Direct Objects in Spanish

Hello everyone! If you have been keeping up with my YouTube channel, you would have seen that I’ve been making more videos about the Spanish language. This video series stems from questions that I get frequently asked by students that I have tutored. Direct and indirect objects can be tricky in Spanish, considering they are formed differently than they are in English. For those of you who aren’t familiar with grammatical concepts, you may not know what a direct and indirect object are.

direct object can roughly be translated to “it” in an English sentence, making the sentence shorter.

Ex. I bought it.

The direct object is the thing that you bought. What was it? Was it a ball? A dog? A plane ticket?

In Spanish, nouns have gender. Therefore, for the equivalent to “it” in Spanish, you will have four options: lo, la, los, las. Depending on what your object is, you will choose the direct object that agrees with the gender and number. For example, “flowers” in Spanish is “las flores.” Since the noun is plural and has a feminine article, you will use las as your direct object.

Direct objects are typically placed before a conjugated verb or after an infinitive. However, there are instances where it gets or can get placed after a conjugated verb (if it is in the -ing form or if it’s a command).

Ex. Los quiero. I want them.

Quiero comprarla. I want to buy it.

Tómalo. Take it.

That’s pretty much it! There is a little more I can say on where to put them, as well as using me and te as direct objects, but what you see here are the basics. Once you get the pattern down of which direct object to use and where to put it, you will be able to easily form shorter sentences!

Advertisements

Loving Through Language

It started with a love of languages.

After winter break of my freshman year of college, I was at a dinner, talking about what I had done over the break. I sheepishly explained that I had spoken Spanish with my mother and spent much of my time studying French. The boy next to me said that he didn’t think that was nerdy at all and that he would have done the same if he had a relative to speak another language with. That’s when I casually gave the invitation to practice Spanish with me whenever he wanted. It was an invitation I gave out often but never got a response. I wanted a way of being able to keep up with my Spanish while I was away from home.

When I gave the invitation out this time, the results were different. A few nights later, the two of us walked home from watching a movie in a friend’s apartment and that’s when he started conversing in Spanish with me. This lead to a friendship based on speaking the Spanish language. We would share music with each other, talk about what was going on in our lives, and more! Spanish was something special that connected the two of us. There were many people who would wonder what we were saying and get frustrated that they didn’t understand. It was our little secret.

As time went on, we started studying together and became swing dance partners. We grew close and got to know each other well, becoming good friends. We really enjoyed each other’s company. Our sophomore year, we started to date.

Almost two and a half years later, we are still together. We’ve had to endure challenges such as being long distance for a length of time but have made it through. We still speak Spanish frequently, although not as frequently as before. Recently he has started learning Russian and I have started learning Korean. We share what we learn with each other and continue to love through language.

I have read many stories online about couples who have met through language exchange/penpal websites and was always amazed by the connection two people could make through a common interest in a language. I never thought that I would be one of those people, and that I would meet someone on my campus. Have you ever had an experience where you really connected with someone based on a love for languages? Tell your story in the comments below!

Formality in Spain vs France

Growing up, the biggest and only problem I had in communicating with people is that I was shy. When it came to talking to people, I would simply address adults as Mr., Mrs., or Ms. and anyone who was a teenager or younger was addressed by their first name or nickname. Now that I am considered an adult, life has gotten to be more complicated. There is some confusion as to how to address others. Do I address other adults my age as Mr. or Mrs. or do I just say their name? Usually a tap on the shoulder or addressing the person by looking at them when speaking to them works. This is where I view other languages as more logical than English. In languages like Korean, Japanese, Spanish, and French, there are different levels of formality. However, those levels of formality do not always transfer culturally.

In class in the United States, I always referred to my language teachers formally, using the “usted” form in Spanish and the “vous” form in French. I view my professors or teachers are people who are older and wiser; people that I respect. Therefore, I used a higher form when speaking to them. My classmates, on the other hand, frequently used the informal way of speaking to someone to talk to my professors. Surprisingly, the professor would not correct them. It could be because we are studying a new language and they are more focused on if we get the grammar right. On the flip side, I have also had professors that have asked me to address them by their first name.

My experience abroad has been different, at least in the French classroom. I have seen the formal way, or “vous” always used between teachers and students even though the students may be way younger than the teacher. It surprised me that a teacher would refer to one student directly in a formal manner.

