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Gerald Erichsen

Launch of a Series: Real Spanish Grammar

By December 22, 2012

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One problem that some people face when learning a foreign language is that when they try to read (or listen to) something a bit above their knowledge level, they quickly get stuck, not knowing what to do with the grammar or vocabulary. To help those in that predicament, today we're launching a new series called Real Spanish Grammar.

Here's how it works: Each lesson begins with a brief selection of contemporary Spanish — in other words, it's not "artificial Spanish" written merely for a lesson — provide a translation and then analyze any grammar that might be problematic for someone beyond the beginner's level. One goal is to help learners see how the grammar rules they're studying apply in real life as well as to help students recognize grammar issues as they come up.

The first in the series is a lesson on two important uses of the verb hacer. What I suggest you do is take the original passage (it'll always be at the top of the lesson), then try translating it yourself before going further. If needed, feel free to seek clarification in this blog as new lessons are announced. Enjoy!


December 24, 2012 at 6:45 pm
(1) sfree says:

This is great! I’m sure many will be helped.

RE: http://spanish.about.com/od/verbs-f-j/a/hacer-uses.htm

Here is my version. It’s not an exact translation though. I’d welcome any comments.

The red suit, white beard, potbelly, and a bag replete with gifts made the eyes of the pediatric patients in the Hospital Santa Clara magically light up once more.

Thanks and Merry Christmas!

—- A student.

December 26, 2012 at 2:44 pm
(2) sfree says:

Here my stab at the second sentence.

Words enclosed in square brackets are alternates.

The main character [hero] of the visit was the
Canadian Santa Claus, in the person of [personified by] the
North American entrepreneur [businessman]
who has lived [has been] in the country for 25 years and who
for about a decade has been bringing [has brought] gifts and joy
to the children in [admitted into] Bogotá hospitals.

I’d appreciate your comments.

– A Student

January 1, 2013 at 5:28 pm
(3) Spanish Guide says:

Those all work for me! That’s a good lesson about translation: Except for trivial sentences, there’s always more than one good interpretation. You can even (as you did) change verb tenses or choose definitions that aren’t listed in the dictionary as long as they get the idea across.

January 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm
(4) sfree says:

Mr Erichsen,

Thanks for your comments.

You’ve been a great help.

— A Student

January 4, 2013 at 8:17 pm
(5) sfree says:

RE: Change of tense in the translation

Let me give some of my reason(s) for changing the tense in the English version

The historical present seems to me (rightly or wrongly) more natural and used often in Spanish.

In English, I opted to use the compound tenses (present perfect/progressive) only because I think that they accentuate the perfecting of the acts began from the past through the present and their continuing active nature in the present (and in my mind, the likelihood that they will be ongoing into the future – for a decade already.) Correctly or incorrectly, I feel that the compound tenses, in this case, have more merits than the historical present.
I realize that each act is a discrete and finite event that occurs once a year; and while the present tense can convey the idea of a simple future and of progression (it seems to me) that not many layman speakers use the present tense for these purposes.
For example, “The sun rises tomorrow” is usually rendered “The sun will rise tomorrow”; and “She reads” is often NOT interpreted as
“She is reading.”

I’m just a student in these languages. They’re not my mother tongue so someone please do correct me.


January 5, 2013 at 5:38 pm
(6) Spanish Guide says:

No correction needed, at least in this case.

March 30, 2014 at 9:53 am
(7) James Schumann says:

These Spanish lessons are fantastic – very useful to me. However I am finding it very difficult to find a link To each lesson in the ‘Real Spanish Grammar’ Series. Surely there must be a contents page somewhere? I am having to put the title for each lesson with the specific lesson number into Google, and even then cannot find them all!
Can you please provide a link to a contents with links to each lesson in the series? Thanks!

April 1, 2014 at 8:22 am
(8) G.E. says:

That’s a good idea! I’ll put one together soon.

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