Blog

El Aula – Por and Para: Two Important Spanish Prepositions

thanks

Por and Para.

If ever there were two Spanish prepositions that cause Spanish students frustration, then you can count on them being POR and PARA.

So, what exactly is the issue with these two words?

Is it that they both can mean FOR in English? Maybe it is.

Thanks for… which one is it?

Perhaps it´s because they not only can mean FOR but have other, multiple meanings.

Especially POR.

As a student myself, I recall feeling a tremendous frustration whenever I studied these prepositions. The main trouble was having to wade through the endless lists of rules and regulations that surrounded POR and PARA . Then, only to find that after I had read them, that I felt even more confused.

Have you had the same experience?

It’s likely that you have.

 

The Solution.

With everyone’s sanity in mind, I decided to create a short video lesson for El Aula that peels back the layers of rules and regulations on Por and Para to the very basics.

So basic are the new rules that you will learn that you will only need to remember TWO SYMBOLS to be able to get Por and Para right 90% of the time. Now, that’s a pretty good hit rate.

I recall trying to learn lists of rules and I still seemed to miss MORE than half of the time, which, given the fact that I had a 50/50 chance of getting it right or wrong was a pretty rubbish result.

 

No te preocupes.

Don’t worry! Take these two symbols to heart and most of your Por and Para problems will disappear forever.

Of course, I’m not saying that with my system you will always get it right, but nine out of ten isn’t bad at all.

 

Thanks for…

One addition to the video is saying thank you in Spanish.

Always, and you can take this to the bank, you will use POR when you say “Thank you“.

Gracias por el regalo. = Thanks for the present.

Gracias por haber pensado en mí. = Thanks for having thought about me.

 

The Reason?

The reason you use POR is precisely for that reason. POR is used when you want to give a REASON for your own or another’s action.

Thank you FOR (and this is why I am thanking you) the present.

 Working for…

Finally, when you want to say that you are working for a specific company you are going to use…PARA.

Why? Once you have watched the video you’ll understand this better, but the best way to think about it is that the company you work for RECEIVES your work and efforts. They get it, and so it’s PARA.

Buena suerte con todo esto. Remember, the simpler the better.

 

hasta pronto.

Gordon 🙂

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson

The Spanish Subjunctive 1 – Understanding the Rules

ruler scaledThe Rules.

Firstly, let’s get one thing straight. Having studied and taught the Present and Past Spanish subjunctive for a long time now has helped me understand one thing;

The rules that we find in many of the books MAKE US MORE CONFUSED!

It’s not that they are wrong. They simply send us off in the wrong direction more than in the right one.

I also believe that too often, the books come from the wrong direction as they try to tell us WHY we should use the Spanish Subjunctive, and not WHEN.

For that reason, I have created a ten lesson video class for any serious student of the Spanish language so that they can, perhaps for the first time, really get their heads around how to use the Spanish subjunctive effectively and appropriately.

Rules to Throw Out!

If I had a pound/dollar for every time I have heard that the Subjunctive is needed when we talk about future uncertainty, then, I would be a rich man.  And yet, this rule actually makes us MORE confused.

The reason for this is that IT’S NOT STRICTLY TRUE. In fact, it’s more often NOT TRUE at all.

Consider the following sentences and ask yourself if it is based on a doubtful future event:

If he comes tomorrow, we’ll eat out.

ABSOLUTELY I hear you cry. And yet, it doesn’t require the Spanish Subjunctive.

Si VIENE (indicative) mañana, comeremos fuera.

When you listen to the attached video, you will hear more examples of these kind of sentences that really should contain the Spanish Subjunctive if we were to follow the rules.

So What Can I Do?

The answer to this is very simple and is the reason I have decided to make this series.

All you need to do is to learn to recognise THE TRIGGERS.

These are the structures that demand the Spanish Subjunctive and leave the confusion of rules to the academics.

 

The Triggers.

One thing you can bet your life on is that every time the subjunctive appears in a sentence, there has been a FIXED STRUCTURE that preceded it and that, “triggered it off“.

By learning what these triggers are, you can leapfrog the rules (and come back to them later if you really want to) and get straight into using the Spanish subjunctive confidently.

You’ll be surprised at how straight forward it is once you understand how to know when you should use it.

 

Join me.

Start working your way through the series and I assure you that you will begin to understand WHEN to use the Spanish Subjunctive, although I won’t promise to have you totally clear as to WHY you use it in each particular instance.

The question is: What is more important, understanding why you do something, or doing it correctly?

I suggest that the understanding why actually comes through the doing. The internet is filled to overflowing with explanations of why you use the Spanish Subjunctive, and yet is markedly dry of more practical help on exactly how to use it.

Quiero que tengáis mucha suerte en vuestros estudios y que sigáis estudiando con nosotros.

 

Gordon 🙂

 

 

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson

Early Intermediate Spanish Podcast 24 – Making Comparisons in Spanish

planets earl inter 24 comparisonsComparisons in Spanish.

The good news is that making comparisons in Spanish is very similar to English.  In fact, it’s almost identical!

What is important, however, is understanding what we are doing when we make comparisons in Spanish and English. To do that we should look at the structure of the sentences we use without normally thinking about what we are doing.

There are two main families of comparisons. These are:

 

Comparatives.

AS-AS

We use comparatives when we say things like: “I’m as happy as a dog with three tails.”, or “I’m as sick as a parrot.”

You may have noticed that in the above sentences the word AS is repeated.

AS big AS,  AS little AS. In between the AS’s is an adjective, like happy, sad, big, small.

