Monthly Archives: July 2012

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


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?


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”


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.


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.


¿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


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)


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