Latest Articles

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.

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.

The BIG RED BOOK of super quick Spanish vocabulary using mnemonics and other unconventional memory shortcuts is out and ready to make Spanish accessible and fun once again. 1,442 pages packed to the brim to help you nail difficult Spanish words @ THE SPEED OF THOUGHT.
Get your copy NOW for just $29.99 $19.99!

Master Spanish, one post at a time
Join thousands of language wizards who receive several game-changing tips to ace Spanish in their inbox each week. You‘ll get no less than two exhaustive articles every week that will teach you how to learn, memorize, and get ahead of your Spanish game without so much as lifting a finger. Mnemonics, motivational ideas, immersion tricks, free resources – we have it all covered!

HOUSE RULES: We love comments that add value to our discussions and help build a healthy community of Spanish-lovers around them. Please keep’em coming; feel free to speak your mind. Everything’s welcome unless you’re spamming or trolling (refer to our Comment Policy). You’re also welcome to share links to relevant resources but no annoying; sales pitches please! So, let’s get talking, shall we?

Liked what you read? Then please take a moment to share it with your folks!

1 comment

  1. This May I'm leading a team of fifteen workers to make basic block homes for women who are raising their children alone. Most of these workers don't understand Spanish at all and are asking me about Spanish courses.

    I always recommend them RocketSpanish (video presentation here ), why? because I'm using it and it's effective. I'm on a never-ending pursuit to reach fluency in Spanish so I've tried many products and self study programs. All of them have been monotonous or need a degree of discipline that I simply cannot do all right. Your lessons are captivating and no-nonsense, they contain a great number of practical situations that I encounter often when I stay in Venezuela, it even teaches me how to argue in Spanish, what can be better than that.

    I have a lot of good friends in Venezuela, until now our conversations have been shallow. I can't wait till my next visit to bring these relationships to a new level with my new Spanish skills. So if want to learn Spanish fast, try Rocket Spanish. Quit looking and get learning!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.