Saturday, December 12, 2015

Puntos de Partida - Cómo conocer a alguien y empezar la conversación

Hay muchas preguntas que puedes hacer para iniciar una conversación con hispanohablantes.  Acuérdate de que tenemos que tener mucho contacto con el idioma hispano para tener éxito en el aprendizaje de la lengua.  Aquí están unos ejemplos: 

1) ¿De dónde es Ud.?  ¿Dónde nació?

2) ¿Cuales son sus pasatiempos favoritos? 

3) ¿Te gusta el fútbol?  ¿Cuál es su equipo favorito? 

4) ¿Le gusta salir las noches?  ¿A Ud. qué le gusta hacer? 

5) ¿Qué opina de la economía?

Hay otras preguntas básicas que se pueden implementar, pero estas son las más comunes en cualquier idioma.  Date cuenta que utilicé la forma de Ud., pero esto no es necesario.  De hecho, se puede utilizar la forma tuteada si te comuniques con un hablante de misma edad o menor. 

Sigue practicando, 

Joel

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Best Secret to Learning Spanish

How's everybody doing?  Ojala que todo vaya bien en sus estudios del idioma espanol.

Are you having trouble keeping pace with studying Spanish?  Do you feel that "you''ll just never learn, so, why bother keeping up with practicing"? 

Well, the answer is right in front of you.  You have the BEST tool for learning different languages simply because you're a human being.  Since the dawn of time and commerce, humans have exceeded expectations and have adapted to new cultures and languages:  the Carthiginians and the Hebrews were exposed to Egyptian, and "los anglosajones" (the Anglo Saxons, who were more Germanic in their presentation) were exposed to Roman (Latin, or more appropriately, Greco-romanesque) influence. 

Go and buy something at a local Fiesta, or La Michoacana, and just strike up a conversation with a clerk in the produce, "verduras".  It doesn't matter that you're a beginner, or that you're hesitant.  All that MATTERS is that you try.  People of all cultures are the same: they love engaging in conversation.  You might even score a few grammar pointers.  Pretty soon, these pointers will add up and you've be able to converse like a true native.

It's how I learned.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Irregular Verbs in the Present Tense Subjunctive

There are only a couple of verbs that are irregular in the present tense subjunctive.  If you recall, the opposite vowel suffix substitutes for the first person singular suffix from the present tense indicative (namely, the –o).  However, there are a couple of verbs that don’t fit neatly into this process. 

Verbs whose first person singular conjugation end in –y, such as estar (estoy), ser (soy), and dar (doy), all have irregular conjugations:


estar (to be)
Quieren que yo esté en la fiesta.  They want me to be at the party.
Espero que vosotros no estéis en casa.  I hope that you all are not at home.
Ellos desean que estemos en el cine.  They want us to be at the theater.
Necesito que tú estés en la reunion.  I need you to be at the meeting.
No puedo creer que estén aquí Uds.  I can’t believe that you all are here.

ser (to be)
Mi amigo espera que yo sea paciente.  My friend hopes that I am patient.
Necesito que tú seas paciente.  I need you to be patient.
Dicen que seamos amables.  They tell us to be friendly.
Espero que seáis puntuales.  I hope that you all are punctual.
Sugiero que sean simpáticos.  I suggest that you all be nice.

dar (to give)
Necesito que me des el informe.  I need you to give me the report.
Ellos quieren que yo les el informe.  They want me to give them the report.
El profesor pide que le demos nuestros ensayos.  The professor asks us to give him our essays.
Necesito que vosotros me deis vuestros papeles.  I need you all to give me your papers.
Espero que Uds. me den la tarea a tiempo.  I hope you all give me the homework on time.

ir (to go)
Mi madre necesita que yo vaya a la tienda.  My mother needs me to go to the store.
Necesito que tú vayas a la escuela conmigo.  I need you to go to the school with me.
Ella necesita que vayamos a la librería.  She needs us to go to the bookstore.
Prefiero que vosotros vayáis inmediatamente.  I prefer you all go immediately.
Espero que ellos vayan al aeropuerto ahora mismo.  I hope they go to the airport right now.

