. Por is used in many idiomatic expressions:

por ciento percent
por Dios for heaven’s sake
por favor please
por fin finally
por lo general generally
por lo visto apparently, evidently
por suerte luckily, with luck
por todas partes (todos lados) everywhere

Vocabulario básico


conseguir (i)- to obtain, to get, to manage (before an inf.)
correr- to run
destacar(se)- to stand out
detener- to detain. to arrest*
entregar- to deliver, to hand in
ganar- to gain, to earn, to win
jurar- to swear
seguir (i)- to follow, to keep on, to continue (doing something), to remain, to be
sonar (ue)- to ring, to sound


el avión- airplane
la ayuda- help
la cerveza- beer
la editorial- publisher
la iglesia- church (cognate: ecclesiastical)
la ingeniería- engineering
el/la ingeniero/-a- engineer
Nueva Zelanda (Nueva Zelandia in S.A.)- New Zealand
la página- page
la piel- skin
la taza- coffee/ tea cup
el vaso- glass
el vino- wine


enfermo- ill, sick
rocoso- rocky


tanto- as much, so much

*Like mantener, this is a compound form of tener and has all the same irregularities.

Unit: 6: Pronouns (Part 1), Imperfect Tense, Adverbs

6.1 Verbs Used Reflexively and Reflexive Pronouns

Verbs used reflexively are accompanied by an object pronoun that refers back to the subject. As you will see, this pronoun is sometimes routinely used in English, other times optional and, yet others, untranslatable. Examples of two verbs (with subject pronouns) used reflexively follow:


Person Singular Plural
1st me visto (I get dressed) nos vestimos (we get dressed)
2nd te vistes (you get dressed) os vestís (you all get dressed)
3rd se viste (he/she/you gets dressed) se visten (they/you get dressed)


Person Singular Plural
1st me levanto (I get up) nos levantamos (we get up)
2nd te levantas (you get up) os levantáis (you all get up)
3rd se levanta (he/she/you gets up) se levantan (they/you get up)

When reading or translating, you will have the choice of omitting or including the reflexive pronoun as appropriate, as well as some cases where two translations are possible.

Yo me levanto temprano. I get (myself) up early.
El niño se lastima cuando se cae. The child gets hurt (hurts himself) when he falls down.

If a conjugated verb + infinitive construction is present, the reflexive pronoun may precede the conjugated verb or be attached to the infinitive:

Me voy a bañar ahora.

Voy a bañarme ahora.

I’m going to take a bath now.

It is somewhat more common in dialogue to see the object pronoun before the conjugated verb. In Latin American Spanish, you are more likely to see the pronoun attached to the infinitive in written Spanish.

Some verbs are used reflexively and the pronoun is never translated. As you see below (as well as above, with vestirse and levantarse), when listed in the infinitive form, these verbs have the third person singular reflexive pronoun attached to the infinitive. Some such verbs with untranslatable reflexive pronouns are:

atreverse (a) to dare (to)
arrepentirse (ie) to repent
dignarse to deign
jactarse (de) to brag, to boast (about, of)
quejarse (de) to complain (about, of)

¡Ojo! When putting on, taking off or doing something else to one’s own clothing, in Spanish the definite article replaces the possessive pronoun before the article of clothing, as the reflexive pronoun indicates to whom the action is being done and the possessive pronoun is considered redundant. Note the following translations:

Me pongo los pantalones. I put on my pants. (Not “the pants.”)
Nos quitamos los zapatos al entrar en casa. We take off our shoes upon entering the house. (Not “the shoes.”)

The possessive pronoun is used only when the speaker is doing something to someone else’s clothing, which translates literally from English and poses no comprehension problem: Me pongo tu chaqueta, ¿está bien? (“I’m putting on your jacket, OK?”)

Vocabulario básico


acordarse (ue) (de)- to remember*
acostarse (ue)- to go to bed
bañarse- to take a bath, to bathe
caerse- to fall down
cepillarse (los dientes)- to brush (one’s teeth)
cortarse- to cut oneself
despertarse (ie)- to wake up
divertirse (ie)- to have a good time, to amuse oneself, to enjoy oneself
dormirse (ue)- to fall asleep
encontrarse (ue)- to be located, to be (ill or well), to find oneself (somewhere)**
irse- to go away
lastimarse- to get hurt, to hurt oneself
lavarse- to wash
levantarse- to get up
llamarse- to be called, to be named
llevarse- to carry away/ off
olvidarse (de)- to forget***
parecerse a- to resemble
perderse (ie)- to get (to become) lost
ponerse- to put on (clothing)
probarse (ue)- to try on (clothing)
quedar(se)- to stay, to be****
quitarse- to take off (clothing)
secarse- to dry (off)
sentarse (ie)- to sit down*****
sentirse (ie)- to feel*****
vestirse (i)- to get dressed


la cara- face
la cartera- wallet
el cinturón- belt
el collar- necklace (false friend)
la corbata- tie
los guantes- gloves
las medias- stockings
la moda- fashion, style
el nombre- name
el pie- foot
la ropa interior- underwear
el traje- suit
el traje de baño- bathing suit
las zapatillas- slippers


seco- dry

*Acordarse is followed by an untranslated de when an object follows: No me acuerdo de la fecha (“I don’t remember the date”).

**Encontrarse combines with the preposition con to mean “to run into” or “to meet accidentally or on purpose.” It does not mean “to meet” in the sense of “to make the acquaintance of.”

***Olvidar may be used with both the reflexive pronoun and the preposition de before an object, or both may be omitted, without changing the meaning: Olvido tu cumpleaños or Me olvido tu cumpleaños are identical in meaning (“I forget your birthday.”)

****Quedar may be used reflexively or not, without generally changing the meaning. Regional considerations make it difficult to be precise.

*****Be careful, as the forms of these two verbs are always similar (and, in the case of the first person singular of the present, identical). Their meaning, however, is always clear in context.

Unit: 6: Pronouns (Part 1), Imperfect Tense, Adverbs

6.2 Verbs Used Reflexively versus Non-Reflexively

Many of the verbs listed in section 6.1 may be used reflexively (with the reflexive pronoun) or non-reflexively (without the pronoun). The reflexive pronoun is used, logically, when one does the action to oneself. It is omitted when one does the action to someone else. Study the pairs below:

Me levanto. I get up.
Levanto a mi hija. I get my daughter up.
Ella se lava la cara. She washes her face.
Ella lava a los niños. She washes the children.
Me siento. I sit down.
Siento a los niños. I sit the children down.
Se viste. She gets dressed (dresses herself).
Viste a los actores. She dresses the actors.
Se corta. He/She/You cuts/cut himself/herself/yourself.
Corta el césped. He/She/You cuts/cut (mows/mow) the lawn.

Unit: 6: Pronouns (Part 1), Imperfect Tense, Adverbs

6.3 Clarifying Ambiguity of Reflexive Pronouns

At times, when the subject and verb are plural, reflexive pronouns may be ambiguous out of context, as they may also carry the reciprocal meaning of “(to) each other”:

Nos despertamos. We wake (ourselves) up.


We wake each other up.

Se engañan. They’re deceiving themselves.


They’re deceiving each other.

When such ambiguity occurs, Spanish may use one of two prepositional phrases to differentiate one meaning from the other:

Nos despertamos a nosotros mismos.  We wake (ourselves) up.
Nos despertamos el uno al otro.  We wake each other up.
Se engañan a sí mismos.  They’re deceiving themselves.
Se engañan el uno al otro.  They’re deceiving each other.

If the two involved parties are women, the second construction shifts to la una a la otra. Likewise, if the parties are masculine plural or feminine plural, the construction becomes los unos a los otros or las unas a las otras, respectively.

Unit: 6: Pronouns (Part 1), Imperfect Tense, Adverbs

6.4 Subjective Use of Reflexive Pronouns

The Spanish reflexive pronoun is used in ways that it is not in English, in cases where it cannot be translated literally or at all, such as with the verb quejarse, (“to complain”), which in itself has no reflexive meaning:

Me quejo con el profesor. I complain to the teacher.

English expresses such subjectivity by other means or Spanish possesses a linguistic subtlety absent in English. You have seen such usages listed in section 6.1:

Reflexive non-reflexive
irse (to go away) versus ir (to go)
dormirse (to fall asleep) versus dormir (to sleep)
caerse (to fall down) versus caer (to fall)
llevarse (to carry away/off) versus llevar (to carry)

Although all but the most basic of these forms are difficult to use in speech by non-native speakers, they are very common, especially in speech but also in writing and should be recognized so that the reader can have a clear idea of their implication. As seen above, English can communicate this subjectivity by adding words such as “away,” “down,” and, as you will see below, “up,” among others. Notes the various ways, when it is possible in English, to communicate this subjectivity that corresponds to the inclusion of reflexive pronouns in Spanish with verbs that are not normally reflexive or otherwise used reflexively. Note in the examples below that the reflexive pronoun is inserted only when something is eaten or drunk in its entirety.

El se come todas las galletas. He eats up (devours) all the cookies.
Ella se toma toda la leche. She drinks up (down) all the milk.

Other times, the reflexive pronouns can only be translated parenthetically, or, in reading, intuitively, once you have grasped the basic concept. A verb with which to illustrate this is the verb morir (“to die”):

Spanish English Interpretation
El paciente murió en el hospital. The patient died in the hospital.  This is a statement of fact that might be made by someone with no personal connection to the patient.
Ella se murió. She passed away.  There is emotional involvement present. The speaker is affected by her death.

Vocabulario básico 


parecer- to seem


la boca- mouth
el brazo- arm (cognate- embrace)
el cabello- hair
la cabeza- head
el dedo- finger
el dedo del pie- toe
la espalda- back
el hombro- shoulder
el lavabo- sink
la mano- hand
la nariz- nose
el oído- inner ear
el ojo- eye
la oreja- outer ear
la pierna- leg


levantarse con el pie izquierdo- to get up on the wrong side of the bed

Unit: 6: Pronouns (Part 1), Imperfect Tense, Adverbs

6.5 The Impersonal se

Spanish very frequently uses the reflexive pronoun se to render a sentence impersonal. This is a completely different usage from those presented in sections 6.1-6.4. One of the most common usages, with which you may be familiar, is Se habla español, which translates as “Spanish (is) spoken.” This construction is used so often because Spanish tends to avoid the passive voice. (See section 15.6.) In the impersonal se construction, the verb, always in the third-person singular singular or plural, agrees with the subject. Note that a form of “to be” is usually present in the English translation. 

Se habla inglés. English is spoken.
Se enseñan varias lenguas allí. Various languages are taught there.
Se venden carros usados. Used cars (are) sold.
Se dice que es buena persona. It’s said he’s a good person.

The impersonal se may also be translated as the subject pronoun “one,” or in colloquial English as “they” or “you”:

Se estudian muchos cursos aquí. One studies (They study) many courses here.
Se hablan varias lenguas en Suiza. They speak (One speaks) several languages in Switzerland.
Se trabaja mucho allí, ¿verdad? You work (One works) a lot there, right?

If the verb is already reflexive, uno/-a or una persona is added before the reflexive pronoun to render the sentence impersonal.

Uno se acuesta tarde en aquella casa. They go (One goes) to bed late in that house.

Vocabulario básico 


criar- to raise, to rear a child*


la bebida- beverage, drink
el cabo- cape
la cordillera- mountain range
los demás- the rest (the others)
el ejército- army
el ganado (vacuno)- cattle
la papa- potato


agrio- sour
mayor- greater (see section 7.2)
parecido- similar


hoy (en) día- nowadays

*Be sure to distinguish this verb from crear (to create) and creer (to believe).

Unit: 6: Pronouns (Part 1), Imperfect Tense, Adverbs

6.6 The Imperfect Tense

The imperfect tense is one of two simple (versus compound) Spanish verb tenses to express past actions. –Ar verbs have one set of endings; -er and -ir verbs, another.

Estar Comer Vivir
yo estaba comía vivía
estabas comías  vivías
él, Ella, Ud. estaba comía vivía
Nosotros estábamos comíamos vivíamos
Vosotros estabáis comíais vivíais
ellos, ellas, Uds. estaban comían  vivían

The -aba endings stand out, as this is the only occasion in which a b appears in a Spanish verb ending in any tense (except the imperfect tense irregular forms of ir [see below]). The -ía endings appear in other tenses, but with a different stem. Here the infinitive endings are cut off before the new endings are added, unlike other tenses.

¡Ojo! Note in the above endings that the first person and third-person singular forms are identical. Context should always make the subject (I, he, she, you, it) clear.

The imperfect tense has three possible translations:

Ella leía. She read.

She used to read.

She was reading.

Note in the last two examples that the imperfect tense describes habitual actions in the past (“used to read”) as well as ongoing or in-process actions in the past (“was reading”). Given the context, one translation may be more appropriate than another translation, but rarely if ever is one translation versus another truly wrong.

In addition to habitual past and in-progress past actions, the imperfect tense is used to tell time, to give descriptions and to express mental states in the past.

Eran las dos. It was two o’clock.
Hacía viento. It was windy.
Tenía poco dinero. He had little money.
No queríamos ir. We didn’t want to go.

Only three verbs are irregular in the imperfect tense:

ser ir ver
yo era iba veía
eras ibas veías
él, Ella, Ud. era iba veía
Nosotros éramos íbamos veíamos
Vosotros erais ibais veíais
ellos, ellas, Uds. eran iban veían

The forms of ser and ir are unlike any Spanish verb endings and should be easily recognizable. (Ver is irregular only because it does not drop the e before adding its endings.)

Just as the present tense of ira + infinitive expresses what one is going to do in the future, the imperfect tense, followed by the same, expresses what one was going to do in the past:

Iban a comprar un sofá hoy, pero la mueblería estaba cerrada. They were going to buy a sofa today, but the furniture store was closed.

The above is one case in which the one-word translation, “went,” is not accurate. Nor does the translation “used to go” work here.

Vocabulario básico 


bajar (de)- to drop, to go down (to descend), to get off (public transportation)
había- there was, there were
incluir- to include
regatear- to bargain, to haggle
subir (a)- to go up (to ascend), to climb, to rise, to get on (public transportation)


las afueras- suburbs
la aldea- village
el almacén- department store
el centro comercial- shopping mall
la cita- date, appointment
el/la dios/-a- god/goddess
la fecha- date (of year)
la ganga- bargain (false friend)
los gemelos- twins
la guerra- war
la isla- island
la obra- work of literature, work of art
la paz- peace
el peligro- danger, peril
la reina- queen
el rey- king (los reyes- king and queen [occasionally, “kings”])
el suburbio- slum (false cognate); suburb (at times)
el terremoto- earthquake

Números cardinales:

cien(to)- one hundred
doscientos- two hundred
trescientos- three hundred
cuatrocientos- four hundred
quinientos- five hundred
seiscientos- six hundred
setecientos- seven hundred
ochocientos- eight hundred
novecientos- nine hundred
mil- one thousand
un millón (de)- one million

Números ordinales:

primero- first
segundo- second
tercero- third
cuarto- fourth*
quinto- fifth
sexto- sixth
séptimo- seventh
octavo- eighth
noveno- ninth
décimo- tenth


actual- present, current (false friend)
ambos- both
congelado- frozen, cold
demasiado- too many, too much
infeliz- unhappy
los/las dos- both
mejor- better
nublado- cloudy
peligroso- dangerous
sumiso- submissive
triste- sad


(a)dentro- inside, indoors
(a)fuera- outside, outdoors
algo- somewhat
demasiado- too much, too
entonces- then
ya- already (now, later on)


(a)dentro de- inside of, within
(a)fuera de- outside of

Pronombre relativo (Relative Pronoun):

lo que- what, that which


de todo- everything
en aquel/ese entonces- at that time
ya no- no longer

*Be careful to distinguish the ordinal number cuarto from the cardinal number cuatro. Remember also that, as a noun, cuarto means “room.” Context always clarifies the intended meaning.

Unit: 6: Pronouns (Part 1), Imperfect Tense, Adverbs

6.7 Adverbs

Many Spanish adverbs, as you have already seen, are formed by adding the suffix -mente to the feminine form of the adjective.

Cristina habla rápidamente. Cristina speaks quickly.
Iban a comer inmediatamente. They were going to eat immediately.
Hacen el trabajo cuidadosamente. They do the work carefully.

As in English, many times the adverbs in -mente (corresponding to those in English -lyare avoided by the use of prepositional phrases.

por lo general generally, in general
por fin finally
con esperanza hopefully, with hope
sin duda doubtless(-ly), without a doubt
por suerte luckily, with luck
por desgracia unfortunately

When two or more adverbs ending in -mente are used together, the suffix is dropped on all but the last:

Milagros hablaba clara, rápida y precisamente. Milagros spoke clearly, quickly and precisely.

Especially in speech, in both Spanish and English the adjective form (masculine singular) in Spanish may be used instead of an adverb (Como rápido, I eat quick[ly]), though this is not an impediment to comprehension.

Unit: 7: Pronouns (Part 2), Preterite Tense (Part 1), Comparisons, Negatives, Positives and Indefinite Words

7.1 Direct Object Pronouns

Direct object pronouns in Spanish are as follows:

Singluar Plural
me (me) nos (us)
te (you-fam. s.) os (you-fam. pl. [Spain only])
lo, la (him, her, it, you-form. s.) los, las (them, you-form. pl.)

Direct object pronouns are routinely placed immediately before a conjugated verb:

Victor me ve en la plaza todos los días. Victor sees me on the square every day.
–¿Tu cuaderno? No lo veo. “Your notebook? I don’t see it.”

Direct object pronouns agree in number and gender with the noun to which they refer:

No sé dónde están tus anteojos. Yo no los tengo. I don’t know where your glasses are. I don’t have them.
¿La chica? No la conozco. “The girl? I don’t know her.”

Direct object pronouns may be attached to the infinitive or precede the conjugated verb. “I am going to see her,” for example, may be seen as Voy a verla or La voy a ver. 

Note about le and les as direct object pronouns

The third-person indirect object pronouns le and les mean “him” and “them” (masc.) and refer only to male persons. They tend to be more common as direct objects in speech and texts from Spain, but are now seen in the entire Spanish-speaking world.

No le veo en el cuarto. I don’t see him in the room.
–¿Les llamaste? “Did you call them?”

Vocabulario básico 


aguantar- to stand, to tolerate
asar- to roast
cambiar- to change
cenar- to dine, to have supper (the evening meal)
costar (ue)- to cost
desayunar(se)- to eat breakfast
hervir (ie)- to boil


el aduana- customs (at international borders, airports, etc.)
el almuerzo- lunch
el arroz- rice
la carne- meat
la cena- dinner, supper, evening meal
la cocina- kitchen, cuisine, cooking
la comida- food, meal, evening meal
la costumbre- custom
el desayuno- breakfast
el disfraz- costume
el flan- pudding, custard
el/la gitano- Gypsy, Romany
el helado- ice cream
el huevo- egg
el jamón- ham
el jugo- juice
la leche- milk
la legumbre- vegetable
la manzana- apple
la moneda- currency; coin
la naranja- orange
la patata- potato (Sp.)
el pescado- fish
el pollo- chicken
el postre- dessert
el queso- cheese
el refresco- soft drink, refreshment
la verdura- vegetable


dulce- sweet
fresco- fresh, cool (weather)
frito- fried
fuerte- heavy (meal, food); strong
lento- slow
ligero- light
picante- spicy, hot
sabroso- tasty, good-tasting


a la derecha de- to the right of
a la izquierda de- to the left of
al lado de- next to, alongside of
debajo de- underneath
delante de- in front of
detrás de- behind
encima de- on top of
hasta- until, up to, as far as; even (adv.)
junto a- next to
según- according to


de vez en cuando- from time to time

Unit: 7: Pronouns (Part 2), Preterite Tense (Part 1), Comparisons, Negatives, Positives and Indefinite Words

7.2 Comparatives and Superlatives

Comparisons of Equality

In comparisons of equality, you will see tan (“as”) + adjective or adverb, or a form of tanto + noun. The adjective, adverb or noun is followed by como (“as”):

Virginia es tan simpática como Teresa. Virginia is as friendly as Teresa.
Manolo canta tan mal como Federico. Manolo sings as badly as Federico.
Los Castillo tienen tantos coches como los Duarte. The Castillos have as many cars as the Duartes.

Tanto como, with no word in between, simply translates as “as much as” or “as many as.”

Uds. hablan tanto como nosotros. You talk as much as we do.

Tan, when it is not used in a comparative sentence, and when coming before an adjective or another adverb, translates as “so”:

Antonio es tan simple. Antonio is so simple.

If a noun follows or precedes the adjective, tan translates as “such”:

Antonio es una persona tan simple. Antonio is such a simple person.

Comparisons of Inequality

To form a comparison of inequality with an adjective, adverb or noun, place más (“more”) or menos (“less”) before the adjective or adverb and place que after it:

California tiene más habitantes bilingües que Florida. California has more bilingual inhabitants than Florida.
Uruguay tiene menos gente que Paraguay. Uruguay has fewer people than Paraguay.

Comparing actions is done using a verb plus más que or menos que: 

Sandra duerme más que Ángela. Sandra sleeps more than Angela.
¿Por qué hablas menos que antes en la clase? ¿Pasó algo? Why do you speak less than before in class? Did something happen?


In the superlative you see the same construction as in comparisons of inequality, with the difference that a definite article agreeing with the subject will precede más or menos. The superlative phrase takes the preposition de, though the English translation is often rendered by “in”:

En el año 2011 Nuevo México todavía tenía el porccentaje más alto de hispanos de todos los estados del país. In the year 2011 New Mexico still had the highest percentage of Hispanics of all the states in the country.
Este es el vino más caro del restaurante. This is the most expensive wine in the restaurant.
En el hemisferio norte, el 21 de diciembre es el día más corto del año. In the northern hemisphere, December 21st is the shortest day of the year.

In the superlative, grande does not shorten to gran before an adjective and may retain the meaning of “biggest” or “largest”:

Es el más grande error de todos. It’s the biggest error of all.

As in English, there are various irregular comparatives and superlatives:

grande large
pequeño small
poco little, few
bueno good
malo bad
mayor larger, largest, older*, oldest*, greater, greatest
menor smaller, smallest, younger*, youngest*
menos less, least, fewer, fewest
peor (cognate: pejorative) worse, worst

*This meaning refers only to people.

The comparatives más bueno and más malo are used occasionally, but with a different meaning that refers to inherent moral qualities:

La señora Cavazos es más buena que las otras. Mrs. Cavazos is kinder than the others.
Aquel hombre es más malo que nadie. That man is more wicked (evil) than anyone.

Más bueno and más malo may also be used in exclamations and denote an absolute superlative (See sections 11.5 and 11.8)

¡Qué vino más malo! What awful (extremely bad) wine!
¡Qué profesor más bueno! What a kind (an extremely kind) teacher!

“Older” and “oldest” may also be expressed by más viejo while más pequeño means not only “younger” and “youngest,” but “smaller” or “smallest.” Nonetheless the irregular forms mayor and menor are more frequently seen.

¡Ojo! Be careful in reading not to confuse mayor and mejor:

Es la mayor ciudad del país. It’s the largest city in the country.
Es la mejor ciudad del país. It’s the best city in the country.

Long Comparative Forms

There also exists “long” comparative forms that are used when referring to ideas as well as to specific objects. When referring to an idea, thought or notion, Spanish routinely uses de lo que: 

El urdu es más difícil de lo que piensas. Urdu is more difficult than (what) you think.
La ciudad es menos peligrosa de lo que era en el pasado. The city is less dangerous than (what) it was in the past.

Other times the comparatives agree with the specific noun:

Le ofrecen un sueldo menor del que* puede aceptar. They’re offering him a lower salary than (what) he can accept.
Siempre compra más carne de la que pueden comer. She always buys more meat than (what) they can eat.
Hay más testigos de los que necesitamos. There are more witnesses than we need.
Nos daba más tareas de las que podíamos hacer. He used to give us more homework than (which) we could do.

*The del is the contraction of deel, the el referring to the noun el sueldo. 

Also be aware that before a number que changes to de and the meaning is still “than”:

Los Olivares tienen más de cuatro hijos. The Olivares have more than four children.

Vocabulario básico


alegrar(se)- to make happy, to become happy, to be happy
arreglar- to fix, to repair, to arrange
asustar(se)- to frighten, to scare, to be frightened
atender (ie)- to pay attention to, to take care of, to look after (false friend)
calentar (ie)- to heat (up), to warm (up)
coger- to take hold of, to catch*
escoger- to choose*
esconder(se)- to hide
exigir- to demand
experimentar (ie)- to experiment, to experience (false friend)
proteger- to protect
resolver (ue)- to solve, to resolve
temer- to fear (cognate: timorous)


la calificación- grade, qualification
la cuenca- river basin


alegre- happy
bello- beautiful
bonito- pretty
casado- married
hermoso- beautiful
lindo- pretty
lujoso- luxurious
sencillo- simple
soltero- single, unmarried

*All verbs ending in e or i-ger or -gir change the g to before a and o for phonetic reasons, for example, cojo, escojo, proteja (see section 11.2)

Unit: 7: Pronouns (Part 2), Preterite Tense (Part 1), Comparisons, Negatives, Positives and Indefinite Words

7.3 Negatives, Positives and Indefinite Words

The following are the Spanish negative words and their logical opposites:

nada nothing
algo something
nadie no one, nobody
alguien someone, somebody
nunca, jamás* never
siempre always
ninguno** no (adjective)
alguno** some, a few
tampoco neither (not…either), nor
también also
ni…ni neither (not…either), nor
o…o either…or

*These two words are synonymous, but jamás is the slightly stronger and less frequent of the two.

**Ninguno becomes ningún and alguno, algún, before a masculine singular noun. (See section 10.3)

Unlike no (when meaning “not” [versus “no,” opposite of “yes”]), the above negatives are all considered “strong” negatives. As such, they have two possibilities of placement: they may be see before the main verb, or after the main verb when no precedes it. Be aware that two negatives (the “double” negative) do not cancel each other out to form a positive statement. The meaning remains the same regardless of position and the only subtlety is that the placement of a “strong” negative before the verb tends to be more emphatic.

Nunca voy. I never go. (I don’t ever go.)
No voy nunca. I never go.
Nada dice. She says nothing. (She doesn’t say anything.)
No dice nada. She says nothing.

Spanish may employ three negatives and, in theory, an infinite number of them, without their ever canceling each other out:

Ella no dice nada nunca. She never says anything.
No va a la playa con nadie tampoco. Nor does he ever go to the beach with anyone.

Note that the English translation of negatives that normally mean “nothing,” “no one” and “never” becomes “anything,” “anyone,” and “ever” when another negative is already present, as English does not permit a double negative without changing the meaning of the sentence.

¡Ojo! Jamás can mean “ever” as well as “never.” In a question it means “ever”; in a declarative statement it means “never”:

¿Jamás va Ud. a esa tienda? Do you ever go to that store?
No voy allí jamás (nunca). I never go there.


Alguna vez (literally, “sometime”) is also best translated as “ever” in a question:

¿Vienes alguna vez a la capital? Do you ever come to the capital?

¡Ojo! Be aware that alguno changes meaning when it comes after the noun and when there is a preceding negative in the sentence. It then takes on an opposite, strong negative meaning:

No dejan propina alguna. They don’t leave any tip at all 
¿No tienes dinero alguno? Don’t you have any money at all?


Vocabulario básico 


alojarse- to stay, to lodge
contar (ue)- to tell, to count
demorar- to delay
desempacar- to unpack
facturar- to check (baggage)
firmar- to sign
lloviznar- to drizzle
perder (ie)- to miss (public transportation, an event)
revisar- to check, to examine (baggage), to inspect, to revise


el ascensor- elevator
el barco- boat
el billete- ticket
el boleto- ticket
la demora- delay
el equipaje- luggage, baggage
la firma- signature, autograph (false cognate)
las gafas (de sol)- (sun) glasses
el/la huésped/-a- guest
el/la invitado/-a- guest
la llave- key
la llegada- arrival
la maleta- suitcase
la piscina- swimming pool
la propina- top
el recuerdo- memory, souvenir
la salida- departure
la tarjeta (de crédito)- (credit) card
la toalla- towel
el viaje- trip
el/la viajero/-a- traveler
el vuelo- flight


echar una carta (al correo)- to mail a letter
en seguida- right away, immediately
hacer cola- to stand (to wait) in line
hacer las maletas- to pack one’s suitcases

Unit: 7: Pronouns (Part 2), Preterite Tense (Part 1), Comparisons, Negatives, Positives and Indefinite Words

7.4 Indirect Object Pronouns

Spanish indirect object pronouns are the same in form as direct object and reflexive pronouns, except in the third persons.

Singluar Plural
me – (to) me nos – (to) us
te – (to) you-fam. s. os – (to) you-fam. pl. [Spain only]
le – (to) him, her, it, you-form. s. les – (to)them, you-form. pl.

Especially in the third persons, you will often see what can be described as a “redundant” indirect object pronoun when a prepositional phrase clarifies (or emphasizes) it. This is because the pronoun, which may refer to an object as well as a person, must be present in the first place so that the prepositional phrase is clarifying or emphasizing it.

Emilio le dice la verdad. Emilio tells her (him, you) the truth.


Emilio le dice la verdad a él. Emilio tells him the truth.
Emilio le dice la verdad a ella. Emilio tells her the truth.
Emilio le dice la verdad a Ud. Emilio tells you the truth.


Simón les cuenta mentiras. Simón tells them/you [pl.] lies.


Simón les cuenta mentiras a ellos. Simón tells them lies.
Simón les cuenta mentiras a Uds. Simón tells you (pl.) lies.

There is also flexibility in the placement of the prepositional phrase. Some of the above examples could also be Emilio le dice a Ud. la verdad and Simón les cuenta a ellos mentiras. 

No clarification is ever needed with the first and second persons, though a prepositional phrase may be used for emphasis. (See section 8.2)

Me dice la verdad. He tells me the truth (tells the truth to me).
Me dice la verdad a mí. He tells me the truth (the truth to me).

As with direct object and reflexive pronouns, when a conjugated verb + infinitive is present, the indirect object may either precede the conjugated verb or be attached to the infinitive:

¿Vas a comprarme el boleto? Are you going to buy me the ticket?


¿Me vas a comprar el boleto? Are you going to buy the ticket for me?

As can be seen in the second English translation above, the indirect object can at times translate as “for” instead of, or as well as “to.” Although the Spanish examples above are synonymous, the English are not necessarily so, though context should clear up the mild ambiguity if needed.

Especially in more literary writing, the indirect object pronoun is at times seen with the verb ser (and occasionally estar and other intransitive verbs) and often translates as “for” + prepositional object pronoun. Study these examples:

Esto le es difícil. (Esto es difícil para ella.) This is difficult for her.
Nos es imposible. (Es imposible para nosotros.) It’s impossible for us.
Estas respuestas me son convincentes. (Estas respuestas son convincentes para mí.) The answers are convincing to (for) me.

The parenthetical sentences are the more common of the two possibilities, and these provide no particular comprehension difficulty, while the ones not in parentheses may pose a problem in understanding.

Unit: 7: Pronouns (Part 2), Preterite Tense (Part 1), Comparisons, Negatives, Positives and Indefinite Words

7.5 Preterite Tense of Regular Verbs and Some Stem-Changing Verbs

The imperfect and the preterite are the two simple (not compound) past tenses. Here are the forms of the regular preterite:

tomar beber abrir
yo tomé bebí abrí
tomaste bebiste abriste
él, Ella, Ud. tomó bebió  abr
Nosotros tomamos bebimos abrimos
Vosotros tomasteis bebisteis abristeis
ellos, ellas, Uds. tomaron  bebieron abrieron

¡Ojo! Did you notice the two forms that are identical to the present tense? Hint: look at the nosotros forms…

Helpful Translation Hints

You need to recognize these forms, some of which are very similar, and be able to translate them accurately. Here are some possibly helpful hints to remembering:

  • The yo form still ends in a vowel: accented é or í.
  • The tú form ends in -te, which is identical to the object pronouns you have learned that correspond to tú. 
  • The third person singular still ends in a vowel, always an accented ó (or ).
  • The nosotros form, in all tenses, ends in -mos.
  • You may wish to view the -is of the vosotros form as a plural marker, as tomasteis, for example, is the plural of tomaste (in Spain).
  • The third person plural always ends in an -nin all tenses. The preterite inserts an -r in the ending, between vowels.
  • The nosotros forms of -ar and -ir verbs in the preterite are the same as the present tense. Context will tell you which it is.

¡Ojo! In the third person singular of -ar verbs, the written accent is the only distinguishing feature from the first person singular of the present tense: tomó (he took) versus tomo (I take). Pay special attention, as this is only the first of several such cases. The subject pronouns may be present to help you readily distinguish the meaning, but more often than not they are omitted.

Note on Spelling Changes

Regular -er and -ir verbs that have an e,i or u before the infinitive ending routinely change the i of the third person endings (i.e., -ió and -ieron) to y, giving preterite forms such as leyó and leyeron (for leer) and construyó and construyeron (for construir [“to construct”]).

Preterite Meaning

When you see a preterite tense, it is helpful to know that it is used for actions that happened once and are viewed as completed; sequential actions (one completed before the next begins); a change in mental state; to describe the beginning or the end of an action. (The imperfect narrates the “middle” aspect of an action, that is, one that was ongoing.)

Se acostó a las once. She went to bed at eleven o’clock.
Me levanté, me bañé y salí. I got up, bathed and left.
Por fin decidimos salir. We finally decided to go out.
Comenzó a llover. It began to rain.
Dejé de ir a su casa. I stopped going to his house.

Vocabulario básico 


abrazar- to hug, to embrace
amar- to love (cognate: amorous)
besar- to kiss
casarse (con)- to get married (to)
decretar- to decree
derrotar- to defeat
enamorarse (de)- to fall in love (with)
fracasar- to fail
fumar- to smoke
luchar- to fight (a war, for a cause)
mudarse- to move (residence)
nacer- to be born (cognate: nascent)
odiar- to hate (cognate: odious)
pelear(se)- to fight
probar (ue)- to prove, to taste
reunir- to get together, to reunite
unir- to unite


el bautizo- baptism
la boda- wedding
la búsqueda- search
el/la cantante- singer
el cariño- affection
el/la judío/-a- Jew; (adj.)- Jewish
el mal- disease; damage; evil
el matrimonio- matrimony, marriage, married couple
el/ la moro/a- Moor
el plátano- banana
los Reyes Católicos- The Catholic Monarchs (Ferdinand and Isabella)
el soroche- altitude sickness


guatemalteco- Guatemalan


anoche- last night
anteayer- the day before yesterday
ayer- yesterday


dejar + de + infinitive- to stop doing something; to fail to do something

Unit: 8: Irregular Verbs in the Preterite, Other Verbs Used to Express "To Be," The Present Participle and Progressive forms

8.1 Irregular Verbs in the Preterite Tense: Part 1

Spanish has many irregular verb forms in the preterite. Memorizing these so that you can quickly recognize them will speed up the translation process.

Two verbs have identical irregular preterite forms.

Ir Ser
yo fui fui
fuiste fuiste
él, Ella, Ud. fue fue
Nosotros fuimos fuimos
Vosotros fuisteis fuisteis
ellos, ellas, Uds. fueron fueron 

Context always clarifies the meaning. Fui con Uds. must mean “I went with you,” and not “I was with you,” because estar would be used in the latter case to express location. Los niños fueron buenos necessarily means “The children were good,” because the meaning with the verb ir does not make sense.

Some common irregular preterites may be grouped together by the similarities in their stem. Note that the endings (-e, -iste, -o, -imos,- isteis, -ieron) of all irregular preterites below and in following sections are identical to each other. They do not have accent marks.

Estar tener andar (To walk)
yo estuve tuve  anduve
estuviste tuviste anduviste
él, Ella, Ud. estuvo tuvo    anduvo
Nosotros estuvimos tuvimos  anduvimos
Vosotros estuvisteis  tuvisteis  anduvisteis
ellos, ellas, Uds. estuvieron tuvieron  anduvieron

Three irregular verbs that switch the vowel of their root to -i follow:

venir hacer querer
yo vine hice quise
viniste hiciste  quisiste
él, Ella, Ud. vino hizo* quiso
Nosotros vinimos hicimos quisimos
Vosotros vinisteis hicisteis quisisteis
ellos, ellas, Uds. vinieron hicieron quisieron

*The third person singular of hacer must change the c to z to preserve the “soft” sound of the s.

Besides its meaning referring to worth of value (Vale mucho. [It’s worth a lot.]), valer is also used in the third person singular in various expressions, especially in Spain:

¿Vale? Is that all right? Okay?
Eso no vale. That’s no good.
Más vale así. It’s better that (this) way.
Más vale tarde que nunca. Better late than never.

Valer la pena is the most commonly used expression with the verb valer.

Esta película vale la pena. This film is worthwhile.
Valió la pena asistir. It was worthwhile to attend.

