Monthly Archives: July 2012

“Esta casa está en venta”: How to differentiate both “esta/está” in Spanish spoken language?

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Verbs in Spanish can be positioned before or after the subject, and you can even omit the subject which will be implied by the verb conjugation. If you have some knowledge of Spanish grammar, you will probably remember that ‘esta’ is a demonstrative adjective, for singular, feminine nouns (this); while ‘está’ is a verb (third person singular of verb ‘estar’: él/ella está – he/she is; and also the second person singular of the same verb, in formal speech: usted está – you are).

Keeping in mind these two previous considerations, it might be easier for you to distinguish these two words, just by the intonation. As a verb, ‘está’ has an accent, while the demonstrative adjective ‘esta’ does not. There is no way to go wrong with that. If the syllable of a word has an accent, you always have to stress the intonation in that syllable. There will be a posting about the rules of accents coming soon :).

To conclude, try to practice saying aloud these sentences in Spanish, and notice the difference of stress in ‘esta’ and ‘está’:

Verb after subject:   Esta casa está en venta.   (This house is on sale)

Verb before subject:   Está en venta esta casa.   (It is on sale… this house)

Verb without subject:  Está en venta.   (It is on sale)

Listen to these sentences in Spanish downloading this file: Esta casa está en venta.mp3

Really?, ¿de veras?

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You can say “¿de veras?” or “¿de verdad?” to express surprise. However, to emphasize something, you could use “realmente”.

I really loved that movie / Realmente, me encantó esa película.

“Actually” and “actualmente”

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Unlike what it seems, ‘actually’ does not mean ‘actualmente’; it means en realidad’ or ‘en verdad’. En español,  ‘actualmente’ means ‘currently‘. So you could say something like this:

Actualmente es verano en Norteamérica y ¡en verdad es muy caluroso!

It is currently summer in North America, and it is actually very hot!

However, keep in mind that normally, the suffix ‘ly’ can be translated into ‘mente’ in Spanish, as in: Slow – slowly, lento – lentamente; soft – softly, suave – suavemente, real – really, real/verdadero – realmente.

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La RAE publica una edición conmemorativa de ‘La ciudad y los perros’

A 50 años de la publicación de la novela de Mario Vargas Llosa, “La ciudad y los perros”, la Real Academia de la Lengua Española (RAE) y la Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española (ASALE) sacarán a la venta una nueva edición de esta novela que marca no solo el inicio de su carrera como novelista, sino que también constituye una pieza fundamental para el boom literario latinoamericano.

Después de ganar el premio nobel de literatura en el año 2010, Mario Vargas Llosa ha pasado a formar parte del selecto grupo de escritores cuya obra es publicada en ediciones conmemorativas de la RAE y ASALE, como lo fueron en su momento: Don Quijote, de Miguel de Cervantes, Cien años de soledad, de Gabriel García Márquez, La región más transparente, de Carlos Fuentes y las antologías de Gabriela Mistral y Pablo Neruda.

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¿Hablas español? Descubre por qué tienes una mina de oro

Me gustó este artículo, sobre la importancia de hablar español, en especial como lengua materna.

Spanish pronunciation: Vowels and the letter C

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Vowels

Vowels (Photo credit: chrisinplymouth)

One thing most beginners start learning about pronunciation in Spanish is that you basically need to know the sound of the vowels (a, e, i, o, u), the diaeresis in “ü” (as in “bilingüe” – bilingual), and the consonant “ñ” (as in “mañana” – tomorrow). Then besides that, you might learn the rules of accentuation and how that affects your intonation. We will talk about accentuation another time, for now, let is keep it simple.

If you can remember these words: father, ten, she, over, tuna, then you know how the vowels in Spanish sound. There are no more vowels than these ones: a – e – i – o – u, and they sound like in ‘father’, ‘ten’, ‘she’, ‘over’ and ‘tuna’. Even when there are two or three vowels together, each one will keep their same individual sound. We will mention the few exceptions about this in a later post (“gue”, “gui”).

