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Lesson Transcript

Natalia: Buenos días me llamo Natalia.
Carlos: What’s going on? I am Carlos.
Natalia: Costa Rican Spanish series, lesson 6.
Carlos: What a hard worker! Bienvenidos. Welcome to spanishpod101.com, my name is Carlos and I am joined here by Natalia. Nati ¿cómo va todo?
Natalia: Todo bien por dicha, Carlos. Good to see you again.
Carlos: Nati, the pleasure is always mine.
Natalia: Oh I know, thank you Carlos. Well, today we have the 6th lesson of our Costa Rican Spanish series.
Carlos: Here we will take you into the world of Costa Rican Spanish introducing proper expressions and breaking them down into little digestible bites.
Natalia: You eat them?
Carlos: Umm..
Natalia: Right and we also explained our cultural context so that you can understand a little more about the people who speak the language as well as the language itself.
Carlos: Natie, can you believe we are already on our sixth lesson.
Natalia: Así es, como vuela el tiempo. How fast time flies but I think it’s going to be a really good lesson today.
Carlos: Really?
Natalia: Yes in today’s lesson, we are talking about work, jobs, occupations, professions. I mean this is pretty universal stuff here than you think.
Carlos: Sin duda. No doubt Natie. Everybody has got a work.
Natalia: We do. And in today’s conversation, Luis and Alejandro are talking about their jobs and what brought Alejandro to Costa Rica.
Carlos: It sounds like the conversation I can relate to. I mean this situation is nothing out of the ordinary. I mean you know what I am saying.
Natalia: That is what I was just saying. I think it’s pretty easy to sympathize with the characters in this conversation.
Carlos: Right on. So before we move on and jump into today’s conversation, I just want to let all you overachievers note that the hottest spot on the blog to learn Spanish and Latin American culture is the forums at spanishpod101.com it’s a true VIP lounge.
Natalia: All right, now to get us started off here, as we always do, let’s go back to newbie lesson 6. In that lesson, we heard the following conversation.
DIEGO: ¿Por qué estas en Ecuador?
ANN: Yo estoy en Ecuador para trabajar.
DIEGO: ¿Qué tipo de trabajo tienes?
ANN: Yo soy bióloga.
DIEGO: ¡Ah, eres científica!
Carlos: This time with the translation. Ahora incluiremos la traducción.
DIEGO: ¿Por qué estas en Ecuador? Why are you in Ecuador?
ANN: Yo estoy en Ecuador para trabajar. I am in Ecuador to work.
DIEGO: ¿Qué tipo de trabajo tienes? What kind of job do you have?
ANN: Yo soy bióloga. I am a biologist.
DIEGO: ¡Ah, eres científica! Ah you are a scientist.
Carlos: So that conversation will be understood just about anywhere in the Spanish speaking world right. I mean it takes place in Ecuador but the language they are using is pretty much standard.
Natalia: Exactly but now let’s hear what it sounds like here in Costa Rica. In particular, using some words and phrases that you pretty much only find here.
LUIS: ¿Qué haces en Costa Rica?
ALEJANDRA: Estoy breteando aquí.
LUIS: ¿Y en qué breteas?
ALEJANDRA: Soy bióloga.
LUIS: ¡Qué verde!
Carlos: Once again slowly. Una vez más, esta vez lentamente.
LUIS: ¿Qué haces en Costa Rica?
ALEJANDRA: Estoy breteando aquí.
LUIS: ¿Y en qué breteas?
ALEJANDRA: Soy bióloga.
LUIS: ¡Qué verde!
Natalia: So now we can get a sense of what Costa Rican Spanish sounds like.
Carlos: Right. Here we have two conversations with slight but really important differences. Natie, where do you think we should begin?
Natalia: Well Carlos, the first difference is the weather question, why are you in Ecuador was rendering Costa Rican Spanish.
Carlos: Now it sounds like good place to me. How was this constructed in our Costa Rican conversation?
Natalia: ¿Qué haces en Costa Rica?
Carlos: What are you doing in Costa Rica? Now in newbie lesson 6, this is what we heard ¿Por qué estas en Ecuador?
Natalia: So the standard version would definitely be understood in Costa Rica. However it’s a little direct I mean Diego asked Ann like why are you here. It almost sounds suspicious.
Carlos: Yeah I can see that. I mean in the Costa Rican version, the expression sounds a little more casual. I mean ¿Qué haces en Costa Rica?
Natalia: Yes it’s simply another way that the regional question can be asked. It’ s a little more specific and a little less direct.
Carlos: Right on, it does make sense. And how exactly are we forming this question?
Natalia: Well that’s easy. We are just using the interrogative adverb “qué” which means what and the verb “hacer” which can mean either to do or to make.
Carlos: Right and this form of the verb “haces” that’s the second person singular, the tu form right?
Natalia: You got it Carlos. So again instead of asking in a very different way.
Carlos: ¿Por qué estás en Ecuador?
Natalia: You might be better off smoothing this out by asking “¿Qué haces en Ecuador?”
Carlos: What are you doing in Ecuador? Natie, would you say this phrase is proper to Costa Rica?
Natalia: No Carlos, “¿Qué haces?”, what are you doing? This is a very common phrase that will be understood anywhere in the Spanish speaking world.
Carlos: No doubt. So you’ve just provided us with another option and you know what, this is the key. You know it allows you to change things up a bit and not sound like you are repeating expression that you learned from a dusty textbook.
Natalia: Carlos, ¿qué haces en Costa Rica?
Carlos: Disfrutando el sol, las playas y la tranquilidad. Enjoying the sun, the beaches and the relaxation.
Natalia: La buena vida y la poca vergüenza.
Carlos: Natie, what does that mean?
Natalia: Should I tell you, should I not?
Carlos: You should because you know, I get all happy and enthusiastic that I can say something complicated like “tranquilidad” and then suddenly you come out with some stuff from left field.
Natalia: Well, it means you are enjoying the good life without any shame about it.
Carlos: Okay, okay yeah it’s a good one but hold on “La buena vida y la poca vergüenza”.
