Friday, 28 February 2014

Shall I Take The First On The Right?

SCENARIO

Imagine you are talking to a relative, a friend, a work colleague or even a stranger. You are giving him/ her directions. At some point the other person interrupts you and says something like: "shall I take the first on the right?"

In Spanish, the other person could say:
Perdón, ¿tomo la primera a la derecha?


OUR TIP

The question is an invitation for you to clarify the directions you are giving. Typically, your answer will involve giving directions to the person you are talking to. When the directions are for the person you are talking to, you MUST make a choice between two levels of formality*, commonly referred to as formal and informal.

Here are some examples of how you could reply:
  • Sí, usted toma la primera a la derecha (yes, you take the first on your right);
  • Sí, usted gira a la derecha (yes, you turn right);
  • Sí, usted tuerce a la derecha (yes, you turn right);
  • No, usted toma la primera a la izquierda (no, you take the first on your left);
  • No, usted gira a la izquierda (no, you turn left);
  • No, usted tuerce a la izquierda (no, you turn left);
  • No, usted toma la segunda a la izquierda (no, you take the second on your left);
  • No, usted toma la segunda a la derecha (no, you take the second on your right);
  • No, usted sigue todo recto (no, you go straight on);
  • No, usted sigue hasta el final de la calle (no, you go on to the end of the street);


*Level of Formality
The wording of the answers in this post assumes that the person you are giving the directions to is someone with whom you don't have a very good rapport. That person could be a friend, a relative or a work colleague. In any case, when wording your answers in this more formal manner you are also signalling that you want to keep your distance. There is a separate post dealing with wording your answers in a less formal manner.


Now you should practise answering the question:
Perdón, ¿tomo la primera a la derecha?

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Thursday, 27 February 2014

Tell Me, Who Had Called Him?

Introduction
This post is about the practical use of verbs in general and more particularly the pluperfect tense, indicative mood of regular verbs ending in -ar.





SCENARIO

Imagine you are talking to a relative, a friend or a colleague. You are talking about an event in the life of a third person (male) (for example his birthday). The conversation shifts to a phone call that third person had received before his birthday. At some point, the other person says to you something like: "tell me, who had called him?".

In Spanish, the other person could choose to be less formal and say to you:
Dime, ¿quién le había llamado?

On the other hand, he/ she could choose to be more formal and say to you:
Dígame, ¿quién le había llamado?


OUR TIP
The question is an invitation for you to say who had called the person in question. When stating who had done something, you may need to consider different levels of formality in your reply. That will be specifically the case when your answer includes a reference to the person you are talking to. The examples below include cases in which a more or less formal type of answer is required.

Here are some examples of how you could reply:
  • Le había llamado* yo (I had called him);
  • Le habías llamado* tú, ¿no? (you -familiar had called him, had you not?);
  • Le había llamado* usted, ¿no? (you -formal had called him, had you not?);
  • Le había llamado* Pedro, ¿no? (Pedro had called him, had he not?);
  • Le había llamado* María, ¿no? (María had called him, had she not?);
  • Le habíamos llamado* nosotros, ¿no? (we had called him, had we not?);
  • Le habíais llamado* vosotros, ¿no? (you -familiar/ plural had called him, had you not?);
  • Le habían llamado* ustedes, ¿no? (you -formal/ plural had called him, had you not?);
  • Le habían llamado* sus padres, ¿no? (his parents had called him, had they not?);

Now you should practise replying to someone who says to you:
Dime, ¿quién le había llamado?

*Please see grammar topic below, Verbs

Verbs
A verb is a 'doing' word which conveys:
  • What action takes place in a sentence
  • Who does that action
  • When that action occurs.
In addition, the verb may also convey the mood or feelings of the speaker toward the action which takes place. The verb may, for example, indicate whether the speaker is stating a fact, expressing a wish or indeed giving an order.

Verb Conjugation
Please see notes on conjugation* at the end of this post.

Indicative Mood-Pluperfect Tense
    1. Regular Verbs Ending in -ar
Subject
TRABAJAR
(TO WORK)
I
Yo
HABÍA TRABAJADO
You
HABÍAS TRABAJADO
You Usted*

HABÍA TRABAJADO
He Él
She
Ella
We
Nosotros
HABÍAMOS TRABAJADO
You
Vosotros**
HABÍAIS TRABAJADO
You
Ustedes***
HABÍAN TRABAJADO
They
Ellos
They
Ellas

*NB More courteous/ polite form of 'you'
**NB 'You' plural
*** NB More courteous/ polite form of 'you' plural

    2. Regular Verbs Ending in -er
Subject
COMER
(TO EAT)
I
Yo
HABÍA COMIDO
You
HABÍAS COMIDO
You Usted*

HABÍA COMIDO
He Él
She
Ella
We
Nosotros
HABÍAMOS COMEIDO
You
Vosotros**
HABÍAIS COMIDO
You
Ustedes***
HABÍAN COMIDO
They
Ellos
They
Ellas

*NB More courteous/ polite form of 'you'
**NB 'You' plural
*** NB More courteous/ polite form of 'you' plural

