Shortcuts to Learning español

If you understand some basic concepts, it's possible to learn or translate easily hundreds of nouns, adjectives and adverbs into Spanish.

The spelling of the following English words (at the left) does not change at all from English to Spanish.  However, the pronunciation is different:  the accent is on the last syllable in español...

    English words ending in -al

terminal = terminal, pronounced tehr-mee-NAHL

social = social, pronounced so-see-AHL

cultural = cultural, pronounced kool-too-RAHL

normal = normal, pronounced nawr-MAHL

    English words ending in -ity change endings
to -dad (DAHD)...

eternity = eternidad

clarity = claridad

stability = estabilidad (words starting with 'st' or 'sp' in English typically frontload with an extra 'e' in español)

   English words that end in -tion change to -ción...

action = acción (the accent mark indicates the stressed syllable)

nation = nación (plural: naciones -- with no accent mark necessary)

information = información

    English words that end in -sion:  the spelling is identical except for the accent mark...

erosion = erosión

explosion = explosión

conclusion = conclusión

confusion = confusión

   English words ending in -able or -ible:  the spelling is identical...

horrible = horrible, pronounced aw-REE-blay

terrible = terrible, pronounced teh-REE-blay

(slight exception...) responsible = responsable
           pronounced ress-pohn-SAH-blay

   English words that end in -ency or -ience change
to -encia in español....

experience = experiencia,
    pronounced ex-peh-ree-EHN-see-uh

emergency = emergencia,
    pronounced ay-mehr-HEN-see-uh

patience = paciencia, pronounced pah-see-EHN-see-uh

transparency = transparencia,
    pronounced trahn-spah-REHN-see-uh

   English words ending in -ly or -lly change endings
to -mente...

normally = normalmente

generally = generalmente,
    pronounced hen-ehr-ahl-MEN-tay

frequently = frecuentemente (note the slight spelling differences),
    pronounced fray-kwen-teh-MEN-tay

ordinarily = ordinariamente

Exceptions exist for all the above concepts.
The post "Learn Over 1,000 Portuguese Words in a Few Minutes" on the Brazil Forum provided the template for this post.


Fantastic, keep up the good work. You're going to help a lot of people with this!!!

James      Expat-blog Experts Team

James :

Fantastic, keep up the good work. You're going to help a lot of people with this!!!

James      Expat-blog Experts Team

Agreed. He is well on his way to becoming an "Expert".  Not sure why he is still a lowly contributor after 1,000 posts.

Nards.... watch this space! You might be surprised. And very soon at that! :D

Thanks CC;
This is so helpful and encouraging for us Spanish newbies!
I look forward to your next installment  :)

James :

Nards.... watch this space! You might be surprised. And very soon at that! :D

Not surprised in the least.  CCMedia mentions that he uses one one your posts from the Brazil forum as a template and now the post gets first billing on the ecuador forum.

It' because this topic thread is going to develop into a very important one full of tips and tricks to facilitate learning Spanish. If that doesn't rate a sticky I don't know what does, Nards.

Also that wasn't what I was referring to when I said watch this space... it was directly related to your question about cccmedia still being a "Contributor". Keep watching. He actually is well on his way to becoming an Expert, but it's not got anything to do with the number of postings, but rather the quality and relevance of them.


If somebody asks you a question you do not think is any of their business, say this
         Muy amable para tu preocupacion pero no es tu asunto. They leave you alone after that.

Cuenca HighLife's early April Fools "joke" has stirred up interest in learning español, possibly driving traffic to this thread.  So we strike while the iron is hot with a reminder of how many Spanish words you may already know.

   Words in español That Most Gringos Already Know






Feliz Navidad
hasta la vista
por favor




Some of the above words appear in a list in the book "Spanish for Gringos" by William C. Harvey, Barron's Educational Series, copyright 1990.

Bonus section for more advanced learners ... 

  Ten Words Your Gringo Friends Don't Know 
(and possibly don't care about...but why not surprise the locals by spicing up your conversation after learning a few of these common verbs...)

idear          to think up (an idea), conceive

lamer         to lick

susurrar      to whisper, mutter

desairar     to snub, slight

zarpar        to set sail

adueñar     to become owner or take control (of)

verter         to pour or spill

aplastar      to crush

parpadear  to blink

Translation of Don Carlos's comment in the previous post ("Muy amable tu preocupación, pero no es asunto tuyo")...

