Lecciones de Español


Lessons for topic Expressions

Tener que ver con: What's Sight Got to Do with It?


Aplicarle la palabra "solidario" a las finanzas tiene que ver con que todo el mundo pueda acceder a ese... elemento de intermediación que es el dinero para poder hacer lo que de verdad importa ¿no?

Applying the word "solidarity" to finance has to do with everybody being able to access that... element of intermediation, which is money, to be able to do what's really important, no?

Captions 51-54, De consumidor a persona - Short Film - Part 6

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There are some complicated thoughts being expressed in this short film about the social consequences of consumerism. The number of verbs in the above quote alone could make your head spin. But here we want to home in on just two of those verbs, joined together in a common phrase: tener que ver.

In Spanish, tiene que ver con means, basically, "has to do with" or "got to do with" in English. But, of course, ver means "to see" and not "to do" (that's hacer). That's just the way it is.


En este cuadro, represento a Bachué, que tiene que ver con la cultura muisca de las montañas en Colombia.

In this painting, I represent Bachué, who has to do with the Muiscan culture from the mountains in Colombia.

Captions 16-17, Beatriz Noguera - Exposición de Arte

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¿Y eso qué tiene que ver?
What's that got to do with it? [Or, more simply:] So what?

No tiene nada que ver. 
It's got nothing to do with it.

One of the points that comes across loud and clear in the film De consumidor a person
 is that a lot of social issues have to do with $money$ (el dinero). Eso es la verdad. ("That's the truth.")

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Cómo No: Of Course (It's a Piece of Cake!)

Dicen que no se puede cambiar... pues, ¡cómo no! si se llevan la tajada más grande del pastel.

They say it can't change... well, of course! if they take the biggest piece of the cake.

Captions 3-4, Andrés Manuel López Obrador - Publicidad de TV - Part 2

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The setup line here, Dicen que no se puede cambiar, translates to:

"They say that things can't change."

Then we have the simple phrase
¡cómo no!, which is translated as "of course!" Taking it word by word, cómo (with an accent over the first ó) means "how," and no means "no" or "not." But "how not!" is not quite as straightforward as the simple "of course!" in our translation. Context can be most helpful here. So, ask just about any soccer (fútbol) fan if they'll be watching the World Cup finals on Sunday and the reply in Spanish is the same: ¡Cómo no! / ("Of course!")

Next comes,
si se llevan la tajada más grande del pastel, or "if they take the biggest piece of the cake." Note that the phrase la tajada más grande del pastel can also be phrased el trozo más grande de la tarta.

You see, both pastel and tarta mean "cake." At the same time, both trozo and tajada mean "slice" or "piece." And your choices don't end there: Another way to say "a piece" or "a bit" is un pedazo, but that's not necessarily culinary. It's often used in the sense of "to fall to pieces" (caerse a pedazos). Meanwhile, una porción is commonly "a portion" but it can also mean "a slice" as in, una porción de pizza.



Got all that? Don't worry if you don't find it's "a piece of cake," which, incidentally, is expressed in Spanish as no está chupado or, no es pan comido.


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Buena Lid: Fair Fight

The votes are in and the official count is over. But the presidential election in Mexico may still be less than finished. The more left-leaning of the top two candidates, López Obrador lost by a hair (according to Mexico's election authority), but he's not admitting defeat and demands a painstaking recount. In this video footage, shot before the ballot counting began, the candidate says confidently:


Vamos a ganar de manera limpia, pacífica, en buena lid...

We're going to win in a clean way, peacefully, in a fair fight...

Captions 27-28, Andrés Manuel López Obrador - En campaña

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Make a vocabulary note that lid in Spanish means "fight" or "combat." Meanwhile, "en buena lid" is a common expression (in some parts) that means "in a fair fight" or, more figuratively, "fair and square." So the phrase above gives us:
"We are going to win in a clean way, peacefully, in a fair fight..."

The expression does not necessarily mean "a good fight," in the sense of it being close or fun to watch, but the election in Mexico has turned into just that.



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Valer la Pena and Probar: Trying To Be Worthwhile

Vale la pena explicar que en estos trabajos... este, hemos tratado lo más posible de no dañar la ecología.

