I saw the sign

While studying abroad in Córdoba, Argentina, we had the opportunity to travel around the country during our free time.  As we traveled, I began to notice the signage; bus stops, cross walks, graffiti, and translated signs.  In highly trafficked tourist areas there were many signs in various languages.  In these places I noticed that the signs translated from Spanish to English, were not always translated correctly, which made me wonder, how often do we also make those mistakes?  However, although some words were missing, one could understand the message!

Picture 1 Picture 2 Picture 3 Picture 4

The Elf and the Doctor


There once was a little Elf. He was so silly, always running around from place to place. When people asked him, where he lived he always replied, “Everywhere!” To which they would inquire, “Now, where is that located??” One moment he’d be happy, the next he’d be sad–he was an emotional little fellow. He scared easily, laughed easily, cried easily, and was never afraid to express his feelings. He always made sure if he made changes they were temporary.

One day he met the Doctor. The Doctor wasn’t like him at all. He was always described as “tall, dark, and handsome”–great characteristics in a man! He had a great occupation (you know, being a doctor), rarely left his place of origin, which of course was somewhere in New England. Unlike the Elf, the Doctor was always on time and attended church regularly, his religion was very important to him. And if he did change something in his routine he changed it permanently.

A little story to help remember the difference between SER and ESTAR

SER- to be
yo soy
tú eres
él es
nosotros somos
vosotros soís
ellos son
Used for (Permanent):


ESTAR- to be
yo estoy
tú estás
él está
nosotros estamos
vosotros estaís
ellos están

Used for (Temporary):


For those situations when you just need to know…

wordsI don’t know if some Spanish textbooks are including new vocabulary in their lessons, or if I just don’t remember but lately I have expanded (or reinforced) some of my more ‘technical’ or detailed Spanish vocabulary.

Some examples from current lessons:

el ocelote- ocelot (a wild cat that I don’t remember learning about in English)
el despacho- home office
el abrelatas- can opener (another lovely compound word…I love these because they make sense!)
Socorro- Help! (in an urgent situation–why do I not remember this one??)
el loro- parrot
el mono araña- spider monkey

Comment by a student: “I know that all this vocab is about animals and camping, but it really throws me off when they go from ‘iguana’ to ‘pillow’.”
–Had to share, made me laugh!

I.O., D.O., I don’t know…

parlote_jpg_640_640I’ll be perfectly honest with you…learning about Indirect and Direct Objects in Spanish stinks.  When I first started learning them (in Spanish), I thought to myself, “I don’t even remember what these are in English!”  I guess I should have, but I didn’t.

So to clarify, for those of you who may not recall.  Direct objects are the “objects” or “things” we talk about in the sentence and the Indirect Object is the person who receives the action.   Yes, I know it sounds confusing, but I’ll explain.

She brings me the ball.

She= subject

brings= verb

me= Indirect Object

ball= Direct Object

Now in Spanish our Indirect Objects are:

Yo me
Tú te
El le
Nosotros nos
Ellos les

And Direct Objects (for right now) are:



* These depend on whether the object you are talking about is feminine or masculine, singular or plural


In Spanish, we always place the I.O. first, then the D.O., and they both come before the conjugated verb. OR in that same order (I.O., D.O. then attached to the infinitive= Verb in AR, IR, or ER form)


Let’s go back to our first example:

She brings me the ball.

Subject: Ella
I.O.: me
Verb: trae
D.O.: la pelota
Ella me da la pelota.

She brings me it (the ball).

Ella me la trae.

I know that you are looking at this and saying, “This is so backwards!” The truth is yes, it is, but remember these rules for Spanish:

1. Your verb is conjugated to agree with your SUBJECT

2. Your I.O. comes BEFORE your D.O.

3. Both your I.O. and D.O. come BEFORE your CONJUGATED verb

I know it’s a lot! But the next post will explain your I.O.s and D.O.s in more depth!

But now, I.O., D.O. you DO KNOW!

Hasta la próxima vez…



El lenguaje

“Si sólo hablásemos cuando tenemos algo que decir, el uso del lenguaje desaparecería en dos generaciones.”

If we were to speak only when we have something to say, the use of language would disappear in two generations.

Noel Clarasó

But my hands are blue…

I’m sure at one time or another we’ve all seen and episode or two of Bill Cosby’s “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”  And they really do have that innocence and ability to come out with whatever they may be thinking at the time.  And although many of us may want to speak what is on our minds, we’ve learned (at least some of us) to filter or tone down what we say.

Fortunately, children don’t worry about such things and I’ve learned over my experience (albeit limited) that children are honest, blunt, and very creative.  I thought I would share with you some of the little morsels I’ve heard along the way….

Question:  What do our hearts do, why do we need them?

Answer: Because if they stop (your heart) you die.

Question: Why is it good for us to exercise?

Answer:  So we can sit down and watch TV all day.

Question: Do we know why the dinosaurs are extinct?

Answer:  Because at first there was a lot of water.  And the dinosaurs kept drinking all the water.  And Jesus came and told the dinosaurs, “Stop drinking all the water!!!”  But the dinosaurs didn’t listen and Jesus got really mad and he came and killed all the dinosaurs.

Question: What is this (pointing to the CD-Drive)?

Answer: A cup holder.


I guess the message here is: Kids can be kids.  And why shouldn’t they be?


palabras largas

Last week while I was working with a student, we came across a question his workbook (Barron’s SPANISH NOW! Level 2), “What is the longest word in the Spanish Language?”  So of course, I had to find the answer….I searched around a little bit and found this:

“pentakismyriohexakisquilioletracosiohexacontapentagona,” which contains 54 letters. The word denotes a polygon with 56.645 sides. (I had no idea such a thing existed)

This word is followed by “superextraordinarísimamente”, which means extremely extraordinarily and contains 27 letters.

And knowing these answers, I had to hunt around for the longest word in the English Language.  And the longest recognized, non-technical coined word is:

“anti-dis-establishmentarianism” which contains 28 letters and means, “of, pertaining to, or opposing the disestablishment of a state church.

For more longest words check out Wikipedia or do your own search!