Your concern is very kind, but it's not your business.

Congratulations and welcome on board cccmedia, those spiffy blue suitcases and the new orange banner and title in the avatar look pretty darned good from where I'm sitting!!! Well deserved indeed.

Nards, now you know what I meant when I posted "Watch this space".


James :

Congratulations and welcome on board cccmedia, those spiffy blue suitcases and the new orange banner and title in the avatar look pretty darned good from where I'm sitting!!! Well deserved indeed.

Nards, now you know what I meant when I posted "Watch this space".


Now I get it, although I am puzzled as to why he is not an "Experts".



Please let me remind you the topic of this thread "Shortcuts to Learning Hundreds of Words in 'español'". Can we now stick to the topic? It would be great.

Thank you.

Thank you, Christine, for getting us back on track.

Which brings us to:

  Spanish Gerunds...

You remember gerunds:  talking, thinking, breathing, reaching.

In español, most verbs end in -ar, and their gerund form ends in -ando.

Hablando, pensando, respirando, alcanzando (translating the English gerunds in order, from above).

In the root form regardless of ending, Spanish verbs are pronounced with the stress on the final syllable: 
hablar -- obb-LAHR...pensar -- pen-SAHR...
hacer (to make or to do) -- ah-SEHR.

For the verbs whose root form ends in -IR or -ER, the gerund ends in IENDO (pronounced YEHN-doh).

Sugerir .. to suggest .. gerund: sugeriendo (suggesting),
pronounced soo-hehr-YEN-doh.
Lamer .. to lick .. gerund: lamiendo (lamiendo).
  "Ella lo está sugeriendo."  She is suggesting it.

When the gerund suggests an abstract concept, or a process or activity, we form a noun by ending the word with MIENTO, or in some cases: MENTO...

Let's examine this with the verb "conocer," to know, as in to know/be familiar with something or somebody.  While "conociendo" means knowing (a gerund, still a verb), "conocimiento" means knowledge (a noun).

Pensar: to think.  Pensando: thinking.  Pensamiento: a thought.


If a noun ends in a vowel, change the ending to -ito or -ita to convert the noun to the diminutive.

Vaquero = cowboy ... vaquerito = little cowboy,
                                   or kid cowboy

Casa = house ... casita = small house

If the noun ends in a consonant, end the new word with
-cito or -cita.

"Coche" is one of several words meaning "car."

cochecito = small car

  -ERO/-ERA ...  -OR/-ORA

Words describing a person's occupation or profession can end with the suffixes -ero and (for women) -era...

Verb:  "cocinar," to cook ...
occupation: "cocinero" or "cocinera" (a cook)

The endings -or and -ora are sometimes used to connote occupation.

Examples:  vendedor, apostador, administradora (female).
In order, these mean salesman, gambler, administrator. 
The original verbs are "vender" = to sell ...
"apostar" = to wager ... administrar = to administer or administrate.

The suffixes in this section can also be used to form nouns describing what a person does outside of work....

admirar = to admire .. admirador = admirer

conducir = to drive ..  conductor = driver

-ISTA is another suffix used to describe what a person does, going directly from a noun or a name to the new word....

beisbolista = baseball player ...
Nardista = supporter of Nards Barley (2017) ;)

Note that these words ending in -ista are gender-neutral.  A male or a female soccer player would be a "futbolista."

   Dropping Pronouns

This is common in español sentences.

"Yo ceno a este restaurante."
I eat dinner at this restaurant.
Conversational:  "Ceno a este restaurante."
I eat dinner at this restaurant.

"Tu hablaste con el jefe."
You spoke with the boss. (informal "tu" often used with friends, family, kids and well-known co-workers; the formal would have been "Usted habló...")
"Hablaste con el jefe."
You spoke with the boss.

Virtually all grammar rules have exceptions.
The "Portuguese Words" thread in the Brazil forum that was credited at the end of Report #1 above provided the template for this post.


