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Lesson Transcript

Fernando: Welcome everyone, I’m Fernando. This is Absolute Beginner Season 1, Lesson 16, Spanish Singles. What’s going on JP?
JP: I’m doing just great, Fernando and I’m pretty excited for this lesson.
Fernando: In this lesson, you will learn about tag questions. This conversation takes place at the library. Our conversation is between Eva and Marco and the speakers will be using a familiar register.
JP: Let’s listen to this dialogue between Eva and Marco.
Eva: Eres soltero, ¿no?
Marco: Sí, ¿por qué?
Eva: Es que mi prima Elena…
Marco: Bueno, ¿es bonita?
English Host: Let’s hear it again, dramatic speed.
Eva: Eres soltero, ¿no?
Marco: Sí, ¿por qué?
Eva: Es que mi prima Elena…
Marco: Bueno, ¿es bonita?
English Host: One more time with hte translation.
Eva: Eres soltero, ¿no?
JP: You're single, right?
Marco: Sí, ¿por qué?
JP: Yes, why?
Eva: Es que mi prima Elena…
JP: It's just that my cousin Elena...
Marco: Bueno, ¿es bonita?
JP: Well, is she pretty?
JP: We’re back. Now, Marco and Eva are having a kind of an odd conversation, seems very simple, but it’s pretty important.
Fernando: Pretty important, someone might get hitched?
JP: That’s right. There’s a chance of love.
Fernando: Eres soltero, ¿no?
JP: And Eva is asking if Marco is single. The word for a single man…
Fernando: soltero
JP: Soltero… Eres soltero, ¿no?, and how does Marco answer?
Fernando: Sí, ¿por qué?
JP: Yes, why? That question ¿por qué? is “why” And Eva is gonna explain.
Fernando: Es que mi prima Elena…
JP: Dot, dot, dot …
Fernando: Mm-hmm.
JP: Eva is suggesting that she has a cousin named Elena. Es que mi prima Elena… It’s that my cousin Elena.
Fernando: It’s just that my cousin Elena, she’s single as well.
JP: You’re making a lot of hand gestures, Fernando.
Fernando: Well, yeah. You know, it’s kind of like, you know…
JP: She’s just trying to not say it.
Fernando: Right. You know how you try to communicate with the rest of your body when words just don’t express what you wanna convey to someone else?
JP: Well, she could just say, “I want you to go out with my cousin Elena.”
Fernando: True.
JP: And it might work on Marco, you know, he’s kind of a pig.
Fernando: Okay. Ouch. I don’t know any Marco but anyway…
JP: I do.
Fernando: That pretty much sums it up, Marco is a pig.
JP: Anyway he interrupts her and says…
Fernando: Well, is she pretty?
JP: Okay, and that’s the end of our dialogue. Bueno ¿es bonita?
Fernando: ¿Es bonita? “Is she pretty?”
JP: Is she pretty? That word for “pretty” is bonita. Let’s review the vocabulary.
Fernando: soltero [natural native speed]
JP: single
Fernando: soltero [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Fernando: soltero [natural native speed]
Fernando: por qué [natural native speed]
JP: why
Fernando: por qué [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Fernando: por qué [natural native speed]
Fernando: el primo [natural native speed]
JP: cousin
Fernando: el primo [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Fernando: el primo [natural native speed]
Fernando: bonito [natural native speed]
JP: pretty
Fernando: bonito [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Fernando: bonito [natural native speed]
JP: Let’s take a closer look at some of these words. So should we start with soltero?
Fernando: Why did you point at me?
JP: I just know, Fernando, that you are not married.
Fernando: Okay. Fair enough.
JP: And you’re not widowed.
Fernando: True.
JP: And you’re not divorced.
Fernando: True as well.
JP: So what is your marital status?
Fernando: Single.
JP: ¿En Español?
Fernando: Soltero
JP: Soltero, okay. Soltero “single/unmarried,” like Fernando.
Fernando: Next word. This is the follow-up question.
JP: The follow-up question - ¿Por qué?
Fernando: ¿Por qué? “Why?”
JP: Why? Fernando, ¿Por qué eres soltero?
Fernando: I’m still trying to answer that one myself.
JP: All right. Well, while you think about it, I’m gonna talk about the grammar of ¿por qué? It’s two words and together, the two words count for an interrogative pronoun. In English, you just say “Why?” And when you ask a por qué question, you’re gonna expect an answer like a reason or an explanation or an excuse, right Fernando?
Fernando: Yeah, sure.
JP: ¿Por qué? What’s the next word?
Fernando: El primo.
