Tag Archives: How To Learn Spanish

How To Introduce Yourself in Spanish

¡Saludos!

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One of the first things I did when I began learning Spanish–after vowel and consonant pronunciation practice–is to learn how to introduce myself in Spanish. And, more importantly, how to listen and respond to other people’s introductions.

So, here’s the scenario: you’re on a surfing trip in Perú, and while sipping a cerveza fría at the bar after a good session, a beautiful local woman comes up to you and says:

“Hola.”

You should say: “Hola.”

She then asks: “¿Cómo te llamas?”

You respond: “Me llamo [insert your name here].”

She asks you: “¿De dónde eres?”

You say: “Soy de los Estados Unidos.”

Now, you like her and want to get to know her, so you’ll want to ask her name:

“Y tú, ¿cómo te llamas?”

She responds: “Me llamo María.”

Now you can say: “Mucho gusto, María.”

Hopefully, she’ll say: “Encantada.”

You can then possibly say something like:

¿Vienes acá mucho?

Here’s how the encounter went, in English:

“Hello.” María said as she offered you her hand.

“Hello.” You said

“What is your name?” María asked with a twinkle in her eye.

“My name is [insert your name here]” (if you can remember it!)

“Where are you from?” María asked, because she noticed your foreign accent.

You answered, “I’m from the United States.” (if that’s where you’re from).

“And you, what is your name?” You asked, because you really wanted to know.

“My name is María.” She said with a smile.

To impress her (and to help with remembering her name), you said: “My pleasure, María.”

She responded (hopefully): “Delighted.”

You then said: “Do you come here a lot?” 1

1 Okay, so maybe you’re dreaming this, and this line is obviously dated…we’ll need to get you some more involved Spanish lessons so you can come up with a better line than that!

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To introduce yourself, simply reverse the roles. And don’t forget to listen carefully to the other person’s responses.

¡Hasta luego!

How to Ask for Directions in Spanish

¿Dónde vas? — ‘Where are you going?’ How do you get there?

When beginning to learn Spanish, there will surely come a time when you want to know how to ask for directions to some destination. Let’s try a few schematic scenarios.

First, you may need to get someone’s attention:

Disculpe, señor (señorita) — pardon me, sir (miss).

Next, state your destination and your wish to get there:

Necesito ir al Hotel Miraflores. ¿Adonde queda? — I need to go to the Hotel Miraflores. Where is it located?

Of course there are many other ways to ask directions, but this is easy for an English speaking person and it will be taken as a request for directions.

Your addressee may say something like:

Lo siento, no sé. — Sorry, I don't know.

But probably you will get a helpful response. Here are some possibilities:

Siga derecho no mas. — Keep going straight ahead.

This one may be trickier to interpret than it seems. Especially in rural areas there is a tendency for the person giving directions to reorient the body in a certain direction and then gesture to indicate that you should proceed straight ahead in that direction, even though it may require a ninety degree turn for you.

En la esquina doble a la derecha y camine dos cuadras. — At the corner, turn right and walk two blocks.

Be careful not to confuse derecho ‘straight’ and a la derecha ‘right’ (on the right, to the right).

Tome la calle a la izquierda hasta llegar a la avenida Martínez. — Take the street on the left until you reach Martínez avenue.

Está al otro lado de la plaza central. — It's on the other side of the central plaza.

Tiene que dar vuelta y regresar por esta calle medio kilómetro porque ya se pasó. — You have to turn around and go back on this street half a kilometer, because you passed it.

Here’s a glossary of useful, directions related, Spanish vocabulary words and expressions:

camino — road, way
una calle — street
avenida — avenue
un callejón — alley, lane
vereda — path, way
sendero — path
acera — sidewalk
huellas — track, footprints, tire tracks
adonde, por dónde — where, by which way
doblar — turn, as in, right or left (doblar is also 'fold' when you are dealing with clothing, paper, etc)
dar vuelta — turn around, reverse direction
seguir, siga (polite directive) — go, follow
regresar — return, go back
lejos — far away
cerca — near
a pocos pasos — a few steps away
al lado — next to, next door
al otro lado — on the other side
frente a — facing
detrás de — behind, in back of
una subida — ascent
una bajada — descent
parqueo — parking
estacionamiento — parking
alojamiento — lodging
aldea — village
pueblo — town
una ciudad — city
parador — stop, resting place
descanso — rest, resting place
fuente — fountain, drinking fountain
agua — potable drinking water

Remember that things are located with the estar verb, not ser. There are other ways of expressing being in a place or location:

queda en — stays, remains, is located at or on
se ubica en — is situated at
se encuentra en — is found at

El Hotel Miraflores se encuentra en la avenida de la plaza central. — Hotel Miraflores can be found on the avenue of the central plaza.