Masculine and feminine nouns.

Some English speakers have difficulty accepting that a language assigns a gender to its nouns.

In español, the general rule is that nouns ending in 'a' are feminine and nouns ending in 'o' are masculine.

   El burro, la vaca (cow), el niño (boy), la mantequilla (butter)....

There are few exceptions with the 'o' words:  an example is la mano (MAH-noh), the hand.

Relatively more exceptions exist for nouns ending in 'a': 
el planeta, el mapa, el sofá.

This one is an oddity even though it is feminine and ends in 'a': el agua (water, pronounced AH-gwah).

Words are feminine if they end in -dad, pronounced DAHD, or -ión:  la oportunidad, la promoción, la organización.

Gender-related pronouns can precede the primary verb as the object in a phrase or sentence, whereas in English they usually follow the noun.  That's a bit complicated on first reading, but go over the following examples to get the point....

Lo for a masculine pronoun, la for feminine.

He broke the table. Él rompió la mesa.
He broke it.              Él la rompió.

There is a word for "it" used as the subject of a sentence:  ello.

El martillo está en el suelo.  The hammer is on the ground.
Ello está en el suelo.  It is on the ground.
¿Donde está ello?   Where is it? 
    Note the upside-down question mark, which is used before all questions in Spanish.  An upside-down exclamation point is used in similar fashion in front of exclamations.
    Also, "ella" (EL-yah) can be used for the feminine version of this pronoun.

   Agreement between nouns and the adjectives describing them.

Unlike in English, adjectives typically follow nouns.  In Spanish, the adjective agrees with the noun's gender, and if the noun is plural, so is the adjective.

   el pájaro rojo, the red bird

   los pájaros rojos, the red birds

Numbers come in front of the noun...

   Los tres pájaros rojos, the three red birds

   Nuestras seis cajas grandes, our six big boxes
        (note the plural-agreement in these two examples)


Please...  Por favor...

Thank you:  Gracias, or Muy amable, "very kind."

You're welcome:  De nada. (Literally, of nothing, as in "It was nothing.")

The locals typically greet by invoking the general time of day.  But Gringos can make it easy on themselves by simply using the word for "hello":  Hola. (pronounced OH-lah)

    Buenos días.  Good morning. (Literally "good days.")

    Buenas tardes.  Good afternoon.  (Literally "good afternoons.")

    Buenas noches.  Good evening.  (Literally "good nights.")
Note that noche and tarde are feminine.  Also that the word meaning "good" precedes the noun meaning 'time of day' and agrees with it in gender and as plural.

To say good night, meaning "so long":  Adios.

Or say  Nos vemos, "See you again."  (Literally, "We see each other.")

The 'Thousands of Portuguese Words' thread on the Brazil Forum provided the template for the above sections. 
There are exceptions to the grammar and spelling rules posted on this thread.

    Fear of verbs?

If you studied Spanish in school, you may be thinking that conjugating verbs in español is a challenge.  In fact, that this can be extremely difficult.  And that's true -- especially with the many irregular verbs, including common ones meaning 'to be, to go, to be able.'

Just look at a few of the conjugations for a typical irregular verb,
   dormir, to sleep....

I sleep                               yo duermo

(informal) you slept           tu dormiste

I slept                                yo dormí

He will sleep                     él dormirá

We sleep                          nosotros dormimos

She would sleep               ella dormiría

It would be unrealistic to expect someone learning a new language to master conjugations with lots of verbs at the outset, even with the regular verbs that end with -ar.  Only a savant (pardon our French) could do that effectively in the beginning, even with hours of verb study.

Fortunately for Gringos, there are ways to 'manage' Spanish verbs, so that many of the things Gringos will want to say can be said while knowing just the root form or infinitive.  We'll go into this management in an upcoming lesson, and save more difficult 'verb-maneuvers' for later.

    Setting a vocabulary goal.

Based on what's been covered so far, you are aware you already know a lot of vocabulary...hundreds of words if you look at it closely.

But to communicate effectively, you'll eventually need to know hundreds of additional words, many of which will not resemble words in English.

Hundreds of words, me?