Vocabulario básico 


andar- to walk, to go
aplazar- to postpone
aterrizar- to land
guardar- to save (seat), to guard, to keep
parar- to stop
prestar- to lend, to loan
prometer- to promise
regalar- to give as a gift (cognate: to regale)


el asiento- seat
el balneario- beach resort
el bosque- woods, forest
el camión- truck
la cárcel- jail (cognate: incarcerate)
la cirugía- surgery
la flor- flower
el/la ladrón/-ona- thief
la ley- law
el paisaje- countryside, landscape
la parada- stop
el pasaje- ticket, passage
el puesto- place (in line), position (job), stand (where something is sold)
la sala de espera- waiting room


suscitado- ensuing, raised


con anticipación- ahead of time
estar de vacaciones- to be on vacation
guardar cama- to stay in bed
hacer un viaje- to take a trip
valer la pena (valgo)- to be worthwhile

Unit: 8: Irregular Verbs in the Preterite, Other Verbs Used to Express "To Be," The Present Participle and Progressive forms

8.2 Irregular Verbs in the Preterite Tense: Part 2

More irregular verbs in Spanish include those that take a j in the stem. It is a regular feature of Spanish that the combination jie never occurs. Therefore only –eron, not ieron follows for the third-person plural forms:

decir traer Traducir*
yo dije traje  traduje
dijiste trajiste tradujiste
él, Ella, Ud. dijo trajo tradujo
Nosotros dijimos trajimos  tradujimos
Vosotros dijisteis  trajisteis  tradujisteis
ellos, ellas, Uds. dijeron trajeron  tradujeron

*All verbs ending in –ucir have the same preterite ending. These include such common verbs as producir (“to produce”), conducir (“to drive), reducir (“to reduce”) and almost all other verbs ending in “-duce” in English.

The verb dar is irregular only because it is an –ar verb that takes the endings for a regular –er or –ir verb.

YO di
ÉL, ELLA, UD. dio
VOSOTROS disteis 

Pay special attention so as not to confuse the preterite tense forms of poner and poder.
These forms should be distinguishable, as poder retains the d of the infinitive. In the preterite of poner, e.g, puse, one can see that the cognate “to position” or “to posit” becomes more evident.

poner poder
yo puse pude 
pusiste pudiste
él, Ella, Ud. puso pudo   
Nosotros pusimos pudimos 
Vosotros pusisteis  pudisteis 
ellos, ellas, Uds. pusieron pudieron 

Additional verbs that change the stem to a u are:

saber haber
yo supe
él, Ella, Ud. supo hubo   
Nosotros supimos
Vosotros supisteis   
ellos, ellas, Uds. supieron

Hubo is the preterite tense of the impersonal hay (“there is/there are”), but often denotes an action or event and may have a different translation:

Hubo un golpe de estado en Chile en 1973.

There was a coup d’état in Chile in 1973.
A coup d’état occurred (happened) in Chile in 1973.


Unit: 8: Irregular Verbs in the Preterite, Other Verbs Used to Express "To Be," The Present Participle and Progressive forms

8.3 Other Verbs Used to Express “To Be”

Besides ser and estar (as well as certain idioms with tener and weather expressions with hacer), several other common verbs at times may translate as “to be.” Three of these, already seen with other meanings, are quedar(se), seguir and encontrarse. (A fourth, llevar, will be studied in section 10.2).

Like estar, quedar(se) is used to express a “resultant state” (state or condition resulting from an action), but is stronger than estar:

Mi papá estuvo furioso al saber las noticias.

Mi papá (se) quedó furioso al saber las noticias.



My dad was furious upon hearing the news.

When the subject is human, quedar may also mean “to be”:

Tomás se quedó satisfecho con los resultados. Tomás was satisfied with the results.

When a form of “to stay” or “to remain” does not sound like the best translation or does not make sense in context, chances are that a form of “to be” is the best way to render the Spanish. In the above case, the only way to differentiate between estuvo and (se) quedó if you are translating to English is to underline se quedó to show that it is the more emphatic of the two.

Quedar may also express location when the subject is not human:

Quetzaltenango, la segunda ciudad de Guatemala, queda en el oeste del país. Quetzaltenango, the second largest city in Guatemala, is in the west of the country.

The use of quedar versus quedarse is subject to many subtleties and regional variations that rarely if ever affect its translation for “to be.”

Encontrarse may also express location, regardless of whether the subject is human or not.

-¿Dónde te encuentras ahora mismo? “Where are you right now?”
Varios glaciares se encuentran en el sur de Chile. Several glaciers are in the south of Chile.

Several glaciers are found in the south of Chile.

Several glaciers are located (situated) in the south of Chile.

Encontrarse may also express a state of health:

-¿Cómo te encuentras hoy? “How are you today?”
-Me encuentro muy bien. ¿Y tú? “I’m very well. And you?”

Seguir, especially when followed by an adjective or a location, often has the meaning of “to be” + “still”:

-¿Elsa sigue enferma? “Is Elsa still sick?”
-Sí, sigue en el hospital. “Yes, she’s still in the hospital.”

“Yes, she remains in the hospital.”

Although there are cases when these verbs may be translated both by their original or literal meaning as well as “to be” (see last example), other times, when the translations “to remain,” “to stay,” and “to find (oneself)” do not sound correct or fail to make sense, you may find that their meaning is often best rendered with the verb “to be.”

Vocabulario básico


el oeste- west


picaresco- picaresque (lit.)


atrás- behind, back


encontrarse con- to run into, to meet (accidentally or by plan)

Unit: 8: Irregular Verbs in the Preterite, Other Verbs Used to Express "To Be," The Present Participle and Progressive forms

8.4 Changes in Meaning in the Preterite versus the Imperfect Tenses

Some verbs that express mental abilities or emotional states or others that simply describe undergo a shift in meaning, at times subtle and at time not, between the preterite and imperfect tenses. The imperfect tense maintains the basic meaning of the verb, while the preterite tends to connote an action. This takes place in a limited number of verbs (largely, those that follow). Read the following pairs closely:

¿Podías abrirlo? Could you open it? (Were you capable of opening it?)
¿Pudiste abrirlo? Could you and did you open it? Did you manage to open it?
Los carros no podían pasar. The cars were unable to get through.
Los carros no pudieron pasar. The cars were unable and did not get through. (The cars failed to get through.)
Queríamos asistir. We wanted to attend.
Quisimos asistir. We tried to attend.
Vicente no quería bailar. Vicente didn’t want to dance.
Vicente no quiso bailar. Vicente refused to dance.
Tenía que barrer el piso. I had to sweep the floor.
Tuve que barrer el piso. I had to and did sweep the floor.

The first sentences of the first two pairs present nothing new. The subtlety comes in the preterite, where the meaning is not only “was/were (un)able,” but also the implication that an action took place, whether or not it met with success.

The analogy can be continued in the third through fifth pairs. The imperfect merely describes a mental state, while the preterite communicates that the subjects put their will into effect by “trying to” in the third pair, “refusing to” in the fourth (Spanish also has other verbs meaning “to refuse” [negarse a] and “to try” [tratar de]), and doing the action deemed necessary in the fifth.

If you remember that the preterite tense is used to describe the beginning and final aspects of completed actions, the concept becomes useful in understanding the changes in meaning of the following verbs in the preterite versus the imperfect:

Sabía la dirección. I knew the address.
Supe la dirección. I found out the address.
Ella me conocía. She knew me.
Ella me conoció. She met me.
Los niños tenían miedo. The children were afraid.
Los niños tuvieron miedo. The children became afraid.

In the above cases, the initial aspect of the event is “finding out,” “meeting” and “becoming,” respectively. Logically, one must find out a piece of information before knowing it; one has to meet another person before knowing him or her; one becomes frightened (afraid, scared, etc.) before the state of fear continues in the past. (Spanish also has other verbs that mean “to find out”: averiguar, descubrir [literally, “to discover”]).

When the verb haber is used impersonally in a past tense, its tendency is to describe in the imperfect tense, while it tends to denote an action in the preterite. In the latter case, it has various accurate translations (see section 8.2.):

Había mucha comida en la fiesta. There was a lot of food at the party.
Hubo un terremoto. There was an earthquake.

An earthquake occurred/happened/took place.

You may see many exceptions to the above generalization, as hubo could also occur in the first sentence. The inverse (había to describe an action or event) is possible, but somewhat rare.

Vocabulario básico


averiguar- to find out
bailar- to dance (cognate: ballet)
cantar- to sing (cognates: chant, incantation)
desarrollar- to develop
evitar- to avoid
gobernar (ie)- to govern
intentar- to attempt (false friend)
salvar- to save
trepar- to climb


el ambiente- atmosphere
la colina- hill
la escasez- scarcity
las Islas Malvinas- the Falkland Islands
el medio ambiente- environment
el recurso- resource


cercano- near
escarpado- rugged
lejano- far, distant
silvestre- wild


de hecho- in fact
de repente- suddenly
de súbito- suddenly

Unit: 8: Irregular Verbs in the Preterite, Other Verbs Used to Express "To Be," The Present Participle and Progressive forms

8.5 The Present Participle and Progressive Forms

The Spanish present participle, the forms of which correspond to the verb + “-ing,” is as follows:

caminar caminando
ver viendo
discutir discutiendo

As seen in preterite forms such as cayeron and construyeron, in -er and -ir verbs whose stems end in a vowel, the i of the present participle becomes a y:

traer trayendo
leer leyendo
oír oyendo
huir huyendo

Stem-changing verbs ending in –ir show e to i and o to u shifts (pedir becomes pidiendo and dormir, durmiendo), but these should not cause comprehension difficulties.

The present participle of ir is yendo, but it is seldom seen in formal writing.

As in English, the present participle may stand alone and has two possibilities of translation:

Viajando, se aprende mucho. (By) Traveling, one learns a lot.
Especializándose en comercio, encontró trabajo fácilmente. (By) Majoring in business, she found work easily.

Other times the present participle is employed when one would not expect it, and it translates as the equivalent of “while” + subject + verb:

Estando yo en el carro, me di cuenta de que no sabía exactamente dónde estaba. While I was in the car, I realized I didn’t know exactly where I was.

Remember that while English generally uses the present participle when a verb is the subject of the sentence, Spanish uses the infinitive (section 5.1):

Leer ciencia ficción le aburre. Reading science fiction bores her.

The present participle combines with the forms of estar to make the progressive forms, used for actions taking place at a specific moment. The translation must be a form of “to be” + the present participle. Estar may combine in any tense with the present participle, though this construction is most frequently seen in the present and imperfect tenses.

Ahora mismo están escribiendo. Right now they’re writing.
Tito estaba leyendo ayer a las dos. Tito was reading yesterday at two o’clock.

Spanish generally uses the progressive forms less than English does. Remember that vengo, for example, may translate as “I come,” “I do come,” “I’ll come,” and “I am coming.” Likewise the imperfect, venía, may translate as “I came,” “I used to come,” or “I was coming.” The multiple possibilities for translations of the simple present tense reduce the need for frequent use of the progressive form (estar + gerund), making their usage less common than in English.

The present participle is also used as an adverb (modifying the verb) and combines with verbs other than estar, especially those of motion.

Anda perdiendo tiempo. He goes around wasting time.
Entró corriendo. She entered running.
Seguíamos trabajando. We continued (kept on) working.

Vocabulario básico


concluir- to conclude
cuidar (de/a)- to care (for), to take care (of)
enfermarse- to get sick
fallecer- to succumb, to die
herir (ie)- to wound, to injure
mejorar(se)- to improve, to get better
oler (ue) (a)- to smell (like, of)
perecer- to perish
quemar- to burn
recetar- to prescribe
respirar- to breathe
soñar (ue) (con)- to dream (of, about) Be careful not to confuse this verb with sonar (“to ring,” “to sound”).


la bala- bullet
la carie- cavity (in teeth)
el/la compositor/-a- composer
el cuidado- care
el/la difunto/-a- the deceased
el dolor- pain
el ejercicio- exercise
el/la enfermero/-a- nurse
la fiebre- fever
la garganta- throat
la herida- injury
el hueso- bone
la muerte- death (cognate: mortal)
el/la muerto/-a- dead man/ woman
la resaca- hangover
el resfriado- cold
el sueño- dream


difunto- dead, deceased (cognate: defunct)
saludable- healthy
sano- healthy (false friend)

Unit: 8: Irregular Verbs in the Preterite, Other Verbs Used to Express "To Be," The Present Participle and Progressive forms

8.6 The Preterite Tense: -Ir Stem-Changing Verbs and other Orthographic Changes

Unlike –ar and –er stem-changing verbs, –ir verbs show a one-letter stem change (the first letter if the verb has a two-letter change in the present tense) in the third persons of the preterite, as they do in the present participle.

Pedir (i) Dormir (ue)
yo pedí dormí
pediste dormiste
él, Ella, Ud. pidió durmió
Nosotros pedimos dormimos
Vosotros pedisteis dormisteis
ellos, ellas, Uds. pi>dieron  durmieron

Present participles: pidiendo, durmiendo

Other verbs have orthographic changes that appear in the first-person singular of the present tense. All verbs ending in -car, -gar and –zar undergo this change.

sacar saqué
llegar llegué
comenzar comencé

Once you recognize the infinitive and the tense, none of the above changes should present comprehension difficulties.

Unit: 9: Pronouns (Part 3), Pronoun Summary

9.1 Two Object Pronouns Used Together

When two object pronouns are used together, the indirect always precedes the direct. If meaning still remains unclear, the mnemonic device I-D (indirect, direct) may be helpful in remembering their order.

Pablo nos las dice. Pablo tells them to us (tells us them).
Mi hermano me lo contó. My brother told it to me.

Of the three types of non-prepositional object pronouns (reflexive, indirect, direct), although all three are never present in the same clause, their order is reflexive, indirect, direct (mnemonic device: R-I-D):

Guillermo se las bebió. Guillermo drank them up.

When Spanish finds two object pronouns in the third person, the indirect (the first one) changes to se. If the context is not clear, a prepositional phrase clarifies the meaning of the indirect object, If, for example, the meaning of Se la digo is not apparent in context, any of the following prepositional phrases can be added to clarify the meaning of the se: a Ud, a él, a ella, a Uds., a ellos, a ellas.

The two object pronouns are never separated (unless there are two verbs and one pronoun clearly refers to one verb, while the other does to another, eg., Me ayuda a comprenderlo [“He  helps me to understand it”]). If an infinitive or present participle is present, the pronouns either precede the conjugated verb or are attached to either of the former.

Va a dármelo. He’s going to give it to me.
Me lo va a dar. He’s going to give it to me.
Está diciéndomelo. She’s telling it to me.
Me lo está diciendo. She’s telling it to me.

In written Spanish, there is a slight preference that the pronouns be attached to the infinitive (or present participle).

Unit: 9: Pronouns (Part 3), Pronoun Summary

9.2 Prepositional Object Pronouns

These tend not to cause comprehension difficulty, as all are the same as subject pronouns, with two exceptions, the meanings of which are deducible:

Es para mí. It’s for me (myself).
Es para ti. It’s for you (yourself). (fam. s.)

Note above the two possible translations. Spanish also employs prepositional reflexive pronouns, all of which correspond to the English “-self” or “-selves.” The prepositional reflexive pronouns have a different third person pronoun.

ti yourself (fam.)
himself, herself, yourself (form.), itself
nosotros/-as ourselves
vosotros/-as yourselves (
themselves, yourselves (form. [ in L.A.])

Note the multiple meanings of , which are determined by the subject to which the pronoun refers.

Esto en sí no es difícil. This in itself is not difficult.
Guillermina lo repite para sí. Guillermina repeats it to herself.

may be followed by a form of mismo for emphasis or clarification.

Lo hacen por sí mismas. They’re doing it for (by) themselves. (fem.)
Lo repetí para mí mismo. I repeated it to myself.

The necessity for the prepositional reflexive pronoun object () as well as the simple prepositional pronoun object (él, ella, etc.) can be seen in the following contrast:

Eloísa lo compró para ella. Eloísa bought it for her.
Eloísa lo compró para sí (misma). Eloísa bought it for herself.

In the first example, Eloísa bought something for another person. Without the existence of , Spanish would not be able to express that “She bought it for herself.” Similarly:

Rolando lo trajo para él. Rolando brought it for him.
Rolando lo trajo para sí (mismo). Rolando brought it for himself.

When combined with preposition con, mí, ti and become conmigo, contigo (as previously seen) and consigo. The third persons singular and plural (all expressed by consigo) take on a reflexive meaning:

Gerardo está enojado consigo. Gerardo is angry with himself.
Siempre llevan al perro consigo. They always take the dog along with them (themselves).

Vocabulario básico


despedir (i)- to dismiss, to fire; despedirse de- to say good-bye to, to take leave of
disfrutar (de)- to enjoy
enfadarse- to get angry
enojarse- to get angry
gastar – to spend (money); to waste (time)
gozar (de)- to enjoy
ingresar- to join
reírse (i) (de)- to laugh (at)
romper(se)- to break
sangrar- to bleed
sonreír (i)- to smile


la barba- beard
el bigote- moustache
el cerebro- brain
el corazón- heart
el cuello- neck (cognate: collar)
la edad- age
la enfermedad- illness (cognate: infirmity)
el/la jefe/-a- boss, chief
la muela- tooth, molar
la muñeca- doll; wrist
el pecho- chest
el pulmón- lung (cognate: pulmonary)
la sangre- blood (cognate: sanguine)
el ser humano- human being


capaz*- capable

Preposiciones con objetos (Prepositions with Object):

conmigo- with me
contigo- with you (fam. s.)
consigo- with him (himself), with her (herself), with you (yourself) (form. s., form. pl. [fam. pl. in L.A.])


a despecho de- in spite of
a pesar de- in spite of
en balde- in vain
hacerse daño – to hurt oneself
pese a- in spite of (lit.)

*The –az ending corresponds to word ending in English “-acious.” (The word “capacious” exists, with a slightly different meaning, in English.) Therefore, audaz = audacious, locuaz = loquacious, etc. Likewise, the suffix -oz corresponds to English “-ocious,” giving atroz = atrocious, precoz = precocious, etc.

Unit: 9: Pronouns (Part 3), Pronoun Summary

9.3 Pronoun Summary

Study the different sets of Spanish pronouns for purposes of comparison. Focus especially on the third persons (singular: el, ella, Ud; plural: ellos, ellas, Uds.). If necessary, see sections 2.8, 6.1, 7.1, 7.4, and 9.2, which explain each type of pronoun.

Subject Reflexive Direct Indirect Prepositional Prepositional ReFlexive
yo me me
te te ti ti ti
él se lo/le e él
ella se la le ella
Ud. se lo/la/le le Ud.
Nosotros/as nos nos nos nosotros/-as nosotros/-as
vosotros/as os os os vosotros/-as vosotros/-as
ellos se los/les les ellos
ellas se las les ellas
Uds. se los/las/les les Uds.


Unit: 9: Pronouns (Part 3), Pronoun Summary

9.4 Verbs That Take Indirect Object Pronouns

One of the more confusing, high-frequency verbs in Spanish for the non-native speaker to form as well as to comprehend is gustar, which generally translates as “to like.” However, the object liked is the grammatical subject of the sentence, for gustar literally translates as “to be pleasing.” Note the word order flexibility in the Spanish sentences:

A Donaldo le gusta nadar.


Le gusta nadar a Donaldo.

Or, somewhat less common:

Nadar le gusta a Donaldo.

Donald likes swimming.

As gustar normally refers to objects, it is used almost exclusively in the third person. When the object liked is plural, you will see a plural verb:

Le gustan los deportes. She likes sports.

If the meaning of le is not obvious in context, a prepositional phrase clarifies:

A ella le gustan los deportes. She likes sports.

Although English does not have the verb “to gust,” it has its approximate opposite, “to disgust” (the more exact translation of which is the less harsh “to displease.”) To translate literally that something is “displeasing” (or “pleasing”) to someone may help to understand this construction. As many other Spanish verbs function in the same manner, it is important to recognize what is the subject (look for subject-verb agreement) and what is the indirect object (look at the pronoun or, if clarified, the prepositional object pronoun):

Nos gusta bailar el tango. We like to dance the tango.

In the above sentence, no clarification is ever necessary. If, however, one wanted to emphasize what the subject is in English, the phrase a nosotros could be added, most likely at the beginning of the sentence, but also at the end.

The sentence Le gusta el merengue is ambiguous out of context. If clarification were needed, a prepositional phrase would be added, such as:

A Ud. le gusta la música merengue. You like merengue music.

¡Ojo! When gustar is used in the first or second person, which is not the norm, it carries a sexual or romantic connotation: –¿Te gusto? (“Do you like me?” [Literally, “Am I (sexually, romantically) pleasing to you?”])


Other common verbs and expressions that function like gustar are:

aburrir to be boring, to bore
agradar to be pleasing
caer bien/mal to like/ dislike someone; to make a good/bad impression on someone
dar asco to be disgusting, to be repulsive
disgustar to be displeasing, to be annoying (false friend)
doler (ue) to hurt, to ache, to be painful
encantar to like very much, to love
faltar to be lacking, to be missing
interesar to be interested in, to interest
sentar (ie) bien/mal to sit well with/ not sit well with, to agree/disagree with

Vocabulario básico


cazar- to hunt
jubilarse- to retire
pescar- to fish
relajarse- to relax


el caballo- horse
el cuerpo- body (false friend)
el deporte- sport
el dolor- pain, sorrow
el equipo- team, set (of equipment)
el juego- game, set (of something)
la mitad- half
la oveja- sheep
el partido- game, match, political party
el pavo- turkey
la pelota- ball
la pesca- fishing
la vaca- cow


caribeño- Caribbean
gratuito- free (at no cost) (false friend)
libre- free (unoccupied; unrestrained)


gratis- free (at no cost)


a partir de- as of, from (such a date)
dar un paseo- to take a walk (ride)
montar en bicicleta- to ride a bicycle
montar a caballo- to ride a horse

Unit: 10: Structures with hacer, Introduction to Perfect Tenses and the Past Participle, Translation Considerations (Part 1)

10.1 Non-Systemic Use of Verbs: Hacer

Non-systemic uses of hacer in the present

The verb hacer is regularly used under certain conditions in the present tense to communicate present perfect meaning (“have done,” “has spoken,” “have been reading,” etc.). As the actual tense and the translation do not correspond to each other, this use of hacer may be called non-systemic, as it does not conform to the verb systems of Spanish or English.

A recent past action that continues into the present or has bearing on the present typically is expressed by the present perfect in English (e.g., “My mother has been ill recently.”) This would also take a present perfect tense in Spanish (see section 10.6), but it is equally common to see this expressed as:

hace + duration of time + que + verb in the present tense

Hace dos días que ella no quiere comer. She has not wanted to eat for two days.

(Avoid the literal translation: “It makes two days that she does not want to eat.”)

The word order may also vary and in this case the word desde is added without changing the meaning:
verb in the present tense + desde hace + duration of time

No quiere comer desde hace dos días. She has not wanted to eat for two days.

Non-systemic uses of hacer in the past

Hacer may be used in the third-person singular of the imperfect tense, following the same formula to render past perfect meaning (“had done,” “had spoken,” “had been reading,” etc.):
hacía + duration of time + que + verb in the imperfect tense

Hacía dos días que no quería comer. She had not wanted to eat for two days.

Again, the word order may vary and when this occurs the word desde is added without changing the meaning:
verb in the past tense + desde hacía + duration of time

No quería comer desde hacía dos días. She had not wanted to eat for two days.

As this construction is extremely frequent in Spanish, learn the following formulas:

hace + duration of time + que + present tense = present perfect meaning
hacía + duration of time + que + imperfect tense = past perfect meaning

In other words, when both tenses match in the present or imperfect tenses, and all other necessary elements are present, the meaning or the translation of the sentence will be non-systemic, i.e., it will not correspond to the tenses used to achieve it:

Hace cuatro años que viven en Suiza. They have lived (have been living) in Switzerland for four years.
Hacía muchos veranos que pasaban vacaciones en Sitges. They had spent (had been spending) vacations in Sitges for many summers.

As seen above, you have the option of translating this construction in a progressive form whenever it sounds appropriate or better than the non-progressive rendering.

Ago in Spanish

Hace also means “ago.” This occurs, unlike in the above cases, when the tenses of the sentences or clauses do not correspond. (Remember that, grammatically, hace, although not translated as such, is still a verb.) In theory, when meaning “ago,” hace may combine with any logical tense, though it is most frequently seen with the preterite:

Terminé el proyecto hace dos horas. I finished the project two hours ago.

If the word order is changed so that the sentence begins with hace, the word que is normally inserted after the expression of duration of time and is not translated:

Hace dos horas que terminé el proyecto. Two hours ago I finished the project.

I finished the project two hours ago.

To repeat, when the two tenses match (are in the same tense) and the other conditions mentioned are present, the non-systemic meanings will be invoked. When the verb tenses do not match, hace means ago.

¡Ojo! Be careful not to confuse the preposition hacia (no accent) (“toward”) with hacía. Context should leave no doubt as to meaning:

Venía hacia mí. She was coming toward me.
Venía aquí desde hacía años. She had been coming here for years.

Remember that hacer is also used in the third person in a number of weather expressions (section 4.2).

Vocabulario básico


inundar- to flood, inundate
tronar (ue)- to thunder


el cielo- sky, heaven (cognate: celestial)
la estrella- star (cognate: stellar)
la inundación- flood, inundation
la luna- moon
los relámpagos- lightning
la tempestad- storm
la tormenta- storm
el trueno- thunder


templado- mild (cognate: temperate)

Unit: 10: Structures with hacer, Introduction to Perfect Tenses and the Past Participle, Translation Considerations (Part 1)

10.2 Other Verbs Used Like Hacer

Two other common verbs are also used non-systemically.


Acabar (“to finish,” “to end”) is used in the present tense, followed by de + infinitive, and translates as “to have just done something”:

Acaban de firmar el tratado. They have just signed the treaty.

As with hace when combined with a present tense verb, the present tense equals present perfect meaning in the above example.

Just as we saw when hacía combines with a past tense verb, usually the imperfect, the imperfect tense of acabar equals past perfect meaning:

Acababan de firmar el tratado. They had just signed the treaty.


The verb llevar plus duration of time often translates as a form of “to be” and when combined, as it often is, with a present participle, means “to have been doing (something)”:

Llevo cinco años en este pueblo deprimente. I have been (living) in this depressing town for five years.
Lleva veinte minutos tronando. It has been thundering for twenty minutes.

The first example above is merely another way of expressing Hace cinco años que vivo en este pueblo deprimente.

Likewise, llevar is used in the same circumstance but in the imperfect tense and translates as “had been” (past perfect tense) or, with the present participle, “had been doing” (something):

Su familia llevaba más de ciento quince años en este país. Her family had been (living) in this country for more than 115 years.

Desde = since

As is often the case in English, the mere inclusion of the word desde (“since”) in a sentence with a present tense verb normally renders the meaning to be present perfect. Likewise, when desde appears in a sentence in the imperfect tense, the meaning routinely shifts to past perfect tense.

Mi tío está aquí desde enero. My uncle has been here since January.
Trabajaban en esa fábrica desde junio. They had worked (had been working) in that factory since June.

Vocabulario básico


aumentar- to increase (cognate: augment)
fabricar- to manufacture (cognate: to fabricate)
invertir (ie)- to invest
lograr- to manage (to do something), to obtain, to achieve
montar- to put together, to assemble
realizar- to achieve, to carry out (false friend); to realize


las acciones- stock (stock market-false friend in this usage)
el ascenso- promotion, ascent
el asunto- matter, issue, question (not interrogative)
el aumento- increase (cognate: augmentation)
la bancarrota- bankruptcy
la Bolsa- stock market
la catarata- waterfall
el comercio- business, commerce
el corredor/ la corredora de bolsa- stockbroker
la cuestión- issue, question (not interrogative)
la empresa- company, business, enterprise, undertaking
la fábrica- factory
la ganancia- profit, gain, (pl.) earnings, winnings
la gerencia- management
el/la gerente/-a- manager
la huelga- strike
el negocio- company, business
la nuera- daughter-in-law
el/la obrero/-a- worker
la pérdida- loss
el préstamo- loan
el principio- beginning, principle
el salto- waterfall; jump
el sueldo- salary
el yerno- son-in-law


débil- weak (cognate: debility)
deprimente- depressing


aún- still, yet
ni siquiera- not even


ir a la bancarrota- to go bankrupt
en obras- under construction
montar una empresa- to start a company/ business
pedir prestado- to borrow*

*The past participle here functions as an adjective and agrees in number and gender with what was borrowed. Spanish has no one verb meaning “to borrow.”

Unit: 10: Structures with hacer, Introduction to Perfect Tenses and the Past Participle, Translation Considerations (Part 1)

10.3 Shortened Forms of Adjectives

Various adjectives drop the final -o before masculine singular nouns or adjectives preceding it. This shortened (apocopated) form should not cause any comprehension difficulty.


algún día – some day


un buen hombre – a good man


un mal examen – a bad exam


ningún dinero – no money


el primer día – the first day


el tercer mes – the third month


un buen ejemplo – a/one good example

Bueno and malo may also follow the noun without any change in meaning:

El señor Barrales es un muy buen hombre.

El señor Barrales es un hombre muy bueno.

Mr. Barrales is a very good man.

The adjective cualquiera (“any”) drops the -a before any singular noun:

Te veo cualquier día. I can see you any day.
Lee cualquier novela que encuentra. He reads any novel he finds.

Cualquiera is also used as a pronoun to mean “anyone”:

Cualquiera puede comprender eso. Anyone can understand that.

Unit: 10: Structures with hacer, Introduction to Perfect Tenses and the Past Participle, Translation Considerations (Part 1)

10.4 Forms of el que

The definite articles combine with que to give the meaning “he who,” “she who,” “the one(s) who/that,” and “those who/ that”:

El que trabaja más, no siempre gana más. He who (The one who) works more (the most) doesn’t always earn more (the
La que ganó es mi amiga Belisa. She who (The one who) won is my friend Belisa.
Los que no pueden ayudarse a sí mismos, no pueden ayudar a otros. Those who can’t help themselves can’t help others.
Las que ocurrieron en agosto fueron las peores tempestades. Those that occurred in August were the worst storms.

Less commonly, the singular forms may be replaced by quien and the plural, by quienes without changing the meaning:

Quien no coopera, no va a tener éxito. He who doesn’t cooperate isn’t going to be successful.
Quienes tienen la culpa deben confesársela. Those who are at blame should confess it.

El que and its forms may refer to people or to objects, whereas quien and quienes only refer to people.

El que also has a neuter form, lo que, which in addition to meaning “what” (as in “that which”), means “which” when preceded by a comma. In this case it has no specific one-word antecedent, but rather refers to the entire preceding clause:

Estela llegó tarde a la cena, lo que les desagradó a sus padres. Estela arrived late to dinner, which displeased her parents.

The neuterlo cual is equally common in this meaning:

Perdieron bastante dinero en la Bolsa, lo cual les enfadó. They lost a fair amount of money in the stock market, which angered them.

Remember that lo que also means “what.” In this case it is not preceded by a comma and joins two clauses:

No ganó lo que quería. He didn’t earn (win) what he wanted (to).

Of the two, only lo que can begin a sentence:

Lo que necesito es ganar más dinero. What I need is to earn more money.

Vocabulario básico


agradecer- to thank, to be grateful for
apoyar- to support (politically, emotionally), to lean (physically)
comportarse (bien/mal)- to behave (well/badly)
deprimir- to depress*
juzgar- to judge
meter(se)- to put (to meddle)
molestar- to bother (false friend)


el gusto- (sense of) taste, pleasure
el premio- prize
la revista- magazine
la voluntad- (free) will, disposition (cognate: volition)


agotado- exhausted; sold out
tinto- red (wine), dyed, tinted


acá- here (used for motion toward the speaker)
ahí- there (nearby)
allá- there (far away)


con (mucho) gusto- with (much) pleasure, gladly
estar de buen (mal) humor- to be in a good (bad) mood
tener voluntad- to be willing, to feel like

*Almost all verbs ending in -primir correspond to those in English ending in “-press”: The meanings of reprimir, oprimir, suprimir, etc. should now be readily deducible. One exception is imprimir, which means “to print” (or “to imprint”) not to “impress,” which is rendered by impresionar.

Unit: 10: Structures with hacer, Introduction to Perfect Tenses and the Past Participle, Translation Considerations (Part 1)

10.5 The Past Participle

The past participle corresponds to the English “been,” “done,” “eaten,” “spoken,” etc., all irregular participles that stand out, as well as to regular past participles, that take the same form as the English simple past tense, as in “walked,” “desired,” “opened,” etc.

The regular past participles of verbs in Spanish are:

Infinitive pasar comer venir
Past Participle pasado comido venido

Like English, Spanish employs a number or irregular past participles. (These do not always correspond to verbs that are irregular in other tenses.)

Infinitive Past Participle
abrir abierto (opened [open])
cubrir cubierto (covered)
decir dicho (said, told)
descubrir descubierto (discovered, uncovered)
escribir escrito (written)
hacer hecho (done, made)
morir muerto (died [dead])
poner puesto (put)
resolver resuelto (solved, resolved)
romper roto (broken)
ver visto (seen)
volver vuelto (returned)

Compound forms of these verbs, such as suponer (“to suppose”) and devolver (“to return”), have the same irregularity in their participles: supuesto, devuelto.

As in English, past participles may serve as adjectives and in this case they agree with the noun they modify. Sometimes they immediately follow the noun; others, they are separated from it, usually by ser or estar:

Nos dio una respuesta bien pensada. He gave us a well-thought answer.
La lámpara está rota. The lamp is broken.
El poema “Y colgaríamos naranjas en cada nube” fue escrito por la costarricense Ana Istaru. The poem “And We Would Hang Oranges on Each Cloud” was written by the Costa Rican Ana Istaru.

The feminine forms of some past participles, as well as some masculine ones, may form nouns of related meaning, as these below that you have already seen:

la comida food, meal, evening meal
la llegada arrival
el puesto position, job, placement, stand (where something is sold)
la salida exit, departure

Additional nouns formed from past participles include:

la bebida beverage
la dicha happiness, good fortune
el dicho refrain, proverb
la entrada entrance, entrée, ticket
los escritos writings
el hecho fact, deed
el/la muerto/-a dead person
el pasado past
la vista view
la vuelta return

Vocabulario básico


elegir- to elect


el cabo- cape
la caña- reed, cane
la esperanza- hope
el/la ganador/-a- winner
el/la navegante- navigator
los restos- remains
la zampoña- reed flute, panpipe


vinícola- wine-making, pertaining to wine

Unit: 10: Structures with hacer, Introduction to Perfect Tenses and the Past Participle, Translation Considerations (Part 1)

10.6 The Present Perfect Tense

The present perfect tense is formed by the present tense of the auxiliary verb haber (which gives the forms hay [an alternate form], había, and hubo [all already studied]), + the past participle, studied in section 10.5. Haber, not tener (which means “to have” in the sense of “to own” or “to possess”), is the auxiliary verb used to form all compound tenses in Spanish.

he ido I have gone
has ido you have gone (fam.)
ha ido he/she/you (form.) has/have gone
hemos ido we have gone
habéis ido you (fam. pl.) have gone
han ido they/you (form. pl. [fam. pl. in L.A.]) have gone

In most of the Spanish-speaking world, the present perfect tense is used in a very similar manner to its English counterpart, and in both languages refers to a recent past event that continues into the present or has bearing on it:

El pobre ha estado desempleado recientemente. The poor (unfortunate) man has been unemployed recently.
El número de muertos ha aumentado este año por razones desconocidas. The number of dead (people) has increased this year for reasons unknown.
Han vivido en Egipto por un año. They have lived in Egypt for one year.

The last example, in which a duration of time is expressed, is also commonly rendered by the non-systemic construction using hace (section 10.1):

Hace un año que viven en Egipto. They have lived in Egypt for one year.

The present tense forms of haber occasionally occur followed by de + infinitive and translate as “to be to,” “to be supposed to,” or “must” (when referring to probability):

Hemos de etudiar esta noche. We are (supposed) to study tonight.
Ha de llover mañana. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow.
Han de saber la respuesta. They must know the answer.

Vocabulario básico


chocar- to collide, to crash, to shock
desmentir (ie)- to prove false, to disprove
estacionar- to park
llenar- to fill
manejar- to manage, to handle, to drive
significar- to mean


la acera- sidewalk (Sp.) (la banqueta, la vereda, el andén are common in Latin America)
el ave (f.)- bird
el baúl- trunk
el carnet/ permiso de manejar/ conducir- driver’s license
el choque- collision, crash, shock
los frenos- brakes
la goma- tire, rubber
el ladino- Old Castilian (lang.)
el letrero- sign
el licor- liquor
la llanta- tire
la multa- fine
el/la peatón/-ona- pedestrian
el pisco- grape brandy
la rueda- wheel
el seguro- insurance
el semáforo- traffic light
el taller- body shop, artist’s studio
la uva- grape


sefardita- Sephardic
supuesto- supposed


a su vez- in (his, her) turn
en lugar de- instead of, in place of
poner una multa- to fine, to give a fine
todo derecho- straight ahead

Unit: 10: Structures with hacer, Introduction to Perfect Tenses and the Past Participle, Translation Considerations (Part 1)

10.7 Ellipsis of Nouns

The forms of the definite article (el, la los, las) + de often take the place of a previously mentioned or understood noun. As long as you know which is the noun antecedent, this should not pose comprehension problems. Note in the examples below the differing translations in English.

