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The Witchcraft Of Spanish Vocabulary

The very first step to conquering a language is to tame its vocabulary. And sadly, that's the part that puts off most novice learners because memorizing strange-sounding words is too darn boring! A never-ending chant of rote rehearsal and a nervous prayer can see you through an upcoming test, but the process just won't cut it if your goal is to actually use the language in the street. It's a mystery how this incredibly inefficient method has survived this long and still continues to be perpetuated by schools and educators around the world. So is there any nirvana around this assault of monotony in our miserable lives? Anything that could make learning foreign words less painful?

The Essential Black Friday Spanish Vocabulary

Thanksgiving is over and so is the charade of thanking the almighty for all you have. With that bit out of the way, now's the time to ammo-up for the big loot, better known as the Black Friday. I mean when does one have just enough? That's ridiculous. When the discounts are this big, enough is never enough. So if you're planning to survive the soul-churning stampede, here's a quick lesson on words that could come in handy should you find yourself plundering a store in one of those Latin quarters in town. You never know the store management might just be impressed with your vocabulary enough to offer you a welcome freebie, right?

Show Off Your Spanish Skills This Thanksgiving

This post is for our American friends learning Spanish. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and we just can't wait for the big turkey dinner with friends and family. Now, although the occasion isn't exactly observed by the Spanish-speaking world, a fiesta is a fiesta. Let's face it, Thanksgiving is all about food and so are the Latinos! So, now would be as awesome a time as any to brag about your Spanish before an audience of clueless folks. The millions of Spanish-speakers who call America home enjoy the day as much as you do if not more. And why not! A day off is a day off, after all. And the turkey dinner. So let's dive in and get it over with.

Este, Ese, Aquel – One Trick To Nail'em All

It might sound extremely simplistic at first glance but the demonstratives in Spanish often stump learners well into their programs. The problem is they sound too similar and there's usually no memory hook offered for one to remember them by. Oh and in case you're wondering, demonstratives are words like this, that, those, these, etc. Spanish has three of them – Ese, este, and aquel. English has just two – This and that. That's another problem with Spanish demonstratives – Why three when you can make do with just two? It's like teaching a fourth dimension to non-physicists who can only comprehend three. So what's going on here?

Life After Destinos: Sol Y Viento

Through with Destinos and Extr@ Spanish and raring to step up your Spanish comprehension game? Here's something crafted just for you. It's called Sol y Viento. Sol y Viento is a Spanish learning program seamlessly guised as a feature-length movie. If you liked Destinos for its simplicity and focus on Spanish comprehension, you'll love this one all the more because of how smoothly it challenges you to upgrade your comprehension skills while at the same time doing away with the often redundant recaps and summarization, the only aspects of Destinos that made it a tad too slow to chug along with. Sol y Viento is Destinos on steroids.

A Mexican Song For The Spanish Past Tense

If you have been diligently following the 22 things a smart-ass would do learning Spanish that we discussed a little while ago, you are probably keen on getting even with the Spanish past tense before any other. Once again, don’t ask why or how this order matters but if you are lazy enough, you don’t care anyways. So, can anything make it easier for us to grasp and recall the infamous past tense conjugations in Spanish? Well, there’s always a song for anything you want to learn and digest in Spanish, really! This time, we call upon this sensational and prodigious Latin pop group from Mexico, officially known as Camila.

A little more about the past

There are several ways of discussing the past in Spanish and of those, two are of particular significance not only for their ubiquity but also for the difficulty rookies face understanding them! If you really care for names, they are called, the imperfect and the preterite forms.