Yes, but it's doable over time.  Do you think you could learn two words a day, just five days a week?   That would total 520 words over the course of a year.  :) 

If that seems daunting, make a different goal.  Learning just one word a day would be 365 new words of vocabulary by this time next year.

Since we'll be managing verbs shortly, below are 10 common verbs to commit to memory.  The English is on the left.  If you learn well with notecards, put one or two English words on one side of a card, and the corresponding translations on the other.

Remember that the final syllable is the syllable stressed in Spanish verbs in their infinitive or root form, and all infinitives end with an 'r'.

To be (somewhere)                      estar                                         

To go                                            ir

To know or meet (someone)        conocer  koh-noh-SEHR

To see                                          ver

To have                                        tener

To want                                        querer, desear

To need                                        necesitar

To speak                                      hablar

To understand                              entender
To prefer                                       preferir

See if you can learn at least two new verbs a day for a week.  If you don't have a phone or computer device for translations, pick up an English-to-Spanish/Spanish-to-English pocket dictionary.

That dictionary should have a pronunciation guide that can assist you in learning to say words correctly.  This guide can be an adjunct to listening to native Spanish speakers.  No such speakers in your vecindario?  Listen to Spanish radio, TV shows and computer websites for how native-speakers say the words.

If you have access to DVD's with Spanish subtitles, watch using the pause button and check your dictionary or while on pause.

Disfrútelo.   (Enjoy it.)


Gracias CC;

This is very helpful.

OMG, the student is SURPASSING the teacher!!! Who'd have "thunk" it?

Doing a great job with this one cccmedia, keep up the terrific work. I know you're going to be helping more of our members than you'll ever know. You'll only be hearing from some of them, but you're reaching so many more.


Are you learning at least a couple of words daily?

Vocabulary is important.

We've already listed some verbs to learn.  Here's a list of other words that the book Spanish for Gringos says are words you "have to know...and seem to be the words acquired first in any language."

A few of them we have already covered.  Use this as an opportunity to strengthen your knowledge of those words, and to acquire some new ones....

water                              el agua (feminine word)

bathroom                        el baño

food                                la comida

friend                              el amigo

good                               bueno (buena is feminine)

car                                  el carro

house                             la casa

money                            el dinero

big                                  grande

man                                el hombre                         

a lot                                mucho (feminine is mucha)
                                     i.e. muchas personas (fem. plural)

more                               más

woman                           la mujer

very well                         muy bien   

child                                el niño, la niña

name                              el nombre

number                           el número

person                            la persona                             

work                               el trabajo

please                            por favor

thanks                            gracias                   

hello                               hola

goodbye                         adiós


Thanks for all the help. I'm a beginner at learning Spanish,  and moving to Ecuador after visiting a couple times.

Wish me luck

Fireymom :

Thanks for all the help. I'm a beginner at learning Spanish,  and moving to Ecuador after visiting a couple times.

Wish me luck

Good luck, Fireymom. :)

Thank you
mucho gracias

You'll recall that the last time we started delving into Spanish verbs, we acknowledged that Gringos just starting out aren't likely to master all the tenses and conjugations.  Using dormir, to sleep, as an example, we saw the complexity of it all and the need to manage verbs for new learners when possible.

The concept is to learn Spanish verbs in their root form (infinitive) along with a few helper-words or short phrases, to express what we want to say without learning the myriad other verb forms.

Managing Spanish Verbs -- Part 1

Here's an example, using hablar, to speak:

You want to say that you used to speak Spanish.

The helper word here is solía, meaning "I used to" (do something).

  Solía hablar español.   I used to speak Spanish.

In some circumstances, this can eliminate needing to know past tense(s) such as:

   Hablé español antes. I spoke Spanish before.
   He hablado español.  I have spoken Spanish.

A common situation is to want to participate in some activity.  If you learn the verb quisiera meaning "I would like to" ... you can make your point.

   Quisiera nadar hoy.  (kee-see-AIR-ah) I would like to swim today.

   Quisiera cenar.  I would like to eat dinner.

   Quisiera invitar a usted para cenar a mi casa.
   I would like to invite you to have dinner at my house.

The same word, quisiera, can be used in asking someone what they would like to do...