No sólo encontré mi pasaporte, sino también el de Katia. I not only found my passport, but Katia’s too. (literally, “that of Katia.”)
Prefiero esta camisa y la gris. I prefer this shirt and the gray one.
Los de color blanco son de Patricia. The white ones are Patricia’s. (antecedent understood)
Su esposa es la del vestido largo. His wife is the one in the long dress.
Nuestra hija es la del pelo negro. Our daughter is the one with the black hair.


Unit: 10: Structures with hacer, Introduction to Perfect Tenses and the Past Participle, Translation Considerations (Part 1)

10.8 The Past Perfect Tense

Just as the present tense of haber + past participle are used to form the present perfect tense, the imperfect tense of haber + past participle are used to form the past perfect tense. You  have already seen one form of the imperfect tense of haber, había, which stands alone to mean “there was” or “there were.” The past perfect tense is as follows:

YO había dicho I had said/ told
habías dicho you (fam.) had said/ told
ÉL, ELLA, UD. había dicho  he/she/you (form.) had said/told
NOSOTROS habíamos dicho we had said/told
VOSOTROS habíais dicho you (fam. pl.) had said/told
ELLOS, ELLAS, UDS. habían dicho they/you (form. pl. [fam. pl. in L.A.]) had said/told

The past perfect tense (also called the pluperfect tense) in Spanish has the same meaning as in English and in both languages it is used to refer to the more distant in time of two past events:

Cuando vinimos a casa, vimos que se había limpiado. When we came home, we saw that it had been cleaned.

In the above example, the past perfect tense communicates that the two past actions were not simultaneous, but rather that the cleaning of the house took place prior to the arriving at home.

At times there is a specified past point of reference (instead of a conjugated verb in the past); other times this point of reference is unexpressed and simply understood:

A los diecinueve años, Alfonso nunca había manejado un automóvil. At age 19 Alfonso had never driven a car.
Habíamos estado en Ibiza ocho días. We had been in Ibiza for a week.*

* Be aware that ocho días often translates as “a week” in Spanish. (When days are counted, starting with, for example, Monday, it is counted as day one and day eight). Likewise, quince días at times translates as “two weeks” rather than 15 days.

Remember that the last example can be expressed with the non-systemic use of hacer:

Hacía ocho días que estábamos en Ibiza. We had been in Ibiza for a week.

Vocabulario básico


cambiar- to change
desobedecer- to disobey
dibujar- to draw
dotar- to endow
equivocarse- to make a mistake (false friend)
hallar- to find
llorar- to cry
merecer- to deserve
obedecer- to obey
poseer- to possess, to own


el/la abogado/-a- lawyer, attorney
el amo/-a de casa- stay-at-home dad/mom
el banco- bank, bench
el cero- zero
el cura- priest (versus la cura- cure)
el derecho- right, law (field of study)
el/ la juez/ jueza- judge
el juicio- judgment, trial, verdict; opinion (a mi juicio)
la monja- nun
la muchedumbre- crowd
las noticias- news (la noticia- piece of news)
el papel- role
el/la periodista- journalist
el/la rabino/-a- rabbi
el testigo- witness
el traje- suit (clothing)
Varsovia- Warsaw


súbitamente- suddenly


puesto que- because, as, since
ya que- because, as, since


cambiar de idea- to change one’s mind
dar lo mismo- to make no difference
en cambio- on the other hand
hacer hincapié en- to stress, to emphasize, to insist on
por excelencia- par excellence
por otra parte- on the other hand

Unit: 10: Structures with hacer, Introduction to Perfect Tenses and the Past Participle, Translation Considerations (Part 1)

10.9 Emphatic Forms of Possessive Pronouns

All of the possessive pronouns already studied (mi, tu, su, nuestro, vuestro and their feminine and plural forms, as appropriate) also have corresponding emphatic or “long” forms, which have one of two meanings:

Possessive Pronouns Translation
1st person sing. mío of mine, mine, my (emphatic)
2nd person sing. tuyo of yours (fam.), yours, your (two emphatic)
3rd person sing. suyo of his, of hers, of its or yours (form.), his, hers, its, yours, her, your (emphatic)
1st person Plural nuestro of ours, ours, our (emphatic)
2nd person plural vuestro of yours (fam. pl.), yours, your (emphatic)
3rd person plural suyo of theirs, of yours (form. pl. [fam. pl. in L.A.]), their, yours, your (emphatic)

All of these possessives have four forms each: masculine and feminine in both the singular and plural. Note that the first and second persons plural (nuestro, vuestro) are identical to the simple possessives already studied:

Es nuestra casa It’s our house.
Es una casa nuestra. It’s a house of ours.

It’s our house. (emphatic)

In English, emphasis is communicated via information and stress (when spoken) while in Spanish the use of the long form of the possessive plays this role:

Esta es la casa nuestra, no la suya. This is our house, not his.

If, out of context, the above meaning is not clear, the form of suyo is replaced by the corresponding definite articles and a prepositional phrase:

Esta es la casa nuestra, no la de él. This is our house, not his.

Study these further examples:

El coche azul es mío y el blanco es suyo (el de ella). The blue car is mine and the white one is hers.
Rosa no es amiga mía. Rosa isn’t a friend of mine.
No son papeles suyos (de Ud.). They’re not papers of yours.
¿Todas estas llaves son tuyas? Are all these your keys? (emphatic)

Are all these keys of yours?

The minimal ambiguity of the last sentences is negligible and both translations are accurate renderings of the Spanish.

Vocabulario básico


ahorrar- to save (money)
carecer- to lack
cargar- to charge (to an account), to load
cobrar- to cash (a check), to charge (for a service)
guardar- to save (something for someone)
renunciar (a)- to resign (from) (false friend)
solicitar- to apply for, to solicit


el efectivo- cash (false friend)
la factura- bill (to be paid)
la falta- lack (false friend)
el presupuesto- budget
la rama- branch (tree)
la solicitud- application (form)
el sucursal- branch (office)


moreno- brunette, dark-haired
rubio- blond
único- only, unique


infelizmente- unfortunately


estar de acuerdo (con)- to be in agreement, to agree (with)
quedar en (+inf.)- to agree (to do something)
quedarse con- to keep (something)

Unit: 11: Introduction to the Subjunctive, The Present Subjunctive Mood, Formal Commands, Translation Considerations (Part 2)

11.1 Concept of the Subjunctive Mode

Both Spanish and English have the subjunctive mode of verbs, in contrast with the indicative mode, to which all verb tenses studied up until now belong. Unlike in English, in which the subjunctive mode is, in essence, vestigial, it is routinely used in Spanish, even by the uneducated, in four different tenses.

The subjunctive mode is extremely common in Spanish. While the indicative mode expresses facts, certainly, reality, truths, and beliefs (affirmation of what one perceives to be reality), the subjunctive mode expresses doubt, uncertainty, emotions, pending (future) actions (not yet completed and whose probable completion is therefore unknown), indefinites, nonexistence, persuasion, volition, as well as opinions and attitudes when combined with a negative and/or with most impersonal expressions.

Some examples of the indicative:

Vimos que llegó. We saw that he arrived. (known reality)
Sé que hablas inglés. I know that you speak English. (information)
Es cierto que lo sabe. It’s true that he knows it. (certainty)
Es aquí donde comimos. Here is where we ate. (definite place)
Cree que es verdad. She believes it’s true. (affirmation of belief in what one perceives to be reality or true)

Now focus on the different ways of translating the subjunctive, which is almost always preceded by que or a conjunction.

  • direct object pronoun plus infinitive:
Quiere que (yo) vaya. She wants me to go.
  • prepositional phrase plus infinitive:
No es posible que ella venga. It’s not possible for her to come.

It’s not possible that she come.

It’s not possible that she will come. (future)

  • literal translation plus word of uncertainty:
Aunque esté enferma…</span Although she may be ill…

Although perhaps she’s ill…

  • use of English subjunctive:
Si estuviera aquí… If she were here…
Es necesario que estén allí. It’s necessary that you all be there.
  • word-for-word translation from English:
Cuando lo sepa, te lo digo. When I know it, I’ll tell it to you.
  • use of English future tense
No es posible que vayan. It’s not possible that they will go.


Unit: 11: Introduction to the Subjunctive, The Present Subjunctive Mood, Formal Commands, Translation Considerations (Part 2)

11.2 Forms of the Present Subjunctive

Forms of regular verbs have their subjunctive ending in what is often called the “opposite vowel.” For –ar verbs, the opposite vowel is e. For –er and –ir verbs, the opposite vowel is a. With regular verbs, it now becomes more important to know whether the verb’s form in the subjunctive is from an –ar versus an –er or –ir verb, as the endings in the present subjunctive versus the present indicative normally differ by only one vowel.

tomar leer abrir
yo tome lea abra
tomes leas abras
él, Ella, Ud. tome lea abra
Nosotros tomemos leamos abramos
Vosotros toméis  leáis abráis
ellos, ellas, Uds. tomen lean abran

Subjunctive forms of –ar and –er verbs undergo the stem change in the same persons as in the present indicative:

pensar volver
yo piense vuelva
pienses vuelvas
él, Ella, Ud. piense vuelva
Nosotros pensemos volvamos
Vosotros penséis volváis
ellos, ellas, Uds. piensen vuelvan

In –ir stem-changing verbs, the e to ie type gives an i in the first and second persons plural:

1st sienta sintamos
2nd sientas sintáis
3rd sienta sientan

The o to ue type of stem-changing verbs uses a u in these same two persons:

1st duerma durmamos
2nd duermas durmáis
3rd duerma duerman

In –ir stem-changing verbs of the e to i type, the entire present subjunctive shows the stem change:

1st pida pidamos
2nd pidas pidáis
3rd pida pidan

Remember that verbs ending in vowel plus –cer or –cir insert a z in the first person singular of the indicative, which appears in the entire present subjunctive, as it is the first person singular of the present indicative on which the present subjunctive is based (except in stem-changing verbs and the four irregular verbs):

1st traduzca traduzcamos
2nd traduzcas traduzcáis
3rd traduzca traduzcan

These forms of the subjunctive of irregular verbs may be easier to recognize than those of regular verbs. This is one of many cases in Spanish in which one tense “builds on” another. By mastering or recognizing earlier-studied forms, it becomes easier to recognize other new ones as they are presented.

1st tenga tengamos
2nd tengas tengáis
3rd tenga tengan

Other verbs irregular in the first person singular that undergo the same phenomenon are:

Example verbs
infinitive > 1st person sing. Present Indicative
decir > digo diga
hacer > hago haga
oír > oigo oiga
poner > pongo ponga
salir > salgo salga
traer > traigo traiga
venir > vengo venga
ver > veo vea

The verbs dar and estar are technically irregular in the present subjunctive because of the accent marks on some forms, which indicate spoken stress and also differentiate them from otherwise identical forms.

dar estar
yo (versus de [prep.] esté (versus este [dem. adj.])
des estés
él, Ella, Ud. esté
Nosotros demos estemos
Vosotros deis estéis
ellos, ellas, Uds. den estén

The only truly irregular verbs in the present subjunctive are the following four, in which the differences from the present indicative should help these forms stand out:

haber haya
ir vaya
saber sepa
ser sea

The ir + a + infinitive construction, which renders future meaning without using the future tense in the indicative mode (e.g., Sé que van a tener tiempo), can also do the same in the subjunctive mode.

Dudo que vayan a tener tiempo para hacer todo lo necesario. I doubt that you’re going to have time to do everything necessary.

Vocabulario básico


asesinar- to murder, to assassinate
atracar- to hold up
dudar- to doubt
encarcelar- to imprison (cognate: incarcerate)
negar (ie)- to deny, to negate
proscribir (p.p: proscrito)- to outlaw, to forbid
raptar- to kidnap
secuestrar- to kidnap, to hijack (false friend)
sentir (ie)- to regret, to be sorry
sobornar- to bribe


el asesinato- murder, assassination
el atraco- hold-up, mugging
el delito- crime
la pena de muerte- death penalty
la policía- police (force), policewoman
el policía- policeman
el rapto- kidnapping, abduction
el secuestro- kidnapping, hijacking
la violación- rape, violation, transgression


hacer trampas- to cheat

Unit: 11: Introduction to the Subjunctive, The Present Subjunctive Mood, Formal Commands, Translation Considerations (Part 2)

11.3 Summary of Uses of the Subjunctive

Although you do not have to know actively when to use the subjunctive, it is helpful to know nuances of translation (e.g., uncertainty and doubt) as well as the general patterns and possibilities of translating it. These are in general not difficult.

A. Emotion*

Me alegro que estés aquí. I’m glad (that) you are here
No me gusta que hagas eso. I don’t like you to do that.

I don’t like for you to do that.

I don’t like that you do that.

*At times, emotional reactions, especially to past events, are expressed by some speakers with the indicative (more often in Latin America than Spain), but this should not lead to a comprehension problem. (Occasional exceptions to the above summary of uses also exist in some in other cases, more in speaking than in writing.)

B. Persuasion, Volition

Quiere que ayudemos. He wants us to help.
Me recomienda que no vaya. She recommends that I not go.

She recommends me not to go.

C. Doubt, Denial

Dudan que podamos venir. They doubt we can come.
Niegan que sea así. They deny it is that way.

D. Opinions Stated Negatively

No creen que tengas razón. ** They don’t think you are right.
No me parece que lo necesitemos. It doesn’t seem to me that we need it.

**When the disbelief is strong, the indicative is used. The subjunctive normally indicates doubt.

E. Impersonal Expressions

Conviene que lo hagamos. It’s advisable that we do it.
Es curioso que diga eso. It’s curious that she say(s) that.
No es verdad que venga. *** It’s not true that he’s coming.
Es posible que nos ayuden. It’s possible that they may help us.

***When expressions of certainty are used affirmatively, the indicative is used: Es verdad que viene (“It’s true that he’s coming”).

F. Pending Actions

Te digo cuando salga. I’ll tell you when I leave.
Los vamos a ayudar en cuanto podamos. We’ll help them as soon as we can.

G. Indefinites and Unknowns

Buscamos un hotel que sea barato. We’re looking for a hotel that is inexpensive.
Aunque haga mal tiempo mañana, vamos a salir de viaje. Although the weather may be bad tomorrow we’re going to leave on a trip.

H. Nonexistence

No hay nadie que pueda traducírmelo. There’s no one who can translate it for me.
No hay nada que sea barato aquí. There’s nothing that is inexpensive here.

I. Purpose

Te lo explico para que lo entiendas. I’m explaining it to you so that you (may/might) understand it.
Hace todo lo posible porque su marido esté libre. **** She’s doing everything possible so that her husband may be free.

****Porque occasionally has the meaning of “so that” or “in order that,” as does para que, but implies strong emotional resolve on the part of the speaker. The translation does not usually differ. When translating porque as “because” does not make sense, chances are you will see that it is followed by a subjunctive and translating it as “so that” or “in order that” is logical.

J. After Words of Uncertainty in a Main Clause

Quizá(s) lo sepa. Perhaps she knows (may know) it.
Tal vez lo busque. Maybe he is looking for it.
Acaso nos lo digan. Perhaps they may (will) tell it to us.

K. Purpose

Although it does not meet the normal criteria for subjunctive use, the conjunction como, when indicating cause (and translated as “because,” “as,” or “since”) may be followed by the subjunctive:

Como no venga, no venimos tampoco. As she is not coming, we’re not either.

L. Certainty

Expressions meaning “the fact is”- el (hecho de) que and es un hecho que– which likewise do not conform to the criteria for subjunctive use, are required by grammar rules to take a subjunctive in Spanish:

El que te diga eso no significa que sea verdad. The fact that he tells you that does not mean it is the truth.
Es un hecho que Enrique VIII se divorciara de Catalina de Aragón, hija de los Reyes Católicos, Fernando e Isabel. ***** It is a fact that Henry VIII divorced Catherine of Aragon, the daughter of the Catholic Kings, Ferdinand and Isabella.

*****Divorciara is an example of imperfect subjunctive. See section 13.4.

M. In Indefinite Fixed Phrases

Pase lo que pase, tienes que hacer algo. Come/Happen what may (happen), you have to do something.
Sea como fuere, hay que aceptarlo.****** Be that as it may, it’s necessary to accept it.

******Fuere is the future subjunctive, only used vestigially. (See section 17.5)

¡Ojo! There are certain instances in which it is imperative to recognize the subjunctive form versus the indicative form of regular verbs, as the one-letter difference changes the whole meaning of the sentence. This occurs most frequently with the verb decir, which, when used to tell someone what to do, takes the subjunctive. When it is used merely to inform or pass on information (without telling someone what to do), it takes the indicative. This happens occasionally with other verbs of communication, such as escribir and telefonear.

Me dice que lo estudie. He tells me to study it.
Me dice que lo estudia. He tells me that he’s studying it.
Le escribe que vuelva a casa. She writes (to) her to return home.
Le escribe que vuelve a casa. She writes (to) her that she’s returning home

Vocabulario básico


advertir (ie)- to warn
avisar- to inform, to notify (false friend)
bastar- to be sufficient
convenir (ie)- to be advisable/suitable; to suit, to be appropriate (false friend)
sugerir (ie)- to suggest


la beca- scholarship
el/la consejero/-a- counselor, adviser
los consejos- advice
el horario- schedule
el impuesto- tax
el puro- cigar (false friend)


desgraciado- unfortunate (false friend)


acaso- perhaps
quizá(s)- perhaps
tal vez- maybe


a condición de que- provided that
a fin de que- so that, in order that, with the purpose that
a menos que- unless
antes (de) que- before
comoquiera- however (in whatever manner)
de modo que- so that, in a manner (way) that
después (de) que- after
dondequiera- wherever
en cuanto- as soon as
hasta que- until
para que- in order that, so that
quienquiera- whoever
tan pronto como- as soon as


ojalá- if only, I hope


es menester- it’s necessary
es preciso- it’s necessary (false friend)
salir bien/mal- to go well/badly, to turn out well/badly

Unit: 11: Introduction to the Subjunctive, The Present Subjunctive Mood, Formal Commands, Translation Considerations (Part 2)

11.4 Formal Commands

All formal commands (the affirmative and negative forms of Ud. and Uds.) take the present subjunctive. The subject pronouns either goes after the command or is omitted.

Diga la verdad. Tell the truth.
No digan mentiras. Don’t tell lies.
Lean Uds. este artículo. Read this article.

All object pronouns are attached to affirmative commands and precede negative commands.

Díganos todo. Tell us everything.
No me diga nada del asunto. Don’t tell me anything about the matter.

It remains important at times to remember infinitive endings so that you know, for example, that escribe means “he (she, you) write(s)” and that escriba is the command “write.” Context should clarify when a command is being given. (Exclamation points are common, but optional, with commands in Spanish). When affirmative commands have objects pronouns attached to them, they should be easy to recognize:

Léamelo. Read it to me.
Véndaselo. Sell it to him (her, them).

The negative commands corresponding to the above ones are No me lo lea and No se lo venda.

At times one sees the command as a plus infinitive:

¡A marchar! Leave! (Get going!)

Other times one sees the present indicative used as a command:

Tú te callas. You be quiet.

Impersonal commands, especially on signs in public, are often expressed by nothing more than the infinitive:

No entrar. No entrance.
No fumar. No smoking.
Salir aquí. Exit here.


Unit: 11: Introduction to the Subjunctive, The Present Subjunctive Mood, Formal Commands, Translation Considerations (Part 2)

11.5 Exclamations

Exclamations should present few or no comprehension problems.

¡Qué bien hablan español!

¡Cómo hablan bien el español!

How well they speak Spanish!

The above are both common and equivalent renderings of the English. Other exclamations are fairly literally translated; many of these insert the word másbefore an adjective as an intensifier:

¡Qué libro más largo! What a very long book!
¡Qué lectura más difícil! What a very difficult reading!
¡Qué vacaciones más aburridas! What a very boring vacation!

Vaya plus the indefinite article may be used in this construction instead of qué:

¡Vaya unos problemas que tenemos! What problems we have!

Unit: 11: Introduction to the Subjunctive, The Present Subjunctive Mood, Formal Commands, Translation Considerations (Part 2)

11.6 Equivalents of “To Become”

Spanish has no single verb that renders all of the equivalents of “to become.” When it implies “to transform” or “to convert” (“to turn into”), Spanish uses one of two obvious cognates:

La tormenta se convirtió en ciclón. The storm became (turned into) a cyclone.
Los Arreaga se convirtieron al protestantismo. The Arreagas became Protestants (converted to Protestantism).
El agua se transformó en hielo. The water turned into (became) ice.

In most instances, however, one of several other less obvious verbs renders “to become.” In the examples that follow, notice that the reflexive pronoun is not translated.

Hacerse, which you have already seen, is the most “generic” of these verbs and has the most widespread usage.

Los Gudiño se hicieron ricos. The Gudiños became rich.
La situación se está haciendo normal. The situation is becoming normal.

Ponerse is most often seen to indicate a change in emotional or physical state.

Mi padre se pone alarmado si llego a casa muy tarde. My father becomes alarmed if I arrive home very late.
Nando se puso pálido al ver el accidente. Nando turned (became) pale upon seeing the accident.

Volverse may apply to a general situation or to an emotional state, but it often carries the connotation of a sudden or quick and sometimes violent or surprising change. Volverse loco is the equivalent of “to go crazy” (literally or physically).

Gabriel se volvió furioso cuando rompí la cámara.La manifestación se volvió violenta.
Gabriel became furious when I broke the camera.
The protest became violent.

Quedar(se) also occasionally translates as “become,” especially when a negative or unfortunate connotation is implied. In this usage quedar may or may not appear as reflexive:

El señor Marroquín quedó viudo. Mr. Marroquín became a widower.
El científico se está quedando enfadado. The scientist is becoming angry.

When you see any of the above four verbs and a literal translation does not make sense, it is likely that the desired translation is “to become.”

A common expression that also translates as “to become” is llegar a ser, which may also be rendered as “to come to be.” The implication, as in the English translation, is that the process may take or have taken place over a long period of time.

Llegaron a ser ricos a través de mucho trabajo duro. They became (came to be) rich by means of much hard work.
Venancio Pelayo llegó a ser presidente del senado. Venancio Pelayo became president of the senate.

Vocabulario básico


exiliarse- to exile oneself


la censura- censorship
los Pirineos- the Pyrenees
el renombre- renown, fame

Unit: 11: Introduction to the Subjunctive, The Present Subjunctive Mood, Formal Commands, Translation Considerations (Part 2)

11.7 The Present Perfect Subjunctive

The present perfect subjunctive is formed by the present subjunctive of the auxiliary verb haber + past participle:


haya dicho I have said/ told
hayas dicho you (fam.) have said/ told
haya dicho he/she/you (form.) have said/told
hayamos dicho we have said/told
hayáis dicho you (fam. pl.) have said/told
hayan dicho they/you (form. pl. [fam. pl. in L.A.]) have said/told

This tense is used when one of the conditions cuing the subjunctive exists (see section 11.3) and the time frame of the subordinate clause is present perfect (see section 10.6):

Es dudoso que la ladrona haya vuelto. It’s doubtful that the thief has returned.
Es una lástima que Jacobo se haya enfermado. It’s a pity that Jacobo has gotten sick.
Espero que hayan resuelto la cuestión. I hope you/they have resolved the issue.

Vocabulario básico


echar- to throw (out)
medir (i)- to measure


El Libano- Lebanon


disponible- available
pesado- dull, uninteresting, heavy


echar a perder- ruin
echarse + a + inf.- to begin to do something
es dudoso- it’s doubtful
es imprescindible- it’s indispensable
es (una) lástima- it’s a pity, it’s too bad
es una pena- it’s a pity
una vez- once

Unit: 11: Introduction to the Subjunctive, The Present Subjunctive Mood, Formal Commands, Translation Considerations (Part 2)

11.8 Absolute Superlatives

When a very high degree of quality is expressed and no comparison is intended, Spanish employs the suffix –ísimo and its feminine and plural forms as the equivalent of “extremely” or “very (very).” (Those familiar with musical terminology from the Italian may recognize this ending to be almost identical to that of such words as “pianissimo” and “fortissimo,” among others.)

¿No crees que es una escritora de muchísimo talento? Don’t you believe she’s an extremely talented writer?
Adela se puso furiosísima. Adela became extremely furious.

There are a number of low frequency irregular absolute superlatives, all vestiges of Latin. One of the most common is pésimo (“extremely bad”) and most of the others end in –érrimo.

Unit: 11: Introduction to the Subjunctive, The Present Subjunctive Mood, Formal Commands, Translation Considerations (Part 2)

11.9 Compound Verbs

You have already seen verbs such as mantener and detener, which have as their root tener, and suponer, which has as its root poner. Many such verbs exist and they almost always have the same irregularities as those seen in the “root” verbs. Once you know the meaning of these verbs, which at times may be logically deduced, they present no general comprehension problems, provided you recognize the irregularities of the root verb.

Although some of these are not truly compound verbs, the groupings below are meant to facilitate recognition of as many verbs as possible:

English -tain = Spanish –tener

abstenerse (de) to abstain (from)
contener to contain
detener to detain, to arrest
entretener to entertain
mantener to maintain, to keep, to support financially
retener to retain
sostener to sustain, to support

English -pose = Spanish –poner

componer to compose
deponer to depose
descomponer to decompose, to break down
imponer to impose
oponer to oppose (oponerse a- to be opposed to)
proponer to propose
yuxtaponer to juxtapose

Other verbs ending in –poner but which have a different ending in English include posponer (“to postpone”) and reponer (“to reply”).

English -tract = Spanish –traer

atraer to attract
contraer to contract
distraer to distract
extraer to extract
sustraer to subtract, to take away, to remove

English -duce, -duct = Spanish –ducir

conducir to conduct, to drive
deducir to deduce
inducir to induce
introducir to introduce
producir to produce
reducir to reduce
seducir to seduce

One verb you have already seen but which has a different ending in English is traducir, “to translate.”

English -dict, at times = Spanish –decir

bendecir to bless
contradecir to contradict
maldecir to curse, to slander, to speak ill of
predecir to predict, to forecast

English -vene, at times = Spanish –venir

convenir to be suitable/ appropriate, suit; to convene, to agree
intervenir to intervene
prevenir to prevent, to warn, to forestall
provenir to come from, to originate

English -scribe = Spanish –scribir

describir to describe
inscribir to inscribe, to enroll
prescribir to prescribe
proscribir to proscribe, to prohibit
suscribir to subscribe

Compounds of ver

prever to forsee
rever to revise, to look over, to review

Compounds of hacer

deshacer to undo
contrahacer to imitate, to copy, to counterfeit
satisfacer to satisfy

Compounds of volver

devolver to return (something)
envolver to wrap, to pack

Compound of pedir

despedir(se) to dismiss, to fire (to take leave of, to say good-bye to)
impedir to stop, to impede, to prevent

Compound of salir

sobresalir to stand out, to excel, to jut out

Vocabulario básico


amanecer- to dawn, to wake up (in a place)
anochecer- to get dark, to spend the night (in a place)
asombrar- to astound
desempeñar- to carry out, to play (un papel = a role)
desmayarse- to faint
mentir (ie)- to lie
nacer- to be born
patinar- to skate
presenciar- to witness


el asombro- astonishment
el/la brujo/-a- witch
el fantasma- ghost
el hielo- ice
la mente- mind
el porvenir- future


despectivo- pejorative
escaso- scarce, limited, scant
feo- ugly
sobresaliente- outstanding
travieso- mischievous


de una vez- once and for all

Unit: 12: More Uses of Se, Future Tense, Conditional Tense

12.1 Se Construction for Unplanned Occurrences

With a limited number of verbs, mainly those that follow, Spanish often uses a construction based on the impersonal se, followed by an indirect object pronoun, then the verb (most often in the preterite tense) to express unplanned occurrences, communicating a level of subtlety that is not always present in English.

Impersonal se construction:

Se acabó el dinero. The money ran out/was exhausted.

Impersonal se + Indirect Object = Unplanned Occurrence

Se nos acabó el dinero. The money ran out on us.

By using the impersonal se + indirect object pronoun, the speaker or writer shifts blame away from the person involved. (In English, a stark example of this may be seen in “Dad, I wrecked the car” [blame accepted] versus “Dad, the car got wrecked [while I happened to be driving it”] [blame shifted].)

Study this construction in the sentences that follow. Although it does not affect the translation, note that the verb agrees with the grammatical subject. As perros (first sentence) is plural, so is the verb. Coche (second sentence), as a singular noun, takes a singular verb.

¿Se te escaparon los perros? Did the dogs get away from you?
Se les descompuso el coche. The car broke down on them.
Se nos olvidó la cámara. We accidentally forgot the camera.
Se nos quedaron dos maletas en casa. We accidentally left two suitcases at home.
Se le rompió un plato. A dish got broken “on him.”
Se les murió su querido vecino. Their dear neighbor died “on them.”
Se le cayó la bandeja. She accidentally dropped the tray.

Vocabulario básico


cortar(se)- to cut (oneself)


la bandeja- tray
la conferencia- lecture, talk (false friend)
el ordenador- computer (Sp.)
el platillo- saucer
la red- net, network, Internet


querido- dear


a lo mejor- at best, most likely

Unit: 12: More Uses of Se, Future Tense, Conditional Tense

12.2 Future Tense

The future tense of regular verbs is formed by adding the endings of the present tense of haber (he, has ha, hemos, habéis, han), minus the h, to the infinitive.*


Person Singular Plural
1st hablaré I will speak hablaremos  we will speak
2nd hablarás you (fam.) will speak hablaréis you (fam. pl.) will speak
3rd hablará he/she/ you will (form.) speak hablarán they/ you will speak(form. pl. in Sp.) [fam. pl. in L.A.]

*The original tense was formed by two words (e.g., hablar he), which fused into one.

Note that all the forms of the future tense except the nosotros form carry a written accent. You need to be careful to distinguish among tenses, especially in the first person singular, in which  an accented é appears in both the future and the preterite tenses. The difference is that the future adds the ending to the infinitive while the preterite adds the same ending to the stem:

Hablé con él. I spoke with him. (preterite)
Hablaré con él. I will speak with him. (future)

The future tense is used for near-future as well as distant-future actions. When referring to near-future actions, it connotes stronger purpose or resolve than the similar-meaning ir + a + infinitive construction.

Lo voy a ayudar. I’m going to help him.
Lo ayudaré. will help him.

Various verbs that show irregularities in the preterite (and in some cases, other tenses) have an irregular or shortened stem in the future tense, although the endings are the same as for regular verbs:

decir diré, dirás, dirá, diremos, diréis, dirán
haber habré, habrás, habrá, etc.
hacer haré, harás, hará, etc.
poder podré, podrás, podrá, etc.
poner pondré, pondrás, pondrá, etc.
querer querré, querrás, querrá, etc.
saber sabré, sabrás, sabrá, etc.
salir saldré, saldrás, saldrá, etc.
tener tendré, tendrás, tendrá, etc.
valer valdré, valdrás, valdrá, etc.
venir vendré, vendrás, vendrá, etc.
caber (to fit) cabré, cabrás, cabrá, etc.

The verb caber is highly irregular. The present tense (indicative) is quepo, cabes, cabe etc. The preterite is cupe, cupiste, cupo, etc. The present subjunctive (based on the present indicative) is quepa, quepas, quepa, etc.

Vocabulario básico


castigar- to punish (cognate: to castigate)
mimar- to spoil


la amistad- friendship (cognate: amity), friend
el amor- love (cognate: amorous)
el castigo- punishment
el/la cuñado/a- brother-/sister-in-law
el familiar- family member, intimate friend (false friend)
la Navidad- Christmas
el/la nieto/-a- grandson, granddaughter
el noviazgo- engagement, courtship
el/la/los recién casado/-a (-os)- newlywed(s)
el/la suegro/-a- father/ mother-in-law
el/la viudo/-a- widower, widow


bien educado- well mannered*
familiar- family, pertaining to the family (false friend)
íntimo- close (friend), intimate
malcriado- ill-behaved
mal educado- ill mannered*
unido- close-knit

*Traditionally educado has referred to manners and educación to social skills. (Instruido has been the adjective used to mean “educated” and instrucción the noun to mean “education.”) As Spanish evolves, educado and educación are now routinely heard and written with the meaning of “educated” and “education.” Rely on context (or, occasionally, date of the text) to determine the meaning.

Unit: 12: More Uses of Se, Future Tense, Conditional Tense

12.3 The Future of Probability

Spanish commonly uses the future tense to indicate probability or conjecture in the present moment. This is another non-systemic use of verbs and it is very important to recognize, to avoid missing the intended meaning. It is worthwhile to begin to be aware of this concept now, as Spanish uses three other tenses non-systemically to refer to probability or conjecture. Note the varying possibilities of the English translation:

¿Dónde estará Juan?  


Where can Juan be?

Where do you think Juan is?

I wonder where Juan is.

¿Qué hora será?  


What time can it be?

What time do you think it is?

I wonder what time it is?

Remember: future tense + probability = present meaning.

You will be reading in a context, which should clarify the meaning. Some sentences, out of context, are ambiguous:

Future meaning:

Future of probability (refers to present):

Volverán al parque. They will return to the park. They will return to the park./ They must be returning to the park.

As in the last example, at times the insertion of the word “probably” is sufficient to translate the meaning in the present tense.

¡Ojo!  There is no special way of indicating probability in the future time frame. In such cases a word such as probablemente is normally inserted.

Another way of indicating probability -in various tenses- is deber de + infinitive.

Debe de estar perdida. She must be (probably is) lost.
Debió de hacerlo ayer. He probably did (must have done) it yesterday.
Debían de salir tarde. They must have left (probably left) late.

In recent years, however, the de is sometimes omitted, creating ambiguity, due to the meaning of deber when referring to obligation:

Debe estudiarlo. He must be studying it. (probability)

He ought to study it. (obligation)

Vocabulario básico


aislar- to isolate
aprobar (ue)- to pass (exam), to approve
cumplir- to fulfill; to accomplish


el apellido- surname
el apodo- nickname
el intento- attempt (false friend)


derechista- rightist, right-wing
izquierdista- leftist, left-wing
tal- such, such a


cumplir años- to have a birthday
es difícil que- is unlikely that (versus: es difícil- it’s difficult/hard)
es fácil que- it’s likely that (versus: es fácil- it’s easy)
estar a cargo (de)- to be in charge (of)

Unit: 12: More Uses of Se, Future Tense, Conditional Tense

12.4 Meanings of ya

The adverb ya, besides its meaning of “no longer” with the negative (ya no) and “because,” “as,” or “since” when combined with que to form a conjunction, may vary in translation according to the tense with which it is used. The tendency is for ya to mean “now” when used with a present tense or a command; “already” with any past tense (including the present perfect); and “later on” with a future tense.

¡Ya voy! I’m coming now!
¡Hágalo ya! Do it now!
Ya han llegado They have already arrived.
Ya viajamos a Martinica el año pasado. We already traveled to Martinique last year.
Ya te lo diremos. We’ll tell it to you later on.
Ya sabrás la respuesta. You’ll know the answer later on.

*Note in the first expression that, although the verb ir is used, the translation is “to come.” This is a fixed phrase and isolated case. Barring this example, the verbs ir and venir are never interchangeable, unlike in spoken, colloquial English. (Ya vengo is also heard and seen to mean “I’m coming,” but this does not present a translation problem.)

Unit: 12: More Uses of Se, Future Tense, Conditional Tense

12.5 Cuyo and Cuanto


Cuyo is an adjectival relative pronoun that you have already seen and that usually translates as “whose.” As you see below, it links two nouns and agrees in number and gender with the one it precedes:

Madrid es una ciudad cuyas calles conocemos muy bien. Madrid is a city whose streets we know very well.
Gabriela Mistral y Pablo Neruda, cuya patria es Chile, han ganado el premio Nóbel de Literatura. Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda, whose homeland is Chile, have won the Nobel Prize in Literature.


Cuanto, when not functioning as an interrogative, may be employed as an adjective or pronoun. In the former case, it agrees in number and gender with the noun it modifies and means “all those” or “as many as”:

Solicitaron fondos a cuantas personas pudieron. They solicited funds from all those (as many as) they could.

When used as a pronoun, cuanto is invariable in form and is the equivalent of “all that” or “as much as”:

A pesar de hacer cuanto pudo, perdió el caso. In spite of doing all he could, he lost the case.

The above could also be expressed as A pesar de hacer todo lo que pudo… without changing the meaning.

Cuanto has a shortened form cuán, which is seen occasionally before adjectives or adverbs and is considered informal in style.

No sabían cuán tarde era. They didn’t know how late it was.

Vocabulario básico


acudir- to come (to the rescue), to help, to aid
añorar- to yearn for
derrocar- to overthrow, to topple, to oust
disminuir- to diminish
ignorar- to be ignorant, not to know (false friend)*


el lema- slogan
la pieza- play (theatrical), piece, room (house)
el rescate- rescue
el ron- rum
el trago- drink


desnudo- naked, nude


años + multiple of 10- a decade of _____s

*These are the traditional meanings of ignorar. Recently it has been used by some with the meaning that corresponds to the English, “not to pay attention to,” which will likely become standard in parts of the Spanish-speaking world.