    3. Regular Verbs Ending in -ir
Subject
VIVIR
(TO LIVE)
I
Yo
HABÍA VIVIDO
You
HABÍAS VIVIDO
You Usted*

HABÍA VIVIDO
He Él
She
Ella
We
Nosotros
HABÍAMOS VIVIDO
You
Vosotros**
HABÍAIS VIVIDO
You
Ustedes***
HABÍAN VIVIDO
They
Ellos
They
Ellas

*NB More courteous/ polite form of 'you'
**NB 'You' plural
*** NB More courteous/ polite form of 'you' plural

* Verb Conjugation Notes
It is worth remembering once more that in its basic form (infinitive), a Spanish verb is just a general 'doing' word. In that form, a verb simply indicates an action and nothing else. If we want a verb to be more specific about the action in a sentence, we need to conjugate it. It is only when conjugated that the verb indicates:
  • Who does the action
  • When the action takes place
  • The mood/ attitude of the speaker towards the action

The conjugation tables above refer to using conjugation establish who does the action. What follows below are some notes on establishing when the action takes place and the mood/ attitude of the speaker towards the action.

Subjunctive Mood
The use of subjunctive mood is disappearing English. Nowadays is often viewed as an old and unfashionable form of the language.

In contrast, the use of subjunctive mood is very much alive and in everyday use in Spanish. This widespread use of subjunctive mood tends to be the bane of many a learner of Spanish from the English speaking world.

The concept of subjunctive mood is perhaps best illustrated by contrasting its use against the use of indicative mood with examples in English. The following are a couple of examples which should serve that purpose:
  • Indicative mood (“Peter eats an apple”).- Indicative mood is commonly used to make statements of facts or positive beliefs such as this one. As can be seen in the sample sentence (in quotes above), the speaker makes a clear and unambiguous statement of a fact (Peter eats an apple).
  • Subjunctive mood (“Peter would eat an apple if he were hungry”).- In contrast with indicative mood, subjunctive mood is commonly used to make statements indicating hypothetical or non-fact actions. As can be seen in the sample sentence (in quotes), in this case the speaker sees the action of eating an apple as something hypothetical, something which may or may not happen (Peter would eat an apple... if he were hungry).
Verb Tenses
Verb tenses relate to setting the time period (when) during which the action of the verb takes place. Basic times (periods) for Spanish verb actions are:
  • The past (before now)
  • The present (now)
  • The future (after now)
Each Spanish verb tense corresponds to one of those basic time periods. In other words choosing a verb tense places the action of the verb in one of those basic periods and determines when the action takes place.

Now you should practise the use of the pluperfect-indicative mood of regular verbs with some examples of your own.

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Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Acción

Today's WOTD is: "acción" = action


1. In Spanish, “acción” is a feminine noun of Latin origin, the main meaning of which is action, as in:
  • La gente pide más acción (people are asking for more action);
  • Al gritó de, “¡acción!”, se comienza a rodar (at the shout of, “action!”, the filming begins);




2. The noun “acción” is also used often to mean effect, as in:
  • Sometido a la acción del agua, el asfalto quedó destrozado (under the effect of water, the tarmac was destroyed);


3. The noun “acción” may also be used to refer to stock/ shares, as in:
  • Tenemos acciones de esa empresa (we have shares in that company);


4. A related word is the noun “accionista”, which means shareholder, as in:
  • Esa empresa sólo tiene grandes accionistas (that company has only large shareholders);


5. A related action word/ verb is “accionar”, the main meaning of which is to activate.
  • Primero accionamos el mecanismo de arranque (firstly we activated the start up mechanism);


6. Some expressions in Spanish with the word “acción” are:
  • Acción de gracias (Thanksgiving);
  • Acción social* (social action);
    • Se destina una gran cantidad de recursos a la acción social (a great deal of resources are set aside for community projects);
  • Buena acción (good deed);
    • Acabo de hacer mi buena acción del día (I have just done my good deed of the day);
  • De acción (action -adjective*);
    • Es una película de acción (it is an action film);
  • Día de Acción de Gracias (Thanksgiving day);
  • En plena acción (in the act/ red handed);
    • Fueron sorprendidos en plena acción (they were caught in the act);
  • Entrar en acción (to go into action);
    • Las fuerzas especiales entraron en acción (the special forces went into action);
  • Esfera de acción (sphere of action);
  • Hombre de acción (man of action);
    • Modelo ejemplar del hombre de acción (the epitome of a man of action);
  • Mala acción (wrongdoing);
    • Pedro es incapaz de una mala acción (Pedro would never do anything bad);
  • Opción sobre acciones (share option/ stock option);
    • Las opciones sobre acciones son un incentivo más para los directivos (stock/ share options are an additional incentive for management/ executives);
  • Paquete de acciones (shareholding);
    • Hemos conseguido adquirir un paquete de acciones considerable (we have managed to acquire a considerable shareholding);
  • Radio de acción (range);
    • Este teclado inalámbrico tiene un radio de acción de 10 metros (this wireless keyboard has a 10 metre range);
  • Sindicación de acciones (shares syndication);
*NB In Spanish, “acción social” is often used to refer to social/ political activism. It usually refers to activities with a significant social impact. It is also very often used to refer to the philantropic involvement of businesses in the community, supporting cultural activities or activities aimed at disadvantaged members of society.

