36 Early Intermediate Connecting words in Spanish

What are connecting words in Spanish?network-1027428_640

This podcast on the connecting words in Spanish has probably been one of the most popular in the range. Why? Well, from the feedback that we have received, it’s clear that what most students want is to be more fluent when they talk. They want to sound more authentic and to do that they need to know the connecting words in Spanish that native speakers use.

Of course, everyone has their favourites. For example, I know that one of my most favourite connecting words in Spanish is ‘vale’!

If anything, I probably over use it. However, I’ve noticed that when I speak in English I use ‘okay’ with the same frequency.

What is your favourite word?

Everyone has their own words that they tend to use as fillers and connectors as they piece together their sentences. It’s normal and it’s for that reason that we need to find the right connecting words in Spanish for us too.  When you listen to the Podcast you will hear a wide range of options. However, you don’t need to use all of them!

Our advice is for you to choose two or three at most. It’s not common for us to use many more in the spoken word. If anything, most of us use sounds like ‘uhm’, or ‘erm’ when we are thinking about what to say. So, choosing the right one for you is not life threatening.

The Argentinian ‘este’.

The Argentinians are famous for using the word ‘este’ as one of their main connecting words in Spanish. For example there’s a joke that goes like this:

Question: ¿Cómo ladra un perro argentino? = How does an Argentinian dog bark?

Answer: Este ¡guau! (Guau is the Spanish version of ‘woof’.)


It helps the flow.

The whole point of having these connecting words in Spanish or in any other language for that matter is to help the language flow along in a more musical fashion. Lots of Spanish speakers that I know here in Madrid use these words as a way of keeping control of the conversation. They often hang onto a word whilst they are thinking about what to say next. For example:


Así queeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Lo que pasó fue queeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Sooooooooooooooooooooooooo. What happened was thaaaaaaaaaaaat.


Choose a couple and use them to death.

You can’t really overdo the connecting words in Spanish because the simple fact is that people don’t really hear them. They aren’t part of the information so they are mostly dismissed. We only notice their absence rather than their presence.

So, our best advice is to grab a couple of them and get to work! Start using them in your conversation and watch how they help you to flow so much more!


un saludo,

Gordon 🙂

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37 Early Intermediate Haber in Spanish LightSpeed Spanish

Haber in Spanish. Clearing up the mysterylearn-939239_1280 (1)

The strangest part of most students concerns about what we tend to call the Perfect tenses, which are those that take Haber in Spanish and the Past Participle (I have eaten/He comido) is that for every tense that exists in Spanish we have the very same one in English. (Less the Subjunctive ones, of course.)

All that we have to do to understand how to use Haber in Spanish is to learn what the equivalent of each tense is in English. Look at this:

I have eaten.

I had eaten.

I will have eaten.

I would have eaten.

I may have eaten. (Similar to the Sunjunctive)

I might have eaten. (Similar to the Sunjunctive)


So, as you can see, the Perfect tenses are pretty prolific in English too. The issue is that we are so accustomed to them that we don’t really realise that we are using them. On the contrary, however, when we are trying to break down Haber in Spanish we have to really start thinking about what we are doing. It’s so much more difficult.

This podcast and the helpsheets sort it out.

What we have done in this Podcast is to start to help you understand the way that Haber in Spanish works and we have backed up the learning with our comprehensive Helpsheets that go into even more detail and offer you lots of examples and exercises.


The HAY of the storm.

Probably the most confusing part of the use of Haber in Spanish is the way that HAY = There is /are, works.  It’s a word that encapsulates both the singular and plural in one word.

Now, in present tense that isn’t so much of a problem but as we use this through the other tenses, we often feel tempted to make the verb plural. However, as you will see, there is no need. Take a look at this:


Hay = this is/are

Había = there was/were

Ha habido = there has/have been

Había habido = there had been

Habrá habido = there will have been

Habría habido = there would have been


As you can see, regardless of whether we are talking about one or more things, the conjugations always remain the same.

A common mistake is for people (I used to do this a lot!) to say:

Habían dos hombres. = There were two men.

 This is wrong. You never have to make the verb plural when you are using the version of HAY which comes from Haber in Spanish. The correct way is:

Había dos hombres.

So, watch on as we talk you through all of these fascinating aspects to Haber in Spanish and remember to grab your helpsheets if you need more clarification.

Un saludo,


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38 Early Intermediate The Passive Voice in Spanish and how to avoid it!

The Passive voice in Spanish and the Active voice.sherlock-holmes-462957_1280


Once, whilst I was working in a college giving evening classes in Spanish I was asked to cover an ‘A’ level class for a teacher who was also a native speaker. In preparation for the class she talked me through the lesson plan for that day.  She said that we had to cover the ways of avoiding the Passive voice in Spanish.

As I sat there staring at her with my fake ‘I know exactly what you are talking about.’ face on, inside I was in panic. ‘What the hell was the Passive voice?’ I was asking myself. Up until that point I had never come across that name. Of course, I had used the Passive and Active voice millions of times in my life, I just didn’t know what it was called.

Fortunately, she put me out of my misery by giving me an example of both of them and I instantly knew what she meant. However, that was one of the moments in my learning journey that reinforced to me how idiotic the grammatical names are. Most times they don’t give any clue as to what they are referring. (Like the pluperfect/pluscuamperfecto, for example!)

