Category Archives: Learn How To Understand Spanish

How To Make Spanish Nouns Plural

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The plural form of nouns in Spanish is relatively easy to learn. There are really only three rules to follow.

1. Nouns ending in a vowel; add s:

mano — hand
manos — hands
señora — lady
señoras — ladies

2. Nouns ending in a consonant; add es:

lección — lesson
lecciones — lessons
profesor — professor
profesores — professors

3. Nouns ending in z; change z to c and add es:

luz — light
luces — lights
nariz — nose
narices — noses

Notice that under rule 2 above, the example also showed a change in written (and spoken) accentuation:

lección becomes lecciones

That is because adding es actually adds another syllable to the word and so a different accent rule applies. You may want to review the lesson on accents in Spanish.

In a nutshell, when words ending in n, s, or a vowel have a spoken stress, the accent mark is used. The word lecciones keeps its spoken stress on the -on syllable, but in the plural form of the word, with -es added, -on is no longer the final syllable and the word conforms to the unmarked configuration.

Okay, that was la parte más fácil. Now you have to know how to add “the” definite article. You see, in Spanish the article, noun and adjective must agree in number and gender. Think of it as a homogeneous noun phrase.

For example, if “the lady” is la señora, then “the ladies” is:

las señoras

That is, la becomes las, for the feminine gender. The masculine el becomes los in the plural form:

el hombre fuerte — the strong man


los hombres fuertes — the strong men

Do you see that the article, the noun, and the adjective all become plural?

To anticipate your next question, and offer some help with it, visit: When are Spanish Nouns Feminine or Masculine?

Espero que encuentre las lecciones en este sitio informativos y divertidos.

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Clock Times in Spanish

¿Qué hora es?

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Telling time in Spanish is not difficult if you can remember a few simple rules. First, let’s look at a clock with time translations in Spanish:

Clock Times in Spanish

So, what time does it say…in Spanish?

Son las cuatro menos diez. — It's ten to four.

Literally, “It is four minus ten.” Here’s why Spanish speakers convey time the way they do, including all the rules you need to remember:

1. First say the hour, then the minutes.

2. The hour number is always plural, except when denoting “one”.

12 = Son las doce...
1 = Es la una...
2 = Son las dos...
3 = Son las tres...
4 = Son las cuatro...
5 = Son las cinco...
6 = Son las seis...
7 = Son las siete...
8 = Son las ocho...
9 = Son las nueve...
10 = Son las diez...
11 = Son las once...

3. If it’s before the hour, except “quarter till”, you say menos followed by the number of minutes.

4. If it’s after the hour, except “quarter past”, you say y followed by the number of minutes.

Son las nueve y veinte. — It's nine-twenty. Or, It's twenty past nine.

5. Always say “the” (definite article) before the hour.

La una, las dos, las tres, etc.

6. If it’s exactly the hour, say en punto.

Son las doce en punto — It's twelve o'clock.

7. If it’s “half past” the hour say y media.

Son las cinco y media — It's five-thirty. Or, It's half past five.

8. If it’s “quarter past”, say …y cuarto. If it’s “quarter to”, say …menos cuarto.

Son las tres y cuarto. — It's three-fifteen. Or, It's quarter after three.
Es la una menos cuarto. — It's quarter till one.

Remember, you might say in English, “It’s twelve forty-five”, but Spanish speakers do not.

Hope you’ve had “una hora agradable.”

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Related lesson: How to Say “What Time Is It?” in Spanish.

How To Say You’re Sorry in Spanish

Just learning how to say “I’m sorry” in Spanish may not always be enough; sometimes social situations need a little smoothing over. Maybe it’s something you’ve said or done. Maybe you just want to express your sympathy for another’s misfortune. In any case, words count, so let’s learn some vocabulary and expressions.

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la pena — mental or spiritual anguish, misfortune (something to be sorry about that's not physical pain)

Me da pena. — It gives me pain (It causes me distress.)
¡Ay, qué pena! — What a drag! (What a misfortune!)

Be careful, because pena is a “false friend” corresponding to “pain”—it does not mean physical pain.

el dolor — pain, usually physical
dolor — to hurt, to ache, to feel pain

Tengo dolor de cabeza. — I have a headache.
Doctor, me duele la cabeza. — Doctor, my head aches.
Le duele la espalda. — His back hurts.

Whether or not you caused the pain, you will want to express your sympathy.

compadecer — to sympathize (literally, to suffer with)
Lo compadezco — I sympathize

sentir — to feel, to sense
Lo siento — I'm sorry

Lo siento is also appropriate for a social gaffe, but when you are responsible you will want to use a form of…

disculparse — to be forgiven

…where you are literally asking not to be held culpable.

Suppose you step on someone’s toe, you momentarily forget a name, you forget an appointment—there are so many small social misfortunes. You say:

¡Discúlpeme, por favor! — Forgive me, please!

or simply,

¡Disculpe! — Forgive! (me, is implied)

(Background for grammar buffs: the verb is disculpar “to forgive” but the form is the present subjunctive, conveying “May you forgive…” or “I hope you forgive…”)

If you have to interrupt someone at a task, in order to get their attention, you should apologize by saying:

Disculpe la molestia… — Forgive the bother…

And no, you are not asking advance forgiveness for some illegal act; molestar is another “false friend” meaning “bother”, not molest.

Finally, let’s deal with situations where you need to apologize in advance for what you are about to do, such as step in front of someone to reach your seat in a theater, or a bus or plane. Or you may need to excuse yourself from a group such as at a dinner table or a conversational gathering. In these cases you are actually asking permission, so remember to say:

con su permiso por favor — with your permission please

or simply,

con permiso — permit (me)

And if you should have the bad luck to trip and fall into someone’s lap as you clamber to your seat, by all means say:

¡perdóneme! — Pardon me! (please)

or simply,

¡perdón! — pardon! (me)

Just don’t say permiso in the above case. ¡Ay, qué pena! (How embarrassing!)

Here is a list of words and expressions on how to say you’re sorry in Spanish—with related phrases:

compadecer — to sympathize with
lo compadezco — I sympathize
disculpar — to forgive, to exculpate
disculparse — to be forgiven, to be sorry
discúlpeme — forgive me
el dolor — pain, hurt
dolor de cabeza — headache
doler — to hurt, to ache, to feel pain
me duele la cabeza — my head hurts, aches
la molestia — bother, annoyance
molestar — to bother, to annoy
la pena — mental pain, anguish, distress
me da pena — it causes me distress
sentir — to feel, to sense
lo siento — I'm sorry (for something)

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