Although Spanish is a romance language like French, I was surprised to see that Spain did things quite differently from France. One cultural aspect that I had a hard time getting used to during my time in Madrid was addressing those above me informally. My host mother, who was in her 70s, asked me to address her like a friend. The staff at the agency and my professors all asked me to address them informally when speaking to them. Being raised in a culture where I had to be formal to everyone who was older than myself or in an authoritative position, I found it hard to address anyone as something other than formal.

My observations are solely based on my experiences when I went abroad. I hear that in Latin America, the situation is different from that of Spain. Has anyone else ever had this experience? If you have experienced anything similar to what I did, or even very different, please leave a comment below! I would love to hear about your experiences!

Accent Marks in Spanish

Throughout my first semester of tutoring for Spanish, I have noticed that many people have trouble with the same topics. Recently I started a series on my YouTube channel for those who are learning Spanish. Each episode will answer a frequently asked question that I get based on those that I tutor. The first episode addressed where to put accent marks in a word. So why am I writing this post? For those that prefer to have something written, I wanted to give my readers and subscribers the option to learn from my explanation. Here, I can also elaborate on things that I missed in the video.

Where do accent marks go? 

There are four rules. First, you listen to the word being spoken and determine which part gets stressed.

If it’s the last syllable, and the word ends in a vowel, -n, or -s, then there is an accent. Ex. francés, catalán, canté

If it’s the second to last syllable, and the word ends in a vowel, -n, or -s, then there is NO accent. Ex. cante, hablas, perro, dicen

If it’s the third to last syllable, then there is an accent. Ex. esdrújula (the official name of these kinds of words where the third to last syllable gets an accent), dígame, cuéntame

If it’s the fourth to last syllable, then there is an accent. Ex. ábremelo, infórmaselo, rápidamente

All of the rules have a specific name for those types of words. I avoided mentioning them because many people get confused by those names when still trying to get down the rules. Instead, get the accent rules down first and then learn what each word is called. I hope this post helped!

Here is the video for those of you that prefer a visual:

3 Steps to Language-Learning Success

I love watching TED talks and reading blog posts on language-learning. There are many people that give great advice based on their learning experience. After years of studying languages, watching videos, listening to talks, and reading, I can give you what I think is the key to success in language-learning.

Motivation

Motivation is like the gas in your car. If you do not have any, you will not go anywhere. Maybe at first you were passionate about a language because it sounds cool. You constantly need to be filling your day with activities that motivate you, because after a while, you will start to run out of gas. Watch shows in the language that you like, listen to music, read literature you enjoy, find people to talk to.

Consistency

This is arguably the most important step. If you do not take the car out for a while, it will have a much harder time starting up. You should be learning something new every day. Even studying for fifteen minutes a day is better than doing nothing. You may learn at a slower pace but at least you will not lose what you know.

Method

Pick a car and drive it. Don’t test drive so many cars that none of them end up making it past the test drive. Pick a language and run with it. Don’t dabble in so many at once or else you will never get past the beginner level. Take your time and focus on one. My problem for years was that I kept looking up videos and studying multiple languages at the same time. Eventually, you’ll get tired of running back and forth like I did. Once you pick a language, pick the best method that works for you. Do not feel discouraged if you see a video on a method somebody swears by and it doesn’t end up working out for you. Everyone learns differently and that applies to language-learning.

Apply these three steps to your life and you are sure to boost your language learning. If you want to set a goal, try these things for thirty days and see where that gets you. What works for you in language-learning? Share in the comments below!

10 False Cognates in Spanish

Two years ago, my school was putting on its annual Thanksgiving dinner for students. It is a huge meal with all the works: turkey, stuffing, cornbread, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. The best part is that the professors are the ones who are serving the students. I was sitting at a long table with a group of my friends and there was one piece of cornbread left in the basket. With all the conversation buzzing around, it was hard to hear who was speaking, including a first-year student that expressed that she wanted the last piece of cornbread. Not having heard her, I reached in the basket one second later and said aloud, “Nobody wants this? I’ll take it!”

It wasn’t until I heard my boyfriend apologize on my behalf that I realized there was a miscommunication. “Sorry, she isn’t like that. I promise she didn’t do it on purpose. She just didn’t hear you.”

There are many ways to miscommunicate. When learning a language, it is inevitable that you will make mistakes. It is an important part of the learning process because it is from those mistakes that we learn how to communicate better. One part that makes language-learning easier is the use of cognates or words that resemble words in another language. However, there are words that could exist in a language that we are learning that resemble words we may know but actually mean something completely different. If you are studying Spanish, pay attention to these words:

Pretender looks like the English verb “to pretend.” Pretender is pretending to be the verb “to pretend.” In reality, it means has a few meanings. If you want to talk about pretending, use the verb fingir.

