Beginners Spanish Podcast 26 – Spanish Adverbs


An Adverb?

Before we look at what a Spanish adverb is, we had better examine just what an adverb is.

These are probably one of the little understood parts of English grammar. In fact, so misunderstood are they that they are often omitted from spoken language.

An ADVERB is, as it’s name implies, an ADJECTIVE (describing word) that pretends to be a VERB (doing word). How it does that is by tagging LY to its end.


So, for example, let’s think of the adjective HAPPY. We know we use it to say things like, “I am happy”. However, if we want to make that into an action, we have to change it to:

“I do the work happily.”


I’m Doing Good!

One adverb which is very much misunderstood is the word “WELL” and its opposite number “BADLY”.

If you want to be grammatically correct in English, then when someone asks you the question:

“How are you, today?”

You should answer with:

“I’m WELL” or “I’m doing WELL.” or “I’m not doing too BADLY.”

Unfortunately, more and more the answer is heard:

I’m doing GOOD.” or “I’m doing BAD.

In itself, this isn’t a problem except when you are learning another language, such as Spanish. The fact is that we simply cannot mess about with the Spanish adverbs such as BIEN and MAL as much as we do with the English ones.

You see, GOOD and BAD are ADJECTIVES, not ADVERBS.

So, when you say, “I’M GOOD“, or SOY BUENO in Spanish, you are referring to the type of person that you are. You are saying: “I’M A GOOD PERSON.” and not actually commenting on your state of being, as you do when you say “ESTOY BIEN” which means “I’M FINE/WELL.


A Big Mistake!

Even worse, if you mix up the verb with the adjective and say: “ESTOY BUENO”, you are actually saying, “I’M SEXY“.

Now, that might be true, but it isn’t something that you want to go around telling people. Better that you let them make their own mind up on that, don’t you think? lol

The same applies with the words, MAL and MALO.

You use MAL when you want to say that you are feeling bad. “ESTOY MAL” whereas MALO means bad in another way, like a bad person. So, if you say, “SOY MALO” you are saying that you are intrinsically BAD/WICKED/EVIL.

The correct version is to say: “ESTOY MAL“, which describes your current state: “I’M POORLY/ILL“.

Of all the Spanish adverbs, these are probably the ones that create most problems, however, in this podcast we help you understand how to construct all the adverbs and what their job is.

It’s really worth becoming familiar with them, and when you do, your Spanish, as well as your Spanish Adverbs,  will move forward to a new level of excellence.


Buena suerte,

Gordon y Cynthia 🙂

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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


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 🙂


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Beginners Spanish Podcast 28 – Easy Spanish Tips and Suggestions

help button scaleEasy Spanish?

This may sound like a cliché and let’s be clear, what we are saying here is NOT the following:

Easy Spanish in one weekend!

Easy Spanish with 300 words!

Easy Spanish without verbs!

or even

Easy Spanish whilst you sleep!

and the best we’ve seen,

Easy Spanish without studying!


 Así no se hace.

No, no, no. Our suggestion is to steer clear of anything that claims to be magical.

When we say, Easy Spanish, what we are referring to are ways to make your Spanish easier to use. There are many great ways of learning Spanish and we certainly do not claim to offer you the only way to learn.

However, over time we have found that there are some things that really do make a difference. We already have talked in a previous podcast about ensuring that you READ, WRITE, LISTEN and SPEAK Spanish every day, even if it’s just a matter of a few minutes of each.

It seems that one of the best ways of learning a language is to chunk it down into small bites. When you look at the entire process involved in learning Spanish, you could easily become overwhelmed by the vastness of it all.

That’s why it’s better just to look at the next step, whilst being vaguely aware of what lies ahead without worrying overly about it.

Another important requirement is repetition. Just because you’ve seen one thing does not mean that it’s logged into your mind. It’s the dogged repetition that does that.

I’ve lost count of the times in which I have covered a particular subject or grammar point for the fourth or fifth time with a student and only then have they had that wonderful “lightbulb” moment in which it all fits together for them.

Quite often they say to me: “Ah, I get it now. Why didn’t you tell me that before!”

Of course, I had done, many times before, but they simply weren’t in the right place to understand it.

Learning language is like working on a giant 100,000 piece jigsaw puzzle and the problem is that you’ve lost the box top that had the whole picture on it. You can recall vaguely what it was, but the details aren’t available.

So, what happens is that you have to start forming the corners, the edges etc. and little by little you get pieces of the image, but not the whole picture.

Sometimes you manage to get a little cluster of pieces that fit together but you have no idea where they fit into the whole puzzle.

And so that’s why you can have lots of information and still feel confused about what it is you are doing. It’s only when one important piece links lots of others that you get that “KERJING” moment and you see the bigger picture.

Remember the 80/20 rule and you’ll be much calmer and more patient with yourself.

Learning Spanish is 80% frustration and confusion and 20% clarity. Expect it to be like that and you’ll find yourself enjoying the whole process. Welcome the confusion, because we’ve always found that just after confusion comes clarity.

Sometimes, you have to wait a while for it to arrive, however! 🙂

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Beginners Spanish Podcast 29 – Learning Spanish Conversation with Opinions

meeting scale beg 29 opinonsLearning Spanish Conversation

In the past

One of the most frequent reasons we hear for people learning Spanish is so that they can have “a chat” with the locals in their favourite holiday resort.  Naturally, “a chat” can mean many things to many people and there are different levels of “chatting” that go from asking someone how they are to asking their opinion on the political climate.