It's worth explaining that in these jobs... well, we've tried to do everything possible not to damage ecology.

Captions 1-3, Javier Marin - Artesano Venezolano

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Venezuelan artisan Javier Marin tells us right away that he and his fellow jewelry makers are not damaging sea creatures when they make their pretty shell necklaces to sell on the beach. In this video clip, Javier's opening sentence begins: Vale la pena explicar que... A literal translation might begin: "It's worth the trouble to explain that..." Or, more simply: "It's worth explaining that..." 


Vale la pena recordar la frase "vale la pena"

It's worthwhile remembering the phrase "vale la pena"


Later in the same sentence, we translate: "... we have tried to do everything possible not to damage the ecology." The verb tratar can mean "to treat" or "to try [to do something]" / [de hacer algo]. But note that there's another way to say "to try" in Spanish: probar. Here's how to differentiate the two:


Probar usually means "to try" in the sense of "to taste" or "to test." To try on clothing in a store, you use the reflexive probarse [probarse la ropa en una tienda]


Ay, no sé cómo detener esta máquina, voy a probar con el botón azul.

Oh, I don´t know how to stop this machine, I'll to try pressing the blue button.


Tratar [de] is usually used more in the sense of "to intend to" or "to attempt to." For example:


Tratamos de explicar el sentido de la palabra.

We tried to explain the sense of the word.


Es bastante testarudo pero igual voy a tratar de convencerlo.

He is quite stubborn but still I'll try to persuade him.


Of course, tratar means "to treat" too:


Cada vez que vamos a visitarlos nos tratan como reyes / nos tratan de maravillas.

Every time we go to visit them, they treat us as royalty / they treat us wonderfully.



 And tratar [con] "to deal [with]". For example:


No quiero ni tratar con esa clase de gente.

I don't even want to deal with those people.


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Quien calla, otorga: And More About Silence

Cuando callas otorgas...

When you keep silent, you consent...

Caption 10, Circo - Un Accidente

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In the refrain to this catchy punk-pop hit, lead singer Fofé uses the common verb callar, which anyone who has ever annoyed their Spanish teacher knows means "to be quiet," "to keep silent" or, more bluntly, "to shut up." The next verb, otorgar, often means "to grant" [as in, permission] or "to award." There's an expression in Spanish: Quien calla otorga, which basically means "silence is consent" (or, "whoever is silent, consents"). So the refrain can be interpretted as "When you keep silent, you consent."


Incluso muchas veces me he tenido que... que callar porque...

Many times I even had to... to be quiet because...

porque no he tenido más remedio que reírme un poco.

because I didn't have any option but to laugh a little.

Captions 22-23, David Bisbal - Haciendo Premonición Live

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No te puedo mentir, no me puedo callar

I can't lie to you, I can't shut up

Caption 11, Bloque - Nena

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¿Te podés callar la boca? Mire, patrona, yo le voy a explicar.

Can you shut your mouth? Look, boss, I'm going to explain [it] to you.

Caption 51, Muñeca Brava - 44 El encuentro

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Shut up! (singular)

Shut up! (plural)

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Ánimo de lucro: Intent to Profit

Pero yo no me lo creo, así que decido hacer este documental. Con ánimo de lucro

But I don't believe it, so I decide to do this documentary. With Intent to Profit

Captions 26-27, Con ánimo de lucro - Cortometraje - Part 1

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Lucro means "gain" or "profit." Think "filthy lucre" as a mnemonic device.


Nosotros no somos coherentes si ponemos nuestro dinero primero, buscándole un gran lucro.

We're not being logical if we put our money first, looking for a big profit.

Captions 32-34, De consumidor a persona - Short Film - Part 6

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...si predomina la lógica del beneficio y del lucro sin límite.

...if the logic of benefit and unlimited profit predominates.

Caption 67, De consumidor a persona - Short Film - Part 7

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Frankly, it's a little surprising to have a documentary ostensibly about the quest to end poverty and hunger with the title Con ánimo de lucro ("With Intent to Profit" / i.e. "For-profit"). After all, to describe non-profit (or, not-for-profit) ventures in the Spanish-speaking world, the phrase "sin ánimo de lucro" (or, "sin fines de lucro") is commonly used... Well, future installments of this documental promise to explain this cryptic title.

