Yabla Spanish (LoMás TV) – Highly Recommended

January 13th, 2009

If you are serious about developing your Spanish communication skills, then the one area that you need to focus on — the area hardest to develop — is your Spanish listening comprehension. More importantly, your listening comprehension with regard to native Spanish speakers. It’s one thing to understand phrases or sentences when pronounced slowly and purposefully, such as on learn Spanish CDs, or being able to understand your Spanish teacher, someone you’ve had an opportunity to listen to. It’s another thing to understand spoke Spanish by native speakers in movies, songs, on the street, wherever, especially when they’re speaking at their natural speed and with their natural accent.

To help with your Spanish listening comprehension, I highly recommend the website Yabla Spanish (LoMás TV). Here is a brief description from them:

Yabla Spanish (LoMásTV) is an online video magazine for Spanish learners who wish to improve their language skills. Authentic Spanish videos include television programs, music videos, interviews, documentaries, travel and more. Select from a large library of videos, most running about two or three minutes in length, and be transported to a world of real people from all over the Hispanophone world – Spain, Central America, South America – speaking Spanish in their own unique, unedited voices.

Yabla’s videos cover a wide range of topics: You get authentic TV dramas, documentaries about social issues, profiles of beautiful travel destinations such as Ibiza and Madrid, “man on the street” interviews, and, best of all, lots of music videos. These are the sorts of videos that would be fun to watch in English – in Spanish they are fun as well, but also eye-opening and effortlessly instructive.

Yabla Spanish Features:

  • As you watch, you see both the transcript of the original Spanish and translated subtitles below it, allowing you to compare the languages phrase-by-phrase.
  • Click on any word and a window pops up with definitions from multiple English-Spanish dictionaries.
  • Skip backwards if you want to see a previous phrase again, pause to focus on definitions, or slow down the audio as the video plays in order to practice pronunciation.
  • When you’re done watching, play a game to test your memory of the video and your improved instincts for Spanish in context.
  • Videos are organized according to category: Action, Documentary, Drama, Interviews, Music, Travel, etc.
  • New videos added regularly.
  • Special lessons using videos to highlight a grammatical or other point.
  • Difficulty ratings of 1 through 5 to facilitate self-directed learning.
  • Service costs $9.95 per month, $54.95 for six months or $99.95 for a year (foreign credit cards accepted).
  • Teachers and organizations may subscribe entire classes or even entire schools at heavily discounted annual rates.
  • Five free demo videos available to view now

Check out their free demo videos and I guarantee you will be hooked. Their technology, allowing you to not only see the transcription in both English and Spanish, also allows you to click on ANY word and immediately see its definition.

Although there are a number of websites with Spanish podcasts, the big difference is with Yabla Spanish, you will get an opportunity to develop your listening skills by listening to a boad spectrum of native Spanish speakers from various countries and with different accents, and who speak at different rates.

Yabla Spanish (LoMás TV) is definitely worth a look and certainly worth 10 minutes of your time.


Recommendation: The Ultimate Spanish Verb Review and Practice

October 13th, 2008

The Ultimate Spanish Review and Practice by Ronni L. Gordon, Ph.D. and David M. Stillman, Ph.D. is a fantastic Spanish reference and learning guide for anyone interested in developing greater proficiency in Spanish grammar.  Although the book states that it’s for intermediate and advanced learners, I believe this book can be just as useful for beginners.

The book is broken up into four major parts:  (I) Verbs — their forms and uses; (II) Nouns and their Modifiers, and Pronouns; (III) Other Elements of the Sentence, such as adverbs, prepositions, interrogative words and question formation, expressing negative sentences, and numbers, date and time; and (IV) Idiomatic Usage, such as common idioms, expressions and proverbs.

I found the chapter on the subjunctive mood to be very useful, with clear examples and an easy to understand explanation. I also appreciated how comprenhesive the verb section is, in terms of conjugation and uses.

The other great thing about this Spanish learning resource or guide is that the book continually builds in related vocabulary. So you’re not just learning Spanish grammar, but you’re also developing your vocabulary.

All in all, this is a great resource for students to have. I highly recommend this book.

To read other reviews or purchase the book, click here:

The Ultimate Spanish Verb Review and Practice (The Ultimate Verb Review and Practice Series)

Using Vos – Another Way to Say You in Spanish

October 31st, 2007

This learn Spanish post is about the use of “vos,” which you may have heard of. It’s most commonly heard of and used in Argentina. Just like English has its different variations as used in the United States, England, Australia, etc., Spanish also is spoken differently throughout the various Spanish-speaking countries around the world. The singular subject pronoun for “you” in Spanish is “tú” and “usted,” the informal and formal subject pronouns for you, respectively.