Natalia: Yeay Carlos, you got it.
Carlos: Okay actually Natie, you are telling me “buen trabajo” good work is a really good segway into the next difference in the conversations.
Natalia: How so?
Carlos: In the conversation of newbie lesson 6, Ann tells Diego, I am in Ecuador to work and here is what it sounded like
Natalia: Yo estoy en Ecuador para trabajar.
Carlos: Natie, how is this question asked in our Costa Rican conversation.
Natalia: Estoy breteando aquí.
Carlos: I am working here. Okay I can understand the differences between the two questions but this I couldn’t tell you.
Natalia: Claro, Carlos and like the first change in the conversation, he will have the word “breteando” which is a gerund of the verb “bretear” and this verb “bretear” is a word we use here in Costa Rica that means to work.
Carlos: You know, I really should have paid attention in my high school English class. I mean what’s a gerund?
Natalia: Carlos, you don’t know what a gerund is?
Carlos: No.
Natalia: These are words that end with ing.
Carlos: Oh okay like eating, drinking, swimming.
Natalia: Right but in this case working. One important thing to keep in mind with these is that they express a continuous action.
Carlos: Nice. So the verb “bretear” to work becomes “breteando” and this means
Natalia: Working.
Carlos: Excellent. Slowly but surely people.
Natalia: We often use the words like this after the verb Estar just like we saw in the conversation: Estóy breteando, estás breteando, está breteando.
Carlos: Very interesting Natie. So is this verb “bretear” used more than the verb “trabajar” by Ticos.
Natalia: Well I could say it’s very, very, very common and here there is another word associated with the two.
Carlos: Yeah like what?
Natalia: Take for example, the verb “breteador”.
Carlos: “breteador”
Natalia: Yep. We use it as a phrase “Qué breteador.”, which means something like what a hard worker!
Carlos: Okay. So when talking about our boss who works really way too much, we could say
Natalia: Qué breteador.
Carlos: Relax a little bit man, Chill. Pura vida. All right Natie, “breteador” means something like workaholic.
Natalia: It does mean workaholic.
Carlos: Cool. So once again our standard version, we heard.
Natalia: Yo estoy en Ecuador para trabajar.
Carlos: Which in Costa Rica would probably sound like
Natalia: Estoy breteando aquí.
Carlos: I am working here. Natie, would you say, you are a workaholic.
Natalia: Depends. I work a fair bit but I am not a workaholic. Actually we have a saying for this.
Carlos: And that is
Natalia: Well, we say “Hay que saber cuando trabajar y cuando celebrar”.
Carlos: Okay. Can you say that a little slower please? I didn’t really understand you.
Natalia: Okay. “Hay que saber cuando trabajar y cuando celebrar”.
Carlos: Umm what does that mean?
Natalia: Well one must know when to work and when to celebrate.
Carlos: Now I rarely hear words live by but I think I might have found the example today.
Natalia: Because you only feel about celebrating. That’s all you think about.
Carlos: So….Okay it’s about that time. Let’s take a look at some of the localisms that we heard in today’s conversation. Now Natie, in our Costa Rican conversation, Alejandra tells Luis.
Natalia: Soy biologa. And that means I am a biologist.
Carlos: Okay now, Lewis has an interesting response. I mean my Spanish is pretty basic but he says “Qué verde.” and you know, in entry levels, they teach us colors and so I think that means how green.
Natalia: Well that’s the literal translation.
Carlos: Okay but I mean does this response has something to do with her being a biologist?
Natalia: Well yes and no, sí, no. In Costa Rica, how green means how smart.
Carlos: Okay so if Alejandro told Louise I am a doctor, his response could still be
Natalia: ¡Qué verde¡ Yeah but there is a little more to it than that. There is kind of a downside to being “verde”.
Carlos: A downside.
Natalia: Well Carlos, you remember when you were in school how were the really smart kids treated by the other kids?
Carlos: Umm not particularly well, I mean if I remember correctly. I mean being the nerd was not something anyone wanted to be.
Natalia: Can I ask you a question?
Carlos: Okay.
Natalia: Were you a nerd or geek in high school Carlos?
Carlos: No. I mean come on, who are you talking to?
Natalia: I think you have a small feeling to it. What did they call you in school?
Carlos: Geek, wait no, I mean….
Natalia: Hmm told you.
Carlos: Now you know why I am in Costa Rica.
Natalia: Carlos, you got the whole look of it. So here we would say “eres un verde” he is a nerd.
Carlos: Well, you see you give a little bit and she takes that opportunity, just kick you.
Natalia: Kick you!
Carlos: Okay well something like that figuratively speaking. All right, so….
Natalia: I will kick you.
Carlos: See, this is aggressiveness audience, aggressiveness.
Natalia: I am a same person.
Carlos: Okay.
Natalia: Let’s continue.
Carlos: But you know what, as one gets older, being a nerd isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Natalia: If you wanted to flatter someone, you could say “eres todo verde” he is really smart.
Carlos: All right, all right, all right let me try. Natalia, eres todo verde.
Natalia: Thank you Carlos but I got a question.
Carlos: What’s that?
Natalia: Are you going to sell me something?
Carlos: No. Natie, why do I have to be selling something? I am just trying to give a compliment, man!
Natalia: That’s quite unusual so I am just saying.
Carlos: Exactly. So you should take that unusual event and take it as a hint that it’s the truth.
Natalia: I know I am smart. You don’t have to tell me I am smart.
Carlos: This will conclude today’s lesson. Don’t forget to reference this lesson with newbie lesson 6 and be sure to pick up the PDF at spanishpod101.com Also if you had any questions, feel free to leave us a comment on our forum, come on and show us some love. See you soon.
Natalia: Nos vemos pronto.

