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Master Spanish Conditionals Through Pop Music

Conditionals: they can give a headache to even the most steadfast of Spanish learners. Conditional constructions describe hypothetical or impossible events, and often begin with the word, si (“if”). Here’s an example: If I had to pick the trickiest part of Spanish grammar, I would choose the conditional. Sadly, we live in a world of “ifs”, and you can’t get by very long speaking Spanish if you avoid all conditional constructions. But luckily, Spanish music is here to help you: there are plenty of songs that use conditionals, and can help you sneak in some extra practice. In this article, we’ll check out two of them from the Spanish speaking world. One of them is from Argentina!.

Can Learning Spanish Feel Like Sex, Gambling, And Chocolate?

What is the link between gambling, chocolate, sex and…learning Spanish? You might be surprised to hear that the same part of the brain’s reward centre activates in response to all four stimuli, but that’s what scientists in Barcelona recently discovered. Participants in an experiment were encouraged to decipher new words in a foreign language whilst experts measured the chemicals in their brains. The results lead scientists to claim that those who felt more rewarded from learning new words were able to learn more. In other words, participants who naturally feel good when they learn, are more likely to learn more!

6 Ways To Turn Your Vacation Into A Spanish Learning Venture

Traveling to a Spanish speaking country has always been the single biggest motivator to Spanish students; in fact, it’s perhaps the only reason most of us decided to even start learning the language. After all, what good is a language skill if you never wish to be where it’s spoken! It’s a shame how so many of us consider it a divine right, as English speakers, to be understood everywhere we go, be it Mexico, Mongolia or even Mars. Now, traveling abroad is a costly affair and not all are lucky enough to make it. But what if you are? Well, then you really are lucky since one such trip can accelerate your Spanish learning like nothing else can.

6 Alien-Sounding Spanish Verbs In An Instant

Etymology is an incredibly wonderful tool when it comes to acquiring new words. Dig deep enough into the history of any language and words that seemed utterly alien and unrelated until now suddenly start to appear familiar. This works best when the language in question shares genetics with your native tongue. Fortunately, Spanish and English share a stronger ancestral bond than many acknowledge, which makes learning new words easier than it seems. Let’s see how etymological mapping can help us learn some of the most commonly used Spanish verbs that, on face value, seem to have little semblance with their English meanings.

Easy Trick To Learn The Spanish For Your Clothes

You could be out on vacation shopping for some items of clothing in a Spanish-speaking country or perhaps you just want to flaunt your Spanish to a bunch of native speakers. No matter what your motivation, learning to name what you wear everyday in Spanish is a cool skill to have. And, if you know the right way to learn, it should take you no more than a few minutes to conquer them all and reproduce them “on the fly” without having to fiddle with mental translations. If cramming up words after words is your forte, we’d recommend saving that skill for something harder as this one calls for hardly any efforts on your part!

Let Juanes Help You Learn The Spanish Subjunctive

All too often, the Spanish subjunctive is made to appear way more intimidating to those learning the language than it needs to. Grammar books say it is not a tense but a mood. We’d rather choose to keep things simple and for the sake of staying away from unnecessarily complicated grammatical nomenclature, will call it a form of the verb. Quite simply put, this form is used for any verb in Spanish when we are not being objective or certain about the action being performed. Today, we’ll use a wonderful Spanish language chartbuster from a world-famous Colombian musician to reinforce this concept permanently and painlessly!

What the heck is subjunctive?

The only reason subjunctive appears so alien to us learners is that English rarely uses verbs in this form while Spanish does widely. Here’s an example of subjunctive being used in English to help you grasp the idea:

I recommend that she be there when her friends arrive.

The verb, “be” in the sentence above is actually in its subjunctive avatar. In Spanish, whenever you talk of actions that are either uncertain or subjective, you bring in the subjunctive form. Here’s an illustration:

El profe quiere que aprendamos el subjunctivo. (“The professor wants us to learn the subjunctive.” / “the professor wants that we learn the subjunctive.”)