¿Quisiera (usted) me acompañar al teatro?
   Would you like to come with me to the theatre?
   ¿Quisiera visitar Los Estados Unidos? 
   Would you like to visit the United States?

Empujar means "to push".  You want to tell someone not to push you, which could be No empuje, Don't push.  That's tricky for a beginner.  But by managing the root verb, it's simply: 
    No empujar, "don't push," here using the root form of the verb.

    Let's manage the root form in saying that you just did something, in this case, running.  We can use the short phrase Acabo de..., "I just...", in front of the root, in order to avoid the tricky conjugations (Yo corrí, I ran...Or He corrido, I have run.)

  Acabo de correr.  I just ran.
  Acabo de comer.  I just ate.

Asking someone to please do something:  Simply use favor de in front of the root.

    Favor de pasar el pavo.  Please pass the turkey.
    Favor de indicar la ruta.  Please indicate the route.

Telling someone not to do something is similar.
    Favor de no tocar.  Please do not touch.

Siempre, meaning "always", or nunca, "never", can be used with the root form.
    Siempre levantar cosas pesadas en esa manera.
    Always lift heavy things in that way.
   Nunca dejar su cuarto tan sucio.
   Never leave your room so dirty.

Need to do something?  You can use necesito, "I need", with the root.
   Necesito leer el libro ahora. I need to read the book now.
   Necesito buscar a mi hermana.  I need to look for my sister.


   Tengo que plus root = I should (do something).
   Mejor que plus root = It would be better to (do).
   Hay que plus root (pronounced EYE-kay) = It should be (done).

   For examples:
   Hay que terminar.  It should be ended.
   Mejor que volar. It would be better to fly.

In that sentence about looking for a sister, note that mi hermana is preceded by the word a (pronounced ah).  In español, use a between the subject and object when the subject comes first and an object that is a person.  Do not use it between a subject and a non-person object.

  Miré a mi abuelo.   I saw my grandfather.
  Favor de llamar a su profesor.    Please call your professor.
  (Usted) tiene que botar el esfero.  You should throw out the pen.

After many years I "bit the bullet" and (mostly) learned all the verb conjugations for the -ar, -er and -ir verb forms and for most of the common irregular verbs.  I'm glad I did and in retrospect it wasn't that hard, although I still get them mixed up and make many mistakes!  Although it may appear daunting at first I recommend learning them, after a while (OK maybe years ha ha) it becomes second nature.  For many years I got along just fine with poor grammar, understanding and making myself understood.  But if you desire to express yourself well, you will get great return for relatively little effort in the scheme of things.

Learning Spanish is a challenge for many of us and one thing that helped me because it's fun, is learning proverbios, dichos y refranes - proverbs and sayings.  There are hundreds even many thousands of them, with many variations from country to country.  Many if not most of them have English equivalents perhaps not word for word but in the thought and meaning.

De la mano a la boca se pierde la sopa - from hand to mouth you lose the soup - "From the cup to the lip there's many a slip"

En boca cerrada no entran moscas - Flies don't enter a closed mouth (silence is golden)

El que calla, otorga - Silence signals consent

A palabras necias, oídos sordos - to silly words, deaf ears

El gato escaldado del agua fría huye - the (once) scalded cat flees from cold water, or once bitten twice shy

Mala hierba nunca muere - the bad (evil) weed never dies - often said of people who seem invulnerable in spite of their many missteps, or in a self-deprecating mode when discussing one's own bad habits.  Also said as "Hierba mala nunca muere".

Les dan la mano y se toman el brazo - Give them your hand and they take your arm (Give them an inch and they'll take a mile)

Al que madruga, Dios le ayuda - God helps he who rises early (but see the next two!)

No por mucho madrugar amanece mas temprano - Much getting up early doesn't make the dawn come any earlier

Para cada uno que madruga hay otro que no se acuesta - For each one who rises early there's another who never goes to bed

Al buen hambre no hay pan duro - When you're really hungry there's no such thing as hard bread

El que canta, sus males espanta - He who sings, scares away his problems (also "El que canta, sus dolores espanta")

Thank you all so much for the help.
I gratefully appreciate it.

