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90 votes
13 answers
13k 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 ...
Jon Ericson's user avatar
  • 2,599
86 votes
6 answers
28k views

Why is "agua" masculine in singular form and feminine in plural? "El agua" / "Las aguas" ¿Por qué decimos "el agua" si es una palabra femenina?

This is a canonical question / Esta es una pregunta canónica English Is there any rule that says that feminine nouns that start with "A" are converted to masculine or is it just done for ...
David Grajal's user avatar
  • 1,019
74 votes
5 answers
16k views

Origin and usage of "¿" and "¡"

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 explanations ...
dusan's user avatar
  • 3,732
72 votes
5 answers
19k views

Why "buenas noches" when it's only one night?

Why do we say buenas noches and buenas tardes when they refer to only one night/afternoon? ¿Por qué se dice "buenas noches" y "buenas tardes" cuando se refieren solo a una noche o tarde?
Bogdan Lataianu's user avatar
53 votes
14 answers
15k views

Is there 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: ...
Flimzy's user avatar
  • 12.9k
52 votes
12 answers
33k views

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

How should I ask someone to repeat something they've said? 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 ...
Jon Ericson's user avatar
  • 2,599
51 votes
11 answers
56k views

Is there a difference between "español" and "castellano"? // ¿Hay alguna diferencia entre "español" y "castellano"?

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 I didn't ...
Orion's user avatar
  • 1,712
46 votes
5 answers
83k 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 "...
jrdioko's user avatar
  • 17.7k
45 votes
2 answers
25k views

Why is the "x" in "México" or "Texas" pronounced as the letter "j"?

Even as a native speaker I don't know the reason for this: why is the "x" in México, Texas or Xavier pronounced as the letter "j"?
Alfredo Osorio's user avatar
43 votes
6 answers
14k 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 → ...
Jon Ericson's user avatar
  • 2,599
43 votes
6 answers
301k 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 ...
Gordon Gustafson's user avatar
41 votes
15 answers
24k 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 ...
Alan C's user avatar
  • 915
40 votes
4 answers
4k 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 wrong.)...
Alan C's user avatar
  • 915
40 votes
6 answers
154k 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 oí era vámonos. Le pregunté a una persona bilingüe allá, pero no supo la diferencia. ¿...
Old Pro's user avatar
  • 503
38 votes
8 answers
151k 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?
Peter Olson's user avatar
  • 1,095
36 votes
7 answers
496k 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?
Malfist's user avatar
  • 479
36 votes
7 answers
8k 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. ...
Rachel's user avatar
  • 1,820
36 votes
4 answers
3k views

Are there other words in Spanish 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 pronounced as 'sal-le' and the written form should ...
Sergio Cinos's user avatar
  • 1,577
34 votes
8 answers
12k 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 ...
Gordon Gustafson's user avatar
34 votes
11 answers
22k 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 can'...
Jon Ericson's user avatar
  • 2,599
33 votes
11 answers
6k views

Translation Golf XLVIII — We're sorry to see you go

Game over, amigos! OK, this edition has been kind of an emotional roller-coaster for many of us (to put it really lightly) and the source of many a headache for mods, CMs and veteran users alike... ...
33 votes
4 answers
7k views

'Ser' and 'estar' for location

'Ser' and 'estar' for location 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 ...
snumpy's user avatar
  • 988
33 votes
2 answers
10k views

¿Por qué es la palabra «mano» femenina?

En español, tenemos una regla en la cual, generalmente, se puede tener fe: Si una palabra termina con -o, es masculina. Sin embargo, palabras que terminan en -e o -a también pueden ser palabras ...
Aarthi's user avatar
  • 1,066
32 votes
9 answers
12k 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 ...
Flimzy's user avatar
  • 12.9k
32 votes
14 answers
44k 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 ...
Eric Di Bari's user avatar
  • 1,122
32 votes
5 answers
30k 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 ...
Gordon Gustafson's user avatar
31 votes
12 answers
24k 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 ...
Richard's user avatar
  • 2,199
31 votes
2 answers
9k views

Etymologically, why do "ser" and "estar" exist? / Etimológicamente, ¿por qué existen "ser" y "estar"?

