34 Advanced Intermediate Spanish Diminutives and Augmentatives

Smaller than life Spanish Diminutives.bulldog-1047518_1280

Spanish diminutives are probably one of the great mysteries of the Spanish language. When I say ‘mystery’ I mean that in terms of understanding the system.

There seems to be a distinct lack of regimented, clearly set out rules about the ending you give to each noun. Of course, we do have some guidelines, such as the following example of Spanish diminutives with the word ‘Chico’:


Chico  = In this sense it means small.

Chiquito = Quite small

Chiquitito = Very small

Chiquititito = Extremely small

Chiquitititito = Ridiculously small (lol)


So, with certain words we can apply the ‘just add an ‘ito’ rule and we are plain sailing. However, that’s not always the case. There are many other endings used as Spanish diminutives that ‘must’ only be used with certain words. (We cover this in the Helpsheets)

So how do we know what to add?

Well, the fact is that we don’t know. The use of Spanish diminutives seems to be very much a regional or national thing. Different parts of Spain have different preferences. For example, in Murcia they seem to prefer ‘ico’ rather than ‘ito’.

In Mexico, the use of Spanish diminutives is massive.  The personal officer in the factory that I worked in would frequently ask me:

Gordon, ¿quieres tomar un cafecito conmigo? Quiero platicar contigo un ratito sobre unos problemitas que tenemos en la fábrica. = Gordon, do you want to have a little coffee with me? I want to talk with you a little while about some little problems we have in the factory.

We have them too.

The Spanish speaking world doesn’t have the monopoly on diminutives of course. In English we too use them. The English diminutive is normally created by adding ‘Y’ onto words and we typically do that to make things sound cute or inoffensive. We use them with children, just as they do in Spain and we also use them when we want to make something that is not so good for us sound attractive:


Do you want a voddy? (vodka)

I’m going to smoke a ciggy.

Do you want some choccy pudding?

My wife with my son.

When Cynthia talks to Sebastian, my son, she constantly uses Spanish diminutives. One that stands out is when she talks about water:

Sebastián, ¿quieres un poquito de aguita?

Try as I might I can’t get a decent translation into English of the word ‘aguita’. I would sound a bit like this:

Sebastian, would you like a little bit of warty? jeje.

So, if you would like to find out more about Spanish diminutives and hear some great advice on how non-natives should use them, then have a listen to this podcast. And remember, the Helpsheets are available to really give you a full insight into how to use them and when.


un saludo,


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35 Advanced Intermediate Remember in Spanish Acordarse / Recordar

Remember in Spanish. Which one to use?brain-770044_1280

If you’ve been studying for any length of time you will be sure to have had a moment in which you wanted to use the word Remember in Spanish. (or I don’t remember, for that matter)

As you looked into whatever dictionary you use (we like wordreference whilst others like Spanishdict) you will have been faced with the two options of the verbs Recordar and Acordarse.

The question which you were sure to have asked yourself was: So, which one do I use? (and why?) That’s because we are thinking and (sometimes) rational adults.  As a consequence we often ask the ‘why’ question which in truth is the least helpful one.


Ask the ‘when’ and ‘how’ questions.

As we have said in our books, the ‘why’ question rarely helps us. That’s because it’s probably the least important question of them all. What’s more, sometimes the answer to that question is ‘because!’.

Acceptance of they way a foreign language is used is a real gift.  When faced with yet one more of the idiosyncrasies  of the Spanish language such as how to use Remember in Spanish, the clever students just say: ‘Ah, I see. So how do I use it and when?’

This Podcast.

In this podcast and the corresponding Helpsheets we go into just when and how you use these two verbs to say Remember in Spanish.  What is interesting is that both can be used in the vast majority of situations. However, there are times when only Recordar will work and times when only Acordarse will work.

The benefit of being native.

One of the reasons that Cynthia and I are able to explain concepts in a digestible manner is because of the fact that she is Spanish and I am English. We’ve both gone through the same learning process but in the opposite direction.

When I ask Cynthia a question about some grammar point, most times she doesn’t need to consult a book. She just listens to the melody of the sentences and she tells me which one sounds right and which sounds wrong. Then, from that information I can most times develop a system to help the learners to get it right most times. This is what we have done in this Podcast. Cynthia helps us to know when we really can’t just use both these verbs for Remember in Spanish.

If I had to just guess at something by checking online, my learning systems would probably be a lot less reliable.

So, check out the Podcast and let’s get you flying in formation with your Remember in Spanish and remember to check out the Helpsheets too which are designed to really clear up ‘cualquier duda que tengas’.


un saludo,

Gordon 🙂

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36 Advanced Intermediate Useful Spanish Vocabulary on Movement LightSpeed Spanish

Very useful Spanish vocabularyphotography-1064294_1280

The truth of the matter is that, just like the majority of the Podcasts in this series, the idea behind this one on useful Spanish vocabulary came from one of our viewers who often comments on our videos in Youtube. He gave us a long list of all of the different kinds of body movement that there are and asked us to say them in Spanish. He even asked us to explain how to say: To take a selfie!

It’s because of this that we can say that the information that this Podcast contains as well as that in the corresponding Helpsheets is very ‘ useful Spanish ‘.

There’s lots to learn.

Did you know that there are more or less 100,000 words in the Spanish language? That means that we’ve all got a lot of learning to do! However, it’s not the case that every one of those words could be classified as ‘ useful Spanish ‘. So, rather than trying to learn every one of the blessed things, it’s far better to focus on what to you is really useful Spanish and to set about learning that.

