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Lizy: Buenos días, soy Lizy Stoliar.
Alan: Alan La Rue here. “Can you speak slower, please?” Bienvenidos a todos. Lizy, ¿cómo te va?
Lizy: Super bien, Alan. And how are you?
Alan: Super bien, wow I like that. Well I am well too Lizy. Today’s lesson picks up where we left off last time looking at different ways that we can use the verb “poder”, “to be able.”
Lizy: Right. The conversation that we will be looking at shortly takes place in the famous cathedral de Lima.
Alan: Yma is our tour guide who is leading a bilingual tour speaking Spanish and English. For our purposes, we will be looking at what she says in Spanish but we will want to remember that she is bilingual.
Lizy: Sounds like a good one.
Alan: So today as we listen to this conversation, we are going to want to get back to the state of mind we’ve been in for the last two lessons thinking about the verb “poder” and the ideas of ability and potential.
Lizy: Alan, one quick question.
Alan: Sure.
Lizy: Well, the verb “poder” is a really common verb right?
Alan: Definitely.
Lizy: If you had to decide, what would you say are the seven most useful verbs to know in Spanish?
Alan: Uff, hard question Lizy. I haven’t even had my coffee this morning and you are asking me what are the seven most useful verbs to know in Spanish. Well, umm, I think “ser” and “estar” which both mean “to be” are very important. The verb “hacer” which means “to do”, “poder”, “to be able.” Let’s see “querer”, “to want”, how about “ir”, “to go” and well since we are in such a good mood this morning, let’s not forget “amar”, “to love.”
Lizy: Ah Alan, you surprise me with your sensitivity. Now let’s listen to the conversation.
Alan: Immerse yourself in what you are about to hear. If you’d like, listen to the conversation a few times before moving on to the vocabulary and commentary. So get up.
Lizy: Ahora sí.
Alan: Here we go.
YMA: Ahora, continuamos con el altar.
MARISSA: ¿Puede usted hablar más despacio, por favor?
YMA: ¡Claro! ¿Hablo muy rápido para Ustedes?
LUKE: Sí. Queremos escuchar cada cosa. ¡Es muy interesante!
Alan: Once again slowly. Una vez más esta vez lentamente.
YMA: Ahora, continuamos con el altar.
MARISSA: ¿Puede usted hablar más despacio, por favor?
YMA: ¡Claro! ¿Hablo muy rápido para Ustedes?
LUKE: Sí. Queremos escuchar cada cosa. ¡Es muy interesante!
Alan: This time with the translation. Ahora incluiremos la traducción.
YMA: Ahora, continuamos con el altar.
YMA: Now, we continue with the altar.
MARISSA: ¿Puede usted hablar más despacio, por favor?
MARISSA: Ma'am, can you speak slower, please?
YMA: ¡Claro! ¿Hablo muy rápido para Ustedes?
YMA: Of course! Do I speak very fast for you all?
LUKE: Sí. Queremos escuchar cada cosa. ¡Es muy interesante!
LUKE: Yes. We want to listen to everything. It is very interesting!
Lizy: Have you visited the cathedral before, Alan?
Alan: Yeah, a couple of times. It’s magnificent.
Lizy: Sí, es un lugar muy representativo de la etapa colonial en nuestra capital. It’s a very representative place of the colonial period in our capital.
Alan: You know Lizy, this makes me think of another really cool site in downtown Lima and it’s not too far from “la catedral”.
Lizy: Which one?
Alan: I am talking about “las catacumbas”. This is around the corner from the cathedral. It’s in the basement of another church called San Francisco. Hundreds of years ago, they used to put the dead there instead of burying them in a cemetery and so now, it’s just full of the bones of thousands and thousands of people and you can tour it. All the bones have been organized but it’s a fascinating, fascinating place and even a little bit spooky.
Lizy: Yes, es increíble ver tantos huesos de tanta gente. It’s incredible to see so, so many bones, uh spooky but seriously it’s another great example of Lima’s rich history.
