When to put accents in Spanish (II)


Besides the well-known general rules to put accents in Spanish, in 2010 the Royal Academy of the Spanish language (RAE, for its initials in Spanish) released “La Ortografía de la lengua española” (The Spanish Language Ortography), to describe the ortographic Spanish language system and explain its main rules for the correct writing in Spanish.  As a review, here we mention a couple of those rules:

1. Monosyllabic words do not have tilde (accent), except when the tilde is needed to differentiate a word from another one that has different meaning (diacritic accent). For example: tú (you) – tu (your); él (he) – el (the); mí (me) – mi (my); si (if; oneself), sí (yes); té (tea) – te (personal pronoun “you“, i.e.: ‘yo te dije’ – ‘I told you‘); dé (subjunctive form of verb ‘dar‘ – to give – for the 1st and 3rd person singular) – de (of); sé (I know; ) – se (3rd person singular/plural personal pronoun, i.e.: ‘ellos se aman‘ – ‘they love each other‘; or personal pronoun to form impersonal and pasive voice sentences, i.e.: ‘se busca vivo  o muerto‘ – ‘wanted dead or alive‘).

2. Words such as the adverb ‘solo’ (only) and the demonstratives ‘esta, este, esto’ (this) do not need to have the diacritic accent anymore. In the 2010 rules of the Spanish language ortography, the RAE “adviced” that Spanish speakers did not neet to put the diacritic accent in words such as  ‘solo’ (only; alone) and ‘esta, este, esto’ (and their plural forms: estas, estos). However, it has been noticed that users continue to put accents on these words to distinguish words as it follows:

solo‘ (alone) / ‘sólo‘ (only)

‘esta, este, esto’ (demonstrative adjectives; i.e.: ‘esta casa’ – ‘this house’) / ‘ésta, éste, ésto’  (demonstrative pronouns; i.e.: ‘esta casa es nueva, pero ésta no‘ – ‘this house is new, but not this one‘).

Personally, since this advice was released, I have stopped putting accents on the #2 cases, as I believe the context clarifies the meaning of the word, avoiding possible confusion. However, as Salvador Gutiérrez, one of the members of the RAE mentioned, I have noticed that some writers continue keeping the diacritic accent in those cases. I would like to hear what other people think about it.

For further resources visit: http://www.rae.es/obras-academicas/ortografia/ortografia-2010




In 18 things that people highly creative don’t do like the rest of people (*) Carolyn Gregoire (2014) explores the nature of creative individuals. Given the difficulty to make standard definitions, she describes 18 characteristics that creative people do different.

1. Daydreaming;

2. Observing everything;

3. Elaborating your own schedule (tailor-made);

4. Keeping some moments of loneliness for yourself;

5. Taking advantage of the problems that life brings;

6. Looking for new experiences;

7. Falling down and getting up again and again;

8. Posing big questions;

9. Observing people;

10. Taking risks;

11. Considering everything in life is an opportunity for self-expression;

12. Following your real passions;

13.  Coming out of your own mind;

14. Losing the conscious of time;

15. Being surrounded by beauty;

16. Knowing how to unite the loose ends;

17. Liking radical changes; and…

18. Finding time to meditate.

Now I wonder…aren’t we all humans creative by nature?, and if so, can we then develop further our creativity? 😉

(*) For the complete article in Spanish:

Gregoire, C. (2014, March 7). 18 cosas que las personas altamente creativas no hacen igual que el resto. El Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.es/2014/03/07/18-cosas-que-las-personas_n_4918760.html.



Hispanic Literature becomes a cultural force in the U.S.

« You cannot understand the U.S. if you ignore the Spanish language. » According to this article, appeared in the Spanish newspaper “El País” this week, the origin of “latinization” in the U.S. would date back to 1848, when the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, between the U.S. and Mexico, was signed, to end the Mexican-American war (1846-1848).  Per this Treaty, Mexico gave to the U.S. more than half of its national territory, in exchange of $15 million that was paid to Mexico. This gave the U.S. ownership of the current states of California, Nevada, Utah, Nuevo México and Texas, and large zones within Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma. Through this trade of lands, people whose first language was Spanish, became living in a country where most people spoke English. The dissemination of Spanish language in the U.S. continues nowadays through the phenomenon of immigration from Hispanics to the U.S. For this reason, it should not be surprising that there is a literary tradition in Spanish in the U.S. This article mentions several authors and novels that are paramount to understand the Hispanic literature in the U.S. It considers ‘The Squatter and the Don’ (1885), by Amparo Ruis de Burton, as the first important literary work, which appeared after Mexico’s defeat. The vast list continues until more recent names, such as: Junot Díaz, Daniel Alarcón, Rubén Martínez, and others. Read the complete referred article in Spanish here: Lago, E. (2014, January 25). Hispanic Literature becomes a cultural force in the U.S.  El País. Available online from:  http://cultura.elpais.com/cultura/2014/01/23/actualidad/1390479980_742205.html

