Category Archives: Learn to Speak Spanish

Tips and tricks for studying Spanish. Learn some basic Spanish words, phrases and grammar that may help you in a Spanish conversation.

How to talk about the weather in Spanish

No matter with whom you are talking, somehow you end up mentioning the weather. It is a major part of our lives and it influences our decisions and our feelings. This is why you want to learn some useful words and phrases to describe the weather in Spanish.  They will most definitely boost your talking game too.

Weather can be expressed by using 3 different verbs: hacer, estar, and haber. We will take a look at all these situations in order for you not to have to always think about what verb you have to use each time.

Let’s take a look at the weather phrases that are formed using the verb hacer:

  • Hace calor (= it is hot)
  • Hace frío (= it is cold)
  • Hace fresco (= it is cool)

You can also talk about the weather using these two phrases formed with the verb hacer:

  • Hace buen tiempo (= the weather is nice)
  • Hace mal tiempo (= the weather is bad)

Now, let’s take a look at the weather expressions that use the verb estar. As you know from my post about the verbs ser, estar, haber, the verb estar is used to talk about states that are not permanent, and the weather is a great example of something that is constantly changing.

  • Está nublado (= it is cloudy)
  • Esta soleado (= it is sunny)
  • Está despejado (= it is clear)
  • Está ventoso (= it is windy)
  • Está lloviendo (= it is raining)
  • Está nevando (= it is snowing)

Now, let’s take a look at the weather expressions that use the verb haber, more specifically the form hay, which means, that there is some kind of weather phenomenon.

  • Hay viento (= there is wind)
  • Hay niebla (= there is fog)

Let’s take a look at the differences between the three verbs used to describe the weather. Is there a specific rule?

Well, for example hace is normally used to describe the general feeling of the weather, like it is hot, cold, windy. On the other side, hay and está are usually more specific.

A great tip for you would be to stop worrying about which verb to use in each situation and just learn these expressions by heart.

There are also some expressions that are used in Spanish to express the weather. Let’s take a look at some of them.

First, how do you say that it is raining really hard? Well, you have two expressions:

  • ¡ Llueve a cántaros! (= it is raining buckets)
  • ¡ Llueve a mares! (= it is raining oceans)

When someone is having a hard time, you can cheer them up by telling them this phrase:

  • Siempre que llovió, paró ( = whenever it rained, it stopped).

Just remember, it is important to learn these phrases because you always need small talk as it is an essential part of our lives.

How to write a letter in Spanish

There comes a time in our lives when, believe it or not, we have to write letters. Well, even though nowadays letters are more or less a thing of the past, it is still quite important to know how to write this type of text. E-mails have taken the place of letters in the present and they have the same format, except for the address and date. So, as you can see, it is very important to know some common phrases used in letters or e-mails. This post will help you with some common phrases used in formal and informal letters. Let’s begin.

To start, I want to mention one thing that you should keep in mind. When writing a letter in Spanish, the opening phrase, for example Dear Ana (Querida Ana) is not followed by a comma as it is the case for most languages. Instead, in Spanish we use the semicolon “ :” after the opening formula when we write a letter.

Now let’s take a look at the informal letter and its main elements. I will also tell you some phrases that you can use while writing an informal letter.

The informal letter

When you start an informal letter, you usually use the following formulas:

  • Hola X: (Hello..X)
  • Querido / Querida X: (Dear… X)
  • Muy querido/ querida X: (Dearest…X)

When you end an informal letter, you usually use the following formulas:

  • Cuidate (Take care)
  • Saludos (Best)
  • Besos (Kisses)
  • Besos y abrazos (Hugs and kisses)
  • Con cariño (Love)
  • Con amor (With love)

You can start by using the following phrases:

  • Te escribo porque (I am writing you because)
  • Tanto tiempo sin hablarnos (Long time no talk)
  • Espero que estés bien (Hope you’re doing well)

The formal letter

When you start a formal letter, you usually use the following formulas:

  • Estimado señor o señora: (Dear Sir or Madam)
  • Estimado(a) Sr. / Sra. / Srta.: (Dear Mr. / Mrs. / Ms.)
  • Muy señores míos: (Dear Sir or Madam)