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The Verb Acabar: More Meanings In the End

The short film Con ánimo de lucro starts with a series of commands reminiscent of the John Lennon song "Imagine":


Imagina acabar con el hambre y la pobreza.

Imagine putting an end to hunger and poverty.

Caption 1, Con ánimo de lucro - Cortometraje

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So, what's that word after Imagina (the familiar command form of imaginar, or "to imagine")? It's the Spanish verb acabar, which most commonly means "to end" or "finish." Although we could "end" our discussion right there, we won't because, as we see in this example, the verb acabar can mean different things in combination with different words and in different contexts. But before moving on to those, let's take a look at a couple of "classic" examples of this common Spanish verb: 


Classic Examples of the Verb Acabar


Al final...

In the end...

Nuestro caso no es distinto de otros casos que acabaron mal

Our case is not different from other cases that ended badly

Captions 13-14, Victor & Leo - Recuerdos de amor

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Vale, hemos acabado.

OK, we've finished.

Caption 69, Animales en familia Un día en Bioparc: Cachorro de leopardo - Part 2

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Now, let's move on to some more nuanced uses of the verb acabar. Although all of them entail some kind of "ending," these variations can help us to express a multitude of English idiomatic expressions in Spanish. 


Alternative Uses of the Verb Acabar


1. Acabar: "to end up"


We can use the Spanish verb acabar to talk about the idea of "ending up," or where something or someone ultimately arrives, perhaps unexpectedly:


y seguro que iba a acabar en la basura, ¿no? 

and for sure it was going to end up in the trash, right?

Caption 49, 75 minutos Gangas para ricos - Part 5

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al final el congelador acaba quemando los alimentos.

in the end, the freezer ends up burning the food.

Caption 4, Cómetelo Crema de brócoli - Part 7

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2. Acabar con (algo): "to put an end to" (something)


As we saw in the opening quote, acabar con (literally "to finish with") can have the more specific meaning "to put an end to," perhaps some unpleasant phenomenon: 


Para nosotros, para el santuario de burros en España, es muy importante acabar con el maltrato animal,

For us, for the donkey sanctuary in Spain, it's very important to put an end to animal abuse,

Captions 38-39, Amaya El Refugio del Burrito

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3.  Acabar con (alguien): "to break up with" (someone)


When speaking about a person, however, acabar con can mean "to break up" in the sense of ending a relationship:


Pienso acabar con mi novio. 

I'm planning to break up with my boyfriend. 


4.  Acabar con (alguien): "to finish off/kill" (someone)


Of course, without context, someone could definitely misunderstand our previous example, as acabar con alguien can also mean to kill them!


acaben con él y lo entierran por allí en el llano. 

finish him off and bury him somewhere in the plains.

Caption 19, El Ausente Acto 2 - Part 8

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5. Acabar de + infinitive: "to have just" (done something)


The very important verb acabar de plus the infinitive form of a verb allows us to express the idea of having "just" completed some action:


Isabel Zavala acaba de salir del edificio.

Isabel Zavala just left the building.

Caption 3, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 4 - Part 15

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Acabo de ver a ese chico moreno, alto y de ojos azules,

I just saw that brown-haired, tall guy with blue eyes,

Caption 19, Fundamentos del Español 3 - Le Estructura de las Frases

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6. Acabar por + infinitive: "to finally" (do something)/"end up" (doing something)


Acabé por decirle la verdad. 

I finally told him the truth. 


Depending upon the context, an alternative translation might be "I ended up telling him the truth. "


 7. Acabarse (to run out)


The reflexive verb acabarse can also mean "to run out," of something literal or figurative: 


Cuando llegan cosas como que se acabó la leche, los pañales,

When things come like, that the milk ran out, the diapers,

Caption 8, La Sub30 Familias - Part 6

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In this context, you will frequently encounter the verb acabarse in the form of a "no fault"/involuntary se construction. You will note that although acabarse is conjugated in the third person singular in accordance with the subject (el tiempo/the time), the indirect object pronoun nos lets us know to whom the action of the sentence is occurring (to us). Let's take a look:


