Thursday, April 8, 2010

We've moved

We are pleased to announce that Spanish Experts now has a new home. The Blogger site will stay here as an archive, but we won't be updating it. You'll find copies of all the existing articles at the new site, and that is where new content will be published in the future.

Please check out our new location and update your bookmarks:

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Music (Part I: Basics)

For those musicians learning Spanish, I've prepared an English/Spanish list of basic musical terms. I hope you find this useful.

NOTE NAMES (nombres de las notas):

First, the names of the notes can be written as in English (i.e. with the letters of the alphabet A, B, C, D, E, F and G), especially when writing chords for guitar or piano. However, they're not pronounced as letter, but as they're proper name as follows:

  • C: Do
  • D: Re
  • E: Mi
  • F: Fa
  • G: Sol
  • A: La
  • B: Si

NOTES (figuras) & RESTS (silencios):
  • Whole note (American) / Semibreve (British): La redonda
  • Half-note (American) / Minim (British): La blanca
  • Quarter-note (American) / Crochet (British): La negra
  • Eighth-note (American) / Quaver (British): La corchea
  • Sixteenth-note (American) / Semiquaver (British): La semicorchea
  • Thirty-second-note (American) / Demisemiquaver (British): La fusa
  • Sixty-fourth-note (American) / Hemidemisemiquaver or Quasihemidemisemiquaver (British): La semifusa
  • Triplets: El tresillo
Dotted notes are called by the name of the note + the words "con puntillo", i.e. dotted quarter-note = la negra con puntillo.

Rests are called "silencios". Rests corresponding to the above notes are called by saying "Silencio de" + the name of the note. i.e. whole (note) rest = silencio de redonda.

ACCIDENTALS (Alteraciones):
The name of the accidental is placed after the name of the note. i.e. B-flat = Si bemol. Now, the name of the natural symbol (becuadro) is used to refer to the symbol itself, but substituted for the word "natural" when using it after a note. i.e. B-natural = Si natural.
  • Sharp: Sostenido
  • Flat: Bemol
  • Natural: Becuadro
  • Double-sharp: Doble sostenido
  • Double-flat: Doble bemol
CLEFS (claves)
  • Treble clef or G-clef: La clave de Sol
  • Bass clef or F-clef: La clave de Fa
  • Tenor clef or C-clef (on the fourthline): La clave de Do (en cuarta línea)
  • Alto clef or C-clef (on the third line): La clave de Do (en tercera línea)
STAVES (pentagramas) & More
  • Score: La partitura
  • Staff: El pentagrama
  • Ledger Lines: Las líneas adicionales
  • Measure: El compás
  • Bar lines: Las líneas divisorias
  • Double bar (line): La doble barra
  • Repeat sign (a type of double bar): La repetición
  • First ending: La primera casilla
  • Second ending: La segunda casilla
  • Pick-up note(s) or anacrusis: La anacrusa
  • Tempo: La velocidad
  • Time signature: El compás (también métrica, signatura o marca de tiempo)
  • Key signature: La tonalidad, La armadura ("La armadura" refers especifically to the set of sharps and flats at the begining of the staff, whereas "tonalidad" refers also to the key itself).
  • Key, Tonality: La tonalidad
  • Major: Mayor
  • Minor: Menor
  • Chord: Acorde
  • Dot: El puntillo
  • Double dot: El doble puntillo
  • Triplets: El tresillo
  • Grace note: La apoyatura
  • Trill: El trino
  • Slur: La ligadura de fraseo, de articulación o de expresión
  • Tie: La ligadura de prolongación, de valor
  • Step: El grado, el tono
  • Half step: El medio grado, el medio tono, el semitono
We'll continue with more musical terms in the following weeks.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Healthcare (Part IV - Useful Phrases)

It's finally time to learn some useful phrases. Be sure to check the previous posts for more vocabulary related to healthcare. Remember you can email me more phrases or ideas to improve this list.


  • I'm not feeling well = No me siento bien / Me siento mal
  • I'm sick/ill. = Estoy enfermo/a
  • My ______ hurts = Me duele (n) ___________
    e.g. My stomach hurts = Me duele el estómago
  • It hurts here / I have a pain here = Me duele aquí
  • My blood type is... = Mi tipo de sangre es...
  • I am allergic to....(penicillin) = Soy alérgico a la penicilina
  • I am diabetic = Soy diabético
  • I am pregnant = Estoy embarazada
  • I'm on the pill = Estoy tomando la píldora
  • I broke my leg / arm = Me rompí (o quebré) la pierna / el brazo
  • I had a heart attack = Tuve un infarto (o un ataque al corazón)
  • I need this medicine/medicament = Necesito esta medicina (o este medicamento)
  • I don't feel well. Have you something for...? = Me siento mal. ¿Tiene algo para...?
  • Could you please call a doctor? = ¿Podría llamarme a un médico, por favor?
  • Can the doctor come here? = ¿Puede visitarme el médico?