When you end a formal letter, you usually use the following formulas:

  • Saludos cordiales, ( Kind regards)
  • Quedo a la espera de su respuesta,(Looking forward to your reply, )
  • Atentamente,/ Cordialmente,(Sincerely, / Sincerely yours, / Yours sincerely, / Yours faithfully)

You can start by using the following phrases:

  • Lo/la estoy contactando sobre…(I am reaching out regarding…)
  • Le escribo porque…(I am writing you because…)
  • Adjunto encontrará…(Attached please find…)

These are more or less the most common phrases used when writing informal and formal letters in Spanish, and here you can see some useful phrases to use in letters in Spanish. After writing your text though, you should ask a Spanish proofreader to take a look over it just to make sure that there are no mistakes. Also, if you do not feel like writing a letter in Spanish, but have to do it, you can always ask a freelancer to translate it.

Positioning and shortening adjectives in Spanish

In Spanish, adjectives can be either placed before or after the noun that they are describing. It is mostly common for an adjective to be placed after the noun. However, the placement usually depends on a number of factors:

  • The type of adjective
  • The connotation that wants to be conveyed
  • The emphasis.

In some cases, when there are more adjectives describing a noun, and for this reason, there way that we place them depends on the type of adjectives that we use. Possessive adjectives, along with demonstrative adjectives, and adjectives that describe the quantity, are usually placed before the noun, while descriptive adjectives are placed after the noun.

Adjectives that are placed after the noun

In Spanish, the majority of descriptive adjectives are usually placed after the noun that they describe. Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • Una casa azul (= a blue house)
  • Dos perros feos (= two ugly dogs)
  • Algunas historias especiales (= some special stories).

Adjectives that are placed before the noun

In this category we have adjectives that are used to impose limits, such as: numbers, adjectives of quantity, possessive adjectives, and demonstrative adjectives. In the examples from below, you can see that the possessive adjective su (= his) and the number una (= one) are placed before the noun:

  • Su amiga peruana (= his Peruvian friend)
  • Una manzana roja (= a red apple)

The same happens with descriptive adjectives that are used for describing an inherent characteristic or that are used to emphasize a quality:

  • Tenemos buenos recuerdos de las vacaciones (= We have good memories of the holidays).

Now let’s take a look at how some adjectives are shortened in a couple of situations. These adjectives drop the last –o when placed before a masculine, singular noun. In addition, the words alguno and ninguno, when dropping the final –o, they receive an accent on the u.

  • Uno (one) – un libro (= a book)
  • Bueno (good) – un buen vino (= a good wine)
  • Malo (bad) – un mal hijo (= a bad son)
  • Primero (first) – el primer paso (= the first step)
  • Tercero (third) – el tercer viaje (= the third trip)
  • Alguno (some)- algún momento (= some moment)
  • Ninguno (no) – ningún hombre (= no man)

When you have a preposition between the adjective and the noun, the original form of the adjective is used instead of dropping the –o.

  • Uno de tus amigos (=one of your friends).

Grande becomes gran ( great, important) when placed in front of singular masculine or feminine noun:

  • un gran maestro (= a great master)
  • una gran mujer (= a great woman).

However, it remaind grande when placed after a noun:

  • un hombre grande (= a big man)
  • una casa grande (= a big house).

This is the information that you need to know about shortening and positioning adjectives in Spanish. If you need help with Spanish else, do not hesitate to contact me.

The different meanings of the verb gustar in Spanish

Gustar is a special verb in Spanish and you have to be careful with it because as opposed to English, when you say I like this, in Spanish you say that it is pleasing to you. This basically means that in Spanish, these sentences look a bit weird for English speakers, because verbs such as gustar need an indirect object pronoun in order to function. If you are a bit confused, I guess it is better for us to start out with an example. Below is the same sentence in English and Spanish.

English: I like chocolate

Spanish: Me gusta el chocolate (= Chocolate is pleasing to me)

There are some other verbs that act the same as gustar:

  • Disgustar- to upset, displease
  • Faltar -to lack, need
  • Fascinar- to fascinate
  • Importar- to be important
  • Interesar- to interest
  • Parecer- to seem
  • Quedar- to remain to someone, have left

Now, lets take a look at the verb gustar and use it to form a few sentences, just to see how it acts for every person.