Alan: Now that we’ve gone through the conversation, what do you say we run through some of the vocabulary?
Lizy: Sounds like a good idea.
Alan: So let’s begin with...
Lizy: “Continuar”.
Alan: “To continue.”
Lizy: “Con-ti-nuar”, “continuar”.
Alan: Next we have...
Lizy: “Más despacio”.
Alan: “Slower.”
Lizy: “Más des-pa-cio”, “más despacio”.
Alan: Now we have...
Lizy: “Por favor”.
Alan: “Please.”
Lizy: “Por fa-vor”, “por favor”.
Alan: And then...
Lizy: “Rápido, rápida”.
Alan: “Fast”, “quick”, “quickly”, “rapids.”
Lizy: “Rá-pi-do, rá-pi-da”, “rápido, rápida”.
Alan: Then...
Lizy: “Cada”.
Alan: “Each”, “every.”
Lizy: “Ca-da”, “cada”.
Alan: And finally...
Lizy: “Cosa”.
Alan: “Thing”, “matter.”
Lizy: “Co-sa”, “cosa”.
Alan: Lizy, I’ve just got to mention something really quick about the phrase “por favor”.
Lizy: What’s that?
Alan: How many syllables are there in the word “favor”.
Lizy: Two. “Fa-vor”.
Alan: And where does the stress fall, on the first or second?
Lizy: “Fa-vor”. On the second.
Alan: And if you leave out the second syllable, how would the phrase sound now?
Lizy: “Por fa”, right. This is how we say “please” when we are speaking really fast and informally.
Alan: Yeah and I think it’s also used when someone wants to downplay a request. For example, using the short form of “por favor” and also “mantequilla” which means “butter”, you could say “pasame la manti, por fa”, “pass me the butter, please.”
Lizy: Muy bien, Alan. Let’s take a closer look at some of the words that came up today.
Alan: Yes and let’s contextualize them so that we just don’t understand how they work but also what they mean.
Lizy: So first, how about the word “continuar”.
Alan: A verb. Okay, “continuar”, this looks an awful lot like an English word.
Lizy: Which one?
Alan: “Continue.”
Lizy: Right.
Alan: And this Spanish word “continuar” also means “continue” as well as “to go on”, “to carry on” and also “to extend.”
Lizy: In today’s conversation, Yma says “Ahora, continuamos con el altar.”
Alan: And here, she is using the present indicative with the value of a command or a future action. It’s like saying let’s move on to the alter.
Lizy: Anything else to mention here?
Alan: Yeah, one more point. In the present tense of the indicative mood, we are going to write an accent over the letter “u” for all of the forms except for first and second person plural.
Lizy: That was a lot.
Alan: Well don’t let it intimidate you. The more you read and write in Spanish, the easier it will be to correctly spell and punctuate it.
Lizy: Estudiar y aprenderás. Study and you will learn.
Alan: All right. Moving on, Lizy, how would you translate “cada día me levanto a las 8”?
Lizy: It would be “every day, I wake up a 8.”
Alan: Every day?
Lizy: Yep.
Alan: “Cada día”.
Lizy: Así es, maestro.
Alan: And what about if I say “contesté cada pregunta”. How would you translate that?
Lizy: This time it would be “I answered every question.”
Alan: Every question?
Lizy: Sí, Alan, cada pregunta.
Alan: So in the first example, we translated the word “cada” as “every” and in the second as “each.” So when we hear someone using it, we want to remember that it could mean either.
Lizy: Right. Like in the conversation where Luke says “Queremos escuchar cada cosa”.
Alan: Right and that’s like, “I want to hear everything.” So let’s build off this for just a bit before we move on to the grammar today.
Lizy: All right.

Lesson focus

Alan: So the word “cosa” has a lot of meanings. The first we will look at is “thing.”
Lizy: As in...
Alan: As in “es una cosa rara”, “it’s a strange thing.”
