Get 40% Off With The Epic Sale. Ends Soon!
Get 40% Off With The Epic Sale. Ends Soon!
SpanishPod101.com Blog
Learn Spanish with Free Daily
Audio and Video Lessons!
Start Your Free Trial 6 FREE Features

Archive for the 'Spanish Grammar' Category

Master the Art of Saying No with Negatives in Spanish

Thumbnail

Saying no in Spanish might sound quite easy, especially considering that the word “no” is used in both Spanish and English. However, there are some tricks and rules you’ll need to learn in order to master this important aspect of day-to-day conversations. The good news is that once you have these rules down, you’ll be able to make negative commands in Spanish, politely decline something, or answer a question in the negative. 

You should know that there are some grammar rules in English that don’t quite apply in Spanish. For starters, the use of double negatives—which is a grammatical error in English—is considered correct in Spanish and is very common. The usage of plural nouns is different as well, and of course, exact phrases and expressions differ.

But don’t worry! As always, we’re here to help. 

In this article, we’ll teach you…

  • …the most common negative words in Spanish.
  • …the basic negation forms and structures you should know. 
  • …how to form negative questions and answers. 
  • …how to use double negatives in Spanish.
  • …and more! 

You’ll want to master the art of making negative sentences early on, as they’re essential to even the most basic conversations. So, keep reading and get ready to improve your Spanish with SpanishPod101!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. Negation in Spanish: An Overview
  2. Negative Questions and Answers: Rules and Examples
  3. Double Negatives
  4. A Few More Negative Expressions in Spanish
  5. La despedida

1. Negation in Spanish: An Overview

The most basic way to make a sentence negative in Spanish is to place a “no” before the verb and after the subject. Following this very simple rule, you can start using basic negation in your conversations:

  • Subject + No + Verb

Let’s see some examples of positive sentences turned to negative following this rule:

Quiero ir de vacaciones a la playa este verano.
I want to go on vacation to the beach this summer.

No quiero ir de vacaciones a la playa este verano.
I don’t want to go on vacation to the beach this summer.

Llegar a la estación de tren es fácil.
Getting to the train station is easy.

Llegar a la estación de tren no es fácil.
Getting to the train station is not easy.

As for compound sentences that have more than one verb, you’ll have to place the “no” before the first verb.

Este viaje ha sido muy divertido.
This trip has been very fun.

Este viaje no ha sido muy divertido.
This trip hasn’t been very fun.

However, placing the “no” before the verb is not the only way to make negative sentences in Spanish. Just like in English, there are other words you can use (never, neither, nobody, etc.) to the same effect. Below are some examples of how to use the most common Spanish negation words.

1- Most Common Negative Words in Spanish

Nunca – Never

  • Yo nunca he ido a Europa.
    I have never been to Europe.

Nada – Nothing / Anything

  • No quiero comer nada.
    I don’t want to eat anything.

Nadie – Nobody

  • Nadie vino a la fiesta. 
    Nobody came to the party.

Ni – Neither / Nor

* When the verb appears before the ni in a sentence, that verb has to be negative.

  • Ni yo ni mi hermana fuimos al tour.
    Neither I nor my sister went to the tour.
  • No fuimos al tour ni yo ni mi hermana.
    Neither I nor my sister went to the tour.

Ningun (o) (a) – None / Any

* Ninguno is a pretty unique negative word. When using it, you have to change the ending according to the grammatical gender of the noun that follows.

  • A: ¿Qué ciudad te gustó más, Praga o Berlín? 
    B: No me gustó ninguna. 
    A: Which city did you like the most, Prague or Berlin?
    B: I didn’t like either.
  • Ninguno de los asientos estaba vacío.
    None of the seats were free.
  • A: ¿Tuviste algún problema durante tu viaje? 
    B: No, no tuve ningún problema.
    A: Did you have any issues during your trip?
    B: No, I didn’t have any.

Tampoco – Neither / Either

  • Tu pasaporte no ha expirado todavía, el mío tampoco. 
    Your passport hasn’t expired yet, neither has mine.
  • ¿Entiendes Aleman? Nosotros tampoco entendemos.
    Do you understand German? We don’t understand either.

Todavía no – Not yet / Still not

  • Todavía no he terminado de empacar. 
    I haven’t finished packing yet.

Ya no – Not anymore / No longer

  • Ya no tengo efectivo, debería ir al cajero.
    I no longer have any cash, I should go to the ATM.
  • A: ¿Todavía piensas ir a esquiar este invierno? 
    B: Ya no.
    A: Are you still planning on going skiing this winter?
    B: Not anymore.

Sin / Without

  • No puedo viajar sin mi suéter favorito.
    I can’t travel without my favorite sweater.

A Guy Trying to Figure Out How to Pack Things into His Van

No estamos listos todavía. / We are not ready yet.

2- Affirmative and Negative Words in Spanish

Another important thing to remember is that, just like in English, many negative words in Spanish have a positive counterpart. By replacing a positive word with a negative word, you can turn a positive sentence into a negative one (and vice-versa). These positive words are also called indefinite words as they refer to persons, things, animals, etc. that are not specifically defined.  

Negative WordsPositive (Indefinite) Words
Nunca / NeverSiempre / Always
Nada / NothingAlgo / Something
Nadie / NobodyAlguien / Somebody
Ni / Neither, NorO / Or
Ninguno / NoneAlguno / Some, Any
Tampoco / NeitherTambién / Also, Too

Example:

Yo tampoco viajo en barco. / I don’t travel by boat either.
Yo también viajo en barco. / I travel by boat too.

2. Negative Questions and Answers: Rules and Examples

Two Women Looking at a Bus Schedule

¿No sabes dónde está la estación de autobús? / Don’t you know where the bus station is?

When asking negative questions in Spanish or giving negative answers, you have to keep in mind that Spanish has no equivalent for the English word “don’t.” For this reason, you’ll have to use no twice when answering (more on this in a little bit). Let’s see some examples!

Question: ¿Te gustó el viaje? / Did you like the trip?
Answer: No, no me gustó. / No, I didn’t like it.

Question: ¿No visitaste la torre Eiffel? / Didn’t you visit the Eiffel Tower?
Answer: No, no la visité. / No, I didn’t visit it.

3. Double Negatives

A Woman Grabbing Her Luggage at the Airport

Yo nunca antes viajé sola. / I never traveled alone before.

You might have heard a million times from your elementary school teacher that using double negatives is a no-no. For example, the following sentences would be grammatically incorrect in English: 

I don’t want no food.
I don’t like nobody.

This is because, in English, the two negative words cancel each other out. But this rule does not apply to Spanish grammar!

Negative expressions in Spanish are often formed using the so-called double negative. This is considered correct, and in some cases, it’s even required. In Spanish, the double negative reinforces the sentence

The formula is:

  • No + Verb + Negative word

Some examples:

    Ella no trajo nada de alimentos al campamento. / She didn’t bring any food to the camp.
    No me acompañó nadie al aeropuerto. / Nobody came with me to the airport.
    Yo no disfruto nunca de los viajes en autobús. / I never enjoy bus trips.
    A él no le gustó ninguno de los platillos locales. / He didn’t like any of the local dishes.
    Yo no bebo tampoco. / I don’t drink either.

Directly translating double negatives might sound very odd to you, which is why we recommend becoming familiar with the sounds and structures of Spanish without translating what you hear word for word. This is the best way to become fluent faster.

4. A Few More Negative Expressions in Spanish

Women with Delayed Flight Sleeping in the Airport

No veo el tren por ningún lado, debe estar retrasado. / I don’t see the train anywhere, it must be delayed.

Last but not least, here’s a list of very useful negative expressions in Spanish that will come in handy during your travels in Spanish-speaking countries.

1- No entiendo nada. / I don’t understand anything.

No entiendo nada, ¿podrías repetir por favor?
I don’t understand anything, could you repeat please?

2- No falta nada. / Nothing is missing.

Antes de irnos debemos asegurarnos que no falte nada en nuestras mochilas.
Before we leave we have to make sure nothing is missing from our backpacks.

3- Por ningún lado / Anywhere

¿Has visto mi chamarra? No la encuentro por ningún lado.
Have you seen my jacket? I can’t find it anywhere.

4- No pasa nada. / It’s okay.

No pasa nada, vamos a encontrar tu cartera.
It’s okay, we will find your wallet.

5- Todavía no / Not yet

A: ¿Estás lista? 
B: Todavía no.

A: Are you ready?
B: Not yet.

6- De ninguna manera / By no means

De ninguna manera saldrás solo después de las 11 de la noche.
By no means will you go out alone after 11 at night.

7- Ya no / No longer

Ya no quiero ir.
I no longer want to go.

  • For more useful negative words in Spanish, see our vocabulary list for rejecting an invitation and check out this video:

5. La despedida

In this guide, you’ve learned all the basics you’ll need to master negation in Spanish: 

  • The most important negative words in Spanish
  • The different rules involved in Spanish sentence negation 
  • The most common negative expressions in Spanish

You’ve also seen many examples, so you can start trying to make your own sentences right away.

Is there anything you would like to learn about Spanish negation that we didn’t cover here? Please feel free to share your thoughts, comments, and ideas, and we’ll make sure to answer any questions that might come up!

Remember that SpanishPod101 offers a great library of resources to help you in every step of your language learning journey. Learn or review all the basics with our guides and lessons for beginners, grow your vocabulary, or master your pronunciation with a free lifetime account. Better still, upgrade to a Premium PLUS membership and gain access to our MyTeacher service to take 1-on-1 lessons with your own personal tutor! 

Don’t know where to begin? Why not start by reading some more of our blog entries for inspiration?

Happy learning! Y ¡Hasta luego!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish

The Ultimate Guide to Spanish Tenses

Thumbnail

One of the most daunting things when learning a new language, especially if that language is Spanish, is trying to master the verb tenses and conjugations. Spanish conjugation rules are quite different from those of English, and it might seem to you that there are too many Spanish tenses and endless exceptions. It might feel like a very long journey to embark on.

But don’t fear! 

Spanish is a complex language, and yes, there are numerous tenses to master. Nevertheless, there are numerous tricks and rules to make it all a lot easier. It’s all about learning patterns and practice, practice, practice.

We want to help you out on your mission to become an expert in Spanish verb tenses. Because it’s our goal to make the process as painless as possible for you, we’ll cover only the most important tenses in Spanish: simple past, present, and future.

After mastering these tenses, you’ll be able to start building more complex sentences and engaging in conversations. Once you have these down, we recommend that you continue your studies by learning all of the other complex tenses and irregular verbs.

Ready to take a huge step forward in your Spanish learning with SpanishPod101?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. Spanish Tenses in a Nutshell
  2. Present Simple Tense: El Presente Simple
  3. Past Simple Tense: El Pasado Simple
  4. Simple Future Tense: El Futuro Simple
  5. Irregular Verbs
  6. Auxiliary Verbs
  7. La despedida

1. Spanish Tenses in a Nutshell

The three main tenses in Spanish are: 

  • Presente (Present)
  • Pasado / Pretérito (Past) 
  • Futuro (Future) 

There are also three modes (sometimes called ‘moods’) in which these tenses can be conjugated:

  • Indicative
  • Subjunctive
  • Imperative

There are also several variations of these tenses and modes, which allow you to express verbs in a greater variety of contexts. A great example of this is the Spanish conditional, a form that’s used to talk about things that might happen if another thing happens or a certain condition is met. 

So how do you know which Spanish tenses to learn first? 

As a beginner, you only need to worry about mastering the three basic tenses: simple present, past, and future. By learning these first, you’ll get familiarized with the structures and patterns used to conjugate verbs in Spanish—more importantly, you’ll be able to start communicating! From then on, learning everything else will be easier.

→ For a more extensive overview of all Spanish tenses, visit our Spanish Verbs Guide.

1.1 Key Things to Know Before You Start Conjugating

Before we get ahead of ourselves, there are two basic things you need to learn before diving into Spanish conjugation: 

1) Verbs in their infinitive form 

2) Pronouns

The conjugation pattern to be used for each tense will depend on the type of verb you’re using (its ending in the infinitive) and the subject of the sentence (the pronoun).

What do we mean by the verb’s ending? Unlike English, which adds a “to” before any verb to turn it into its dictionary form, Spanish infinitive forms are defined by how the verb ends (the verb’s last two letters). Each verb ends in either -ar, -er, or -ir. This is how we classify verbs in order to conjugate them.

Verbs in infinitive form
Verbs ending in -arVerbs ending in -erVerbs ending in -ir
hablar (to speak)comer (to eat)vivir (to live)
soñar (to dream)perder (to lose)sentir (to feel)
cantar (to sing)beber (to drink)salir (to exit)
pensar (to think)correr (to run)escribir (to write)
dejar (to leave)leer (to read)dormir (to sleep)

Pronouns
Yo
You (Informal)*
UstedYou (Formal)
ÉlHe 
EllaShe
NosotrosWe
Ustedes You
Ellos Them
Vosotros*You

→ For more verb examples, visit our list of the 50 Most Common Verbs.

*A couple of notes:

There are some regional variations regarding formal and informal uses of “you.” While most countries in Latin America use for informal conversations and usted for formal ones, usted is used as a general form in some South American countries.

Vosotros is used only by Spanish speakers in Spain, while standard Latin American Spanish uses ustedes. We’ll focus on standard Latin American Spanish in this article, but we wanted to let you know about the variations so they don’t come as a surprise to you.

Okay, now you know the key elements. Let’s start conjugating verbs!

2. Present Simple Tense: El Presente Simple

A Couple Cooking in the Kitchen Together

Every weekend I cook pasta. – Cada fin de semana cocino pasta.

So let’s get started! 