The verb saber (to know) also exhibits an irregular subjunctive conjugation: 
No creo que él sepa la respuesta.  I don’t believe that he knows the answer.
Necesito que sepas la materia.  I need you to know the subject.
El profesor exige que sepamos las respuestas.  The professor demands that we know the answers.
La maestra espera que sepáis las datos.  The teacher hopes that you all know the facts.
Sugerimos que Uds. sepan escribir bien.  We suggest that you know how to write well.

The verb caber (to fit) is highly irregular (the yo form is quepo):
Espero que la falda me quepa.  I hope that the skirt fits me.
Esperamos que los zapatos te quepan.  We hope that the shoes fit you.
Espero que te quepas en el carro chico.  I hope that you fit in the small car.
Dudo que nos quepamos en ese carro.  I doubt that we’ll fit in that car.

El maestro espera que os quepáis en las sillas.  The teacher hopes you all fit in the chairs.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Accents and other Special Characters
As you have probably noticed, Spanish implements diacritical marks (accents) from time to time.  Written accents ALWAYS fall on a vowel.  The stress of the pronunciation of the word falls where the accent lies. 
Accents are occasionally located over vowels that are part of a diphthong.  If this occurs, then the diphthong pronunciation is broken up and each vocal is sounded out.  Note the following: 

·         el río (pronounced  "ree YOH")
·         el baúl (pronounced "bah OOL" )

Another character that appears regularly in Spanish is the tilde, on the letter ñ.  This letter, pronounced , is found in words such as mañana (tomorrow, morning), and año (year). 

You’ll also rarely encounter the umlaut, which is used to sound out the “ü” when it appears after a “q” or “g”.  Without the umlaut, the “u” is silent.  One word you’ll find with an umlaut is bilingüe (pronounced ).
In exclamation sentences, you’ll find the upside down exclamation point at the beginning of the sentence:

¡Hace buen tiempo!  What great weather! (Literally, It makes good weather!)

With interrogative sentences, you’ll find the upside down question mark:

¿Qué quieres?  What do you want?

Other grammar symbols are the “«” and the “»” quotation marks that take the place of the English quote marks, “ ”.
Here is a chart that shows you all of the ALT codes so you can create them on your computer:
 
Symbol
ALT Code
Á
0193
É
0201
Í
0205
Ó
0211
Ú
0218
Ñ
0209
Ü
0220
á
0225
é
0233
í
0237
ó
0243
ú
0250
ñ
0241
ü
0252
¿
0191
¡
0161
«
0171
»
0187


0128


ALT codes can be created by pressing and holding the ALT button while typing in the corresponding number pad keys, then releasing the ALT button.  Since all keyboards are different, you might have to research your own computer’s owner manual for proper functioning of the ALT codes.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Asking “How Are You?”
Read the following dialogue between Marcos and Ana. 
Marcos: Hola, Ana.  Hello, Ana.
Ana: ¡Hola Marcos!  Hello Marcos!
Marcos: ¿Cómo estás?  How are you?
Ana:  Bien, ¿y tú?  Good, and you?
Marcos:  ¡Bien, gracias!  Good, thanks!

Above, notice how Ana referred back to Marcos using .  Marcos also asked Ana how she was doing using the conjugation of the verb estar (to be).    

If the two persons in the dialogue don’t know each other and some formality is expected, the conversation would go like this:
Sr. Cruz:  Hola, Sr.  ¿Cómo está Ud.?  Hello, sir.  How are you?
Sr. López:  Muy bien.  ¿Y Ud.?  Very well.  And you?
Sr. Cruz:  Muy bien.  ¡Muchísimas gracias!  Very well.  Thanks so much!

Notice the subtle change of the conjugation of the verb estar, from estás to está.   This is important so the conjugation of the verb fits the subject pronoun of the sentence, whether it is or Ud.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

La Real Academia Española ha eliminado la CH, la LL, y la RR del Abecedario

Se excluyen definitivamente del abecedario los signos ch y ll, ya que, en realidad, no son letras, sino dígrafos, esto es, conjuntos de dos letras o grafemas que representan un solo fonema. El abecedario del español queda así reducido a las veintisiete letras siguientes: a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, ñ, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z.