Here, since the act of learning is just a wish and not being carried out in reality at the time of speech, the Spanish verb aprender (to study) has been conjugated to its subjunctive form. There are many websites and books dedicated to helping you learn the various rules of usage when it comes to subjunctives but like we always harp, there’s no better teacher than music! Today, we will be discussing one such song that can be immensely helpful in reinforcing this piece of grammar into your head and facilitate easy recall.

Juan Esteban Aristizábal Vásquez

Juanes must figure in every Spanish learner’s music collection
Juanes must figure in every Spanish learner’s music collection
Photo credit: Julio Enriquez licensed CC BY 2.0
Better known by his stage name, Juanes, this Colombian solo artist must be familiar to most of you if you have ever heard La Camisa Negra (The Black Shirt). Like many of his kind, Juanes is a child prodigy who started playing guitar when he was just seven and floated his first band (heavy metal), Ekhymosis, when fifteen. His solo debut, Fíjate Bien brought him three Latin Grammies in 2000 and the next, Un Día Normal, went on to hit platinum in several countries in Latin America. This is the lead single from this album, A Dios Le Pido (I ask God), that will help us learn Spanish today.

As of today, Juanes has to his credit a rare and impressive collection of 19 Latin Grammy Awards, one Grammy Award, 9 MTV Awards, 2 NRJ Music Awards, 9 Our Land Awards, and a string of many more awards and recognitions from all over the world! Though a major name on the Latin pop scene today, his initial act, Ekhymosis was inspired by Metallica and was entirely into heavy metal, Juanes’ favorite genre back then. This band produced five studio albums in all and collaborated with legends like Alejandro Sanz and Ricky Martin, among others.

What makes Juanes every Spanish learner’s favorite act is his love for his mother tongue. He patronizes the language with exceptional passion and is an activist for this cause close to his heart. He has vowed to never sing in English and has often been heard that he will continue to work in Spanish because it is this language in which he could express himself best. What more can a Latino-lover ask for!

A Dios Le Pido

This is the track that earned Juanes his Best Rock Song Latin Grammy for 2002. The lead single from his much celebrated studio album, Un Día Normal, charted in top 5 in almost every European country and hit #1 in twelve countries across three continents.

The song is essentially an ode to God seeking blessings and protection for the singer’s loved ones. Due to its peace invoking lyrics, the song soon became an anthem for peace throughout Latin America and garnered immense popularity.

Accolades apart and coming back to our subjunctive, this song is lyrically rich and a great source of Spanish verbs in this form which is what makes it extremely useful for us learners who are struggling to remember the subjunctive conjugations and usage. Since the entire song is essentially in the form of a wish being relayed to God and wishes are expressed using the subjunctive in Spanish, potentially every line is an illustration of this otherwise difficult-to-grasp verb-form.

As always, we am giving out a portion of the lyrics here for your review along with a rough English translation. This should give you a good jump-start. We could give you dozens of example sentences illustrating how the subjunctive is used but we are sure you do realize that you’ll retain none of them as effectively as the lyrics to a tappy, hum-worthy song by your favorite artist!

Que mis ojos se despierten (That my eyes wake up)
Con la luz de tu mirada, (With the light of your sight,)
Yo a Dios le pido. (I ask of God.)
Que mi madre no se muera (That my mother doesn’t die)
Y que mi padre me recuerde, (And that my father remembers me,)
A Dios le pido. (I ask of God.)

Que te quedes a mi lado (That you stay by my side)
Y que más nunca te me vayas mi vida, (And that you never leave me, my love,)
A Dios le pido. (I ask of God.)
Que mi alma no descanse (That my soul does not rest)
Cuando de amarte se trate mi cielo, (When it concerns loving you, my love,)
A Dios le pido. (I ask of God.)

Por los días que me quedan (For the days that for me remain)
Y las noches que aun no llegan, (And the nights that yet haven’t come,)
Yo a Dios le pido. (I ask of God.)
Por los hijos de mis hijos (For the children of my children)
Y los hijos de tus hijos, (And the children of your children,)
A Dios le pido. (I ask of God.)

There is no easier way to tame the scary subjunctive verb-form than having this song on the tip of your tongue. And there is no easier way of having this song on the tip of your tongue than listening to it over and over again until you catch yourself humming away the lyrics in your bathroom subconsciously. Go on, we promise the music won’t disappoint you either.

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1 comment

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