This is a canonical question / Esta es una pregunta canónica Ser and estar both mean "to be" in English. I understand this and also understand when to use each. Why, however, do these two ...
BladorthinTheGrey's user avatar
31 votes
2 answers
3k views

Significance of adjective placement

In Spanish, adjectives typically come after the noun they modify. However, there are some cases where the adjective comes before the noun, and usually (always?) with a change in meaning. Example: ...
Flimzy's user avatar
  • 12.9k
31 votes
1 answer
6k views

All about datives, or: What's that funny "le" or "me" doing in there?

This is a canonical question / Esta es una pregunta canónica This is a canonical question and answer about dative uses of le, les, me, nos, se, te and os that often confuse and confound the Spanish ...
pablodf76's user avatar
  • 39.5k
31 votes
5 answers
3k 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 ...
Paul's user avatar
  • 2,159
30 votes
2 answers
12k views

Preterite 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 la ...
kodkod's user avatar
  • 1,149
29 votes
4 answers
25k 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, ...
Beofett's user avatar
  • 393
29 votes
4 answers
32k 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"?
Orion's user avatar
  • 1,712
28 votes
16 answers
3k views

Resources for learning Spanish / Recursos para aprender español

This is a canonical question / Esta es una pregunta canónica This is a specifically created Community Wiki which gathers resources for learning Spanish and it has been approved by the Community ...
28 votes
6 answers
39k 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 ...
Flimzy's user avatar
  • 12.9k
28 votes
8 answers
141k views

¿En qué países la palabra "coger" tiene connotaciones sexuales?

En algunos países hispanoparlantes la palabra coger tiene connotaciones sexuales. La RAE indica "Realizar el acto sexual", pero el problema es que es una expresión malsonante, marcada fuertemente como ...
Diego's user avatar
  • 48.1k
28 votes
6 answers
3k 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: El ...
kodkod's user avatar
  • 1,149
27 votes
10 answers
9k views

How to pronounce 'C++' in Spanish

I'm doing a presentation in Spanish class, and I'll be mentioning the programming language C++. I'm not sure if it should be pronounced the same way as in English, or if there's a different way to ...
Levi C. Olson's user avatar
27 votes
4 answers
210k views

Why is "Santiago" the equivalent of "James"?

Most Spanish names are quite similar to the equivalent in English, such as: Juan → John Pedro → Peter Maria → Mary But what's up with this one? Santiago → James What's the connection? How do the ...
B. Clay Shannon-B. Crow Raven's user avatar
27 votes
8 answers
120k 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? ...
stevvve's user avatar
  • 373
26 votes
4 answers
7k views

Why is "la Gestapo" feminine?

Why is the word Gestapo feminine? Almost all other (non-abbreviated) loanwords I can think of ending in -o have been absorbed as masculine. Is it because it is associated with policía?
jacobo's user avatar
  • 19.5k
26 votes
9 answers
4k 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 ...
Juan A. Navarro's user avatar
26 votes
3 answers
25k views

Differences betwen "ahí", "allí", and "allá"

I am confused with the uses of ahí, allí, and allá. It seems they are used according to different situations. Could you please tell me what are the differences are and provide some examples?
user avatar
26 votes
4 answers
21k 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 ...
Flimzy's user avatar
  • 12.9k
25 votes
5 answers
29k views

When is uppercase used in English but lowercase in Spanish?

There are many cases where English uses capital letters (e.g. January) but Spanish uses lowercase (e.g. enero). Grammar or orthography books have long lists of all the cases where capital letters are ...
jrdioko's user avatar
  • 17.7k
25 votes
6 answers
11k 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 ...
Nathan Greenstein's user avatar
25 votes
4 answers
25k views

When to use "que" and "de que"

Español En ciertas oraciones no sé si es más correcto usar que o de que. ¿Cuáles son las reglas para utilizar que/de que? Ejemplos: Estoy seguro que me fue bien. Estoy seguro de que me fue bien. ...
dusan's user avatar
  • 3,732
24 votes
4 answers
1k views

What's the correct way to say printed?

What's the preferred past participle of imprimir, imprimido or impreso? For example: He imprimido el email que me enviaste. He impreso / Tengo impreso el email que me enviaste.
Alfredo Osorio's user avatar
24 votes
6 answers
5k 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.
Eric Di Bari's user avatar
  • 1,122

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