El español se asimila con ello al resto de las lenguas de escritura alfabética, en las que solo se consideran letras del abecedario los signos simples, aunque en todas ellas existen combinaciones de grafemas para representar algunos de sus fonemas.

La eliminación de los dígrafos ch y ll del inventario de letras del abecedario no supone, en modo alguno, que desaparezcan del sistema gráfico del español. Estos signos dobles seguirán utilizándose como hasta ahora en la escritura de las palabras españolas: el dígrafo ch en representación del fonema /ch/ (chico [chíko]) y el dígrafo ll en representación del fonema /ll/ o, para hablantes yeístas, del fonema /y/ (calle [kálle, káye]). La novedad consiste, simplemente, en que dejan de contarse entre las letras del abecedario.

Al tratarse de combinaciones de dos letras, las palabras que comienzan por estos dígrafos o que los contienen no se alfabetizan aparte, sino en los lugares que les corresponden dentro de la c y de la l, respectivamente. La decisión de adoptar el orden alfabético latino universal se tomó en el X Congreso de la Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española, celebrado en 1994, y viene aplicándose desde entonces en todas las obras académicas.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Introduction to the Verb Haber
The verb haber is used very commonly to denote a definite “there is”, or “there are”, or “there will be”, etc.  When used this way, it is used without a past participle and is always conjugated in the third person singular. 
In the present tense indicative, we use the verb hay (pronounced like the English subject pronoun “I”). This conjugation is actually the only irregular tense of haber, but it is easily distinguishable in speech.  This is most likely due to the verb’s linguistic evolution as it is very commonly used in the lexicon.  You will probably use hay frequently. 
When using any form of haber this way, it is common to omit the article:
Hay ladrones en la casa.  There are thieves in the house.
Hay nubes.  There are clouds.
Hay huracán en el Caribe.  There is a hurricane in the Caribbean.
Hay problemas en mi clase de matemáticas.  There are problems in my mathematics class. 

Here are a couple of examples of haber used this way in other tenses:
Preterit:
Hubo un terremoto ayer.  There was an earthquake yesterday.
Hubo unos relámpagos anoche.  There was lightning last night.

Imperfect:
Había unos peatones en la esquina.  There were some pedestrians on the corner.
Había mucho tráfico.  There was a lot of traffic.

Future:
Habrá una tormenta esta tarde.  There will be a storm this afternoon.
Habrá una fiesta en la casa de Carla.  There will be a party at Carla’s house.

Present Subjunctive Mood:
Yo espero que haya verduras frescas en el mercado.  I hope that there are fresh vegetables in the market.

Conditional (not frequently used):
¡Habría una fiesta!  There would be a party!

Conditional with Past Subjunctive Mood in a Si- Clause (not frequently used):
Habría una recompensa si el ladrón fuera arrestado.    There would be a reward if the thief was arrested.

Keep in mind that the above examples are also the third person singular conjugation of haber in the appropriate tense, with the exception of hay.  This is important as they will also be the building blocks of the perfect tenses we are going to construct in the next few Chapters. 


Beginning in this Chapter we’re going to delve into what is known in the grammar world as the perfect tense.  The perfect tense is used when referring to a past action that is perceived to the speaker of being carried in to the present.  .  It is a a type of statement used by the speaker in order to state with more certainty a completed action. 
The perfect tense is different from the simple tense in that it relies on an auxiliary verb haber, which can be conjugated in myriad ways, including the present, future, past, and conditional tenses.  It can also be conjugated in the subjunctive mood, both past and present. 
The formula for creating the perfect tense is simple:
Subject pronoun (optional.) + pronoun +  conjugation of haber + past participle

Note the following sentences in English.  Each employs a different perfect tense verb phrase, which has been underlined for your convenience:
I have gone to bed.
He has stepped outside.
By 1982, Dave and Cassie had been married for 10 years.
By next Thursday, I will have finished writing this lesson.
You and Victor would have left if I told you not to stay.