There are some special cases where you will find that a consonant followed by certain vowels will have a different sound. Starting in alphabetical order, the first special case would be the letter “C”. It usually sounds like /k/, except when it is followed by “e” and “i”. Here you have some examples:

You pronounce with the /k/ sound: casa – como – Cusco; but you will use the /s/ sound in: cerca – circo. However, in Spain, you will hear a different pronunciation for ‘cerca’ and ‘circo’, which can be represented by the phoneme /θ/ (as in ‘thought’). Also,  if you have the letter “c” after the consonant “h” (which is always silent), like in ‘chao’, you will get the phoneme /ʧ/ (as in ‘check’), and this applies to every Spanish-speaking country.

To finish the lesson, I will give you a few sentences for your practice of today:

Mi casa en Cusco está cerca del circo.  (My house in Cusco is close to the circus).

Hoy nos vamos a comer al chifa.    (Today we’re going to eat at the chifa).

¡Chao!   (Bye!)

“De vez en cuando la vida”, Joan Manuel Serrat (lyrics and translation)

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Enjoy the lyrics and translation of this song, while watching the video here!

“De vez en cuando la vida” (video w/lyrics in Spanish)

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In “De vez en cuando la vida”, Joan Manuel Serrat uses personification to talk about life like a girl that is so pretty that is nice to see her. Sometimes, she would take us for a walk, have a coffee with us, or give us an elusive dream; but other times, she would just make us a joke and we would wake up without knowing what is going on… Check the whole translation in English here!

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Good News: Japón estudiará incorporar el español en su examen de acceso a la universidad

El español es el « idioma oficial en 21 países y hablado por unos 500 millones de personas, “es la segunda lengua de comunicación internacional en el mundo tras el inglés y la segunda lengua materna tras el chino”.» Sin duda, de aprobarse la incorporación del español como idioma extranjero para ingresar a las universidades en Japón abriría muchas posibilidades de intercambio y relaciones entre Japón y los países de habla hispana. Estaremos siguiendo la noticia.

Practice the Subjunctive mood in Spanish with the song “Ojalá”, by Silvio Rodríguez

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Silvio Rodríguez is a Cuban musician, leader of the “nueva trova” movement, which emerged after the Cuban revolution. These songs would usually have some social or political content; however, there are also some romantic or emotional songs, like this one I am sharing today: “Ojalá.”

“Ojalá” is a common interjection in Spanish, that is used to express a deep hope that something happens. Its origin comes from the Arabic language, to express “if God wants it…”

“Ojalá” is not a verb, however, you will find it at the start of sentences in the subjunctive mood, like the very first line of this song: “Ojalá que las hojas no te toquen el cuerpo cuando caigan…” This means something like: “I hope the leaves will not touch your body when they fall.”

Try to identify the verbs in infinitive that appear conjugated in subjunctive mood in this song:

Ojalá

Ojalá que las hojas no te toquen el cuerpo cuando caigan
Para que no las puedas convertir en cristal
Ojalá que la lluvia deje de ser milagro que baja por tu cuerpo
Ojalá que la luna pueda salir sin ti
Ojalá que la tierra no te bese los pasos

Coro:
Ojalá se te acabe la mirada constante
La palabra precisa, la sonrisa perfecta
Ojalá pase algo que te borre de pronto
Una luz cegadora, un disparo de nieve
Ojalá por lo menos que me lleve la muerte
Para no verte tanto
para no verte siempre
En todos los segundos, en todas las visiones
Ojalá que no pueda tocarte ni en canciones

Ojalá que la aurora no dé gritos que caigan en mi espalda
Ojalá que tu nombre se le olvide a esa voz
Ojalá las paredes no retengan tu ruido de camino cansado
Ojalá que el deseo se vaya tras de ti
A tu viejo gobierno de difuntos y flores

(Coro)

Ojalá pase algo que te borre de pronto
Una luz cegadora, un disparo de nieve
Ojalá por lo menos que me lleve la muerte
Para no verte tanto
Para no verte siempre
En todos los segundos, en todas las visiones
Ojalá que no pueda tocarte ni en canciones