Early Intermediate Podcast 28 – Haber in Spanish and its Uses

The Verb Haber in Spanish.scrabblescale

This verb is probably one of the most important verbs in the Spanish language! Why? Because, it has a specific job to do in just about every tense that exists in Spanish.

Firstly, you will have seen this verb mentioned in all of your textbooks in which they call it the “auxiliary verb”. This simply means that this verb is a “helper” verb. It works with other verbs to create sentences like, “I have eaten today”. The word, “HAVE” is the auxiliary part, which is from HABER in Spanish, and “EATEN” is the past participle of the verb TO EAT.

As you will see in the podcast, we explain that Haber in Spanish appears in multiple types of conversation. The very famous word “HAY” comes directly from the verb HABER. This word means “there is/there are” and you probably would agree that it is something that we use in most conversation.

HAY is a strange word because it can relate to one thing or to multiple things and yet it’s structure doesn’t change. For example, one of the confusions that many students have is when they use this word in the past.  For example, when they want to say, “There was” they use, “HABÍA”.

However, the confusion sets in when they want to say “There were”. The temptation is to say, “HABÍAN”. However, this isn’t correct because, just as the word, “HAY” refers to one or multiple things, the same applies to this word when it is in the past. Therefore “HABÍA” means “there was/there were”.

Crazy names.

If you think that the names that are given to the normal tenses are difficult to understand or remember, then when we get to the verb HABER in Spanish, we realise that the linguists had just been warming up. Some of the names that have been given to what are known as, “the perfect tenses”, border on the incredulous.

For example, if you wanted to say, “I had spoken to him.”, which in Spanish is, “Yo habia hablado con él.”, you have to use the “Pluscuamperfecto de indicativo”. How about that for a mouthful. Far better to have called it the “Had Eaten” tense, ¿verdad?

Or, worse still, once you find yourself in the world of subjunctive and want to say something like: ”

I would have eaten it if I had been hungry. = Me lo habría comido si hubiera tenido hambre.

You are then obliged to whip out of your box of grammatical tools the: ” Pluscuamperfecto de subjuntivo.”

How can I remember these names?

Our advice is that you don’t sweat the names. After all, you use all of these tenses in your own mother tongue without ever having to know the names. The same applies in Spanish!

Enjoy the podcast. We hope that it is of value to you in your learning journey.

Remember that all of our podcasts are backed up by in depth helpsheets that explain everything for you and test your understanding.


Gordon y Cynthia 🙂

Here is a link to a blog that breaks down Haber in every way possible. Thanks Suzie! Click Here.

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Audio Blog Spanish Podcast Being Gay in Spain Ivan and Jorge

Special Spanish Podcastivan jorge scale

In this Audio blog and Spanish podcast we hear from two young gay men from Madrid. They talk about their viewpoint on how it is to be a gay person living in Madrid these days.

Clearly, for those that know the history of Spain, during the days of Franco, homosexuality wasn’t tolerated at all.  In those days, gay people were frequently killed by Franco’s men, the Guardia Civil.

Obviously, those days are over. So, as you listen in to the boys talking about their own personal experiences, you will find that attitudes have changed radically in Spain over the last few decades.

In fact, Spain is one of the forerunners in the push to get gay rights accepted. They have pushed the boundaries of marriage legislation and parenting, to allow gay couples to enjoy the same rights as any other opposite sex partnerships.

Jorge and Ivan are two very personable boys who have gone out on a limb to open up to LightSpeed Spanish. They discuss the situation in Spain and how it has affected them and their lifestyle.

Like everyone, you will have your own opinions on this subject. All we ask is for you to suspend judgement and use this Spanish podcast as a way of expanding your Spanish knowledge and understanding. And, whilst you do that, perhaps expanding your own horizons, too.

The challenge in this Spanish podcast is that it is audio only. Therefore, it requires your even more intense concentration, so that you can capture the narrative from Jorge and Ivan.


They do not speak with a beginners audience in mind. Their conversation would be rated at a three stars out of four for level of difficulty.

So your challenge is to listen to this Spanish podcast and see just how much you can capture. Don’t limit yourself to only one listen. Sometimes you need to hear something three, four, five or many more times to really get everything from it that you can.

So, we will leave you now to get started on your next listening challenge. Please excuse the fact that in the background, Sebastian is running around and making lots of noise.

This is real life, guys. In real life situations, this is what happens and so, it’s worth becoming accustomed to having to listen to someone over the top of other noise.

In Spain, especially, voted the noisiest country in Europe, you will very rarely find a true moment of silence!


Buena suerte,

Gordon y Cynthia.

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El Aula – Calor, Caluroso, or Caliente – What Do They Mean?

Calor, Caliente and Caluroso.sun scale

It is understandable why these three words are some of the most searched for words on Google. In all of the years that we have taught Spanish, they have been a source of great confusion to all of our students at some time in their learning journey.

The fact is that to really understand how these words work you must first know that one of them is a noun and the other two are adjectives.


Let’s deal with the noun first. Calor actually means ‘heat’ and not ‘hot’. This is usually where the confusion comes in. Often students want to say: “This coffee is hot.” and rather than saying that they use ‘calor’ and say: “This coffee is heat.” or worse still, “This coffee is a lot of heat.”

So, ‘calor’ is used when talking about when it is hot (the weather) however, Spanish speakers do not actually say: “It is hot.”, but rather they say: “It makes heat.”

Also, if you want to say, “I am hot.” In Spanish, you cannot say it the same way as you do in English. Because Spanish speakers actually say, “I have heat.”

In fact, if you were to say literally, “I am hot.” in Spanish, you would actually be saying, “I am horny.” (Estoy caliente.) So, unless you were with someone who might find that comment interesting, it is better not to get them mixed up, don’t you think?


This word ‘ caliente ‘ is an adjectives and it translates as “hot”. This is the word that you use when you want to describe the actual temperature of objects. For example, you use ‘caliente’ when you are talking about something that is hot to touch, like, a cup of coffee, a fire, a radiator, etc.

To intensify the word ‘ caliente ‘ you use the word “very” which in Spanish is ‘muy’.

So to saying the coffee is very hot. You would say: El café está muy caliente.

Once again, there is some confusion with the intensifiers that we use with ‘caliente’ and ‘calor’.

With ‘calor’ we use the intensifier, ‘mucho’, which is ‘a lot’. Many students get these two intensifiers mixed up and so they often say sentences like: “I have very heat.” Or “The fire is a lot hot.”


Like ‘ caliente ‘, ‘caluroso’ also is an adjective and has a very limited use in the Spanish language. Principally it is used when talking about what kind of day it is, when referring to the weather. For example, you can say: “It is a warm day.” (Es un día caluroso.) However, aside from this particular use, the word ‘caluroso’ so is not used a great deal.

Our advice is very much that you stick to the main two words when describing the weather (calor) and the temperature of objects (caliente).

Now, come and join us in the video blog and we will aim to help you understand these words far more clearly. We hope you enjoy it!


Gordon and Cynthia.

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El Aula – Tambien (También) and Tampoco – How to Use Them Correctly

También (Tambien)teacher

As we are sure you already know, the word ‘También’ means ‘also’ or ‘too’ and is used pretty much in the same way as it is used in the English language.

Likewise, the word ‘Tampoco’, which means ‘neither’ or ‘either’ has a similar role in Spanish as it does in English, except in its position in the sentence.

We’ll come to that presently.

Confusión total.

Probably the most confusing part of using Tambien (También) is with GUSTAR.
(If you are wondering why we keep writing Tambien without an accent and then with, it’s for the search engines. Unfortunately, the majority of people do not put the accent on it when they are writing in Google. Very naughty!)

I recall feeling very confused when I would hear the Mexicans talking in our factory and saying in one breath: “Yo también.” and then in another: “A mí, también.”

What was going on?

Although at the time I had no idea why they would do that, and no one seemed to be able to explain the reason apart from saying: “¡Porque sí!” “Because we do!” I finally was able to understand why after taking the time to study this word.

What they mean.

The answer is that “Yo tambien.” (también) means: “Me too” or “Me also”.

And then “A mí tambien.” (también) means: “To me too.” or “To me also.”

When and why?

Someone tells you they are hungry and you will answer: “Yo también” And the reason is that, just like in English, you are saying: “Me, too.”

However, someone tells you that they like beer and you will answer them with: “To me also.”

This is because the sentence: “Me gusta la cerveza.” does not really mean: “I like beer.”, but rather it literally means: “Beer is pleasing to me.” So, it’s for this reason that you have to make the above reply: “To me too.” or “A mí también. (tambien)

The same applies to all the other so called impersonal verbs like: IMPORTAR, FASCINAR, INTERESAR, SOBRAR and a host of others.

Once you watched the videoblog, all this will make a lot more sense.


This means neither or either and most times it either comes first or last in the sentence.

No tengo sed. = I’m not thirsty. REPLY Tampoco tengo sed. = Neither am I thirsty.

Another option, however, is to put Tampoco at the end. However, if you do that you must add NO to ensure you have the famous Spanish double negative.
No tengo sed, tampoco. = I’m not thirsty either.

Given the frequent use and importance of these two words in the Spanish language, it’s worth spending some time on them. And clearly, you can start by watching our video blog!


Gordon y Cynthia 🙂

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El Aula – Por and Para – Test Your Skills

Por and Para is Big!elephant scale

When we made the video on the rules of POR and PARA we never for a moment expected it to being so popular. Out of all the videos that we have made, this one is the most watched.

The reason for this, we suppose, is that POR and PARA are two of the most confusing prepositions that exist in the Spanish language.

I recall, when I was first learning Spanish, that my mother who was then doing her A levels, decided to explain to me the rules and regulations of these two words. She had just recently  learned them in her Spanish class and she rattled them off to me at the speed of light.

As I listened to her, two things went through my mind:

1) I must somehow concentrate on what she is saying.

2) I will never in a million years remember all of those rules.

I’m sure that you, too, have had a similar experience.

Grammar Book Writers (What’s all that about?)


It seemed to me at the time that to have the job of writing the rules and regulations in grammar books, you needed to have such a elevated vocabulary that nobody could understand a word that you were saying. Fortunately, these days the people that write Spanish grammar books seem to be a little more relaxed and groovy.

And so, it was only through years of teaching POR and PARA that I realised that the rules were not so difficult. In fact, 90% of the rules could be condensed into three symbols.

Where to find the symbols

To see what those symbols are and to understand just how easy it is to effectively use POR and PARA, then you should watch the first video in this series.

Since making this video, we have had a tremendous amount of positive feedback about how the video has helped students to gain more clarity on this subject.

So, to take this understanding to a new level, we have made a follow up video in which you can test your skills and check to see that you have understood the three basic rules presented in the first video.

The POR and PARA Test

As promised, here are the sentences that I use to test you with:

1, ¿…………….. cuando tendrás eso hecho?

2, Tengo que tener esto hecho …………… septiembre.

3, Antonio está lejos de casa. Su hermana tiene que regar sus plantas …………. él.

4, ¿A qué hora vienes a recogerme? Voy a …………. ti a a las cinco.

5,  ….tercera vez, no quiero ir contigo a la fiesta.

6, Canta muy mal ……. ser un cantante profesional.

7, Esto se usa, … ejemplo, para hacer agujeros.

8, Esta leche es …… hacer cuajada.

9, ¿Es ese bolso … tu madre?

10, Está triste, … eso, llora.

So, there we have those sentences. Before you watch the video you can prepare yourself so that you get 10 out of 10.

Good luck. We will see you in the next Podcast.

Gordon and Cynthia.

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