However, if you go to Argentina, rather than “tú,” you will often hear “vos.” It’s commonly used in other Latin America countries, such as Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

In Argentina, verbs in the “vos” form are conjugated in the following way:

Rule 1 – stem changing verbs do not undergo the stem-change with Vos:

For example, using tú, the Spanish verb poder would be conjugated as “puedes.” But using vos, it is “podés.”

Rule 2 – add an accent over the “a,” “e” or “i.” For example:

Vos hablás (hablar – to speak). Vos comés (comer – to eat). Vos dormís (dormir – to sleep).

Rule 3 – the Spanish verb Ser is conjugated using vos with “sos.”

E.g., Vos sos muy buena persona (You are a very good person), whereas using “tú,” it would be Tú eres muy buena persona.

Rule 4 – commands using Vos are the same as using Tú, except you add an accent on the “a,” “e,” or “i.” See below for commands with irregular verbs:

Verb Vos

Ser Se Sé
Ir Ve Andá
Hablar Habla Hablá
Comer Come Comé
Dormir Duerme Dormí
Venir Ven Vení
Poner Pon Poné
Salir Sal Salí
Tener Ten Tené
Decir Di Decí
Pedir Pide Pedí

For more info on Vos, check out Wikipedia.

Learn Spanish with OuterSpanish. Spanish Grammar. Spanish Vocabulary. Develop Spanish listening. Looking for Spanish study aids? Check out Spanish learning products.

Common Mistake with Verbs like Gustar

September 25th, 2007

New students to the Spanish language often find a bit of initial difficulty with verbs like Gustar, which literally means “to give pleasure,” but is actually translated as “to like” something. In Spanish, to say that you like something, you really end up writing it as if you were saying that something gives you pleasure. For example:

Me gusta jugar al tenis. (I like to play tennis, but literally translated as, “Playing tennis gives me pleasure.”).

Les gustan las películas a ellos. (They like movies, but literally translated as, “Movies give them pleasure.”).

So as you can see, you are not going to conjugate the verb gustar as you normally would. For example, this is wrong: Gusto jugar al tenis. Verbs like Gustar are always conjugated in the third-person singular or plural form depending on the “thing” or “things” giving pleasure to someone.

Now here’s the common mistake that many Spanish-learning students will make after learning this. Many will use the infinitive form of verbs like gustar the wrong way. Here’s an example of the right and wrong way to say, “You’re going to like the movie”:

The wrong way:

Vas a gustar la película.

The right way:

Te va a gustar la película (or) Va a gustarte la película.

Remember, in Spanish, a verb like gustar is actually used to convey an action happening to someone, not someone conveying the action themselves.

So looking at the right way, the literal translation would be, “The movie is going to pleasure you.” Te represents the indirect object; Va a represents the action of the movie (The movie is going to …); gustar representes the infinitive verb following the use of “IR;” and so you end up with, “The movie is going to give pleasure to you,” or commonly translated as, “You’re going to like the movie.”
Let’s take a look at another example, this time using the third-person plural format: “We are going to like all three cities.”

The wrong way:

Vamos a gustar las tres ciudades.

The right way:

Nos van a gustar las tres ciudades (or) Van a gustarnos las tres ciudades.
The nos represents the indirect object. Van a represents the action that “las tres ciudades” take (going to); and gustar represents the infinitive verb to give pleasure. Thus, the three cities are going to give us pleasure, or more commonly translated as “We are going to like the three cities.”

Hope this helps!

Quedar vs. Quedarse – How to use these Spanish verbs

February 14th, 2007

The Spanish verbs Quedar and Quedarse (reflexive) have different meanings and uses. Let’s take a look at them:

Quedar: to remain
1. Yo fui al kiosco, pero no quedaba Coca-Cola. I went to the kiosk, but there wasn’t any Coca-Cola left.

In this sense, the Spanish verb Quedar is used to describe what is remaining or left.

2. Son las dos y cuarto, nos quedan cuarenta minutos de clase. It’s 2:15m, we have 40 minutes of class remaining.

Again, Quedar is used in this sense to describe what is remaining.

3. Mi casa queda en el centro, al final de la calle Oakwood. My house is in downtown, at the end of Oakwood Street.

In this sense, the Spanish verb Quedar is used to describe location, where something is.

4. Mi amigo y yo quedamos a las cinco y media en el parque. My friend and I agree (or make plans) to meet up at the park at 5:30.

