Advanced Intermediate Spanish Podcast 21 – Saber Conocer & Decir in Preterite

data scaleSaber, Conocer and Decir in Preterite Past.

These three verbs are surely some of the more interesting Spanish verbs because of the additional complications they pose to English speaking students. The fact that Saber and Conocer both mean To Know and yet those ‘knowings’ are most often very different makes learning them an interesting process.

To add insult to injury, once they move into the past they become even more complex and their meanings change yet again.

Some interesting question are:

Which verb and  tense do we use if we want to say: “I knew it.”?

How would I say: ” I knew her when I was in school.”?

What about: “I found out the truth yesterday.”?

and finally:

“Where did you meet your wife?”

If you already know how to say these sentences in Spanish then we would say to you: “Enhorabuena.”

However, if you have any doubts then this is the ideal podcast for you to listen to.


Decir in Preterite and Imperfect Past.

Now, let’s discuss some of the more important aspects of the verb “to say”. The reality is that this verb is one, if not the most important verb that any serious student of Spanish should “dominar” totally.


Think about the conversations you have in your own language. How many times do you find yourself telling someone about a conversation you had earlier.

“Well, I said to him that…..And he said to me that… then he said that his sister had said that….”

In our own language we sail through sentences without even noticing the complexity of the structures we are using. Yet, once you are in your second, third or whatever language, suddenly things start to get a little more difficult.

It’s for that reason that you should truly have Decir in Preterite and Imperfect past completely under control.

To begin with, Decir in Preterite is irregular and must be learnt apart from the usual preterite structure. That said, it’s used so often that very soon you’ll have it learnt by heart.

If you have any doubts about how to translate the following sentences, then this is the podcast to listen to.

I said to her that…

She said to me that…

I told her it…

Did you tell him?

Clearly, not everything can be covered in a ten minute podcast and for that reason we back up all of our podcasts with a fully comprehensive Helpsheet and Transcription designed with you in mind.  The helsheets are filled with helpful and current examples of how these verbs are used and then are backed up by some tests to check your understanding.

We hope you find them useful in your learning journey.


Gordon y Cynthia 🙂


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Advanced Intermediate Spanish Podcast 22 – The Mediterranean Diet

paellaThe Mediterranean Diet is renown throughout the world not only for its delicious dishes but also for its health benefits.

In this podcast we hear from Mercedes, la madre de Cynthia y de Maribel, su tía, who talk us through what they perceive as the typical Mediterranean diet.

The challenge in this podcast is understanding just exactly what it is they are saying. Normally, at this level you have been listening to Cynthia and I. You have probably become accustomed to our voices and the expressions we use.

Now we have two new people with different voice tones and new idiomatic expressions. For this reason, it’s worthwhile suggesting that you have a number of attempts at this one.

Listen to it at least three times unless, of course, you captured everything beforehand. Fortunately, both Mercedes and Maribel speak very clearly and at a moderate speed and so you should find it fairly straightforward to capture the idea of what they are saying.

Both Mercedes and Maribel are wives and mothers and have spent many years preparing a wide range of food for their families. Because of this fact, they can be classed as experts on the subject of what we know as the Mediterranean Diet.

In Spain, within the  dynamic of the family, it falls upon the woman of the house to prepare the food. Adding to that the fact that food is probably the most important past time in Spain, then it falls upon the woman of the house to ensure she is able to prepare a wide gamut of tasty food for her family.

One of the things that I personally have noted about a typical meal with our family in Spain is that there are always many different flavours and varieties of food.  The table is littered with various types of salad, vegetables and a range of tastes that far exceed anything that I have experienced here in the U.K.

The other interesting part of eating in Spain is that there always seems to be far too much food (and there is) for the amount of people at the table.  Once the meal is done then all the surplus food goes back into the fridge to be eaten later.

Probably, the biggest fear that any Spanish mother has is that there isn’t enough food to go around.  So important is it to eat heartily in Spain that you can almost guarantee that if you opened any fridge in Spain it would be loaded up with Tupperware filled with the left overs from meals earlier in the week.

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Advanced Intermediate Spanish Podcast 23 – Spanish Commands

decide scaleSpanish Commands

The Imperative tense is a widely and oft used tense in all Spanish speaking countries. If you learn to use it well then you will find people will respond positively to your requests. However, like all tenses, if you use it badly then it could work against you.

Here in the UK and in many English speaking countries the imperative is used a lot less than you will find it used in Spanish speaking countries. Certainly in England it tends to be used along with copious amounts of pleases and thank yous.

This is less the case with Spanish Commands. The reason for that is that there is a certain amount of politeness already built into them. You can tell someone to sit using an informal tone, or, if needed, you can tell them to sit whilst remaining very formal.

Siéntate = Sit down (my friend/family member TÚ)

Siéntese = Sit down (stranger/elderly person/not my friend/someone I want to respect USTED)

It’s for this reason that it’s best to have this tense fairly clear in your mind before you start running around telling people what to do in Spanish.

I recall moving to Mexico and starting to work in my company’s new factory in Aguascalientes. I had only six months of Spanish classes (self taught, too) behind me and without doubt I must have made a mountain of mistakes, especially when I was trying to get people to do what I wanted them to do.