AS MUCH AS

We have another family of comparisons that use AS MUCH AS like this:

“I don’t have as  much as you.” or “You have as much as he does.”

And then, there are the sentences with AS MANY:

“He has as many as I do.” or  I don’t have as many cars as he does.”

Notice in the last two sentences that you can use AS MANY AS on its own and you can also insert a NOUN to make the phrase more specific.

As many friends as…

The next group of comparisons are called:

 

Superlatives.

These are what we use when we say things like: ” I like you more than ever.” or ” You mean more to me than a lottery win.”

How you can spot them is by noticing the words that always appear in these sentences:

MORE THAN/LESS THAN

example:

“She has more than me.” or “I have less than her.”

Of course, like with the Comparatives,  you can add a NOUN to make the phrase more specific:

“I have more houses than you do.” or “They have less time than we do.”

 

So how does this help me?

Now that you have refreshed your understanding of what we call comparatives and superlatives, you can watch or listen to our podcast and you will be able to understand far more easily what we talk about and the structures of the sentences we make.

 

Clearly, all our podcasts are backed up by comprehensive helpsheets that take you, step by step, through each part of the grammar and give you tests to check your understanding.

 

Gordon y Cynthia 🙂

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson

Early Intermediate Spanish Podcast 23 – Saying Morning in Spanish and other Time Markers.

morning earl inter 23Morning in Spanish.

Knowing how to say morning in Spanish is absolutely vital for any student of the Spanish language along with all of the other words that allow you to mark time within your sentences.

The reason that it’s so important has been brought home to me loudly and clearly during the English classes that I teach here in the UK.

What I have noticed is that, for beginners and intermediate learners, being able to be quite specific about time frames is vital if they want to be understood.

You see, if you are a beginner or an intermediate speaker, there’s a high chance that when you speak Spanish you get your tenses a little mixed up. Perhaps you think you are talking about an event in the past when in fact you are using the present tense.

And, of course, the same thing could apply when you are talking in the present or the future and you inadvertently use a past tense conjugation.

What saves your bacon every time is if you use the correct time marker in your sentence.

Mixing up tenses.

Consider this sentence, which is very commonly heard pouring from the mouth of many a beginner in any language.

Yesterday morning I am going to the town centre. = Ayer, por la mañana, voy al centro.

Now, we know that this doesn’t really make a lot of sense. The key is, however, that because the sentence mentions yesterday morning, then as a listener we can make the appropriate tense adjustments in our head.

e.g.

I went to the town centre = fui al centro

If the speaker got the time marker wrong, however, or left it out, we as a listener would have absolutely no idea whether the speaker was going to go or had already gone to the town centre.

And that’s why it’s important to be able to say morning in Spanish, as well as afternoon, evening, tomorrow, yesterday, next week, last week and so on and so forth.

By having this vocabulary, which isn’t at all difficult, you can worry far less about your tenses and still let people know whether you are talking about the future or the past.

The truth is, if you are not confident about any tense other than present, you can still talk in the past. Many people do! (Believe me.)

How to get round weak conjugation.

Look at these examples:

Mañana por la tarde estoy en la casa de mi madre. = Tomorrow afternoon I’m in my mum’s house.

Ayer por la mañana estoy en el trabajo. = Yesterday morning I’m in work.

Now, there are better ways of saying this but because of the time markers, we as readers and listeners know when these things happened or are going to happen.

In this podcast we talk you through the most important ways of identifying time frames in your conversation. Join us and start taking your Spanish to new levels of clarity and understanding.

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson

Beginners Spanish Podcast 27 – The Spanish Conditional Tense

possibleWhat is the Spanish Conditional Tense?

The Spanish Conditional tense is a frequently used and important part of Spanish grammar. Its job, in essence, is to give a sense of what could be, what should be, or what would be possible.

An old English teacher of mine called it the EXCUSE tense. He said that if he could, he would ban it from use. His reasoning was that when people used it, it more than often was their way of saying they weren’t going to do something. Most often, it’s followed by the word BUT, which is an acronym for Behold the Underlying Truth. lol

Example:

I would eat more vegetables BUT I don’t like them. (And so I’m not eating them.)

Comería más verduras PERO no me gustan.

We would have arrived earlier BUT… (We didn’t arrive earlier.)

Habríamos llegado más temprano PERO…

I would study more Spanish BUT I just haven’t got the time. ( I can’t be bothered to study more Spanish.)

Estudiaría más español PERO simplemente no tengo tiempo.

So, as you can see, the Spanish conditional works very much in the same way as does the English version.

 

It’s not always an excuse tense.

Of course, the conditional can be used for other things such as talking about possibilities and desires.

You can use it to talk about what you would like by using GUSTAR.

Me gustaría tomar un café. = I would like to have a coffee.

Or what you could do:

Podría hacerlo. = I could do it.

 

Spanish Conditional with the dreaded IMPERFECT SUBJUNCTIVE.

Maybe you have already seen a construction with the Spanish conditional along with the imperfect subjunctive, like this:

Si tuviera más tiempo  lo pasaría estudiando el español. = If I had more time I’d spend it studying Spanish.

As this podcast is for beginners, then this particular construction will not be covered here. However, to know more you could always watch our Subjunctive range found on Youtube.  

So, join us to find out how to make the Spanish Conditional tense and to hear how it is used. Of course, our Helpsheets available on our website will guide and assist you to really grasp this tense and use it like a true native speaker.

Hasta pronto,

Gordon y Cynthia 🙂

 

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson