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90
votes
13answers
11k 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 ...
83
votes
6answers
23k 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 ...
71
votes
5answers
18k 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?
69
votes
5answers
13k 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 ...
52
votes
14answers
12k 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: ...
51
votes
12answers
26k 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 ...
46
votes
11answers
50k 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 ...
45
votes
5answers
69k 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 "...
45
votes
2answers
20k 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"?
42
votes
6answers
251k 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 ...
41
votes
6answers
12k 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 → ...
41
votes
15answers
21k 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 ...
40
votes
4answers
3k 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.)...
40
votes
6answers
143k 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. ¿...
38
votes
8answers
134k 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?
36
votes
7answers
6k 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. ...
36
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
36
votes
11answers
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'...
35
votes
7answers
465k 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?
33
votes
11answers
5k 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
4answers
6k 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 ...
33
votes
8answers
8k 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 ...
33
votes
2answers
9k 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 ...
32
votes
5answers
21k 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 ...
32
votes
2answers
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: ...
31
votes
14answers
38k 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 ...
30
votes
2answers
7k 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 ...
30
votes
9answers
9k 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 ...
30
votes
2answers
11k 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 ...
29
votes
10answers
20k 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 ...
29
votes
4answers
26k 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"?
29
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
28
votes
6answers
38k 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 ...
28
votes
4answers
19k 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, ...
28
votes
6answers
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 ...
27
votes
10answers
8k 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 ...
27
votes
8answers
101k 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? ...
26
votes
4answers
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?
26
votes
8answers
113k 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 ...
26
votes
4answers
16k 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 ...
25
votes
4answers
146k 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 ...
25
votes
5answers
28k 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 ...
25
votes
9answers
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 ...
25
votes
4answers
20k 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. ...
25
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
24
votes
15answers
2k 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 ...
24
votes
4answers
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.
24
votes
6answers
4k 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.
24
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
23
votes
9answers
13k views

What is the symbol “&” called in Spanish?

The symbol & is a representation of the Latin word et (see DPD, Appendix 4). Wikipedia claims that the symbol itself is called et; however, the DRAE's entry for et doesn't list the symbol as a ...

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