Eh... Se nos acabó el tiempo, entonces espero que practiquen en su casa

Um... We ran out of time, so I hope you practice at home

Caption 59, Lecciones de guitarra Con Cristhian - Part 3

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Although this sentence was translated as "We ran out of time," the literal translation would be "Time ran out on us." For more information on the se involuntario, check out this series from El Aula Azul


8.  Acabarse (to sell out)


Acabarse is also a synonym for agotarse, which can mean "to sell out" in Spanish: 


Quería ir al concierto pero las entradas ya se hab​ían acabado

I wanted to go to the concert, but the tickets had already sold out


9. Acabarse (to be over)


The reflexive form of acabar can also mean "to be over." In fact, you will often see this verb in quite dramatic contexts, most often in the preterite tense:


Anda, ¡para! ¡ya! ¡Ya está, se acabó

Come on, stop! Now! That's it, it's over!

Captions 28-29, Carolina - Acentos

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Other colloquial translations for the expression ¡Se acabó! might include "That's it!" or "That's that!"


Se acabó, yo no voy a insistir.

That's it, I'm not going to insist.

Caption 1, Muñeca Brava 48 - Soluciones - Part 5

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Para Acabar (to Conclude)... 

So, speaking of "being over":


Y colorín colorado, este cuento se ha acabado.

And snip, snap, snout, this tale's told out" [Literally: Red, red-colored, this tale has ended"].

Caption 65, Cleer La princesa y el guisante

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This common expression, the equivalent of the English, "And snip, snout, this tale's told out," often appears at the end of children's stories to say something like, "And that's all, folks!" On that note, we hope you've enjoyed this lesson, and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments


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Ni Papa: It Ain't No Thing


Porque a mí me encanta la música francés y árabe, y yo no entiendo ni papa...

Because I love French [more correct: "música francesa"] and Arabic music, and I don't understand a word...

Captions 58-59, Si*Sé - EPK

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When Carol C. of Si*Sé says with a shrug, yo no entiendo ni papa, it's easy enough for us to understand by the context that she doesn't understand a word. She could also have said no entiendo nada, which means "I don't understand anything." [Remember: you use the word nada ("nothing") instead of algo ("anything") after no in negative expressions in Spanish.]

But here singer C.C. chooses a common Spanish phrase for emphasis -ni papa. Ni means "not even" or "nor." That much is straightforward. But papa is one of those words with an almost comic array of meanings -from "Pope," as in
más papista que el papa ("more papist than the Pope"), to "potato," as in papas fritas ("french fries"). Well, one of the many meanings of papa comes from the Latin "pappa" and it means "baby food," "mush," or "pulp." And that's the meaning most commonly associated with the phrase ni papa (literally: "not even mush").

No puedo ver ni papa.
I can't see a thing.

Él no sabe ni papa.
He doesn't know a thing.




Es una papa.
It's a piece of cake. [It's easily done/easily accomplished.]

No te preocupes por el examen, es una papa.
Don´t worry about the exam, it´s a piece of cake.

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En Aquel Entonces: Back Then

Mi papá fue maestro de escuela, director de las escuelas de las compañías petroleras Shell, en aquel entonces.

My dad was a school teacher, head of the schools of the Shell oil companies, in those days.

Captions 6-9, Emiro - La Historia de Emiro

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On the beach in Eastern Venezuela, Pimienta Café proprietor Emiro tells us about his family history. To tell us about life "back then," Emiro uses the phrase en aquel entonces, which might seem to mean "In that then," if taken literally. But this common expression of time is better understood as "in those times" or "in those days." 


Note the use of demonstrative adjective aquel here. Remember that in Spanish there are three demonstrative adjectives to say "this" and "that": este, ese AND aquel. The last of this demonstrative trio is sometimes translated as "that...way over there," implying more distance than a simple ese (or, "that"). So you should get a sense that Emiro is talking about what happened "way back when."

In the Columbian television series Los Años Maravillosos we hear the narrator speak of a simpler, more innocent time from his childhood.


Esa tarde salí a dar un paseo.

That afternoon I went out to take a walk.

En aquel entonces los niños todavía podían salir solos sin terminar en manos de un atracador.