As we mentioned, to conjugate a verb you have to use its infinitive form. From that form, you’ll extract the root of the verb and add a different ending depending on the tense and pronoun.

Let’s see an example with the verb comer (to eat):

→ Infinitive form: Comer→ Root: Com
→ Present simple tense conjugation: Yo com(o) – I eat

Remember: The ending you need to add will change according to the ending of the infinitive verb. So let’s see how to conjugate verbs in the present simple tense for every ending. 

2.1 Simple Present Tense Verbs Ending in –AR

Verb: Cocinar (To Cook) 
PronounSimple Present Tense Conjugation
Yo (I)Cocin+o
(You)Cocin+as
Usted (You)Cocin+a
Él (He)Cocin+a
Ella (She)Cocin+a
Nosotros (We)Cocin+amos
Ustedes (You)Cocin+an
Ellos (They)Cocin+an

Do you see a pattern here? Yes! The letter a from the -ar ending stays most of the time; remembering that will make it easier for you to remember the formulas for conjugating AR verbs in the present tense in Spanish. Just practice and memorize these endings, and it will get much easier to learn the rest of the tenses and forms.

2.2 Simple Present Tense Verbs Ending in -ER

Verb: Comer (To Eat)
PronounSimple Present Tense Conjugation
Yo (I)Com+o
(You)Com+es
Usted (You)Com+e
Él (He)Com+e
Ella (She)Com+e
Nosotros (We)Com+emos
Ustedes (You)Com+en
Ellos (They)Com+en

We told you it would get easier and it did, right? The formulas here are pretty much the same as those for AR verbs; you just have to switch the letter a for e.

2.3 Simple Present Tense Verbs Ending in -IR

Verb: Vivir (To Live)
PronounSimple Present Tense Conjugation
Yo (I)Viv+o
(You)Viv+es
Usted (You)Viv+e
Él (He)Viv+e
Ella (She)Viv+e
Nosotros (We)Viv+imos
Ustedes (You)Viv+en
Ellos (They)Viv+en

Okay, this one is a bit trickier. IR verbs have pretty much the same conjugation as ER verbs, changing only for the pronoun we, where the i stays. 

We recommend that you start learning the simple present tense first; once you’re completely confident with this tense, move on to the next one. Mastering the simple present tense in Spanish will allow you to start communicating more fluently, have conversations, and start identifying patterns in conjugation that will be very useful when learning the other tenses.

3. Past Simple Tense: El Pasado Simple

A Group of Friends Eating Salad Together

Yesterday, my friends and I ate salad. – Ayer, mis amigas y yo comimos ensalada.

Once you’ve mastered the simple present tense, you can move on to the simple past tense. And we have some good news for you! This one will be easier. In the Spanish past tense, ER and IR verbs have the exact same conjugation. There are also many patterns you’ll identify that will make your learning go smoother.

So let’s see how to conjugate for the simple past tense in Spanish!

3.1 Simple Past Tense Verbs Ending in -AR

Verb: Cocinar (To Cook) 
PronounSimple Past Tense Conjugation
Yo (I)Cocin+é
(You)Cocin+aste
Usted (You)Cocin+ó
Él (He)Cocin+ó
Ella (She)Cocin+ó
Nosotros (We)Cocin+amos
Ustedes (You)Cocin+aron
Ellos (They)Cocin+aron

Keep an eye on the accents, because they’re very important. The tense changes depending on whether the accent is absent or present. For example: cocino means “I cook” but cocinó means “You/He/She cooked.”

3.2 Simple Past Tense Verbs Ending in -ER

Verb: Comer (To Eat)
PronounSimple Past Tense Conjugation
Yo (I)Com+í
(You)Com+iste
Usted (You)Com+
Él (He)Com+
Ella (She)Com+
Nosotros (We)Com+imos
Ustedes (You)Com+ieron
Ellos (They)Com+ieron

3.3 Simple Past Tense Verbs Ending in -IR

Verb: Vivir (To Live)
PronounSimple Past Tense Conjugation
Yo (I)Viv+í
(You)Viv+iste
Usted (You)Viv+
Él (He)Viv+
Ella (She)Viv+
Nosotros (We)Viv+imos
Ustedes (You)Viv+ieron
Ellos (They)Viv+ieron

As we mentioned, ER and IR verbs have the exact same conjugation in the past tense. And we have even more good news: The simple future tense in Spanish is the easiest of the three!

→ If you’re curious about irregular verb conjugation in the past tense, check out this video:



4. Simple Future Tense: El Futuro Simple

A Seaside Village in Catalonia, Spain

When I retire, I will live on the beach. – Cuando me retire viviré en la playa.

As we promised, everything gets even easier at this point. The future simple tense uses the same conjugation pattern for all three verb forms. The only difference is that to conjugate for the future tense in Spanish, you don’t extract the verb’s root form; rather, you keep the verb in its infinitive form and then add the conjugation.

Let’s see how!

4.1 Simple Future Tense Verbs Ending in -AR

Verb: Cocinar (To Cook) 
PronounSimple Future Tense Conjugation
Yo (I)Cocinar+é
(You)Cocinar+ás
Usted (You)Cocinar+á
Él (He)Cocinar+á
Ella (She)Cocinar+á
Nosotros (We)Cocinar+emos
Ustedes (You)Cocinar+án
Ellos (They)Cocinar+án

4.2 Simple Future Tense Verbs Ending in -ER

Verb: Comer (To Eat)
PronounSimple Future Tense Conjugation
Yo (I)Comer+é
(You)Comer+ás
Usted (You)Comer+á
Él (He)Comer+á
Ella (She)Comer+á
Nosotros (We)Comer+emos
Ustedes (You)Comer+án
Ellos (They)Comer+án

4.3 Simple Future Tense Verbs Ending in -IR

Verb: Vivir (To Live)
PronounSimple Future Tense Conjugation
Yo (I)Vivir+é
(You)Vivir+ás
Usted (You)Vivir+á
Él (He)Vivir+á
Ella (She)Vivir+á
Nosotros (We)Vivir+emos
Ustedes (You)Vivir+án
Ellos (They)Vivir+an

As you can see, this tense is the easiest of the three. You just have to learn the different formulas and apply them to all verbs in their infinitive form. There’s just one important thing to keep in mind: 

Unlike English speakers, Spanish speakers often use the simple future tense to talk about a distant future; there’s a different tense to talk about the near future. But don’t worry about it yet! Just keep it in mind.

5. Irregular Verbs

A Chef Sprinkling a Spice into a Pot

I am a culinary student. – Yo soy estudiante de cocina.

Okay. Now that you have the basics, you can start thinking about irregular verbs. Some of the most commonly used verbs in Spanish happen to be irregular.

Irregular Verbs (Infinitive Form)
Ser To be (Permanent quality)
EstarTo be (Temporary state)
HaberTo have (Auxiliary verb)
Tener To have
Hacer To do
Poder To be able
Decir To say
Ir To go
Ver To see
DarTo give

Irregular verbs have their particular patterns of conjugation. Let’s see a brief example of how to use one of the most common irregular verbs: ser (to be).

  • Yo soy estudiante de idiomas. → I am a language student.
  • Tú eres estudiante de idiomas. → You are a language student.
  • Él es estudiante de idiomas. → He is a language student.
  • Ella es estudiante de idiomas. → She is a language student.
  • Nosotros somos estudiantes de idiomas. → We are language students.
  • Ustedes son estudiantes de idiomas. → You are language students.

You’ll want to study all of these verbs separately. You’ll find many patterns that will help you learn them faster, but it’s a matter of dedication and practice to completely master them.

→ If you want to learn more irregular verbs, don’t forget to check out this video:



6. Auxiliary Verbs

Last but not least, let’s talk about the use of auxiliary verbs in Spanish. You’ll want to consider these verbs as your next step after learning the three basic tenses and mastering some of the irregular verbs’ conjugations. 

Just like in English, an auxiliary verb is used along with a main verb to indicate a tense or to indicate the way in which the verb should be interpreted. It’s a verb that affects the meaning of the main verb.

The most common auxiliary verbs in Spanish are:

Ser → To be
Estar → To be
Hacer → To do
Haber → To have

Let’s see an example:

  • He estudiado toda la tarde. → I have studied all afternoon.

However, it’s important to note that auxiliary verbs are used much less in Spanish than they are in English. This is because Spanish has conjugation forms to indicate tenses that are often indicated with auxiliary verbs in English. An example of this is the auxiliary verb “to do.”

For example: 

  • English: Do you cook?
  • Spanish: ¿Cocinas?

So in Spanish, you just conjugate the verb in the simple present tense; there’s no need to add an auxiliary verb. For now, focus on the three main tenses. This will all be clearer by the time you start learning about auxiliary verbs in depth. 

La despedida

In this guide, you’ve learned all the basics about Spanish verb tenses. Before you can expect to master all Spanish tenses, you’ll need to focus on learning the simple present, past, and future. With these three tenses alone, you can start engaging in conversations and building your skills. 

Remember that SpanishPod101 offers numerous resources to help you learn and practice your Spanish. Make sure to check out our verb lists, pronunciation guides, and lesson library. If you need extra help, you can also try out our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher. This will give you the personal guidance of a private teacher to help you out with all your technical questions, pronunciation, and anything else you need. 

Before you leave: Is there anything about these basic tenses that you’d still like to know? 

Happy learning with SpanishPod101. ¡Hasta luego!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish

How Long Does it Take to Learn Spanish?

Thumbnail

At some point, every Spanish learner has asked the question: How long does it take to learn Spanish? And there’s no easy answer! It depends on many factors, such as your commitment and available resources. The total amount of time it takes you to reach a certain level of fluency may vary significantly from that of another learner. 

But don’t get discouraged! Beginning your Spanish language learning journey now will be well worth it. Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world (second only to Mandarin), and is growing in use every day. In addition to reaping the benefits of knowing such a widely spoken language, this journey will help you get closer to the wonderful Spanish culture and give you the confidence needed to travel solo to many Spanish-speaking countries!

In this article, you’ll get an estimate of how long it will take you to learn Spanish fluently based on your objectives and circumstances. We’ll also provide you with a list of the best ways to learn Spanish fast, so you can speed up your progress!

A Woman Smiling and Holding a Map

Planning a trip to Spain? Then keep reading for the best way to learn Spanish fast.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. Factors You Should Take Into Account
  2. Mastering the Basics
  3. Reaching an Intermediate Level
  4. Native-Like Fluency
  5. Your Journey to Learning Spanish Starts Now!

Factors You Should Take Into Account

The journey of learning Spanish (or any other foreign language) is different for everyone. There are several factors that you should take into account before deciding to learn a language from scratch, as they play a key role in determining how long the process will take you. 

Try to answer the following questions:

What languages do you speak?

Your native language (and any other languages you speak) is a crucial factor to consider when you begin learning Spanish.

First of all, it’s much easier to learn a language if you can already speak another language with similar roots. For example, if you can speak a Romance language such as French, you’ll learn Spanish faster than someone who only speaks Japanese, for example. 

Being able to speak English is a good starting point for learning Spanish, as the two languages share many of the same Latin influences. For this reason, they use the same alphabet and have many similar words and structures. This similarity even extends to idioms and proverbs, many of which are almost the same in both languages; you can see this firsthand in our SpanishPod101 blog entry on Spanish Proverbs.

Another reason to consider the languages you speak is because bilinguals find it easier to learn a third language. Research shows that the more languages one knows, the easier it is for that person to learn a new foreign language. The human brain applies language skills from one language to another, so learning other languages can even improve your speaking skills in your native language! 

Which learning method are you following?

Time estimations on how long it takes to learn Spanish are usually based on classroom hours. However, there are many different types of methodologies when it comes to foreign language learning, and different methodologies can also coexist within a given classroom.

Are you learning Spanish in an academic environment? Or maybe you’re following SpanishPod101’s lessons? Are you consistently investing several hours a week, or casually using online tools when you feel like it?

Keep in mind that you need a balance between intensity and consistency to really master a language. Doing intensive training helps you take a big leap forward when learning a language, but you’ll quickly forget what you’ve learned if you’re not consistently practicing your knowledge afterward. Likewise, if you commit every week but invest little time, your progress will be very slow. 

If you’re interested in how to learn Spanish fast, remember: Balance is key!

A Row of Three Students Taking a Test in the Classroom

What methodology are you following to learn Spanish?

What’s your level of immersion?

Besides the hours you spend actually taking lessons and practicing what you’ve learned, the best way to learn Spanish fast is to surround yourself with the language as much as you can. In other words: Your level of immersion is very important.

Learning Spanish while living in downtown Madrid is not the same as having limited contact with the language a few hours per week in your classroom. But don’t worry, it’s not compulsory to move to a Spanish-speaking country! There are many ways to increase your exposure to Spanish and immerse yourself in the language. 

You can watch Spanish TV shows with English subtitles, read Spanish media, find a Spanish conversation partner or group, translate Spanish lyrics, and the list goes on… 

Later in this article, we’ll give you some more tips to increase your level of immersion in relation to your level of fluency.

How motivated are you?

The reason you’re learning Spanish has more influence on your learning progress than you might think. Are you moving to a Spanish-speaking country? Does your job require you to be fluent in Spanish? Do you have Spanish-speaking friends? Do you like Spanish pop music?

If you’re learning Spanish out of obligation, it’ll be harder for you to commit and you won’t progress very quickly. If that’s the case for you, try finding elements that motivate you based on your interests. For instance, watching Spanish football games or going to a Spanish cooking class could be just the extra motivation you need! 

The more incentives you have to learn a language, the faster you will learn. Your level of motivation will determine the amount of time and effort you’ll be willing to invest in learning Spanish. Try to always remember the reason you started your learning journey in the first place and, at the same time, search for new sources of motivation to avoid losing interest. 