  • What are your symptoms? = ¿Cuáles son sus síntomas?
  • Have you had these symptoms before? = ¿Ha tenido estos síntomas antes?
  • Do you have pain? = ¿Tiene dolor?
  • What were you doing when the pain began? = ¿Qué estaba haciendo cuando el dolor empezó?
  • Have you had this pain before? = ¿Ha tenido este dolor antes?
  • Where does it hurt? = ¿En dónde le duele?
  • How long have you had this pain? =¿Hace cuánto tiempo que tiene el dolor?
  • Does it hurt here? = ¿Le duele aquí?
  • Does it hurt anywhere else? = ¿En dónde más le duele?
  • Does it hurt much or little? = ¿Le duele mucho o poco?
  • Does the pain come and go or is it constant? = ¿El dolor es constante o viene y se va?
  • Are you thirsty? = ¿Tiene sed?
  • Do you have double vision? = ¿Mira doble?
  • Are you constipated? = ¿Está constipado?
  • Have you vomited? = ¿Ha vomitado?
  • Did it have blood in it? = ¿Había sangre?
  • Can you urinate? = ¿Puede orinar?
  • Have you had diarrhea? = ¿Ha tenido diarrea?
  • Have you eaten anything new? = ¿Ha comido algo diferente/nuevo?
  • Did anyone else eat that? = ¿Alguien más comió eso?
  • When was the last time you went to the bathroom? = ¿Cuándo fue la última vez que fue al baño?
  • What time did you eat your last meal? = ¿A qué horas tuvo su última comida?
  • Do you take medication? = ¿Toma alguna medicina?
  • Lie down, please = Recuéstese, por favor
  • Open your mouth = Abra la boca
  • Breath deeply = Respire profundo/hondo
  • Breathe deep in and out = Inhale y exhale profundo / hondo
  • Unbutton your shirt/blouse = Desabróchese la camisa/blusa
  • I’m going to check your pulse = Le voy a revisar/chequear el pulso.
  • I am going to take your blood pressure = Voy a tomarle la presión/tensión
  • You are 38.2 degrees = Tiene 38.2 grados (de temperatura)

  • Get better! = ¡Que te mejores/se mejore!
  • Get well soon! = ¡Recupérate pronto! ¡Que te mejores pronto!

Other posts about healthcare vocabulary: Diseases and Health Problems | Drugs and remedies | At the hospital

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Haber: a very unusual irregular verb


I have a question regarding "haber", but more specifically, "hay". Hay is supposed to be the 3rd person present tense of haber, isn't it? Why isn't it "ha" then. In the preterite tense you conjugate it as hubo (hubo un accidente...) as it should be or había in the imperfect, why is it irregular when saying "there is/are..."?


–Michael Nagelkerke

Hi Michael,

Thanks for your question. Well, this is a very unusual irregular verb. It has a special conjugation for the third person when used as an impersonal verb[1] in the present tense.

So, when you use "haber" as an auxiliary, you use the normal conjugation. e.g. "El ha hecho algo" (He has done something).

On the other hand, when you use it as an impersonal verb, you use "Hay". This is the case of "there is". Another impersonal use of this verb is "Hay que..." meaning "it's necessary to..." or "it's convenient to...". For example, "Hay que hacerlo despacio". (It's necessary/convenient to do it slowly").

Hope this helps a bit.

– Karin

P.S. Here you'll find a related article:

1 Impersonal: (of a verb) used only with a formal subject (in English usually it) and expressing an action not attributable to a definite subject (as in it is snowing).

Friday, November 9, 2007

Por o para mañana?

Hi Karin,

I was having trouble deciding between por and para for "for" in the sense
of: here is something now, but it is for later. E.g. it is your birthday
tomorrow, and I give you a present today, and say: this is for tomorrow.

I didn't think para was quite right, as that gives a sense of a deadline,
doesn't it? e.g. you have to complete a report for tomorrow (para
mañana). But por in the sense of the reason doesn't quite convey the
sense I was after either. I guess the problem is that I can't quite
make up my mind exactly what for actually means in English in the
sense above. I'm now wondering whether para might actually be closer.

  • Here's your present, It is for tomorrow.
  • I've got some chocolate. I won't eat it now. I'll keep it for (until) after dinner.
  • That will be enough for now (por el momento).
  • I've got a new coat for the winter. (to use during the winter, still in the future)
  • Don't eat the cake now. It's for later (to be eaten at a later time)
How would you translate these examples?