Unit: 12: More Uses of Se, Future Tense, Conditional Tense

12.6 Meanings of sino

Sino is used after a negative to express “but” in the sense of “but rather” or “on the contrary.” It is used for contrast and is followed by que (not translated) before a conjugated verb.

Certain statements may employ either pero or sino, but the meaning shifts slightly from the simple “but” (no contrast implied) to “but rather”:

No votaron, sino que discutieron el asunto. They didn’t vote, but rather [they] discussed the matter.
No votaron, pero discutieron el asunto. They didn’t vote, but they did discuss the matter.

See these further examples:

No fueron por autobús, sino por tren. They didn’t go by bus, but rather by train.
Nélida no sigue siendo una mera empleada, sino que llegó a ser jefa de su departamento. Nélida is no longer a mere employee, but rather became head of her department.
Varsovia es grande, pero, como otras ciudades grandes, tiene muchos problemas. Warsaw is large, but, like other large cities, it has many problems.

Sino must be translated with care, as it has two other meanings, the first of which is “but” in the sense of “except”:

Nadie se ha enterado de eso sino ella. No one has found out about that except her.

When combined with no, its other common meaning is “only”:

No tengo sino diez minutos para explicar la cuestión. I only have ten minutes to explain the issue.

Remember the expression no sólo… sino también:

No sólo no me lo dijo ayer, sino también se negó a revelármelo hoy. Not only did he not tell it to me yesterday, but also he refused to reveal it to me today.

Vocabulario básico


enterarse (de)- to find out (about)
extrañar- to miss (a person or place)


la estadía- stay
la estancia- stay; ranch, country house
el/ la extraño/-a- stranger, foreigner
el/la forastero/-a- stranger, outsider


poblado- populated, populous


efectivamente- in fact (false friend)


dentro de- within


echar de menos- to miss (a person or place)

Unit: 12: More Uses of Se, Future Tense, Conditional Tense

12.7 The Conditional Tense

The conditional tense of regular verbs is formed with the infinitive as the stem and uses the same endings as does the imperfect tense of –er and –ir verbs.


Person Singular Plural
1st iría I would go iríamos we would go
2nd irías you (fam.) would go iríais you (fam. pl.) would go
3rd iría he/she/ you would (form.) go irían they/you (form. pl. in Sp.) [fam. pl. in L.A.] would go

Be careful to look for the infinitive + the endings, to distinguish the conditional tense from the imperfect tense of –er and –ir verbs:

comíamos we were eating (used to eat, ate )
comeríamos we would eat

The same verbs that have an irregular stem in the future tense have the same irregular stem in the conditional tense:

decir diría, dirías, diría, diríamos, diríais, dirían
haber habría, habrías, habría, etc.
hacer haría, harías, haría, etc.
poder podría, podrías, podría, etc.
poner pondría, pondrías, pondría, etc.
querer querría, querrías, querría, etc.
saber sabría, sabrías, sabría, etc.
salir saldría, saldrías, saldría, etc.
tener tendría, tendrías, tendría, etc.
valer valdría, valdrías, valdría, etc.
venir vendría, vendrías, vendría, etc.
caber (to fit) cabría, cabrías, cabría, etc.

The conditional tense is used and translated in Spanish as it is in English:

Me dijo que vendría a las ocho. She told me she would come at eight o’clock.
¿Harías eso jamás? Would you ever do that?

 Building on what you know: similarities between future and conditional tenses

The conditional and future tenses share much in common:

  1. Both use the infinitive as the stem (unlike all other verb tenses studied so far).
  2. In both tenses, the same verbs have irregular stems.
  3. Their use is analogous. The conditional tense expresses what would happen in the future from a past point in time (Ayer me dijo que estaría aquí [“Yesterday he told me he would be here”) versus the future tense, from a present point in time Hoy me dice que estará aquí[“Today he tells me that he will be here.”]).

¡Ojo! Some verbs have very similar forms in the conditional and imperfect tenses. Pay close attention to quería (imperfect) and querría (conditional). Two verbs similar in form that are easily confused are hacer and haber. Be careful to distinguish between haría (I/he/she/you would do) and habría (there would be).

Now that all of the simple (one-word) indicative tenses have been studied, for purposes of comparison, see the following chart:

Llegar (To arrive) Translation
present llego I arrive/am arriving/ do arrive/ (will arrive)
imperfect llegaba I arrived/ was arriving/ used to arrive
preterite llegué I arrived
future llegaré I will arrive
conditional llegaría I would arrive
present participle llegando arriving
past participle llegado arrived

Vocabulario básico


apreciar – to appreciate, to esteem, to hold in esteem
compartir – to share
despreciar – to scorn, to look down on, to disdain, to deprecate
recoger – to pick up, to gather


el antepasado – ancestor
el/la ciudadano/-a – citizen
el crisol – melting pot
el desprecio – scorn, disdain


siguiente – following


yo, de usted (él, ella, etc.) – if l were you (he, she, etc.)

*This expression usually takes the place of the imperfect subjunctive (see section 13.4) or, occasionally, the past perfect subjunctive (see section 15.1), in which case it means “If I had been you (he, she, etc.)”.

Unit: 12: More Uses of Se, Future Tense, Conditional Tense

12.8 The Conditional of Probability

Just as the future tense is used to indicate probability or conjecture in the present moment, so is the conditional tense used to express the same in the simple past moment. (See section 12.3) This non-systemic usage is analogous to that of the future of probability. Again, note the various possibilities of translation:

¿Dónde estaría Juan? Where could Juan be?

Where do (did) you think Juan was?

I wonder(ed) where Juan was.

¿Qué hora sería cuando se fue?  


What time could it be when he left?

What time do (did) you think it was when he left?

I wonder(ed) what time it was when he left.


  • future tense + probability = present tense meaning
  • conditional tense + probability = simple past tense meaning

Again, there exist conceivably ambiguous sentences out of context. Volverían al parque, in its conditional meaning, translates as “They would return to the park” (i.e., if they wanted to, if they had time). In the conditional of probability, the same sentences translates as “They probably returned to the park.”

Context should help you identify which of the two translations is best.

Vocabulario básico


fracasar- to fail
lograr- to obtain, to achieve, to manage (to do something)
luchar- to struggle, to fight
realizar*- to achieve, to carry out (false friend)


la clave- key (figurative)
el ensayo- essay, trial, rehearsal, attempt
la trama- plot


frente a- in the face of
mediante- by means of, through

*Realizar also may translate as “to realize” but only in limited circumstances, such as Claudio realizó su sueño de estudiar en Santiago (“Claudio realized his dream of studying in Santiago.”) Remember that “to realize,” when it means “to become aware of,” is expressed by darse cuenta (de).

Unit: 13: The Past Subjunctive Mood, Indirect and Informal Commands, Translation Considerations (Part 3)

13.1 The Neuter Article lo

Besides masculine and feminine, Spanish also has a neuter gender. You have already seen examples of this in the demonstrative pronouns, esto, eso and aquello, which refer to concepts, ideas, abstracts or nouns with no antecedent. While masculine nouns and pronouns often end in –o, the neuter gender always does.

The neuter definite article lo combines with the masculine singular form of the adjective to translate, for example, as “the good part,” “the bad thing,” etc.

Lo bueno es que ya no tienen que vivir en esa ciudad peligrosa. The good thing is that you no longer have to live in that dangerous city.
Lo malo es que no sabrás hablar el idioma. The bad part is that you won’t know how to speak the language.
Lo triste es que lo echo de menos tanto. The sad thing is that I miss him so much.
Los verbos fueron lo más difícil del examen. The verbs were the most difficult part of the exam.

Therefore, when you see lo followed by an adjective, add a word such as “thing,” “part,” or “aspect” to your translation.

Lo is also followed by past participles in the masculine singular form to translate as “what has been” + past participle:

Lo dicho es desafortunado. What has been said is unfortunate.
Lo perdido no se puede recuperar. What has been lost cannot be recovered.
Lo aprendido a menudo se olvida. What has been learned is often forgotten.

Lo also may be followed by any form of an adjective or adverb, plus que, to render the English “how” plus adjective or adverb:

No creerán lo bien que Asensio habla catalán. You (pl.)/They will not believe how well Asensio speaks Catalan.
Verás lo hermosas que son las playas puertorriqueñas. You will see how beautiful the Puerto Rican beaches are.

Before the verbs ser and estar, lo may appear as a predicate, seemingly a direct object (although these three verbs are intransitive and therefore do not admit, technically, direct objects). In these cases, lo is never translated literally and usually not at all.

-¿Están listos?

-Sí, lo estamos.

“Are you ready?”

“Yes, we are.”

-¿Tu padre es ingeniero?

-Sí, lo es.

“Is your father an engineer?”

“Yes, he is (one).”

With haber, any form of the direct object pronoun may appear, but it is not usually translated, or, if so, not literally:

-¿Hay impuestos?
-Sí, los hay.
“Are there taxes?”

“Yes, there are (some).”

-¿Había suficiente tiempo?

-No. no lo había.

“Was there enough time?”

“No, there wasn’t.”

-¿Hay decisiones que tomar?

-Sí, las hay.

“Are there decisions to make?”

“Yes, there are (some).”

Lo appears in certain idioms, some of which you have seen in this text:

a lo mejor maybe, perhaps, at best
lo más pronto posible as soon as possible
a lo lejos in the distance
por lo visto apparently, evidently
lo de menos the least of it

Also remember that the meaning of lo que at the beginning of a sentence or when it joins two clauses is “what” or “that which,” while lo cual or lo que, preceded by a comma, mean “which”:

Lo que debes hacer es aprender la gramática. What you should do is (to) learn the grammar.
El gerente nos dijo lo que queríamos oír. The manager told us what we wanted to hear.
Hay que entregar los trabajos mañana, lo cual (lo que) no será fácil para todos. It’s necessary to hand in the term papers tomorrow, which will not be easy for everyone.

¡Ojo! Spanish has a little-used neuter subject pronoun in the third person, ello. It refers to an idea concept, abstract, or an unknown object and has no grammatical antecedent: Ello es que no hay posibilidad de ganar. (“The fact is that there’s no possibility of winning.”)

Somewhat more common is the prepositional object ello, which refers to the same as the subject pronoun elloNo quisieron hablar más de ello. (“They refused to talk more about it.”)

Vocabulario básico 


plantear- to pose (a question), to present


Cayo Hueso- Key West
la residencia (estudiantil)- (student) dormitory, residence


culto- well-educated, cultivated


allá- there (far away)


pasarlo bien/mal- to have a good/bad time
tener en cuenta- to take into account, bear in mind

Unit: 13: The Past Subjunctive Mood, Indirect and Informal Commands, Translation Considerations (Part 3)

13.2 Word Order

Word order in Spanish is much more flexible than in English. It is possible to find the subject at the end of a sentence for stylistic or emphatic reasons; likewise the direct object may be found at the beginning of a sentence. Verbs can occur at the beginning, middle or end of a sentence. As in English, there exists the same flexibility for the placement of prepositional phrases almost anywhere within the sentence.

Regardless of the word order in Spanish, the essential meaning does not change except, occasionally, for subtle shifts in emphasis. Study the following, which are all renditions of the English, “The Aztecs practiced these sacrifices before the arrival of the Spaniards.”

  1. Los aztecas practicaban estos sacrificios antes de la llegada de los españoles.
  2. Estos sacrificios los practicaban los aztecas antes de la llegada de los españoles.
  3. Practicaban los aztecas estos sacrificios antes de la llegada de los españoles.
  4. Antes de la llegada de los españoles practicaban los aztecas estos sacrificios.
  5. Antes de la llegada de los españoles los aztecas practicaban estos sacrificios.
  6. Antes de la llegada de los españoles estos sacrificios los practicaban los aztecas.*

*In Spanish, whenever a direct object precedes the subject and verb (e.g., sacrificios in numbers 2 and 6), a redundant direct object pronoun (los in the same two sentences) must be placed before the verb and is not translated.

Keep in mind that normal word order is often changed in the following cases:

  • The subject usually follows the verb, and sometimes its noun objects, when the subject has lengthy modifiers:
Cruzan esta región cincuenta y dos ríos que descienden de los Andes y forman oasis en sus valles. Fifty-two rivers, which descend the Andes and form oases in its valleys, cross this region.
  • Words desired to emphasize are often placed at the beginning of the sentence:
A mi padre le pareció justa la opinión del comité, pero a mi hermano no. To my father the committee’s opinion seemed fair, but not to my brother.
  • In adverbial clauses at the beginning of a sentence, the subject often follows the verb:
Cuando vengan los médicos, necesitaremos su ayuda. When the doctors come, we will need your help.

Vocabulario básico 


arrebatar- to carry away, to snatch, to seize
ejercer- to exercise (influence; profession)
regir(i)- to rule


el desarrollo- development
la fuente- source, fountain

Unit: 13: The Past Subjunctive Mood, Indirect and Informal Commands, Translation Considerations (Part 3)

13.3 Indirect Commands

Indirect commands in Spanish are formed by que plus the present subjunctive. “Let,” “have,” “may” or “I hope” are the words normally used to translate such commands into English.

Que llegues seguro. May you arrive safely. (I hope you arrive…)
Que me digan la verdad ahora. Have (Let) them tell me the truth now.
Que lo escriba la profesora. Let (Have) the teacher write it.
¡Que lo hagan ellos! Let (Have) them do it!
¡Que se lo diga yo! Let me tell it to them!

Frequently you find the order of subject and the verb, if the former is expressed, inverted after the que (as in the last three examples.)

The above construction does not occur in the first person plural. (See section 14.2.)

Before the que there is always something understood such as “I hope” or “I want.” Although it may seem to appear that way, the subjunctives in indirect commands are technically not in main clauses.

Occasional indirect commands occur without the que in fixed phrases.

¡Viva Colombia! Long live Colombia!
Alabado sea Dios. (May) God be praised.


Unit: 13: The Past Subjunctive Mood, Indirect and Informal Commands, Translation Considerations (Part 3)

13.4 The Imperfect Subjunctive

The imperfect ([simple] past) subjunctive in Spanish is formed from the third person plural of the preterite tense (caminaron, comieron, hicieron, etc.), cutting off the –aron or –ieron, and adding one of two different sets of endings. The endings are the same for regular and irregular verbs, though technically no verb is irregular in this tense, as all verbs form this tense in the same manner, whether using an irregular or regular stem.

caminar comer hacer
yo caminara comiera hiciera
caminaras comieras hicieras
él, Ella, Ud. caminara comiera hiciera
Nosotros camináramos comiéramos hiciéramos
Vosotros caminarais comierais hicierais
ellos, ellas, Uds. caminaran comieran hicieran


caminar comer hacer
yo caminase comiese hiciese
caminases comieses hicieses
él, Ella, Ud. caminase comiese hiciese
Nosotros caminásemos comiésemos hiciésemos
Vosotros caminaseis comieseis hicieseis
ellos, ellas, Uds. caminasen comiesen hiciesen

The endings in –ase and -iese are more prevalent in Spain, but both forms of the imperfect subjunctive are heard and written in both Spain and Latin America. If you have learned the preterite well, especially that or irregular verbs, the imperfect subjunctive should be easy to recognize.

¡Ojo! The accent mark on the second and third persons singular as well as on the third person plural form of all regular –ar verbs is the only distinguishing feature between the future tense and the imperfect subjunctive:

  • caminarás (future), caminaras (imperfect subjunctive)
  • caminará (future), caminara (imperfect subjunctive)
  • caminarán (future), caminaran (imperfect subjunctive)

The following verbs, like hacer, have irregular preterites, which are the basis for the imperfect subjunctive, listed below in the first person singular (identical in form to the third person singular):

andar anduviera, anduviese
caber cupiera, cupiese
dar diera, diese
decir dijera, dijese
estar estuviera, estuviese
haber hubiera, hubiese
hacer hiciera, hiciese
ir fuera, fuese*
poder pudiera, pudiese
poner pusiera, pusiese
querer quisiera, quisiese
saber supiera, supiese
ser fuera, fuese*
tener tuviera, tuviese
traducir tradujera, tradujese
traer trajera, trajese
venir viniera, viniese

*Note again that, as the preterite forms of ir and ser are identical, so are the forms of the imperfect subjunctive. Context clarifies which is the verb in question.

The imperfect subjunctive is used in the same cases in which the present subjunctive appears, with the difference that the action of the subordinate (subjunctive) clause is normally in the past. The verb in the main clause is usually also in a past tense (preterite, imperfect, or conditional).

Quería que lo trajeras. I wanted you to bring it.
Era buena idea que Débora viniera. It was a good idea for Deborah to come.
Sería preferible que él no dijese eso. It would be preferable that he not say that.
Esperaban que pudiera asistir. They hoped I could attend.

As the present subjunctive at times may be translated as “may” + main verb, the imperfect subjunctive may at times be translated as “might” (technically, the past tense of “may”) + main verb:

Esperaba que lo hiciese. I hoped she might do it.

The above example could also be translated as “I hoped she would do it.” Both are equally correct, although the first translation emphasizes doubt. As with the present subjunctive, note in the above examples that there is no pattern for translating all imperfect subjunctives.

With three verbs, querer, poder and deber, one may find the imperfect subjunctive in the main clause to render a polite or “softening” effect. This is especially common with the verb querer:

¿Quisiera ayudarme? Would you please help me?
Debieras hacerlo. You really ought to do it.
¿Pudieras traerlo? Could you please bring it?

Although the above is the norm, other combinations of verb tenses are encountered. For example, a present tense verb in the main clause may be followed by a past subjunctive.

Esperan que tuviéramos éxito. They hope we were successful.

Inversely, a present subjunctive may appear after a main verb in a past tense or the conditional when the action of the subordinate clause clearly refers to a present or future moment.

Nos gustaría que vengas ahora. We would like you to come now.

The imperfect (or past perfect [see section 15.1.]) subjunctive is also found in a pseudo-main clause (i.e., when the main clause is not present, but rather understood, leaving what was the original subordinate clause now as the only one) to indicate a contrary-to-fact situation, an unlikely action or a regret, depending on the tense employed:

¡Ojalá cantara como ella! If only (He wished) he could sing like her.*

Quién + imperfect or past perfect subjunctive also refers to the wishes of the speaker, expressing improbability or regret:

¡Quién pudiera viajar a Nueva Zelanda! If only I could travel to New Zealand!
¡Quién lo hubiéramos ganado! ** If only we had won it!

*The present subjunctive, as you have seen, may also follow ojalá, and indicates a desire that still may be carried out: Ojalá nos digan los resultados hoy. (“I hope they tell us the results today.”)

** See Past Perfect (Pluperfect) Subjunctive, section 15.1.

Vocabulario básico 


aparecer- to appear, to show up
disculpar(se)- to excuse, pardon (oneself)


el ajedrez- chess
la anchura- width
el/la biólogo- biologist
el comienzo- beginning
la desigualdad- inequality
la igualdad- equality
la juventud- youth, childhood
la meta- goal
el prejuicio- prejudice


plano- flat


abrirse paso- to make one’s way

Unit: 13: The Past Subjunctive Mood, Indirect and Informal Commands, Translation Considerations (Part 3)

13.5 Contrary-to-Fact Sentences

The imperfect subjunctive is regularly used in “if” clauses that combine with a main clause that takes a verb in the conditional tense to form contrary-to-fact sentences. These are sentences in which the stated action is clearly untrue or it is unlikely to occur.

Si me mudara allá, me moriría del calor. If I moved (were to move) there, I’d die from the heat.
Si yo fuera tú, trataría de aprobar el examen ya. If I were you, I’d try to pass the exam now.

The order of the clauses may be switched with no change in meaning:

Debido a la humedad, abandonaríamos la costa si fuera verano. Due to the humidity we would leave the coast if it were summer.

After the expression como si (“as if”), which inherently denotes a contrary-to-fact situation or state, the imperfect subjunctive (or past perfect subjunctive [see section 15.1.]) must be used:

Se comporta como si fuese (fuera) príncipe. He acts (behaves) as if he were a prince.
Habla como si supiera (supiese) todo, pero sabe bastante poco. She speaks as if she knew everything, but she knows fairly little.

Vocabulario básico 


abarcar- to encompass, to span, to include
bostezar- to yawn
delatar- to denounce, to inform on
desenterrar (ie)- to exhume, to disinter
desistir- to give up, to desist
disparar- to shoot
matar- to kill


el escaño- seat (elected office)
el/la mozo/-a- boy/girl; waiter/waitress; servant
la pena de muerte- death penalty, capital punishment
el pleito- lawsuit


darse por vencido- to give up
ir a parar- to end up (in a place)
matar a tiros- to shoot to death

Unit: 13: The Past Subjunctive Mood, Indirect and Informal Commands, Translation Considerations (Part 3)

13.6 Mandar and Hacer in Causative Constructions

The verbs mandar and hacer are used with an infinitive or a subjunctive clause to express the notion of having something done, or having someone do something. Mandar, in one of its common meanings (“to order”), is the somewhat stronger of the two verbs, but they are otherwise translated synonymously when used in this construction. Whenever you see either verb followed by an infinitive, be aware that the meaning is likely causative (called such as one is causing something to happen.)

Using both verbs as well as both an infinitive and a subjunctive clause, here are the most common possible ways in which to translate the sentence “They had (made [ordered]) Armando (to) come”:

Mandaron venir a Armando. Hicieron venir a Armando.
Mandaron que Armando viniera (viniese). Hicieron que Armando viniera (viniese).

Study these further examples:

Les hice pintar las paredes de las sala. I had them paint the living room walls.
Haremos que Regina venga mañana. We’ll have Regina come tomorrow.
Mandó podar los arbustos. She had the bushes pruned.

Vocabulario básico


esforzarse (ue) (en)- to make an effort (to)
obstinarse (en)- to persist (in)
podar- to prune, to cut
suspender- to fail (academically) (false friend)


el arbusto- shrub
la cerradura- lock (as in cerrar, “to close”)

Unit: 13: The Past Subjunctive Mood, Indirect and Informal Commands, Translation Considerations (Part 3)

13.7 The Negative Meaning of sin and poco

Although sin and poco are not negatives per se, these words routinely subvert positive meaning. Poco, used before an adjective, causes it to mean the opposite, with the translation of “(very) little + adjective” or with the prefix “un-” or “in-.” Sin + infinitive usually translates as an adjective preceded by one of the same two prefixes.

Ese asunto ha sido muy poco estudiado. That matter has been studied very little (very little studied).
La lluvia es muy poco frecuente en el Desierto Atacama en Chile. Rain is very infrequent in the Atacama Desert in Chile.
La cuestión de construir el puente está todavía sin resolver. The issue of building the bridge is still unresolved.
¿Es verdad que las obras completas de Clarice Lispector* quedan sin coleccionar? Is it true that Clarice Lispector’s complete works remain uncollected?

*Brazilian novelist and short story writer (1920-1977).

When poco is preceded by un, it translates as “a little” and the negative meaning is absent.

Este puente es un poco estrecho. This bridge is a little narrow.

Vocabulario básico 


el tomo- volume, tome


angosto- narrow
estrecho- narrow


tras- after


puede ser- it may be, maybe
que yo sepa- as far as I know

Unit: 14: Future and Conditional Perfect Tenses, Translation Considerations (Part 4)

14.1 Future Perfect Tense and the Future Perfect of Probability

The future perfect tense is formed by the irregular future of the auxiliary verb haber plus the past participle:

hacer traducción
yo habré hecho I will have done
habrás hecho you (fam.) will have done
él, Ella, Ud. habrá hecho he, she, you (form.) will have done
Nosotros habremos hecho we will have done
Vosotros habréis hecho you (fam. pl.) will have done
ellos, ellas, Uds. habrán hecho they, you (form. pl. [fam. pl. in L.A.]) will have done

The future perfect tense is used largely as it is in English, that is, to express an action that will have been completed or finished by some future point in time.

Para octubre se habrán casado. They will have gotten married by October.
Con suerte, Leopoldo se habrá hecho abogado en dos años. With luck, Leopoldo will have become a lawyer in two years.

Just as the future tense is used to express probability or conjecture in the present moment, the future perfect is used to express the same in the future perfect time frame. Study the following:

  • future tense + probability = present meaning
  • future perfect tense + probability = present perfect meaning

Again, note the possibilities of translation:

¿Dónde habrá estado Juan? Where could Juan have been?

Where do you think Juan has been?

I wonder where Juan has been?

At times the insertion of the word “probably” also suffices to translate the concept: “Where has Juan probably (likely) been?”

Conceivably ambiguous examples of the “true” future perfect versus the future perfect of probability exist, but meaning should be clarified in context:

Hace dos días que no veo a Gloria.

¿Dónde habrá estado?

I haven’t seen Gloria for two days.

Where could she have been?

Where do you think she has been?

I wonder where she has been

Jenaro todavía no ha vuelto. Jenaro still hasn’t returned.
Habrá estado esperando algo. He must have been waiting for something.

Note that English also occasionally uses the same tense to express the same phenomenon, e.g., “Will the others have noticed?,” the meaning of which is the same as “Do you think the others have noticed?”

Vocabulario básico 


el alambre (de púa)- barbed wire
la enmienda- amendment
el rincón- corner (inside)
la votación- voting, balloting


dicho- said, above-mentioned
leal- loyal
real- royal; real
susodicho- above-mentioned


por consiguiente- therefore, for that reason, that’s why
por lo tanto- therefore, for that reason, that’s why
tocar/llamar a la puerta- to knock at/on the door

Unit: 14: Future and Conditional Perfect Tenses, Translation Considerations (Part 4)

14.2 First Person Plural Commands

The affirmative command for nosotros/as (first person plural) is expressed most commonly by vamos + infinitive, or less commonly by the present subjunctive. When negative, the nosotros command, like all others, employs the present subjunctive.

The nosotros affirmative command of ir is irregular and is simply vamos.

Affirmative commands:

Vamos a salir esta noche.
Salgamos esta noche.
Let’s go out tonight.
Vamos a alquilar una película.
Alquilemos una película.
Let’s rent a film (movie).
Vamos a la lectura de poesía. Let’s go to the poetry reading.
(We’re going to the poetry reading. [See last example below to contrast the two sentences.])

Negative commands:

No salgamos esta noche. Let’s not go out tonight.
No alquilemos una película. Let’s not rent a film.
No vayamos a la lectura de poesía. Let’s not go to the poetry reading.

In some cases, such as Alquilemos una película, it becomes important to know the infinitive ending in order to distinguish between the present indicative (alquilamos [“we rent/are renting”]) and the command (alquilemos [“let’s rent”]).

Affirmative commands with vamos a + infinitive may be ambiguous out of context:

Vamos a hacerlo. Let’s do it.
We’re going to do it.

Vocabulario básico 


apresurarse- to hurry (up)
apuntar- to point, to point at, to point out, to indicate
rechazar- to reject, to turn down


la oferta- offer


inaguantable- intolerable, unbearable


apenas- hardly, barely
atrás- back

Unit: 14: Future and Conditional Perfect Tenses, Translation Considerations (Part 4)

14.3 Second Person Singular Commands

The affirmative tú commands are the same as the Ud. form of the present tense. The negative tú commands (like all other negative commands) are formed with the present subjunctive. Object pronouns, as always, are attached to affirmative commands, thus making them easier to recognize:

Tú command with object pronoun attached:

Escríbele. Write to him.

Third person singular with object pronoun:

Le escribe. He (She, You [form.] write/s to him.

In negative tú commands, as with all others, object pronouns are not attached to verb forms. In these cases, it is more important to know if a verb is of the –ar versus the –er or –ir type so that you recognize the opposite vowel used in the subjunctive that forms the negative commands.

No le escribas. Don’t write to him.
No le escribe. He (She, You [form.] doesn’t write to him.
No le escribes. You (fam.) don’t write to him.
No me contestes. Don’t answer me.
No me contesta. He (She, You [form.] is/are not answering me.
No me contestas. You (fam.) are not answering me.

There are eight common irregular affirmative tú commands that need to be recognized:

decir di say, tell
hacer haz do, make
ir ve go
poner pon put
ser be
salir sal leave, go out
tener ten have
venir ven come

The negative of these commands takes the subjunctive (No digas, No hagas, etc.)

Coincidentally, you have seen five of these forms in quite different circumstances. Di is also the first person preterite of dar; ve is also the third person singular present tense of ver; sé is also the first person present tense of saber;and ven is the third person plural present tense of ver. (Additionally, sal is also the feminine noun that means “salt.”)

When these words are in context, however, there should never be any ambiguity. Compare:

Di la verdad. Tell the truth.
Di un regalo. I gave a gift
Sé bueno. Be good.
Sé la respuesta. I know the answer.
Ve a casa. Go home.
Ve la casa. She sees the house.
Ven a casa. Come home.
Ven la casa. They see the house.
Sal de aquí. Get out of here. (Leave here.)
Pásame la sal, por favor. Please pass me the salt.

Vocabulario básico 


disfrutar (de)- to enjoy, to have a good time

Unit: 14: Future and Conditional Perfect Tenses, Translation Considerations (Part 4)

14.4 Augmentatives and Diminutives

Augmentative and diminutive endings are frequently attached especially to nouns, as well as to other parts of speech, and make them undergo a sometimes subtle, sometimes major shift in meaning. They occur with extremely high frequency, especially in the spoken language, and the exact meaning is often very hard to detect by non-native speakers, as their usage may be extremely subjective.

There are exceptions to many things that can be written about diminutives and augmentatives and the following remarks should be taken only as general guidelines.
The most common diminutive endings are -ito (-eto), –illo (-cillo, ecillo),  –ico, –ín, –chón, –uelo, and their variants, especially of –ito (-cito, –ecito), depending on the ending of the noun. The preferred diminutive endings and frequency of usage vary substantially among the different Spanish-speaking countries and areas of the world. While the Spanish of Spain tends to limit these suffixes to nouns, in Latin America they also appear commonly with adjectives and other parts of speech, e.g., ahora = “now,” ahorita = “right now.” (In Spain, “right now” is expressed with the intensifier mismo: ahora mismo.)

While the exact sense of diminutives and augmentatives is often very hard to translate exactly, what is important to know is the following: diminutives usually connote smallness, affection, a warm or emotional tone, emphasis or a combination thereof. (These often correspond to the French ending –ette, which has been incorporated into some English words to indicate smallness.) See the examples below and their translations:

Juan John
Juanito Jonny
niña (female) child, girl
niñita nice and/or little girl
joven young woman
jovencita young girl
poco little
poquito very little
novela novel
novelita novelette, novella

Other diminutives and augmentatives have become standardized in the language. While an idea of smallness or largeness may be present, there is no emotional or subjective connotation present:

caja box
cajón drawer
rata rat
ratón mouse
bolso purse, handbag
bolsillo pocket
camión truck
camioneta pick-up truck, station wagon
cigarro cigar
cigarrillo cigarette
camisa shirt
camiseta T-shirt
pan (loaf of) bread
panecillo roll
calle street
callejuela alley
zapatos shoes
zapatillas slippers
palabra word
palabrota obscenity, swear word
casa house
caserón mansion, large or broken-down house

In the first two examples and the last one, the word in the augmentative may undergo a change in gender, for example: caja (fem.) and cajón (masc.).

The most common augmentative endings are –ón, –ote, –azo and –udo. The exact shade of meaning conveyed by augmentatives may be even more difficult to detect. What is important to know is that in general augmentatives may carry connotations of largeness, intensity, negativity or a combination thereof, often with some sort of a pejorative idea. Study these examples and their translations:

hombre man
hombrón large man
mujer woman
mujerona large woman
mujerzuela uncouth woman
pelo hair
pelón (adj.) balding, hairless
peludo (adj.) very hairy, big and hairy

Occasionally, the –azo suffix may imply admiration:

bigote mustache
bigotazo great big (impressive) mustache

More often the –azo suffix denotes a thrust or a blow:

puño fist
puñetazo punch
flecha arrow
flechazo arrow wound

Some augmentative endings are almost always blatantly pejorative. These include: –aco, –acho, –ajo, –astro, –uco and –ucho.

Mi hermano se cree poeta, pero en realidad es un poetastro. My brother thinks he’s a poet but in reality he’s a third-rate poet..

One also finds occasional “diminutive” verbs, which carry an –it, –iz or –e suffix before the infinitive ending:

marchar to go away
marchitarse to wither, to wilt
dormir to sleep
dormitar to snooze
lagrimar to cry, to weep
lagrimear to tear up, to begin to cry
llover to rain
lloviznar to drizzle

Proceed with caution when you come across an augmentative or diminutive. If the meaning does not seem logical, indeed it may not be. Consulting a good dictionary and/or thoroughly studying the context will often clarify any doubts.

Unit: 14: Future and Conditional Perfect Tenses, Translation Considerations (Part 4)

14.5 Conditional Perfect Tense and Conditional Perfect of Probability

The conditional perfect tense is formed by the conditional tense of the auxiliary verb haber and the past participle:

traer traducción
yo habría traído I would have brought
habrías traído you (fam.) would have brought
él, Ella, Ud. habría traído he, she, you (form.) would have brought
Nosotros habríamos traído we would have brought
Vosotros habríais traído you (fam. pl.) would have brought
ellos, ellas, Uds. habrían traído they, you (form. pl. [fam. pl. in L.A.] would have brought

The conditional perfect tense is used largely as it is in English. It indicates what someone would or would not have done in a past moment. See the following examples in context:

Yo no habría hecho aquello. I wouldn’t have done that.
Conrado no habría dicho eso. Conrado wouldn’t have said that.

As the conditional tense expresses probability or conjecture in the (simple) past moment, so does the conditional perfect tense express probability in the past perfect moment. You should pay special attention to this non-systemic use of the four tenses used to express probability and to avoid confusion among them, as well as with the literal (systemic) meaning of the tenses. In the compound tenses, the meaning is “perfected” or compounded from the simple (one-word) tense. Study the following chart to see the parallels:

Tense + Probability = Meaning (Time Frame)
future present
future perfect present perfect
conditional (simple) past
conditional perfect past perfect

See all four tenses below and note their translations:
Future of Probability

¿Quién será? Who do you think it is?

Conditional of Probability

¿Quién sería? Who do (did) you think it was?

Future Perfect of Probability

¿Quién habrá sido? Who do you think it has been?

Conditional Perfect of Probability

¿Quién habría sido? Who did you think it had been?

See also the four compound indicative tenses that you have studied and their basic meanings (not those of probability), to be sure that you can distinguish between them:

he visto I have seen
había visto I had seen
habré visto I will have seen
habría visto I would have seen

Vocabulario básico


burlarse (de)- to make fun (of)
exigir- to demand
mojarse- to get wet
saludar- to greet
soportar- to tolerate, to put up with (false friend)
urgir- to be urgent


la creencia- belief
la moneda- coin; currency (false friend)
el paraguas- umbrella


contrariado- upset
exigente- demanding
necio- foolish
soberbio- haughty
terco- stubborn


últimamente- recently (false friend)

Unit: 14: Future and Conditional Perfect Tenses, Translation Considerations (Part 4)

14.6 Frequent Noun Endings

The ending –ero/a tends to indicate a profession or trade related to the root of the noun, as in banquero (“banker”). Other less common suffixes that express the same meaning are –ín, as in bailarín (“dancer”); –ario as in veterinario (“veterinarian”); –ista, as in modista (“seamstress,” “dressmaker”); and –dor as in contador (“accountant”).

Noun endings in –ista generally only have one singular form. The gender of the person is seen in the definite or indefinite article: el pianista = male pianist, la novelista = female novelist.

The ending –ería (or at times –era) often denotes a place of business, a particular kind of factory, or a profession or trade that comes from the root of the noun, as in ingeniería (“engineering”)

The suffix –ada usually indicates a quantity, as in cucharada (“spoonful”).

Vocabulario básico 


colgar (ue)- to hang

Profesiones y oficios (trades):

el/la bailarín/ina- dancer, ballerina
el/la bibliotecario/-a- librarian
el/la bomber/-a- firefighter
el/la cajero/-a- cashier
el/la camarero/-a- waiter, waitress, server
el/la carnicero/-a- butcher
el/la cartero/-a- letter carrier
el/la cocinero/a- cook
el/la contador/a- accountant
el/la costurero/a- tailor, seamstress
el/la enfermero/a- nurse
el/la fontanero/a- plumber
el/la modista- dressmaker, seamstress
el/la obrero/a- laborer, worker
el/la peluquero/a- hair stylist
el/la periodista- journalist
el/la vendedor/-a- salesperson


la carnicería- butcher shop
la mueblería- furniture store/ furniture factory
la papelería- stationery store
la zapatería- shoe store

Otros sustantivos:

el ademán- gesture
la biblioteca- library
la bomba- bomb; pump
la caja- box; caja registradora- cash register
el incendio- fire (cognate: incendiary)
el oficio- trade (job)
la salchicha- sausage


grosero- rude, vulgar, coarse, discourteous

Unit: 15: The Past Perfect Subjunctive, Relative Pronouns, Word Families, The Passive Voice

15.1 Past Perfect (Pluperfect) Subjunctive

The past perfect (pluperfect) subjunctive is formed by the imperfect subjunctive of haber (the –ra or the –se form) + past participle:

escribir traducción
yo hubiera/hubiese escrito (if, that) I had written
hubieras/hubieses escrito (if, that) you (fam. s.) had written
él, Ella, Ud. hubiera/hubiese escrito (if, that) he/she/you had written
Nosotros hubiéramos/hubiésemos escrito (if, that) we had written
Vosotros hubierais/hubieseis escrito (if, that) you (fam. pl.) had written
ellos, ellas, Uds. hubieran/hubiesen escrito (if, that) they/you ( [fam. pl. L.A.]) had written

The past perfect subjunctive is used when English employs the past perfect tense and when Spanish cues the subjunctive:

Era maravilloso que Josefina hubiera aprendido tantas lenguas tan bien. It was marvelous that Josefina had learned so many languages so well.
Dudábamos que hubieran tenido una coartada legítima. We doubted that they had had a legitimate alibi.