I am about to turn 69. I came, single, to Ecuador 6 years ago. I am now comfortable in Spanish in all life scenarios for a retired person.  Spanish is my third language. Despite a psychologist evaluating that I had not aptitude for learning a second language, at the age of 28 I learned and worked in French. Because I was, then, not fully immersed in French it was always a struggle. When I moved to Ecuador, I decided that I would not live in an English ghetto; but fully commit. I joined a Rotary Club, got new friends and worked hard to learn. There are lots of good Spanish language schools. I cannot say that the one that I used to take a three month course when I first arrived is any better or worse than others. You can do it if you work hard and immerse yourself.

Vocabulary of colors

Let's add some color to this thread while enhancing your vocabulary.  The English words are on the left, translated on the right. 

red                                            rojo

orange                                      naranja

yellow                                       amarillo

green                                        verde

blue                                           azúl

violet                                         violeta

black                                         negro

white                                         blanco

brown                                        marrón

clear                                          claro

dark                                           oscuro

Feminine forms...español on the left...

la ventana clara                         the clear window

sus caras rojas                          their red faces

Note...naranja and violeta are used to describe a masculine or feminine noun, even though these color adjectives always end in a and never o.


More than 30 Spanish words that don't need translating....































Source....Spanish for Gringos, by William C. Harvey,
Barrons Educational Series

Ten activities that may or may not interest you....

to swim                            nadar

to ride your pony             jinetear en tu poni

to show off                       pavonear

to run in the park             correr en el parque

to play with the monkeys     jugar con los monos

to jump in the air             saltar en el aire

to slide on the ice            deslizar en el hielo

to attend a soccer match     asistir a un partido de fútbol

to eat spaghetti               comer espagueti

to drink wine                    tomar vino

In this post, 10 useful phrases, some of which you can try out every week in your new surroundings.

You can use this exercise as an opportunity to expand your vocabulary, see how subject and adjective agree in gender, and familiarize with grammar structures....

Pase nomás.
Go right ahead.

¿Qué tal?
How ya doin'?

Quisiera este producto pero no esta marca.
I'd like this product but not this brand.

¿Es peligroso a caminar por alli?
Is it dangerous to walk over there?

¿Hasta qué hora está abierta esta tienda?
How late is this store open?

Me encanta el clima en su ciudad.
I love the weather in your city.

Haznos el favor de venderme dos cajas de hydroxizina.
Do us the favor of selling me two boxes of hydroxizina.

Taxista...buenas tardes.  Queremos visitar el palacio presidencial.
Taxi driver...good afternoon.  We want to go to the presidential palace.

Dos personas para cenar.  Una mesa por las ventanas, por favor.
Two for dinner.  A table by the windows, please.

Ya vuelvo, vigilante.  Estoy por comprar huevos a la pulpería.
I'll be right back, guard.  I'm going to buy eggs at the convenience store.


Hello all,

@ cccmedia

Kudos to you for your effort.  :top:

It's really helpful.

Thank you,
Expat Team Blog.

Some common colloquialisms may also be beneficial!

Sigan o mas (or is it Siga, no mas? Sigan no mas?) usually a response to trying to pass someone on the street , iwth a polite "disculpe" - meaning please carry on

Estoy hecho en sopa. - I'm soaking wet (usually in sweat)

A la orden - At your service

Pase bien - Said in place of adios. Basically go/be well

Nos vemos - We'll see eachother (also in place of adios)

Me vuelve loco(a) - It drives me crazy

There are tons more, but that's all I have for now. Forgive the lack of accents!

PEI Red :

Some common colloquialisms may also be beneficial!

Sigan o mas (or is it Siga, no mas? Sigan no mas?) usually a response to trying to pass someone on the street , with a polite "disculpe" - meaning please carry on.

Actually, it is Siga nomás.

It means "Just go ahead" and you hear it in Ecuador all the time -- keeps people from bumping into one another.

Nomás, meaning "just," is a single word -- distinct from no más, which means "no more."

The Hispanic boxer who was giving up to his opponent was saying "No more."

The easy and enjoyable way to learn Spanish at any time of the day.