Actualmente looks like the word “actually” in English. At first, I used to use this word the same way that I would use the word actually, to express a change of mind. For example, I would say something along the lines of, “Actually, I don’t think I can make it.” This word means currently.

Eventualmente does not mean “eventually.” It means something that can happen in the future. If you would like to say eventually in Spanish, use the term finalmente.

Embarazada is a funny one. Beginning Spanish-learners use this word, thinking that it means “embarrassed.” However, if you use this word, it will result in you being embarrassed. The word is used to say that you or someone else is pregnant.

Éxito looks like “exit” but does not mean exit. The word means “success!” If you are looking for an exit, look for a sign that says the word salida.

Exitado like embarazada, can result in funny stories if you use this word incorrectly. While it looks like the word “excited” in English, it has a little twist to it. Yes, you can say the word when you are excited but not when you are excited to go to a movie on Friday. This word is specifically used to say that you are sexually excited or turned on. If you tell someone you are exitado or exitada, that might be awkward.

Carpeta was one of the first vocabulary words I learned in my beginner Spanish class. It means folder not carpet. If you want to talk about carpets, use the word alfombra.

Librería was another word that I learned early on when studying Spanish. It is a place that has books but it is not a “library.” It is a bookstore. If you are looking for a library, ask someone about the biblioteca.

Salado not a “salad.” It is an adjective used to describe something that is salty. If you would like to order a salad, make sure to order una ensalada.

It is not a sin to use the word sin. Sin means without. If you want to talk about sins, talk about pecados.

Not all of these words will give you an embarrassing story to talk about later. Some of the words will just make the sentence harder to understand. Even so, those situations can be avoided if you use those words properly. Have you ever had a funny situation where you used a word incorrectly in a foreign language without knowing?

How Other Languages Help Me with Korean Pronunciation

In February or March of this year, I started learning Korean. It has been a dream of mine to learn an Asian language, specifically Japanese or Korean. Having focused all my time on the romance languages and not having time to start focusing on an Asian language, I decided that I was going to make time. That is when I took a Korean class for beginners in France. Whenever I learn a new language, I try to make connections with my other languages to see if that could make my learning experience easier and quicker. I noticed some similarities in pronunciation between Korean and English as well as Korean and the romance languages. These similarities do not guarantee that I will pronounce words perfectly, and I do not want to form bad habits when pronouncing words in Korean because of my observations, but I thought I would share with other learners out there what I have noticed during my studies:

The vowels 아, 이, 우 and 애/에 remind me of the vowels in Spanish. Is the pronunciation exactly the same? No. However, it is closer than their English counterparts.

Pronouncing Korean words with a ㄹ can be hard. Although this is not always the case, ㄹ reminds me a lot of the sound an “r” in Spanish makes when it is by itself in the middle or at the end of the word. (Ex. The sound of the r in the word pero)

My knowledge of Spanish has also helped me better pronounce the Korean consonants ㄷ and ㅂ. In Spanish the “t”, “d”, and “p” sounds are not aspirated.

ㅇ before a vowel makes it silent, but sometimes it can have the nasally sound “ng.” While nasal sounds exist in English, they are more emphasized in languages such as French and Portuguese. This helped me when trying to say words like 빵 (bread) in Korean.

Of course, having English as my first language has given me an advantage when it comes to pronouncing the consonant ㅎ which is aspirated. It sounds like an “h” in English. This does not exist in Spanish nor French as the letter “h” never gets pronounced. If you are a native English speaker, this sound should come to you very naturally.

There are even more aspirated consonants in Korean that can sound like English such as: ㅋ,ㅌ,ㅊ,ㅍ or romanized as k, t, ch, and p.

ㅓ can be tricky at first. It is romanized as “eo” but it sounds like the “o” in the word “coffee, “bought,” or “cot.” Once again, this is a sound that I have not come across in my studies of the romance languages, but it is pretty common in American English, depending on where you are from.

It has been said by polyglots and language-learners everywhere that the more languages you know, the easier it is for you to learn another language. Korean is known for being hard to those who speak English or a romance language as their first language. The grammar is not at all alike. Even so, when you start to make connections with your own language when it comes to pronunciation, this makes learning the language a bit easier. Do you notice any similarities in pronunciation between languages you are learning and languages you know? Be sure to share in the comments below!