Lizy: And with another meaning...
Alan: “Es una cosa importante”. And this is like saying, “it’s an important matter.” In this case, the word “cosa” is like “asunto”, “matter” or “issue.”
Lizy: Muy bien.
Alan: Now there is a great expression that takes the word “cosa”.
Lizy: Which one is that?
Alan: Well, it’s the one that someone uses when they are really surprised and disapproves about something when they can’t believe it. Look, for example, when my son refuses to obey his mom, my wife says “qué cosa”.
Lizy: Ah right.
Alan: That’s right and by that she means something like, “what did you say?” or “what was that?” Lizy, you must have some situation or experience in mind when you’ve heard the phrase “qué cosa”.
Lizy: Bueno, ayer fue a comprar uvas y el vendedor me dijo que el kilo estaba a 6 soles, y yo le dije… ¿qué cosa? ¡Si está a 3!
Alan: So yesterday when Lizy went to buy grapes, she asked the shopkeeper what the price was and he answered 6 soles. Now this was more expensive than the previous week. So she said “¿qué cosa?” or “what?” And I bet he lowered the price for you, didn’t he?
Lizy: Yes he lowered a little bit, but not much. Bueno Alan, ahora continuamos con la gramática.
Alan: Sí, señorita. Let’s have a more thorough look at the grammar used in this lesson. Today’s task not a hard one but an important one. We are going to have a close look at the question, “can you speak slower, please?”
Lizy: “¿Puede usted hablar más despacio, por favor?”
Alan: “¿Puede usted hablar más despacio, por favor?” “Ma’am can you speak slower, please?” So this is not just a question that you learned to ask, it’s a tool. Something that you can actually use any time you are speaking to someone in Spanish.
Lizy: That’s a good point.
Alan: And what’s interesting is that by asking someone if he or she will speak slower, you are also communicating to them that even though you are a foreigner and don’t understand Spanish completely, you are trying to follow along. You are paying attention. When you ask this question, people are much more likely to have patience with you.
Lizy: And what about how this question is formed?
Alan: Well, it’s not too hard really. Starting with the word “puede”, we see the third person singular form of the verb “poder”, “to be able.”
Lizy: And after that...
Alan: Then we have the form of address, “usted”, recognizes as the formal way to address someone. The “You” with a capital “Y.”
Lizy: So far, we have “¿puede usted…?”
Alan: Then comes the verb “hablar” just in the infinitive nothing complex about that one. So now we are up to “¿puede usted hablar…?”, “can you speak...?”
Lizy: So, what comes after that?
Alan: After that, we have an interesting phrase, “más despacio”. The word “más” should ring some bells. We’ve seen it a number of times where it means “more”, “plus” and also words used to make comparisons. So here, when Luke asks “¿puede usted hablar más despacio, por favor?” he is saying, “ma’am, can you please speak slower.”
Lizy: Okay, so we see how this is used in a formal context but what about when the situation is informal?
Alan: Well Lizy, let me turn that question around on you. How do you conjugate the verb “poder” to the second person singular of the present tense?
Lizy: We would say “puedes”.
Alan: Right. And now if you substitute that for “puede usted”...
Lizy: “¿Puedes hablar más despacio, por favor?”
Alan: “Can you please speak slower?” Notice that the only thing that’s different when changing this question from formal to informal is the conjugation of the verb “poder”.
Lizy: Instead of using “usted” form and the corresponding third person singular form “puede” we now use the to form with the verb form “puedes”.
Alan: And that’s all it takes. This is an important question to learn as you begin your studies of Spanish because it helps you get people to speak with you instead of at you.


Lizy: Bueno, ya fue. C’est la vie. That’s all for today.
Alan: Lizy, ha sido un placer como siempre.
Lizy: Y como siempre de igual manera, maestro.
Alan: So, until next time.
Lizy: ¡Hasta la próxima!
Alan: ¡Chao!


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