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AlwaysSpanish is Retiring!

After a long awkward silence, here's something to break the ice – all over again. I can totally see why you should be upset to see no action from the Burro for over a month now, but trust me, your wait was all worth it. The news here is that your beloved Burro has just moved into a brand new home – one that's a whole lot richer, swankier, and easier to live in. I'm talking about PeppyBurro. That's the name of the new website! Isn't that cool? At least it tells you all about the Burro's pepped up temperament right off the bat, right? This post is not about Spanish-learning tricks (although I will drop in a couple out of habit, I guess) or grammar lessons. This one's all about our new home!

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?




IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Always Spanish has retired. Please visit the new blog at PeppyBurro.com for all future articles.

Irregular Spanish Imperative Made Easy With Vin Diesel

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Few real-life Spanish language interactions can last meaningfully long without the use of the imperative. This is the quintessential tense you speak in whenever you make a direct request or a command. Hence, it’s imperative that you master this tense quite early on while learning Spanish. While the English imperative is pretty straightforward with a single word for both requests and for commands, both negative and positive, Spanish has different words for each one of them! This article attempts to make it easier to master some of the most heavily used words of command (used with ) that are also irregular in conjugation.

We all love mnemonics, don’t we? Mnemonics are the magic potion that makes committing seemingly impossible things to memory with little to no effort on our part a breeze. Often, a good mnemonic is the lazy learner’s (unfair?) advantage. And learning Spanish is no exception when it comes to their application. In fact, the number of ways in which mnemonics can enhance your Spanish acquisition capabilities are only limited by your creativity and ingenuity.

The 8 most common verbs in Spanish


Coming back to the subject at hand, it’s the Spanish imperatives, particularly the irregular familiar forms, that we are interested in. Spanish has quite a collection of verbs that go inexplicably irregular in their imperative forms, abandoning whatever pattern they would otherwise follow in other tenses. Let’s see some of the most irregular yet ubiquitous ones:

venir (to come)

decir (to say)

salir (to leave)

hacer (to do, to make)

tener (to have)

ir (to go)

poner (to put)

ser (to be)

Now, these are not the only irregular ones but it won’t take a genius to guess how important these verbs are for regular, real-life conversations regardless of the language. And when it comes to direct commands, instructions, or orders – in a familiar sense – these are the most heavily used words of action. So, mastering their familiar () imperative forms should take care of most of your real-life scenarios in Spanish. And, by the way, we are only discussing the affirmative imperatives (come, go, sit, etc.) here. Negatives (don’t come, don’t sit, etc.) will come at a later time.

The imperative anarchy


Before we even begin with the trick, let’s first review the words that we are dealing with; the familiar, affirmative, imperative conjugations of the verbs listed above. Here you go:

venirven (¡Ven aquí! Come here!)

decirdi (Dime. Tell me.)

salirsal (¡Sal ahorita! Leave right now!)

hacerhaz (¡Hazlo! Do it!)

tenerten (!Tenlo! Have it!)

irve (Ve a donde quieras. Go wherever you want.)

ponerpon (Ponlo sobre la mesa. Put it on the table)

ser (¡Sé un hombre! Be a man!)

What a persistent pain in the butt, ain’t they? No pattern, no rule, a complete anarchy! Mugging them up appears to be the only option and is perhaps just right if you have to write a grammar test tomorrow morning. But heaven knows what a disaster rote learning is when it comes to learning Spanish for more practical purposes, like speaking with native speakers. So, what would the lazy learner do? Call upon Vin Diesel! Yes, the handsome baldie has just the right weapon to help you assimilate these anarchists with no chances of ever forgetting them again.

Vin Diesel saves your day!


Vin Diesel has ten weapons
Vin Diesel has ten weapons
Photo credit: _mixer_ licensed CC BY-SA 2.0
The star savior of the day is this mnemonic:

Vin Diesel has ten weapons

Easy-peasy? Well, how hard can it possibly be to imagine the Fast Five star with an arsenal of ten formidable weapons while he is on a mission to save your day? Let’s see how this line actually works:
  • Vinven (ignore, for a moment, the fact that the two words don’t sound precisely the same)
  • Die-di (this one should be a no-brainer as long as you don’t pronounce the “die” as “hi”)
  • -selsal (again, ignore the slight difference in the way the vowels sound in the two words)
  • hashaz (do remember that the Spanish z sounds like the English s)
  • tenten (another no-brainer)
  • wea-ve (they do sound almost similar if you try pronouncing the “wea-” with a German accent)
  • -pon-pon (exactly the same!)
  • -s (this one will need your efforts – the vowel, that is)
What we have done here is, break up the entire mnemonic sentence into its syllables, every syllable corresponding to one target word in Spanish. The only anomaly is the last syllable, -pons, which is further broken down to give two words, one for pon and the other for

See a pattern there? This is the magic of mnemonics. They bring order in what otherwise seems to be a chaos beyond repair. We can bet our last penny that you will now have a very hard time trying to forget these irregular words. Learning Spanish couldn’t get any easier, could it? If only you open up your own cans of imaginations, there are mnemonics for almost anything and everything. There’s a pattern in every irregularity. You just need an open and curious mind to see them!

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.
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5 comments

  1. Awesome! Thank you for making the process of learning Spanish even more fun than it's already been. Instead of racking my brains over how to make sense of this "imperative anarchy", I can now go and do a couple more of grammar exercises. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Glad I could help! Try being a little creative with your imagination and you can kill many more similar Spanish grammar "anarchies" in no time! Wish you all the best with your endeavors.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This month I'm organizing a team of 11 workers to build basic block houses for moms who are bringing up their kids on their own. Almost all of these workers don't understand any Spanish and are asking me about Spanish training programs.

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    ReplyDelete

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