**NB Often used to describe a film, a novel, etc.


Love-Spanish.com loves the word "acción" in the YouTube clip: Thalia - Accion Y Reaccion


For more on the word "acción", visit: Aordreference.com/es/en/ Acción*

*NB 'Click' on the speaker icon next to the word “acción” in the link to hear the word pronounced.

This is another Free online Spanish lesson from Love-Spanish.com. We conduct Spanish lessons online on a wide range of topics using the latest video conferencing facilities. Online lessons are the ideal way to improve listening and speaking skills. For more details on our lessons online and how to book them, please visit:

For more Free Spanish:
Follow us on:
© Copyright 2014 Love-Spanish.com. by Jose M González. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

It Is A Quarter To Eight

SCENARIO



Imagine a relative, a friend or a work colleague is asking you: "what time is it?"

In Spanish, the other person could say:
¿Qué hora es?



Now 'click' on the speaker icon below to listen to the other person's question.









The Time is:

The question above is an invitation for you to say what time it is.




Looking at the clock, you see the time is a quarter to eight, so in Spanish you should say:

Son las ocho menos cuarto







Now 'click' on the speaker icon below to listen to the time in Spanish.









Now you should practise answering the question:

¿Qué hora es?

If your system/ device supports it, you may use the widget below to record and listen to your answers.


Powered by Vocaroo


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Monday, 24 February 2014

What Is Your Father Like?

Introduction
This post is about the use of describing words/ adjectives in general, and more specifically about the use of the masculine/ singular form of a describing word/ adjective.





SCENARIO


Imagine you talking to a friend or a work colleague. You are talking about your family. The other person wants you to tell him/ her a little bit about your father and says to you: "what is your father like?".

In Spanish, the other person could choose to be less formal and ask you:
¿Cómo es tu padre?

Alternatively, he/ she could choose to be a little bit more formal and say:
¿Cómo es su padre?


OUR TIP
This is a straightforward question about your father. If your answer does not include a reference to the person asking the question, you DO NOT need be concerned about the degree of formality in the original question. You can just concentrate on answering the question.

Perhaps you want to describe your father in the following terms:
  • Name.
  • Age.
  • Marital status.
  • Profession/ occupation.
  • Nationality.
  • His appearance.
  • Other characteristics

Here are some sample replies:
  • Mi padre se llama Pedro (my father's name is Pedro);
  • Mi padre está casado* (my father is married);
  • Mi padre tiene sesenta años (my father is 60 years old);
  • Mi padre es maestro* (my father is a teacher);
  • Mi padre no tiene hermanos (my father doesn't have any brothers);
  • Mi padre es alto* y delgado* (my father is tall and thin);
  • Mi padre es muy guapo* (my father is very good looking);
  • Mi padre es mexicano* (my father is Mexican)
  • Mi padre es bajo*, un poco gordo* y lleva gafas (my father is short and a little fat and wears glasses)
  • Mi padre es inteligente*, trabajador* y simpático* (my father is intelligent, hard working and pleasant/ likeable);

Notes


See further practical examples of describing places/ people/ etc.






Now you should practise answering the question:
¿Cómo es tu padre?

*NB See Grammar below

*Grammar-Adjectives



Gender
Number
Adjective
padre
masculine
singular
casado
padres
masculine/ mixed
plural
casados
madre
feminine
singular
casada
madres
feminine
plural
casadas
Noun-Adjective Agreement



See notes below on Noun-Adjective agreement

Noun-Adjective Agreement
As you can see above, in Spanish you can use describing words/ adjectives when describing people. Below follow some notes on how to choose the correct form of the adjective to describe a given person.

Adjectives -Gender
When you use Spanish describing words/ adjectives, you need to bear in mind that for each describing word in English, there are often two related but different describing words/ adjectives in Spanish. The reason being that Spanish describing words/ adjectives have to 'agree' with the gender (masculine or feminine) of the person they describe. Most Spanish describing words have similar but separate words for each of the two genders (for example, alto/ alta). A few, however have one single form (for example, inteligente).

Thus when you come to use a describing word to describe a person, you need to check whether the corresponding Spanish describing word/ adjective has:
  • One single form to describe both a male and female persons (for example , inteligente)
  • Two separate forms (for example, alto/ alta).- If the describing word/ adjective has two separate forms, then you need to choose the form which matches the gender (masculine/ feminine) of the person to describe.

Adjectives -Number
When you use Spanish describing words/ adjectives, you also need to bear in mind that Spanish describing words/ adjectives have singular and plural* forms the same as nouns. A Spanish describing word/ adjective must also 'agree' with the number (singular/ plural) of the person it describes. For example, padre casado (married father) or padres casados (married fathers/ parents).

*NB View posts with details about the plural of Spanish words here.

Adjectives -Use
All the practical examples in this post refer to one father, padre. Consequently, they require the masculine/ singular form of a describing word/ adjective, for example, casado.

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