If you live in a place where español is spoken, here's a six-step program to learn Spanish without even leaving your casa.  We'll presume that you know at least 100 words of español even if they're just from this Shortcuts thread.

(If you live in a non-Spanish-speaking area, check the next post on this thread below.)

1. Order DirecTV with the DVR recording option.

2. Record some programs with English audio and Spanish subtitles...and later, with English audio only.

3. Pull out the English-Spanish diccionario we told you to get earlier.

4. Watch one of the programs with subtitles.

5. Pause the video as you view to check unfamiliar words in the dictionary or at on your laptop.

6. Commit to watching an average of an hour-and-a-half of television this way every day, six days a week.

[b]This method works![/i]

Try it for four weeks and you'll see.

It is so easy.  No classrooms.  No studying subjunctive tenses.  No apologizing to the locals for flubbing their language so much.  (Although it is highly recommended that you use your new knowledge as much as is comfortable outside the house.  The ease and amount will increase over time.)  You'll pick up grammar in context almost naturally as you learn the vocabulary.

And you're watching your favorite TV shows -- at least, favorite from among those that are available.  Which actually is a lot on DirecTV.  Especially if you order a movie package.

I never used to watch the show King of Queens, about a dysfunctional married couple in New York City's borough of Queens -- sort of a 21st century The Honeymooners -- but they made hundreds of (now subtitled) episodes and they show them every day on DirecTV in Ecuador.  Now I keep a dozen recorded episodes on tap and watch it frequently.  It's just ideal for learning the translated vocabulary of everyday folks in all kinds of everyday situations.  Some of the episodes, especially with Jerry Stiller as live-in father-in-law Arthur Spooner, are hilarious.

But you can choose any shows or movies you like, starting, as mentioned, with ones that have Spanish subtitles.  As you master the vocabulary, later you can graduate to English-audio shows with no subtitles, translating mentally or aloud into Spanish.

Supplement this plan with methods of learning for when a television set is not available.  Test yourself on words and their translations on cards you carry with you -- words you already researched and started to learn while doing the TV method.

Chat up the locals a little more each month. 

Count to 100 in Spanish.  Days of the week.  Months of the year.  Times of day.  Check your cue cards when necessary.

But most of all, do that hour-and-a-half (real time, not TV time) a day...and you'll relish the results.

If you're weak on pronunciation, watch Spanish-audio shows after a while when your vocabulary has improved.  Don't obsess about the pronunciation.  It'll come.  Half the people in town are from the coast or Lago Agrio or Colombia or other distant places, anyway, and they pronounce the language in all sorts of ways.  Those TV subtitles are deliberately universal.


Future Expats and Serial Expats outside EC can take advantage of the TV method by...

1. Using the SAP (Second Audio Program) option on cable and satellite programs and movies.

2. Watching movies and programming on DVD using the subtitle option.

After two years of using TV as this teaching tool -- which is how long I have been doing it -- you really have progress.

Once you can translate the audio of entire half-hour television programs in which there are no subtitles from English to Spanish, you can pretty much say in español whatever you want to.  In a much shorter time, say one year or less, you will know 90 percent of the words and phrases or equivalents and will already be astounding the locals when you take that knowledge to the streets.

An exception is medical Spanish, which you may or may not come across on TV shows.  If you find yourself in an emergency room or a hospital bed some day, or even when you are in a doctor's office for a routine checkup, you will want to know the words for parts of the body, inner organs and common medical terms.  So put some extra effort into learning 20 or 30 words you may need.  Words such as piernas, brazos, ojos, corazón, riñones, hígado, pies, cicatriz, pecho, resfriado, pastillas, orejas and labios.  And include learning some words pertaining to your particular medical situation or pre-existing conditions.

As for understanding Spanish speakers, that will naturally come more slowly than being able to speak yourself.  This will depend on accents, local idioms, rapidity of speech and whether the speaker is talking directly to you trying for comprehension, or the more difficult situation of listening to native speakers talking amongst themselves with their presumed deep knowledge of the language.

But comprehension will come over time, especially in your one-on-one conversations, if you stick with the 'program.'