Back then children could still go out alone without ending up in the hands of a thief.

Captions 1-3, Los Años Maravillosos - Capítulo 1

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Faithful readers might remember that we recently discussed a similar construction of time. You see, Hoy en día means "nowadays" even though it may appear to mean something like "today in day" if taken literally (and awkwardly). Back in Venezuela we have an example of Emiro using the phase while talking about his wife.


Luego aquí en Adícora conocí a una muchacha de aquí del pueblo, se llama Lizbeth, mi esposa ahora, hoy en día.

Then here in Adícora I met a girl from here in this town, named Lizbeth, my wife now, these days.

Captions 28-30, Emiro - La Historia de Emiro

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Trivial aside: It was an interview with two-time Oscar winner Gustavo Santaolla that prompted our discussion of hoy en día just a few weeks ago. Well, the seemingly ubiquitous Santaolalla happens to be the producer of La Vela Puerca's album A Contraluz featuring the song (and our featured word) Zafar. We warned you this was trivia, right?

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Ver la cara: Taken for a Fool

¡Te vieron la cara! ¡Dame!

They took you for a fool! Give me that!

Caption 65, Provócame - Piloto

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A literal translation of Te vieron la cara would seem to mean "They saw your face." However, there is an expression in many Latin American countries that goes me/te/se/nos vieron la cara de idiota, which translates literally to something like "they saw my/your/his/her/our face as the face of an idiot" but which is best taken as "They took me/you/him/her for a fool." The ending de idiota is often dropped and merely implied, so when Ana declares ¡Te vieron la cara! she means "They took you for a fool!" (By the way, while this expression is found from Mexico City to Buenos Aires, you are not bound to hear it in Spain.)

Depending on the context of the situation, the phrase can also mean they took you for something else besides a fool. For example, if you are charged a hefty sum for a street taco in downtown Tijuana, you might suspect "They took me for a tourist," Me vieron la cara de turista.

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Che, Boludo: Argentinian 101

Che boluda... ¿qué te pasa? Estás como loca hoy.

Hey silly [potentially insulting, not amongst close friends]... what's up? Today you're like crazy.

Caption 3, Cuatro Amigas - Piloto - Part 3

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Our third installment of Cuatro Amigas – a very Sex and the City-like Argentine drama – opens in the ladies' bathroom, where we get a chihuahua's eye view of Elena and Rita's taste in intimate apparel. They are chatting intimately, addressing each other with che in caption 3 (cited above) and again in caption 14. In Argentina, che means "hey" between friends, or even "yo." Basically, it's a familiar, informal attention getter... che, got that?

If you watched 2004's Motorcycle Diaries, chronicling the cross-continent journeys that raised the consciousness of Ernesto "Che" Guevara, you know how Che got his famous nickname. For the rest of you: The Chileans were simply making fun of young Ernesto's Argentine habit of saying che all the time. (For more lore about the Marxist revolutionary, look for the two-part 2008 biopic called Che, with Benicio del Toro as a very convincing Che.)

Back to the quote cited above, which is translated as, "Hey silly, what's going on with you?" But we put a special note next to our translation of "silly" because that's not the whole story. Boludo or boluda is a slang word in Argentina that roughly means something more like "jerk." Use it with caution in the streets of Buenos Aires because it can be quite an insult, depending on the context. But between girlfriends, it's almost another way to say "hey... you."



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Hoy en día: Nowadays

...y que trae algo a la mesa de lo que es hoy en día es la música en general, ... trae algo diferente, algo novedoso, algo fresco.

...and brings something to the table that nowadays, the music generally, ... it brings something different, something new, something fresh.

Captions 43-46, Javier García - EPK - Part 2

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More generalizations. This time, we're hearing about music "nowadays" from Javier García's producer Gustavo Santaolalla -who won an Oscar for best original score for "Brokeback Mountain" (marketed as Secreto en la Montaña in Spanish). Yes, hoy en día is how you say "nowadays" in Spanish, which you will make note of if you ever want to be as fluent in both languages as Santaolalla is. In his Oscar acceptance speech LA-resident Santaolalla dedicated his Oscar to "todos los latinos." He said both "gracias" and "thank you," which played very well in Latin American newspapers. (To save you time, the article linked describes some Latino papers' reactions--from Miami to Mexico, Brazil to Chile.) 


