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Every language has evolved other languages, and Spanish is no exception. From its roots as a Vulgar Latin dialect in Castilla to its current status as a global language, Spanish has been heavily influenced throughout its history by many other languages. Modern-day Spanish is a fascinating reflection of a multitude cultures and histories, from ancient Greek to English (and even Hungarian!).
“Falsos amigos”, or literally, “false friends” (also referred to as “false cognates”), are words which sound like they mean the same thing in English as in Spanish. This is the case with true cognates, such as horrible, which does in fact mean “horrible”. However, does carpeta really mean “carpet”, and is it a good idea to say that you are “embarazada” if you feel embarrassed? Read on to find out the top “falsos” amigos that you should avoid like the plague!
So you’re off to a Spanish speaking country? Lucky you! Make sure you pack some sun-cream, plenty of towels, and our guide to Spanish phrases for tourists! We’ve no idea what you’ll be doing of course, but hopefully you can find a use for our fine collection of phrases below.
One of the first things that we’re taught in Spanish is about gender, and it’s also one of the last things we’ll actually get right. The concept of gender is pretty alien to us English speakers, as it seems strange to us to assign a sex to not only people and animals, but also objects, and any other noun. There are some good guidelines to help to understand the genders that nouns belong to, and we’ve summarised some of the most useful rules in this infographic!
“Gustar” is a funny verb. When we first learn it, we equate “me gusta” with “I like” – “me gusta pizza” means “I like pizza”. Simple enough. However, this verb, and many others like it, are profoundly different to our English equivalents. They are known as “reverse construction verbs”
Few verbs have attracted as much attention and hours of study as the two “copular” verbs in Spanish: Ser and Estar. To an English native speaker, it seems bizarre to have two verbs which both mean “to be”, and distinguishing between them and their uses can be a major challenge in studying Spanish. Yet, even for linguists, these two verbs have been a source of much controversy. Here, we look at different ways of approaching these two verbs, as well as some of the problems in the classic teaching methods for these verbs.
Mistakes by we English speakers when we speak Spanish instantly mark us out as foreign, and the consequences range from sounding a bit more foreign, to saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, or completely embarrassing yourself (look up the Spanish for “I have a cold”…). While these mistakes are very easy for us to make, they are just as easy to rectify once you’re aware of them.
Woo your lover with these romantic refrains! Spanish is, after all, a Romance language, so spice up your Spanish with these romance phrases – I’m fairly sure your partner will be left quivering at the knees after you tell them that “el amor entra por los ojos”, or that “te encanta”. So, release Cupid’s arrow!
So you’ve landed in Spain/South America/Mexico, and you’ve realised that people don’t speak quite as much English as you imagined. Have no fear! These essential Spanish phrases will help you get what you need, and will stop people laughing at you. They’re actually frequently used in every day conversation by millions of Spanish speakers world-wide.
You can perfect your grammar, learn the entire Spanish dictionary, and talk at 100 mph, but the one stumbling block keeping you from sounding really Spanish is the “r” sound. Especially for us native English speakers, this sound is so alien that it seems just impossible.