It is also used with “if” clauses in the past and combines with the conditional perfect (or, at times, the conditional) in the main clause:

¿Me lo habrías dicho si lo hubieras sabido? Would you have told me if you had known it?
Si hubieran comprado ese terreno, ahora serían ricos. If you/they had bought that land, now you/they would be rich.

Like the imperfect subjunctive, the past perfect subjunctive also occurs after como si (“as if”):

Habló como si hubiera entendido todo. She spoke as if she had understood everything.

Ojalá and Quién may also be followed by the past perfect subjunctive to express an impossible or improbable situation or a regret (see also section 13.5.):

Ojalá hubiera estado allí. If only (I wish) I had been there.
¡Quién hubiera tenido la suerte de Paco! I wish (If only) I had had Paco’s luck!

When the subject of both clauses is the same, the si + past perfect subjunctive is at times replaced by de haber + past participle:

Si hubiéramos sabido eso, no habríamos venido.

De haber sabido eso, no habríamos venido.

If we had known that, we would not have come.

See the four subjunctive tenses studied, for purposes of contrast:

Subjunctive Tense Spanish Traducción
present subjunctive trabaje (that) I (may) work
imperfect subjunctive trabajara/trabajase (that) I worked, might work
present perfect subjunctive haya trabajado (that) I have worked
past perfect subjunctive hubiera/hubiese trabajado (that) I had worked

Vocabulario básico 


tratar (de)- to deal with (a subject)


el anillo- ring
el bienestar- well-being
la coartada- alibi
el embarazo- pregnancy
el enchufe- plug, socket; job connection
Escocia- Scotland
el oro- golf
la plata- silver; money (colloquial, L.A.)


embarazada- pregnant (false friend)
oscuro- dark; obscure


en balde- in vain

Unit: 15: The Past Perfect Subjunctive, Relative Pronouns, Word Families, The Passive Voice

15.2 Imperfect and Past Perfect Subjunctives Used to Replace Conditional Tenses

It is not uncommon to see the –ra form of imperfect subjunctive take the place of the conditional tense in Spanish, nor especially to see the –ra form of the past perfect subjunctive replace the conditional perfect tense:

Me pareciera buena idea. (imperfect subjunctive)
Me parecería buena idea. (conditional tense)
It would seem to me a good idea.

When you see an imperfect subjunctive in a main clause, it is normally translated as the conditional tense. 

Although the two tenses look very similar, try to remember that the one that has endings added on to the infinitive is the conditional tense.

It is also common to see the –ra form of the past perfect subjunctive replace the conditional perfect in a main clause:

Lo hubiera hecho si hubiera tenido más tiempo.
Lo habría hecho si hubiera tenido más tiempo.
would have done it if I’d had more time.

Although in most cases it is necessary to distinguish between these two tenses, remember to translate a past perfect subjunctive in the main clause as a conditional perfect tense. 

Vocabulario básico 


prevalecer- to prevail
resonar(ue)- to resonate, to resound


el alfabetismo- literacy
la ciudadela- fortress
la etapa- stage
el nivel- level
la raíz- root
el respaldo- endorsement, backing, support
la tertulia- social gathering, get-together
el vaivén- fluctuation


útil- useful

Unit: 15: The Past Perfect Subjunctive, Relative Pronouns, Word Families, The Passive Voice

15.3 Relative Pronouns

You have already seen many relative pronouns, the most common of which are que (“that,” “which,” “who” [referring to objects or people]) and quien/-es (“who” [referring only to people]). There are, however, dual “long” forms of the relative pronouns that may replace both que and quien/-es, in the masculine singular and plural as well as in the feminine singular and plural, and which may refer either to objects or to people:

Masculine Feminine
Singular el que la que
plural los que las que


Masculine Feminine
Singular el cual la cual
plural los cuales las cuales

Rules exist that govern when “long” relative pronouns must be used (e.g., after “long” [two syllables or more] prepositions), but after “short” (usually monosyllabic) prepositions, there can be great flexibility. The “short” relative pronouns (que and quien/-es) are more succinct, while the longer ones may be used for stylistic effect, without altering the meaning:

La choza en que vivían fue destruida.
La choza en la que vivían fue destruida.
La choza en la cual vivían fue destruida.
The hut in which they lived was destroyed.

The long forms of the relative pronouns always agree in number and gender with the noun to which they refer. This is useful to know when there are two conceivable antecedents that are not the same in number and/or gender. In such cases the long form is necessary to specify to which antecedent it refers:

El esposo de la alcaldesa, el que (el cual) está viajando por el estado, regresará para asistir a la apertura. The mayor’s husband, who is traveling through the state, will return to attend the opening.

¡Ojo! Although the forms are identical, do not confuse the meaning of the relative pronoun el que and the forms of el que that mean “he who,” “the ones who,” “she who,” etc. (See section 10.4.) This should pose no problem in context: Ayudaremos a los que podamos (“We’ll help the ones we may be able to”); Los apartamentos en los que viven son muy amplios (“The apartments in which they live are very spacious”).

Be careful not to confuse the preposition hacia (no accent) (“toward”) with hacía.

Remember the neuter relative pronouns, lo que (“what,” “that which,” “which”) and lo cual (“which”).

Vocabulario básico 


agregar- to add (cognate: aggregate)
añadir- to add
comparecer- to appear (in court, by demand)
reanudar- to renew
vincular- to relate, to connect, to link


el/la alcalde/-esa- mayor
la denominación- designation, title
el estado libre asociado- commonwealth
la hembra- female
el/la heredero/-a- heir/(heiress)
el lazo- tie
varón- male
el vínculo- bond, tie, link


ante- before, in the face of
bajo- below, under


dar a luz- to give birth

Unit: 15: The Past Perfect Subjunctive, Relative Pronouns, Word Families, The Passive Voice

15.4 Verbs Formed from Adjectives

There are many Spanish verbs, often reflexive, the meaning of which can be deduced from an adjective (or recognizable form thereof) or, occasionally, a noun, contained within it. The adjective is usually formed by the prefix en– or em– and the suffix almost always ends in –ecer. The meaning is “to become (to get, to turn)” + adjective. A few adjectives take different prefixes or suffixes, but this should not generally be an impediment to their recognition.

Look at these verbs and try to deduce their meaning from the adjective or noun (or part thereof) contained within, highlighted in bold. Consult the vocabulary list for new adjectives. All answers are listed at the bottom of this page.
1. emblanquecerse
2. empobrecerse
3. enaltecerse
4. enfriarse
5. ennegrecerse
6. enloquecerse
7. enorgullecerse
8. enriquecerse
9. entristecerse

Try to do the same with these others, which begin with other prefixes:
10. adelgazar
11. amanecer
12. anochecer
13. atardecer
14. engordar
15. esclarecer
16. oscurecer

The general rule with the above verbs is that they are used reflexively when the meaning is “to become + adjective” but when used transitively (taking a direct object), they are not. In other words, by removing the reflexive pronoun, when present, most of the above verbs change meaning, for example, emblanquecer = “to make (something) white,” (versus emblanquecerse, “to become white”), enriquecer = “to make rich,” “to enrich” (versus enriquecerse, “to become/get rich”). Note the differing translations of the verbs in the sentences that follow.

La noticia del desastre me entristeció. The news of the disaster saddened me.
Me entristecí al oír las noticias. became sad upon hearing the news.
Lucio la enloquece. Lucio drives her crazy (nuts/mad).
Tania se enloquece haciendo ese trabajo. Tania is going crazy (nuts/mad) doing that work.

Many other adjectives and nouns add an –to make their corresponding verbal form. Again, recognizing the adjective root helps you identify the meaning of the verb:

cierto certain, true
acertar (ie) to be correct, to guess right, to hit upon
grave grave, serious
agravar to aggravate, to make worse
manso tame
amansar to tame
mueble piece of furniture
amueblar to furnish
puñal dagger
apuñalar to stab, to knife

Vocabulario básico


granjero/-a- farmer
sequía- drought


delgado- thin
duro- hard
flaco- thin, skinny
gordo- fat

Answers to activity above:

  1. to become white
  2. to become poor
  3. to praise/ to exalt [from alto]
  4. to grow/become cold
  5. to become/turn black
  6. to go crazy
  7. to feel proud, to be proud, to pride oneself
  8. to become rich
  9. to become sad
  10. to grow thin, to lose weight
  11. to dawn, to get up early, to wake up [in a certain place]
  12. to get dark, to stay up late
  13. to draw toward evening, to get late
  14. to grow fat
  15. to lighten, to make clear, to clarify
  16. to grow dark

Unit: 15: The Past Perfect Subjunctive, Relative Pronouns, Word Families, The Passive Voice

15.5 Word Families

In section 15.4, one sees how many adjectives and nouns can be made into verbs. It also stands true that many adjectives can be made into nouns. The common suffixes attached to adjectives are –ura and –ez (or –eza). These suffixes tend to refer to abstract ideas and correspond to English endings such as “-ness,” “-ship,” or “-ity”:

blanco white
blancuzco whitish
blancura whiteness
emblanquecerse to become white

Other adjective-to-noun examples include:

loco crazy
locura craziness
viejo old
vejez old age, oldness

Many of the nouns ending in –ura have masculine variants ending in –or (amargorblancorverdor), which are less common and essentially synonymous, though some parts of the Spanish-speaking world differentiate between the two, using the –ura form for the figurative and the –or form for the literal. Context should make it clear which one is indicated.

Vocabulario básico 


transcurrir- to happen, to take place


la amargura- bitterness
la dulzura- sweetness
la flaqueza- thinness, weakness
la gordura- fatness; fat, grease
la niñez- childhood
la pureza- purity
la sencillez- simplicity
la ternura- tenderness
la tristeza- sadness
la verdura- greenness; vegetable


amargo- bitter
ameno- pleasant, agreeable
dulce- sweet

Unit: 15: The Past Perfect Subjunctive, Relative Pronouns, Word Families, The Passive Voice

15.6 The Passive Voice

You have already seen the passive voice in Spanish in this text. It does not present particular comprehension problems as it corresponds well to the English passive voice. As the impersonal se often replaces it, its use is much less frequent, especially when compared to English. Nonetheless, the passive voice in Spanish is becoming more popular, especially in Latin America. Its formation is as follows:

subject + form of ser + past participle + por + agent (of action)

El hotel     fue                dañado             por     el tornado.
The hotel  was               damaged          by      the tornado.

The past participle agrees in number and gender with the noun, as it now functions as an adjective:

Los problemas fueron estudiados por el comité. The problems were studied by the committee.

The passive voice, although it frequently appears in the preterite, may occur in any tense:

La inocente había sido encarcelada por la policía. The innocent woman had been imprisoned by the police.
Esta cuestión ha sido analizada por muchos economistas This issue has been analyzed by many economists.
Serán casados por el rabino mañana. They will be married by the rabbi tomorrow.

Although the use of the passive voice implies the existence of the agent, at times it is not expressed, but rather understood.

Fui despedido de mi trabajo. I was fired from my job. (by someone known, or not important to mention)

There is a tendency with a small number of verbs to replace the preposition por with de in the passive voice. This does not alter the meaning:

La científica era admirada de todos. The scientist was admired by all.
El gerente fue acompañado de dos asistentes. The manager was accompanied by two assistants.

The preposition de is also seen in “resultant state” conditions expressed with estar. Note the differing translations. This should cause little or no comprehension problem; whenever the de does not translate well literally, simply use “by” or the most logical preposition:

Las calles estaban cubiertas de nieve. The streets were covered with snow.
La casa estaba rodeada de árboles altos. The house was surrounded by tall trees.

Occasionally one sees what may be called the “estar passive” (passive voice using estar). An example is: Los dos países están gobernados por presidentes izquierdistas (“Both countries are governed by leftist presidents.”) Such infrequent examples should not present comprehension difficulties.

Vocabulario básico 


someter- to subdue


la cumbre- summit, high point
la sor- religious sister (used before name of a nun)

Unit: 16: Translation Considerations (Part 5)

16.1 Distinctions among Similar Prepositions and Compound Prepositions

You have likely noticed that various Spanish prepositions may translate into the same English preposition, though you should be aware that there are subtle distinctions in meaning. Often one preposition has a literal meaning, while a shortened form of the same preposition takes on a figurative one.

This is the case of antes de versus ante. Antes de means “before” in the temporal sense, while ante does in the figurative sense and translates as “before,” as in “facing,” or “in the face of”:

Antes de salir, cierra todas las puertas con llave. Before leaving, lock all the doors.
Tuvo que comparecer ante el tribunal. He had to appear before the court.
Ante tal dilema, no sabía qué hacer. In the face of such a dilemma, I/he/she didn’t know what to do.

The same is true of debajo de versus bajo. The meaning of the former refers to physical position, while the latter has figurative meaning:

Encontrará el testamento debajo de estos papeles. You will find the will under (underneath) these papers.
Vivió muchos años bajo la tiranía. She lived under the tyranny for many years.

An occasional synonym of después de is tras (derived from detrás de, “behind”), though tras usually translates more smoothly as “after” than it does as “behind”:

Después del accidente, salió ileso. Tras el accidente, salió ileso.
After the accident, he left unhurt.

Tras, however, is usually slightly more figurative and is often used in expressions such as días tras día, año tras año, etc.

Siguen siguiendo su rutina, año tras año. They keep on following their routine, year after year.

When used with the verb irtras usually means “to go after” (“to follow”):

Van tras los que han ocasionado el daño. They’re going after those who have caused the damage.

Remember the various meanings of hasta: “until,” “up to,” “as far as,” and “even” (an adverb). Context should clarify the meaning.

No se fue hasta las tres. She didn’t leave until 3:00.
Fui hasta la calle. I went up to (as far as) the street.
Hasta la psiquiatra no la sabía. Even the psychiatrist didn’t know it.

Also remember to distinguish cerca de from acerca de:

Se sentaron cerca de ti. They sat down near you.
¿Qué sabes acerca de la pintura española? What do you know about Spanish painting?

Some prepositions, such as por and de, combine with other prepositions. The meaning is not changed significantly, if at all. As you will see below, some combinations of prepositions often occur to describe a more precise physical placement (first example); at times not all the prepositions can be translated (second example); or are used with verbs of motion (last example). Notice in the first example the multiple prepositions used in English.

Lo saqué por debajo del asiento. I took it out from underneath the seat.
Lo vimos por entre los pinos. We saw him among the pine trees.
Pasan por encima del puente. They’re passing over the bridge.

The particular combination of para con refers to an attitude toward or treatment of a person:

Su comportamiento para con sus padres nos asombró. Their behavior toward their parents astonished us.

Vocabulario básico


extrañarse (de)- to be surprised (by), to be in wonder (of), to be puzzled (by)
fugarse- to flee, to escape
ocasionar- to cause
sembrar (ie)- to sow, to seed, to plant
suscitar- to provoke


el bastón- cane
la finca- farm
el prado- meadow, field
el proceso- trial, process
la servidumbre- servitude
el testamento- will
el tribunal- court, tribunal
el trozo- fragment, part


antipático- unpleasant, disagreeable
decimonónico- nineteenth-century
ileso- unhurt
vetusto- very old
por aquí- through, around here


cerrar con llave- to lock

Unit: 16: Translation Considerations (Part 5)

16.2 Compound Adverbs

Some adverbs in Spanish take compound forms, whether or not they are formed by one or two words in English. While you may be able to deduce the meaning of these in context, some are less obvious than others. Among the most common ones are:

al revés upside-down
al revés (de dentro para fuera) inside out
allá abajo way down below
allá arriba way up above
allí arriba up there
aquí abajo down here
aquí arriba up here
calle abajo down the street
calle arriba up the street
cuesta abajo down (the) hill
cuesta arriba up (the) hill
hacia aquí this way (toward here)
hacia atrás backward
hacia delante forward
para adelante forward
poco a poco little by little

Other adverbial phrases may be formed by plus the feminine plural form of an adjective, present participle or past participle. Among the most common are:

a ciegas blindly
a escondidas secretly, on the sly
a gatas on all fours
a hurtadillas stealthily
a oscuras in the dark
a sabiendas knowingly, wittingly, consciously
a solas alone

Vocabulario básico 


agradecer- to thank, to be thankful/grateful for
demostrar (ue)- to demonstrate, to show, to prove
grabar- to tape


el resultado- result


distinto- different, distinct

Unit: 16: Translation Considerations (Part 5)

16.3 Adjectives and Nouns Ending in -ante, -ente, and -iente

Spanish uses the suffixes –ante (from –ar verbs) and –ente or –iente (from –er and –ir verbs) to form a number of adjectives and some nouns. This is unlike English, in which present participles may be used as adjectives (e.g., “running water,” “sparkling wine”).*

Es un libro muy edificante sobre Antonio Machado.** It’s a very edifying book about Antonio Machado.
A la casa le falta agua corriente todavía. The house still lacks running water.

Some forms in –ante, -ente and -iente may serve both as nouns and adjectives:

Chema es el amante de Victoria. Chema is Victoria’s lover.
Volvió a su amante esposa. He returned to his loving wife.
Los habitantes de Belice no son hispanohablantes. The inhabitants of Belize are not Spanish speakers. (noun)

The inhabitants of Belize are not Spanish-speaking. (adjective)

As you have seen, many common and easily recognizable nouns have these same endings: el/la estudiante, el habitante, el residente, el presidente, etc.

*These are two exceptions to this rule: hirviendo (“boiling”) and ardiendo (“burning”). When used as adjectives, they appear only after the noun and are invariable in form. If you recognize the infinitive from which they come, there should be no comprehension problem.

**Spanish poet, 1875-1939.

Vocabulario básico 


el/la dramaturgo/a- playwright
el/la natural- native (false friend)


ardiente- burning
corriente- running; standard, regular, commonplace; current, present

Unit: 16: Translation Considerations (Part 5)

16.4 More about the Impersonal se

When the object of an active sentence is a person and the impersonal se construction is used, the personal precedes what is the subject in English:

Se despidió a Blanca. Blanca was fired.
Se robó a los turistas. The tourists were robbed.
Se mató al asesino. The murderer was killed.

Note that in the above construction the verbs are always in the singular, as opposed to those with non-human subjects, in which the verb is singular or plural, according to the subject and in which the verb usually precedes the subject:

Se vendieron las llantas. The tires were sold.
Se habla albanés allí. Albanian is spoken there.
Varios dialectos se oyen. Various dialects are heard.

In the first group of examples, the a -always grammatically necessary- helps avoid ambiguity. Without the a, the first example could mean “Blanca said good-bye” (despedir = to fire, to dismiss, despedirse de = to say good-bye to).

In a passive sentence in Spanish, the indirect object of the active sentences cannot be the subject. See the examples below:

Active sentence in English: Active sentence in Spanish: Passive sentence in English: Equivalent of Passive Sentence in Spanish:
They gave me a gift. Me dieron un regalo. I was given a gift* Se me dio un regalo.

As you never see the literal translation of the English in correct Spanish [the me of the active sentence cannot be the subject –yo– of the passive sentence], Spanish inserts an indirect object pronoun after the se to come up with the equivalent of the passive sentence in English.

*The other passive sentence in English, “A gift was given to me,” could be expressed by the passive voice with an indirect object pronoun: Un regalo me fue dado. 

Study these further examples and their translations:

Se le dijo la verdad por fin. She was finally told the truth.
Se nos contará lo que pasó. We will be told what happened.
Se les preguntó si querían ir. They were asked if they wanted to go.

The same construction is also used when the direct object of the active sentence in English is the subject of the passive sentence.

Active sentence in English: Active sentence in Spanish: Passive sentence in English: Equivalent of Passive Sentence in Spanish:
They will punish him. Lo castigarán. He will be punished. Se le castigará.

See these similar examples and their translations:

Se le verá brevemente en la película. He will be seen briefly in the film.
Se la oirá cantar. She will be heard singing.
Se les recompensará. They will be remunerated.
Se las llevará al baile en limusina. They (female group) will be taken to the dance in a limousine.

With this particular construction, the combination se lo or se los does not occur.

Vocabulario básico 


elogiar- to praise


la impresora- printer
la informática- computer science
el mensaje- message
la pantalla- screen
el teclado- keyboard


fronterizo- border, frontier


navegar la red- to surf the net
trabajar en red- to work online

Unit: 16: Translation Considerations (Part 5)

16.5 Compound Participles, Compound Infinitives and Absolute Constructions

Compound (or perfect) participles are composed of the present participle of the auxiliary verb haber + past participle. Note that the object pronoun is attached to the form of haber. 

habiendo cantado having sung
habiéndolo dicho having said it

Compound (or perfect) infinitives are composed of the infinitive of the auxiliary verb haber + the past participle:

haber puesto having put
haber marchado having left

The use of the compound past participle corresponds well to English:

Habiendo terminado el examen, sintió gran alivio. Having finished the exam, he/she felt great relief.
Habiéndolo rechazado, me puse a pensarlo otra vez. Having rejected it, I began to think it over again.

In context, the compound infinitive is most often seen after a preposition or, occasionally, after a conjugated verb. Again, both uses function as in English.

Se fue sin habernos explicado nada. He left without having explained anything to us.
Nos mudamos después de habernos graduado. We moved away after having graduated.
Creo haberlo comprendido. I believe I have understood it.

The past participle also functions as an adjective in what are called “absolute” constructions. Note the various translation possibilities in English.

Concluida la reunión, todos se levantaron. When the meeting was over (concluded), everyone got up.
Terminada la guerra, gozaron de paz de nuevo. Once the war ended, they enjoyed peace again.
Hechas las conclusiones, las escribieron en su reportaje. The conclusions having been made, they wrote them into their report.

Vocabulario básico 


aniquilar- to annihilate
arriesgar(se)- to risk


el esbozo- sketch, outline, rough draft
el/la feligrés/-esa- parishioner
el hidalgo- nobleman
el personaje- character (lit.), personage
los pésames- condolences
el sobre- envelope


harto- tired, fed up


ponerse a- to begin to
sano y salvo- safe and sound

Unit: 16: Translation Considerations (Part 5)

16.6 The Preterite Perfect Tense

The preterite perfect tense is formed by the preterite of the auxiliary verb haber + past participle:

salir traducción
yo hube salido I had left
hubiste salido you (fam. s.) had left
él, Ella, Ud. hubo salido he/she/you (form. s.) had left
Nosotros hubimos salido we had left
Vosotros hubisteis salido you ( had left
ellos, ellas, Uds. hubieron salido they/ you (form. pl. [fam. pl. in L.A.]) had left

The preterite perfect tense is an “alternate” form of the past perfect tense (e.g., había salido) and translates the same (“had left”). It was routinely used in Old Spanish and is still seen today, almost exclusively in literature (and almost never heard in speech). It is only used after conjunctions of time: después (deque, luego que, apenas (“hardly,” “barely”), así que, en cuanto, no bien (all three translating as “as soon as”), cuando, tan pronto como, when one action takes place immediately after another, the latter almost always in the preterite tense:

Así que le hubimos hablado, nos fuimos. As soon as we had spoken to him, we left.
Apenas me hube graduado, se murió mi padre. had barely graduated and (when) my father died.
No sooner had I graduated, my father died.

Vocabulario básico


apenas- as soon as, barely, no sooner than
así que- as soon as
no bien- as soon as

Unit: 17: Additional Grammatical Structures

17.1 Formation of Compound Nouns

Many compound nouns are formed by the third person singular of the present tense of an infinitive, followed by the plural (or, occasionally, singular) form of the noun that would be the object of the verb.

For example, take the verb parar, “to stop.” What stops a fall is a parachute, thus para caídas (“falls”) = paracaídas (“parachute”). What stops water is an umbrella, thus para + aguas = paraguas (“umbrella”). (These nouns, in spite of ending in –s, remain grammatically singular and masculine.) A sampling of such nouns, the meaning of which can often be deduced and some of which you have already seen, follows:

Compound Noun


el cumpleaños birthday
el lavaplatos dishwasher
el limpiaparabrisas windshield wiper
el parabrisas windshield
el pararrayo(s) lightning rod
el parasol parasol
el pasamano(s) handrail
el pisapapeles paperweight
el quitamanchas stain-remover
el quitanieves snowplow
el rascacielos skyscraper
el salvavidas life jacket, life guard, life boat
el tocadisco record player
el trabalenguas tongue twister

Although the above combination is common, other compound nouns are also possible, such as the following:

el hazmerreír laughingstock
el sabelotodo know-it-all

Unit: 17: Additional Grammatical Structures

17.2 Identical Words and Words Differentiated Only by Accent Mark

1. Although context should always make the meaning clear, various irregular affirmative tú commands duplicate other verb forms and, in one case, a noun: di, sé, ve, ven and sal. See section 14.3 for examples in context.

2. The first person singular of the preterite of traer, traje, is identical to the noun for “suit”:

Llevó traje a la boda. He wore a suit to the wedding.

Similarly, the first and third person singular of the imperfect tense of ser, era, is identical to the noun la era (“era”), though this should never cause comprehension difficulties.

3. Other verb forms: The first person singular of the preterite of regular –ar verbs and the first and third persons of the present subjunctive are differentiated in writing only by the written accent on the former:

Llegué tarde. I arrived late.
Lo haré cuando llegue. I’ll do it when I/you arrive (he, she arrives).

Likewise, the written accent is all that distinguishes the third person singular of the future tense and the first and third persons singular of the imperfect subjunctive of –ar verbs:

Lo mandará. She’ll send it.
Urgía que lo mandara. It was urgent that I (he,she,you) send it.

4. Some other words distinguished only by the written accent mark (in addition to those in section 1.3) include:

de of, from
first and third persons of present subjunctive of dar 
hacia toward
hacía first and third persons of imperfect indicative of hacer
el papa pope*
el papá dad
sabia wise (fem.)
sabía first and third persons of the imperfect indicative of saber 
se third person singular and plural reflexive pronoun
first person singular present tense of saber 
affirmative tú command of ser and saber 
si if
third person prepositional reflexive object pronoun (“himself,” “herself,” “yourself,” “itself,” “themselves,” “yourselves”)

*El papa must also be distinguished from la papa (“potato”).

Unit: 17: Additional Grammatical Structures

17.3 Placement of Object Pronouns in Old Spanish

One occasionally sees in literature and in old or formal writing an object pronoun attached to, rather than preceding, a main conjugated verb in a sentence:

Al verme, volvióse pálido Upon seeing me, he turned pale.
Pidióme el jarro de agua y díselo… He asked me for the jug of water and I gave it to him…
(Lazarillo de Tormes, Anonymous, 1554)
Y el mozo díjole que según él cuitaba, decían verdad. And the boy said that according to what he thought, they were speaking the truth.
(Don Juan Manuel, El Conde Lucanor, 1282-1348)

The above would normally be expressed as:

Al verme, se volvió pálido.
Me pidió el jarro de agua y se lo di…
Y el mozo le dijo…

Unit: 17: Additional Grammatical Structures

17.4 Second Person Plural (Vosotros) Commands

Vosotros commands are largely heard or appear written in dialogue in Spain. Affirmative vosotros commands are simple to recognize as they are the only verb form in Spanish that ends in a –d. For all verbs, the –of the infinitive is dropped and a –d is put in its place. As is the case of all negative commands, negative vosotros commands takes the present subjunctive.

Llegad a tiempo. Arrive on time.
No lleguéis todavía. Don’t arrive yet.
Comed todo. Eat everything.
No comáis ahora. Don’t eat now.
Id ahora. Go now
No vayáis hasta la una. Don’t go until 1:00.

In affirmative vosotros commands used reflexively, the –is dropped. Therefore, for example, levantad os Levantaos. (“Get up.”) Acostad os Acostaos (“Go to bed”), etc. The only exception occurs with the infinitive irse (“to leave,” “to go away”), in which the –is retained: Idos = “Go away.”

Unit: 17: Additional Grammatical Structures

17.5 The Future Subjunctive

The future subjunctive in Spanish remains only vestigially, usually in proverbs and legal or religious documents. (You have already seen it in the fixed phrase, Sea como fuere [“Be that as it may”]). Its formation is nearly identical to the –ra forms of the imperfect subjunctive. The only difference is that instead of an –at the end, an –e  is found. In modern Spanish, the future subjunctive has largely been replaced by the present subjunctive.

Cuando a Roma fueres, haz como vieres.  When in Rome, do as the Romans do. (Literally, “as you see”)
Quien diere una limosna, será bendecido. Whoever gives alms will be blessed.
De lo de ser otra vez manteado no digo nada; que semejantes desgracias mal se pueden prevenir, y si vienen, no hay que hacer otra cosa sino encoger los hombros, detener el aliento, cerrar los ojos y dejarse ir por donde la suerte y la manta nos llevare. (Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, author of El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha, Spain, 1547-1616. I’m not saying anything about the episode of being tossed in a blanket, as similar misfortunes can hardly be prevented, and if they happen, there’s nothing to be done but to shrug one’s shoulders, hold one’s breath, close one’s eyes and let yourself go wherever luck and the blanket take us.

Unit: 17: Additional Grammatical Structures

17.6 The Simple Past Perfect Tense

As a vestige of Latin, there exists in Spanish a simple (one-word) past perfect tense, which is identical to the –ra forms of the imperfect subjunctive. This tense is used almost exclusively in subordinate clauses and is found occasionally in journalistic, literary and other formal writing. Its meaning is always past perfect (pluperfect), never subjunctive. Some consider its usage a stylistic affectation, to achieve a more “elevated” tone. Nevertheless, this once-archaic tense is found more and more frequently in writing (though never used in speech.)

If the tense of the verb of the independent clause is in the past, and should you see this form in the subordinate clause when there seems to be no reason for use of the subjunctive, chances are that you have stumbled across this relic from the Latin.

Renunció cuando hiciera lo debido. He resigned when he had done what he should.
Cuando saciaran su hambre, salieron de su escondite. When they had sated their hunger, they left their hiding place.

Unit: 18: Reference

18.1 Idiom List


acabar de + inf. to have just done something
a decir verdad truthfully, really
a despecho de in spite of
a eso de about
a fin de cuentas in the end
a lo largo de along, throughout
a lo mejor at best, most likely
al principio at the beginning
a más no poder as hard as possible
a mediados de in the middle
a menos que unless
a menudo often
a pesar de in spite of
a principios de at the beginning of
a propósito by the way
caer en la cuenta to catch on, to become aware
con respecto a with regard to
dar ganas de to feel like, to want to (do something), to get the urge to (do something)
dar lo mismo to make no difference, to be all the same
darse cuenta de to realize, to become aware of
dar un paseo to take a walk/ride
dar un paso to take a step
dar una vuelta to take a stroll/ride
de al lado next to, adjoining
debido a due to
de esta manera (in) this way/manner
de este modo (in) this way/ manner
de hecho in fact, indeed
dejar de + inf. to stop doing something, to fail to do something
de nuevo again
de pronto suddenly
de súbito suddenly
de todos modos anyway, in any case
de vez en cuando from time to time
echar a perder to ruin, to spoil, to waste
echar de menos to miss (emotionally)
echarse a + inf. to begin to do something
en alguna parte somewhere
en cambio on the other hand
en cualquier parte anywhere
en cuanto a as to, regarding, in regard to
en ninguna parte nowhere
en otra parte elsewhere
en (por) todos lados everywhere
en aquel/ese entonces at that time, in that period of time
en el acto immediately, on the spot
en seguida immediately, right away
en todo caso in any case, in any event
estar de acuerdo to be in agreement, to agree on something
hacer caso a/de to pay attention, to notice
hacerle gracia a uno to strike someone as (being) funny
hay que + inf. to be necessary to do something
he aquí here is, this is, these are
más bien rather, instead
ni siquiera not even
no bien once, as soon as
no es para tanto it’s not that serious
no obstante however, nevertheless
no más que only, nothing but
oír decir que to hear (it said) that
oír hablar de to hear about (a person, an event)
pasar por alto to overlook
pasarlo bien/mal to have a good/bad time
pedir prestado (i) to borrow
pese a in spite of
ponerse a + inf. to begin to do something
por consiguiente therefore
por eso therefore, that’s why
por lo tanto therefore
por lo visto apparently
por más + adj./adv. + que + subjunctive no matter how + adj./adv. + subject + v.
por medio de by means of
por mi parte as for me, as far as I’m concerned
por otro lado on the other hand
por supuesto of course
por todos lados everywhere
por último finally
por un lado on one hand
puede ser (que) maybe, it may be (that) **If que is used, this structure is always followed by the subjunctive
puesto que since, because
querer decir (ie) to mean, to signify
rara vez seldom, rarely
si bien although
sin embargo however
tener buena/mala cara to look well/bad/sick
tener en cuenta to take into account, to bear in mind
tener gracia to be funny
tener por to consider
tener que ver con to have to do with (something)
tratarse de to be a question of
verse bien/mal to look well/bad
volver + a + inf. (ue) to do something again


Unit: 18: Reference

18.2 False Friends List


actual + inf. present, current
actualidad (f.) present time, current affairs
actualmente at present, nowadays, right now
aguardar to wait
alumno/a student
aproximarse to approach
asesorar to advise (in economic, legal, political matters)
asistir to attend (an event), to be present
atender to look after, to care for
avisar to warn
casualidad (f.) chance, coincidence
competencia competition
collar (m.) necklace/td>
compromiso appointment, commitment
conferencia conference, talk, lecture
congreso conference
crudo raw
cuerpo body, body of work
demandar to sue (also, “to demand”)
desgracia misfortune
despacho office
disgustar to displease
distinto different
divisar to perceive, to make out, to discern
dormitorio bedroom
editor/a publisher
editorial (f.) publishing house
efectivo; en efectivo cash; in cash
efectivamente in fact, indeed, actually
equivocación (f.) mistake
equivocarse to make a mistake
éxito success
experimentar (ie) to experience (also, “to experiment”)
fin purpose, goal, aim; end (to terminate something)
final ending, end (as in a story); final, las
firma signature)
gana desire, hunger
gracioso funny, amusing, charming
grosero vulgar, rude
habitación (f.) room
idioma (m.) language
ignorar not to know, to be ignorant of
intentar to attempt, to try
largo long
lectura reading
limitar (con) to border
marchar to walk, to go
molestar to bother
natural (n., m., f.) native
noticia piece of news, information
pariente (n., m., f.) relative
particular private
pasar to suffer (also, to pass, to spend [time])
patrón/-ona chief, boss
planta; planta baja sole of foot, story of building (also, plant); first floor
presenciar to witness
pretender to claim, to try, to intend
principio beginning
procurar to try, to endeavor, to seek
proporcionar to give, to furnish, to provide
propósito purpose, intention, plan
quitarle a (alguien) to take away from (someone), to remove
realizar to achieve (also, to realize [e.g., a dream)]
reclamar to demand, to claim
el recurso resource, means, pretext
registrart to search, to examine, to inspec
renta income, revenue (also, rent)
renunciar to resign
rudo rough, course, ordinary
salto jump, leap
sano healthy
sensible sensitive
simpatizar (con) to get along well (with), to hit it off (with)
solicitar to apply for (also, to ask for, to solicit)
soportar to endure, to bear, to stand, to put up with
sostener (ie)) to support, to hold up, to prop up (also, to sustain
suburbio slum (also, suburb)
suceder to happen
suceso event
violar to rape (also, to violate)
vista sight, vision (also, view)
vulgar common, ordinary


Unit: 18: Reference

18.3 Verb Tables

I. Regular Verbs 


hablar (to speak)          beber (to drink)               vivir (to live)

Present Participles 

hablando (speaking)       bebiendo (drinking)      viviendo (living)

Past Participles 

hablado (spoken)           bebido (drunk)                  vivido (lived)

Present Tense Indicative 

(I speak, I do speak, I am speaking [I’m going to speak], etc.)

hablo                              bebo                                vivo

hablas                            bebes                               vives

habla                              bebe                                vive

hablamos                       bebemos                          vivimos

habláis                            bebéis                              vivís

hablan                            beben                               viven

Imperfect Indicative 

(I used to speak, I was speaking, I spoke, etc.)

hablaba                           bebía                                vivía

hablabas                         bebías                               vivías

hablaba                           bebía                                vivía

hablábamos                    bebíamos                          vivíamos

hablabais                         bebíais                              vivíais

hablaban                         bebían                               vivían


(I spoke, I did speak, I drank, I did drink, etc.)

hablé                               bebí                                  viví

hablaste                          bebiste                              viviste

habló                              bebió                                 vivió

hablamos                        bebimos                            vivimos

hablasteis                        bebisteis                            vivisteis

hablaron                          bebieron                            vivieron


(I will [shall] speak, etc.)

hablaré                            beberé                               viviré

hablarás                          beberás                              vivirás

hablará                            beberá                               vivirá

hablaremos                     beberemos                         viviremos

hablaréis                          beberéis                             viviréis

hablarán                          beberán                              vivirán


(I would speak, etc.)

hablaría                            bebería                              viviría

hablarías                          beberías                             vivirías

hablaría                            bebería                              viviría

hablaríamos                     beberíamos                        viviríamos

hablaríais                          beberíais                            viviríais

hablarían                          beberían                             vivirían

Compound (Perfect) Infinitive 

(to have spoken, etc.)

haber hablado                  haber bebido                  haber vivido

Compound (Perfect) Participle 

(having spoken, etc.)

habiendo hablado           habiendo bebido           habiendo vivido

Present Perfect Indicative 

(I have spoken, etc.)



ha          + hablado              + bebido               + vivido




Past Perfect (Pluperfect) Indicative 

(I had spoken, etc.)



había      + hablado              + bebido                + vivido




Future Perfect Indicative 

(I will [shall] have spoken, etc.)



habrá      + hablado              + bebido                + vivido




Conditional Perfect Indicative 

(I would have spoken, etc.)



habría      + hablado              + bebido               + vivido




Present Subjunctive 

([that] I [may] speak [+ other translations])

hable                               beba                                  viva

hables                             bebas                                 vivas

hable                               beba                                  viva

hablemos                        bebamos                            vivamos

habléis                             bebáis                                viváis

hablen                             beban                                 vivan

Imperfect (Past) Subjunctive 

([that] I [might] speak [+ other translations])

hablara                            bebiera                               viviera

hablaras                          bebieras                              vivieras

hablara                            bebiera                               viviera

habláramos                     bebiéramos                         viviéramos

hablarais                          bebierais                             vivierais

hablaran                          bebieran                              vivieran


hablase                            bebiese                               viviese

hablases                          bebieses                              vivieses

hablase                            bebiese                               viviese

hablásemos                     bebiésemos                       viviésemos

hablaseis                          bebieseis                             vivieseis

hablasen                          bebiesen                              viviesen

Present Perfect Subjunctive 

([that] I [may] have spoken)



haya        + hablado             +bebido              +vivido




Past Perfect (Pluperfect) Subjunctive 

([that] I had drunk)



hubiera/hubiese        + hablado          + bebido           + vivido




Imperatives (Commands) 

(Speak, [Don’t speak], Let’s speak)

habla (tú)                    bebe (tú)                    vive (tú)

no hables (tú)              no bebas (tú)             no vivas (tú)

hable (Ud.)                  beba (Ud.)                  viva (Ud.)

hablemos (nosotros)   bebamos (nosotros)   vivamos (nosotros)

hablad (vosotros)        bebed (vosotros)        vivid (vosotros)

hablen (Uds.)               beban (Uds.)               vivan (Uds.)


