54
votes
11answers
3k views

How important are accents in written Spanish?

English I notice that native Spanish speakers often leave off accents in writing. Outside the context of edited material, it almost seems like accent pedantry is the sign of someone who has learned ...
48
votes
4answers
4k views

Why is “agua” masculine in singular form and feminine in plural? “El agua” / “Las aguas”

English Is there any rule that says that feminine nouns that start with "A" are converted to masculine or is it just done for phonetic (ie beauty) reasons? Does this happen in all Spanish speaking ...
39
votes
5answers
1k views

Origin and usage of “¿” and “¡”

English I was wondering what the reason is that the inverted exclamation mark ¡ and the inverted question mark ¿ were introduced into the Spanish language and not into most other languages. Any ...
38
votes
3answers
9k views

Why “buenas noches” when it's only one night?

Why are buenas noches and buenas tardes said when they refer to only one night/afternoon? ¿Por qué se dice "buenas noches" y "buenas tardes" cuando solo se refieren solo a una noche o tarde?
32
votes
12answers
4k views

Any difference between aquí and acá

ENGLISH I've been taught that aquí and acá are completely interchangable. From personal observation, acá seems to be used more often than aquí in the context of "I live down this road." Example: ...
28
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is the “X” in México and Texas pronunced as the letter “J”?

English Even as a native speaker I don't know the reason of this. Another example would be Xavier. Español Aunque el español es mi primera lengua, no sé por qué razón sucede esto. Otro ejemplo ...
27
votes
10answers
10k views

How should I ask someone to repeat something they've said?

ENGLISH When I learned Spanish in school, I was taught to never say ¿Qué? when I needed someone to repeat something they just said. Rather I was taught to say ¿Cómo? Later, my wife taught me to say ...
25
votes
4answers
765 views

Question words: “qué” versus “cuál”

English Often "qué" is translated to English as "what" and "cuál" is translated as "which." However, I know that this is not always the case. Here are some examples. (Please correct me if I am ...
25
votes
11answers
7k views

How to pronounce the consonants “y” and “ll”?

ENGLISH I have heard y/ll pronounced in two different ways: [j] (like 'y' in "yellow") [ʒ] (like 's' in "measure") Do native speakers use both interchangeably? Or is it pronounced [j] in some ...
23
votes
6answers
17k views

¿Cuál es la diferencia entre tú, usted y vos?

He oído las palabras "tú", "usted", y "vos", pero la traducción de todas esas palabras al inglés es la misma: "you". ¿Cuándo es mejor usar "tú" o "vos" en vez de "usted", o viceversa?
23
votes
3answers
2k views

Ser and estar for location

ENGLISH The edge-cases of ser and estar still seem to get me. My understanding is that when speaking of a location, I should use estar. La biblioteca está aquí. However, a student I am ...
22
votes
10answers
5k views

Are there native-born Spanish speakers that can't trill their R's?

ENGLISH It seems that one of the greatest difficulties some native-English speakers have is learning to trill their R's. Some, it seems, are completely incapable of performing this task. Is this ...
22
votes
4answers
656 views

How did “asistir” and “atender” become opposite of their cognates in english?

"Atender" is translated as to assist in spanish, while "asistir" is translated as "to attend". These words seem to be cognates of each other, but have opposite meanings when translated. How did this ...
21
votes
9answers
8k views

Is there a difference between “español” and “castellano”?

English I always thought the two could be used interchangeably (meaning "the Spanish language"). But I recently got into an argument with someone where they insisted there was a difference (although ...
21
votes
6answers
79k views

What's the difference between “vamos” and “vámonos”?

Español Cuando estaba estudiando Español, aprendí que "let's go" es "vamos," pero cuando fui a México, lo único que oído estaba "vámonos." Pregunté a una persona bilingüe allá, pero ella no supe la ...
21
votes
1answer
4k views

Preterit of ser and ir

Español Pretérito de ser: fui, fuiste, fue, fuimos, fuisteis, fueron Pretérito de ir: fui, fuiste, fue, fuimos, fuisteis, fueron ¿Cómo han evolucionado los verbos "ser" e "ir" para tener ...
20
votes
6answers
15k views

When to use “ya” and “todavía”

What are the rules for when to use ya and todavía? (Or ya no and todavía no)? In many contexts, ya translates to yet or already, and todavía translates to still, but this simple understanding has ...
20
votes
6answers
557 views

What does “lo” in “(no) lo es” refer to?