Is it true that with a 1000 words I can be fluent?

There are lots of quick fix sites around that tell you that with only 1000, 2000, 3000 or even just 500 words you can speak with natives anywhere. Well, that is absolutely true and those people could never be sued for making false claims. However, the question is: What on earth would you be talking to them about?

Most of those sites suggest that you don’t bother breaking down verbs or learning the other tenses.  What’s more, many suggest that you just use whole verbs when talking.

Me Tarzan, Me hungry.

Effectively, trying to shortcut the learning journey (which is actually the fun part of learning a language) just leaves you with a Spanish that, to a non-speaker sounds fluent and to native speaker sounds like you are Tarzan.

Now, I’ll be the first to say that if you don’t mind that at all, then those kind of courses are perfect for you.  What we must bear in mind, however, is that when most people talk with someone in their own language who speaks badly, they make a judgement on that person’s intelligence and IQ level. (It’s scientifically proven.)

It’s a great starting point.

What we aren’t saying is that these courses aren’t worthy of consideration. They are actually great at building your useful Spanish vocabulary really quickly. The only issue is that you mustn’t leave it there.  These are courses to be built upon, expanded, clarified and developed.

Listen in to the useful Spanish in this Podcast.

In this Podcast we present a whole host of really useful Spanish on movement. Why not take the information and place it on flash cards and repeatedly practice it until it becomes second nature? There are lots of apps that allow you to add information and then learn it through repetition. It’s certainly worth a go, isn’t it?


Un saludo,

Gordon 🙂

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37 Advanced Intermediate The Haber Subjunctive Structures LightSpeed Spanish

What are the Haber Subjunctive Structures?pumpkins-1022627_1280

Basically, these are the ones that quite often catch us out. We’ve learnt the subjunctive triggers and are feeling pretty confident about how and when to use them and bam! Suddenly we are faced with the Haber subjunctive and we don’t know what to do.

The great news.

The great news is that the Haber subjunctive is not really any different to any of the other subjunctive tenses (or moods as they say).  Okay,  the verb Haber may be a little irregular but that shouldn’t faze us very much given that more than 70% of Spanish verbs are irregular anyway.

First things first.

Probably, for you to understand how to use the Haber subjunctive structures you really need to get to grips with the normal, Present Subjunctive and what we here at LightSpeed Spanish call the Triggers.

Probably the best way to do this is through the book we have created on the Subjunctive. However, you can also get a very clear overview of how to identify these Triggers by watching the series of videos we made on this subject.

Then, once you have understood how they work with other verbs, you can move on to the Haber subjunctive.

Everyone’s so scared of the Subjunctive.

We don’t know how you feel about the Spanish subjunctive yourself, but we have to say that to the vast majority of students ‘le da mucho miedo’. And we aren’t even talking about the subject of the Haber subjunctive. However, it really doesn’t need to be that way.

The fear of the Subjunctive normally comes from others. What I mean is that other students often frighten the life out of us when they talk about the Subjunctive:

‘Oh, my God! Wait till you get to the subjunctive.’, they say. ‘You’ll be horrified’.

I know this to be the case because it happened to me. I then watched the same thing happening in every class that I have taught. For whatever reason, the more experienced students among us feel obliged to warn us of the forthcoming doom of the subjunctive. lol.

It’s actually the fun bit.

Whether it be the Haber subjunctive that we cover in this video podcast or any other kind of Subjunctive for that matter, once you get into it you will find that it’s the cherry on the cake in terms of your Spanish. Being able to use the subjunctive takes your Spanish go from good to great. What’s more, it’s really fun too. (Trust us, we are language doctors jeje)

So, listen in whilst we help you with Haber subjunctive and we hope you enjoy the rest of your learning journey.


Gordon y Cynthia:)

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Ser Socio Membership Program Teaser – Gustar

Our New Online Spanish Lesson Membership Program

Ser Socio and la Zona V.I.P.


LightSpeed Spanish have just launched their latest resource and one that may just change how you learn Spanish forever!

Talking you through each area of the Spanish language, Gordon and Cynthia Smith-Durán will be guiding you and your Spanish by way of their Spanish Lessons Online.

As a member, each week you will receive a full lesson on a wide range of subjects that you too can influence. The lesson includes a 10 minute transcribed and translated Spanish conversation in which we demonstrate how to use the particular structure that we are covering that day. Then, we talk for a further 10 minutes in English during which time we pull the conversation to pieces to further help you understand how to use each structure well in conversation.

What You Get:

These Spanish Lessons Online are designed with you in mind and are suitable to most levels from Improver through to Advanced. Each lesson comes with:

  • A video of the lesson exclusive to members only
  • A downloadable mp3 audio of the lesson
  • A downloadable transcript and translation of the entire Spanish conversation
  • Homework set at two levels to drive home the learning and the concepts
  • Comments that come directly to us so that you can ask us to cover specific topics
  • The possibility of chatting with native Spanish speakers in a language exchange

How do I become a member?

You can sign up for your Ser Socio membership here:

Each member will pay a monthly subscription of 9.99 British pounds which will gain them constant access to the Zona V.I.P. where they can dip into all the lessons and the downloads as they grow.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact us at

¡Muchísimas Gracias!

LightSpeed Spanish wants to finish by sending you all ‘un abrazo fuerte’ and to say ‘muchísimas gracias’ for all of your support and kind words during the many years that we have been doing our bit to grow the ever increasing Spanish speaking world.

Gordon y Cynthia:)

Download the Transcript and the Homework here.

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