During the 90’s in the U.K. there was a surge in the number of people learning Spanish. This was because 80% of people who went abroad for their holidays went to Spain. Not only that but a lot of people were making plans to retire to Spain and realised that they need to get the “lingo” if they were to survive out there.

The problem was that most people who wanted to learn Spanish were terrified of GRAMMAR. This was a throw back from their school days that they had never learnt to overcome and so many colleges that offered Spanish were getting requests for courses that focussed more on the spoken word than on grammatical structure.

Beginner’s Conversational Spanish. (the oxymoron)

Because of this obvious marketing opportunity, there suddenly appeared on the market a plethora of Spanish classes entitled, “Beginner’s Conversational Spanish.”

Now, for anyone who has learnt a language, you will know that no such thing exists.  Conversing in Spanish or in any other language for that matter is a skill that demands high levels of knowledge and vocabulary, not to speak of a  tremendous command of the tenses.

Yet, despite being mis-sold, the classes proved very popular and as a result an entire generation of Spanish speakers were spawned that without any concious awareness went about killing the language with every sentence they uttered and striking fear into every Spanish waiter this side of the costas.

The Turn Around.

Fortunately, the more serious people learning Spanish these days realise that grammar is a fundamental part of learning. And although it’s not easy at first, they are getting to grips with the fact that it must go hand in hand with with learning vocabulary and useful expressions.

So, it’s in this podcast that we aim to give you some useful ways of making conversation in Spanish. We show you how to give opinions and ask others for theirs.

We give you real life examples of how to respond if you agree with what someone says and what to do if you don’t.

Knowing how to ask these kinds of open questions is the key to instigating great conversations and will give you the opportunity to listen, a great skill that not many people are capable of and yet can be the making of your Spanish.

Join us as we talk you through some key ways to really converse in Spanish.

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Beginners Spanish Podcast 30 – Test Your Listening Skills

cute scale 30  listen beg

Learning grammar is so important for any student of the Spanish language. In fact, it’s a vital part of building up your listening skill.

However, there comes a time when the grammar needs to be put to one side and the real work of listening to a genuine conversation in Spanish needs to happen.

The Right and the Wrong way to listen to a Spanish podcast.

Yes, that’s right! There is a right and a wrong way to listen to Spanish being spoken. Over the years we have come across many people who do not know how to listen and have had to learn it as a skill.

You may say: Well, all you need do is listen. What can be so difficult about that?

The truth of the matter, however, is that it isn’t as simple as you might have imagined. Let us tell you about some of the ways NOT to listen first:

The Wrong Way

Rabbit in the Headlights.

This is probably the most common. Many students when faced with a Spanish speaker talking to them quite literally PANIC. They start a running dialogue in their head that normally goes like this:

Oh my God! They’re talking to me in Spanish! What if I don’t understand! What will they think of me! I’m not good enough to have them talking to me! They think I’m fluent! I don’t understand! etc. etc. etc.

Finally, the person puts them out of their misery by finishing what they were saying and the poor listener realises that they HAVEN’T HEARD A WORD THEY SAID.

I’m sure I know that word.

This is another common listening mistake. As someone speaks to you in Spanish,  you hear a word that’s familiar but you can’t quite recall what it means. You start to search your memory asking yourself where you heard it before, whilst all the time telling yourself that you should know it.

Finally, the speaker comes to a close and you realise that YOU HAVEN?T HEARD A WORD THEY HAVE SAID.

The Right Way

The Shower Technique.

This is fairly self explanatory.  When you listen to someone what you should do is to imagine that their words are like drops of water from a shower. You let them wash over you without any attempt to focus on one particular drop.  The idea of this is to capture the idea of the sentence and not the individual details of what is being said. If you hear an unfamiliar word, you just let it go by and trust that your mind will fill in the gaps for you. This works very well.

Pay attention to when you listen in your own language. If someone asked you to repeat word for word what someone has told you, you would find it very difficult. Our minds focus on the message rather than the details.

The Vacant Stare.

This combines nicely with the Shower technique in as much as when someone is talking to you in Spanish, you let the words wash over you whilst you adopt a blank kind of mentality. It’s almost like a state of meditation or trance. Let your breathing slow down, soften the focus of your eyes. Relax your mind. When the person has finished, wait for your mind to tell you what they just said. You’ll be amazed how often what your mind tells you they said is absolutely correct. (And now and again it get’s it absolutely wrong, too!)

The Power of Three.

When you are listening to something NEVER assume that if you cannot understand it the first time around you never will.  This is simply not the case. To know if you can understand something you must first listen to it THREE times as a minimum.

The first time you are just getting a very basic idea of what is being said. The second time around your mind begins to help you fill in the details.  The third time, you begin to focus on the words you missed beforehand.

There is no shame in listening to something TEN or TWENTY times. How many times must children hear a word before they can use it?

Be brave Enough to Ask for Clarity.

If you are in a live conversation, then the most valuable phrases you can learn are:

¿Qué significa eso? = What does that mean?


¿Cómo se dice? = How do you say?


¿Puedes repetir eso, por favor? = Can you repeat that, please?

Listen if you want to Speak.

Listening is the key to being able to speak. Many students try to talk all the time and never really move beyond the level they are at. This is because, to improve your Spanish you must listen well.

Remember: We have ONE MOUTH and TWO EARS and we should use them in that ratio when learning Spanish.


Gracias de Gordon y Cynthia. 🙂

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