What was even more impactful was that it was there that I first came across the Spanish Commands. Before, whilst I worked in Morocco, the people in my factories talked to me with lots of pleases and thank yous and they called me Monsieur Gordon (lol).

Then, I arrived at the factory in Mexico and discovered that my name meant ‘Fat man’ which was a blow. Then, I found people were saying to me things like: ¡VEN! = Come here, without even a please!

For the first few times I made them say: VEN, POR FAVOR but after a while I gave up and accepted that the Spanish commands were just a normal part of their spoken Spanish.

In this Video podcast we help you with this rather troublesome but vitally important tense so that you can use it with confidence and not be shocked when Spanish people start ordering you around. lol

All of our podcasts are backed up by comprehensive helpsheets and transcriptions of any spoken Spanish to provide you with the best learning experience possible.

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Advanced Intermediate 24 – Spanish Podcast Ser and Estar in the Past

persons scale adv inter 24Ser and Estar in the Past.

For every self respecting student of the Spanish language, getting SER and ESTAR right is not only a challenge but often becomes and obsession.

“Why on earth they have to have two verbs ‘to be’ I’ll never know!”we often mutter to ourselves. Still, no matter how long you look at it, there they are, defying us to get our heads around them.

The main issue is that to use these verbs, particularly in the past, we have to perform a series of mental gymnastics before we can even get a word out of our mouths.

Mental Gymnastics.

We reach a WAS in our sentence and stop… then begin the questions:

Is this SER or ESTAR?

Is this a PERMANENT was or a TEMPORARY was?

Is this a ONE OFF ACTION or is it an ONGOING ACTION?

By the time we’ve reached a conclusion, either our listener has gone to make a coffee or their eyes have glazed over as they escape to their happy place.

As we have said before, native speakers do not have this problem. They have learnt to speak by ear, and so to them, it either sounds right or wrong.

We, unfortunately, do not have that luxury and must manually trawl through our rules to arrive at the correct tense and conjugation.

Fear not!

The truth is, it’s not as difficult as you might imagine. Nor is it life threatening to get it wrong. Sometimes it can change the meaning, however, if your listener is paying attention to what you are saying, they will know if  you have chosen the wrong verb or tense.

We have produced this video podcast to help you with SER and ESTAR in the past in conjunction with the video in EL AULA which covers the 4 ways to say WAS.

Probably, it would be best to watch THIS VIDEO first before listening to the one we are presenting here.

The Good News.

The good news is that the more you practice the easier it gets. You really do learn by ear and the way to do that is to practice, practice, practice. Read every day. Even if you really struggle with the story, you are learning all the time. It’s impossible not to learn.

Read out loud! This also allows you to hear the Spanish being spoken whilst giving you great practice for your pronunciation.

Listen as much as you can to as much variety as possible. By doing so, you will learn the melody of the language, which is how native speakers have learnt it.

Our podcasts come with great Helpsheets that go into far more depth than the podcast allows us to do. We hope you enjoy them and find them of value.

Buena suerte, chicos. 🙂


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Advanced Intermediate Spanish Podcast 25 – Spanish Vocabulary – Airports & Taxis

airplane-scale adv inter 25

Great Spanish Vocabulary.

Travelling to Spanish Speaking Countries.

According to the current statistics, more than one million Americans actually live in Mexico. On top of that, many tens of millions travel to Latin American countries every year, not to speak of those who cross the Atlantic to visit Spain.

In the U.K., more than 70% of all people who travel abroad go to Spanish resorts.

In our book, that’s a lot of travelling and of course, when travelling in Spanish speaking countries, it’s important to have the appropriate vocabulary.

We admit that, in most tourist zones there is little need to speak Spanish as the majority of services offered to the travellers cater for multiple languages with English being top of the list.

Off the Beaten Track

However, step only a tiny bit off the beaten track into what we could describe as ” normal people” country, and you will find a distinct lack of bilingual speakers.

This often catches people off guard. We have lost count of the times that people have called us in a panic saying that they have bought a house in Spain and, to quote them, “Nobody in the village speaks English!. Quick! I need lots of Spanish vocabulary!”

To “ASSUME” makes an ASS of U and ME.

Why we should assume that everyone in the world can speak English doesn’t really make sense at all. Naturally, English is the international language for those who move around the world, yet, for the majority, travelling from country to country isn’t an option. Clearly, for them, their native language is all they will ever need to speak.

In Spain, for example, the vast majority of Spaniards choose to holiday in their own country. They rarely travel to other countries as a rule.  So, although you will find in Spain a level of English slightly better than that of the Spanish spoken in the U.K.  it is still spoken at a low level  and with a heavy accent.

At Least have the Minimum.

So, when travelling through a Spanish speaking country, it’s advisable to at least have the basics of Spanish vocabulary. In this podcast we talk you through some key travelling vocabulary for Airports and Taxis. After all, there’s nothing worse than jumping into a taxi and finding that the driver doesn’t speak a word of English.  (Apparently, that can happen in New York these days. haha)

Our podcasts are all backed up with fully padded out helpsheets that explain all of the expressions and terms that we use during the podcast. In addition to that, we provide a full transcription and translation of all of the conversations we have.

We hope you will find them of great use in your studies.

Saludos, Gordon and Cynthia.

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