En un principio esta fuente cumplió su función de abastecimiento de agua a los ciudadanos de Madrid.

At first this fountain acomplished its function of supplying water to the citizens of Madrid.

Pero hoy en día su función es totalmente decorativa.

But nowadays its function is totally decorative.

Captions 15-18, Marisa en Madrid - Monumentos de Madrid

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In this example of the use of the phrase, Marisa shows us a beautiful, neoclassical fountain in Madrid called Fuente de Cibeles (The Fountain of Cybele). 


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Ser Ganso, Ir a los bifes: Don't Be a Fool- Go for It!

Cuando las minas te piden tiempo en realidad lo que quieren decir es que no seas más ganso... y que vayas directamente a los bifes.

When chicks ask you for time what they really mean is that you should stop being a fool... and go straight into action.

Captions 4-6, Verano Eterno - Fiesta Grande - Part 7

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¿Que quieren decir? Ok, here's a generalization about men: Whenever you hear men make generalizations about women, be very skeptical! In this installment of Verano Eterno, unemployed Juan offers his unsolicited advice about minas (that is, "women" in Argentine slang) to his lovestruck buddy Mani. According to the wisdom of Juan (captions 4-6, as quoted above): "When chicks ask you for [more] time, what they really mean is stop being a fool and go for it."

Of course, Juan is young and speaks casually to his friend, so there's some slang to decipher to get his precise meaning. Ganso, which literally means "goose," is easy enough to understand in context. But it may help to know that hacer el ganso generally means "to play the fool," and so, naturally, ser un ganso, is "to be a fool." But what about the end of the statement? ir a los bifes In a way, it too follows its literal meaning: "To go to the meat" -er, more or less. Checking in with native speakers, the phrase vayas a los bifes more commonly means "go for it".

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Darse Cuenta: The Real "Realize"

While there are many words that are identical in Spanish and English (e.g. original, horror, etc.), other words play different tricks on us. This short lesson is about one of those "false friends," or words that are written the same as or similar to words in another language but have very different meanings. 



An age-old mistake among English speakers is to use the verb realizar as a means of conveying "to come to know" or "realize." Of course, most of you know by now that this is a false cognate as realizar usually means "to achieve," "bring to fruition," etc.


In fact, the correct way to say "to realize" is darse cuenta. Let's take a look at a couple of clips in order to see that verb in action:


Eh, darse cuenta que... que hay mucha gente, muchos chavales, que han podido perder una familia en'... a sus padres, se pueden quedar huérfanos.

Um, realizing that... that there many people, many young people, who have managed to lose an [entire] family... their parents; they can end up orphans.

Captions 12-13, Iker Casillas - apoya el trabajo de Plan

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Y de pronto te das cuenta de que... de que no quieres estar con nadie más.

And suddenly you realize that... that you don't want to be with anyone else.

Captions 29-30, Cortometraje - Flechazos

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And now, let's see how the Spanish verb realizar is used throughout this El Aula Azul video:


Entonces voy a coger los datos para realizar la inscripción.

Then I'm going to take down the information to carry out the registration.

Caption 1, El Aula Azul - Conversación: Los cursos de español

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Y ahí tendrá toda la información para realizar el pago.

And there he'll have all of the information to make the payment.

Caption 31, El Aula Azul - Conversación: Los cursos de español

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Y toda la información que pueda necesitar para... para realizar su curso.

And all the information that he might need to... to take his course.

Caption 32, El Aula Azul - Conversación: Los cursos de español

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As you can see, the verb realizar can be used in many different ways, just not in the way in which a native English speaker might initially expect!


That's all for today. We hope this lesson helps you to avoid making this common mistake. And don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions.

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Tirarse todo el ropero encima: Overdressed

Se tiró todo el ropero encima....

She threw everything in the closet on her...

