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español for Gringos

Let's find out if there's interest in a thread for folks who want to share or expand what they know about the Spanish language.

I'm thinking tips, trix, quirks, observations, embarrassing moments, triumphal moments, and other encounters in espanol.

What do I mean by No Heavy Lifting....Well, three-hour classes and rote memorizations would be such.

One of my favorite words is "quisiera" (kee-see-AIR-uh), which means "I would like."  Gringos need and want stuff all the time and you can tack just about any Spanish noun or verb on the back of this word, to make your point to your vendor, your doctor, your waiter, your landlord or anyone else.  It has the wonderful advantage of being a soft way of speaking to "la gente":  so much friendlier to say "I would like..." than to say "I want" (quiero), which sounds so Gringo-demanding.

On balance, Spanish just sounds more powerful to the Gringo ear than English.  Take these two words, for example:

The English word "generally"...in Spanish it's generalmente.  Say it aloud and you'll get it.

Or the English word "butter"...in Spanish it's mantequilla.  Does that sound fancier or what....

You'll know you're making progress when you know the difference between el cuerdo, el cuerno, el cuero, el cuerpo and el cuervo.

Sane person, horn (as in an animal's horn), leather, body and crow (or raven).

cccmedia in Quito

Muchas gracias Is this lesson #1?

Here's a nugget for you, Sue.

Gringos can have a hard time when encountering words that are exactly the same except for the last letter, "a" or "o."

For instance, in EC the word "presa" is used to mean "piece," as in "presa de pollo" (piece of chicken).

However, "preso" has meanings different from that, including "prisoner."

A couple of months back, I saw a 60-ish Gringa friend who was with her husband at the time, at a gathering of the South American Explorers here in Quito.

She was telling a story and kept mentioning her "esposa," obviously referring to her husband or "esposo" but using the word for "wife."

I got her alone later and gently pointed out that she might be giving folks the wrong idea about her preferences and relationship.

She got my point and was friendly about it, "pero a ella no la importo un bledo."

Loose translation:  ...but she didn't give a fig.

cccmedia in Quito

The most valuable phrase I learned in my first weeks in Quito was: "Repite, por favor -- mas despacio." Which means, "Say it again, please -- more slowly."

I used it a lot.

I do have a book of Latin American Spanish Book that I work with. Probably not quite what you're speaking in Quito.  The whole issue with masc/fem endings not a big problem for me-same as French.. Languages derived from Latin all sort of the same. the so called Romance Languages. There are even a lot of similarities with verbs and nouns.

To properly spell Espanol and may other words in Español you must know a few ASCII tricks. Google 'ASCII' to find the codes for the extras you need for Español. It is much the same for all needed marks. You must hold down the Alt key and enter a numeric on your number pad.
Alt + 164 = ñ, Alt + 130 = é. You will find all needed Español symbols plus many other useful symbols listed in ASCII. ASCII is below your OS in DOS I think.

Best of luck.    Tom

I try not to sweat the small stuff. Ultimately speaking and comprehension are first thing I like to master. No one is correcting my work or giving me a grade any more so I can sort of enjoy the process.

Keltic Tom :

To properly spell Espanol and may other words in Español you must know a few ASCII tricks...You must hold down the Alt key and enter a numeric on your number pad.
Alt + 164 = ñ, Alt + 130 = é....
ASCII is below your OS in DOS I think.

I'm hoping it's not true that you "must" do it this way, as this is the type of Heavy Lifting we were trying to avoid:  having to pause every third word of espanol to figure out a code and type in Alt plus multiple numbers.

I googled "change your keyboard to Spanish" and there's five million results.  Could be some labor-saving method(s) in there for folks geekish enough to figure it out, or even some of us who have no idea what "below your OS in DOS" means.

This No Heavy Lifting concept is about being able to set up for Spanish one time and easily switch back and forth between languages on your keyboard if it's important to you to produce the perfect accent marks, umlauts and tildes.*

Then again, I'm guessing that, as Sue posted -- "try not to sweat the small stuff" -- for most of us, it's not.

cccmedia in Quito

*Not to mention the codes for printing the pre-sentence, upside-down question marks and exclamation points.

cccmedia :

if it's important to you to produce the perfect accent marks and tildes, etc.

...I'm guessing that, as Sue posted -- "try not to sweat the small stuff" -- for most of us, it's not.

Here's a way to avoid the whole problem of accent marks and tildes, although don't use it on this Blog (because it's considered "shouting").

