Early Intermediate Spanish Podcast 21 – Spanish Relative Pronouns

magnifying-glassSpanish Relative Pronouns.
Here is a very interesting podcast that really gets into the meat of what are Spanish Relative Pronouns and how you can use them in your spoken and written Spanish.
Of course, before you can use any aspect of Spanish grammar correctly, you must firstly understand how it works. And so, this has been our objective during the ten minutes that we consider this topic. In tandem with the podcast, we have also produced a comprehensive set of helpsheets that lay everything out clearly and concisely for you.

So, What are Spanish Relative Pronouns?

These are the words that relate one thing to another. Examples of them are THAT, WHICH and WHO.
For example, we say:

“The person who lives next to us.”


“The car in which we drive to work.” or more commonly, “The car which we drive to work in.”


“The lady with whom I speak on Wednesdays.” or more commonly, “The lady who I speak with on Wednesdays.”

Have you noticed that many of these sentences sound “high brow” and “posh”? In fact, if you go back through them you will probably notice that most times we could replace the words with “THAT”.

Exactly the same thing occurs with the Spanish Relative Pronouns. Most times, and certainly in spoken speech the more straightforward word QUE or THAT is used.

More often than not, it is in written language or when someone wants to make an impression or sound “culto” that the pronouns are used.

That doesn’t mean to say that people don’t use them. They certainly do. What we are saying is that Spanish Relative Pronouns tend to appear in more formal language situations. That said, not all are reserved for special occasions and as you will hear in the Podcast, some are used to be more exacting when we speak, or they help us to include, or exclude certain things from our sentences.

If they are not so commonly used, should I bother with them?

Absolutely! As we have said, although they are not so common in spoken, day to day Spanish, they do appear very widely in every other medium of communication. What is more, as a student of Spanish you are sure to find yourself in more formal situations, whether that be in an examination at school, college or university, in a job interview, or simply listening to a discourse or presentation by someone really ‘brainy’. hehe.

As we stated earlier, the helpsheets will help to clarify what the podcast doesn’t and we have designed it with yourselves in mind.

Buena suerte, Gordon y Cynthia.

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Beginners Spanish Podcast 25 – Here and There in Spanish?

Question scaledHere and There in Spanish.

Have you ever been confused by the different words for Here and There in Spanish? There are certainly more than you might imagine. Perhaps you have heard a Spanish speaker say: “Ven aquí.” only to hear another say: “Ven para acá.”

Or have you heard someone say: “El mercado está allá.” only to hear someone else say: ” La estación está allí”. Then, of course, there’s always the option of saying: “Mira, está ahí.”

Faced with this confusion about just how to say Here and There in Spanish, you may find yourself worried that you might make a mistake.

The truth of the matter is that it’s not so difficult. As you watch or listen to this podcast, however, you should notice that even to a native Spanish speaker, (Cynthia) there is a bit of confusion as to whether AHÍ meant SPECIFICALLY THERE or GENERALLY THERE.

The reality is that AHÍ means THERE, very specifically. Imagine a spot on a piece of paper. The spot is AHÍ.

In Spain, ALLÍ is THERE but in a  more general context. It’s still quite specific an area, yet not as defined as a spot on the paper.  You could say, “Cuando estaba allí.” = When I was there.

The biggest difficulty is that each country, region and area has its own rules about what each one means. For example, many L.A. countries use ALLÁ much more than ALLÍ.

Is it Scon or Scone?

Arguing about the meaning of a word can often be an exercise in futility given that the meaning depends on the person and not the word. Throughout the Spanish speaking word there are countless examples of verbs that in one country mean one thing, and in another mean something completely different.

One student said that his Peruvian teacher had told him that to “remove” something was “remover”. Yet in Spain, “Remover” means “to stir” and Spanish speakers use “quitar” to mean “to remove”.

What do I do then?

The best way to deal with these kind of issues is to pay attention, or simply ask the people in the area in which you holiday, visit or live. Then, you copy them.

Having said all of this, this doesn’t make the information in this podcast worthless. It is still valuable and can be used as a guide of what might be called “standard Spanish” until such time as you find out what goes on in the area you find yourself in.

Remember, the Spanish language is fluid, flexible and ever changing and so to avoid frustration and confusion, the ideal is that you keep an open mind to everything that you learn and when you hear someone say the words “Always” and “Never”, then start to doubt them. Trust us, after many years of teaching we have realised that in Spanish, “always” and “never” simply don’t exist.

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Spanish Lesson Beginners 24 – Saying AGO in Spanish

clock-resizedHave you wondered how to say, AGO in Spanish?

Just as in English, in Spanish there is a specific way to say: “Ten years ago.” or, “Three weeks ago” At first, it might seem a little confusing, given that Spanish speakers put the “Ago” in a different place to us, and that rather than saying, “Ago”, they say, “It makes”.

Yes, that’s right. The equivalent Spanish phrase to the English, “Ten years ago.” is “It makes ten years

Why do they use Hace?