    SpanishPod101’s blog is a great tool for learning new things and curious facts about the Spanish language and culture. Keep up with our latest posts to stay inspired!

What’s your objective?

In addition to your motivations, you should consider your objectives when you start learning a language. What level of fluency do you want to reach? Would you be satisfied with some basic knowledge to help you get around during a trip to Spain? Or maybe you want to be able to hold a one-on-one conversation in Spanish? Do you have your sights set on reaching a native level of fluency?

    → At SpanishPod101.com, you get lessons based on your goals and needs. You can start speaking Spanish from the first lesson!

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages has categorized knowledge of European languages into three levels: Basic (A), Intermediate (B), and Advanced (C). Here’s a quick breakdown: 

  • Basic User (A)
    • Breakthrough (A1)
    • Waystage (A2)
  • Independent User (B)
    • Threshold (B1)
    • Vantage (B2)
  • Proficient User (C)
    • Effective Operational Proficiency (C1)
    • Mastery (C2)

The Common Reference Framework also states the estimated number of hours needed to reach each level. Keep reading to find out what they are!

Asian and Caucasian Coworkers Chatting

Do you want to be proficient in Spanish in a professional environment?

Mastering the Basics

When you first start studying the Spanish language, you’ll learn how to engage in basic interactions and how to get by in a Spanish-speaking environment. Here are the two beginner levels and how long it takes to reach each one: 

Breakthrough > 90-100 hours: 

It takes between 90 and 100 hours to reach a basic level of Spanish that allows you to use and understand common everyday expressions and basic phrases. At this point, you can introduce yourself and talk about some personal details about where you live, your friends and family, etc. You can also hold a conversation if the other person speaks slowly and uses a basic vocabulary.

Waystage > 180-200 hours: 

The elementary level of Spanish can take you up to 200 hours to master. At this level, you can understand frequently used expressions in everyday life (such as asking for directions or tips for shopping). You’re able to describe your environment and have simple conversations about your current situation or familiar routines.

Here are some tips on how to learn Spanish faster at the Beginner stage:

Reaching an Intermediate Level

Wondering how long it takes to achieve an intermediate level of Spanish? Here’s some useful information on the two intermediate levels:

Threshold > 350-400 hours:

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages estimates that it takes around 350-400 hours to reach the Threshold level of Spanish. At this level, you can understand conversational and written input on everyday matters such as work, school, and leisure. You can also be independent when traveling to a Spanish-speaking country and give your opinion on plans or events. In addition, you can produce texts and describe abstract issues such as your dreams and hopes.

Vantage > 500-600 hours:

This level will take you between 500 and 600 hours to master. Once you do, you’ll be able to understand the main ideas of complex and technical texts. You’ll also be able to hold one-on-one conversations with a certain degree of fluency and spontaneity without causing strain on native speakers. Finally, you’ll be able to produce detailed texts on a wide range of topics while voicing your opinion.

Here are some tips you can follow to reach an intermediate level of fluency in Spanish:

Beautiful Buildings in Barcelona, Spain

An intermediate level of fluency in Spanish will help you interact with the locals in Barcelona.

Native-Like Fluency

If your ambition is to reach an advanced and proficient level of Spanish that allows you to blend in with the natives, pay attention to the following sections:

Effective Operational Proficiency > 700-800 hours:

If you want to learn Spanish fast, you need to be aware that the Effective Operational Proficiency level will take you up to 800 hours to achieve. Of course, at this level, you can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognize implicit meaning. You can express yourself with fluency and flexibility in social, academic, or professional situations without searching for words or expressions too much. You’re able to produce complex and well-organized texts using connectors.

Mastery > 1000-1200 hours:

The top Spanish level is Mastery, which you’ll achieve after investing between 1000 and 1200 hours of your time. At this level, you can understand almost everything you hear or read. You’re able to summarize information and reconstruct arguments from different written and spoken sources. You can express yourself fluently and precisely, and you can distinguish between different shades of meaning in complex situations. 

If you’re looking to give your Spanish knowledge a boost and reach a proficient level, here are some things you can do:
  • Read Spanish newspapers on a daily basis.
  • Listen to Spanish podcasts. Of course, you can start with SpanishPod101!
  • Translate Spanish poetry into your native language.

Your Journey to Learning Spanish Starts Now!

SpanishPod101 Image

Did this article help motivate you? We hope so! The Spanish language is not only beautiful, but it can also be helpful in the professional and academic world as it’s the second most spoken language in the world. 

So, without further ado, let’s get on with it! At SpanishPod101.com, you’ll find tons of tools for learning Spanish that cater to a variety of levels, objectives, and interests. There are plenty of lessons, videos, and blog posts that will help you achieve your desired level of fluency in Spanish.

Start by planning a schedule, and then stick to it. Consistency and motivation are the keys to successfully learning a language. Savor this first step in your Spanish learning journey, and never give up.

See you soon, hasta pronto!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish

The Top 30 Essential Spanish Proverbs

Thumbnail

Proverbs are an essential part of popular and oral culture. Often transmitted to children by the elder generations, they are language’s time capsules that carry a lot of history—and unique cultural perspective—with them.

Because proverbs from around the world have very different origins and have evolved from their original meanings over time, they can be difficult to understand without context or a good guide in hand.

Fortunately, we’ve got you covered! SpanishPod101 brings you the top thirty Spanish proverbs and sayings that will help you speak like a local (or at least understand why Spaniards say that the world is a handkerchief). 

Ready? Then let’s get started.

A Little Girl Hugging Her Mother from Behind

From that stick, that chip or like mother, like daughter!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. Proverbs About Relationships
  2. Proverbs About Opportunity
  3. Proverbs About Personality
  4. Proverbs About Social Situations
  5. Proverbs About Life Situations
  6. Proverbs About Actions and Consequences
  7. Life Mottos
  8. Final Thoughts

1. Proverbs About Relationships

Wherever you live in the world, relationships are an essential part of everyday life. Here are some Spanish proverbs about family, friendship, and love to give you some cultural perspective!

#1

SpanishDe tal palo, tal astilla.
Literally“From such a stick, such a chip.”
EquivalentLike father, like son. / The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
This common Spanish proverb refers to the genetic characteristics or personality traits that sons and daughters inherit from their parents.

Ana tiene los mismos ojos que su madre. De tal palo, tal astilla.
“Ana has the same eyes as her mother. From that stick, that chip.”


#2

SpanishDime con quién andas, y te diré quién eres.
Literally“Tell me with whom you walk, and I’ll tell you who you are.”
EquivalentA man is known by the company he keeps.
This saying suggests that you can tell someone’s personality by their friends or company.

Usually, this phrase is used with a pejorative tone. It advises others to be mindful of the personal image they project when going around with “bad influences.”

#3

SpanishUn clavo saca otro clavo.
Literally“One nail drives out another.”
This Spanish proverb means that a new love interest helps one forget a heartbreak. It metaphorically refers to the pain of a romantic breakup as something that’s nailed onto you. 

The fun twist here is that the expression “echar un clavo” means “to have sex,” similar to the English “to screw someone.” So “Un clavo saca otro clavo” suggests that having sex with someone new can help you forget your ex.

#4

SpanishDios los cría y ellos se juntan.
Literally“God creates them and they get together.”
EquivalentBirds of a feather flock together.
Similar to “Dime con quien andas, y te diré quién eres,” this Spanish proverb has to do with the common traits of people who spend time together.

It means that we tend to get together with people who resemble us in personality or interests.

#5

SpanishOjos que no ven, corazón que no siente.
Literally“Eyes that don’t see, heart that doesn’t feel.”
EquivalentIf you don’t see it, you can’t feel it.
This popular Spanish proverb means that people don’t suffer for what they don’t know.

Nowadays, this saying refers to all types of situations, from politics to work. But it’s most commonly used in reference to romantic relationships in which one of the partners is cheating on the other without them knowing about it.


Two Birds Perched on a Branch

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

2. Proverbs About Opportunity

Opportunity: One of those things we all encounter, but far too often don’t recognize until it’s too late. Following are some common proverbs in Spanish that speak on opportunity and how to make the most of it! 

#6

SpanishMás vale pájaro en mano que cien volando.
Literally“A bird in the hand is more worthy than a hundred flying.”
EquivalentA bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
This Spanish proverb is nearly identical to its English equivalent, and it means that it’s better to make sure you keep what you have instead of taking risks that could make you lose everything.

It’s often used in money- or work-related situations as advice to ambitious people who are thinking of gambling or taking a big risk.

#7

SpanishA caballo regalado, no le mires el diente.
Literally“Don’t check the teeth of a gift horse.”
EquivalentNever look a gift horse in the mouth.
These wise words remind us not to be picky about something we’ve received for free or as a gift, and to be grateful even if you don’t like it a lot.

A: El coche que me ha dado la abuela no corre demasiado.
B: A caballo regalado, no le mires el diente.

A: “The car grandma gave me doesn’t go very fast.”
B: “Don’t check the teeth of a gifted horse.”

#8

SpanishA falta de pan, buenas son tortas.
Literally“In the absence of bread, cakes are good.”
EquivalentHalf a loaf is better than none.
This Spanish proverb emphasizes the importance of being flexible when things don’t go our way and valuing what we do have. 

Its English equivalent is “Half a loaf is better than none,” but it has a more pessimistic point of view. The Spanish expression is not about settling for less, but rather about settling for something different than what was expected.

    → As you can see, the Spanish value those who are grateful. Learn how to say “Thank You!” on SpanishPod101.com.

3. Proverbs About Personality

What do the Spanish have to say about personality and character traits? Here’s just a small sample…

#9

SpanishPerro ladrador, poco mordedor.
Literally“A barking dog, not much of a biter.”
EquivalentHis bark is worse than his bite.
This is one of the most-used proverbs in the world—we can find it, for instance, in the Spanish, Italian, and English languages. It’s believed to have originated somewhere in Eastern Europe.

It refers to people who can be very threatening with their words but won’t ever act on them.

A Monkey

Even if the monkey wears silk, it’s still a monkey!

#10

SpanishAunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda.
Literally“Even if the monkey wears silk, it remains a monkey.”
EquivalentYou can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
Funny Spanish proverbs are some of the Spaniard’s actual favorites. This one refers to ugly people who, even if they wear nice and expensive clothes and a lot of makeup, are still ugly.

In a more figurative sense, it talks about people who like to pretend they’re something they’re not.

#11

SpanishEn casa del herrero, cuchillo de palo.
Literally“In the house of the blacksmith, wooden knives.”
EquivalentThe shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot.
This Spanish proverb refers to people who don’t follow the advice they give or don’t lead by example. It can also refer to the paradox of lacking something where it should be abundant.

¿Un médico que fuma? En casa de herrero, cuchillo de palo.
“A doctor who smokes? The shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot.”

4. Proverbs About Social Situations

What would we be without the people around us? Here are a few humorous Spanish-language proverbs regarding people and social situations. 

#12

SpanishÉramos pocos y parió la abuela.
Literally“We were a few and then the grandmother gave birth.”
EquivalentThat was all we needed.
This funny Spanish proverb is often used as a colloquial way to say that a situation got worse. It can also refer to a social situation in which there were too many people in one place, and many more arrived unexpectedly.

This is a sample of typical Spanish sarcasm, where an expression means the opposite of what it says.

#13

SpanishHablando del rey de Roma, que por la puerta asoma.
Literally“Speaking of the King of Rome, that comes through the door.”
EquivalentSpeak of the Devil and he shall appear.
This Spanish saying is very similar to its English counterpart. It’s used on those occasions when someone who is being talked about appears unexpectedly, especially when that person was being criticized. 

Originally, the expression didn’t say “rey, but “ruin” (meaning “mean” or “despicable”), so the connotation of the proverb was clearly negative.

A Woman Holding a Globe in Her Hands

It’s a small world.

#14

SpanishEl mundo es un pañuelo.
Literally“The world is a handkerchief.”
EquivalentIt’s a small world.
This proverb is commonly used as an expression of surprise when running into someone you know in a place you didn’t expect them to be.

Its reference to the handkerchief, however, has puzzled many linguists over the years. The most plausible theory for the origin of this Spanish saying is that the term “handkerchief” seems to refer to the first world maps, which were printed on fabric and could fit in one’s hand.

#15

SpanishCada loco con su tema.
Literally“Each crazy person with their topic.”
EquivalentTo each their own.
This expression can apply to two different situations. 

The first one is when, in a social gathering, no one is paying attention to the others and everyone is doing their own thing.

Its second meaning refers to the different obsessions that every person has. For example: 

A mi madre le gusta ver el fútbol y a mi padre la telenovela, cada loco con su tema.
“My mum likes watching soccer and my dad the soap opera, to each their own.”

5. Proverbs About Life Situations

The following Spanish proverbs about life situations lend us wisdom regarding the many circumstances we often find ourselves in. 

#16

SpanishTodos los caminos llevan a Roma.
EquivalentAll roads lead to Rome.
We can find this proverb in many languages, as it has been inherited directly from the Latin language. It might sound like an exaggeration, but during the time of the Roman Empire, it made a lot of sense. The Romans built a network of roads that could take a person from any point in the Empire to Rome, the capital.

The contemporary version refers to the different ways in which an objective can be reached.

#17

SpanishNo todo el monte es orégano.
Literally“Not all the hill is oregano.”
EquivalentLife is not a bed of roses.
This expression alludes to the difficulties that are presented to us throughout the course of our lives.

For example, one could say this when they really enjoy the college degree they’re studying, but have to take a very difficult exam: 

Normalmente me parecen fáciles las clases de Medicina, pero no todo el monte es orégano.
“I usually find that Medicine lessons are easy, but life is not a bed of roses.”

