Notes from ¿Qué tal? – Weather/Seasons

¿Qué tiempo hace hoy?

Here are some colorful expressions for commenting on the weather.

  • Llueve a cãntaros. It’s raining cats and dogs (lit., raining jugfuls).
  • Estoy calado/a hasta los huesos. I’m soaking wet (lit., soaked to the bones).
  • Hace un frio/calor de morirse. It’s extremely cold/hot (lit., so cold/hot you could die).
  • Hace un frio/calor espantoso. It’s awfully (frightfully) cold/hot.

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Notes from ¿Qué tal? – Negation

A Spanish sentence is made negative by placing the word no before the conjugated verb. There is no Spanish equivalent for the English words do or does in negative sentences.

El señor no habla inglés. The man doesn’t speak English.
No, no necesitamos dinero. No, we don’t need money.

Notes from ¿Qué tal? – La Fecha

¿Cuál es la fecha de hoy? What is today’s date?
(Hoy) Es el primero de abril. (Today) It is the first of April.
(Hoy) Es el cinco de febrero. (Today) It is the fifth of February.

  • The ordinal number primero is used to express the first day of the month. Cardinal numbers (dos, ties, and so on) are used for other days.
  • The

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Notes from ¿Qué tal? – Asking Questions

There is no Spanish equivalent to English do or does in questions. (e.g., Ud. trabaja acquí todos los dias. – You work here every day; ¿Ud. trabaja acquí todos los dias? – Do you work here every day?)

Another way to form yes/no questions is to invert the order of the subject and verb, in addition to making your voice rise at the end … [ Read more ]

Notes from ¿Qué tal? – g, gu, j

In Spanish, the letter g followed by e or i has the same sound as the letter j followed by any vowel: [x]. It is similar to the English h, although in some dialects is pronounced with a harder sound.

jamón, jota, jugo



As you know, the letter g has another … [ Read more ]

Notes from ¿Qué tal? – Ser

Here are some basic language functions of set.

  • To identify people and things
  • Yo soy estudiante.
    La doctora Ramos es profesora.
    Alicia y yo somos amigas.
    Esto es un libro.

  • To describe people and things*
  • Soy sentimental. – I’m sentimental (a sentimental person).
    El coche es muy viejo. – The car is very

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Notes from ¿Qué tal? – ¿Donde está? Más Preposiciones

cerca de – close to

lejos de – far from

delante de – in front of

detrás de – behind

debajo de – below

encima de – on top of

al lado de – alongside of

entre – between, among

al este/oestenorte/sur de – to the east/west/north/south of

In Spanish, the pronouns that serve as object of prepositions are identical to the subject pronouns, … [ Read more ]

Notes from ¿Qué tal? – Los números de teléfono

Note that telephone numbers in many Hispanic countries are written and said slightly differently than in the United States. Here is one model for asking for and giving phone numbers.


El: ¿Cual es tu (número de) telefono?
E2: Es el cuatro, treinta y tres, veintiocho, veintiuno.

Notes from ¿Qué tal? – Expressing –self/-selves

Many English verbs that describe parts of one’s daily routine–to get up, to take a bath, and so on–are expressed in Spanish with a reflexive construction: I take a bath — me baño (literally, I bathe myself). In this section you will learn to use reflexive pronouns, as well as other verbs that are used reflexively, to talk about your daily routine.

In Spanish, … [ Read more ]

Notes from ¿Qué tal? – Placement of Adjectives

As you have probably noticed, adjectives do not always precede the noun in Spanish as they do in English. Note the following rules for adjective placement.

  • Adjectives of quantity like numbers, precede the noun, as do the interrogatives
  • ¿cuanto/a? and ¿cuantos/as?.
    Hay muchas sillas y dos escritorios. – There are many chairs and two desks.
    Busco otro[1]

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Notes from ¿Qué tal? – Describing

Unequal Comparisons
Equal Comparisons

with adjectives or adverbs
más/menos ____ que
tan ____ como

with nouns
más/menos ____ que
tanto/a/os/as ____ como

with verbs
____ más/menos que
____ tanto como

Regular Comparisons of Adjectives
The comparative (el comparativo) of most English adjectives is formed by using the adverbs more or less (more intelligent, … [ Read more ]

Notes from ¿Qué tal? – Forms of this/these

The demonstrative adjective this/these has four forms in Spanish. Learn to recognize them when you see them.

este coche – this car

estos coches – these cars

esta casa – this house

estas casas – these houses

You have already seen the neuter demonstrative esto. It refers to something that is as yet unidentified: ¿Que es esto?

Notes from ¿Qué tal? – Demonstrative Adjectives

this – este libro
that – ese libro, aquel libro alli
these – estos libros
those – esos libros, aquellos libros alli

Demonstrative adjectives (los adjetivos demostrativos) are used to point out or indicate a specific noun or nouns. In Spanish, demonstrative adjectives precede the nouns they modify. They also agree in number and gender with the nouns.

  • There are two ways to

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Notes from ¿Qué tal? – Cognates

You already know that cognates are words that are similar in form and meaning from one language to another: for example, English poet and Spanish poeta. The endings of many Spanish words correspond to English word endings according to fixed patterns. Learning to recognize these patterns will increase the number of close and not-so-close cognates that you can recognize.

-dad ⇒ -ly

-mente ⇒ … [ Read more ]

Notes from ¿Qué tal? – Talking About the Past (the Preterite Verb Tense)

To talk about all aspects of the past in Spanish, you need to know how to use two simple tenses (tenses formed without an auxiliary or “helping” verb): the preterite and the imperfect.

The preterite (el pretérito) has several equivalents in English. For example, hablé can mean I spoke or I did speak. The preterite is used to report finished, completed actions or states … [ Read more ]

Notes from ¿Qué tal? – r and rr

Spanish has two r sounds, one of which is called a flap, the other a trill. The rapid pronunciation of tt and dd in the English words Betty and ladder produces a sound similar to the Spanish flap r: the tongue touches the alveolar ridge (behind the upper teeth) once. Although English has no trill, when people imitate a motor, they often produce the Spanish … [ Read more ]

Notes from ¿Qué tal? – Estar with Adjectives

Estar is used with adjectives to express temporary conditions or observations that are true at a given moment but that do not describe inherent qualities of the noun. The following adjectives are generally used with estar. Some of them are cognates.

abierto/a – open

aburrido/a – bored

cansado/a – tired

cerrado/a – closed

contento/a – happy

desordenado/a – messy

enfermo/a – sick, ill

furioso/a … [ Read more ]