Wednesday June 19, 2013
The well-known political slogan "¡Sí se puede!" has often been written with a comma after the sí — in fact, until now I've done it myself — but it doesn't belong there.
"¡Sí se puede!" is a motto and registered trademark of the United Farmworkers, which writes it without the comma, although the phrase's usage has spread elsewhere, especially in promoting U.S. immigration reform. There's no exact equivalent in English (because the verb "can" isn't used reflexively), but it usually is translated loosely as "Yes, we can!" or sometimes something such as "it can be done."
Does the comma make a difference? As About.com reader Ely pointed out recently in a blog comment, yes, it does. Read More...
Monday June 17, 2013
is almost certainly the most common preposition
in Spanish. It usually means "of" or "from" and is also used in a wide range of verbal and adjectival phrases. One reason it's so common is that Spanish, unlike English, doesn't allow the willy-nilly use of nouns
as adjectives. So de fills that void, letting you use nouns to form descriptive phrases. De also is used to indicate possession, origin and other characteristics.
Saturday June 15, 2013
The Spanish future tense
isn't always used to talk about events that will or might happen in the future. As in English, it also can be used to give stern commands
, as in "you WILL do your homework!" or "¡harás la tarea!
" And in Spanish, the future tense can also be used to indicate that something is likely at the present. For example, será las dos
can mean "it's probably 2 o'clock."
Thursday June 13, 2013
Although the differences between the "house" and "home" are very roughly
similar to the differences between Spanish casa
, respectively, hogar
is far from the only way that "home" can be translated. In fact, the concept of "home" can be translated dozens of ways into Spanish, as explained in our lesson on "Spanish words for 'home.'
Tuesday June 11, 2013
Sometimes you need not only to tell people something, but also to make clear that you're certain about it. Our newest lesson, on expressing certainty, tells you how.
Sunday June 9, 2013
Sometimes the differences in the meanings of two words can be so subtle that they don't come across well, if at all, in translation. Such is often the case with entender and comprender, both of which usually mean "to understand."
Friday June 7, 2013
See how the word "eating" is used in these sentences:
- She is eating potato chips.
- He is an eating boy.
- Eating is good for you.
The word is the same, but in the first sentence, "eating" is part of a verb
phrase, in the second it's an adjective
, and in the third it is a noun
. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that the word would be translated in at least three different ways in Spanish, as explained in our lesson on translating "-ing" words
Wednesday June 5, 2013
There are some English words — "run
" is the first one that comes to mind — that have so many meanings that there's no single Spanish word that comes close to capturing all their meanings. Another one is "over" — in some dictionaries, its meanings can fill up a page. Our lesson on translating "over"
suggests more than a dozen ways of translating the word to Spanish, but as you learn Spanish you'll certainly come up with dozens more.
Monday June 3, 2013
Most Spanish pronouns are, like the nouns they represent, nearly always masculine or feminine. But there are a few exceptions, those of the neuter gender. As explained in our newest lesson in the Real Spanish Grammar series, on the use of neuter pronouns, they usually refer to ideas or concepts rather than specific things or people.
Saturday June 1, 2013
One of the concepts that is difficult for some Spanish students to understand is the difference between the preterite
and the imperfect
, the two simple past tenses of Spanish. To help yourself learn the difference, check out the two glossary
entries on those verbs, linked above, as well as our lesson comparing the two tenses