Spanish for foreigners: Four links – LETRA LIBRE Magazine



This webpage will lead you to four links (enlaces) where you can find some neat resources to learn and practice Spanish, which includes:

1. Basic course

2. Practice

3. Audiobooks

4. Readings, step by step, arranged by levels

I have reviewed numbers 3 and 4 and recommended before to anybody who is interested in reading and listening diverse stories in Spanish (novels, poetry, short stories). Some of them are original in English, but have been translated into Spanish, in case you want to try a story that you already know :).

Reading is an excellent way to gain more vocabulary and become familiar with some good sentence structures. Worth to check out and try ;).

Spanish Alphabet


The Spanish alphabet has 27 letters and 5 digraphs.  This has been approved by the Royal Spanish Academy in 2010 and this rule applies to all the Spanish speaking countries.  Be careful when you find material in Spanish that is not up to dated and it shows there are 29 letters. There are also 5 diagraphs or a pair of letters that represent one single sound: ch / ll / gu / q / rr.


Ortografía en español


Para aquellos a quienes nos interesa escribir bien en español, aquí una lista de palabras que en realidad no llevan tilde, pero muchas veces las encontramos escritas con tilde o dudamos si deben llevar tilde o no.

A tener en cuenta y a conservar la belleza del idioma:


The year of the Spanish language and the RAE (Royal Spanish Academy)


This year will be the tricentenary of the Real Academia Española – RAE (Royal Spanish Academy), since its foundation in 1713.  There will be a commemorative presentation which will include paintings, portraits, engraved pieces, valuable bibliography, furniture, graphic documentaries, newspapers and other objects, in order to get a better understanding of our history and the icons of our language, its speakers, the Academy and the citizens in every historic moment.

This presentation is targetted to public of all-ages and conditions, since the history of the language and the RAE’s is also its speakers’ history.

Read the original text in Spanish here: El año de la lengua española y de la RAE (retrieved January 22, 2013 from http://www.revistadearte.com).

Demand of Spanish teachers in China and Brazil


Some good news for those Spanish teachers willing to immigrate to other countries.  There is a growing interest in learning Spanish in China and Brazil, so there is higher demand of Spanish teachers.  The number of Chinese university students learning Spanish has increased from 1,500  in the year 2000 to 25,000 these days.  In India, there are 4,250 students registered to learn Spanish, which is the triple of six years ago.  Also, in Brazil, there is need of about 20,000 of Spanish teachers.  All this data was presented in the yearly report “El español en el mundo 2012” (“The Spanish in the world 2012”) by the Cervantes Institute.

Read the full news and practice your written comprehension visiting this link:  “Se busca profesor de español en China y Brazil: razón, el Instituto Cervantes” (“Spanish teacher wanted in China and Brazil: details from the Cervantes Institute”).

Survival Spanish phrases for travellers to handle 8 basic situations


Countries with Spanish as official language an...

Ideally, if your Spanish is intermediate or you have a very good basic one, you should be able to handle any situation and if you have some trouble at understanding the speaker, you can always ask for repetition or for more slowly speaking (see number 3: Basic politeness expressions).

Although, you can always try to find English speaking people at Spanish speaking countries, I think it is a well received gesture to make the effort to speak the local language of the place you visit.  However, if despite of  the effort, your basic Spanish is very poor or you can’t rely too much on your listening skills, try to find trustworthy people that speak English, for example at information desks or at hotel reception desks.  You can say something like: “Disculpe, ¿habla inglés? (Excuse me, do you speak English?  If they ask you if you speak Spanish, well, the truth would be: “Hablo muy poco español” (I speak very little Spanish).  Sometimes, you can also meet interesting, nice people during a tour.  They can be foreigners or local tourists as well.  In any case, they can be a good resource of advice about other places to explore.