Every taxi ride and visit to the market will eventually become an opportunity to strengthen your skills, requiring on-the-spot responses more demanding than translating at your own pace off a TV screen.

Advanced learners may gain from watching programs with Spanish audio and no subtitles.  In the early stages, listening to such programs may aid in learning pronunciation skills.


I would like to contribute to the posts regarding learning Spanish. My wife and I have purchased Rosetta Stone Latin Spanish 1 through 5 and it is no doubt one of the best courses out there. All we need to do is launch a lesson and it provides us with an Interactive program where we can hear the words see the picture associated with the sounds and see how they are spelled. I remember taking Spanish lessons in high school a hundred years ago, and it didn't even come close. Rosetta Stone everyone. Recommended and used by Diplomats and large corps. to train their over seas executives. 
Roberto- Canadian learning Spanish.....

Unfortunately very expensive

hello, how are you? I hope  you are  very fine  I can teach to  you  speak  spanish  if you will  wish sure?? and free okey

contact me bye bye

my name is jhonny A
From venezuela

Now we return to managing verbs, earlier discussed in Reports #15 and 22 of this thread.

We saw earlier, with the common verb dormir, to sleep, that many forms and conjugations can theoretically be used, and how to manage verbs with words and short phrases to keep things simple in the infinitive form (such as dormir, pensar, poner.)

Managing verbs can be especially important with the many irregular verbs.

Take, for example, the commonly used irregular verb ir, meaning "to go"...

I go.             Yo me voy.

I went.         Me fuí.

You go.       Usted va.

You went.   Fuiste.

I will go.      Yo me iré.

You would go.  Tu irías.

Let's go.     Vamos.

They went.   Ellos se fueron.

The point here is not to memorize the above forms, but to see how important it can be for new learners to learn verb-management techniques.

    Managing Spanish Verbs -- Part 2

To express future action to be taken by yourself, precede the verb being managed with Voy, which means "I go," or, in this case, "I am going (to)".

I am going to run in the park.
Voy a correr en el parque.

I am going to think about it.
Voy a pensar en ello.

I am going to grab it.
Voy a agarrarlo.
Easier than learning to say Lo agarraré, which is the conjugated way to say the same thing.

Here are some other terms you can learn for managing verbs, with examples.....

Prefiero + verb
Prefiero cenar a las ocho.
I prefer to have dinner at eight.

Piense en + verb
Piense en acompañarme al cine.
Think about coming with me to the movies.

Suelo + verb, to mean "I usually" (do something).
Suelo pagar dos dólares para ir a La Basílica.
I usually pay two dollars to go to La Basílica.

Empiece a + verb, telling someone to "start doing" something.
Empiece a comer ahora.    (em-PYEH-say)
Start eating now.

You can use deje de + verb, to tell someone to stop doing something.
Deje de apostar.
Stop gambling.

Olvidé a + verb, meaning "I forgot" (to).
Olvidé a traer mis otros zapatos.
I forgot to bring my other shoes.

Recuerde a + verb, telling someone to remember to do something.
Recuerde a llevar su gran sombrero azul.
Remember to wear your big blue hat.


Basta versus Bastante:  My Dad tells this story (perhaps apocryphal) about the perils of thinking you know what you're saying in another language, even though you say it confidently and loudly.  A group of Army officers assigned to the US Mission to Ecuador, many years ago, were attending a formal dinner in Quito for something or other.  A server, an Ecuadorian woman, began to dish out the main course to one of the officers, and he said to her, "Bastante!"  The woman dished out some more, and he said again, "Bastante, Bastante!" slightly louder.  She hurriedly dished out even more, clearly confused as he raised his voice even more, "Bastante! Bastante!"

He finally got her to stop by blocking her with his hand from putting even more on his overladen plate.

Of course what he meant to say was "¡Basta!" meaning "(It is) Enough!".  But what he was saying with the implied "Dame", as in "¡(Dame) bastante!", means "(Give me) enough, more, plenty or a lot!"

So you can say things like "¡Ya basta!" = "Enough already!", or "¡Eso es bastante!" = "That's a lot!"

"Bastante" can also mean "very", as in "Fue un día bastante lindo" = "It was a very pretty day"

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