#18

SpanishUna golondrina no hace verano.
EquivalentOne swallow does not make a summer.
This expression is found in both English and Spanish, and it warns us that an isolated event is not always an indicator of what is to come. 

There are longer versions of this proverb, as well: 

Una golondrina no hace verano, ni una sola virtud bienaventurado.
“One swallow does not make a summer, nor a single virtue a blessed person.”

Ni un dedo hace una mano, ni una golondrina verano.
“One finger does not make a hand, nor does a swallow make summer.”

Three Walnuts, with One of Them Broken Open

Much noise and few walnuts…

#19

SpanishMucho ruido y pocas nueces.
Literally“Much noise and few walnuts.”
EquivalentMuch ado about nothing.
This phrase is the translation of the title of the famous Shakespearean comedy Much Ado About Nothing, written in 1600.

It’s a popular proverb about people who make a fuss about something that really isn’t important. 

6. Proverbs About Actions and Consequences

You may have heard the popular quips, “Actions have consequences,” and “What goes up must come down.” But what do the Spanish have to say on the topic? 

#20

SpanishDar en el clavo.
Equivalent“Hit the nail on the head.”
This Spanish idiom is used when something is spot-on, like when a decision has been proven to be the right one.

El regalo le ha encantado a Manuel, hemos dado en el clavo.
“Manuel loved the present; we hit the nail on the head.”

The Spanish City of Seville

Don’t go to Seville, unless you want to lose your chair!

#21

SpanishQuien va a Sevilla, pierde su silla.
Literally“He who goes to Seville, loses its chair.”
This proverb is used in countless situations, and it refers to losing privileges because of abandoning them temporarily. It’s a favorite proverb among children; they use it to claim an actual chair when the person that was using it gets up for a moment.

This expression refers to an historical event that occurred in 1460. The archbishop of Seville Alonso de Fonseca left to solve a dispute in Galicia and left his nephew in charge, who refused to give up the chair once his uncle came back.

#22

SpanishEl que ríe último, ríe mejor.
EquivalentHe who laughs last laughs best.
This common proverb warns us not to declare victory before the war is over, as life can be full of surprises.

Hoy has ganado la partida, pero quien ríe último ríe mejor.
“Today you’ve won the match, but he who laughs last laughs best.”

#23

SpanishTira la piedra y esconde la mano.
Literally“He throws the stone and hides the hand.”
This Spanish proverb is used to talk about someone who does something and doesn’t take responsibility for his or her actions.

It has a very pejorative connotation, as it’s often used to describe someone as cowardly or malicious.

#24

SpanishCría fama y échate a dormir.
Literally“Raise fame and lie down to sleep.”
EquivalentYour reputation follows you.
This saying means that, once you’ve created a reputation for yourself, it will precede you and be difficult to change. It can be used in both positive and negative situations; for example, everyone may think you’re a good person (positive) or the word on the street could be that you’re tight with money (negative).

Spanish proverbs and their meanings are very indicative of the country’s culture. You can see this in the use of “lie down to sleep.” Oftentimes, people who got somewhere without much effort are depicted as lazy (and lazy in Spain is characterized as someone who loves siesta or naps).

#25

SpanishEl que parte y reparte, se queda la mejor parte.
EquivalentHe who distributes ends up with the best part.
This Spanish proverb refers to the fact that someone who has access to something ends up keeping the best for themselves. It’s often used when talking about money-related corruption.

Someone Hitting Snooze on Their Alarm Clock

The early bird catches the worm.

7. Life Mottos

Many people have mottos, expressions, or mantras they use for daily guidance or wisdom. So let’s conclude our Spanish proverbs list with some popular life mottos! 

#26

SpanishA quien madruga, Dios le ayuda.
Literally“He who wakes up early is helped by God.”
EquivalentThe early bird catches the worm.
This Catholic expression is used to encourage people to wake up early so they can make the most of their day. It’s mainly used in non-religious situations and often by non-religious people.

#27

SpanishEl que no llora, no mama.
Literally“He who doesn’t cry, doesn’t nurse.”
EquivalentThe squeaky wheel gets the grease.
This saying means that when you want something, you have to ask for it. Frequently, it’s used when someone complains too late about not having received something they wanted:

A: ¿No me habéis dejado pizza? ¡Yo también quería!
B: ¡El que no llora, no mama!

A: “You didn’t leave any pizza for me? I wanted a slice!”
B: “He who doesn’t cry, doesn’t nurse!”

#28

SpanishQuerer es poder.
Literally“To want is to be able to.”
EquivalentWhere there is a will, there is a way.
This motto states that if you put in the effort to get something, you’ll get it. It highlights the importance of willpower, determination, and perseverance.

#29

SpanishMás vale prevenir que curar.
Literally“Better anticipate than treat.”
EquivalentBetter safe than sorry.
This wise Spanish proverb is a moral lesson on precaution. It means that it’s better to anticipate a bad situation before it’s too late to solve the problem.

A funny variation is: Más vale sudar que estornudar. (“Better to sweat than to sneeze.”) It’s used by parents who cover their children with warm clothes to prevent them from catching a cold.

#30

SpanishNunca digas de esta agua no beberé.
Literally“Never say ‘I won’t ever drink from that water.’”
EquivalentNever say never.
As much as we hate something, we cannot ever be sure that we won’t do it at some point.

This common Spanish proverb has a humorous longer version that says: 

Nunca digas de esta agua no beberé ni este cura es mi padre.
“Never say ‘I won’t ever drink from that water,’ nor ‘this priest is not my father.’”


8. Final Thoughts

Learning Spanish proverbs will not only prove useful in many life situations, but it will also help you get to know the unique Spanish culture and worldview. Did we miss any topics? Let us know, and be sure to share this guide if you enjoyed it! 

If you’re thinking about starting Spanish lessons, why not begin by checking out SpanishPod101.com? We offer different plans to cater to a variety of learning styles, lessons suited for different levels, and a blog with tons of free resources about the Spanish language and culture.

And, if you still need a little push, watch this video on our YouTube channel to discover some great reasons you should learn Spanish. Good luck with your lessons on SpanishPod101.com, and remember that querer es poder!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish

Variety in Spanish: Understanding the Differences

Thumbnail

If you’re reading this, it’s because you already know how important and useful it is to learn the Spanish language. There are about 405-million native speakers, and there are even more people who speak Spanish as a second language for business, education, or love.

Why? 

Well, Spanish is the official language in twenty countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Spain, Uruguay, and Venezuela. 

Because the language is spoken in so many countries, there are quite a few Spanish dialects and varieties out there!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. Can Spanish People and Latin Americans Understand Each Other?
  2. How to Spot the Differences in Pronunciation
  3. Differences in Vocabulary
  4. Differences in Grammar
  5. Which Spanish Variety Should You Learn?
  6. Conclusion

1. Can Spanish People and Latin Americans Understand Each Other?

One Women Telling a Secret to Another One in Her Ear

Although the Spanish language is exactly the same among all the countries where it’s the official language, there are some differences between Spanish dialects. Take, for example, Mexican Spanish vs. Castillian Spanish.

1- How can you spot the differences?

Think of the many countries where English is spoken: England, Australia, Ireland, the United States, and New Zealand! You may know by now that the language is the same, but that there are some differences in accent, pronunciation, intonation, speed, and vocabulary.

While differences like these aren’t usually major, there are many varieties in Spanish. This means that if an Argentinian goes to Spain or a Spanish person goes to Latin America, it can be tricky to communicate at the beginning. But after a few days, they’ll be able to adapt and understand each other. 

When it comes to writing, Mexican Spanish and the Spanish in Spain are similar to each other. But the pronunciation, vocabulary, and the meanings of words are different. Mexican Spanish tends to use what we call Spanglish (English + Spanish) because the Mexican culture has a lot of influence from the USA. A great way to see some examples of this and train your ears for this type of language is to watch some Mexican movies

Yellow Pin on Spanish-speaking Region

Let’s learn more about the different varieties of Spanish and compare the most common ones to each other. In this article, we’ll cover: 

  • Mexican Spanish vs. Castilian Spanish
  • Peruvian Spanish vs. Mexican Spanish
  • Puerto Rican Spanish vs. Mexican Spanish
  • Argentinian Spanish vs. Mexican Spanish 
  • Chilean Spanish vs. Mexican Spanish 

Before you continue, you may want to learn more interesting facts about the Spanish language.

2- What are the main differences between all the varieties of Spanish?

Don’t get confused by the amount of information you may find on the internet. The main differences between the Spanish dialects and varieties are the pronunciation and the vocabulary. This means that the difference exists mainly in spoken language because Spanish grammar, especially in writing, is identical across Spanish-speaking countries. 

A- Can all Spanish-speakers understand each other? 

This is the most common question I get asked when I meet travelers, and the answer is: Yes! No matter where a Spanish-speaker is from, where they are, or who they’re talking to, they can understand each other by simply listening carefully, speaking slowly, and putting words into context when using unfamiliar vocabulary. 

In addition, Netflix, music, and the internet have brought together the differences between pronunciations, vocabulary, and slang. Check out our list of the best movies on Netflix to learn Spanish

B- What is the correct term to differentiate between the different types of Spanish? 

The Spanish language originated in Spain, and the Spanish spoken in Spain is called Castilian: castellano. It refers to the province of Castile located in Central Spain. In English, you can just refer to this variety of Spanish as European Spanish or Peninsular Spanish, instead of Castilian Spanish. 

For those who speak Spanish in Latin America, it’s called Latin American Spanish or español latino

C- What are the different types of Spanish?

Latin American Spanish may vary among the countries where it’s spoken. The main varieties in Spanish are: Caribbean, South American Pacific, Central American, Highland (which is more standard), and Argentinian-Uruguayan-Paraguayan Spanish. 

In Spain, there are two principal varieties of Spanish, which are Andalusian and Castilian.

Woman Holding Red and Green Apple

2. How to Spot the Differences in Pronunciation


The main difference between all the varieties of Spanish is the pronunciation. One of the most notable examples of this is in Mexican Spanish vs. Castilian Spanish: Seseo vs. Ceceo.  

  • Ceceo is when Spanish-speakers from Spain pronounce -c and -z as -th-. 

For example:

Caza (“Hunt”)

In this example, the word would be pronounced as ca-th-a. On the other hand, a Latin American speaker would pronounce this word with seseo: ca-s-a.

  • Seseo is when Latin American-speakers pronounce the -c and -z as -s. So casa and caza will sound exactly the same.  

Latin American Spanish people don’t use the ceceo. Take, for instance, gracias (“thank you”).

  • European Spanish: Grathias
  • Latin American Spanish: Grasias

Now, there’s another distinction you should know about: Yeismo

1- What is Yeismo?

Yeismo is the accent and the way that Argentinian, Uruguayan, and Paraguayan people speak Spanish. They pronounce the -ll and -y as -ch. 

For example:

Argentinian Spanish pronunciation. 

  • Lluvia (“Rain”) is pronounced as chuvia.
  • Ayer (“Yesterday”) is pronounced as acher.

Another notable difference between Spanish vs. Mexican Spanish is the pronunciation of -j.

In Spain, people put more emphasis on -j than Latin Americans do. This is partially because they tend to use a swearing word with this sound more often: Joder (“F***k”).

We’ve only covered a few of the differences between the varieties of Spanish. There are many more accents, pronunciations, and vocabulary differences, but the farther along you get in your Spanish studies, the better you’ll be able to distinguish between them. 

3. Differences in Vocabulary

Each variety of Spanish has slight variations in vocabulary and word meanings.

For example, the Mexican word for “car” is carro, the Spanish word is coche, and the Argentinian word is  auto. 

Now, here’s a difference of word meaning in Chilean Spanish vs. Mexican Spanish:

Chileans say chucha when a place is far away, while Mexicans may use chingada. And Colombians will use chucha to say that something smells very bad.

Another difference between Mexican Spanish vs. Spanish in Spain is the way they say “money.”

Spanish and Mexicans call money dinero, whereas some people in Latin America call it plata:

  • No tengo dinero.
  • No tengo plata.
  • “I have no money.”

“Mobile phone” for the Spanish is móvil, whereas the Colombians call it celular.

Coger in Latin America is a vulgar word for the act of intercourse, whereas for people in Spain, it’s an innocent and common word that means “to take” or “to catch.” 

In terms of Peruvian Spanish vs. Mexican Spanish, the difference is in the way they speak. Some people consider Peruvian Spanish very slow, and Peruvians often don’t pronounce words in their entirety. 

An example of Peruvian Spanish:

  • “You are crazy!”
  • ¡Estás loco!
  • ¡’tas loco!
  • “Are you okay?”
  • ¿Estás bien?
  • ¿’ta bien?

This way of speaking in Spanish is very common in many regions of Spain (like the Autonomous Community of Andalucía) as well as in many other regions of Latin America. This is especially true for the cities around the coast. 

While you’re learning Spanish, don’t worry too much about these differences. It may be very difficult to understand this type of language, but your ears will get used to it as you advance in your learning.

4. Differences in Grammar

The main difference in grammar is the plural form of “you” in Spanish: Ustedes vs. vs. Vos. 

Another difference is that Latin American-speakers use a lot of words that come from United States English. These words are usually adapted for Spanish, pronounced and written with Spanish phonetics. This isn’t very common in peninsular Spanish, although Spanish-speakers there will understand you if you use them. Spanish is evolving all the time, and English- and Spanish-speakers are living side-by-side all over North America.