Here it is my mini guide of survival Spanish for all-level learners:

1. Basic Greetings

Informal way (use it in informal situations, when you talk with younger people, people around your age and when you already know the person):
Hola, ¿qué tal? / Hi, how is it going?
Nos vemos / see you (informal way to say bye, when you know you will see the person again)
Chao / bye (informal way to say bye at anytime)

Formal way (use it with older people and usually with customer service representatives at stores or public services):

Buenos días / good morning
Buenas tardes / good afternoon
Buenas noches / good evening (from 7:00 pm, either when arriving or when leaving the place)
¿Cómo está? / how are you? (use it when you talk to older people you know)
Adiós / good bye (regular way to say bye, when you know you will not see the person ever again)
Hasta luego / see you later (polite way to say bye when you may or may not see the person again)
¡Que le vaya bien! / have a good day!

2. When meeting people

Informal way:
¿Cómo te llamas? / What is your name?
¿De dónde eres? / Where are you from?
¿Eres de aquí? / Are you from here?
¿Qué haces? or ¿a qué te dedicas? / What do you do? (for living)
¿Conoces a [name of a person]? or ¿conoces + [name of a place]? / Do you know [name of a person] or do you know [name of a place]?

Formal way:

¿Cómo se llama usted? / What is your name?
¿De dónde es usted? / Where are you from?
¿Usted es de aquí? / Are you from here?
¿Qué hace? or ¿a qué se dedica? / What do you do? (for living)
¿Conoce a [name of a person]? or ¿conoce + [name of a place]? / Do you know [name of a person] or do you know [name of a place]?                                                                                                   

3. Basic politeness expressions

Por favor / please
Gracias / thanks
Disculpe / excuse me… (before asking something to a stranger)
Perdón /excuse me (when you really want to apologize for something)
Permiso / excuse me (when somebody is blocking your way, and ad “por favor”)
¿Podría repetir, por favor? / Could you repeat, please?
Más despacio por favor / (Could you speak) more slowly, please?

4. To ask directions

Disculpe, ¿dónde queda…? or ¿dónde está?/ Excuse me, where is…? (try to ask this to information kiosk agents, hotel front desk customer service people and similar ones)
Disculpe, ¿cómo llego a…? / Excuse me, how do I get to…? (try to use this form or the previous one when you are sure you are really close to your destination, otherwise it will sound like you are LOST!)

5. To ask for a recommendation of a place

¿Conoce el restaurant “…”?, ¿qué tal es? / Do you know the restaurant “…”?, how is it?, how do you like it?

6. To take a cab

Por favor, a [name of the place]…
¿Cuánto cuesta?, ¿cuánto es? / How much is it? (ask this before you actually get into the cab)

7. To eat

Por favor, [name the dish/food item you want to have] – If you are not sure about your pronunciation, point out the name of the dish in the menu or the food item in the window, to avoid confusions.
La cuenta, por favor / The bill, please
Gracias / Thanks

8. To buy something

¿Cuánto cuesta esto? / How much does it cost?
¿Cuánto está esto? / How much is this?
To bargain:
If they tell you a price, just say a lower pricer with a nice smile.  For example: “¿Cuánto cuesta esto?” – They say “50.” Then, you can say: “¿qué tal 40?” or “¿los dos por 80?” (and do not forget to smile ;)). As you can imagine, you definitively need to know the numbers! Or at least the sets of ten!

Do not forget that to enjoy your experience, combine your curiosity with common sense and be always careful :).

Bueno, ahora, ¡buen viaje y buena suerte! 😉

Fotografía – Juanes y Nelly Furtado


Completa los espacios en blanco de la canción con los verbos estar e ir (conjugados), así como con algunas partes del cuerpo humano:

Fotografía – Juanes y Nelly Furtado (Un día normal, 2002)

Cada vez que yo me_________, llevo a un lado de mi piel
tus fotografías para verlas cada vez
que tu ausencia me devora entero el _________
y yo no tengo remedio más que amarte.

(1) Y en la distancia te puedo ver
cuando tus fotos me siento a ver
Y en las estrellas tus _______ ver
cuando tus fotos me siento a ver.

(2) Cada vez que te busco te_______
Y cada vez que te llamo no_________
Es por eso que debo decir que tu solo en mis fotos _________.

Cuando hay un abismo desnudo
que se interpone entre los dos
yo me valgo del recuerdo
taciturno de tu voz

Y de nuevo siento enfermo el __________
que no le queda remedio más que amarte.

Repetir (1), (2)…