  • Me gusta bailar, – I like to dance
  • Te gusta cantar. – You like to sing
  • Le gusta dormir. – He/ She likes to sleep.
  • Nos gusta correr. – We like to run
  • Os gusta comer chocolate.- You like to eat chocolate.
  • Les gusta leer libros. – They like to read books.

Now, lets see how the verb acts when we like more than one thing.

  • Me gustan las flores y las plantas.- I like flowers and plants
  • Te gustan los viajes con tu familia.- You like the trips with your family.
  • Le gustan los juegos de mesa. – He / She likes board games.

Now, if there is more than one verb after gustar, the verb gustar stays the same. Here are some examples:

  • Me gusta cantar y bailar. – I like to sing and dance
  • Nos gusta dormir y comer.- We like to sleep and eat.
  • Te gusta nadar y hacer yoga.- You like to swim and do yoga.

Besides this peculiarity of the verb gustar, it also has some other meanings besides to like. Here are some of them:

  1. feel and perceive the taste of things, as in: Gustar el vino

In this example, liking is very close to the sense of taste, can be replaced by the verb savor. So, to paraphrase this phrase, we can say “saboreó el vino”

  1. experiment, in the sense of trying. To support this definition, see the example:

Algunos poetas gustaron el género épico.

In this example, changing to like with to experiment, we would have: “Some poets experienced the epic genre”

The verb gustar is a bit strange. Kind of when we like something. However, I hope that after you have read this post, things are a bit clearer for you. If you want to learn about how to express feelings, you should also check out my other posts, they should be useful. Also, since Valentine’s Day is coming soon, try to impress your loved one with some romantic Spanish phrases.

What’s the difference between Tener que and hay que in Spanish?

As you probably already know, Spaniards really like to complicate things. They also want to be really specific about many things, and so they need 100 different words and expressions to say the same thing. Well, actually not quite the same thing, but we will get to that a bit later.

The problem that I am going to discuss with you today is about expressing obligation or necessity. In English we have modal verbs that help us with this matter. However, in Spanish, we have two expressions that basically mean the same thing: tener que and hay que. Well, not really, but this is what this post is all about. So, I guess that all you need are a pen and a piece of paper and lets get started.

Tener que in Spanish

Tener que + infinitive is as mentioned before, an expression used for either an obligation or a necessity. It could be translated into “have to”. To be more precise, it means that a person has to do something. In this case, the verb tener is conjugated according to the subject of your sentence. Below are some examples that will hopefully clarify the situation a bit.

  • Tengo que hacer mis deberes. (= I have to/need to do my homework.)
  • Mañana tenenemos que despertarnos temprano. (= We have to/ need to wake up early tomorrow.)
  • Juan tiene que lavar el coche. (= John has to/ needs to do wash the car.)

Hay que in Spanish

Hay que + infinitive is also used to express either an obligation or a necessity. So, why then do we really need to have two expressions to say the same thing? Well, remember how I said that we will get to this topic later. That “later” is finally here. The expression hay que + infinitive means “it should be done”. Here there is no subject and the expression stays the same.

  • Hay que tener cuidado con el fuego. (= It is necessary to be careful with the fire.)
  • Hay que aprender a hablar alemán para entenderlos. (= It is necessary to learn German in order to understand them.)
  • Hay que limpiar la casa. (= The house should be cleaned.)

Below is an example to help show the difference between the two expressions:

Juan ha manchado la camiseta. Ël tiene que lavarla. ( = John has stained the t-shirt. He has to wash it.)

La camiseta tiene una mancha. Hay que lavarla. (= The t-shirt has a stain on it. It should be washed.)

As you can see, Spanish language is not so hard after all. Even though the two expressions mean the same thing, there are different and help you understand the situation better. If you want another explanation for this grammar problem, do check this out. You also want to check out the blog post about the main differences between the indicative and the subjunctive. Why? Because this is one of the main errors that people make when learning Spanish.