Many Words Typed on White Papers

Let’s see some differences between Mexican Spanish and European Spanish words:


EnglishAdapted from EnglishEuropean Spanish
“Apply”AplicarInscribirse or Postularse
  • “I applied to four Spanish universities.”
  • Apliqué en cuatro universidades españolas. (Latin American Spanish)
  • Me he inscrito en cuatro universidades españolas. (European Spanish)

EnglishAdapted from EnglishEuropean Spanish
“Check”Chequear or ChecarComprobar or Revisar
  • “Juan, can you check my homework, please?”
  • Juan, puedes chequear mis tareas, ¿por favor? (Latin American Spanish)
  • Juan, puedes revisar mis deberes, ¿por favor? (European Spanish)

EnglishAdapted from EnglishEuropean Spanish
“Balance”BalancearEquilibrar
  • “Meditation balances your mind.”
  • La meditación balancea tu mente. (Latin American Spanish)
  • La meditación equilibra tu mente. (European Spanish)

Like English, Spanish has evolved and adapted to every culture, country, and region, both in speech and writing.

Talking About the Past in Latin American Spanish vs. Iberian Spanish

Another difference in grammar is the use of the past tense. In Iberian Spanish, you’ll see that the past perfect is used most often: “to have” + the verb in the past participle. Latin American Spanish will use the simple past more often.

  • European/Castilian Spanish, past perfect: he comprado
  • Latin American Spanish, past simple: compré

Example:

  • “This morning, I went to do my grocery shopping.”
  • Esta mañana he ido hacer la compra. (European/Castilian Spanish)
  • Esta mañana fui a hacer la compra. (Latin American Spanish)

5. Which Spanish Variety Should You Learn?

I get asked this question a lot, and the answer always depends on what you’re learning Spanish for. If you’re learning Spanish because you want to travel the world, especially South America, you should learn the type of Spanish spoken in the places you want to visit most.

Woman Uncertain of Something

If you’re learning Spanish for business, education, or the media, you may learn neutral Spanish for Spain. But if you’re going to work in a certain country, you should familiarize yourself with their Spanish so you can better enjoy your time there.

Some people find Latin American Spanish easier than the Spanish from Spain, whereas others may prefer Spain’s variety because the language originated there. 

What I always suggest is to learn the Spanish variety of your choice in a place where that variety is spoken. This will help you get used to pronunciation and other nuances of that variety faster!

6. Conclusion

For more information about the Spanish language, visit our website SpanishPod101.com. We hope to make every aspect of your learning journey both fun and informative, and we believe that with enough hard work and determination, you can master any variety of Spanish! 

Before you go, let us know in the comments if you learned anything new today about Spanish dialects and varieties. Which one do you want to learn, and why? We look forward to hearing from you! 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish

A Quick Overview of Spanish Grammar

Thumbnail

As you know, grammar is an important part of any language, and Spanish is no exception. Spanish grammar has many similarities with other Romance languages, including many features that are comparable to English. 

In this article, we’re going to briefly explain the basics of Spanish grammar. We’ll also provide links to other articles and lessons on our website, where you’ll be able to find more detailed information on crucial Spanish grammar topics. In addition, we’ll explain some of the differences and similarities between the grammar rules of Spanish and English.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. General Rules
  2. Verbs
  3. Nouns
  4. Adjectives
  5. Negation
  6. How SpanishPod101.com Can Help You Master Spanish

1. General Rules

To begin, we’ll look at some of the similarities between Spanish and English. 

a) Verbs

Spanish verbs have tenses and undergo conjugations. While English does have a few conjugations, Spanish, like any Romance language, definitely has more. We have an article on Spanish conjugations where you’ll find all the information you need on the topic. 

That said, the tenses are quite similar to those in English. There are only a few exceptions of tenses that exist in Spanish but aren’t specified in English. 

We’ll explain verbs a little further in the next section.

b) Word Order

As we explained in our article about Spanish word order, Spanish has the same basic word order model as English: S + V + O (Subject + Verb + Object). There are a few differences when it comes to adverb and adjective placement, but to create a basic sentence, you just need to follow the same order you would in English. Here’s an example of a simple sentence that translates word for word:

Example: Mi padre canta una canción.
Translation: “My father sings a song.”

Easy, right?

c) Vocabulary

While vocabulary isn’t actually a grammatical component, we thought we would briefly mention it as well, since it shares many similarities with English.

It’s interesting to know that a lot of the vocabulary in English and Spanish share the same root. While English is not a Romance language, and is in fact a Germanic language, it has been highly influenced by French and Latin in the past. 

In fact, English is often jokingly referred to as being nothing more than a mix of other languages. Considering it has been heavily influenced by other Germanic languages, Latin, French, and many others, this association should come as no surprise. English hasn’t been influenced too much by Spanish, but its influence from other Romance languages gives it many similarities with Spanish.

There are many words that look similar in both English and Spanish, but we’ll only give you a couple here:

Example: nación
Translation: “nation”

We’ve chosen to include this word because there are actually dozens of Spanish words that end in the suffix -ación, the equivalent of “-ation” in English. Información (“information”), decoloración (“discoloration”)…we could keep going. 

This suffix comes from Latin, and that’s why it ended up being used in Spanish and English, as well as other languages. In all of the examples we’ve provided, English and Spanish share both the origin of the stem (which is also Latin) and the origin of the suffix. That’s why they’re all so similar!

Example: animal
Translation: “animal”

This second example actually shares the same spelling, but they’re pronounced a bit differently. This is another example of a word that comes from Latin, explaining its similarity to the Spanish counterpart.

Turtle

2. Verbs

As we explained, Spanish verbs have many more conjugations than those in English. Basically, while you could pretty much count English conjugations on one hand, Spanish verbs have a different conjugation for each person in the singular and plural forms, in all tenses and moods. In all verb conjugations, every person shares the same stem but has a different ending. Let’s look at how the verb comer (“to eat”) would conjugate:

  • Yo como → “I eat”
  • Tú comes → “You eat”
  • Él / ella come → “He / she eats”
  • Nosotros comemos → “We eat”
  • Vosotros coméis → “You eat” (plural)
  • Ellos / ellas comen → “They (masculine / feminine) eat”

Each form has the stem com, but there is a different ending for every person. Once again, if you would like to learn more about conjugations, remember to check out our dedicated article.

Family Eating Ice Cream

Just like English, Spanish has regular and irregular verbs. However, English verb irregularities are pretty much only obvious in the past and participle forms. In Spanish, because verbs need to conjugate for every person, these irregularities become much more obvious. As explained in our article about verbs, irregularities can occur at different times. Sometimes, a verb might only be irregular in a specific person in the present simple, for example. Other times, a verb can be fully irregular in every tense and conjugation.

Speaking of irregular verbs, there are two verbs in Spanish we can’t ignore: ser and estar. If you’re already familiar with Spanish, you might know what we’re talking about. But in case you don’t, ser and estar both mean “to be,” and you must use the correct one depending on the context. 

Other Romance languages have equivalents to these verbs—être and avoir in French or essere and stare in Italian, for example—but English doesn’t. Instead, these two verbs, despite having different meanings, share a  translation in English (“to be”). To give you an idea of what differentiates them, ser usually indicates stability, while estar indicates something temporary. Here’s an example of each:

Example: Soy español.
Translation: “I’m Spanish.”

Example: Estoy triste.
Translation: “I’m sad.”

Sad Man

In the first example (featuring ser), we establish something permanent, which is the fact that I’m Spanish. In the second example (featuring estar), we refer to something temporary. Usually, if we say we’re sad, like in the example, we mean that we’re sad in the moment or that we’re sad for a while, but not forever! 

3. Nouns

The main difference between Spanish nouns and English nouns is that Spanish nouns have grammatical gender: masculine and feminine. Honestly, just be thankful we don’t have any more genders (many languages have three or more!). That said, this is a facet of Spanish grammar you really need to know!

We’ll show you an example of a noun for each gender:

  • el horno (“the oven”) is masculine
  • la nevera (“the fridge”) is feminine

You might be wondering what makes an oven masculine and a fridge feminine. Nothing, really. It’s all based on its etymology and the evolution of the language.

For most words, you’ll need to memorize their gender along with their meaning. However, there are words that have more obvious genders. For example, una mujer (“a woman”) is obviously a feminine word, and un hombre (“a man”) is most definitely masculine.

We do have a super-simple tip to help you determine if a word is masculine or feminine: Words that are masculine almost always end with an -o, while words that are feminine almost always end with an -a. This tip isn’t fool-proof, but it will help you out in the vast majority of situations.

Keep in mind that nouns must always agree with the article in gender and number. You might have noticed that in the examples we’ve given you, because they were all accompanied by articles.

There’s a lot more we could explain about nouns in Spanish, but it might be easier for you to read our article on nouns.

4. Adjectives

There are a few basic things that you need to know about adjectives in Spanish. First of all, adjectives must always agree with the noun they accompany in gender and number. We’ll give you some examples using the adjective negro (“black”):

SingularPlural
MasculineCoche negro (“Black car”)Coches negros (“Black cars”)
FeminineCasa negra (“Black house”)Casas negras (“Black houses”)

While looking at these examples, you might have noticed that the noun was placed before the adjective. In Spanish, most adjectives are placed after the noun like this, though there are a few exceptions.

If you feel like you need to learn more about Spanish adjectives, here’s an article that’s perfect for you!

Black Car

5. Negation

Today, we’ll provide a brief overview of Spanish negation. Essentially, what you need to know is that you form basic negative sentences in Spanish by placing the word no before the verb. Here are a couple of examples:

Example: No tengo coche.
Translation: “I don’t have a car.”

Example: Hoy Martín no quiere ir al colegio.
Translation: “Martín doesn’t want to go to school today.”

You may have noticed that while the adverb in the last example was in a different position than in English, the negative word remained in the same location in both versions: between the subject—unless it’s omitted in Spanish—and the verb.

Kid Skipping Class

6. How SpanishPod101.com Can Help You Master Spanish

This article only provided a brief Spanish grammar overview, but you probably noticed that for every topic, we linked to another article or lesson that went more in-depth. 

Do you feel like you need more Spanish grammar help? Create your free lifetime account on SpanishPod101.com and gain access to tons of lessons on every Spanish-related topic imaginable. Give it a try, and you’ll start learning Spanish like never before!

In the meantime, let us know in the comments which aspect of Spanish grammar is most difficult for you. We look forward to hearing from you, and will do our best to help.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish

All About the Subjunctive Spanish Mood

Thumbnail

Do you know the names of all the verbal moods and tenses in English (or in your native language)? You might know a few, you might know all of them, or you might not even be familiar with any of them. Knowing the names isn’t so important, unless you’re a huge fan of grammar or you study something related to linguistics. But, even if you don’t know all these names, you know how to use them, don’t you? Otherwise you wouldn’t make much sense in your native language.

We’re going to teach you everything you need to know about the subjunctive Spanish mood and all its tenses, which is going to be incredibly helpful for your Spanish. 

This is what’s important: not what we call them—even though it’s still helpful when learning them—but knowing how to use them and understanding the differences between the different moods and tenses. In real life, no one is going to ask you the difference between infinitive and subjunctive, but you must learn them in order to be fluent! Start with a bonus, and download the Must-Know Beginner Vocabulary PDF for FREE! (Logged-In Member Only)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. What is a Grammatical Mood?
  2. Infinitive vs. Subjunctive
  3. Subjunctive Spanish Tenses
  4. Uses of Subjunctive
  5. How SpanishPod101.com Can Help You Master Spanish

1. What is a Grammatical Mood?

Just like we explained in our article on conjugations, verb conjugations are divided into different groups that we call moods, or modos in Spanish.

Even though there are a few more grammatical moods than the ones we’ll cover today, in Spanish, there are three main verbal moods: infinitivo (“infinitive”), subjuntivo (“subjunctive”), and imperativo (“imperative”). 

The third one, imperativo, is the easiest to explain because it’s not divided into several tenses like the other two moods. Instead, it only refers to very specific forms, which are the ones we use to give orders to someone. For example, if you want to make someone sing, you’ll say: ¡Canta! or ¡Cantad! (“Sing!”), depending on whether you’re telling one person (the first example) or more than one (the second example).

Man Studying

The other two moods, infinitive and subjunctive, are the ones we use every time we speak. Whether we want to use the present tense, past tense, or future tense, it will always be a part of one of these two moods. We’ll need to use one or the other depending on what we mean to say.

In today’s article, we’ll be focusing on the Spanish subjunctive mood, but before we do that, we need to explain some of the differences between subjunctive and infinitive, so that you can understand it more easily.

2. Infinitive vs. Subjunctive

Let’s start with the indicative mood. In Spanish, indicative essentially refers to facts, as well as beliefs. Here’s an example: 

  • El agua se congela a 0 ºC.
    “Water freezes at 0 ºC.”

This is definitely a fact, which means it can’t be argued against, so we use the indicative mood.

Man Climbing Ice

As opposed to indicative, subjunctive Spanish marks anything that isn’t a fact. Among others, this includes hypothetical statements or something you wish had or hadn’t happened. For example: 

  • No quiero que te hagas daño.
    “I don’t want you to get hurt.”

In the example above, it’s not something that has happened, so it’s not a fact. Instead, this mood has been used to refer to something you wish wouldn’t happen. We hope this doesn’t sound too confusing. If it does, don’t worry, we’ll fix it.

You might not know this, but the subjunctive mood actually exists in English as well. It’s not as widely used as it is in Spanish, and when it is used, it’s not as obvious. Let’s look at the following examples:

  • “If I were you, I would go to the doctor.”
  • “I wish you were here.”

In the first example, we don’t say “I was,” but “I were.” This is because it’s in the subjunctive mood! In the second example, it shouldn’t surprise us that we use the form “were,” because that’s the form we use for the second person “you.” But it might surprise us that it’s in the past, instead of the present, as in “I wish you are here.” That doesn’t make sense, right? Well, that’s because we need the subjunctive mood, just like in Spanish. So, of course, when translated into Spanish, these two sentences also use the subjunctive mood.

