El Aula – Bueno, Buen or Bien in Spanish – How to Choose Correctly

call scaleOur New VideoBlogs

This is the first in a range of videoblogs that will cover the most searched for Spanish words on Google. Well, having said that, we will not cover the word Vesícula (normally associated with the gallbladder), which for some bizarre reason appeared in the top twenty listings of Searched for Spanish words.

The first in the range are the words BUENO, BUEN and BIEN. Three words that without doubt cause a great deal of consternation in the head of every student of the Spanish language. I won’t be covering in this written blog the information we cover in the Videoblog. Instead, I will be looking at some interesting aspects of the words.


This word is a tremendously varied and flexible one. It is used in Mexico to answer the phone! Rather than the classic, DÍGAME, (tell me) which is heard throughout Spain when they pick up the phone, a Mexican will say BUENO. In this context it certainly doesn’t mean GOOD.

Greetings don’t often make a lot of sense.  I knew a man from Yorkshire who would say NOW THEN when he greeted me.

The same applies to the word BUENO. In Mexico it means YES in the context of answering the phone.

Certainly in Spain, BUENO can mean WELL. It’s used massively at the start of sentences.

Pregunta: ¿Qué opinas tú? Respuesta : Bueno, no sé exactamente. = What do you think? WELL, I don’t exactly know.

When a Spaniard is shocked by something, or surprised, they will often be heard saying:

¡Bueno, Bueno, Bueno! which roughly translates as: Goodness me! or more literally: Well, Well, Well!


Bien is an interesting word because it lives a double life, sometimes working as a GOOD and sometimes as a WELL.

It’s an ADVERB and so must be understood within the context of what an adverb is. We normally think of adverbs as words that end with LY. Unfortunately, WELL or BIEN isn’t as easily recognised as an adverb. Yet it is.

So we have BIEN and MAL = WELL and BADLY.

This is handy to remember when you want to say WELL DONE! = ¡BIEN HECHO!

and, of course, to say BADLY DONE! = MAL HECHO.

The difference between and adverb and an adjective

The biggest favour you could do yourself in your Spanish studies is to get clear in your head the difference between an ADVERB = BIEN and an ADJECTIVE = BUENO

The reason is that if you don’t understand the difference between the two, you will always mix them up in your Spanish conversation (not a good thing!)

Listen in to the video blog and let us help you get them clear in your mind.

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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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 – 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 – 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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