If you're writing something (off-line) to someone, you can use all capital letters.  In Spanish, the accents and other marks are customarily dropped when something is written all in caps. 

cccmedia in Quito

If proper accent marks are a priority here is a simple link. Only have to copy and paste once done. No need to reinvent the wheel, and make things as difficult as some on here (some being one) want to make it.
http://spanish.typeit.org/

This is the 21st century. A simple google search is a wonderful thing.

j600rr :

If proper accent marks are a priority here is a simple link. Only have to copy and paste once done. No need to reinvent the wheel, and make things as difficult as some on here (some being one) want to make it.
http://spanish.typeit.org/

This is the 21st century. A simple google search is a wonderful thing.

Bingo, Gringo.

Now this is the type of information I was hoping someone would find.

At the website that j600 found it says:
"This page allows you to type Spanish accents and other Spanish characters without a Spanish keyboard.  You can edit your text in the box and then copy it to your document, email message, etc."

ccc throws it in there and j600 hits it outa the park.

Here's a little-known fact (outside of the state of Maryland, that is):
The Baltimore Orioles went to the World Series six times between 1966 and 1983, winning the MLB Championship in '66, '70 and '83.

HeHe, ever hear that saying about a blind squirrel, and nut?

Well, I'm that blind squirrel. Occasionally find something of value, or have a decent thought.

I don't know about other computers, but my laptop (Dell) has a little keyboard in the taskbar (lower right side of screen) what can be set for Spanish or English or ?
Alternately type keyboard into the "search programs or files" under the "start" icon.

Mary

Even easier is to click on the little flag upper right and your text will be translated into your choice of 4 languages accents and all. Another thing I have discovered is if you start typing in a foreign language the computer will start putting in the correct accent marks for you

I love languages so this is not heavy lifting for me- If you click on tools then go all the way down to internet options and click on languages in the box that appears you will see a zillion choices including Ecuadorian Spanish.

Good stuff, Mary and Sue.

Keep it a-comin', folks.

I'll keep this kind of information in mind when it comes time to "procurar" my next computer.

cccmedia in Quito

As we know, Spanish verbs are tricky.  We should post on the subject of
"managing Spanish verbs" in the near future.  But for now, another tricky topic:  masculine words ending in "a."

Here are a few of the most common words I have been using that fall into this category...

el planeta          planet

el sistema          system

el clima              climate*

el sofa                couch or sofa (accent on "fa")

As far as I know, the following is one of a kind:

el agua               water 
                           agua is feminine but is prefaced by "el,"                                                         
                           so:  "el agua fria" (the cold water)

The same word, "el tiempo," means both weather and time.  How is this possible, class...

cccmedia in Quito

Very good to learn the exceptions!!!!

Consider this funny way that weather is expressed in French:

Il fait chaud (It is hot) Il fait froid (It is cold) Fait is the verb "faire" which means "to make" or "to do"  Just doesn't translate :/

OK professor- please give us the definite and indefinite articles "a" and "the" with some nouns that follow the rules. This must exist in Spanish or am I wrong?

OK, I was fine with what cccmedia had to say, but, suefrankdahl, huh?

My old brain can handle only so much and so far, I can carry on a quick conversation about, say, mascara, but please, don't confuse the already confused.

I knew no Spanish before heading to Ecuador except what little I had picked up from Rosetta Stone, and then, only words, not conversations, so I feel I have come a long way in 1 1/2 years thanks to our non-English speaking driver, and others, and a class here and there, a lot of on-line stuff.  I think it is finally starting to wear off on me as I found myself reciting my phone number in Spanish a couple days ago.  But definite and indefinite articles?  Yikes!

Mary

suefrankdahl :

Consider this funny way that weather is expressed in French:

Il fait chaud (It is hot) Il fait froid (It is cold) Fait is the verb "faire" which means "to make" or "to do"  Just doesn't translate :/

Right, this doesn't translate to English.

However, it DOES translate to Spanish:

    Hace frio.         It is cold. (literally: It makes cold.)

    Hace calor.       It is hot.  (literally: It makes hot.)

In case your Spanish teacher in high school forgot to mention these:

"calido" (KAH-lee-doh) means warm.

"agua tibia" is lukewarm water. 

cccmedia in Quito

so the weather is the same as French "it makes hot or cold"

I never took Spanish high school or college but these languages all have the same roots in Latin so it should not be to hard to learn

definite article is "the"  eg. the dog (? pero) vs. indefinite article "a"  dog.  Sorry to confuse you MB. I guess you can be understood without knowing them. No big deal.

Please enlighten us professor. Will have to dig thru my boxes to find the LA Spanish book I bought. Please explain the endings for masc and fem and the def/indef articles I was asking about.

At the same time I am trying to teach conversational English to a guy in Mauritania who wants to discuss American politics. Now THAT'S a challenge.!!!!!!!!!!!!!

suefrankdahl :

definite article is "the"  eg. the dog (? pero) vs. indefinite article "a"  dog...

Please explain the endings for masc and fem and the def/indef articles I was asking about.