English: In this sentence, for example: El dinero no lo es todo en la vida. What does this "lo" refer to? Can it be omitted ("El dinero no es todo")? Español: En esta frase, por ejemplo: ...
19
votes
4answers
3k views

Why don't Spanish words start with “sp”?

I've noticed that there aren't any words in Spanish that start with sp. Latin words are altered to include an e in front of the sp. Even loan words are often modified to esp...: spaghetti => ...
19
votes
8answers
1k views

How should I translate “table” (as in a data table)?

What should be the correct word in Spanish to translate "table" (as in an arrangement of text or data in rows and columns)? Somewhere I've read that "cuadro" should be preferred to "tabla", but which ...
19
votes
9answers
11k views

Can I learn to roll my R's?

Whenever I try to say words like perro or arroyo, I sound like I'm telling a pirate joke. I can identify the sound I'm supposed to make and I've been told how my tongue is supposed to move, but I ...
18
votes
6answers
1k views

“vaso de agua” or “vaso con agua”? Which is correct?

English What's the correct way to express that something "serves as a container for something else"? Example: ¿Quieres un vaso de/con agua? Should we use de or con? Are both correct? Why? If ...
18
votes
5answers
2k views

How do I ask someone not to call me “usted”?

Suppose you're in a situation where you have a formal/business relationship with someone, but the relationship has become more familiar over time. The other person continues to call you usted. How ...
18
votes
5answers
4k views

What's the difference between “dentro” and “adentro”?

English: How can I tell whether I should be using Dentro vs. Adentro? I've read that they both mean 'inside' and looked at some examples, but I still can't always figure out which one to use. Are ...
18
votes
13answers
8k views

'vos' vs 'tú' usage by country

I lived for a while in Bolivia, and I noticed some people used "vos" instead of "tú" as the second person familiar singular pronoun. Which countries use "vos" instead of "tú", and are there any that ...
18
votes
4answers
9k views

Why isn't “good morning” “buenas mañanas”?

"Good afternoon" is "buenas tardes", and "Good night/evening" is "buenas noches". Then why isn't "good morning" "buenas mañanas" instead of "buenos días"?
18
votes
3answers
486 views

How do I know whether to attach a direct object pronoun to the infinitive?

I often struggle to decide what sounds right when I need to use direct object pronouns. Lessons on these pronouns have not been much help because they teach that when using a direct object pronoun it ...
17
votes
10answers
223k views

Why is “De nada” used as a response to “Gracias”?

De means "of", and nada means "nothing", so why, when put together are they used in response to "Gracias"?
17
votes
5answers
1k views

Is there a Spanish equivalent to “-ish”?

In English, we often add "-ish" to the end of a word to make it less exact. Here are some examples: I'll be there at 5:00ish. The shirt was a reddish color. The woman appeared to be 50ish. ...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the difference between: “aquel” and “aquél”

I see both "aquel" and "aquél" used in similar context and was wondering if there is any difference in meaning of those two words.
17
votes
4answers
98k views

Bonita, linda, hermosa, bella, and guapa: what's the difference?

I've seen all of these used to mean 'pretty', although 'hermosa' seems to mean beautiful and 'guapa' seems to mean handsome. Are there any subtle differences them? For instance, in English being ...
17
votes
7answers
2k views

Why is 'estar muerto' used instead of 'ser muerto'?

I know it is rather rude to think of it this way and I don't want to offend anyone religiously, but being dead is usually thought of as a very permanent condition in the United States. So why does ...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

Significance of adjective placement

In Spanish, adjectives typically come after the noun they modify. However, there are some cases when the adjective comes before the noun, and usually (always?) with a change in meaning. Example: ...
17
votes
4answers
4k views

I forgot how to say “I forgot”

Okay, so I didn't really forget how to say it... I just wanted a clever question title. In my Spanish class I was taught that olvidarse is reflexive: Me olvidé (de la cita). Me olvidé (las ...
17
votes
3answers
509 views

Are there other words that can't be written? (like sal-le)

Recently, I learned that there is at least one Spanish word that can be pronounced but not written. It is the imperative form of 'salirle'. It is prononunced as 'sal-le' and the written form should ...
16
votes
11answers
27k views

How do you say a “shot” referring to alcohol?

