El Aula – Quedar Quedarse Encontrar Encontrarse – Knowing the Difference

Quedar and Quedarse.meeting

We have made this particular videoblog especially with you all, our students, in mind. It seems that there is a great confusion regarding which verb to use when you want to meet with friends or “meet up”.

The verb ENCONTRARSE tends to be the most popular to use, yet, as you listen into the blog you’ll see that that’s not really the best one to use.

In fact, QUEDAR is the one with tends to be mostly used in Spain and in many other countries.

What is the difference?

Let’s look at ENCONTRAR first.  Encontrar literally means ‘to find’. So, imagine that you had lost something and then you found it. You would say:

¡Ya lo he encontrado! = I’ve found it, now.

So, if you were to say:

Ayer encontré a Jorge. 

You would be saying that you literally found Jorge. (You had lost him for some time.)


Now let’s look at ENCONTRARSE. We all know that SE on the end of a verb means ONESELF. So, this verb means to FIND ONESELF.

So, imagine you were to say:

Esta mañana me encontré con Pati. 

You would be saying that you ‘found yourself´ with Pati which in other words would be: “I bumped into”. In this sense, it’s more of a chance meeting than something organised.

The Exception

As always, there are exceptions. For example, if you and a group of people were going on ‘una excursión’ whilst on holiday, you may well hear the guide telling everyone to “encontrarse en la recepción a las nueve.”

We tend to hear this used more in situations like this, and not in the more intimate, meet-up situations that we have with friends and family.


This is an interesting verb and a fairly versatile one at that. Here are some of the uses:

Quedamos en tomar un café a las once de la mañana. = We agreed to to meet up to have a coffee at eleven in the morning.

So here, we see that it can be used (and is used very often) as a way of saying that you are going to meet up, or you did meet up with someone.

¿En que quedamos, entonces? = So, what’s the plan/what are we agreeing to?

When you’re  finalising plans, this is often the question.

No (me) queda mucho. = There’s not much left (for me).

Quedar also means ‘to remain’ So, you can use it to talk about what’s left.


This is used to talk about staying somewhere, like in a hotel or a house.

Me quedé dos noches en la casa de mi amiga. = I stayed in my friend’s house for two nights. 

So, that should give you an overview of these verbs. Now you can join us in the blog to here them explained in more detail and see how we use them.


Gordon y Cynthia

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Early Intermediate Podcast 30 – Spanish Test of Your Listening Skills

Spanish Test.highland-cow scale_1280

We are calling this podcast a Spanish test because it brings together much of what we have covered up to now in the 30 previous podcasts of this level.

If you have been paying attention (which we know you have, jeje) you should be able to follow along with us as we talk about our recent trip up to Scotland and the adventures we got ourselves into.

Personally, however, I (Gordon) would be more than happy for you to NOT hear the last part of the tale that Cynthia tells about when we arrived back from Scotland, cold and weary. It doesn’t make for pretty listening and makes me blush every time!

Some Important Advice.

As you listen to this Spanish test of your listening skills, you may well say to yourself:

I can understand  all of that, and yet, I could never say it like that!

And, of course, you are right. However, you must understand that this is NOT bad news. It doesn’t mean that your Spanish is in ‘problemas’ or that you haven’t been working hard enough.

In fact, you can be happy to know that it’s completely normal. It happens to EVERYONE.

Perhaps you’ve heard us talk about the PARETO rule that can be applied to your Spanish learning.

The rule is that you should be able to understand about 80% of your level and say about 20% of what you can understand.

Compare yourself to a baby.

You can see this 80/20 rule in children all the time. Little toddlers understand much of what you are saying to them. (If they are anything like Sebastián, our two year old son, then many times they choose to completely ignore it!)

Yet, they are not able to say the same words themselves. They say part words, they mispronounce, they point, they scream. In fact, they do anything they can to communicate even when they don’t have the words.

The self same thing applies to you. You are only a short way through your learning journey and so you are like a child that always has better listening abilities than speaking ones.

That doesn’t mean it will always be like that. ¡Qué va! As time progresses, so will your spoken Spanish and the gap will close on your speaking  compared to your understanding.

Let me tell you one thing, however, when I listen in English to a very intelligent speaker, I can understand everything he says, yet I couldn’t speak like he can (nor would I want to sometimes).

Language is like that.

So, enjoy your Spanish test and check to see if I’m right about the 80/20 rule!


Gordon 🙂

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Spanish Blog Spanish Listening Test Elena in England

This is great Spanish Listening Test.cute scale

Elena has spent a good few months in England now and, as a native Spanish speaker from Madrid in Spain, she offers her opinions and perceptions on what it is like to live and work in England.

Pharmacist in Spanish, waitress in English.

Elena is ‘licenciada’ in pharmacy and despite being fully qualified in Spain to work as a pharmacist, she was forced to come to England to find work. Spain is still currently in the depths of ‘la crisis’ with little hope of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for some time yet.

Because of her grammatically strong yet inexperienced English, Elena could only manage to find work in a restaurant. That said, within the first week of actively searching for a job, she secured one as a waitress.  In Spain, even restaurant jobs are very hard to find these days.

A recent story emerged about a job vacancy that was advertised in Madrid, and although it was nothing fancy at all, they received over 20, 000 applications.

The language barrier

One of the issues of not having strong English skills is that, without even doing it consciously, people make assumptions about someone’s intelligence based on their language skills. As you will hear in this Spanish listening test with Elena, this is very much what happened to her.

When we hear someone speaking our language badly, we automatically think that they do not have a very good education. This isn’t our fault, nor is it the fault of the speaker, it’s just a fact of life.