As always, a big thanks!


Hi G,

For what the meaning you want to comunicate, it's "para mañana".

"Para" can convey both meanings:
"Lo quiero terminado para mañana" means the deadline is tomorrow.
"No abras el regalo todavía, es para mañana" means it's not for now, it's for later (tomorrow).

My translations for your statements:
  • Aquí está tu regalo. Es para mañana.(i.e. Don't open it until tomorrow/it's for later)
  • Tengo chocolate. No lo voy a comer ahorita. Lo guardaré para después de la cena.(i.e. I'll keep it for (until) after dinner/it's for later)
  • Es suficiente por ahora. --- O "por el momento" **** Here we use "por"
  • Tengo un abrigo nuevo para el invierno.(It's for later)
  • No comas el pastel ahora. Es para después.(Again, it's for later)
– Karin

Lo mismo o igual?


¡hola! ¿cómo estás?
¿cuál es la diferencia entre lo mismo y igual?
¿cuándo uso lo mismo y cuándo uso igual?

– Christina

¡Hola amiga! Estoy muy bien, gracias por preguntar.
Mmmm... nunca lo había pensado. Investigué un poquito y llegué a las siguientes conclusiones:

  1. Cuando forma parte de estructuras comparativas, con el significado "la misma cosa" (valor nominal), es posible usar tanto "lo mismo" como "igual".

    Ejemplo: "No es lo mismo oír que escuchar" = "No es igual oír que escuchar" (i.e. "No es la misma cosa...")

  2. Cuando significa "de la misma manera" (valor adverbial), es posible usar ambos, pero es MUCHO más natural usar "igual".

    Ejemplo: "Escucha lo mismo a los hombres que a las mujeres" = "Escucha igual a los hombres que a las mujeres" (i.e. "Escucha de la misma manera...")

  3. Cuando es un adjetivo y significa: " De la misma naturaleza, cantidad o calidad de otra cosa ", "del mismo valor ", "de la misma clase o condición" o "muy parecido o semejante", ÚNICAMENTE puedes usar "igual".

    Ejemplo: Pedro es igual a su papá. (i.e. muy parecido)

  4. En la frase "igual de" (significando "tan" o "tanto") únicamente puedes usar "igual":

    Ejemplo: "Es igual de tímido que yo".

Espero que te sirva un poco.


– Karin

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Esperar / Ayudar: Transitive or intransitive?

Hi Karin,

I have a question about whether to use the direct object or indirect object pronoun with the word “esperar” as in the following example: “Así que, no pierdan este gran evento programdo para el próximo sábado. Los (Les) esperamos en la tienda La Chulita.” Which is the correct object pronoun to use there? If I look in my dictionary for the meaning of “esperar” it tells me that one of the meanings is “to wait for”. Since the preposition “for” is already built into the verb then wouldn’t we use the direct object pronoun?

On the other hand, the verb “ayudar” does not have a preposition in its definition, which is “to help”. I would assume that we have to use the indirect object pronoun with this word as in: ¿Cómo puedo ayudarle? But I an not sure because I have heard ayudar used with the direct object pronoun like this: ¿Cómo puedo ayudarlo?. In both cases the translated meaning is “How can I help you?”

As you can see, my question is about object pronouns for verbs that are hard for English speakers to identify as requiring the direct or the indirect object.

Thank you,
– Jerome

Hi Jerome,

Sorry for the delay. My computer crashed and I've been busy trying to restore everything I lost... but I'm back now.

OK, so first let's talk about "esperar". Your analysis is correct. In your example, we need the direct object pronoun, and we should say "¡Los esperamos!". However, you would find a lot of people who would say "Les esperamos" (but this is what we call "leísmo"). And while we're at it, a minor correction... we would say "Así que, no SE pierdan este gran evento...". Now, be careful. There are a few cases where "esperar" is an intransitive verb (taking and indirect object). For example, "Le(s) espera un mal tiempo". In this case "le(s)" is required. (Check the DRAE)

Now, regarding "ayudar", you are right again. It is a transitive verb and it should take the direct object pronoun. (You can verify this in the DRAE) And again, MANY Spanish speakers would say "¿Cómo puedo ayudarle?" when adressing someone using "usted". The correct way, though, is "¿Cómo puedo ayudarlo/a'?" (depending on the gender, of course).

If you hear native speakers using “le(s)” with these verbs, remember: native speech is not perfect... it's just the way people learned to speak (and a lot of people learned the wrong way).

Have a great day,

– Karin