There is no real answer to this question. In fact, it’s just these kinds of questions that can cause us a hiccough in our learning progress. The reason for that is because once you begin to learn another language you quickly find that many of  the rules you have known and used all of your life in your own language simply don’t apply any more.

The best way to deal with these kind of anomalies is to just accept them as the Spanish way. Trust that after a while, using Hacer to talk about time will seem like the most natural thing in the world. You may even start to discover that your English begins to sound a little weird when you speak.

Let me give you an example of this.

The other day, I (Gordon) was with my two year old son, Sebastián, and I noticed that he was putting his fingers in the door jam. Without thinking I said to him in English, “Sebastián, be careful because you might make your fingers damage.”

At the time the sentence sounded perfectly fine to me, until Cynthia began to laugh loudly and bring to my attention that what I had said was in no way an English sentence. I had used the Spanish structure of, “hacerte daño” in an English sentence. For some reason, this was very funny to Cynthia and so she then proceeded to tell all of my family what I had done.

The same applies to the use of Hace when you talk about time, or the way Spanish speakers say that they “have years”, or “cold”. The more  you use these words and phrases, the more they will sound perfectly fine to you.  So, say hello to some new language structures and say goodbye to your English. lol.

In this podcast we also cover how to say, “since 1999” or “from March of this year” as well as “for the last ten years”.

We hope you find it to be of value and will see you in the next podcast.

Hasta pronto 🙂


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Beginners Spanish Podcast 23 – Spanish Accents / MI or MÍ

spanish-accentsSpanish Accents in Strange places.
Maybe during your Spanish language learning journey you’ve noticed that there are some words that are spelled the same yet one of them has an accent or tilde and the other doesn’t. Many times the accent barely changes the pronunciation, if at all.
The most confusing part of this, of course, is not when you have to say these words, but when you have to write them.

Is it SOLO or SÓLO?

Should I write EL or ÉL?

Is it MI or MÍ?

Understanding Why.

This is the key to getting it right, of course. If you don’t know why they have Spanish accents, then you will never be able to know when they should have them and when they shouldn’t.

The actual reason is fairly straightforward. Many words have the same spelling, yet are different in meaning and need to be identified as different. Thus, when faced with writing the word, MY, you need to know if you should write MI or MÍ.  Just by listening to the pronunciation will not necessarily give you the answer.

For example, AUN and AÚN are very difficult to identify with the ear. and so, there needs to be another way to distinguish between them.

So, What’s the Answer?

The answer is knowing what each word means so that you can always choose the correct one. For example, TU without the Spanish accent means YOUR, whilst TÚ with the accent means YOU. Subtle? Yes, it’s true, however, it’s a fundamentally important difference.

Do all Spanish Speakers Use Accents?

Unfortunately, the vast majority of Spanish speakers don’t always use the Spanish accents correctly. They often miss them out, or add the odd one just for the look of it. As students of Spanish, however, we really don’t have that luxury. We should always strive to put them in their rightful place. Why? Because, as the saying goes, before you stop using something, you must first understand it.

If you don’t even bother to learn the, just because other native speakers don’t bother with them, then you will have a permanent skills gap in your Spanish which is sure to cause you issues later.

So, listen in or watch on as we explain to you the meanings of these words and how to identify them in the future. Remember, everything we cover in the podcasts is covered in much greater depth in the helpsheets.

Saludos, Gordon y Cynthia

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Beginners Spanish Podcast 22 – Spanish Pronunciation – The Nose Rule

dog710 390Putting Emphasis on your Emphasis.

A student of ours had some Spanish pronunciation problems when he once tried to buy some sugar in a shop in Spain and spent a good while repeating the same word over and over again with no success. Finally, defeated, he left the shop without his “azúcar”. The problem he had was that he wasn’t putting the emphasis, “el golpe de voz” in the right place.

Rather than saying; azUcar, he was saying; azucAr. Now, that may seem like a minor infraction, but believe us when we tell you that just by changing where the emphasis goes on a word can completely confuse your listener.

So how do I know where to put the emphasis?

Well, this is where some little tips can help you in a big way. In this Podcast we give you three great ways of knowing just exactly where to place the stress on any Spanish word.  There is “The Nose Rule”, “The Broken Nose Rule”, and then, “Everything Else”.

Once you have these simple rules in your head, your Spanish pronunciation will be great and you will always know how a word should be pronounced, even if you don’t know the word. As anyone who has learnt English will know, being able to pronounce correctly an unknown word is a real luxury. Because Spanish is phonetic, that means that as you see the word you say it, there is never any mystery apart from which vowel to stress.

Now, with this useful Podcast, the last part of the puzzle fits into place.

A Big Tip on Spanish Pronunciation.

Did you realise that the stress in any word always falls on a vowel in Spanish pronunciation (and in English for that matter)?  Now that you know that fact and combine it with the learnings we offer you in the Podcast, then from now on, you should be able to pronounce perfectly every Spanish words and, more importantly, make yourself understood.

We hope this helps and wish you every success in your future Spanish pronunciation and sugar purchases.

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