The imperfect form essentially discusses actions as either habitual, repetitive, or incomplete. Most often, such actions are rendered in English using the phrase, “used to.” This form also covers descriptions of state or being in the past. Note the following scenarios that are covered by this form in Spanish:

I used to write to him (repetitive)

Life was good (state)

You were very naughty when you were a kid (state)

You would often come home with a broken nose or torn clothes (habitual)

It was midnight (state)

I was 29 years old (state)

When the action being discussed took place once in the past and concluded with a well-defined end, you use the preterite. Note these scenarios that illustrate the usage:

I wrote you a letter

She read that book twice (repetitive yet with a well-defined end)

He got cold

He turned 20 last year

The storm was over by evening

Pages after pages can be written about how these two tenses should be used but we guess the above illustrations have done enough to help you understand the differences between them. However, if you are like most of us, you would still face a real big challenge remembering and recalling the associated conjugations while speaking Spanish. Let’s see if something can help!


Camila: Mario Domm, Pablo Hurtado, and Samuel “Samo” Parra
Camila: Samuel “Samo” Parra, Pablo Hurtado, and and Mario Domm
Photo credit: kindofadraag licensed CC BY-SA 2.0
Camila is a Latin pop and soft rock group from Mexico City which took not only Mexico but all of Latin America by storm right since inception. The group was founded by Mario Domm, who is the group’s composer and producer and one of the two vocalists, in 2005. The other two members are guitarist Pablo Hurtado and vocalist Samuel Parra, better known as “Samo.”

Domm studied singing, music theory, piano, harmony, and counterpoint at the Escuela Nacional de Música where he entered at the age of 17. He was born in Torreón, Coahuilca and started his singing career in 2001 when he signed up with Sony Music to release his first and only solo album, Mexi-Funky-Music. Samo was born in Veracruz and started his career in 1995 when he participated in the successful Festival Valores Juveniles. The third member, Hurtado is from San Luis Potosí and he studied Audio Engineering and Music Production at the Academy of Music Fermatta. He began his career at the age of 5!

The word, Camila, apparently means “close to God” and was initially suggested as the group’s name by a friend when the trio was pondering over what to call themselves. As you can easily guess, the name stuck.

Todo Cambió

Todo Cambió (Everything Changed) is the lead single from the first album (of the same name) that was released by Camila and was released in 2006. This album, which includes a blend of Latin pop and rock, was certified three-times platinum in Mexico after it hit 300,000 units in sales.

This single swept away several awards and nominations between 2007 and 2008 including one at the 2007 Latin Billboard Music Awards. Todo Cambió is a touching ballad of love that essays the state of mind of a starry-eyed lover right after falling falling in love. If you have ever fallen in love, you will find this song extremely easy to identify with and that’s what makes it ideal for anyone hoping to use it as a learning tool. The verses are rich in verbs in their past tense conjugation, both preterite and imperfect. For those who are still at odds with the infamous subjunctive, this song offers a hint of that mood too! Here’s a portion of its lyrics for your review but be sure to listen to the actual song several times before you even touch the lyrics.

Todo cambió cuando te vi (Everything changed when I saw you)
De blanco y negro a color me convertí (I turned from black and white to color)
Y fue tan fácil (And it was so easy)
Quererte tanto (To love you so much)

Algo que no imaginaba (Something I didn’t imagine)
Fue entregarte mi amor (Was to give you my love)
Con una mirada (With only one look)

Todo temblo (Everything shook)
Dentro de mi (Inside of me)
El universo escribío que fueras para mi (The universe wrote that you be for me)

Y fue tan fácil (And it was so easy)
Quererte tanto (To love you so much)
Algo que no imaginaba (Something I didn’t imagine)
Fue perderme en tu amor (It was to lose myself in your love)
Simplemente paso (It simply happened)
Y todo tuyo ya soy (Now I’m all yours)

Antes que pase más tiempo contigo, amor (Before I spend more time with you, my love)
Tengo que decir que eres el amor de mi vida (I need to tell you you are the love of my life)
Antes que te ame más (Before I love you more)
Escucha por favor (Please listen)
Déjame decir que todo te di (Let me just say I gave you everything)
Y no hay como explicar (And there's no way to explain)
Pero menos dudar (But much less to doubt)
Simplemente así lo senti (That’s simply how I felt)
Cuando te vi (When I saw you)

We will leave it to you to do some guesswork and tell me what the rest of the song means. If you listen to it enough number of times, interpreting this song is not as hard as it seems.

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