First thing is to clean up your choice of example:

"pero" means "but"..."perro" or "perra" is dog.  Extra rolling of the "r" is the difference in the latter although you'll probably be understood in context if you under-roll in this case.

Now about those "articles."  Do you mean something like this:

un perro...a dog

una perra...a female dog

el perro (o la perra)...the dog

los perros, las perras...the dogs

unos perros, unas perras...some dogs

las perritas...the small female dogs (again avoiding the "B" word)

este perro (o esta perra)...this dog

ese perro (o esa perra)...that dog

Gringo bonus time:

We all know the meaning of Gringo and Gringa.

If you change to the diminutive -- in some cases meaning a small Gringo -- Spanish pronunciation rules require that you add a "u": 

Gringuito, or Gringuita.

cccmedia in Quito

Cuantos anos tiene? How old are you
Tengo treinta  y nueve anos- I am 39
Literal translation is How many years do you have, and I have 39 years, Comes from the verb tener to have, but that would be the correct way to ask age, and to answer your age in Spanish.
Speaking of verb to have tener, there is also the verb haber which is also to have.
And let's not forget the verbs estar, and ser (to be) which is a verb that will be used routinely on a daily basis.
P.S. I know ano has the mark over the n, but am feeling lazy tonight.

So estar and ser are "to be" ? And  tener and haber are "to have" ? I will have to check my book as I am sure they are used in different situations and combined with the infinitives of other verbs.

So CCC   "el" is masc definite article and "la" is feminine definite article. So could I extrapolate that "el" is used with masc nouns which end in "o" and "la" is for feminine nouns which end in "a" eg. la casa or el toro

j600rr :

Speaking of verb to have tener, there is also the verb haber which is also to have.

j600's post is correct on all points.

"Tener" means to have, in the sense of owning or possessing.
"Ella tiene un bello mente."  She has a beautiful mind.

"Haber" is a tricky verb that can mean "there is"..."there are"..."there were"...

For example, "Hay dos monos en el arbol."  There are two monkeys in the tree.

Or "Hubo un accidente."  There was an accident. 

Wow, what an irregular verb.

I personally do not use "haber" to denote something that happened in the past -- because it such a tricky verb.  There are various other ways to express past action without the perils of "haber," although delving further into that discussion could put us over the line into Heavy Lifting.

Anyway, "haber" is commonly used to mean "have" as in this sentence:

"Mi tio no puede haber salido."  My uncle could not have gone out.

cccmedia in Quito

Heavy lifting indeed. There are 15 ways to conjugate a French verb. You can get away with 4 or 5 if you steer clear of certain ways of thinking and avoid discussing complex issues.

suefrankdahl :

So estar and ser are "to be" ?...I will have to check my book as I am sure they are used in different situations and combined with the infinitives of other verbs.

Good catch, Sue.

"estar" implies being in a location...or being in a temporary condition.

Examples:

"Estamos en el mercado el mas grande en Ecuador."
We are in the largest market in Ecuador. (location)

"Estan 150 medicos en el hospital."
There are 150 doctors in the hospital.  (also location...of the doctors)

"La anfitriona no esta segura."
The hostess is not certain. (temporary condition)

"Estoy triste."
I am sad.  (temporary condition)

"estar" is also used in combination with other verbs, often to connote continuous action.

example:

"Ellos estan trabajando."
They are working.

"ser" indicates being in a permanent (or IMO long-term) way.

examples:

"Eres una chica lista."
You're a smart girl.

"Soy un hombre sincero."
I'm a sincere man.

Sometimes there is a fine line between being in a temporary condition and permanent.  In such cases, native speakers normally will understand what you mean whether you use "ser" or "estar" (provided the rest of your sentence is comprehensible).

"ser" is highly irregular but is so common in speech that I think at least the present tense should be committed to memory:

yo soy, usted es, el es
somos (we are)....son (they are)

Probably not Heavy Lifting, especially since it's likely they drilled this verb into your mind in first-year high school Spanish.

cccmedia in Quito

suefrankdahl :

So CCC   "el" is masc definite article and "la" is feminine definite article. So could I extrapolate that "el" is used with masc nouns which end in "o" and "la" is for feminine nouns which end in "a" eg. la casa or el toro

That's true in the majority of cases.  But if you review my earlier post (Post #17, above), you'll see exceptions -- often masculine words ending in "a" such as el planeta, el sistema, el sofa.  And there are plenty of other exceptions.

On the feminine side, exceptions include "la foto" and "la radio."*  Often these are Spanish words that have been shortened from an original word that ends in an "a."

When it comes to naming occupations, hobbyists and adherents to a movement, many of these end in "a" for both sexes.

examples:

Taxi driver:  taxista

Guard:  guardia

Supporters of Nards Barley:  Nardistas

cccmedia, Quito campaign manager, Nards Barley for Presidente 2017


*la radio:  you know what that is.  However "el radio" can mean the element radium or the math term radius.