JP: El primo. Okay, this is a family-relation word and it literally means “the cousin.” El primo “cousin,” and, of course, that’s a masculine form. We can also use a feminine form.
Fernando: La prima
JP: La prima. That would be a cousin that’s a girl. We can do it in plural as well. Los primos, las primas.
Fernando: And when they’re both mixed, let’s say, a group of cousins, female cousins and male cousins, we would use the male plural form.
JP: We would use los primos.
Fernando: Los primos.
JP: Mm-hmm.
Fernando: Exactly. Last word, bonito.
JP: Bonito. Usually we say this means “nice” and then we have the feminine form, bonita, which is like “pretty.”
Fernando: bonito
JP: Bonito. I always say, “Que bonito día” “What a nice day.”
Fernando: Today is a very nice day.
JP: It is. It’s beautiful in Manhattan.
Fernando: Está muy bonito hoy.
JP: Mm-hmm. It is really nice today. And of course, the feminine form we say with particular joy when we’re talking about a woman…
Fernando: Que bonita.
JP: Ay, que bonita. She’s so pretty. Should we go to the grammar?
Fernando: Yes, we should.
JP: In the grammar today, we’re gonna talk about some tag questions, “preguntas de coletilla.”
Fernando: Preguntas de what?... de coletilla.
JP: de coletilla.
Fernando: Okay.
JP: Tag questions. For those of you who have studied English as a second language, tag questions are enough to make you run screaming out the room because English tag questions are crazy, aren’t they?
Fernando: Oh.
JP: Isn’t it? Isn’t he? Isn’t she? There’s like all those grammar that you have to do. For Spanish, it’s not that difficult actually. What we do usually is just assert the truth of a proposition. So, for example, I can ask, “Breakfast is ready, right?”
Fernando: El desayuno está listo, ¿verdad?
JP: Yes, Fernando you ended the sentence with, ¿verdad?
Fernando: I could have ended it with: El desayuno está listo, ¿no?
JP: ¿No? These are tag questions, ¿verdad? and ¿no?. These are the tag questions and the effect they have is to make whatever comes before it into a question.
Fernando: But notice how I intonate these words.
JP: Yes.
Fernando: That’s also an important part of tag questions in Spanish.
JP: So, let’s hear that example again. “Breakfast is ready, right?”
Fernando: El desayuno está listo, ¿verdad?
JP: ¿Verdad? The part that came beforehand, the supposition, El desayuno está listo, “Breakfast is ready.” That is a declarative sentence. We could have put a period after it and then walked away. But we didn’t, we made it into a question just by asking that tag question, ¿verdad?
Fernando: I never walk away from breakfast either.
JP: Well, maybe you can walk toward breakfast.
Fernando: Yes. What other tag question examples do we have, JP?
JP: Oh well, there are plenty in Spanish and before I give you a list of them, I just wanna say that that intonation that you mentioned earlier is gonna make it obvious to you that it’s a tag question. So even if you hear one that’s not on this list that we’re about to give you, you’re gonna know it’s a tag question because it goes “eh...?” like Scooby Doo, right? Eh…?
Fernando: That’s why he’s so popular in Spanish-speaking countries.
JP: Because he asks tag questions as a dog.
Fernando: Yes.
JP: All right. You already mentioned two of them, ¿verdad? and ¿no?
Fernando: And I will mention more.
JP: Oh, good.
Fernando: ¿Está bien?
JP: ¿Está bien? That’s a good one. ¿Está bien? “Is that okay?”
Fernando: Voy a mencionar algunas más, ¿está bien?
JP: Fernando, “¿está bien?” is a tag question.
Fernando: ¿Está bien?
JP: Yes.
Fernando: Okay.
JP: That’s a great one. Another one that we can use is - ¿No es así?
Fernando: For example, England has a good soccer team, ¿no es así?
JP: Inglaterra tiene una buena selección nacional, ¿no es así?
Fernando: There you go. England has a good national team, right?
JP: ¿No es así?, literally, it is “is it not so?”
Fernando: Is it not so?
JP: Is it not thus? In Spanish - ¿No es así? Did we already say ¿cierto?
Fernando: No, we haven’t.
JP: Okay. ¿Cierto?, can be used as a tag question as well.
Fernando: Hoy vas a lavar ropa, ¿cierto?
JP: Today, you’re going to do laundry.
Fernando: No, I’m asking you, JP.
JP: Correct? Is it true?
Fernando: Just answer the question, JP.
JP: The answer, yes. Today, it is my laundry day. I’m not gonna go out tonight.


JP: All right, for now, it’s time to say goodbye. Hasta luego.
Fernando: Adiós.