II. Stem-Changing Verbs 

Only those tenses (and forms) in which stem changes occur are listed.

A. to ie Verbs 

pensar– to think

Present Ind. – pienso, piensas, piensa, pensamos, pensáis, piensan

Present Subj. – piense, pienses, piense, pensemos, penséis, piensen

Imperatives – piensa (tú), piense (Ud.), piensen (Uds.)

B. to ue Verbs 

volver– to return

Present Ind. – vuelvo, vuelves, vuelve, volvemos, volvéis, vuelven

Present Subj. – vuelva, vuelvas, vuelva, volvamos, volváis, vuelvan

Imperatives – vuelve (tú), vuelva (Ud.), vuelvan (Uds.)

C. to Verbs 

pedir– to request, to ask for

Present Ind. – pido, pides, pide, pedimos, pedís, piden

Preterite – pedí, pediste, pidió, pedimos, pedisteis, pidieron

Present Subj. – pida, pidas, pida, pidamos, pidáis, pidan

Imp. Subj. – pidiera, pidieras, pidiera, pidiéramos, pidierais, pidieran

                   pidiese, pidieses, pidiese, pidiésemos, pidieseis, pidiesen

Imperatives – pide (tú), pida (Ud.), pidamos (nosotros), pidan (Uds.)

Present Part. – pidiendo

D. to ue in –ir Verbs 

dormir to sleep

Pres. Ind. – duermo, duermes, duerme, dormimos, dormís, duermen

Preterite – dormí, dormiste, durmió, dormimos, dormisteis, durmieron

Pres. Subj. – duerma, duermas, duerma, durmamos, durmáis,                                  duerman

Imp. Subj. – durmiera, durmieras, durmiera, durmiéramos, durmierais,                     durmieran

                    durmiese, durmieses, durmiese, durmiésemos,                                    durmieseis, durmiesen

Imperatives – duerme (tú), duerma (Ud.), durmamos (nosotros),                             duerman (Uds.)

Pres. Part. – durmiendo


III. Irregular Verbs 

Only tenses that have irregular forms are listed. Those not given should be assumed to be regular (or stem-changing).

andar–  to walk, to go

Preterite – anduve, anduviste, anduvo, anduvimos, anduvisteis,                            anduvieron

Imp. Subj. – anduviera, etc., or anduviese, etc.

caber– to fit, to be contained in

Pres. Ind. – quepo

Preterite – cupe, cupiste, cupo, cupimos, cupisteis, cupieron

Future – cabré, cabrás, cabrá, etc.

Conditional – cabría, cabrías, cabría, etc.

Pres. Subj. – quepa, quepas, quepa, quepamos, quepáis, quepan

Imp. Subj. – cupiera, etc., or cupiese, etc.

caer– to fall

Pres. Ind. – caigo

Pres. Subj. – caiga, caigas, caiga, caigamos, caigáis, caigan

Pres. Part. – cayendo

dar– to give

Pres. Ind. – doy

Preterite – di, diste, dio, dimos, disteis, dieron

Pres. Subj. – dé, des, dé, demos, deis, den

Past Subj. – diera, etc., or diese, etc.

decir– to say, to tell

Pres. Ind. – digo, dices, dice, decimos, decís, dicen

Preterite – dije, dijiste, dijo, dijimos, dijisteis, dijeron

Future – diré, dirás, dirá, etc.

Conditional – diría, dirías, diría, etc.

Pres. Subj. – diga, digas, diga, digamos, digáis, digan

Imp. Subj. – dijera, etc., or dijese, etc.

Imperative – di (tú)

Pres. Part. – diciendo

Past Part. – dicho

estar– to be

Pres. Ind. – estoy, estás, está, estamos, estáis, están

Preterite – estuve, estuviste, estuvo, estuvimos, estuvisteis,                                estuvieron

Pres. Subj. – esté, estés, esté, estemos, estéis, estén

Imp. Subj. – estuviera, etc., or estuviese, etc.

haber– to have (auxiliary verb only, except when used                               impersonally)

Pres. Ind. – he, has, ha (hay), hemos habéis, han

Preterite – hube, hubiste, hubo, hubimos, hubisteis, hubieron

Future – habré, habrás, habrá, etc.

Conditional – habría, habrías, habría, etc.

Pres. Subj. – haya, hayas, haya, hayamos, hayáis, hayan

Imp. Subj. – hubiera, etc., or hubiese, etc.

hacer– to do, to make

Pres. Ind. – hago

Preterite – hice, hiciste, hizo, hicimos, hicisteis, hicieron

Future – haré, harás, hará, etc.

Conditional – haría, harías, haría, etc.

Pres. Subj. – haga, hagas, haga, hagamos, hagáis, hagan

Imp. Subj. – hiciera, etc. or hiciese, etc.

Imperative – haz (tú)

Past Part. – hecho

ir-to go

Pres. Ind. – voy, vas, va, vamos, vais, van

Preterite – fui, fuiste, fue, fuimos, fuisteis, fueron

Imperfect – iba, ibas, iba, íbamos, ibais, iban

Pres. Subj. – vaya, vayas, vaya, vayamos, vayáis, vayan

Imp. Subj. – fuera, etc. or fuese, etc.

Imperative – ve (tú)

Pres. Part. – yendo

oír– to hear

Pres. Ind. – oigo, oyes, oye, oímos, oís, oyen

Pres. Subj. – oiga, oigas, oiga, oigamos, oigáis, oigan

Imp. Subj. – oyera, etc. or oyese, etc.

Pres. Part. – oyendo

Past Part. – oído

poder– to be able

Preterite – pude, pudiste, pudo, pudimos, pudisteis, pudieron

Future – podré, podrás, podrá, etc.

Conditional – podría, podrías, podría, etc.

Imp. Subj. – pudiera, etc. or pudiese, etc.

Pres. Part. – pudiendo

poner– to put, to place

Pres. Ind. – pongo

Preterite – puse, pusiste, puso, pusimos, pusisteis, pusieron

Future – pondré, pondrás, pondrá, etc.

Conditional – pondría, pondrías, pondría, etc.

Pres. Subj. – ponga, pongas, ponga, pongamos, pongáis, pongan

Imp. Subj. – pusiera, etc. or pusiese, etc.

Imperative – pon (tú)

Past Part. – puesto

querer– to want, to wish, to love

Preterite – quise, quisiste, quiso, quisimos, quisisteis, quisieron

Future – querré, querrás, querrá, etc.

Conditional – querría, querrías, querría, etc.

Imp. Subj. – quisiera, etc. or quisiese, etc.

saber– to know

Pres. Ind. – sé

Preterite – supe, supiste, supo, supimos, supisteis, supieron

Future – sabré, sabrás, sabrá, etc.

Conditional – sabría, sabrías, sabría, etc.

Pres. Subj. – sepa, sepas, sepa, sepamos, sepáis, sepan

Past Subj. – supiera, etc. or supiese, etc.

salir– to leave, to go out

Pres. Ind. – salgo

Future – saldré, saldrás, saldrá, etc.

Conditional – saldría, saldrías, saldría, etc.

Pres. Subj. – salga, salgas, salga, salgamos, salgáis, salgan

Imperative – sal (tú)

ser– to be

Pres. Ind. – soy, eres, es, somos, sois, son

Preterite – fui, fuiste, fue, fuimos, fuisteis, fueron

Imperfect – era, eras, era, éramos, erais, eran

Pres. Subj. – sea, seas, sea, seamos, seáis, sean

Imp. Subj. – fuera, etc. or fuese, etc.

Imperative – sé (tú)

tener– to have

Pres. Ind. – tengo, tienes, tiene, tenemos, tenéis, tienen

Preterite – tuve, tuviste, tuvo, tuvimos, tuvisteis, tuvieron

Future – tendré, tendrás, tendrá, etc.

Conditional – tendría, tendrías, tendría, etc.

Pres. Subj. – tenga, tengas, tenga, tengamos, tengáis, tengan

Imp. Subj. – tuviera, etc. or tuviese, etc.

Imperative – ten (tú)

traer– to bring

Pres. Ind. – traigo

Preterite- traje, trajiste, trajo, trajimos, trajisteis, trajeron

Pres. Subj.- traiga, traigas, traiga, traigamos, traigáis, traigan

Imp. Subj.- trajera, etc. or trajese, etc.

Pres. Part.- trayendo

Past Part.- traído

valer– to be worth

Pres. Ind.- valgo

Future- valdré, valdrás, valdrá, etc.

Conditional- valdría, valdrías, valdría, etc.

Imperative- val (tú)

venir– to come

Pres. Ind.- vengo, vienes, viene, venimos, venís, vienen

Preterite- vine, viniste, vino, vinimos, vinisteis, vinieron

Future- vendré, vendrás, vendrá, etc.

Conditional- vendría. vendrías, vendría, etc.

Pres. Subj.- venga, vengas, venga, vengamos, vengáis, vengan

Imp. Subj.- viniera, etc. or viniese, etc.

Imperative- ven (tú)

Pres. Part.- viniendo

ver– to see

Pres. Ind.- veo

Imperfect- veía, veías, veía, veíamos, veíais, veían

Pres. Subj.- vea, veas, vea, veamos, veáis, vean

Past Part.- visto

Unit: 18: Reference

18.4 Mini-Capsules: Cultural Notes on Translation

Mini-Capsule I: Note on Spanish Dictionaries and the Alphabet

The 10th Congress of the Association of Academies of the Spanish Language in 1994 determined that the combinations ch and ll would no longer be alphabetized separately. Prior to then, words beginning with ch were found in the dictionary between those words beginning in c and d. (Had this not happened, in the vocabulary list under Sustantivos, you would have found chico and chica after ciudad.) Likewise, words starting with ll were found between l and m. The position of the letter ñ between n and o remains unchanged. Though extremely few words begin with ñ, its placement also applies to alphabetization when the sound occurs in the middle of a word. The word español, therefore, is found after the word espantar (“to frighten,” “to scare”). (The rr [or, in initial position, r/R] is considered a separate sound but not a separate letter of the alphabet.) Check the publication date of the dictionary you are using if you do not find words beginning with these letters where you expect them.

Mini-Capsule II: Book and Film Titles in Spanish and English

Whether being translated from Spanish to English or vice versa, there is no simple guideline for translation except that the title must “sound good” in the target language. Literal translations, as is the case of García Márquez’s masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude (Cien años de soledad) often work fine. Such is also the case of Laura Esquivel’s novel and the film based on it, Como agua para chocolate, in English, Like Water for Chocolate. John Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath, is translated literally as Las uvas de la ira, as is Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth, rendered as La buena tierra. Other titles, however, are changed substantially or completely, as literal translations do not work or make sense in the target language. While Manuel Puig’s novel Beso de la mujer araña has an exact translation in its English version (Kiss of the Spider Woman), an earlier novel of his, Boquitas pintadas (literally, “Little Lipsticked Mouths”) was given the completely different English title Heartbreak Tango. Other titles undergo a slight modification, such as Puig’s La traición de Rita Hayworth (literally, “Rita Hayworth’s Betrayal”), which in English became Betrayed by Rita Hayworth. Similarly, Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone with the Wind underwent a slight modification for the Spanish translation and the film to Lo que el viento se llevó (literally, “What the Wind Carried Away.”) Later films, such as the 1999 Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar winner Todo sobre mi madre has a literal translation in its English title, All About My Mother, while Y tu mamá también retained its Spanish title for its English-language release, as the literal translation (“And Your Mother Too”) lacks the connotation of the literal Spanish equivalent. The title of the 2006 film Volver (literally, “to return”) was not translated to English. Other films undergo a slight modification in translation, as did the Spanish award-winning 2010 film set in Bolivia También la lluvia, which became Even the Rain.

Mini-Capsule III: First Names (Nombres de pila)

Although translation of proper names is not usually necessary, there are some first names in Spanish that cause particular confusion. While many first names are identical (Hugo, Rita), others have obvious equivalents (María, Roberto), and others are easily or conceivably guessable (Miguel [Michael], Jorge ([George], José [Joseph]), confusing names exist, at times to the point of their gender not being obvious. Some of these names include:

Belén literally “Bethlehem,” a woman’s name
Carmen no English equivalent, almost always a woman’s name
Cielo no common English equivalent, often religious in origin, a woman’s name
Concepción no English equivalent, almost always a woman’s name, religious in origin, nickname Concha
Consuelo no English equivalent, always a woman’s name, religious in origin, nickname Chelo
Cruz literally “cross,” a woman’s name
Dolores used in English (as “Dolores” or “Delores”), religious in origin, nickname Lola or Lolita
Guadalupe no English equivalent, always a woman’s name, religious in origin, nickname Lupe
Guillermina Wilhelmina (much more common in Spanish than English)
Guillermo William (nickname, Memo)
Inmaculada no English equivalent, a woman’s name, religious in origin
Jaime James (not “Jamie”), always a man’s name
Lourdes named after the shrine in France where Bernadette Soubirous had visions of the Virgin Mary, a woman’s name
Mercedes at times used in English, always a woman’s name, religious in origin
Pilar no English equivalent, a woman’s name, religious in origin
Rocío no English equivalent, a woman’s name, religious in origin
Rosario no English equivalent, always a woman’s name, religious in origin, nickname Charo or Chari
Socorro no English equivalent, a woman’s name, religious in origin
Soledad literally “Solitude,” a woman’s name, religious in origin

There are many other lower-frequency names in Spanish that are untranslatable in English. Those ending in -a are almost always for females; those ending in –o</span, for males. Here are examples of a few: Rigoberta, Rigoberto, Aldonza, Edelberto, Filiberto, Fernanda.

María combines with a great number of names, almost always religious in nature, for example, María de la Luz (literally, “Mary of the Light”) and María Teresa (nickname, Maite, Mayte or Marité).

Some men’s names are religious in origin, but are not used in English: Jesús, Angel.

Spanish also employs mixed-gender names, almost always of a religious origin. In these cases, the first of the two names indicates the gender: José María (man’s name, nickname Chema), María Jesús (woman’s name, nickname Chus).

Other nicknames not of a religious nature include Nando and Fercho for Fernando; Juanjo for Juan José and Isa for Isabel.

This is only a small sampling including some of the more common of a great number of possibilities.

Mini-Capsule IV: Telling Time in Spanish

¿Qué hora es? What time is it?
Es la una. It’s 1:00.
Son las dos. It’s 2:00.
Son las tres de la mañana. It’s 3:00 am.
Son las cuatro de la tarde. It’s 4:00 p.m.
Son las diez de la noche. It’s 10:00 p.m.
Son las cinco y media. It’s 5:30.
Son las seis y treinta.  It’s 6:30.
Son las siete y cuarto. It’s 7:15.
Son las ocho menos cuarto. It’s 7:45.
Son quince para las nueve. It’s 8:45.
Son las once en punto. It’s 11:00 on the dot.


1) A singular verb is normally used to ask what time it is, and is used to give the answer if it is 1:00, noon (mediodía) or midnight (medianoche). Otherwise the plural form son is used.

2) The phrase de la mañana is the equivalent of “a.m.,” while the phrases de la tarde and de la noche are the equivalents of “p.m.”

3) “Half past” the hour may be expressed by y media or y treinta.

4) “Fifteen after the hour” may be expressed by y cuarto or y quince.

5) “A quarter till the hour” may be expressed by menos cuarto or quince (un cuarto) para + the coming hour.

6) All other minutes after the hour take the same numbers as in English.

Nuestra clase comienza a la una y veinte. Our class begins at 1:20.

Mini-Capsule V: Expressing “Again” in Spanish

Although Spanish has at least three simple words and phrases that mean “again” – de nuevo, nuevamente, and otra vez – the most common way to express this is with the verb volver + a + infinitive. Although minimal ambiguity exists, chances are that the sentences Edmundo volvió a leerlo and Antonia volvió a tocar a la puerta do not mean “Edmundo returned to read it” and “Antonia returned to knock on the door,” but rather, “Edmundo read it again” and “Antonia knocked on the door again.”

Learn to recognize this construction, which will continue to appear in the text. It can be used in all tenses, although it occurs most often in the preterite.

Unit: 18: Reference

18.5 Spanish/English Glossary

The Spanish – English Glossary contains all the words in the text except: 1) very obvious or identical cognates; 2) forms of conjugated verbs; 3) most diminutives and augmentatives; 4) absolute superlatives ending in forms of –ísimo; 5) adverbs ending in –mente.

Gender of nouns is indicated for all that are not masculine ending in o or feminine ending in a. (This also applies to the False Friends List.) Stem-changing verbs are listed as follows: pensar (ie); dormir (ue); and pedir (i).

The following abbreviations are used in this textbook:

adj. – adjective

C.A. – Central America

coll. – colloquial

def. art. – definite article

d.o – direct object

esp. – especially

f. – feminine

fam. – familiar (informal)

fig. – figurative

form – formal

gram – grammar term

ind. art. – indefinite article

inf. – infinitive

i.o. – indirect object

lang. – language

L.A. – Latin America

lit. – literary, literature

m. – masculine

neut. – neuter

n. – noun

pl. – plural

p.p. – past participle

poss. adj. – possessive adjective

prep. – preposition

prep. obj. pron. – prepositional object pronoun

pron. – pronoun

refl. pron. – reflexive pronoun

s. – singular

Sp. – Spain

sub. pron. – subject pronoun

u.c. – upper case

v. – verb


a – to, at

abarcar – to compromise, to span, to include

abierto (p.p) – open(ed)

abogado/-a – attorney, lawyer

abrazar – to hug, to embrace

abrigo – coat

abril – April

abrir – to open; abrirse paso – to make one’s way

abstenerse (de) – to abstain (from)

abuelo/-a – grandfather/grandmother

aburrir – to bore

acá – here

acabar – to finish, to end; acabar + de + inf. – to have just done something

acaso – perhaps; por si acaso – just in case

acciones – stock

aceite (m.) – oil

aceituna – olive

acera – sidewalk

acerca de – about

acercarse a – to approach

acero – steel

acertar (ie) – to be right

aconsejar – to advise

acontecimiento – event

acordar (ue) – to agree; acordarse de – to remember

acostarse (ue) – to go to bed

actual – present, current

actualidad (f.) – present time

acudir (a) – to attend, to be present, to go/to come (to the rescue)

acuerdo – agreement; estar de acuerdo – to be in agreement; ponerse de acuerdo – to reach an agreement

adelantarse (a) – to get ahead in (of), to surpass

adelgazar – to grow thin

ademán (m.) – gesture

además (de) – besides, in addition (to), furthermore

adentro – inside, within

adinerado – wealthy

adivinar – to guess

adorar – to worship, to adore, to idolize, to love

aduana (s.) – customs

advertir (ie) – to warn

aferrado – diehard, attached to, fixed to

afuera – outside

afueras (f. pl.) – outskirts, suburbs

agosto – August

agotado – exhausted, sold out

agotar – to exhaust, to deplete

agradar – to please

agradecer – to thank, to be thankful for

agregar – to add

agrio – sour

agua (but el agua) – water

águila (but el águila) – eagle

aguantar – to tolerate, to stand, to bear

ahí – there

ahora – now; ahora mismo – right now (Sp.); ahorita – right now (L.A.)

ahorrar – to save (money)

aislar – to isolate

ajedrez (m.) – chess

ajiaco – soup of chicken, potatoes and rice, especially of Colombia

ajo – garlic

al (contraction of a + el) – to the; al + inf. – upon/on doing something

ala (but el ala) – wing

alabar – to praise

alambre (de púa) (m.) – (barbed) wire

alcalde/-ese – mayor

alcanzar – to reach, to manage (to)

alcoba – bedroom

aldea – village

alegrarse (de) – to be happy (about), to make happy, to become happy

alegre – happy

alemán (m.) – German (lang.)

alemán/-ana – German

Alemania – Germany

alfabetismo – literacy

alfombra – rug

algo – something, anything

algodón (m.) – cotton

alguien – someone, anyone

alguno – some, any; alguna vez – sometime, ever

allá – there (distant), (way) over there

allí – there

almacén (m.) – department store, warehouse

almohada – pillow

almorzar (ue) – to eat lunch

almuerzo – lunch

alojamiento – lodging

alojarse – to lodge, to stay, to house

alquilar – to rent

alquiler (m.) – rent

alrededor de – around

altibajos (m. pl.) – ups and downs

alto – tall

alumno/-a – student

ama de casa (but el ama de casa) – homemaker

amanecer – to get light, to wake up early, to wake up (in a place)

amansar – to tame

amar – to love

amargo – bitter

amargor (m.) – bitterness

amargura – bitterness

amarillo – yellow

ambiente (m.) – atmosphere; medio ambiente – atmosphere

ambos- both

amenaza – threat

amenazar (con) – to threaten (with, to)

ameno – pleasant

a menos que – unless

amigo/-a – friend

amistad (f.) – friendship, friend

amistoso – friendly

amor (m.) – love

amueblar – to furnish

anaranjado – orange (color)

ancho – wide

anchura – width

anciano/-a (n.) – old person; (adj.) old, ancient

andar – to walk, to go; andar en bicicleta – to ride a bicycle

andino – Andean

anfitrión/-ona – host, hostess

angosto – narrow

anillo – ring

animarse (a) – to encourage (to)

aniquilar – to annihilate

anoche – last night

anochecer – to get dark, to stay up late, to go to bed (in a place)

anotar – to note down, to jot down

Antártida – Antarctica

ante –  before, in the face of; ante todo – above all

anteayer – the day before yesterday

antemano – beforehand

anteojos (m. pl.) – eyeglasses

antepasado/-a – ancestor

antes – before, sooner; antes (de) que (conj.) – before; cuanto antes – as soon as possible

anticipación: con anticipación – beforehand, ahead of time

antigüedad (f.) – Lesser Antilles

antipático – unpleasant

añadir – to add

año – year; años treinta, cuarenta, etc. – the thirties, forties, etc.; tener…años – to be…years old

añorar – to miss

apagar – to turn off (appliance, lights)

aparecer – to appear, to show up

apegado (a) – attached (to)

apellido – surname, last name

apenas – barely, scarcely

aplazar – to postpone

apodo – nickname

apoyar – to support

apoyo – support

apreciar – to esteem, to hold in esteem, to appreciate

aprender – to learn

aprendizaje (m.) – learning, apprenticeship

apresurarse – to hurry (up)

apretar (ie) – to squeeze, to press

aprobar (ue) – to pass (an exam), to approve

apuntar – to write down, to note down, to aim, to point, to point to, to point out, to point at

apuntes (m. pl.) – notes

aquel/-la (adj) – that (distant); (pron) – that one (distant)

aquí – here

araña – spider

árbol (m.) – tree

arbusto – bush

arcada – arch, archway

arder – to burn

ardiente – passionate, burning

arena – sand

arma (f. but el arma) – weapon

armario – closet

arrastrar – to drag

arrebatar – to carry away; to snatch, to seize

arreglar – to arrange, to repair, to fix

arrepentirse – to repent

arriesgar(se) – to risk

arroz (m.) – rice

asar – to roast; bien asado – well done (meat)

ascenso – promotion, ascent

ascensor (m.) – elevator

asco: dar asco a – to be repulsive to

asegurar – to assure

asemejarse – to resemble

asesinar – to murder, to assassinate

asesinato – murder, assassination

asesino/-a – murderer

así (que) – so, thus,; así que – so, therefore, consequently

asiático – Asian

asiento – seat

asimismo – likewise

asistir (a) – to attend

asombrar – to astonish

asombro – astonishment

astro – star

asunto – matter, issue, question

asustar(se) – to scare, to frighten, to be scared/frightened

atardecer – to become late, to draw toward evening

atender (ie) – to pay attention to, to take care of, to look after

Atenas – Athens

aterrizar – to land (airplane)

atracar – to hold up; to dock

atraco – hold-up, mugging

atraer – to attract

atrás – backward, back

atrasarse – to be late, to be behind schedule

atreverse (a) – to dare (to)

atrevido – bold, daring

aumentar – to increase, to augment

aumento – to increase, to augment

aumento – increase, raise

aun – even

aún – still, yet

aunque – although

austríaco – Austrian

autobús (m.) – bus

autopista – highway

auxilio – help, aid, assistance, relief; primeros auxilios – first aid

avanzar – to advance

ave (f.) (but el ave) – bird

averiguar – to find out

avión (m.) – airplane

avisar – to notify, to inform, to let know

ayer – yesterday

ayuda – help

ayudante (m., f.) – helper

ayudar – to help

azúcar (m.) – sugar

azucarero (adj.) – sugar, pertaining to sugar

azul – blue

azuzar – to rouse, to stir up, to incite


bahía – bay

bailar – to dance

bailarín/-ina – dancer

baile (m.) – dance

bajar (de) – to get off (of), to get down (from); to lower, to drop

bajo (adj.) – short; (prep.) under, below

bala – bullet

balde: en balde – in vain

balneario – beach resort

bancarrota – bankruptcy

banco – bank; bench

bandeja – tray

banquero/-a – banker

bañar(se) – to bathe

baño – bath, bathroom

barato – cheap, inexpensive

barba – beard

barco – ship, boat

barrer – to sweep

barrio – neighborhood, suburb

barroco – baroque; (fig.) – elaborate, ornate

bastante – quite, enough, rather, sufficient

bastar – to be enough, to be sufficient, to suffice

bastón (m.) – cane

batalla – battle

baúl (m.) – trunk

bautizar – to baptize

bautizo – baptism

beber – to drink

bebida – beverage, drink

beca – scholarship

beisbolista (m., f.) – baseball player

belleza – beauty

bello – beautiful

bendecir – to bless

besar – to kiss

beso – kiss

biblioteca – library

bibliotecario/-a – librarian

bien (adv.) – well; si bien (conj.) – although; no bien – as soon as

bienes (pl.) – possessions, goods, property

bienestar (m.) – well-being

bigote (m.) – mustache

billete (m.) – ticket; bill (currency)

biólogo/-a – biologist

blanco – white

blancor (m.) – whiteness

blancura – whiteness

blancuzco – whitish

boca – mouth

boda – wedding

boleto – ticket

bolígrafo – pen

bolsa – bag, sack;  (u.c.) – stock market

bolsillo – pocket

bolso – purse, handbag

bomba – pump, bomb

bombero/-a – firefighter

bombilla – light bulb

bondad (f.) – goodness, kindness

bonito – pretty

boricua – Puerto Rican

borracho – drunk

bosque (m.) – woods, forest

bostezar – to yawn

botánica – botany

botella – bottle

bragas (f. pl.) – breeches; panties

bragueta – fly (of pants)

brasileño – Brazilian

brazo – arm

breve – short, brief

brindar – to toast, to offer

broma – joke

broncearse – to tan oneself

brujo/-a – witch

buenaventura – good fortune, good luck

bueno – good

burlarse (de) – to make fun (of)

buscar – to search for, to look for

búsqueda – search


caballo – horse

cabello – hair

caber – to fit, to be contained in

cabeza – head

cabo – cape

cabra – goat

cachorro/-a – puppy

cada – each, every

cadena – chain

cadera – hip

caducar – to grow old, to become senile, to lapse, to become void

caduco – old, senile, lapsed, expired

caer(se) – to fall (down); caerle bien/mal a uno – to have a good/bad impression of someone

café (m.) coffee; café; color de café (adj.) – brown

caída – fall

caja – box; cash registrar; caja registrado – cash register

cajero/-a – cashier

cajón (m.) – drawer

calabaza – squash, pumpkin

calcetines (pl.) – socks

calefacción (f.) – heat, heating

calentar (ie) – to heat (up), to warm (up)

caliente – warm, hot

calificación – grade; qualification

callado – quiet, silent

callarse – to be quiet, to shut up

calle (f.) – street

callejuela – alley

calor (m.) – heat; hace calor – it’s warm/hot; tener calor – to be (feel) warm

caluroso – hot, warm

cama – bed; guarder cama – to stay in bed

camarero/-a – waiter, waitress

cambiar – to change; cambiar de idea – to change one’s mind

cambio – change, rate of exchange; en cambio – on the other hand

caminar – to walk

camino – road, way

camión – truck

camisa – shirt

camiseta – T shirt

campaña – campaign

campesino/-a – farm worker, peasant

campestre (adj.) – country, rural

campo – country, countryside

canadiense – Canadian

canal – channel; canal

canción (f.) – song

cansado – tired

cansancio – tiredness

cansarse – to get tired

cantante (m., f.) – singer

cantar – to sing

caña – cane, reed

capa – layer

capaz – capable

capítulo – chapter

cara – face

cárcel (f.) – jail

carecer – to lack

carente – lacking

carga – load

cargamento – load

cargar – to charge (to an account), to load

cargo – charge, position; estar a cargo – to be in charge

caribeño – Caribbean

carie (f.) – cavity

cariño – affection

carne (f.) – meat, flesh

carnicería – butcher shop

carnicero/-a – butcher

carnet de conducir (m.) – driver’s license

caro – expensive, dear

carrera – race, career

carretera – highway

carta – letter; playing card; chart

cartera – wallet

cartero/-a – letter carrier

casa – house; casa particular – private house

casado – married; recién casado – newlywed

casarse (con) – to get married (to), to marry

casco – helmet

casi – almost

caso: hacer caso – to take notice of, to pay attention to, to heed

casquete (m.) – yarmulke, skull cap, cap

castaño (adj.) – chestnut, brown, hazel

castellano – Castilian, Spanish (lang.);(adj.) of or pertaining to the province of Castilla

castigar – to punish

castigo – punishment

catalán (m.) – Catalan (lang.); (adj.) – pertaining to Catalonia (región of Sp.)

catarata – waterfall

catorce – fourteen

caucásico – Caucasian

Cayo Hueso – Key West

cazar – to hunt

cebiche (m.) (also ceviche, seviche) – marinated fish dish, especially of Peru

celos (pl.) – jealousy; tener celos – to be jealous

celoso – jealous

cena – dinner, supper, evening meal

cenar – to dine, to eat (have) dinner/supper/evening meal

ceniza – ash; miércoles de ceniza – Ash Wednesday

censura – censorship

centavo – cent

céntrico – central

centro – center, center of city, downtown, uptown; centro comercial – shopping mall

cepillar(se) – to brush

cerca – near, nearby; cerca de – close to; de cerca – close up, from a short distance

cercano – close, nearby

cerebro – brain

cero – zero

cerradura – lock

cerrar (ie) – to shut, to close; cerrar con llave – to lock

certero – certain, accurate

cerveza – beer

cesar – to stop, to cease

césped (m.) – lawn, grass

ceviche (m.) (also cebiche, seviche) – marinated fish dish, especially in Peru

chaqueta – jacket

charlar – to chat, to talk

chibcha – Chibcha (indigenous lang. of Columbia)

chico/-a – boy/girl; (adj.) small

Chipre – Cyprus

chisme (m.) – gossip

chiste (m.) – joke

chocar (con) – to collide (with), to crash, to shock

choque (m.) – collision, shock

choza – hut

ciegas: a ciegas – blindly

ciego – blind

cielo – sky, heaven

cien(to) – one hundred; por ciento – percent

ciencia – science; ciencia ficción – science fiction

científico/-a – scientist

cierto – (a) certain, true

cifra – number, figure, cipher

cinco – five

cincuenta – fifty

cine (m.) – movie theater

cineasta (m., f.) – movie director, film maker, film director

cinta – tape; ribbon

cinturón (m.) – belt

cirugía – surgery

cisne (m.) – swan

cita – appointment, date

ciudad (f.) – city

ciudadanía – citizenship

ciudadano/-a – citizen

ciudadela – fortress

claro – bright, clear; claro que sí – of course

clase (f.) – class, kind; clase media – middle class; sala de clase – classroom

clave (f.) – key (fig.)

clima (m.) – climate

coartada – alibi

cobarde (m., f.) – coward

cobrar – to cash (a check), to charge (for a service)

coche (m.) – car, coach

cocina – kitchen, cuisine, cooking

cocinar – to cook

cocinero/-a – cook

coger – to take hold of, to catch, to seize, to grasp, to pick, to gather (fruit, etc.)

cognado – cognate (gram.)

cola – line, glue, tail; hacer cola – to stand in line

colegio – high school; college (occasionally)

colina – hill

colgar (ue) – to hang

collar (m.) – necklace

colocar – to place, to put

colón – currency of Costa Rica and El Salvador

Colón, Cristóbal – Christopher Columbus

colono/-a – colonist

comedor (m.) – dining room

comenzar (ie) – to begin, to start

comer – eat

comercio – business, commerce

comestibles (m. pl.) – food

cometer – to commit

comida – food, meal, evening meal

comienzo – beginning

como – like, how, as, because; así como – as well as; como si – as if; tan pronto como – as soon as

¿cómo? – how? why?; ¡cómo no! – of course

cómodo – comfortable

comoquiera – however

comparecer – to appear

compartir – to share

competir – to compete

complejo – complex

comportarse bien/mal – to behave well/badly

compositor/-a – composer

compra – purchase; ir de compras – to go shopping

comprar- to buy

comprender – to understand

comprometer(se) – to compromise, to bind, to pledge (oneself)

compromiso – commitment, compromise

común – common, usual, ordinary

con – with

concebir – to conceive

concluir – to conclude

concordar (ue) – to agree

condición: a condición de que – provided that

conducir – to drive, to conduct, to guide, to lead

conducto – (water) pipe

conductor/-a – driver, conductor

conferencia – lecture, talk

confianza – confidence, trust

conferencia – lecture, talk

confiar (en) – to confide, to trust (in)

confidencia – secret; secret or confidential information

conformarse con – to conform to

conforme – conformist, similar, in agreement; conforme a – in accordance with

congelado – frozen, very cold

congelar – to freeze

conmigo – with me

conocer – to know, to be acquainted/familiar with

conocido/-a – acquaintance; (adj.) known, well-known

conocimiento – knowledge

conseguir – to get, to obtain, to manage (to)

consejero/-a – adviser, counselor

consejo – (piece of) advice

consigo – with him(self), with her(self), with you (yourself)

constipado – stuffed-up, suffering from a cold

construir – to build, construct

contador/-a – accountant

contar (ue) – to count, to tell

contener – to contain

contenido – content(s)

contestar – to answer, to contest

contigo – with you

contra – against

contradanza – Spanish contra dance

contraer – to contract

contrariado – upset

convencer – to convince

convener – to be advisable/suitable, to suit, to be appropriate

convivir – to coexist, to cohabit

copa – alcoholic drink

corazón (m.) – heart

corbata – tie (clothing)

cordillera – mountain range

córdoba (m.) – currency of Nicaragua

coreano (adj.) – Korean

coro – choir, chorus

corona – crown, wreath

corredor/-a de bolsa – stockbroker

corregir (i) – to correct

correo – mail; correo electrónico – e-mail; oficina de correos – post office

correr – to run

corrida de toros – bullfight

corriente – current, present; standard, common; running

cortar – to cut

corte (f.) – court

cortés – courteous

cortina – curtain

corto – short

cosa – thing

cosecha – harvest

cosechar – to harvest

coser – to sew

costa – cost, coast

costar (ue) – to cost

costarricense – Costa Rican

costero – coastal

costurero/-a – tailor, seamstress

costumbre (f.) – custom

cotidiano – daily

crear – to create

crecer – to grow (up)

creciente – growing, increasing

crecimiento – growth

creencia – belief

creer – to believe

criado/-a – servant, maid

criar(se) – to rear, to grow up, to be raised

criollo – Creole

cresol (m.) – melting pot

crítica – criticism, critique

cronista (m., f.) – chronicler

crudo – raw

cruzar – to cross

cuaderno – notebook

cuál/es – which; el cual, la cual, los cuales, las cuales – which; por lo cual – because of which

¿cuál/es? – which?, what?

cualquier(a) – any, (anyone)

cuando – when; de ve en cuando – from time to time

¿cuándo? – when?