Wish I had taken Spanish in HS. Probably a lot more useful  in this hemisphere. My book is "LA Spanish in 3 Months". You are right on about estar and ser. Haber is not even discussed so I guess you can get away without using it as you do.

So if I vote for Hillary in 2016 I would be a Clintonista and that would have worked for Bill too. No?

suefrankdahl :

So if I vote for Hillary in 2016 I would be a Clintonista and that would have worked for Bill too. No?

By George, I think she's got it.

Somehow Christista, Bushista, Romenista just don't work. They could never be passed off as Central or South American strong men.

No he tenido - I haven't had. Sometimes haber, and tener are in same sentence.

CCC is right on with his explanation of haber, and verbs estar and ser. Good news is you should pick up proper usage for ser, and estar pretty quickly, as those will probably be the most common verbs used, and heard on a daily basis. If not most popular, then right up there.

Have just learned something interesting in regard to masculine or feminine. I was always pretty much under the impression (as probably most) that you just went by the ending, with a few exceptions to that rule. Have discovered that a lot of nouns ending in ma, ta, or pa are masculine because they are from Greek origin.
( el programa, el drama, el idioma, el tema, el clima, el Sistema, etc.)

A good reference on conjugating verbs:  http://www.spanishdict.com/.

MByerly :

A good reference on conjugating verbs:  http://www.spanishdict.com/.

Which brings us to Managing Spanish Verbs.

Conjugating is important, but so is avoiding Heavy Lifting when you're relatively new to espanol.

The key to Managing Verbs is to keep things simple by enabling yourself to use the infinitive when ever possible.  For example:  "nadar," to swim.

Quiero nadar.  I want to swim.

Quisiera nadar.  I would like to swim.

Voy a nadar.  I am going to swim.

Vamos a nadar.  We are going to swim.

Me gusta nadar.  I like swimming.

Favor de no nadar.  Please don't swim.

Es prohibido a nadar.  Swimming is prohibited.

Acabo de nadar.  I just went swimming.

Suelo nadar.  I am used to swimming.

Amo nadar.  I love to swim.

Who can add to this list.....

cccmedia in Quito

MByerly :

A good reference on conjugating verbs:  http://www.spanishdict.com/.

Wordreference.com is my favorite website for finding definitions.

You can quickly go either direction Spanish-to-English or vice versa.

It's much less cumbersome than thumbing through a dictionary.

My preferred way to learn is to type on wordreference.com while I am watching a movie or TV program on DirecTV that has subtitles in espanol.

When I come across a word or phrase that is unfamiliar or unclear to me, I pause the video and type it into wordreference.com ...

This method of learning Spanish works for me because you're watching and listening to people in real or quasi-real situations, it's available on demand with DVR recording and playback, and it involves the usually enjoyable activity of TV watching.

I never used to watch "The King of Queens" but have found it's an excellent show (in English audio, Spanish "subtitulos") for learning espanol.

I think most any show you enjoy can work in this method.

cccmedia in Quito

Your extensive "nadar" post was Heavy Lifting for me. Am still working on I am, you are.....and trying to figure out if I can get Telemundo online.

But it points out the importance of learning conjugations of to be, to have, to want, to do, to go

Today's practicum:  see how quickly you pick up on this brief joke in espanol (translated from English).  If you need a "cheat sheet," it's below.*

Un caballo entra en una cantina.
El cantinero dice, "Porque tan larga cara..."




*caballo is horse, cara is face

cccmedia :

Today's practicum:  see how quickly you pick up on this brief joke in espanol (translated from English).  If you need a "cheat sheet," it's below.*

Un caballo entra en una cantina.
El cantinero dice, "Porque tan larga cara..."




*caballo is horse, cara is face

Lol, that was so cheesy it was funny.
Minor point of contention. Believe it should be por qué in the example you gave no?
Of course there is also the word porque.
Por Qué, porque, pretty much same word and pronunciation, but two different meanings.

suefrankdahl :

I love languages so this is not heavy lifting for me.

The double "L" as it is  used in Spanish presents a learning challenge.

For one thing, sometimes you hear it pronounced like a "J" and other times like this:

Matovelle (a street name in Quito):  mah-toh-BELL-yay
Notice also that the "v" is pronounced like a "b"...

Do what you can to get the right number of L's in your words to reduce the likelihood of confusing the locals:

olla:  pot or pan            ola: wave (the ocean kind)

hallar: to find                halar:  to pull

calle:  street                 cale*:  gypsy

*pronounced cah-LAY (as it has an accent mark);  "gitano" is another word for gypsy.

cccmedia in Quito

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