Caption 37, Provócame - Piloto

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The scene is a high society wedding. Two women are talking conspiratorially. A third woman walks by, they say "Hi" but then quickly comment and giggle to each other. You know they just said something catty, but what was it? Here's the replay: "¿Está Loca? Se tiró todo el ropero encima.("Is she crazy? She threw on her whole wardrobe.") In all likelihood the victim of this verbal assault was not wearing everything she owned. However, with her estola ("stole"), joyas de oro ("gold jewelry") and vestido sin tirantes ("strapless dress"), the gossips want to say that she is overdressed.


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Pa': A Shortcut for "Para"

Y como yo no soy de este país, me vine pa' cá.

And since I'm not from this country, I came here.

Caption 11, Taimur - Taimur habla

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Ya yo voy pa' allá y me voy pa' mi país otra vez.

I'm going there soon and I'm going to my country again.

Caption 23, Taimur - Taimur habla

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Outside a Spanish classroom -say, on the streets or on the radio- it's very common to hear pa' in place of para ("for, towards, to a destination"). Interviewing young Taimur in a middle class neighborhood of Coro, Venezuela, a whole series of pa' pa' pa's are heard to drive home the point. "Vine pa' 'cá" ("Vine para acá") means "I came [to] here." "Voy pa' allá" means "I'll go [to] there." In both cases, pa' indicates the destination.

Looking for other examples? In the intro to Shakira's ubiquitous song La Tortura, "pa' ti" is the fast way to say "for you." In fact, if you search for "pa' 'cá," "pa' allá" or "pa' ti" on the Internet, you'll be inundated with letras (song lyrics) from the Spanish-speaking parts of the Caribbean down to the tip of Chile and even over in Spain.

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Hacer Pata: To Cover for Someone

Vení, haceme pata con la amiguita.

Come, cover her little friend for me.

Caption 28, Muñeca Brava - 1 Piloto

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Pata can signify "paw" or "leg," but in this case hacer pata is an expression that means "to support someone" or "to cover for someone." So when Facundo Arana says haceme pata con la amiguita, his friend "covers" (diverts) the other girl while he tries to make his move on Natalia Oreiro. Note that the diminutive of amiga is not amigita, but rather amiguita, just as the diminutive of hormiga is hormiguita.


Haceme la pata con el jefe, porque hoy no puedo ir a trabajar.
Cover for me with the boss, because I can't go to work today.


Haceme pata con Juan, ¡él es perfecto para mí!
Put in a good word for me with Juan, he is perfect for me!


Note: Because the video discussed is Argentine, these examples contain the "voseo" form of the affirmative imperative conjugation of the verb hacer.

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Estar por + Infinitive Verb (About to)

In this lesson, we would like to talk about a very simple formula that native Spanish speakers use when they wish to express their intention or inclination to do something. Let's take a look at it:


The verb estar (to be) + the preposition por + infinitive verb


Now, let's take a look at the following clip to see how that formula works:


Tu hija se está por casar con un buen hombre.

Your daughter's about to get married to a good man.

Caption 17, Provócame - Piloto

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When Patricia says to Ignacio, "Tu hija se está por casar con un buen hombre," she is saying: "Your daughter is about to get married to a good man." That said, the meaning of estar por hacer algo is: "to be about to do something," or have the intention to carry out the action of the infinitive verb. Note that the reflexive pronoun se in Patricia's sentence is part of the reflexive verb casarse (rather than having any association with estar). That said, she could have just as well have said: "Tu hija está por casarse."




Let's look at another example:


Ya estoy por pensar que Urrutia sí es quien dice ser.

I'm about to think that Urrutia really is who he says he is.

Caption 24, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa - Capítulo 4

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In this example, we can see that Rubio is "about to think" something.  In this context, our formula expresses that Rubio "feels tempted" or "is inclined" to think that what Urrutia says is true. 


Note that in some Spanish-speaking areas, estar por + infinitive would more likely be used to indicate that one is in the mood to do something or has the intention to, while in other regions, estar para + infinitive is the more common way to say that some action will soon take place.


Finally, keep in mind that in some parts of Latin America, people might use estar por + infinitive as an alternative way of saying estar a punto de (hacer algo). Let's look at an example of how this same idea of being "about to" do something can be expressed with different words:  


Está por llover (It's about to rain).

Está a punto de llover (It's about to rain).


That's all for this lesson. We hope you've learned something new today, and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments. ¡Hasta la próxima!




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