Cuanto – en cuanto – as soon as; cuanto antes – as soon as possible; en cuanto a – regarding, as for

¿cuánto/-a? – how much?

¿cuántos/-as? – how many?

cuarenta – forty

cuarto – four

cuatrocientos – four hundred

cubierto (p.p) – covered

cubrir – to cover

cuchara – spoon

cucharada – spoonful

cuchillo – knife

cuello – neck

cuenca – river basin, basin, bowl

cuenta – check, bill, account; darse cuenta de – to realice, to become aware of; tener/tomar en cuenta – to keep in mind, to take into account

cuentista (m., f.) short story writer

cuento – story, short story

cuerda – rope, cord

cuerdo – sane

cuero – leather

cuerpo – body

cuestión (f.) – issue, question

cuidado – care; con cuidado – carefully

cuidar (a, de) – to care (for), to take care (of)

culpa – blame, fault

culto (adj.) – learned, erudite, cultivated

culto (n.) – worship service; cult

cumbre (f.) – summit, high point

cumpleaños (s.) – birthday

cumplir – to accomplish, to fulfill; cumplir años – to have a birthday

cuñado/-a – brother-/sister-in-law

cuota – fee, quota

cura (m.) – priest

cuyo – whose


danés (m.) – Danish (lang.)

daño – harm; hacer daño – to harm; hacerse daño – to hurt oneself

dar – to give; dar a – to face; darse con – to run into; dar un paseo – to take a walk/ride; dar a conocer – to become known; dar lo mismo a + (person) – to make no difference to (someone), to be all the same to (someone); dar fruto – to bear fruit; darse por vencido – to surrender, to give up; dar a luz – to give birth

datar – to date

de – of, from, about; de todo – everything

¿de quién/-es? – whose?

debajo de – underneath

deber (n., m.) – responsibility, obligation

deber (v.) – to owe; deber + inf. – should

debido a – due to

débil – weak

décimo – tenth

decimonónico (adj.) – nineteenth-century

decir – to say, to tell

decretar – to decree

dedo – finger

dedo del pie – toe

deducir – to deduce

dejar – to leave (behind), to abandon, to let, to permit; dejar + de + inf. – to stop doing something, to fail to do something

del (contraction of de + el) – of the, from the

delante – in front, ahead; delante de – in front of

delatar – to denounce, to inform on

deletreo – spelling

delgado – thin

delito – crime

demás: los/las demás – the others, the rest

demasiado (adv.) – too, too much; (adj.) too much, too many

demonio – demon, devil

demora – delay

demorar – to delay

demostrar (ue) – to demonstrate

denominación (f.) – designation, title

denominar – to name, to designate

dentro de – inside, within

denuncia – accusation, denunciation

departamento – department, apartment

deporte (m.) – sport

deportista (n., m., f.) – sportsman/-woman; (adj.) sports-minded

deprimente – depressing

deprimir – to depress

derecha – right; a la derecho (de) – to the right (of)

derechista – right-wing

derecho (n.) – right, law; (adj.) – right; todo derecho – straight ahead

derramar – to spill

derrocamiento – overthrow

derrocar – to overthrow, to oust, to topple

derrota – to defeat

desafortunadamente – unfortunately

desagradable – unpleasant, disagreeable

desagradar – to displease

desaparecer – to disappear, to make disappear, to hide

desaparición (f.) – disappearance

desarrollo – development

desayunar(se) – to eat (have) breakfast

desayuno – breakfast

descansar – to rest

descarga – unloading

descargar – to unload

descendencia – descendants, lineage

descomponer – to break down, to decompose

descompuesto (p.p) – broken down

desconocer – to not know, to be ignorant of

desconocido(p.p.) (adj.) – unknown; (n.) – unknown person, stranger

descortés – discourteous

describir – to describe

descrito (p.p.) – described

descubierto (p.p.) – discovered

descubrimiento – discovery, poner al descubierto – to discover

descubrir – to discover

desde – from, since, after; desde luego – immediately; of course

desdeñar – to disdain, to deprecate

desear – to desire, to wish, to want

desempacar – to unpack

desempeñar – to play (a role), to act, to perform

desempleo – unemployment

desenterrar (ie) – to exhume, to disinter

deseo – desire, wish

desesperación – desperation, anger

deshacer – to undo

desgracia – misfortune; por desgracia – unfortunately

desgraciado – unfortunate

desigualdad (f.) – inequality

desilusión (f.) – disillusionment

desinflado: llanta desinflada – flat tire

desistir – to give up, to desist

desmayarse – to faint

desmentir (ie) – to disprove, to prove false

desnudo – naked, nude

desobedecer – to disobey

desocupado – unoccupied

desordenado – disorganized, messy

despacio – slowly

despectivo – pejorative, derogatory

despedida – farewell, good-bye

despedir(se) (de) – to dismiss, to fire, (to say good-bye, to take leave of)

despertador (m.) – alarm clock

despertar(se) (ie) – to wake (oneself) up

despierto – awake, clever

despreciar – to scorn, to look down on, to disdain, to deprecate

desprecio – disdain

después – after, afterwards, later; después de – after

destacar – to stand out

destino – destiny, destination

destruir – to destroy

desventaja – disadvantage

desviar – to deviate, to divert, to turn away

detener (like tener) – to stop, to arrest, to detain

detrás de – behind

devolución (f.) – return

devolver (ue) – to return (something)

día (m.) day; día feriado – holiday; todos los días – every day; hoy (en) día – nowadays

diario – newspaper, diary; (adj.) daily

dibujar – to draw, to outline, to sketch, to portray

dibujo – drawing, sketch, outline

dicha – luck, happiness, good fortune

dicho – saying, proverb; (p.p., adj.) – said, above-mentioned

dichoso – lucky, fortunate

diciembre – December

dictadura – dictatorship

diecinueve – nineteen

dieciocho – eighteen

dieciséis – sixteen

diecisiete – seventeen

diente (m.) – tooth

diez – ten

diezmar – to decimate, to tithe

diferencia: a diferencia de – unlike

difícil – difficult, hard; es difícil que – it’s unlikely that

dificultad – difficulty

difunto/-a (n.) – deceased, dead person; (adj.) dead

dignarse – to deign

dignidad (f.) – dignity

Dinamarca – Denmark

dinastía – dynasty

dinero – money

dios/-a – god/goddess; por Dios – for heaven’s sake

dirección (f.) – address, direction

dirigir – to drive, to direct

disco – record, disk; disco duro – hard drive

disculpa – excuse, apology

disculpar(se) – to pardon, to excuse (oneself)

discusión (f.) – argument, discussion

discutible – debatable, questionable

discutir – to argue, to discuss

diseñador/-a – designer

diseñar – to design

diseño – design

disfraz (m.) – costume, disguise

disfrutar (de) – to enjoy

disgustar – to be displeasing, to dislike

disminuir – to diminish, to lower

disparar – to shoot, to fire

disponible – available

dispuesto – disposed, ready, inclined

distinguir – to distinguish

distinto – different

distraer – to distract

distraído – absent minded, distracted

distribuir – to distribute

divertido – amusing, funny

divertir (ie) – to amuse; divertirse – to have a good time

doblado – dubbed

doce – twelve

docena – dozen

doctorado – doctorate

doler (ue) – to hurt, to ache

dolor (m.) – pain, ache

domingo – Sunday

don – titles of respect used with man’s first name

donde – where

¿dónde? – where; ¿adónde? – to where, where… to?; ¿de dónde? – from where?

dondequiera – wherever

doña – title of respect used with woman’s first name

dorado – golden, gilded

dormir (ue) – to sleep; dormirse – to fall asleep

dormitorio – bedroom

dos – two; dos veces – twice

doscientos – two hundred

dramaturgo/-a – playwright

dotar – to endow

duda – doubt

dudar – to doubt; no hay duda – there’s no doubt; sin duda – without a doubt

dudoso – doubtful

dueño/-a – owner, proprietor, landlord/landlady

dulce (n.,m.) – candy, sweet; (adj.) sweet

dulzura – sweetness

duradero – long-lasting, enduring

durante – during

duro – hard


e – and

echar – to throw (out), to expel; echarse + a + inf. – to begin (to do something); echar una carta – to mail a letter; echar de menos – to miss; echar a perder – to ruin

edad (f.) – age

edificio – building

editorial (f.) – publishing house

educado: bien educado – well-mannered; mal educado – ill-mannered

educar – to teach, to educate; to bring up, to rear

educativo – educational

efectivo – cash; en efectivo – in cash

efecto: en efecto – actually, really, in fact, indeed

eficacia – effectiveness, efficacy

eficaz – effective, efficacious

Egipto – Egypt

ejemplar (m.) – sample, copy

ejemplificar – to exemplify

ejercer – to exercise (influence); to practice (profession)

ejercicio – exercise

ejército – army

el (def. art.) – the

él (sub. pron.) – he, it

elegir (i) – to elect

elevar – to raise, to increase, to elevate

ella (sub. pron.) – she, it

ello (sub. pron., prep. obj. pron.) – it, that

ellos/-as (sub. pron.) – they; (prep. obj. pron.) them

elogiar – to praise

embalsamar – to embalm

embarazada – pregnant

embarazo – pregnancy

embargo: sin embargo – however, nevertheless

emblanquecer(se) – to whiten, (to become white)

emisora – broadcasting station

emocionante – exciting

empacar – to pack

emparejar – to match

emperador/-a – emperor/empress

empezar (ie) – to begin

empleado/-a – employee

emplear – to employ, to use

empleo – employment, job

empobrecer(se) – to impoverish (to become poor)

emprender – to undertake

empresa – business, firm; enterprise, undertaking

empujar – to push

empuje (m.) – push

en – in, on; en casa – at home; en caso de que – in case; en cuanto – as soon as; en fin – in short; en punto – on the dot; en seguida – right away, immediately; en vez de – instead of

enaltecer – to exalt, to extol, to praise

enamorado/-a – sweetheart, boyfriend/girlfriend; (adj.) – in love

enamorarse – to fall in love

encabezar – to lead, to head

encantado – enchanted, delighted; pleased to meet you

encantador – charming, delightful

encantar – to like very much, to enchant, to charm, to fascinate

encanto – fascination, delight

encarcelar – to imprison

encargado/a – person in charge

encargar – to put in charge, to entrust

encender (ie) – turn on, to light

enchufar – to plug in

enchufe (m.) – plug, socket; connection

encima de – on top of

encomendar (ie) – to entrust

encontrar (ue) – to find, to encounter; to be, to feel; to be located, to find oneself; encontrarse con – to meet (someone somewhere), to get together with

en cuanto a – as to, regarding

encuentro – encounter

endurecer(se) – to harden (to become hard)

enero – January

enfadarse – to anger, to get angry

énfasis (m., f.) – emphasis

enfatizar – to emphasize

enfermarse – to get sick

enfermedad (f.) – illness

enfermero/-a – nurse

enfermo – sick, ill

enflaquecer(se) – to make thin (to become thin)

enfocar – to focus

enfoque (m.) – focus

enfrentar – to confront

enfrente de – in front of; de enfrente – opposite, facing

enfriar(se) – to cool (to become cool/cold)

engañar – to deceive

engañoso – deceptive

engordar – to fatten, to become fat

enloquecer(se) – to go crazy, to madden (to go crazy/mad)

enmienda – amendment

ennegrecer(se) – to blacken (to become black)

enojar(se) – to anger (to get angry)

enorgullecer(se) – to make proud (to become proud, to pride oneself)

enriquecer(se) – to enrich (to become rich)

ensalada – salad

ensayo – trial, rehearsal, attempt, essay

enseñanza – teaching

enseñar – to teach

entender (ie) – to understand

enterarse (de) – to find out (about)

entero – whole, entire

enterrar (ie) – to bury, to inter

entonces – then; en aquel/ese entonces – in/at that period of time; para entonces – by then

entrada – entrée, entrance, ticket

entrar (a, en) – to enter, to go in/into

entre – between, among

entrega – delivery

entregar – to deliver, to hand in

entrenar – to train

entretanto – meanwhile

entretener (like tener) – to entertain

entrevista – interview

entrevistador/-a – interviewer

entristecer(se) – to sadden (to become sad)

entrometido – meddlesome

envejecer – to age, to make old, to grow old

enviar – to send

envidia – envy

envolver – to wrap

época – epoch, era, time

equilibrado – balanced

equipaje (m.) – luggage

equipo – team; set

equis – X (letter); rayo equis – X-ray

equivaler – to be equivalent, to equal

equivocación (f.) – mistake

equivocarse – to make a mistake

esbozo – sketch

escabechado – marinated

escalar – to climb

escalera – staircase, stairs, ladder

escaño – seat (elected office)

escarpado – rugged

escasez (f.) – scarcity

escaso – scarce, scant

escena – scene

escenario – scenario, setting

esclarecer – to make clear, to clarify, to lighten

esclavitud (f.) – slavery

esclavo/-a – slave

esclusa – lock (canal)

Escocia – Scotland

escoger – to choose

esconder(se) – to hide, to conceal (to hide oneself)

escondidas: a escondidas – secretly, on the sly

escondite (m.) – hiding place

escribir – to write; máquina de escribir – typewriter

escrito (p.p) – written; escritos (n., m. pl.) – writings

escritor/-a – writer

escuchar – to listen (to)

escuela – school; escuela secundaria – high school

escultor/-a – sculptor

escultura – sculpture

ese/-a (adj.) – that; (pron.) that one

esforzarse (ue) (en) – to make an effort (to)

esfuerzo – effort

eso (pron.) – that

esos/-as (adj.) – those; (pron.) – those ones

espacio – space

espalda – back

espantar – to frighten, to scare

espantoso – frightening

España – Spain

español (m.) – Spanish (lang.)

español/-a (n.) – Spaniard; (adj.) – Spanish

especialización (f.) – major, specialization

especializarse – to major, to specialize

especie (f.) – species, class, type

especificar – to specify

espejo – mirror

espera – wait; sala de espera – waiting room

esperanza – hope

esperar – to wait, to hope, to expect

espeso – thick, rich

espíritu (m.) – spirit

esposa/a – husband/wife, spouse

esquiar – to ski

esquina – corner

estable (adj.) – stable

estabilidad (f.) – stability

establecer – to establish

establecimiento – establishment

estación (f.) – season, station

estacionamiento – parking, parking lot

estacionar – to park

estadía – stay

estado – state; estado libre asociado – commonwealth

Estados Unidos – United States

estadounidense (n., m., f. n.) – American, U.S. native; (adj.) from or pertaining to the United States

estallar – to break out (war); to crash (airplane)

estampilla – stamp

estancia – stay; cattle ranch; country house

estanco – tobacco shop/stand

estante (m.) – shelf

estar – to be

estatal (adj.) – state

este/-a (adj.) – this; (pron.); er…uh… (hesitation word) (L.A.); this one; esta noche – tonight

este (n., m.) – east

estimado – dear, esteemed

esto (pron.) this; er… uh… (hesitation word (Sp.))

Estocolmo – Stockholm

estómago – stomach

estornudar – to sneeze

estos (adj.) – these; (pron.) – these

estrecho (adj.) – narrow, tight

estrecho (n.) – straight

estrella – star

estreno – debut, premiere

estrés (m.) – stress

estribar – to rest on, to be based on

estructuración (f.) – construction, organization

estudiante (m., f.) – student

estudiantil (adj.) – student

estudiar – to study

estudio – study

estudioso – studious

etapa – stage

euskera (m.) – Basque (lang.)

evaluar – to evaluate

evitar – to avoid

examen – test, examen

exigente – demanding

exigir – to demand

exiliado/-a – exile (person)

exiliarse – to exile oneself

exilio – exile

éxito – success; tener éxito – to be successful; gran éxito de venta – best-seller

exitoso – successful

experiencia – experiment; experience

experimentar – to experience; to experiment

explicación (f.) – explanation

explicar – to explain

explorar – to explore

explotar – to exploit

expulsar – to expel

extinto – extinct

extranjero – abroad, overseas

extranjero/-a (n.) – foreigner; (adj.) – foreign

extrañar – to miss (a person, place)

extrañarse – to be surprised, to be puzzled, to be in wonder

extrañeza – strangeness

extraño/-a (adj.) – strange; (n.) – stranger, foreigner


fábrica – factory

fabricar – to manufacture, to fabricate

fachada – façade

fácil – easy; es fácil que – it’s likely that

facilidad (f.) – facility, ease; con facilidad – easily

factura – bill, invoice

facturar – to check (luggage)

facultad (f.) – college (of a university)

falda – skirt

fallar – to fail, to be unsuccessful

fallecer – to succumb, to die

falta – lack, absence; error, mistake

faltar – to be lacking/missing/absent, to miss

familiar (n., m., f.) – family member; (adj.) pertaining to the family

fantasma (m.) – ghost

farmacéutico/-a – pharmacist

favor: por favor – please

febrero – February

fecha – date; fecha límite – deadline

felicidad (f.) – happiness

felicitaciones (f. pl.) – congratulations

feligrés/-esa (m. f.) – parishioner

feliz – happy

feo – ugly

feria (adj.) – fair

feriado: día feriado – holiday

feroz – ferocious

ferrocarril (m.) – railroad

festivo: día festivo – holiday

fiarse (de) – to trust (in)

ficticio – fictional

fiebre – fever

fijarse (en) – to notice, to pay attention (to)

fijo – fixed, stationary; precio fijo – fixed price

filósofo/-a – philosopher

fin (m., f.) – end; a fin de – in order that, so that; a fines de – at the end of; el fin de semana – weekend; por fin- finally

financiero – financial

finanzas (f. pl.) – finances

finca – farm

fingir – to pretend

firma – signature

firmar – to sign, to autograph

flaco – skinny, thin

flaqueza – thinness, weakness

flamenco – Flemish

flan (m.) – custard

flauta – flute

flecha – arrow

fletar – to charter

flor (f.) – flower

florecer – to flourish, to blossom

fondo – back, rear; bottom; bed (of a river, etc.); en el fondo – at the back, in the rear

fontanero/-a – plumber

forastero/a – stranger

forjar – to forge

forma: de todas formas – anyway

formulario – form (to fill out)

fortalecer – to strengthen, to fortify

fósforo – match (to light)

fotógrafo/-a – photographer

fracasar – to fail

fracaso – failure

francés (m.) – French (lang.)

francés/-esa (n.) – French person; (adj.) French

franquista – pertaining to government of Francisco Franco (Sp., 1939-1975)

frase (f.) – sentence, phrase

frecuencia – frequency; con frecuencia – frequently

freír (i) – to fry

frenos (m. pl.) – brakes

frente (f.) – forehead

fresco – fresh; cool (weather)

frijol (m.) – bean

frío (n.) – cold, coldness; (adj.) cold; hace frío – it’s cold; tener frío – to be cold

frito – fried; papa/patata frita – French fried potato (S.A., Sp., respectively)

frontera (n.) – border

fronterizo (adj.) – border, frontier

fruto – fruit; dar fruto – to bear fruit

fuego – fire

fuente (f.) – fountain, source

fuera (adv.) – outside; fuera de (prep.) – out of

fuerte (adj.) – strong; heavy (meal, food)

fuerte (n., m.) – fort

fuerza – force, strength

fugarse – to flee, to escape

fumador/-a – smoker

fumar – to smoke

funcionar – to work, function

fundar – to found

fundirse – to fuse

fútbol (m.) – soccer; fútbol americano – football

gafas (f. pl.) – eyeglasses; gafas del sol – sunglasses

Gales – Wales

gallego – Galician (lang.); gallego/-a (adj.) – Galician

gana – desire, hunger; tener ganas de + inf. – to feel like doing something

ganado (vacuno) – cattle, livestock

ganador/-a – winner

ganancia – profit, gain; (pl.) – earnings, winnings

ganar – to win, to earn, to gain

ganga – bargain

garganta – throat

garuar – to drizzle

gasolinera – gas station

gastar – to spend, to expend, to use

gasto – expense

gatas: a gatas – on all fours

gato/-a – cat

gemelo/-a – twin

general: por lo general – generally, usually

género – gender; genre; type

genio – genius

gente (f.) – people

gerencia – management

gerente (m., f.) – manager

gesto – gesture

gigantesco – gigantic

Ginebra – Geneva

gira – tour, excursion

gitano/-a (n.) – Gypsy; (adj.) – Gypsy

gobernar (ie) – to govern

gobierno – government

golfo – gulf, bay

goloso – sweet-toothed, gluttonous

golpe (m.) – blow, strike; golpe de estado – coup d’état; de golpe – suddenly

golpear – to hit, to strike

goma – rubber, tire

gordo – fat

gordura – fatness, fat, grease

gozar (de) – to enjoy

grabar – to tape

grabadora – tape recorder

gracias (f. pl.) – thanks; dar las gracias – to thank

gracioso – funny, comical

grado – degree

graduarse – to graduate

Gran Bretaña – Great Britain

gran, grande – big, large; great

grandeza – greatness, grandeur

granja – farm

granjero/-a – farmer

grasa – grease, fat

gratis – free, gratis

gratuito – free

grave – serious, grave

Grecia – Greece

griego – Greek (lang.)

griego (adj.) – Greek

gris – gray

grosero – rude, coarse, vulgar, discourteous

guante (m.) – glove

guaraní (m.) – Guarani (indigenous lang. of Paraguay)

guardar – to keep, to save, to guard; guardar cama – to stay in bed

guatemalteco – Guatemalan

guerra – war

guerrero/-a – warrior; (adj.) – war, war-like

guía (m., f.) – guide; (f.) guidebook

guión (m.) – script

guisante (m.) – pea

gustar – to like, to be pleasing

gusto – taste, preference, pleasure; con mucho gusto – pleased to meet you


La Habana – Havana

haber: (inf. of hay – there is, there are); to have (aux. v. only)

hábil – skillful

habilidad (f.) – ability, skill

habitación (f.) – room

habitante (m., f.) – inhabitant, resident

habitar – to inhabit, to live

hablar – to speak

hacha (but el hacha) – ax

hace + time – ago; hace (present tense of hacer) + time + que + present tense – to have done something

hacer – to make, to do; hacerse – to become; hacer caso (a, de) – to heed, to pay attention (to); hacer cola – to stand in line; hacerse daño – to hurt oneself; hacer las maletas – to pack one’s suitcases; hacer un papel – to play a role; hacer una pregunta – to ask a question; hacer trampas – to cheat; hacer un viaje – to take a trip; ¿qué tiempo hace? – what’s the weather like?; hace buen/mal tiempo – the weather is good/bad; hace calor – it’s warm/hot; hace frío – it’s cold; hacer hincapié – to insist on, to stress, to emphasize

hacia – toward

hacía (imperfect tense of hacer) + time + que + imperfect tense – had done something

hallar – to find

hambre (f., but el hambre) – hunger; tener hambre – to be hungry

harto – tired

hasta (adv.) – even; (prep.) until, up to, as far as; hasta que (conj.) – until

hay – there is, there are; hay que + infinitive – it is necessary to (do something)

hazmerreír (m.) – laughingstock

hebreo Hebrew (lang.)

hechizar – to bewitch

hecho (n.) – deed, fact; de hecho – in fact

hecho (p.p.) – done, made, taken

helado – ice cream

helar (ie) – to freeze

hembra – female

heredar – to inherit

heredero/-era – heir/heiress

herencia – inheritance; heritage

herida – wound, injury

herir (ie) – to injure, to wound

hermano/-a – brother/sister

hermoso – beautiful

hervir (ie) – to boil

hidalgo – nobleman

hielo – ice

hígado – liver

hijo/-a – son, daughter

hilo – thread

hincapié (m.): hacer hincapié en – to insist on, to stress, to emphasize

hipoteca – mortgage

hispanohablante (n.) – Spanish Speaker; (adj.) Spanish-speaking

historia – history, story

historiador/-a – historian

hogar (m.) – home

hoja – leaf; (sheet of) paper

hojear – to leaf through

hola – hello

holgazán/ana – lazy

hombre (m.) – man; hombre/mujer de negocios – businessman/-woman

hombro – shoulder

honrado – honest, upright

honrar – to honor

hora – time, hour

horario – schedule, timetable

hoy – today

huelga – strike (labor)

huella – trace, footstep

huérfano/-a – orphan

huerta – garden, orchard

hueso – bone

huésped/-a – guest

huevo – egg

huir – to flee

humedad (f.) – humidity

humor (m.): estar de buen/mal humor – to be in good/bad mood

húngaro/-a (adj.) – Hungarian

hurtadillas: a hurtadillas – stealthily, on the sly

ibérico (adj.) – Iberian

ida – departure; boleto de ida y vuelta – round-trip ticket

idioma (m.) – language

iglesia – church

ignorar – to be unaware/ignorant of, to not know

igual – same, equal; darle igual a uno – to be all the same to one

igualdad (f.) – equality

ileso – unhurt

imagen (f.) – image

impedir (i) – to stop, to impede, to prevent

imperio – empire

impermeable (m.) – raincoat

imponer – to impose

imprescindible – indispensable

impresionar – to impress

impreso (p.p.) – printed

impresora – printer

imprimir – to print

impuesto – tax

inaguantable – unbearable

incaico (adj.) – Inca, Incan

incendiar – to burn, to incinerate

incendio – fire

incertidumbre (f.) – uncertainty

incluir – to include

inclusive – including

incluso – including, even

inconcebible – inconceivable

incómodo – uncomfortable

inconforme – nonconformist, dissimilar

increíble – incredible

indeciso – indecisive

indefinido – indefinite

indirecta – hint

individuo (n.) – individual

indumentaria – clothes, clothing

inédito – unpublished

inesperado – unexpected

infeliz – unhappy

influir – to influence

influyente – influential

informática – computer science

informe (m.) – report

ingeniería – engineering

ingeniero/-a – engineering

ingeniero/-a – engineer

ingenuo – naive, innocent, ingenuous

inglés (m.) – English (lang.)

inglés/-esa (n.) – English person; (adj.) – English

ingresar – to join, to enter

injusto – unjust, unfair

inmediato – immediate; de inmediato – immediately

inolvidable – unforgettable

inquilino/-a – tenant

inscribirse – to register, to join, to enroll, to inscribe

intentar – to attempt, to try

intento – attempt

interés (m.) – interest

interesar – to interest, to be interesting

intérprete (m., f.) – interpreter

interrumpir – tp interrupt

intervenir – to intervene

íntimo – intimate, close (friend)

introvertido – introverted

inundación (f.) – flood, inundation

inundar – to flood, to inundation

invasor/-a – invader

inversión (f.) – investment; inversion

invertir (ie) – to invest, to invert

invierno – winter

invitado/-a – guest

invitar – to invite

inyección (f.) – shot, injection; poner una inyección – to give a shot/injection

ir – to go; irse – to go away; ir de compras – to go shopping; ir a parar – to end up

Irlanda – Ireland

irreal – unreal

isla – island

las Islas Malvinas – Falkland Islands

ístmico – isthmian, pertaining to an isthmus

izquierda (n.) – left-hand side; (adj.) left; a la izquierda – to the left

izquierdista (adj.) – leftist, left-wing

izquierdo (adj.) – left; levantarse con el pie izquierdo – to get up on the wrong side of the bed


jabón (m.) – soap

jactarse – to brag

jamás – ever, never

jamón (m.) – ham

jarabe (m.) – cough syrup

jardín (m.) – yard, garden

jefe/-a – boss

jerarquización (f.) – hierarchical arrangement

jerez (m.) – sherry

jornada – day’s journey; journey, trip

jota – J

joven (adj.) – young

joven (n., m., f.) – youth, young person

joya – jewel

joyero/-a – jeweler

joyería – jewelry store

jubilación (f.) – retirement

jubilarse – to retire

judío (adj.) – Jewish

judío/-a (n.) – Jew

juego – game

jueves – (m.) – Thursday

juez (m., f.) (also jueza, f.) – judge

jugador/-a – player

jugar (ue) – to play (game, sport)

jugo – juice

juicio – judgement, trial, verdict, sense; a mi juicio – in my opinion

julio – July

junio – June

junta – council, board, junta

juntarse – to assemble; to join, to unite

junto – together; junto a – next to

jurar – to swear

justo – just, fair

juvenil – youthful, juvenile

juventud (f.) – youth

juzgar – to judge


kiosco – kiosk


la (def. art.) – the; (d.o.) – her

ladino – Old Castilian (lang.)

lado – side; al lado de – next to; por un lado – on one hand; por otro lado – on the other hand; por todos lados – everywhere; por ningún lado – nowhere

ladrar – to bark

ladrillo – brick

ladrón/-ona (m.,f.) – thief

lagartija – lizard; rogue, rascal

lago – lake

lana – wool

lanzar – to throw; to launch

lápiz (m.) – pencil

largo – long; a lo largo de – throughout, along

lástima – pity, shame; es (una) lástima – it’s a pity, shame

lastimarse – to hurt oneself

lavadora – washing machine

lavandería – laundry

lavaplatos (m.s.) – dishwasher

lavar – to wash

lazo – bond, tie

le (i.o.) – to/for him, her, you (form.), it

leal – loyal

lección (f.) – lesson

leche (f.) – milk

lectura – reading

lechuga – lettuce

leer – to read

legumbre (f.) – vegetable

lejano – far, distant

lejos (adv.) – far, far-away; lejos de (prep.) – far from; a lo lejos – in the distance

lema (m.) – slogan

lempira (m.) – currency of Honduras

lengua – language, tongue

lenguaje (m.) – language, speech, idiom, jargon

lente (m.) – lens

lento – slow

leña – wood

les (i.o.) – to/for you (form. pl.), them

letra – handwriting, lyrics, letter (of alphabet)

letrero – sign

levantar – to raise, to lift; levantarse – to get up, to rise; levantarse con el pie izquierdo – to get up on the wrong side of the bed

ley (f.) – law

leyenda – legend

Líbano – Lebanon

libertad (f.) – liberty

libra – pound

libre – free; al aire libre – outdoors, in the open air

librería – bookstore

libro – book

licencia de manejar/conducir – driver’s license

licor (m.) – liquor

ligar – to attach, to tie, to link

ligero (adj.) – light

límite (m.) – boundary, limit; fecha límite – deadline

limón (m.) – lemon

limpiaparabrisas (m.s.) – windshield wiper

limpiar – to clean

limpio – clean

lindo – pretty

línea – line

Lisboa – Lisbon

listo – smart, clever; ready

llamada – call, telephone call

llamado – so-called

llamar – to call; llamarse – to be named/called

llano (adj.) – flat; (n.) – plain, flat land

llanta – tire; llanta desinflada – flat tire

llave (f.) – key

llegada – arrival

llegar – to arrive

llenar – to fill

lleno – full

llevar – to wear, to carry, to take, to lead; to have been (in a place for an amount of time); llevarse – to take/carry away; llevarse bien/mal – to get along well/badly

llorar – to cry

llover – to rain

llovizna – drizzle

lloviznar – to drizzle

lluvia – rain

lluvioso – rainy

lo (d.o.) – him; (neut. def. art.) the; lo bueno – the good part/thing; lo malo – the bad part/thing

lobo – wolf

local (m.) – place, site, building, locale

localizar – to find, to locate

loco – crazy

locura – madness, craziness

lograr – to achieve, to manage to (do something), to obtain

Londres – London

los (d.o.) – them, you (pl.); (def. art.) – the

lucha – struggle, fight

luchar – to struggle, to fight

luego – then, next, afterward, later; luego de (prep.) – after; hasta luego – until later, see you later

lugar (m.) – place; tomar lugar – to take place

lujo – luxury

lujoso – luxurious

lujuria – lust

luna – moon

lunes (m.) – Monday

luz (f.) – light


madera – wood

madre (f.) – mother

madrileño – inhabitant of Madrid; pertaining to Madrid

madrina – godmother

madrugada – dawn, early morning

madurez (f.) – maturity

maduro – maturity

maduro – mature

maestría – mastery, skill; master’s degree

maestro/-a – teacher, master, maestro; obra maestra – masterpiece

magia – magic

maíz (m.) – corn

mal (m., n.) – evil, disease, damage; (adv.) – badly, poorly

mal, malo (adj.) – bad

mala hierba – weed

malcriado – ill-mannered, rude

maldito – damned, accursed, perverse

maleta – suitcase; hacer las maletas – to pack one’s suitcase

mandar – to send, to order, to mandate; mandar hacer – to have (something) done (by another)

manejar – to drive, to manage, to govern

manera – manner, way; de manera que (conj.) – so that

manifestación (f.) – demonstration, manifestation

manifestante (m.,f.) – demonstrator

mano (f.) – hand; darse la mano – to shake hands

manso – tame

mantener (like tener) – to maintain, to keep, to support (financially)

mantequilla – butter

manzana – apple

mañana (n.) – morning; (adv.) tomorrow; pasado mañana – the day after tomorrow

mapuche (m.) – Mapuche/Araucanian (indigenous lang. of L. A.)

máquina – machine

mar (m., f.) – sea

maravilla – marvel, wonder

maravillarse – to marvel, to be surprised

maravilloso – marvelous

marca – brand

marcha – march, walk

marcharse – to go away, to leave

marfil (m.) – ivory

marido – husband

marinero/-a – sailor

marisco – shellfish

marrón – brown

Marruecos – Morocco

martes (m.) – Tuesday

Martinica – Martinique

marzo – March

mas – but

más – more

máscara – mask

mascota – pet

matar – to kill; matar a tiros – to shoot to death

mate: yerba mate – maté (tea, plant)

materia – subject (school); material

matrícula – tuition, registration, registration fee

matrimonio – married couple; marriage, matrimony

mayo – May

mayor – older, oldest; greater, greatest

mayoría – majority; la mayoría de + noun – most

mayúscula – capital letter

me (d.o., i.o., refl. pron.) – me, to/for me, myself

media: y media – half past, 30 minutes past

medianoche (f.) – midnight

mediante – by means of, through

medias (f., pl.) – stockings

médico/-a – physician, doctor

medida – measure; a medida que – as, at the same time as

medio (n.) – means, medium, middle; medio ambiente – environment; por medio de – by means of

medio (adj.) – half, middle, average

medioambiental – environmental

mediodía – noon

medios de comunicación – media

medir (i) – to measure

mejor – better, best; a lo mejor – at best,  probably

mejorar(se) – to improve (to get better)

mencionar – to mention

menester – necessary

menguar – to lessen, to diminish

menor – younger, youngest; less, least; minus

menos – less, least, minus; al menos – at least; por lo menos – at least; a menos que – unless; echar de menos – to miss; lo de menos – the least of it

mensaje (m.) – message

mensajero/a – messenger

mensual – monthly

mensualidad (f.) – monthly installment/payment/allowance

mente (f.) – mind

mentir (ie) – to lie

mentira – lie

mentiroso/-a – liar

menudo: a menudo – often

mercado – market

merecer – to deserve

mes – month

mesa – table

mestizaje (m.) – quality of being mestizo or mixed-race

meta – goal

meter – to put; meterse – to meddle

metrópoli (f.) – city, metropolis

mezcla – mixture

mezclar – to mix

mi(s) (poss. adj.) – my

microonda: horno de microonda – microwave oven

miedo – fear; tener miedo – to be afraid

miel (f.) – honey; luna de miel – honeymoon

mientras (conj.) – while; mientras que (conj.) – whereas; mientras tanto – meanwhile

miércoles (m.) – Wednesday

mil – one thousand

milla – mile

millón (m.) – million

mimado – spoiled (person, animal)

mimar – to spoil (person, animal)

minué (m.) – minuet

minoría (n.) – minority

minoritario (adj.) – minority

minúsculo (n.) – small letter, lower case letter

mío/-a – mine, of mine, my (emphatic)

mirar – to watch, to look at

mismo – same; very; myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves; ahora mismo – right now; dar lo mismo (+ i.o.) – to be the same to (someone), to make no difference to (someone)

mitad (f. n.) – half

mito – myth

mixteca – Mixtec (indigenous people of C.A.)