  • Si fuese tú, iría al médico.
    “If I were you, I would go to the doctor.”
  • Ojalá estuvieras aquí. 
    “I wish you were here.”

3. Subjunctive Spanish Tenses

The subjunctive mood, as we’ve already mentioned, is divided into several tenses. Do you remember our previous article on conjugations? In that article, we had examples of the subjunctive conjugations of a few different verbs. Here, because we don’t want to repeat ourselves, we’re only going to show you one verb, specifically the verb cantar (“to sing”). But you can always check that article again if you need to look at the subjunctive tables.

In Spanish, the “present” (presente) and “past tenses” (pretéritos) of the subjunctive are used quite often, but the two future tenses (futuro simple and futuro compuesto) are never used. They’re included in the following subjunctive Spanish tenses chart so you’re aware that they exist, but there’s no need to learn them. If you ever ask a native Spanish-speaker about them, they wouldn’t even know how to use them!

Note that these tenses don’t have a direct translation in English, but we’ll use them in the examples we’ll give you below.

Simple tenses

SubjectPresentePretérito imperfectoFuturo simple
Yocantecantara or cantasecantare 
cantescantaras or cantasescantares 
Él/Ellacantecantara or cantasecantare
Nosotros/ascantemoscantáramos or cantásemoscantáremos
Vosotros/ascantéiscantarais or cantaseiscantareis
Ellos/ascantencantaran or cantasencantaren

Compound tenses

SubjectPretérito perfecto compuestoPretérito pluscuamperfectoFuturo compuesto
Yohaya cantadohubiera or hubiese cantadohubiere cantado
hayas cantadohubieras or hubieses cantadohubieres cantado
Él/Ellahaya cantadohubiera or hubiese cantadohubiere cantado
Nosotros/ashayamos cantadohubiéramos or hubiésemos cantadohubiéremos cantado
Vosotros/ashayáis cantadohubierais or hubieseis  cantadohubiereis cantado
Ellos/ashayan cantadohubieran or hubiesen cantadohubieren cantado

Singer on Stage

4. Uses of Subjunctive

When do you use subjunctive Spanish? As we’ve said before, the subjunctive mood is generally used in sentences that are not facts. We think you’ll find it useful to take a look at the following list of specific uses:

a) Expressing Emotions

You can use the Spanish subjunctive to express feelings or emotions. Anytime you want to say that some action makes you sad, or happy, or angry, you’ll need to use the subjunctive mood.

  • Me entristece que te vayas a vivir tan lejos.
    “It saddens me that you’re going to live so far away.”
  • Me alegró que se hubieran decidido a adoptar un bebé. 
    “It made me happy that they decided to adopt a baby.”
Women with Baby

b) Wishes 

As we’ve said before, the subjunctive is often used to express wishes. But before we get into that, we’ll have to tell you about a more basic kind of wish. When all you want to say is something you want, we just use the infinitive form of the verb, as we explained in our previous article about Spanish sentence patterns

  • Quiero comer galletas. 
    “I want to eat cookies.”

However, sometimes we need to express a wish related to a different subject than the main subject of the sentence. For that, we might use a full sentence, such as in the following examples:

  • Espero que te recuperes pronto. 
    “I hope you get better soon.”
  • Mi madre quería que estudiara Arquitectura
    “My mother wanted me to study Architecture.”

Or instead of using a full sentence, we might do something similar to the next example. This sentence uses the word ojalá, which can’t be translated literally into English, but can be understood as “hopefully.” This word can only be used with the subjunctive mood.

  • Ojalá hayas aprobado
    “Hopefully you have passed.”

Some other verbs we use to express wishes are gustar (“to like”), preferir (“to prefer”), desear (“to wish”), and apetecer (“to feel like”).

c) Requests or Commands

We always use the subjunctive mood when we need to request or command something (unless we use the imperative!). In this case, we’re giving you two very similar examples, but in different verb tenses.

  • Me ha pedido que vaya a ver a la abuela
    “She has asked me to go see grandma.”
  • Me pidió que fuera a ver a la abuela. 
    “She asked me to go see grandma.”
Grandma and Grandchildren

Other verbs you might use as well as pedir (“to ask”) are ordenar (“to command”) and prohibir (“to forbid”).

d) Doubts

As you might remember, we said that sometimes the subjunctive is used when something isn’t a fact. When someone expresses a fact, but you’re not sure it’s true, you can express doubt by using the subjunctive mood.

  • No creo que sea verdad. 
    “I don’t think it’s true.”
  • Dudó de que estuviéramos diciendo la verdad. 
    “She doubted we were telling the truth.”

In the case of doubts, we won’t always use verbs, and there are some expressions that will help you: tal vez / quizá (both mean “maybe”) and seguramente / probablemente (both mean “probably”). In the case of these words, we can use both the indicative and the subjunctive, but we’ll use the subjunctive when our doubt is greater.

  • Seguramente está en casa
    “She’s probably home.” (Indicative)
  • Seguramente esté en casa
    “She’s probably home.” (Subjunctive)

e) Opinions

When expressing your opinion, notice that we use the indicative in positive sentences, like in the following example: 

  • Creo que se lo está pasando bien. 
    “I think he’s having a good time.”

Subjunctive, however, is used in negative sentences: 

  • No creo que se lo esté pasando bien. 
    “I don’t think he’s having a good time.”

To express an opinion, other verbs we can use besides creer (“to believe”) are pensar, opinar, considerar… They’re all different synonyms for the verbs “to think” and “to believe.”

5. How SpanishPod101.com Can Help You Master Spanish

We know the subjunctive isn’t the easiest (or most fun) subject to learn, but it’s necessary if you really want to learn Spanish. But grammar isn’t the only thing you can learn with us. At SpanishPod101.com, you’ll learn everything you need to become fluent in Spanish.

Did we answer all your questions about this topic? If not, feel free to reach out in the comments and we’ll do our best to help you out! 

If you felt like this was a bit too hard for you right now, remember that we have material for all levels, from absolute beginner to advanced. With us, you can learn grammar, vocabulary, and conversation skills—and you’ll be speaking Spanish in no time!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish

Is Spanish Hard to Learn, and Should You Start Learning?

Thumbnail

There are many reasons why you should learn Spanish, and truth be told, everyone who’s looking to learn has their own special reason. Some learners might want to move to a Spanish-speaking country, while others might have a Spanish-speaking significant other. Some learners might just like the language, while others think that it’s a useful language to learn. And it is! In fact, Spanish is one of the most useful languages to learn in the world. 

But is Spanish hard to learn, as well? 

Well, it has the second-largest number of native speakers (after Mandarin Chinese) and it’s the fourth most-spoken language overall. Anyone who’s able to speak at least two of the most-spoken languages in the world already has a huge advantage compared to millions and millions of people. Have we convinced you yet?

Any reason you have for wanting to learn Spanish, or any other language you might be interested in, are valid. Once you start, we’re all in this together. But before you do, we’re sure you still want us to answer a few more questions about why Spanish is hard for some learners (and what things about it aren’t so bad). 

Here we go!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Learning Spanish Table of Contents
  1. So, is it Hard to Learn Spanish?
  2. What are the Hardest and Easiest Parts of Learning Spanish?
  3. I Want to Learn Spanish. Where Should I Start?
  4. What Advice Would You Give to a New Spanish Learner?
  5. Why is SpanishPod101.com Great for Learning Spanish?

1. So, is it Hard to Learn Spanish?

This is a question you’ve probably asked before while deciding whether to start learning Spanish. Maybe you’ve asked someone you know who’s learned the language, or a native Spanish-speaker, or even the Internet. In fact, that’s probably how you got to this article! It’s not an easy question to answer, because there are some factors you need to consider here. Let’s take a look at the main factor.

If you already speak another Romance language, such as French or Italian, you’ll already be familiar with the structures of the language and a lot of the vocabulary, which will make things much easier for you. This doesn’t mean that someone whose native language is Portuguese, for instance, will be able to learn Spanish immediately. But it will definitely be easier than it would be for someone who has never been around languages that are so close to Spanish.

For example, the word casa (“house”) in Spanish is also casa in both Portuguese and Italian. This is a phenomenon you’ll find going on with many other words, too! However, even though French is also a Romance language, it actually uses a very different word (maison) for “house.” Other words, nevertheless, will be the same or very similar. So there’s a bit of everything, really! 

But if your native language isn’t a Romance language, there’s no need to worry, because Spanish is still not counted among the most difficult languages. Just take a quick look at this article titled “The 20 Most Difficult Languages in the World to Learn.” You’ll notice that Spanish is not on it. That’s good news, isn’t it?

In conclusion, to answer the question we originally asked: No, it’s not hard to learn Spanish. Just like everything else in life, it will have some difficulties. But overall, it’s not that hard and anyone can learn it, no matter their native language, age, or any other factor that you’ve been told might affect your ability to learn a second language. Yay!

Happy Girl Surrounded by Money

2. What are the Hardest and Easiest Parts of Learning Spanish?

The answer to this question depends on who you ask and what your mother tongue is, but we’re pretty sure we can give you the type of answer you’re looking for. Here, we’ll cover what makes Spanish hard to learn as well as things that aren’t so bad for most students! 

A- Verbs

Every language, like it or not, has some hard parts. In this case, we believe that the hardest part of learning Spanish is the verbs, unless your native tongue is another Romance language with a similar number of conjugations. Spanish verbs are more complicated than verbs in English, because English doesn’t have as many conjugations.

The topic of ser and estar, two of the main Spanish verbs, is a particularly tough one. But lucky for you, we have the perfect article for that, as well as articles for many other difficult topics! This isn’t something you’ll have to worry about at the beginning of your Spanish learning, but it’s good to keep in mind for future reference.

Kid Struggling with Homework

B- Pronunciation

There are many easy aspects of learning Spanish, we think. For example, pronunciation, though it might seem tricky at first, is easy once you understand all the sounds. If you follow the rules, you know there aren’t going to be any surprises. We pronounce everything the way it’s spelled, with a couple of rare exceptions, such as not pronouncing the letter u in the combinations que, qui, gue, and gui (like in the English word “guitar”).

Spanish has a total of five vowel sounds, which is heavenly compared to the ridiculous number of vowel sounds in English. In this sense, Spanish likes to keep it simple. 

C- Vocabulary

Even though English isn’t a Romance language, there are thousands of words that sound very similar and that you’ll be able to identify immediately. Here are some examples:

  • Example: elefante
  • Translation: “elephant”
  • Example: invitación
  • Translation: “invitation”
  • Example: memoria 
  • Translation: “memory”

As you can see, despite the slight differences in spelling, you can immediately understand the meaning of these words in Spanish. There are also words that are spelled identically in both languages (idea, hotel, festival…). In most cases, the pronunciation won’t be exactly the same, but it sure does make the learning process a little smoother! 

D- False Friends

Be careful about false friends, though! False friends are words that also sound very similar, but have different meanings. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

  • Example: constipado
  • Translation: “to have a cold”

But you might have thought of a different word:

  • Example: estreñido
  • Translation: “constipated”

And now let’s look at a different pair from the opposite perspective. You might want to be careful whenever you say you’re embarrassed by something:

  • Example: embarazada
  • Translation: “pregnant”

The word you actually want to use is: 

  • Example: avergonzado/a
  • Translation: “embarrassed”

Keep in mind that most false friends won’t be as surprising as these! We selected the most shocking ones, but they’re exceptions. 

3. I Want to Learn Spanish. Where Should I Start?

We know that the first stages of learning a language can be overwhelming. There are many different ways to go about starting your language-learning journey, and it’s important to find the best one for you. We recommend starting with the basics. Before trying to learn too much at once, learn how to say “hello” and a few more basic words and phrases.

Beginning of a Race

Usually, one of the first lessons when you learn a new language is how to introduce yourself and how to ask another person to introduce themselves. You normally don’t start learning complicated grammar rules straight away. Instead, the idea is to build your skills up slowly.

4. What Advice Would You Give to a New Spanish Learner?

If you’ve just decided to start learning Spanish, welcome! You’re in for a treat. 

It won’t always be an easy ride, and some days you might find yourself getting stuck in a particular aspect of the language, but don’t give up! If there’s something you’re struggling with, ask us questions, do more research, or maybe move on to a different aspect for a while. Sometimes, a break is all you need to see things more clearly.

And remember: You won’t get anywhere without practicing! We’re sorry, we also wish we could learn it just like that, but any language requires practice to become fluent! There are many ways you can practice Spanish online, but if you can, we would recommend that you visit Spain and make some local friends.

Group of People Talking

5. Why is SpanishPod101.com Great for Learning Spanish?

At SpanishPod101.com, you’ll find everything you need to learn Spanish, from beginner lessons to more advanced ones. We have tons of free content for you to use, and we have so much more to offer if you upgrade your account to one of our Premium plans

If you upgrade your plan, you’ll have access to hundreds of useful lessons, videos, quizzes, and all of the vocabulary and grammar tools you need to become fluent in Spanish. In our most complete plan, Premium PLUS, you’ll even have access to a teacher who will be there just for you, so your program will be completely personalized. This means that if you ever have doubts or questions, you’ll be able to get help whenever you need it. 

Speaking of questions, feel free to drop us a comment with any questions or concerns you have about learning Spanish. We’ll be glad to help you out!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Learning Spanish

The 9 Most Common Mistakes in Spanish for Learners

Thumbnail

We know that learning Spanish can be a bit frustrating, especially for native English-speakers. Trying to understand the language’s structure is intimidating to many—but calm down! No matter how many mistakes in Spanish you make along the way, the most important thing is to enjoy the process and learn step-by-step.