So what is the Passive Voice?

Well, the Passive voice in Spanish and in English is the kind of sentence in which we don’t know who it was that did the act.  This is an example:

The building was built in the 17th century. = El edificio fue construido en el siglo 17.

This is a Passive sentence because there are no perpetrators. We don’t know who built the building. We can, of course, add ‘by some men’ if we want to clear up the mystery, but the sentence can stand alone perfectly without the extra information.

It’s important to know that the Passive voice in Spanish is not commonly used in spoken language. Yet, in English it’s everywhere!

We love it in English.

The boy was arrested.

The table was set.

The swords were drawn.

Rather than using the passive voice in Spanish, however, they prefer to use the Active voice. ‘What’s that?’, I hear you ask. Well, the Active voice is the sentence in which we know exactly who did it, It’s the ‘whodunnit’ structure. Here are some examples:

They constructed the building in the 17th century.

The police arrested the boy.

The lady set the table.

The men drew the swords.

Active voice = The blame game.

With the active voice, as you can see, all you need to do is to blame the people who did the act. Listen in to the Podcast as we show you this in detail with lots of examples.


Un saludo,

Gordon 🙂



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39 Early Intermediate Mí and Ti in Spanish. When do we use them?

Mí and Ti in Spanish. (Not to mention Sí)puzzle-654957_1280

I often used to wonder what the rule was about when to use Mí and Ti in Spanish. I kind of knew when to do it because I had heard others using them.

For example, in a restaurant I knew I had to say, ‘Para ‘. When I used ‘Gustar’ I knew I had to say: ¿A ti te gusta…?

What I didn’t know, however, was the system. And so, what happens when you don’t have a system is that your Spanish becomes a bit random. You get it right most times because it sounds right, but then, a new sentence needs to be created and you botch it up.

No System = Frustration

Across the years I have worked hard to find systems to help my Spanish and that of others. Most times, once you get to know your material, you find that there is one. Until you have that system, you can go through a lot of frustration as people correct you and you don’t know why.

This was what used to happen to me with Mí and Ti in Spanish. Until, that is, I found the system. Well, in truth, I didn’t find it, it was given to me by my beautiful wife.

Cynthia has this curious way of very nonchalantly sharing absolutely vital information as though it were nothing of great importance.

I recall the day that I had made yet another mistake with Mí or Ti in Spanish, I’m not sure which, and she said in a throw away comment:

You do know that if you are following a preposition you have to use Mí, don’t you?

There was a silence whilst I processed that little gem of information and suddenly, all of my confusions turned to smoke and everything clicked into place.

It had been right in front of my face.

The answer was so simple! Yet, I had never seen it up until that moment. I could have kissed Cynthia at that moment, and probably did so. I also was very frustrated with her.

‘Why haven’t you told me that before?’ I asked her. ‘I thought you already knew it.’ She replied surprised.

Sure! That’s why I had been getting it wrong for so long!

Watch the Podcast.

Now, you don’t need to be confused any more. Just watch the Podcast to understand the Mí and Ti in Spanish and then, if you want more practice and a deeper understanding, you might be interested in our Helpsheets which are available on the website.

un saludo,



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40 Early Intermediate Tú or Usted in Spanish LightSpeed Spanish

¿Tú, or Usted in Spanish.peasant-482727_1280

The question of the use of Tú and Usted in Spanish rather reminds me of the other famous question that we all know: ‘How long is a piece of string?’

The reason I say that is that over the years I have realised that I should not use the words ‘always’ and ‘never’ when I am talking about the rules and regulations of the Spanish language. I’ve been caught out so many times by one of my students who comes to class with evidence of an exception to my rule.  The same applies to the use of Tú and Usted in Spanish.

Now, I only ever use words like: ‘For the most part.’ or ‘Most times’ and even then, I am ‘rozando el limite’ of what is really the case.

It depends on where you are.

There really is no hard and fast rule to the use of Tú and Usted in Spanish apart from this one:

If in doubt, always start with Usted.

Recently I met a Colombian girl on a course I attended and we chatted about the use of Usted in Spanish in her country. She said that in her experience, most everyone used Usted and Ustedes only.

She surprised my by saying that her husband called her ‘señora’ and she called him ‘señor’ and both only talked to one other using ‘usted’. What was more, she said that in families and between friends, ‘usted’ is used.

Although she said that to use ‘tú’ you would need to be exceedingly close with a person, I asked her when it was that she had last used ‘tú’ with a person and she couldn’t think of one time.

Listen to what others use.

The case of the use of Tú and Usted in Spain is very different and it’s constantly changing. Spain is so much more informal than it was even 10 years ago. Yet, Usted in Spanish used in Spain still exists and is used daily. However, there are very specific situations in which Usted is used.

The safest way to manage this tricky situation is to listen to how the people speak to you and just ‘do the same’. If they use Usted in Spanish, then you do that to. If they speak to you in Tú, do that! Let them lead you.

In this Podcast and the Helpsheets that accompany it, we go into more detail of the ways to manage the situation of Tú and Usted in Spanish. Listen in as Cynthia and I help you with this.


Un saludo,

Gordon 🙂

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