Great sites where you can read in Spanish and improve your vocabulary

Today, we are going to talk about learning Spanish through texts. They say that you have to hear, say, write or read a word for approximately 80 times in order to permanently learn it. You probably already know that memorizing lists of words is quite hard, no matter how hard you try. This is why, reading is one of the best methods to learn new words, and at the same time you get to improve your writing skills in Spanish, because you also read phrases.

Reading takes you a step further. It makes you more familiar with the language; it is the first step to thinking in Spanish. In addition, you get to learn new words in their context, which means that you will have a harder time forgetting them. For these reasons, below are some websites that I recommend if you want to improve your vocabulary by reading in Spanish.

News is an important part of our lives and it also keeps us informed. This site is actually the most popular newspaper in Spain. The political viewpoint of this site is center-leftist. In addition, you can click on many different options, and you can really read about a variety of topics, from the most serious ones to the funniest. The words are not hard to understand, and the facts are very detailed. In addition, you will most definitely find something that will catch your attention here.

If you are a sports fan, then you have come to the right place. I have not forgotten about you. This website focuses on sports, as its name (Sports World) already suggests it. The main team that the news revolves around is FC Barcelona. However, you can also find out many things about other football teams and read about the latest matches. In addition, you can find information about basketball, golf, tennis, cycling, and other sports. If you are passionate about sports, this site is a great resource for you to learn the specific vocabulary.

Here is a site for those artsy persons, or people who are simply fascinated about art or want to learn more about it. Jot Down mainly centers its articles on contemporary culture and also arts. The texts in this publication are mostly for both intermediate and advanced learners, as the vocabulary is not accessible, and the writing style might sometimes be a bit too artsy. However, you get to learn a lot of things about many types of art, and also sports, science, and even music and TV. The site has opinion blogs and interviews, and topics such as fashion and traveling are also covered.

Trivia is a good ice breaker, and it can also be a great for those awkward moments of silence that we all face. If you are a fan of trivia, this is the place for you. The great thing about this site full of fun facts and interesting bits of information is the fact that the vocabulary is also easy, which means that you will not have to go running for the dictionary every two sentences. In addition, the topics are diverse, which means that you can also expand your knowledge on different domains.

Economy plays a big role in our day to day lives. Whether you are interested about the financial market, or simply want to learn more things about the Spanish economy, this is the place for you. If not, you can always read the texts as an exercise for building up your Spanish vocabulary about economics.

We all like to have a bit of fun once in a while, and why not expand our vocabulary while at it? Well, this fake news website is really funny and provides a lot of humorous articles which you can read and have a laugh. The best part is that it looks like a normal news site. In addition, the vocabulary is simple, making it a great resource for reading materials for both beginners and advanced learners.

This website is a great resource for fans of science. It has many great articles, which range from biology to chemistry, and even astrology or ecology. Basically almost all science related topics are covered on this website. In addition, the articles are all well written, and the information is very interesting. However, there is one catch: this site has a lot of technical vocabulary, which is mostly suitable for more advanced learners. Despite this, you can give it a try if you arm yourself with a lot of patience and a dictionary.

This section of the newspaper El País, is a great resource for people who are interested in travel and in learning about new places. The vocabulary is suitable for all types of readers, and the topics are very engaging. In addition, you can learn a lot of great things, while improving your vocabulary.

If you want to impress your crush with a poem, you have come to the right place. This site is a great resource for poems, and a great way to improve your vocabulary, and maybe even impress the person that you like. It has different types of poems, which range from modern to old. This means that you can learn both contemporary vocabulary, and some archaisms.

As you can see, there are many different sites where you can read a lot of interesting information which is also useful. By doing so, you will improve your Spanish vocabulary, and your writing skills too.

As mentioned above, by putting words into context, you will have an easier time remembering them, and you will learn Spanish in no time. The more you read, the more your language skills will improve. In addition to checking out these sites, you can also start reading books and physical newspapers and magazines.

Spanish Words that are (almost) the same in English

Learning a new language is not always easy at first, especially when it is not similar to your own. The only thing that will make your job easier is if there were some words that looked alike in both languages. If however, you are lucky, you might even find some words that are identical in both languages and could help you. Below is a list of cognates and perfect cognates that will make learning Spanish words a bit easier.