Knowing what to look out for will help you improve your Spanish language skills a lot more quickly. In this article, we’ll introduce you to the nine most common mistakes when learning Spanish. We’ll review a list of common mistakes of English speakers in Spanish, from pronunciation and vocabulary, to gender agreement and false friends. At the end, we’ll also cover some funny errors in Spanish that you should avoid at all costs! This guide will help you recognize many of the most common Spanish mistakes, and give you a better idea of how to correct them. 

In addition to this guide, we have a number of activities on SpanishPod101.com that you can use to practice everything you learn in this lesson.

Let’s get started!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. Pronunciation Mistakes
  2. False Friends and Similar-Sounding Words
  3. Gender and Number
  4. Using Unnecessary Pronouns: You & I
  5. Prepositions
  6. Grammatical Mistakes
  7. Word Order Mistakes
  8. Politeness Level
  9. The Most Common Embarrassing Mistakes
  10. To Sum Up…

Man Studying

1. Pronunciation Mistakes

Spanish pronunciation mistakes are some of the most common errors plaguing foreign learners. There are words and letters that require more forceful vocalization than English speakers are used to, and other words that contain silent letters that Spanish-learners don’t know what to do with.

In this section, we’ll show you some typical Spanish pronunciation mistakes and how to avoid them! 

    → We recommend that you review the Spanish alphabet before jumping into this section.

1 – Use of R, Ñ, J, and H

In Spanish, the sounds for letters like R, Ñ, J, and H have very special characteristics.

For example, a big mistake that many Spanish students make is to not trill the R. When native speakers hear this incorrect pronunciation, it may confuse them. 

Note that we trill the R at the beginning of a word, or the RR when it’s between two vowels. Otherwise, the sound needs to be weak.

Examples:

RROne R at the beginning of a word(Strong sound)One R(Weak sound)
Carro (“Trolley”)Río (“River”)Barato (“Cheap”)
Borrar (“Delete”)Rodilla (“Knee”)Parada (“Stop”)
Perro (“Dog”)Roca (“Rock”)Pera (“Pear”)
Tierra (“Earth”)Remo (“Rowing”)Caricia (“Caress”)

And now a quick note on the other letters:

  • H

    The H in Spanish is usually silent. We’ll talk more about this soon!
  • Ñ

    This letter has a very particular sound that many English-speakers struggle with. It sounds similar to the underlined sound in the words “canyon” and “onion.”
  • J

    The sound of the J is the same as that of the letter G, when the latter is followed by the letters e or i. In Latin American countries, the sound is the same and is very similar to the sound of H in English. But in countries like Spain, there’s a marked difference; for them, the sound of the G tends to occur in the back of the throat.

Teacher Pronunciation

Words with similar sounds:

Words with GWords with J
Geografía (“Geography”)Cerrajería (“Locksmith”)
Religión (“Religion”)Jarra (“Jug”)
Origen (“Origin”)Jirafa (“Giraffe”)
Genio (“Genius”)Caja (“Box”)

2 – How to Pronounce H

You should know that the H in Spanish never makes the English H sound. Here are the basics: 

  • If you see an H accompanied by a C (CH), it will have a sound similar to the CH in “church,” “chocolate,” or “change.”
  • If you see an H without a C, then it’s silent. 

Examples:      

CHH
Cuchillo (“Knife”)Helado (“Ice cream”)
Chino (“Chinese”)Hamburguesa (“Burger”)
Coche (“Car”)Hielo (“Ice”)
Mucho (“A lot”)Cohete (“Rocket”)
Chocolate (“Chocolate”)Cacahuete (“Peanut”)

3 – Pronouncing S and Z in Spain vs. Latin America

The S, C, and  Z

In Spanish from Spain, the C and Z sometimes have the same sound. The rule is simple: when C is accompanied by the letters e or i, and Z with a, o, or u, the pronunciation is done with the tongue in front of the teeth. That is, it emits a slightly more marked sound than that of the S.

Let’s see some examples:

  • Cena (“Dinner”)
  • Zorro (“Fox”)
  • Cielo (“Sky”)

On the other hand, in Latin American Spanish, S, C, and Z have identical pronunciations.

The best way to prevent making a mistake in Spanish here is to familiarize yourself with words that are spelled similarly but have different meanings. In addition, we recommend that you listen to the pronunciation of Spanish from Spain, so that you’ll avoid falling into translation and context errors. 

Similar wordsEnglish translation
Casa / Caza“House” /  “Hunting”
Basar / Bazar“Base on” / “Bazaar”
Abrasar / Abrazar“Burn” / “Hug”

2. False Friends and Similar-Sounding Words

Confused Woman

Several of the common mistakes Spanish-learners make have to do with writing, spelling, and pronunciation. False friends, intonation, and homonymous words frequently trip up new learners, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with these mistakes and their solutions! 

1 – False Friends

The word “Anglicism” may sound familiar to you. This basically refers to the influence that English has had on other languages, including Spanish.

Although this can be a great help to English-speakers, you must be careful! If not, you’ll fall into the trap of false friends.

These are words that look or sound similar to words in English, but have different meanings. Believe it or not, some of the most common mistakes in Spanish are the result of taking false friends at face value.

For example, did you know that the word recordar in Spanish means “remember,” not “record?” Here are some more false friends to look out for:

  • Enviar 
    • “Envy” X
    • “Send” O
  • Éxito 
    • “Exit” X
    • “Success” O 
  • Parada 
    • “Parade” X
    • “Bus stop” O
  • Vaso
    • “Vase” X
    • “Glass” O
  • Suceso 
    • “Success” X
    • “Event” O

2 – Accent and Tones

Accents in Spanish are graphic signs that are written over a letter to indicate the intensity with which that letter should be stressed. During your Spanish studies, you’ll find that several words—even if they’re spelled the same otherwise—take on different meanings depending on whether the accent mark is present or not. 

That said, it’s best to learn how to recognize them in order to avoid embarrassing situations like calling your father “potato” instead of “dad.”

Let’s look at some of the most common Spanish words, with accents and without, with their respective meanings:

SpanishEnglish
Él / El“He” / “The”
Papá / Papa“Father” / “Potato”
¿Por qué? / Porque“Why?” / “Because”
Práctico / Practico“Practical” / “I practice”
Bebé / Bebe“Baby” / “(S)he drinks”
De / Dé“Of” / “Give”
Sí / Si“Yes” / “If”
Esté / Este“Is” / “This”
Está / Esta“I am” (present subjunctive) / “This”
Bañó / Baño“(S)he bathed” / “Bathroom”

3 – Spanish Homonymous Words

More typical Spanish mistakes have to do with homonymous words. The name may sound very technical, but these are simply words that have identical or similar pronunciations, but different meanings. In this case, there are no accent marks to distinguish between them. 

In this category, there are homographs and homophones.

Example:

  • María buscó diferentes citas de autor para su tesis doctoral.
    “María looked for different authors’ quotes for her doctoral thesis.”
  • Tengo una cita romántica esta noche.
    “I have a romantic date tonight.”

Both Spanish sentences use the word cita, but the context is completely different. This can also happen with the following words:

  • Alce
    “Moose”
    OR
    Conjugation of the verb “to pick up”
  • Capital
    The capital of a city
    OR
    Money one has collected over the years

4 – Homophones 

These are words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings. You can usually determine which spelling is appropriate based on the context. 

Examples:

  • asta (“stick”) vs. hasta (“still”)
  • grabe (“record”) vs. grave (“serious”)

As we explained previously, Latin Americans and some Spaniards pronounce the letters Z, C, and S exactly the same way. For this reason, the following words are also homophones in those particular regions. In standard Iberian Spanish, however, these words are not homophones.

  • abrasar (“burn”) vs. abrazar (“hug”)
  • Asia (“Asia”) vs. hacia (“towards”)

Question Mark

3. Gender and Number

Other typical Spanish language mistakes that foreign students make involve gender and number. In fact, native Spanish-speakers can easily identify non-native speakers, because these kinds of mistakes are very obvious and Spanish-learners make them all the time.

In Spanish, gender refers to whether a noun is masculine or feminine. For example, una mesa (“a table”) is feminine, while un vaso (“a glass”) is masculine.

Number refers to whether a noun is singular or plural; keep in mind that you must use the appropriate articles based on the number! For example, las mesas (“the tables”) is plural, while la mesa (“the table”) is singular.

How can you know what gender and number a noun is?

In terms of gender, feminine nouns generally end in -a or -e: puerta (“door”) / llave (“key”). On the other hand, masculine nouns generally end with -o: vaso (“glass”) / suelo (“floor”) / baño (“bathroom”). 

A noun’s article will give information on both its gender and number, in most cases. We’ll talk more about this in the following sections. 

1 – Plural vs. Singular (Is vs. Are)

Many students get confused about singular vs. plural nouns and their articles. In particular, the use of es and son (“is” and “are”) trips up new learners. 

To help you avoid Spanish mistakes like this, you should know the difference between a phrase in the plural and another in the singular. 

If a noun has an -S at the end and is also accompanied by son (“are”), it’s plural. On the other hand, if the noun does not carry an -S and is accompanied by es (“is”), it’s singular.

  • Las iglesias son grandes. (“The churches are big.”) O
    Las iglesias es grandes. (“The churches is big.”) X
  • Los edificios son altos. (“The buildings are tall.”) – Plural
  • El edificio es alto. (“The building is tall.”) – Singular

2 – Gender: Masculine vs. Feminine 

Remember: Nouns and their articles are always going to be masculine or feminine. Here’s a chart to help you differentiate between the articles and what they mean:

Singular M.Plural M.Singular F.Plural F.
El / “The”Los / “The”La / “The”Las / “The”
Un / “A”Unos / “Some”Una / “A”Unas / “Some”

Examples: 

  • La chica es muy inteligente. (“The girl is very intelligent.”) O
  • Una chica es muy inteligente. (“A girl is very intelligent.”) X
  •  Mi hermana compró un gran libro. (“My sister bought a great book.”) O
  • Mi hermana compró el gran libro. (“My sister bought the great book.”) X

Now let’s see the difference between singular masculine and feminine articles: 

  • El árbol está floreciendo. NOT La árbol está floreciendo.
    “The tree is flowered.”
  • La puerta está abierta. NOT El puerta está abierto.
    “The door is open.”

Word Exchange

4. Using Unnecessary Pronouns: You & I 

As a general rule, pronouns in English are indispensable. But this is not the case in Spanish. This is largely an advantage for foreign students, as it makes sentences much easier to write and speak.

For example:

  • (Tú) Comes mucho.
    “You eat a lot.”

However, many English-speakers, out of habit, construct their Spanish sentences using pronouns where they’re not needed. 

Of course, this mistake isn’t too serious. The worst that will happen is that native speakers may joke that you speak like a robot or, in more colloquial words, “speak as an Indian.”

Just try to remember that pronouns are generally irrelevant when speaking, since the verbs should already be conjugated to portray who you’re talking about.

  • Yo voy sacar el perro a pasear. (“I’m going to take the dog for a walk.”)
    = Voy a sacar el perro a pasear. (“[I’m] going to take the dog for a walk.”)
  • Tú necesitas descansar más. (“You need to rest more.”)
    = Necesitas descansar más. (“You need to rest more.”)

5. Prepositions 

“I go to your house by dinner with you.” 

Sounds weird, right? 

Maybe you’ve noticed similar mistakes when listening to native Spanish-speakers converse in English. But did you know that the reverse is also true? Many English-speakers use incorrect prepositions when speaking Spanish! 

In this section, we’ll pay special attention to two of the most commonly used prepositions in Spanish: por and para.

When to Use Them

Por is used to explain causation or motivation, while para is used to refer to the purpose of an action.

Many English-speakers struggle to differentiate between these two prepositions, and as a result, create very confusing sentences. 

For example, it’s not correct to say: Voy a tu casa por cenar contigo. Instead, you should say: Voy a tu casa para cenar contigo. (“I go to your house for dinner with you.”) In this case, you’re explaining that you’re going to the house for a specific reason, which is to have dinner.

Examples with por:

  • Vine a Madrid por mi trabajo.
    “I came to Madrid for my work.”
  • Voy de viaje por unos días.
    “I’m going on a trip for a few days.”

Examples with para:

  • Utilizo mi coche para ir a trabajar.
    “I use my car to go to work.”
  • Este regalo es para ti.
    “This gift is for you.”
  • El doctor recetó antibióticos para la infección.
    “The doctor prescribed antibiotics for the infection.”

6. Grammatical Mistakes

Many English-speakers struggle with Spanish grammar. 

To help you avoid making too many grammatical errors, we’re going to leave you some of the most common examples. By internalizing them, you’ll greatly boost your Spanish fluency!

Thinking Girl

Confusing Spanish Verbs: SER vs. ESTAR

If you’ve studied even a little Spanish, you probably know already that there are some aspects of Spanish grammar that are complicated for English-speakers because they don’t exist in English. 

One of them is the difference between ser and estar. In many cases, it can be easy to know which one to use. But there are certain situations where distinguishing between them is more difficult. 

With time and practice, you’ll see yourself making more and more progress, and better understanding these concepts.

Using ser:

Ser is used to describe permanent or long-lasting characteristics/states of being. 

For example:

  • El hombre es alto. (“The man is tall.”)

Using estar:

Estar is used to talk about location or temporary characteristics/states of being. 

For example:

  • Paris está en Francia. (“Paris is in France.”)

More examples:

Incorrect XCorrect OEnglish Sentence
Ella es dormida.                   Ella está dormida.“She is asleep.”        
Mi vecino está amable.  Mi vecino es amable.“My neighbor is kind.”     
La mujer está delgada.   La mujer es delgada. “The woman is thin.”        