Dialogue - Costa Rican

Dialogue - Standard


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Saturday at 3:29 am
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So, does anyone know if the word "bretear" is used in any other Spanish-speaking countries? It would be interesting to know. Are there other verbs that you use to mean "to work". I find it interesting that there are so many versions...

Friday at 2:39 pm
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Hola Bjorn,

Thank you for your feedback.

We have fixed the typos. 👍

Sigamos practicando, dejanos tus dudas o preguntas, nuestro equipo te responderá lo mas pronto posible.



Team SpanishPod101.com

Monday at 10:23 am
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Regarding the use of "bretear", I think it is strictly Costa Rica. If you look up a word in Real Academia Espanola (http://dle.rae.es/), it often lists the countries or areas where the word is used if not universal.

From RAE:

1. intr. coloq. C. Rica. trabajar (‖ tener una ocupación remunerada).

Bjorn Johnson
Sunday at 6:09 am
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To add to the corrections Steve suggested,

in the transcript Carlos is reported as having said, "that’s the second person singular, the to form right?"

As opposed to "....,the 'tu' form, right?"

Sunday at 8:05 am
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From the Transcript:

Carlos: Right on. So before we move on and jump into today’s conversation, I just want to let all you overachievers note that the hardest spot on the blog to learn Spanish and Latin American culture is the forums at spanishpod101.com it’s a true VIP lounge.

I believe Carlos says "hottest" not "hardest".

Sunday at 11:44 pm
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The PDF is all set now: available through Itunes and on the Web Site. Sorry for any inconvenience and thanks for pointing it out.


We generally use "estar" for temporary states and emotions and "ser" for permanent actions. For example, "estoy feliz" (I'm happy). This feeling can change so we use "estar". But, "soy biólogo" (I'm a biologist). Now you may be asking "but you could lose your job or get another one...etc, so how can this be permanent...?".

Let's think about it like this. When we say "soy biólogo", where talking about our identity. It's like saying "soy Joseph", "eres Katie". We're talking about "who" we are, as opposed to "how we are". Now, the distinction between "ser" and "estar" is complex, and often takes a while to learn.

To begin, I would suggest listening to the lessons in which "ser" and/or "estar" are lesson topics. If you look at the bottom of the each lesson, you'll find different tags. By clicking on the tag for this lesson that says "ser", you can see all the lessons that either contain this topic, introduce it or use it. Here they are:

SER: https://www.spanishpod101.com/tag/ser

ESTAR: https://www.spanishpod101.com/tag/estar

You can also check out the Learning Center and the Grammar Bank there for more materials:


Hope this helps. Katie, let's see if you can make some of these distinctions now. How about a couple of examples?

Be well. ¡Muchos saludos!


Saturday at 8:03 am
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for some reason i can't download the pdf for this lesson in my basic feed (on itunes) it says it couldn't be found in the server :sad:

Wednesday at 8:42 am
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why is does the speaker use "soy" instead of "estoy" when she says her job is a biologist?

Tuesday at 6:30 pm
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Thanks to Kevin MacLeod for providing the music used in today's lesson conversation!