Spanish Trouble Shooting


            Here are some Spanish basics that you need to know to avoid errors and make your learning more successful and useful.


1)        Match all adjectives with the nouns they modify.  Be careful how you end the words.  Are they masculine or feminine/ singular or plural?  Remember that

el / la / los / las= the     and the words un / una = a/an .  Most adjectives come after the noun being described.  Exceptions are  numbers (cardinal or ordinal),


2)        Match the subject and verb of each sentence.  Be careful to use appropriate endings for the verbs to indicate the subject and the tense.


3)            Gustar is a special verb.  (me gusta  /   me gustan    te gusta / te gustan

le gusta /  le gustan       nos gusta /  nos gustan       les gusta /  les gustan  )

            A Mario le gusta cantar.    A mis amigos les gusta el pan.


4)        De  is used to show possession and also what something is made of or where it originated.  Never use ‘s to show possession!!  Remember that de + el = del


5)        A has a couple of uses.  It means “to”, as in a destination.   It is also used as the “personal a” in sentences where the direct object receiving the action is a person or group of people.


6)        Time  There are several words in Spanish we use to say “time

                        tiempo = time in general ( I don’t have time today.)

                        hora = clock time  (What time is it?)

                        vez    = the number of times  (I eat tacos three times during the week.)


7)        Bien / Bueno                Bien means well or fine.   It’s used as an adverb telling how.                                                    Bueno means good.       Bueno can change forms, bien can’t.


8)        SER  /  ESTAR            Both of these verbs mean “to be”, but each has it’s own uses.

                                                SER               * characteristics

                                                                        * possession

                                                                        * origin or nationality

                                                                        * telling what something is made of

                                                                        * equivalents in a sentence (John is the teacher.)


                                                ESTAR         * location of anything permanent or temporary

                                                                        * condition or feeling of something or somebody

                                                                                    as a result of an action

            Remember that the word HAY means there is / there are.


8)        This / that  these / those            Be careful when using these words.


                                    this            este            esta                  these  estos             estas

                                    that            ese            esa                    those  esos             esas

                                    that*            aquel            aquella             those*            aquellos            aquellas      

9)        Por  &  Para            These two words cause many problems for non-native                                                                  speakers.  Here are some general guidelines to help you.

                                    POR                                       PARA

                        * through, by , along                          * intended for

                        * per, rate                                           * in order to (not always expressed in English)

                        * in exchange for                               * destination

                        * in place of                                        * due date or deadline

                        * for a certain length of time               * as an employee of

                        * purpose of an errand

                        * in favor of


10)            Question words in Spanish.  What do these words mean?


¿ qué?              ¿ quién?              ¿quiénes?     ¿con quién?              ¿ de quién?              ¿para quién?


¿ a quién?             ¿ cuál?              ¿cuáles?        ¿ dónde?              ¿adónde?     ¿de dónde? 


¿cómo?              ¿por qué?              ¿cuándo?              ¿cuánto?              ¿cuánta?              ¿cuántos? 




Remember to use the correct word order when writing a question in Spanish.


            ¿  Question word       verb            subject  ?        (  ¿Dónde vive Luisa?  )                    

                        1                      2                    3    


            ¿      Verb               subject   ?                              (  ¿Estudia Carlos?  )      

                        1                           2


Never end a Spanish sentence (statement or question) with a preposition.  In Spanish the preposition usually comes before the question word or connecting word.


            Where is he from?            *                      ¿ De dónde es él?

            Who do they sing with?  *                        ¿Con quién cantan?

            Mary is the girl who he talks with. *           Mary es la muchacha con quien él habla.

                 ( * incorrect use of English, but this is the way we talk)


11)            Prepositions            You should be familiar with all of these prepositions.


            a            de            con            sin            en            para       por         desde hasta       sobre      entre     delante de        detrás de            cerca de     lejos de

  encima de    alrededor de        debajo de            dentro de       fuera de       a la derecha de            a la izquierda de


12)      Verbs with built in prepositions:            esperar         buscar             mirar       escuchar

                        Normally don’t use prepositions after these words


13)      Verbs followed by infinitives:                 ir a                   tener que       acabar de         querer


                                                                        poder               esperar            necesitar           gustar


                                                                        preferir            hay que             saber              ???


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