In this sense, Quedar is used to express an agreement to meet with another, or in other words, make plans to meet up.

Quedarse (to remain, stay; synonymous with the Spanish verb Permanecer)

1. Ella se quedó en casa en lugar de ir a la clase . She stayed home instead of going to class.

Quedarse is used to describe the idea of staying somewhere or remaining in a particular condition. More examples:

Me quedo triste. I remain sad.

Si quieres ir al cine, prefiero quedarme en casa. If you want to go to the movies, I prefer to stay home.

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To take In Spanish – Comparing Tomar vs. Llevar

January 4th, 2007

Two common Spanish verbs that can mean “to take” are Tomar and Llevar. However, these two Spanish verbs aren’t used interchangeably. Note that Tomar can also mean to drink (tomar vino – to drink wine) and Llevar can also mean to wear (llevar ropa – to wear clothes).
When you think of the Spanish verb Tomar, think of using something. And when you think of the Spanish verb Llevar, think of carrying something. Let’s go over some example to help you understand what I mean.

tomar el autobus – to take the bus (Tomo el autobus cada viernes – I take the bus every Friday)
tomar una ducha – to take a shower (No quiere tomar una ducha – He doesn’t want to take a shower). ** Note that ducharse also means to take a shower.
tomar pastillas – to take pills (Necesito tomar mis pastillas – I need to take my pills)
tomar tiempo – to take time (Tú tomas demasiado tiempo – You take too much time).
Did you notice that in each of these examples of using Tomar to express “to take” the underlying idea is to use something.

llevar los hijos – to take the kids (Voy a llevar a mis hijos afuera – I’m going to take my kids outside)
llevar el radio – to take the radio (Lleva el radio contigo – Take the radio with you)

As you can see in these two examples of using Llevar to say “to take” the underlying idea is carrying something physically.

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How To Learn Spanish Grammar Free

December 28th, 2006

If you want to learn the Spanish language, then you’ll have to learn Spanish grammar. There’s no way around it. Granted, there are native Spanish speakers who never learned proper Spanish grammar because they never went to school, and so, yes, it is possible to learn how to speak Spanish without ever studying Spanish grammar. In fact, there are a number of CDs that you can purchase which claim to teach you to speak Spanish in just minutes a day. Well, this is a question of how serious you are about learning the Spanish language, and also it involves consideration of the purpose of wanting to learning Spanish.

The Internet has been great to students of foreign languages. And the Internet should be your first stop to learning Spanish grammar for free. There is no reason to pay for books or audio CDs. There are a number of very useful websites that go over the many Spanish grammar rules that you will need to learn, such as OuterSpanish and StudySpanish.

Another way to learn Spanish grammar for free is to find an exchange partner. Yes, that’s right. Language exchange partners aren’t just for conversational practice. A native Spanish speaker who is learning your native language is probably in just as much need to learn the grammar rules of your native language as you are to learn Spanish grammar. Check out the local community colleges and their E.S.L. departments. There you will be able to find students who are native Spanish speakers that are trying to learn your native tongue.

A great way to meet other students studying Spanish is through MeetUp.com. Pretty much every major city has an organized Spanish language meetup group, in which fellow students, from beginners to advanced, meet up once or twice a month to speak Spanish. This is a great place to meet others who are learning Spanish and ask questions. Generally, the organizer will arrange to have native Spanish speakers present.

Also check out Yahoo Groups. There are a ton of Spanish groups that you can join. As you are learning Spanish grammar, you can post questions in the forums and get feedback.

Finally, go meet native Spanish speakers wherever you can find them! Make new friends, find a boyfriend or girlfriend that speaks Spanish, and you’re Spanish grammar will instantly take off!!!

Best of luck studying Spanish and learning Spanish grammar!

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How To Say “Become” In Spanish

December 28th, 2006

Many Spanish students are dumbfounded when they find out that Spanish doesn’t have a single word to mean “become” as it is in English. Check out these two examples:
1. I become frustrated when I don’t know how to do something.
2. I want to become a doctor.

In English, it’s nice and simple. But in Spanish it’s different!

1. Me frustro cuando no sé hacer algo. (I become frustrated when I don’t know how to do something). Note that the literal translation is “I frustrated myself …”

2. Quiero ser doctor. (I want to become a doctor). Note that the literal translation is “I want to be a doctor.”

The point I’m trying to make is that there isn’t one single way to say “become” in Spanish. Here are three common ways:

PonerseMe pongo triste cuando te veo así. I become sad when I see you like this.

HacerseTe haces frustrado cada día. You become frustrated (you make yourself frustrated) every day.