mochila – backpack

moda – fashion, style

moderar – moderate

modista – seamstress

modo – manner, way, mode; de todos modos – anyway; de este modo – in this manner; de modo que – so what

mojarse – to get wet

molestar – to bother

moneda – coin, currency

monja – nun

mono (n.) – monkey

monstruo – monster

montaña – mountain

montañoso – mountainous

montar – to ride; montar a caballo – to ride a horse; montar en bicicleta – to ride a bicycle

monte (m.) – mountain, mount

morado – purple

moreno – brunette, dark-haired

morir (ue) – to die

moro (n.) – Moor; (adj.) – Moorish

mosca – fly

Moscú – Moscow

mostrar (ue) – to show

moto(cicleta) (f.) – motorcycle

mover (ue) – to move

mozo/-a – boy/girl; waiter/waitress; (m.) – bellhop

muchacho/-a – boy/girl

muchedumbre (f.) – crowd

mucho (adv.) – a lot, much

mucho (adj.) – a lot (of), many; muchas veces – often, frequently; mucho gusto – pleased to meet you

mudanza – move

mudarse – to move (residence)

mudo – mute

mueble (m.) – piece of furniture

mueblería – furniture store

muebles (m. pl.) – furniture

muela – molar, tooth

muerte (f.) – death; la pena de muerte – death penalty

muerto (p.p.) – died, dead

muerto/-a – a dead man/woman

muestra – sample

mujer (f.) – woman

mula – mule

multa – fine

mundial (adj.) – world

mundo (n.) – world

muñeca – wrist; doll

municipio – municipality

muro – wall

museo – museum

músico/-a – musician

mutuo – mutual

muy – very; muy buenas – good afternoon, good evening


nacer – to be born

nada – nothing, not anything; (adv.) not… at all; de nada – you’re welcome

nadar – to swim

nadie – no one, nobody, not anybody

nahua – indigenous people of Mexico

nahuatl (m.) – Aztec language

Nápoles – Naples

naranja – orange

nariz (f.) – nose

narrar – to narrate

natación – swimming

natal – native, natal

natural (n., m., f.) – native; recursos naturales – natural resources

naturaleza – nature

navegante (m., f.) – navigator

navegar – to navigate; navegar la red – to surf the net

Navidad (f.) – Christmas

necesidad (f.) – necessity

necesitar – to need

necio – foolish, silly

negación – negation, denial

negar (ie) – to deny

negocio – business

negro – black

neoyorquino/-a (n.,m., f.) – New Yorker; (adj.) pertaining to New York

nevar (ie) – to snow

ni – neither, not either; ni…ni – neither…nor; ni siquiera – not even

niebla – fog, mist

nieto/-a (m., f.) – grandson/granddaughter; (pl.) grandchildren

ninguno – no, none, not any

niñez (f.) – childhood

niño/-a (m., f.) – small child; boy/girl

nivel (m.) – level

no – no, not; ya no – no longer; ¿no? – right?, don’t you?, don’t they?, etc

nobleza – nobility

noche (f.) – night; buenas noches – good evening, good night; esta noche – tonight; todas las noches – every night; Noche Vieja – New Year’s Eve

Nochebuena – Christmas Eve

nombrar – to name

nombre (m.) – name; nombre de pila – first name

noroeste (n., m.) – northwest

norte (n., m.) – north

norteño/-a (m., f.) – Northerner; (adj.) – northern

Noruega – Norway

noruego – Norwegian (lang.)

nos (d.o., i.o., refl. pron.) – us, to/for us, ourselves


nosotros/-as (sub. pron., prep. obj. pron.) – we; us

nota – grade; note

notar – to note, to point out, to jot down

noticia – piece of news; (pl.) news

noticiero – newscast

novecientos – nine hundred

novedades (f. pl.) – news

noveno – ninth

noventa – ninety

noviazgo – engagement, courtship

noviembre – November

novio/-a (m., f.) – boyfriend/girlfriend, fiancé/fiancée, groom/bride

nube (f.) – cloud

nublado – cloudy

nuera – daughter-in-law

nuestro (poss. adj.) – of ours, our (emphatic)

Nueva Zelanda/Zelandia – New Zealand

nueve – nine

nuevo – new; Día del Año Nuevo – New Year’s Day

número  number, size

nunca – never


o – or; o…o – either… or

obedecer – to obey

obra – work (of art, literature); en obras – under construction; obra maestra – masterpiece

obrero/-a – worker, laborer

obstinarse (en) – to persist (in)

obtener (like tener) – to obtain

ocasionar – to cause, to occasion

occidental – western, occidental

ochenta – eighty

ocho – eight

ochocientos – eight hundred

octavo – eighth

octubre – October

ocupado – occupied, busy

ocurrir – to happen, to occur

odiar – to hate

oeste (n., m.) – west

ofender – to insult, to offend

oferta – offering

oficina – office

oficio – trade

ofrecer – to offer

oído – inner ear

ojalá (que) – I wish, I hope, if only

ojo – eye; ¡ojo! – watch out!

oler (ue) (a) – to smell (like)

olmeca – Olmec (indigenous people of Mexico)

olvidar(se) (de) – to forget

olvidadizo – forgetful

olvido (n.) – oblivion

once – eleven

onza – ounce

oponer(se) (a) (like poner) – to oppose, (to be opposed to)

óptimo – favorable, excellent

opuesto – opposite

oración (f.) – sentence (gram.); oration; speech, prayer

orden (f.) – order, command

orden (m.) – order, sequence, methodical arrangement

ordenado – orderly

ordenador (portátil) (m.) (Sp.) – (laptop) computer

oreja – outer ear

orgullo – pride; haughtiness

orgulloso – proud; haughty

originario (adj.) – native, originating

oriundo (adj.) – native

oro – gold

orquesta – orchestra

ortografía – spelling, orthography

os (d.o, i.o, refl. pron.) – you (fam. pl.), to/for you (fam. pl.), yourselves (fam. pl.)

oscuro – dark

oso – bear

otoño – autumn, fall

otorgamiento – granting, awarding, bestowing

otorgar – to bestow, to grant, to give

otro – other, another; otra vez – again

oveja – sheep

ozono: capa de ozono – ozone layer


padecer (de) – to suffer from

padre (m.) – father, priest; (pl.) parents

paella – Spanish dish typically made with rice and shellfish

pagar – to pay; pagar en efectivo – to pay (in) cash

página – page

país (m.) – country, nation

paisaje (m.) – countryside, landscape

el País Vasco – Basque Country

los Países Bajos – the Low Countries

pájaro – bird

palabra – word

palabrota – obscenity, profanity

pampa – plain (grassland of Arg.)

pan (m.) – bread; Pan de Azúcar – Sugar Loaf (Mountain) in Brazil

panameño – Panamanian

pandilla – group of friends, gang

pantalones (m., pl.) – pants

pantalla – screen

pañuelo – handkerchief

papá (m.) – father, dad

papa (m.) – pope

papa – potato (S.A.)

papel (m.) – paper; role; hacer un papel – to play a role

papelería – stationery store

paquete (m.) – package

para – for; in order to, by; para que – so that, in order that

parabrisas (m., s.) – windshield

paracaídas (m., s.) – parachute

parada – stop

paraguas (m., s.) – umbrella

parar – to spot

pararrayo(s) – lightning rod

pardo – brown

parecer – to seem; parecerse a – to resemble; ¿qué te/le parece? – what do you think?

parecido – similar

pared (f.) – wall

parentesco – family relationship

pariente (m., f.) – relative

parque – park

párrafo – paragraph

parte (f.) – part, place; por todas partes – everywhere; en ninguna parte – nowhere

particular – private, personal; particular, special, extraordinary

partida – departure

partido – game, match; political party

partitura – musical store

pasado – past

pasaje (m.) – ticket, passage; pass, alley

pasamano(s) – handrail

pasar – to spend (time), to pass, to happen, to cross; pasar por – to stop by; pasar + a + inf. – to go or come in; pasarlo bien/mal – to have a good/bad time

pasatiempo – pastime

pasear – to take a stroll, to stroll

pasillo – hallway, corridor

paso – set, pace; passage (of time); pass, path; abrirse paso – to make one’s way

patata – potato (Sp.)

patinar – to skate

patria – country, native land, homeland

pavimentar – to pave

pavo – turkey

paz (f.) – peace

peatón/-ona (m., f.) – pedestrian

pecho – chest

pedazo – piece

pedir (i) – to request, to ask for; pedir prestado – to borrow

peine (m.) – comb

pelear(se) – to fight

película – film, movie

peligro – danger

peligroso – dangerous

pelo – hair

pelota – ball

peluquero/-a – hair stylist

pena – pity; punishment; trouble; pena de muerte – capital punishment; valer la pena – to be worthwhile

pensar (ie) (+inf) – to think (to intend to do something)

peor – worse, worst

pequeño – small

percibir – to perceive

perder (ie) – to lose; to miss

pérdida – loss, damage

perdonar – to forgive, to pardon

perecer – to perish

pereza – laziness

perezoso – lazy

periódico – newspaper

periodismo – journalism

periodista (m., f.) – journalist

perjudicar – to harm

permiso – permission

pero – but

perro/-a – dog

perseguir (i) – to pursue, to chase; to persecute

personaje (m.) – character (lit.), personage

pertenecer – to belong

perturbar – to disturb, to perturb

peruano – Peruvian

pesado – dull, heavy, boring

pésames (m., pl.) – condolences

pesar: a pesar de – in spite of

pesca – fishing

pescar – to fish

pescado – fish (when caught)

pese: pese a – in spite of

peseta – former currency of Spain

peso – weight; currency of Mexico and various other S. A. countries

pez (m.) – fish (alive)

picante – spicy, hot

picaresco – picaresque (lit.)

pie (m.) – foot; al pie de – at the bottom (foot) of

piedra – stone

piel (f.) – skin

pierna – leg

pieza – piece, part; room; play

pila: nombre de pila – first name

píldora – pill

pimentón (m.) – paprika

pintar – to paint

pintor/-a – painter

pintura – painting, paint

Pirineos (m., pl.) – The Pyrenees

pisapapeles (m., pl.) – paperweight

pisar – to step on

piscina – swimming pool

pisco – grape brandy

piso – floor; story (building); apartment (Sp.); primer piso – second floor

pizarra – chalkboard

placer (m.) – pleasure

planchar – to iron

planear – to plan

planificar – to plan

planta – plant; planta baja – first floor, ground floor

plantear – to pose (question), to present

plata – silver; money (coll., L.A.)

plátano – banana

platicar – to chat

platillo – saucer

plato – plate, dish

playa – beach

plaza – square

pleito – lawsuit

pleno – full

plomero/-a – plumber

población – publication, citizenry

poblador/-a – settler, inhabitant

poblar (ue) – to populate, to people, to settle, to colonize

pobre – poor; unfortunate

pobreza – poverty

poco (adj.) – little; (pl.) – few; un poco de – a little bit of; poco a poco – little by little

podar – to prune, to cut, to mow

poder – to be able to, can

poder (n., m.) – power

polca – polka

policía (m., f.) – policeman, policewoman; (f.) police force

policíaco – pertaining to police

política – politics

político/-a – politician

pollo – chicken

Polonia – Poland

polvo – dust

poner – to put; to turn on; to name; ponerse (+ adj.– to become, to get; ponerse (+ n., pron.) – to put on (clothing); ponerse a (inf.) – to begin to do something; poner la mesa – to set the table; poner una multa – to give a fine

por – for, by, through, around, along, in exchange for; por la mañana/tarde/noche – in the morning/afternoon, at night; por ciento – percent; por completo – completely; por eso – therefore, that’s why; por fin – finally; por lo general – in general, generally, usually; por lo menos – at least; por si acaso – just in case; por supuesto – of course; por todas partes/todos lados – everywhere, on all sides; por último – finally; por un lado – on one hand

¿por qué? – why

porque – because

portátil – portable

porvenir (m.) – future

poseer – to possess, to own

posponer (like poner) – to postpone

postre (m.) – dessert

potencia – power, potency

prado – meadow, field

El Prado – art museum in Madrid

precio – price

preciso – necessary; precise

precolombino – pre-Colombian

predecir (like decir) – to predict, to forecast

predicar – to preach

preferir (ie) – to prefer

pregunta – question; hacer una pregunta – to ask a question

preguntar – to ask

prejuicio – prejudice, bias

premio – prize

prender – to turn on

prensa – press; prensa libre – free press

preocupado – preoccupied

preocupar(se) (por, de) – to worry (about)

preparar – to prepare

preparativos (pl.) – preparations

prescribir – to prescribe

presenciar – to witness

presión – pressure

préstamo – loan

prestar – to lend; prestar atención – to pay attention

prestigio – prestige

prestigioso – prestigious

presupuesto – budget

pretender – to claim

prevalecer – to prevail

prevaleciente – prevalent, prevailing

prevenir – to prevent, to warn, to forestall

prever (like ver) – to foresee

previo – previous

primario – primary

primavera – spring

primero – first; a primera vista – at first glance

primo/-a – cousin; primo/a hermano/a – first cousin

princesa – princess

príncipe (m.) – prince

principio – beginning; principle

prisa – hurry, haste; tener prisa – to be in a hurry

probabilidad (f.) – probability

probar (ue) – to taste, to try on, to experiment, to prove

proceder – to originate

procedimiento – procedure, process, method

proceso – trial, process, method

procurar – to seek, to endeavor, to strive, to try

producir – to produce

profundo – deep

prohibir – to prohibit

promedio – average

prometer – to promise

pronto – soon; tan pronto como (posible) – as soon as (possible); de pronto – suddenly

pronunciar – to pronounce

propina – tip

propio – own; very; self; himself, herself, itself, yourself (fam., form.), themselves, yourselves (fam. pl., form. pl.)

proponer (like poner) – to propose

propósito – purpose, aim object; a propósito – by the way

proscribir – to prohibit, to proscribe

proteger – to protect

provenir (like venir) – to come from, to originate

proximidad (f.) – proximity

próximo – next

proyectar – to project

proyecto – to project

prueba – test, quiz; proof

pueblo – town; people

puerta – door

puerto – port

puertorriqueño – Puerto Rican

pues – well

puesto (p.p.) – put; (n.) – position (job), place (in line), stand (where something is sold); puesto que (conj.) – because, since

pulgar (m.) – thumb

pulir – to polish, to perfect

pulmón (m.) – lung

punto – point; en punto – on the dot, sharp (time)

puntual – punctual

puñal (m.) – dagger

puñalada – stab (with a dagger, knife)

puño – fist

pureza – purity, pureness

puro (n.) – cigar

púrpura – purple


que – that, who, which; lo que – what; así que – therefore, consequently; hay que + inf. – to be necessary to do something

¿qué? – what?, which?; ¿qué tal? – how are you (doing)?

¡qué! – what…!; qué + noun…! – what a…!

quechua – Quechua (indigenous [Inca/Incan] language)

quedar(se) – to remain, to stay, to be; quedar en – to agree to; quedarse con – to keep

quehacer (m.) – task, chore

quejarse (de) – to complain (about)

quemadura – burn

quemar – to burn

querer (ie) – to want, to love; fue sin querer – it was unintentional

querido – dear, beloved

queso – cheese

quetzal (m.) – Quetzal (currency of Guatemala)

quiché (m.) – Quiché (indigenous [Mayan] language) quien/es – who, whom

¿quién/-es? – who?, whom?; ¿de quién/-es? – whose?

quienquiera – whoever

química – chemistry

quince – fifteen

quinientos – five hundred

quinto – fifth

quitamanchas (m. pl.) – stain remover

quitanieves (m. pl.) – snow plow

quitar – to take away, to deprive; quitarse – to take off (clothing)

quizá(s) – perhaps, maybe


rabino/-a – rabbi

raíz (f.) – root, stem

rama – branch

raptar – to kidnap

rapto – kidnapping, abduction

raro – strange, rare; rara vez – seldom, rarely

rascacielos (m. pl.) – skyscraper

rasgar – to tear

rato – while, short time

ratón – mouse

raza – race; Día de la Raza – Columbus Day, Hispanic Awareness Day

razón (f.) – reason; tener razón – to be right; no tener razón – to be wrong

razonable – reasonable

reaccionar – to react

real –  real; royal

realidad (f.) – reality; en realidad – really

realizar – to achieve, to carry out, to realize

reanudar – to renew

rebelde (m., f.) – rebel; (adj.) rebellious

recado – message

recepción – reception desk

receta – prescription, recipe

recetar – to prescribe

rechazar – to reject, to turn down

recibir – to receive

recién – recently; recién casado – newlywed; recién nacido – newborn

reciente – recent

reciprocidad (f.) – reciprocity

recoger – to pick up, to gather

recomendar (ie) – to recommend

reconocer – to recognize

reconocimiento – recognition, gratitude

recordar (ue) – to remember, to remind

recorrer – to pass through, to cover (territory)

recrear – to recreate

recreo – recreation

rector/-a – university president, chancellor

recuerdo – memory, souvenir

recurso – resource

red (f.) – network, net, Internet; navegar la red – to surf the net

redacción – editorial department/office, editing

redactar – to edit

redondo – round

reducir – to reduce

reducción – reduction

reemplazar – to replace

referirse (ie) (a) – to refer (to)

reflejar – to reflect

refrán (m.) – proverb

refrescante – refreshing

refresco – soft drink

refugiado/a – refugee

refugio – refuge

regalo – gift

regalar – to give as a gift

regatear – to haggle, to bargain

regir (i) – to guide, to govern, to rule

registrar – to search, to examine

regla – rule

regresar – to return

regreso – return

regular – average, so-so; regular

reina – queen

reinado – reign

reino – kingdom, realm

Reino Unido – the United Kingdom

reír(se) (i) (de) – to laugh (at)

relacionar – to relate, to connect, to associate

relajarse – to relax

relámpago – lightning, flash of lightning

reloj (m.) – watch, clock

remedio – remedy

rendir (i) – to yield, to produce; to render; to surrender

renombre (m.) – renown, fame

renovar (ue) – to renovate

renunciar – to resign

reparación – repair

reparar – to repair

reparar – to repair

repasar – to review

repaso – review

repente: de repente – suddenly

repetir (i) – to repeat

repicar – to click

repleto – full, replete

reponer (like poner) – to respond

reportaje (m.) – report, feature article

reportero/-a – reporter

representante (m., f.) – representative

requerido – required

requisito – requirement

res (f.) – cattle, beef

resaca – hangover

rescate (m.) – rescue

reseña – outline, sketch, brief description, review

reseñar – to outline, to sketch, to describe briefly, to review

resfriado – cold (illness)

residencia – dormitory, residence

resolver (ue) – to solve, to resolve

resonar (ue) – to resound, to resonate

respaldar – to support, to back

respaldo – endorsement, support, backing

respecto: con respecto a – regarding

respetar – to respect

respeto – respect

respiración – breathing

respirar – to breathe

responder – to respond, to answer

responsabilidad (f.) – responsibility

responsable (m., f.) – responsible person; (adj.) responsible

respuesta – answer, response

restos (m. pl.) – remains

resultado – result

resultar – to result in, to turn out to be

resumen (m.) – summary

resumir – summarize

retener – to retain

retrasar(se) – to be late, to delay

retratar – to portray

retrato – portrait

reunión (f.) – meeting, reunion

reunir – to reunite; reunirse – to get together

revisar – to check, to search (luggage); to revise

revista – magazine

rey (m.) – king; los Reyes Católicos – The Catholic Monarchs/Kings (Ferdinand and Isabella)

rico – rich; tasty

riesgo – risk

rincón (m.) – corner

riñón (m.) – kidney

río – river

riqueza – wealth, richness

risa – laughter

ritmo – rhythm

rito, rite, ritual

robar – to steal

robo – robbery

roca – rock

rocoso – rocky; Montañas Rocosas – Rocky Mountains

rodilla – knee

rodar (ue) – to roll

rojo – red

rojura – redness, ruddiness

romper – to break

ropa – clothing, clothes; ropa interior – underwear

rosa – rose

rosado – pink

roto (p.p.) – boken

rubio – blond(e)

ruedo – wheel

ruido – noise

ruidoso – noisy

ruin – bad, vicious

ruina – ruin

Rusia – Russia

ruso/-a – Russian (person); (adj.) – Russian

rutina – routine, habit

rutinario – routine


sábado – Saturday

sabelotodo – know-it-all

saber – to know, to taste; saber + inf. – to know how to do something

sabiendas: a sabiendas – knowingly, wittingly, consciously

sabio – wise

sabor (m.) – taste, flavor; sabor picante – spiciness

sabroso – savory, tasty

sacar – to take out, to remove, to get (a grade), to take (photos), to extract

sacerdote (m.) – priest

saciar – to sate, to satiate

sacudir – to dust

sagrado – sacred, holy

sal (f.) – salt

sala – room, living room; sala de clase – classroom; sala de emergencia – emergency room; sala de espera – waiting room

salchicha – sausage

salida – exit, departure

salir – to leave, to go out; salir bien/mal – to turn out well/ badly

salón (m.) – living room, reception room, drawing room, salon

salsa – sauce

salvavidas (m. pl.) – lifeguard; life jacket

saltar – to jump

salto –  waterfall; jump

salud (f.) – health

saludar – to greet

saludo – greeting

salvadoreño – Salvadoran

salvaje – wild, savage

salvar – to save

salvo – except; safe; sano y salvo – safe and sound

san – shortened form of santo (saint)

sangrar – to bleed

sangre (f.) – blood

sangriento – bloody

sano – healthy; sano y salvo – safe and sound

satisfacer (like hacer) – to satisfy

satisfecho (p.p., adj.) – satisfied

se (refl. pron.) – oneself, himself, herself, yourself (form.), itself, themselves, yourselves (form. pl. [fam. pl., S.A.])

sea: o sea – in other words

secar(se) – to dry (to get dry, to dry oneself)

seco – dry

secuestrar – to kidnap, to hijack

secuestrar – to kidnap, to hijack

secuestro – kidnapping, hijacking

secundaria – secondary; escuela secundaria – high school

sed (f.) – thirst; tener sed – to be thirsty

seda – silk

sefardita – Sephardic

seducir – to seduce

seguida: en seguida – right away, immediately

seguir (i) – to follow, to continue, to keep on (doing something), to be

según – according to

seguridad (f.) – security, safety

seguro (adj.) – sure, certain; safe

seguro (n.) – insurance

seis – six

seiscientos – six hundred

seleccionar – to select, to choose

sello – stamp

selva – jungle

selvático – jungly, wooded; of the jungle, of the woods

semáforo – traffic light

semana – week

sembrar (ie) – to sow, to seed, to plant

semejante – similar

sencillez (f.) – simplicity

sencillo – simple

sensibilidad (f.) – sensitivity, sensibility; sensible – sensitive

sentarse (ie) – to sit down

sentido – meaning, sense

sentimiento – feeling, sentiment, emotion

sentir – to feel (an emotion); to regret, to feel sorry; lo siento – I’m sorry; sentir(se) (ie) – to feel

señalar – to point out, to signal

señor (m.) – sir, Mr., gentleman

señora – ma’am, Mrs., lady

señores (m. pl.) – Mr. and Mrs.

señorita – Miss, young woman, Ms.

sepa: que yo sepa – as far as I know

septiembre – September

séptimo – seventh

sequía – draught

ser – to be; puede ser – maybe, may be, it may be; ser humano – human being

serie (f.) – series

serio – serious; en serio – seriously

servidumbre (f.) – servitude

servir (i) – to serve, to be useful

sesenta – sixty

setecientos – seven hundred

seviche (m.) (also, ceviche, cebiche) – marinated fish dish, especially of Peru

sexto – sixth

si – if; si bien – although; por si acaso – just in case

sí – yes; yo sí trabajo – I do work (emphatic meaning when used with v.)

siempre – always; siempre que – as long as, provided that

sierra – mountain range; saw

siesta – nap

siete – seven

siglo – century

significado – meaning

significar – to mean

siguiente – following, next

silla – chair

silvestre – wild

simbolizar – to symbolize

simpático – friendly, nice

simpatizar – to get along will with, to hit it off with

sin – without; sin duda – without doubt; sin embargo – however, nevertheless; sin que (conj.) – without

sino – but, but rather; except; no… sino – only; sino que (conj.) – but, but rather

síntoma (m.) – symptom

siquiatra (m., f.) – psychiatrist

siquiera: ni siquiera – not even

sitio – place, room (space), location

soberanía – sovereignty, independence

soberano (n.) – sovereign; (adj.) – sovereign

soberbio – haughty

sobornar – to bribe

sobre (prep.) – on, on top of; about; sobre todo – above all

sobre (n., m.) – envelope

sobresaliente – outstanding, remarkable

sobresalir – to stand out, to jut out

sobrino/-a – nephew/niece

sociedad – society

socorro – help, aid

sofocante – stifling, oppressive

sofocar – to suffocate

sol (m.) – sun, hacer sol – to be sunny; tomar el sol – to sunbathe

solas: a solas – alone

soldado – soldier; mujer (f.) soldado – female soldier

soledad (f.) – solitude

soler (ue) – to be accustomed to, to be in the habit of

solicitar – to apply for, to ask for, to solicit

solicitud (f.) – application form

sólo (adv.) – only

solo (adj.) – alone

soltar (ue) – to let loose, to let go

soltero – unmarried, single

solucionar – to solve

sombra – shade

sombrero – hat

sombrío – somber, dark

someter – to subdue

sonar (ue) – to ring, to sound

soñar (ue) (con) – to dream (about)

sonreír (i) – to smile

sonrisa – smile

sopa – soup

soplar – to blow

soportar – to bear, to endure, to stand, to put up with

sor (f.) – sister (used before a nun’s name)

sordo –  deaf

soroche (m.) – altitude sickness

sorprender – to surprise

sorprendente – surprising

sorpresa – surprise

sospecha – suspicion

sospecha – suspicion

sospechar – to suspect

sospechoso – suspicious

sostener (like tener) – to sustain, to support, to hold, to hold up

su(s) (poss. adj) – his, her, its, your (form.), their, your (form. pl. [fam. pl., L.A.])

súbitamente – suddenly

súbito: de súbito – suddenly

subir (a) – to go up, to raise, to carry up, to get on (a vehicle)

sublevación (f.) – revolt

subrayar – to underline, to highlight

subsiguiente – subsequent

substraer (like traer) – to take away, to remove; to misappropriate; to subtract

suburbio – slum; suburb

sucio – dirty

sucre (m.) – currency of Ecuador

sucursal (m.) – branch (office)

sudar – to sweat

Suecia – Sweden

sueco – Swedish

suegro/-a – father-/mother-in-law

sueldo – salary

suelo – soil; floor

sueño – dream; sleepiness; tener sueño – to be sleepy

suerte (f.) – luck; por suerte – luckily; tener suerte – to be lucky

sufrimiento – suffering

sufrir – to suffer

sugerencia – suggestion

sugerir (ie) – to suggest

Suiza – Switzerland

suizo – Swiss

suma – sum, amount

sumamente – extremely

sumar – to add, to do addition

sumiso – submissive

superficie (f.) – surface

suponer (like poner) – to suppose

supuesto (p.p., adj.) – supposed, assumed; por supuesto – of course

sur (n., m.) – south

sureño/-a – Southerner; (adj.) – southern

surgir – to arise, to spring up

suroeste (n.,m.) – southwest

suscitado – provocative

suscitar – to provoke

suscribir (like escribir) – to subscribe

susodicho – above-mentioned

suspender – to fail (a class); to cut off (a benefit)

sustantivo (gram.) – noun

sustituir – to substitute

sustraer (like traer) – to subtract; to take away, to remove

sutil – subtle

suyo (poss. adj.) – his, her, your (form.), its, their, your (form. pl.); of his, of hers, of yours (form.), of its, of theirs, of yours (form. pl. [fam. pl., S.A.])


tabacalera – tobacco shop

tabaco – tobacco

tabú (m.) – taboo; (adj.) taboo

taíno – indigenous people of Puerto Rico

tal – such, such a; tal como – just as; con tal (de) que (conj.) – provided that; tal vez – maybe

taller (m.) – repair shop, studio

también – also, too

tambor (m.) – drum

tampoco – neither, not… either

tan – so, as; tan…como – as; tan pronto como – as soon as

tanque (m.) – tank

tanto – so much; tanto como – as much as

tanto (adj.) – so much; tanto como – as much as

tanto (adj.) – as much, so much; tanto/-a(s)… como – as much/many…as

tardar (en) – to take time (to do something), to delay (in)

tarde (f.) – afternoon, evening; de la tarde – in the afternoon, p.m.; por la tarde – in the afternoon; tarde (adv.) – late; tarde o temprano – sooner or later

tardío (adj.) – late, belated

tarea – task, homework

tarjeta – card

taxista (m., f.) – taxi driver

taza – coffee cup, tea cup

te (d.o., i.o., refl. pron.) – you, to/for you, yourself

té (m.) – tea

teatro – theater

tecla – key (on keyboard)

teclado – keyboard

tela – fabric, cloth

telenovela – soap opera

televisor (m.) – television set

tema (m.) – topic, theme

temático – thematic

temblar (ie) – to tremble, to shake

temer – to fear

temor (m.) – fear

tempestad (f.) – storm

templado – mild, moderate, temperate

templo – temple

temporada – season

temporal – temporary

temprano – early

tender (ie) (+ a + inf.) – to tend (to do something)

tenencia – holdings

tener – to have; tener años – to be… years old; tener calor/frío – to be warm, hot/cold; tener celos – to be jealous; tener cuidado – to be careful; tener éxito – to be successful; tener hambre/sed – to be hungry/thirsty; tener ganas de + inf. – to feel like doing something; tener la culpa – to be guilty/at fault; tener lugar – to take place; tener miedo – to be afraid; tener prisa – to be in a hurry; (no) tener razón – to be right (wrong); tener sueño – to be sleepy; tener suerte – to be lucky; tener vergüenza – to be ashamed; tener + que + inf. – to have to do something; tener en cuenta – to take into account, to bear in mind; tener que ver con – to have to do with

teoría – theory

teórico – theoretical

tercero – third

terco – stubborn

terminar – to finish

término – term

terremoto – earthquake

terreno – land, ground, terrain

ternura – tenderness

tertulia – social gathering, get-together

tesis doctoral (f.) – doctoral dissertation (thesis)

tesoro – treasure

testamento – will, testament

testigo (m., f.) – witness

ti (prep. obj. pron.) – you

tiempo – weather; time; (gram.) tense; a tiempo – on time

tienda – store

tierno – tender

tierra – land, earth

tigre (m.) – tiger

tinta – ink

tinto – red (wine), dyed, tinted

tío/a – uncle/aunt

tipo – guy, character; kind, type

tirar – to throw

tiritar – to shiver

título – title, degree

toalla – towel

tocadiscos (m. pl.) – record player

tocar – to touch, to play (music); tocarle a uno + inf. – to be one’s turn, to be up to one (to do something)

todavía – still, yet

todo – all, everything; ante todo – first of all; de todo – everything; sobre todo – above all

Tokio – Tokyo

tolteca – Toltec (indigenous Mexican civilization)

tomar – to take; to drink; to eat; tomar lugar – to take place; tomar partido – to take sides

tomo – volume

tontería – nonsense, silliness, foolishness

tonto – silly, foolish

tormenta – storm

toro – bull; corrida de toros – bull fight

torre (f.) – tower

tortuga – turtle

toser – cough

trabajador/-a – hard-working

trabajar – to work; trabajar en red – to work online

trabajo – work, job; written work, term paper

trabalenguas (m. pl.) – tongue twister

traducción (f.) – translation

traducir – to translate

traductor/-a – translator

tragedia – tragedy

trago – drink

traición (f.) – betrayal

traje (m.) – suit; traje de baño – bathing suit

trama – plot

transcurrir – to happen, to take place

transcurso – course, passage (of time)

transporte (m.) – (means of) transportation

tras – after, behind

trascender (ie) – to transcend

trasladar – to move, to transfer

tratado – treaty

tratamiento – treatment

tratar – to treat; tratar de (+ inf.) – to try to (do something); tratarse de – to be a question of

trato – treatment

través: a través de – by means of

travieso– mischievous

trayecto – trajectory, route

trece – thirteen

treinta – thirty

trepar – to climb

tres – three

trescientos – three hundred

tribunal (m.) – court, tribunal

triste – sad

tristeza – sadness

triunfar – to win, to triumph

triunfo – triumph

tronar (ue) – to thunder

trono – throne

trozo – fragment, part

trueno – thunder

tú (sub. pron.) – you (fam. s.)

tu(s) (poss. adj.) – your (fam. s.)

tumba – tomb

tuyo (poss. adj.) – your, of yours (fam. s.)


u – or

últimamente – recently, lately

último – last; por último – finally

un, uno/-a (def. art.) – a, an, one

único – only, unique

unidad (f.) – unity

unido – united, close-knit

unir – to unite

unos – some, several, a few

urbe (f.) – large city, metropolis

urgir – to be urgent

usar – to wear, to use

uso – use

usted (Ud. Vd.) (sub. pron.) – you (form. s.)

ustedes (Uds. Vds.) (sub. pron.) – you (form. pl. [fam. pl., S.A.]); (prep. obj. pron.) you

útil – useful

utilizar – to use, to make use of, to utilize

uva – grape


vaca – cow

vaciar – to empty

vacilar – to hesitate

vacío – empty

vacuna – vaccine, vaccination

vaivén (m.) – fluctuation

valer – to be worth; valer la pena – to be worthwhile; vale – OK, sure, fine

valiente – brave

valle (m.) – valley

validez (f.) – validity

valor (m.) – value, worth; courage, bravery, valor

vals (m.) – waltz

variar – to vary

variedad (f.) – variety

varios – various, several

varón (m.) – male

Varsovia – Warsaw

vasco (adj.) – Basque

vaso – glass

vecindad (f.) – neighborhood

vecindario – neighborhood, vicinity

vecino/-a – neighbor

vehículo – vehicle

veinte – twenty

vejez (f.) – old age

velocidad (f.) – speed

vendedor/-a – salesperson

vender – to sell

venezolano – Venezuelan

venir – to come; el año (semana) que viene – next year, the coming year (week)

venta – sale; gran éxito de venta – best-seller

ventaja – advantage

ventana – window

ver – to see; tener que ver con – to have to do with

verano – summer

veras: de veras – truly, really

verdad – truth; ¿verdad? – right?, don’t you?, don’t they?, etc.

verdadero – true, real

verde – green

verdura – vegetable; greenness

vergüenza – shame; tener vergüenza – to be ashamed

verso – line of poetry, verse

vestido – dress

vestir(se) (i) – to dress (to get dressed)

vetusto – very old

vez (f.) – time, occasion; una vez – once; a veces – at times; alguna vez – ever, once, some time; a la vez – at the same time; una vez – once; de una vez – once and for all; de vez de cuando – from time to time; en vez de – instead of; esta vez – this time; muchas veces – frequently, often; otra vez – again; a su vez – in turn, in his/her turn; toda vez que – since, inasmuch as

vía – road, way; en vías de desarrollo – developing

viajar – to travel

viaje (m.) – trip, voyage

viajero/-a – traveler

vida – life

vidrio – glass

viejo (n.) – old person; (adj.) old

viento – wind; hacer viento – to be windy

viernes (m.) – Friday

vigilar – to watch over

vincular – to relate, to connect, to link

vínculo – tie, bond, link

vinícola (adj.) – pertaining to wine

vino – wine

violación (f.) – rape, violation, transgression

violar – to rape, to violate

visado – visa

virtud (f.) – virtue

visitante (m., f.) – visitor

visitar – to visit

vista – view; a primera vista – at first glance; punto de vista – point of view

visto (p.p.) – seen; por lo visto – apparently, evidently

viudo/-a – widower/window

vivienda – housing

vivir – to live

vivo – alive; alert

volar (ue) – to fly

volcán – volcano

voluntad (f.) – (free) will, disposition

volver (ue) – to return; volver + a + inf. – to do something again

vosotros/-as (sub. pron.) – you (fam. pl., Sp.); (prep. obj. pron., Sp.) – you

votación (f.) – voting, balloting

voz (f.) – voice; en voz alta – aloud

vuelo – flight

vuelta – tour, return; dar la vuelta – to turn; de vuelta – on/upon returning, back


y – and

ya – already, now, later on; ya no – no longer; ya que (conj.) – now that, since, considering that

yerno – son-in-law

yo (sub. pron.) – I; yo, de Ud. (él, ella, etc.) – if I were you (he, she, etc.)

yuxtaponer – to juxtapose


zampoña – reed flute, panpipe

zanahoria – carrot

zapatería – shoe store

zapatilla – slipper

zapato – shoe