The verb haber is used very commonly to denote a definite “there is”, or “there are”, or “there will be”, etc.  When used this way, it is used without a past participle and is always conjugated in the third person singular. 
In the present tense indicative, we use the verb hay (pronounced like the English subject pronoun “I”). This conjugation is actually the only irregular tense of haber, but it is easily distinguishable in speech.  This is most likely due to the verb’s linguistic evolution as it is very commonly used in the lexicon.  You will probably use hay frequently. 
When using any form of haber this way, it is common to omit the indefinite article:
Hay ladrones en la casa.  There are thieves in the house.
Hay nubes.  There are clouds.
Hay huracán en el Caribe.  There is a hurricane in the Caribbean.
Hay problemas en mi clase de matemáticas.  There are problems in my mathematics class. 

Here are a couple of examples of haber used this way in other tenses:
Preterit:
Hubo un terremoto ayer.  There was an earthquake yesterday.
Hubo unos relámpagos anoche.  There was lightning last night.

Imperfect:
Había unos peatones en la esquina.  There were some pedestrians on the corner.
Había mucho tráfico.  There was a lot of traffic.

Future:
Habrá una tormenta esta tarde.  There will be a storm this afternoon.
Habrá una fiesta en la casa de Carla.  There will be a party at Carla’s house.

Present Subjunctive Mood:
Yo espero que haya verduras frescas en el mercado.  I hope that there are fresh vegetables in the market.

Conditional (not frequently used):
¡Habría una fiesta!  There would be a party!

Conditional with Past Subjunctive Mood in a Si- Clause (not frequently used):
Habría una recompensa si el ladrón fuera arrestado.    There would be a reward if the thief was arrested.

Keep in mind that the above examples are also the third person singular conjugation of haber in the appropriate tense, with the exception of hay.  This is important as they will also be the building blocks of the perfect tenses we are going to construct in the next few Chapters. 

The Perfect Tense – Present Indicative
The perfect tense of the present indicative is formed with the auxiliary verb haber (conjugated in the present tense), juxtaposed to the past participle.  When used in the perfect tenses, participles are always formed in the singular masculine.  This is different than when participles are used as adjectives, as they must agree with the noun’s number (singular or plural) and gender (whether it is masculine or feminine).  This topic was covered in Unit 9, so be sure to go and revisit that material if you aren’t certain about this grammar aspect. 
Since haber is auxiliary, it is highly specialized.  As you learned in the last section, we can use haber to mean “there is”, “there are”, “there will be”, etc.  But when used in a perfect tense verb phrase, it must be conjugated to match the subject pronoun like any other verb. 
Recall the formula you were introduced to in the last Chapter, as it will be the basis for forming every perfect tense verb phrase in the future:
Subject Pronoun (opt.) + haber + past participle

All that’s left is to fill in the correct verb conjugation for haber and the desired past participle and you have it made.  Let’s first look at the easiest conjugation of haber, the present tense indicative:
yo he
nosotros hemos
has
vosotors habéis
él, ella, Ud. ha
ellos, ellas, Uds. han

Since haber serves as the auxiliary parts of these verb phrases, we then pair them with the participle of a verb.  Remember, the participle used must retain the singular masculine form:
Yo he terminado.  I have finished.
¿Tú has ido a Barcelona, verdad?  You have gone to Barcelona, right?
El mariachi ha tocado la guitarra bien.  The mariachi has played the guitar well.
Nosotros hemos peleado duro.  We have fought hard.
Vosotros habéis ganado.  You all have won.
Los árbitros han tocado el silbato.  The referees have blown the whistle.

Don’t forget to review the irregular past participles!  We can also use them as parts of perfect tense verb phrases:
Hemos visto esa película.  We’ve seen that movie.
He puesto la mesa.  I have set the table.
¿Ya has vuelto?  Have you returned yet?
Mis padres han abierto la tienda.  My parents have opened the store.
Los niños han dicho muchos chistes.  The kids have told a lot of jokes.
La muchacha ha hecho un castillo de arena.  The girl has made a sand castle.
Los cocineros han frito el pollo.  The cooks have fried the chicken.
Las plantas han muerto.  The plants have died.
Yo he escrito una novela.  I have written a novel.
Has roto tu juguete.  You have broken your toy.
Vosotros habéis cubierto la botella.  You all have covered the bottle.
Ellos han impreso el documento.  They have printed the document.

El abogado ha satisfecho al jurado.  The lawyer has satisfied the jury.

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