What are some common ways of saying a shot of liquor? This can be referring to a small, usually 1 to 2 ounce drink taken all at once or can be a measure of liquor. For example: I ordered a round of ...
16
votes
4answers
5k views

Is “¿Qué hora es?” or “¿Qué horas son?” preferred?

Admittedly, it has been a very long time since I've studied Spanish, but I distinctly recall that we always used "¿Que hora es?" for "what time is it?". However, on a trip to the Dominican Republic, ...
16
votes
4answers
987 views

Difference between “por” and “para”

Even after taking 4 years of college Spanish and living abroad, I still don't have a very firm control of when to use por or para. What are the basic rules on when to use either.
16
votes
1answer
2k views

¿Por qué es la palabra «mano» femenina?

En español, tenemos una regla en la cual, generalmente, se puede tener fé. Si una palabra termina con -o, es masculina. Sin embargo, palabras que terminan en -e o -a también pueden ser palabras ...
15
votes
8answers
40k views

Is there a difference between “claro” and “por supuesto”?

Both "claro" (or "claro que sí") and "por supuesto" appear to be used to say 'of course' in one way or another. Are there any differences in how they are used? Is one formal and the other informal? ...
15
votes
5answers
1k views

Why does saber mean both “to know” and “to taste”?

Español Cuando estudiaba español, estaba muy confundido cuando aprendí que saber significa "to know" y "to taste". Los dos verbos en inglés me parecen muy diferentes. ¿Cómo puede ser esto? ¿Cuál es ...
15
votes
5answers
1k views

How to translate the idiom: “missing the point”?

What would be the correct way to translate into Spanish the idiom: "to miss the point"? I'm often tempted to write "perder el punto", but it doesn't sound quite right. For example: "To bring ...
15
votes
3answers
15k views

Understanding ya vs. todavía vs. aún

English speakers learning Spanish have a hard time understanding the similarities and differences between ya, todavía, and aún (or aun). They don't perfectly match up with the similar English words ...
15
votes
4answers
4k views

“Está hecho de…” why not “es hecho de”?

I've seen "Está hecho de ..." used to mean "It's made of ...". Why is the verb estar and not ser? Isn't this an adjective that's permanent and not going to change? I can understand phrases like "la ...
15
votes
5answers
1k views

When should I use the word 'yo' in a sentence where the verb conjugation already shows that I am the subject?

Early on while I was learning Spanish, my teachers would always make us use the pronoun 'yo' even if it was redundant: Yo pienso que... Yo quiero... Yo hablo... etc. However, a more ...
15
votes
4answers
297 views

What's the correct way to say printed?

What's the preferred past participle of imprimir, imprimido or impreso? For example: Tengo imprimido el email que me enviaste. Tengo impreso el email que me enviaste.
15
votes
2answers
1k views

Why are certain words ending in “a” masculine?

English: I'm referring to words like "el tema" or "el lema". Most words ending in "a" are feminine. This is actually the opposite of a similar question, ¿Por qué es la palabra ...
15
votes
5answers
554 views

Why is “Enrique” pronunced as though it has a double “r”?

Why is "Enrique", even though its 'r' position is at the middle of a word, pronounced as a double "r"? What are the orthographic rules you need to know to determine if an "r" must be pronounced as a ...
14
votes
6answers
2k views

Difference Between “Computadora” and “Ordenador”

Español Ví un cartel fuera de una tienda que decía: "Computadoras y ordenadores" en un cuadro "cubano" fuera de New York City, En un principio, creo que ambas palabras significan "computer". Pero, ...
14
votes
9answers
8k views

How to translate “I can't wait…”

A literal translation always falls flat, and confuses people (I've learned this the hard way). I can't wait [to see the movie] => No puedo esperar [a ver la pelicula] This always leaves the ...

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