El Hotel Miraflores se ubica frente a la plaza central. — Hotel Miraflores is located on the central plaza.

Now that you know how to ask for directions in Spanish…

Hasta la vista. ¡Qué le vaya bien! — ‘Until again (see you later). Go safely!’

How to Say “What Day Is It?” in Spanish

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Anyone who plans to speak Spanish will need to refer to the day and date of some event. You may want to see if a memo or a newspaper edition is current. You may want to issue an invitation or specify the day and date of a meeting. Possibly you may even wake up some morning and say to no one in particular…

¿Hoy qué día es? — (Today) What day is it?

Los días de la semana son: The days of the week are:
lunes Monday
martes Tuesday
miércoles Wednesday
jueves Thursday
viernes Friday
sábado Saturday
domingo Sunday

Hoy es lunes. — Today is Monday.
Hoy es martes. — Today is Tuesday
Hoy es miércoles. — Today is Wednesday
Hoy es jueves. — Today is Thursday
Hoy es viernes. — Today is Friday
Hoy es sábado. — Today is Saturday
Hoy es domingo. — Today is Sunday

Notice that in Spanish the days are not written with a capital letter as they are in English. This is also true for the months.

Los meses del año son: The months of the year are:
enero January
febrero February
marzo March
abril April
mayo May
junio June
julio July
agosto August
septiembre, setiembre September
octubre Octubre
noviembre November
diciembre December

Both days and months take the masculine article el or un when an article is required. But you could say:

Estamos en enero. — We're in January (this is January).
Estamos en febrero. — This is February.

…and so on. These are non-specific utterances, treating months as though they were like seasons, or temporadas:

Estamos en verano. — We're in summer (this is summertime).
Estamos en invierno. — This is winter.
Estamos en primavera. — This is springtime.
Estamos en otoño. — This is fall.

If you mean to be specific about the date, you would ask:

¿En cuál fecha estamos? — On what date are we?

or…

¿Cuál es la fecha de hoy? — What is the date today?

The response requires additional grammatical particles.

Estamos a dos de abril. — We're on the second of April.

Unlike in English, all the days of the month except the first use cardinal or counting numbers. Only the first of the month is said in Spanish with the ordinal form.

el primero de abril — the first of April (April 1st)
el dos de abril — the second of April (April 2nd)
el tres de abril — the third of April (April 3rd)
.
.
.
el treinta de abril — April thirtieth (30th)

This is true for all the months.

Suppose the question is about a recurring event:

¿Cuándo vas a la lección de piano? — When do you go to your piano lesson?
Voy los lunes a las tres. — I go Mondays at three.

A one-time event:

Tengo una cita médica el cuatro de octubre. — I have a medical appointment on the 4th of October.
Tengo una cita médica el cuatro. — I have a medical appointment on the fourth.

Note—in the Spanish sentence above—that where English time expression may use the preposition “on”, no preposition is used in Spanish.

If you want to specify the year, use de:

Gabriel García Márquez nació en Colombia el seis de marzo de 1928. — Gabriel García Márquez was born in Colombia on March 6, 1928.

When you say a year in Spanish, you read out all the place values, so 1928 is:

mil novecientos veintiocho — one thousand nine hundred twenty-eight (we'd say: nineteen twenty-eight).

In other words, in Spanish—years—there is no grouping of digits into tens, as in English.

Finally, for today:

El siglo XXI (veintiuno) es el siglo actual. — The twenty-first century is the present century.

La inauguración de la administración actual tomó lugar el veinte de enero de dos mil nueve. — The inauguration of the present administration took place on January 20, 2009.

Next time we’ll talk about other aspects of time: seasons, the time of day, parts of the day…

Aprovéchense del tiempo.Don’t waste time!

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