Perfect cognates

As you could simply guess from the word perfect, these words are the ones which are identically spelled in both languages and also mean the same thing (so no confusion here). Below are just some:































For an easier learning of the Spanish language, you can use some tricks to remember how other cognates are formed. Below are the rules:

Rule 1: English words ending in -ous usually become -oso

Here are some examples:














Rule 2: English words ending in -al usually stay the same

 Here are some examples:















 Rule 3: English words ending in -ct usually become -cto

 Here are some examples:

















Rule 4: English words ending in ance usually become -ancia

 Here are some examples:















 Rule 5: English words ending in ic usually become -ico

Here are some examples:
















Rule 6: English words ending in -ar usually stay the same

 Here are some examples:
















 Rule 7: English words ending in -ary usually become -ario

 Here are some examples:
















 Rule 8: English words ending in -ant usually become -ante

 Here are some examples:
















 Rule 9: English words ending in -ble usually stay the same

Here are some examples:
















 Rule 10: English words ending in -ence usually become -encia

 Here are some examples:



Sentence (punishment)












 Rule 11: English words ending in -id usually become -ido

Here are some examples:
















Rule 12: English words ending in -ment usually become -mento

Here are some examples:














Knowing these tricks, Spanish just got a bit easier to learn. However, when you use them, do not forget to double check the words just to be sure that they exist.

Expressing feelings in Spanish

It is true that nowadays most of our communication is online. We can express anything through smiles and gifs. The same happens in the real world where when we do not know how to express our feelings and we simply smile, laugh, or frown. You have probably caught yourself just saying sí and no in Spanish when trying to express your feelings. Add a smile or two, and maybe this is the best that you can do. Fortunately, by the end of this post, you will be able to say more than sí/ no and actually manage to express your feelings.

Let’s start by learning how to express happiness. There are three common ways of doing so:

  1. Estoy contento(a)

This means that I am happy. You can use this expression to express your general satisfaction or happiness.

Example: Estoy contento de tener que trabajar menos que ayer.

Translation: I am happy that I have to work less than yesterday.

  1. Estoy feliz

This expression also means I am happy. Although it has a similar meaning to the expression from above, estoy feliz means that you are a bit more excited and joyful.

Example: Estoy feliz porque he ganado el premio.

Translation: I am happy because I have won the prize.

  1. Me alegro or estoy alegre

The first expression comes from the verb alegrarse, which is reflexive. It means that I am happy or that I am glad. You can relate it to the English expression I am happy to hear that. The second expression, means that I am happy.

Example: Me alegro de recibir esa noticia.

Translation: I am happy to hear this news.

On the other hand, you also need to express sadness and fury in Spanish. Below are some common ways to do so.

  1. Estoy triste

This means I am sad. You use this expression when you are feeling down.

Example: Estoy triste porque mis padres no me dejan salir.

Translation: I am sad because my parents do not let me go out.

  1. Estoy enfadado (a) and estoy enojado (a)

These two expressions are used to express anger. The main difference between the two is the region where they are used. The adjective enojado is more commonly used in Latin América, while the adjective enfadado is more frequently used in Spain.

Example: Estoy enfadado/ enojado porque se me ha roto la bicicleta.

Translation: I am angry because my bicycle broke down.

These are some of the most common ways of expressing feelings in Spanish. Of course, there are many more options to do so, such as expressing your love for someone or on the contrary, the hate for them. In addition, you can also express indifference, but we will cover these topics on a later post. If you want to learn more about this topic, you can contact me, or check out this post by Fluentu, which has many more useful expressions on this topic. After all, you can’t just smile and wave your whole life.

Impersonal vs passive “se”

Once again the Spanish language is offering us something confusing, this time I am talking about the word “se”. The two constructions, impersonal se and passive se look quite similar and it is not that easy to tell them apart. As usual, you should get prepared, take a pen, pencil, or whatever writing tool you want, a piece of paper or a notebook and let’s get started. Oh, not to forget, also arm yourself with optimism and you will surely succeed.