So, unfortunately for Elena, because she wasn’t able to express herself very well in English, she began to notice that she was being treated in a somewhat condescending way, sometimes bordering on disrespectful.

English is the key

Fortunately, Elena has been able to quickly build on her English skills and has began to pursue pharmaceutical work in the area. Despite what she says in the interview, which took place around two months ago, she has since found herself a boyfriend (José from Tenerife) who works as a chef in the UK and so, Elena doesn’t intend to move back to Spain in the near future.

I recall  working in a Spanish restaurant in our local area about 6 years ago when my business collapsed and we found ourselves in a bit of a bad financial state. In the kitchen the entire staff was Polish.  All of them had degrees and were teachers, scientists and things of that nature, and yet they were all there in the kitchen.

The only thing they all had in common was that their English was very poor. And, that was why they were in the kitchen and not teaching or discovering things in laboratories.

As Elena is finding out, to be taken seriously, having a good command of the native language is key to progressing and securing a good job.

The same applies to us

Surprisingly, there are still a lot of Brits who go off to find work in Spain with only a handful of Spanish words in their pocket. Needless to say, most of them end up coming back to the UK with tales of how nothing worked out for them. Perhaps, if they had worked more on their Spanish, they might have had quite a different experience.

Enjoy this Spanish listening test. Three out of five stars for difficulty.

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The Present Spanish Subjunctive Rules 5 – As Soon As and When

Spanish Subjunctive Rules.rulesscale

Here we are in the fifth of the series on making the Present Subjunctive easier.

So, how are you going with it? Are you beginning to understand that it’s much easier to focus on the triggers than it is to wade through the plethora of Spanish subjunctive rules and regulations on why you should be choosing to use it?


The important yet fun part.

What’s important for you to grasp from this range of video podcasts is that it isn’t definitive at all. What I mean by that is that what I am showing you in terms of examples is just a basic idea of how the Subjunctive works.

The fun part, and I mean that seriously, (jeje) is taking what you learn from this series and applying it and expanding it.

Of course, there will be  times when you come across examples that simply don’t fit into my explanations. (That’s the fun part) and you will need to use your investigative powers to understand what happened to trigger it off.


In this podast I deal with the sometimes confusing concept of using variations of “when” when you are referring to the future. Look at these two examples:

When I eat, I drink a tea. = Cuando como, bebo un té.


When I eat I’ll drink a tea. = Cuando coma, beberé un té/ bebo un té.

Can you see how the first one is referring to every day, repetitive activities, whilst the second is referring to a specific up-and-coming event in the future.

In English we often show that by using the future tense, I’ll, You’ll, He’ll, We’ll, etc.

In Spanish, that isn’t always the case and often they will just use the present tense and so, the reference to the future is identified through their use of the subjunctive.

The future in many words.

There are many ways to refer to future events and not just with the word ‘when’ or ‘cuando’.

There is: en cuanto = once, tan pronto como = as soon as, hasta que = until, a no ser que = unless…

There are lots more.

At some point, I will take all of this information and create some easy and straight forward Helpsheets that will be designed to actually have you feeling more sure AFTER you have worked through them.

I recall the way that I used to feel, (and still do) when I’d finished reading a rather high-brow and erudite explanation of something that really shouldn’t have been so difficult. Sometimes, I used to feel more confused after I’d read it than I was when I started.

I’ll keep you posted on how those helpsheets are going. Let’s see if we can get these Spanish Subjunctive Rules beaten into some kind of understandable shape.

So, enjoy the podcast and I’ll see you in the next one!


Hasta pronto, Gordon 🙂



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Early Intermediate Podcast 29 – Either Or in Spanish and Much More

Either Or in Spanish. = O Oknight nicescale

Maybe you’ve seen these words used before in your travels through your learning journey. They are strange because they appear as the same word and yet translate into English as different words.

This is often what happens when we try to translate things literally from our own language into Spanish. Sometimes it works beautifully and other times it’s “un desastre”.

So, when you use the “O O” in Spanish, which means either or in Spanish, you are simply presenting options or choices.

For example: -Mira, dime o “que sí” o “que no”.- = Look, tell me either y “yes” or “no”.

Just as an aside, many times when Spanish speakers say yes or no, with emphasis, they often put the word QUE in front.


¡Te digo que sí! = I’m telling you, yes.

What they are really doing is shortening a longer sentence which would go something like this:

I’m telling you that, yes, I’m going to do it…that, yes, I want to go…that, yes, I’m happy etc.


NI NI = Neither Nor

Just as there exists either or in Spanish, another of these double words that doesn’t translate directly was made famous by the Monty Python team in their famous film, “The Knights of the Round Table.” In that film, there were the ‘Knights of Ni’. They would go around shouting “Ni, Ni!” (I don’t think that they really thought they were using Spanish! Still, it’s a nice way of remembering it.)

So, this expression is used with negative sentences such as the following:

No quiero ni agua ni zumo. = I want neither water nor juice.

We don’t really talk like that in English any more and the ‘Either Or’ option is normally what we use in all cases of spoken language. However, In Spanish, when your sentence is in the negative, you must use the Ni…Ni version.


We do the same by the way.

If you are asking yourself how Spanish speakers can use the same word when we have different ones, then it’s worth noting that we do the same.

Take, for example, when we say “AS big AS a house.”

Spanish speakers say this with two different words.

TAN grande COMO una casa.”


So, listen in as we show how these expressions work in Spanish in conversation. Everything that we present in our podcasts is backed up with comprehensive helpsheets that help you look more in depth at what we talk about and then test your understanding with an exercise.

As always, we hope that this will be of value to you in your learning journey.



Gordon y Cynthia. 🙂

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