Volverse (used more for something that take a long time to accomplish) – ?l se volvío un autor famoso. He became a famous author.

Many Spanish verbs when turned reflexive carry the meaning of “become.”


Me pongo frustrado cada día. I become frustrated every day.
Me frustro (the verb frustrar) cada día. I become frustrated every day.

Other verbs that follow this pattern:

enojar (to anger)
alegrar (to make happy)

There are other verbs that essentially mean to convert or transform into something:


Don’t be surprised if you come across other verbs or ways to say “become” in Spanish!

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Spanish Grammar and Translation Analysis – 1

December 24th, 2006

Today we’re going to analyze a few paragraphs in Spanish from an article published on BBC Mundo about the invention of the radio.

“En efecto, entusiastas de la nueva tecnología pusieron presión y el 14 de noviembre de 1921 se inauguró el primer servicio diario de radio en Inglaterra.

La radio capturó la imaginación del público y se convirtió en un fenómeno social y cultural.

El rey Jorge V fue uno de los primeros en hacer uso de ella, el 23 de abril de 1924, con ocasión de la apertura de la primera exhibición en el estadio Wembley Empire.”

First, let’s point out some useful vocabulary:

En efecto means “In fact, indeed, really.”
La entusiasta means “fan, lover”
La tecnología means “technology.”
Poner is a verb that means “to put, place.”
Inaugurar is a verb that means “to inaugurate.”
Diario means “daily.”
Inglaterra means “England” in Spanish.
Capturar means “to capture.”
La imaginación means “imagination.”
Convertir means to convert, and when it’s reflexive like convertirse it means to convert itself or to become.
El rey means “king.”
La apertura means “the opening.”
El estadio means “stadium.”

Let’s now translate the first sentence from Spanish to English: “En efecto, entusiastas de la nueva tecnología pusieron presión y el 14 de noviembre de 1921 se inauguró el primer servicio diario de radio en Inglaterra.”

In fact, fans of the new technology placed pressure, and on November 14, 1921, the first daily radio service in England was inaugurated.

Notice that the verb Poner was conjugated in the preterit and not in the imperfect tense because the action of putting pressure was completed in a specific time frame. Here’s another Spanish grammar lesson we can come away with here. In Spanish, the most common way of writing in the passive form is to place “se” in front of the verb. Now remember “sé” with an accent mark is the first person conjugation for the Spanish verb Saber, and “se” can also be the reflexive direct object pronoun or even the conversion of “le/les” into “se” when “le/les” is placed in front of the direct object prounouns “lo/la/los/las.” But here, in this example, “se inauguró,” (also conjugated in the preterit) was written in the passive form to mean – was inaugurated. And it was writteen passively because the author doesn’t define who inaugurated the first daily radio service in England.

Let’s translate the next sentence from Spanish to English. “La radio capturó la imaginación del público y se convirtió en un fenómeno social y cultural.”

Radio captured the imagination of the public and became a social and cultural phenomenon.

Again, the Spanish verb Capturar was conjugated in the preterit. Also note that you can translate “se convirtió” (also in the preterit) as “converted itself” or “became.” Also let’s note how the two adjectives describing “fenómeno” followed this noun rather than preceded it.

Finally, the last translation from Spanish to English: “El rey Jorge V fue uno de los primeros en hacer uso de ella, el 23 de abril de 1924, con ocasión de la apertura de la primera exhibición en el estadio Wembley Empire.”

King George V was one of the firsts to make use of it, the 23rd of April, 1924, with the opportunity of the opening of the first exhibition in the Wembley Empire stadium.

Okay, maybe you’re wondering why “fue” was used (the preterit) instead of “era” (the imperfect), right? Well, take this into account – the purpose of this sentence was not to give a description of something in the past, but rather, to express an action that occurred at a specific point in time in the past.

If you have any Spanish grammar questions related to this post, please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to explain, otherwise, review Spanish grammar rules here.

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Lesson 15 – How to Say “There is” or “There are” in Spanish

September 28th, 2006

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It is important to be able to know how to say “there is” or “there are” in Spanish because it will be the basis upon which you can start describing places. In Spanish the verb to use is Haber. This verb, however, is irregular. For now, though, you don’t need to worry yourself with the conjugations. All you need to know is the following:

Hay = There is/There are

That’s right, in Spanish there is one verb conjugation to express both “there is” and “there are.” Nice, eh? Let’s look at some examples:

Hay tres niños en mi casa. (There are three kids in my house).
Hay un libro en la mesa. (There is a book on the table).
As you can see, Hay is used for both – there is and there are.

Click here to read more on Hay.