Impersonal se in Spanish

As its name states it, this kind of “se” does not refer to a specific person. It is actually used to refer to something that should be done, without specifying who should be in charge of it. This is what makes the statement impersonal.

We normally use impersonal expressions in order to say how things are usually done, whether we are referring to custom, rule, or general consensus. We also use impersonal expressions when we make general statements.

So now you know when we use impersonal expressions. However, there is still one question that has probably crossed your mind. How do we form “se ”constructions? Do not panic, because it is actually quite simple.

To from an impersonal se construction we use “se” + a verb in the third person singular. Below are a few examples that will help you have a better understanding of the concept.

  • Se habla español. ( = Spanish is spoken here.)
  • Se usa el reloj para saber la hora. ( = The clock is used to know the hour.)
  • No se permite hacer fotos aquí. ( = It is not permitted to take photos here.)
  • Se dice que antes vivía una bruja aquí. ( = It is said that before there lived a witch here.)
  • En Francia se come mucho queso. ( = In France they eat a lot of cheese.)

Passive se in Spanish

We usually use the passive voice in order to talk about an action that happened to an object, but without specifying who or what did that thing to it. Passive se constructions are formed using transitive verbs, which are those that require a direct object. Below are a few examples that will help you have a better understanding of the concept.

  • Se ha roto la puerta. ( = The door has been broken.)
  • Se te ha acabado el dinero. ( = Your money has run out.)
  • Se busca profesor de inglés. ( = English teacher wanted.)
  • Aquí se alquilan coches. ( = Cars are rented here.)
  • Se ha quemado la comida. ( = The food was burnt.)

I guess that by now you get the difference between impersonal and passive se. If not, you should read more. However, there are more problems that people face when learning Spanish, so you should definitely refresh my blog every few days and something new might appear. Sooner that you know it your Spanish skills will improve.

Christmas traditions in Spain

Whether you are going to spend the winter holidays in Spain this year, you want to incorporate some Spanish Christmas traditions this year, or you simply want to learn some more about Spanish traditions, you have reached the right post. There are many different traditions related to the beloved holiday. However, I will only mention a few of the most important ones.

  1. Lotería de Navidad

This is probably the craziest Christmas tradition in Spain, not in terms of how weird the tradition is, but in terms of the craze around it. Ever since the beginning of the year, people from all around Spain, buy tickets for la Lotería de Navidad, or the Christmas Lottery. They do this in the hope of winning the grand prize, or the so called “el Gordo”, which would translate into the fatty, because the prize is in fa big.

The unofficial start of Christmas holidays in Spain is on December 22nd. Yes, you have guessed right. This is when people start camping in front of the Tv, hoping to hear the lucky numbers that they have chosen in order to win “el Gordo” . On this day, children from San Ildefonso School sing both the numbers and prizes of the beloved Christmas Lottery. This is exactly when you know that the holiday spirit has reached the country.

  1. Día de los Santos Inocentes

While not exactly related to Christmas, but a few days after, el Día de los Santos Inocentes or the Day of the Innocent Saints, is celebrated on the 28th of December. This holiday was originally used to commemorate the young victims of a massacre, which was order by Herodes. He was hoping to eliminate a newborn that supposed to be the “future king of the Jews”, which was a threat to his power.

Despite the sombre background that this holiday has, Spaniards have given it a funny spin. The Day of the Innocent Saints is the Spanish equivalent of, April Fool’s Day. It is the day when the Spanish people prank each other. You should be careful. You either prank someone or you risk being pranked.

  1. Waiting for the Three Kings

The Three Kings or los Reyes Magos visit the Spanish people on the 6th of January. The day before, people rush to the bakery in order to get a traditional Roscón de Reyes, which is a cake shaped like a ring. This delicacy is eaten for breakfast on the 6th.

This holiday is anxiously expected by everyone in Spain from the little ones to adults. In town, you can see parades, where the three kings throw candy to the children. Then, they go to sleep, to find out the gifts prepared for them the following morning.

These are three of the most striking Spanish winter traditions. I hope that you will add at least some aspects in your own celebrations.

Regarding the content writing, knowing this and many other traditions is mandatory if you want to speak about things that matter for the audience just before they will become important through the year.