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32 Early Intermediate Spanish Más, Mucho and Muy in Spanish

Mucho or Muy in Spanish?bart

Over the years we have noticed that when faced with choosing between Mucho and Muy in Spanish, many students get very nervous and unsure.  If we’ve heard ‘Mucho grande’ once over the last 15 years, we’ve heard it a thousand times. But why? Well, the truth is that in the media many people, in their attempt to show off their Spanish speaking prowess, make glaring errors that the rest of the world picks up on.

Bart’s error.

A perfect example of this is the ‘No problemo’ catch phrase used by Bart Simpson. One supposes that the original idea was to make an ironic inside joke of an American using Spanish incorrectly. (It should be ‘No problema’.)

The irony of the joke was that it was only funny if you knew Spanish. However, because not that many people know Spanish well, for the vast majority of viewers, ‘No problemo’ is simply the way to say ‘No problem’ in Spanish. The end result is that, now, the vast majority of the English speaking, Simpson watching world says: ‘No problemo’ in the firm belief that they are speaking perfect Spanish.

Mucho Abuso.

Here’s another example of the same kind of issue and one that brings us back to our original theme of Mucho or Muy in Spanish. I recently watched an animated film with my son called: The house of magic. One of the characters in the movie is a small dog that speaks with a mixture of Jive and really bad Spanish. (I’m not sure if Jive speak still exists, but if it does, this dog uses it!)

At one point the dog says: ‘Mucho grande’ which, if you are a student of Spanish, you will recognise as a load of rubbish. The issue is, however, it’s a key line in the film and unless you know otherwise, you might think that that’s how you say ‘very big’ in Spanish. So, as you can see, we are up against it here.

It’s easy.

Despite what you may think, however, the difference isn’t so confusing between Mucho and Muy in Spanish. Mucho means ‘a lot’ and Muy means ‘very’.

So why the confusion? Well, we get ourselves into a muddle with the way that the Spanish language structures sentences like:

I am very thirsty. – Spanish structure: I have a lot of thirst.

or

I am very frightened. – Spanish structure: I have a lot of fear.

What’s interesting is that although in Spanish it’s possible to say:

‘Estoy muy sediento.’ or ‘Estoy muy miedoso.’

it is not the way these sentences are made in day to day speech. Rather Spanish speakers say:

‘Tengo mucha sed.’ and  ‘Tengo mucho miedo.’

In reality, it is only this kind of structure that is different to English. For the most part, when you want to say: Very, you will say Muy in Spanish. And when you want to say: A lot, you will say Mucho.

Join us in this Podcast as we talk you through all of this and offer you some practical examples of how to use these two words correctly. In addition to that, we cover the frequent mistakes with Más too.

 

Gordon y Cynthia:)

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33 Early Intermediate Tardar and Llevar in Spanish To Take

How to use Tardar and Llevar in Spanish, well! alarm-clock-590383_1920

Well, I have to say that this podcast was, for me, very special (Gordon). Why? Because for whatever reason I had never got to grips with some of the uses of Llevar in Spanish. In fact, I had missed a fundamental part of how the verb worked.

What I discovered during the making of the Podcast with Cynthia was that Llevar in Spanish works just like is does in English. For whatever reason, I just hadn’t put the two together.

A lesson learnt.

The crazy thing about the whole experience, and I will leave you to watch the video to see how my confusions were cleared up, was that I should have known it! But I didn’t.

After more than 15 years of leaning Spanish, I had missed an important meaning of the verb Llevar in Spanish. How? Well, because throughout my learning journey I have always used a system that has helped me no end and yet has also limited my learning.

The Good/Bad system.

The system I have always used helps me when I am struggling to find a way to say something. When I can’t say the sentence one way, I say it another. As I have always said to my students: “Don’t get stuck trying to say something when there are hundreds of other ways to say it.”

And, I have to say that it’s a great system that has served me well. However, it has also meant that I have been able to avoid creating structures that have confused me.

One such structure was the use of Llevar in Spanish. The truth is that I always plumbed for Tardar because I understood it better. And because I could use it perfectly well, I never really had a need to use Llevar in Spanish when talking about ‘taking time’.

The Lighbulb moment.

So, it was because of this very same system that I had never understood how to use Llevar in Spanish until Cynthia so kindly explained it to me.  And then, WHOOSH! I had it. A vital piece of my puzzle just dropped into place with a clatter.

Never be too cocky!

We can never afford to be overly confident and assume that we know everything. Learning a language is a life long project and the more I learn the more I realise that I don’t know things. Still, that’s the fun of it, isn’t it? The journey is the fun part not the arrival. It’s like when we are reading a really good book and we never want it to end.

I know that I will be learning Spanish for the rest of my life and I look forward to many more lightbulb moments. And you should too.

 

Enjoy the video.

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34 Early Intermediate Sentirse and Sentir in Spanish

Sentirse or Sentir in Spanish?seagull-115618_640

 

I recall feeling very confused about when to use Sentirse or Sentir in Spanish.  Cynthia would often correct me when I said things like, ‘Siento triste por…’. She would say: Eso no, Gordon. Es ‘Me siento triste…’

What wasn’t clear, however, was why. What was I doing wrong when I used Sentir in Spanish rather than Sentirse?

Natives don’t often know.

What’s clear about these kind of confusions is that if you ask a native speaker whose job isn’t in teaching (and sometimes when it is) they will often not be able to tell you why. Why is a tough one for them.

They can tell you perfectly well  ‘how’ to say something correctly. They just struggle to tell you why. That’s because native speakers have not learnt their language like we have to.

They have learnt what we call the melody of the language. You either sing the tune correctly or you hit a bum note. Their ears are tuned in and all of their language skill has been learnt, for the most part, unconsciously.

Non-natives need to know ‘when’ and want to know ‘why’.

Because we are learning Spanish in a conscious way, we need to understand exactly ‘when’ we have to use Sentir in Spanish and ‘when’ we have to use Sentirse. What’s more, we really wouldn’t mind knowing ‘why’ although, if I can offer a piece of advice, ‘why’ not one of the most useful questions to ask and the answer is often very unsatisfying.

The answer to the ‘When’ question, however, is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  When we know ‘when’ we have to say Sentir in Spanish and not Sentirse, we can begin to use it just like a native does.

How do I know that?

Because I have spent years asking native speakers the ‘why’ question and they rarely know the answer. yet, they speak the language perfectly. This has brought me to the conclusion that knowing ‘why’ has nothing to do with your ability to speak well or not.

I decline to learn Latin.

I recall having a lovely chap in one of my classes that could explain every part of a sentence down to the minutest detail. He would ask about accusatives and datives and all of those words that Latin scholars and people who have watched the Life of Brian use. Yet, when he tried to put all that knowledge into a basic sentence, well, he couldn’t. Knowing all the ‘whys’ and the ‘wherefores’ didn’t help him at all.

So, if you really want to know ‘when’ you should use Sentir in Spanish and when you should choose Sentirse instead, just watch the video and all will become clear….very quickly.

 

Buena suerte de un fanático del ‘¿cuándo?

 

Gordon 🙂

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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,

                           Gordon:)

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