“To like” vs. Gustar 

New learners often make mistakes in Spanish when using the verb gustar

Often, when translating the verb gustar into English, we give it the meaning “to like.” However, note that there are marked differences between the English “to like” and the Spanish gustar.

Take this sentence for example: 

  • Me gusta mucho la paella.
    “I like paella very much.”

Here, me gusta really means something along the lines of “it gives me pleasure.” In the example sentence, the paella gives the speaker pleasure, making the speaker the object of the sentence.

The mistake that some learners make is to use the Spanish pronoun yo (“I”) and treat themselves as the subject or doer. So they normally say:

Yo me gusto la paella mucho, which is incorrect. 

If you want to say that you like the paella, you have to omit the pronoun yo and only say: Me gusta la paella.

7. Word Order Mistakes 

English-speakers often make word order mistakes when learning Spanish. This usually happens for two reasons:

1) They directly translate English phrases into Spanish, word for word.

2) They believe that the first noun they hear is always the subject of the sentence.

Let’s see some examples.

  • Adjectives 

By now, you should know that in Spanish, the adjectives usually go after the subject: 

English Sentence       Incorrect Translation         Correct Translation
“That’s a red car.”Ese es un rojo coche.Ese es un coche rojo.
“The white door”La blanca puertaLa puerta blanca
“A large stadium”Un grande estadioUn estadio grande

  • The Effect of Word Order on the Sentence’s Meaning

In Spanish, the meaning of a sentence can be the same even if the word order is changed.

Example: 

  • Sarah le cantó una canción a Marco.
  • A  Marco le cantó una canción Sarah.  

In both sentences, Sarah sang the song. It doesn’t matter that Marco’s name came first in the second sentence.

8. Politeness Level

First things first, let’s talk about what this means in Spain vs. Latin America: In Spain, courtesy is less common than in Latin American countries.

Here’s an example of things you would hear in Spain:

  • ¿Me pone una caña, cuando pueda? (“Can I have a beer when you can?”)
  • ¿Tiene usted la hora? (“Do you have the time?”)

In Latin America, they use more formalities when speaking:

  • Hola, ¿me das una cerveza, por favor? (“Hello, can you give me a beer, please?”)
  • ¿Buenas tardes, me podría indicar esta dirección? (“Good afternoon, could you give me this address?”)

Tú vs. Usted

is used more with family and friends, while usted is used with people who are older than you and strangers. 

  • Speaking to Strangers / Older People

¿Me podría ayudar con esta dirección, please? (“Could you help me with this address, please?”)

  • Speaking to Family / Friends

¿Me dices la dirección? / ¿Dime la dirección? (“Can you tell me this address, please?”)


People Talking

9. The Most Common Embarrassing Mistakes

To end on a lighter note, here are some mistakes often made by Spanish-learners when they mis-speak a phrase. Pay close attention to avoid the potential embarrassment yourself! 

What you think you’re saying:What you’re saying in Spanish (Incorrect form)What you’re really saying:What you should say(Correct form)
“I’m hot.”Estoy caliente.“I have heat.”Tengo calor.
“I’m embarrassed.”Estoy embarazado (a).“I’m pregnant.”Tengo vergüenza.
“I’m excited.”Estoy excitado.“I’m horny.”Estoy emocionado (a).
“I’m 25 years old.”Tengo 25 anos.“I have 25 anuses.”Tengo 25 años.

10. To Sum Up…

In this article, you learned the nine most common Spanish mistakes. There are many others, but this list is a good place to start; by avoiding these issues, you’ll soon be able to speak with confidence. Believe me, you’ll feel great!

On SpanishPod101.com, you can also find lots of video and audio lessons related to this topic. We have everything you need to further your studies and to keep learning Spanish in a fresh and clear manner.

Before you go, let us know in the comments which common Spanish mistakes you’ve made before. Has our article helped clear up any confusion? We look forward to hearing from you!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish

Top 10 Questions in Spanish and How to Answer Them

Thumbnail

Can you ask questions in Spanish yet? 

We’re sure you’re aware that to master any language, you can’t rely solely on affirmative sentences. You need to know how to ask questions, though some questions are more important than others. This is especially true for non-native speakers who are just starting out. Knowing the right questions can help you survive self-introductions, and others can get you out of sticky situations.  

The first thing you need to learn, if you haven’t yet, are Spanish question words. Knowing these words, as well as the most common questions in Spanish, you can start asking your own questions! You can find a list of Spanish question words in our article about pronouns.

Now, onto our list of Spanish questions and answers for beginners!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. ¿Cómo te llamas? – “What’s your name?”
  2. ¿De dónde eres? – “Where are you from?”
  3. ¿Hablas español? – “Do you speak Spanish?”
  4. ¿Cuánto tiempo llevas estudiando español? – “How long have you been studying Spanish?”
  5. ¿Alguna vez has estado en España? – “Have you ever been in Spain?”
  6. ¿Cómo es…? – “How is…?”
  7. ¿Te gusta la comida española? – “Do you like Spanish food?”
  8. ¿Qué estás haciendo? – “What are you doing?”
  9. ¿Qué te pasa? – “What’s wrong?”
  10. ¿Cuánto cuesta? – “How much is it?”
  11. How SpanishPod101.com Can Help You Master Spanish

1. ¿Cómo te llamas? – “What’s your name?”

Our first question is one that you’ve probably heard before. The literal translation of this question would be something like “How are you called?” But while that might sound weird, you probably realize that this is just the classic question we ask to learn someone’s name. This question is very important, and usually one of the first ones you learn when you start studying Spanish.

First Encounter

Other Ways of Asking this Question

There’s another way to ask the same question, though it’s not as popular as the one above:

¿Cuál es tu nombre? 

This one doesn’t have a strange literal translation. Instead, it just means “Which is your name?” which makes it easier to explain, doesn’t it? Because it’s a near-literal translation of the English question, you might be tempted to use this one instead of ¿Cómo te llamas? But remember that the first one we showed you is more common, so you’ll sound more natural if you use that one.

How to Answer this Question

There are a few different ways of answering this question, and even though some are longer than others, they’re all equally valid. In this case, there’s no one answer that’s most common, except for maybe the last one, which is also the easiest. It’s your lucky day!

Example: Me llamo Francisco. 
Translation: “My name is Francisco.”

Example: Soy Ana.
Translation: “I’m Ana.”

Example: Juan.
Translation: “Juan.”

Something else you might find useful is how to follow your answer after someone has asked you your name. You can add ¿Y tú? (“And you?”) at the end if you would also like to know their name. 

If you’re curious about Spanish names, here’s an article from late 2018 that lists some common names in Spain

2. ¿De dónde eres? – “Where are you from?”

Here’s another one of the most basic Spanish questions that we commonly use when meeting someone for the first time.

Other Ways of Asking this Question

There’s another common way of asking this question, which we use in English as well.

Example: ¿De dónde vienes?
Translation: “Where do you come from?”

How to Answer this Question
Once again, there are different, equally valid answers we can give to a question like this. You can refer to your nationality or to your home country.

Example: Soy húngaro. 
Translation: “I am Hungarian.”

Example: Soy de Hungría.
Translation: “I am from Hungary.”

Example: Vengo de Hungría.
Translation: “I come from Hungary.”

3. ¿Hablas español? – “Do you speak Spanish?”

This is a question that you might be asked, or that you might ask, someday. Of course, you can change it to ask about any other language. For example, if you’re in Spain and you’re talking to someone in Spanish, but you’re not feeling too comfortable yet, you could ask them: ¿Hablas inglés? (“Do you speak English?”) and hope they say yes!

How to Answer this Question

There are a few different answers you could give someone who asks you this question.

There are the simple answers, which you probably already know:

Example: Sí.
Translation: “Yes.”

Example: No.
Translation: “No.”

There’s another simple alternative to “yes” or “no” in case you didn’t understand the question in the first place (which we could say is really another way of telling them you’re not too fluent yet):

Example: ¿Qué?
Translation: “What?”

And a few more elaborate answers:

Example: Un poco. / Un poquito.
Translation: “A bit.” / “A little bit.”

Example: Hablo [un poco] de español.
Translation: “I speak [a bit of] Spanish.”

4. ¿Cuánto tiempo llevas estudiando español? – “How long have you been studying Spanish?”

When you meet someone from Spain and tell them you study Spanish, they might ask how long you’ve been doing that for. 

How to Answer this Question

The answer you give (or that you’re given) will obviously vary, but you have two simple options. One is to just say the short answer:

Example: Un año.
Translation: “One year.”

While this will work just fine, we do have a slightly longer (no panicking, it’s just one extra word!) reply:

Example: Llevo tres meses.
Translation: “[I have been] for three months.”

Girl Studying

Notice that both the question and the “long” answer use the verb llevar. This verb usually means “to bring,” but it’s also used to talk about the amount of time you’ve been doing something for. Another example using this verb would be: Llevo dos años viviendo en Barcelona. (“I’ve been living in Barcelona for two years.”)

5. ¿Alguna vez has estado en España? – “Have you ever been in Spain?”

Following are some useful questions and answers for Spanish-learners who are traveling to a Spanish-speaking country or chatting with someone who’s familiar with Spain.

Other Ways of Asking this Question

Example: ¿Has ido alguna vez a España?
Translation: “Have you ever gone to Spain?”

Example: ¿Has estado en España?
Translation: “Have you been in Spain?”

Example: ¿Alguna vez has visitado España?
Translation: “Have you ever visited Spain?”

Or, a slight variation:

Example: ¿Es la primera vez que vienes a España?
Translation: “Is this the first time you’ve come to Spain?”

How to Answer this Question

This is another yes-or-no question, so we have a couple of obvious answers. However, there are a few more options, including longer answers, that you might like to use if you’re feeling confident enough.

Example: No, nunca he estado.
Translation: “No, I’ve never been there.”

Example: He estado en España dos veces.
Translation: “I’ve been in Spain twice.”

Introducing Yourself

6. ¿Cómo es…? – “How is…?”

This is a more open-ended question that you can alter based on your inquiry; it’s used to ask someone to describe something. In English, the translation will sometimes be something more like: “What’s ___ like?” Here are some examples:

Example: ¿Cómo es Granada en invierno?
Translation: “How is Granada in the winter?”

Example: ¿Cómo es el interior de una pelota?
Translation: “What is the inside of a ball like?”

How to Answer this Question

Because there are so many different questions one could ask, there are even more answers one could give. An example would be to use an adjective, but other times, the question might require a longer explanation.

Example: ¡Es maravilloso!
Translation: “It’s wonderful!”

7. ¿Te gusta la comida española? – “Do you like Spanish food?”

Spaniards are very, very proud of their cuisine. That means that if you’re visiting Spain (or have visited in the past), and you meet someone Spanish, it’s quite likely that they’ll ask you this. In case you’re wondering, they’re expecting you to tell them you love it.

Other Ways of Asking this Question

Here’s another common way to ask this question:

Example: ¿Qué te parece la comida española?
Translation: “What do you think about Spanish food?”

Spanish Omelette

How to Answer this Question

Example: ¡Me encanta! 
Translation: “I love it!”

Example: Me gusta mucho.
Translation: “I like it very much.”

We hope you never use it to answer this question, but we thought we should probably teach you how to say you don’t like it.

Example: No me gusta [nada].
Translation: “I don’t like it [at all].”

8. ¿Qué estás haciendo? – “What are you doing?”

This question is pretty clear, we think! It can be asked in different contexts and with different intentions, but in any case, we understand it.

Other Ways of Asking this Question

We have another similar way of asking this question:

Example: ¿Qué haces?
Translation: “What do you do?”

This is the literal translation, but it may also refer to what one is doing at the moment of asking the question.

How to Answer this Question

Obviously, there are many ways of answering this question, because there are many things you could be doing.

Example: Estoy limpiando mi habitación.
Translation: “I’m cleaning up my room.”

We don’t want to say anything, but in case you ever need it, we thought we’d give you the following example:

Example: No es lo que parece.
Translation: “It’s not what it looks like.”

9. ¿Qué te pasa? – “What’s wrong?”

Sometimes you might feel like someone is down or struggling. You need to know the right question to ask in order to help them out.

Other Ways of Asking this Question

While this version of the question doesn’t have exactly the same meaning, you could still ask it in a similar situation:

Example: ¿Estás bien?
Translation: “Are you okay?”

How to Answer this Question

You never know what reply you’re going to get, but there are a few answers you’re likely to hear. It’s also possible that the person you ask won’t want to give you a direct answer:

Example: Nada
Translation: “Nothing.”

Or maybe they’ll reply with an adjective, by telling you an emotion they’re feeling.

Example: Estoy enfadado/a. 
Translation: “I’m angry.”

Example: Estoy triste.
Translation: “I’m sad.”

Sad Girl with Friend

Perhaps they’ll really explain the reason something’s wrong:

Example: Mi hermana está muy enferma.
Translation: “My sister is very sick.”

10. ¿Cuánto cuesta? – “How much is it?”

If you want to go shopping in a Spanish-speaking country, but you can’t find the price tag, it will be useful to know these simple Spanish questions and answers.

Other Ways of Asking this Question

Example: ¿Cuánto es? 
Translation: “How much is it?”

How to Answer this Question

Example: Cuesta 400 €.
Translation: “It costs 400 €.”

Example: Son 3 €. 
Translation: “It’s 3 €.”

Paying on Card

11. How SpanishPod101.com Can Help You Master Spanish

We hope you found these common Spanish questions and answers useful, and that they inspire you to ask more questions and learn more in order to become fluent in Spanish. 

Are there any questions we missed? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll do our best to help you out! 

Remember there’s a lot more that you can learn at SpanishPod101.com. Check out our great variety of lessons, our free vocabulary lists, and much more.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish