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The 7 Spanish Question Words & How to Use Them

spanish question wordsReady to learn the question words in Spanish? One of the best ways to advance your Spanish skills is to converse with fluent or native speakers. But how do you break the ice? 

Start by mastering the new vocabulary in this guide, and then practice some of the most commonly asked questions.

People love being asked questions! It shows you’re interested in their opinions and experiences.

After reading this article, you’ll feel more comfortable meeting new people and making friends in Spanish. 

The 7 Spanish Question Words

Let’s go over some of the most important question words in Spanish. Memorize this vocabulary so you can be ready to strike up a conversation when the opportunity arises!

1. ¿Cómo?

Cómo literally translates to “how,” but it can also mean “what” when used in isolation. You should also know that como – without the accent over the O – means “like” or “I eat.”

This is a lot of different meanings, so be sure to pay attention to the context of the conversation for clues to the word’s definition. Here are some common questions you might ask using cómo:

  • ¿Cómo estás? (How are you?)
  • ¿Cómo te sientes? (How are you feeling?)
  • ¿Cómo te fue? (How did it go?)
  • ¿Cómo lo hiciste? (How did you do that?)

If you look closely at the sentence structure of these questions, you’ll see that in Spanish, you don’t need to add a word for “do.” For example, “How do you make that?” would literally be translated into Spanish as: ¿Cómo lo haces? (How you make that?).

It sounds funny when translated literally, doesn’t it? This is one example of a basic language translation fact: we translate ideas, not words.

2. ¿Quién?

Quién means “who” in English. When using it in writing, remember to apply the accent mark over the E. A few common questions using the word quién are:

  • ¿Quién es? (Who is it?) Note: Use when answering a phone or door.
  • ¿Quién sabe? (Who knows?)
  • ¿Quién es? (Who is that?)
  • ¿Quiénes son? (Who are they?)
  • ¿Con quién vas? (Who are you going with?)

As you can see in the last example, sentences in Spanish often begin with the word con, meaning “with.” This is a key difference from English, where sentences and questions rarely start with the word “with.” You wouldn’t say, “With whom are you going?”

Another thing you’ll notice is that when quién is used plurally, referring to more than one person, it becomes quiénes.

3. ¿Qué?

Qué means “what.” Like with quién, remember to apply an accent mark over the E. This is important because without the accent over the E, que means “that.” Here are some questions you’ll use regularly with the word qué:

  • ¿Qué es? (What is it?) 
  • ¿Qué significa? (What does that mean?)
  • ¿Qué hiciste? (What did you do?)
  • ¿Qué? (What?)

Be aware that when used in isolation, “¿Cómo?” means the same thing as “¿Qué?”  You’ll hear Spanish speakers using both of these phrases.

4. ¿Dónde?

Dónde means “where.” Just like the other Spanish question words, remember to apply the necessary accent mark. Common questions with dónde include:

  • ¿A dónde vas? (Where are you going?) Note: “A” means “to.”
  • ¿Dónde está? (Where is it?)
  • ¿Dónde vives? (Where do you live?)
  • ¿De dónde eres? (Where are you from?)

In the last example sentence, De means “of,” so the question literally  translates to: “Of where are you?”

5. ¿Cuándo?

Cuándo means “when.” Remember to apply the accent mark over the A. Here are some questions you’ll hear frequently using this question word:

  • ¿Cuándo es? (When is it?) Note: Use for social events or appointments.
  • ¿Cuándo vienes? (When are you coming?)
  • ¿Cuándo nos vemos? (When will we see each other?)
  • ¿Cuándo es la junta? (When is the meeting?)

Sentence structure for questions isn’t too different from English. The basic structure for all of these starts with the question word and is followed by the conjugated verb in the appropriate tense.

6. ¿Cuál?

Cuál means “which,” and as you can see, it also requires an accent mark over the vowel. Practice these sentences using the word cuál:

  • ¿Cuál es tu nombre? (What is your name?)
  • ¿Cuál es tu favorito? (What’s your favorite?)
  • ¿Cuál escoges? (Which do you choose?)
  • ¿Cuáles son tuyos? (Which are yours?)

Remember how quién became quiénes? You’ll also notice that when cuál is used in the plural form, it becomes cuáles.

In the first two examples, take note that Spanish uses the word for “which,” rather than “what” as we’re used to in English.

7. ¿Por qué?

Por qué means “why,” but be careful! It can also mean “because” when there’s no space between the words and no accent mark present. Here are a few questions you can ask using por qué:

  • ¿Por qué hiciste esto? (Why did you do that?)
  • ¿Por qué llegaste tarde? (Why are you late?)
  • ¿Por qué no te sientes bien? (Why don’t you feel good?)
  • ¿Por qué no está Juan? (Why isn’t John here?)

It’s vital to learn these seven words, because you can’t ask questions in Spanish without them! Study these essential Spanish question words to really take your conversation skills to the next level.

Need more help forming questions in Spanish? Check out the video below from one of our online Spanish classes.


You can also take private lessons with a Spanish teacher, online or locally. You’ll get hands-on instruction and instant feedback on your grammar and pronunciation. Buena suerte!

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how to study for a Spanish test

24 Smart Study Tips to Get an “A” in Spanish Class

how to study for a Spanish testWant to get a better grade in Spanish class? If you’re struggling with homework, tests, or classroom participation, it’s time to figure out a strategy for success!

In addition to our top tips for getting an “A” in Spanish class, this article will also help you learn how to study for a Spanish test without cramming.

Ready for the insider secrets on how to pass Spanish with flying colors? Here are suggestions from some of the best Spanish tutors online.

Study Tips for Spanish Class

Spanish class isn’t the time to zone out! Make the most of class time with these helpful tips.

Caleb Howard - How to Study for a Spanish Test

Silently answer every question that the teacher asks the class, then listen for the correct answer from your teacher.

If you’re constantly staying engaged by mentally answering every question your teacher asks, you’ll be reinforcing grammar, vocabulary, and general fluency.

Then, when you really need the answer (for example, when your teacher calls on you), the answer will already be on the tip of your tongue!

Treat every class exercise like a Spanish quiz, and keep track of the answers you didn’t know.

A big part of studying successfully is using your time wisely. Be sure to keep track of what you don’t know, so that if you only have a short time to study, you can immediately zero in on these areas.

Use any extra time in class to study your vocabulary.

Keeping up with memorizing Spanish vocabulary is a key method to progressing in the language. As your vocabulary list keeps growing, study it consistently, and it will be much less overwhelming. You’ll become a more natural Spanish speaker, too!

Ask your teacher questions when you don’t understand something.

The old adage about there being no stupid questions really is true. In fact, teachers love it when students ask questions, because it makes it clear to us what’s still confusing to our students, so we’re in a better position to help them.

Anytime you ask a question, you’re also doing a favor to the countless other students who are wondering the same thing, but are too afraid to speak up!

Teach a concept to a classmate.

When a classmate doesn’t understand something and you’re able to explain it, do so. This helps cement the concept in your brain.

Teaching someone else will help you figure out any fine points you may be still working out. If you can explain something and answer any questions that arise from your explanation, you have also maximized your understanding of the concept.

Justin from Spanish Plans - How to Pass a Spanish Test

Mimic your teacher’s Spanish accent and other natives speakers’.

A large part of sounding like a native speaker of a language is speaking confidently and convincingly, so envision yourself in a Spanish-speaking country, and play the part!

Use your time wisely in the classroom – this helps minimize your study time at home.

As a student, it can be easy to fall into the hole of using class time to socialize or zone out. The smartest students, however, are those who realize that if you spend your class time in maximum focus and concentration, you’ll have much less work to do at home!

How to Study for a Spanish Test

The learning doesn’t end when Spanish class gets out! Make sure you really understand how to study, especially if you have a test coming up (so you can avoid cramming). Here are the essentials.

Carrie Toth - How to Pass Spanish Class

Always translate your homework to be sure you know what things mean.

This is a form of studying, and it will save you time in the long run. You can translate the meaning verbally or write it down on a separate sheet of paper.

Study a section of vocabulary every day, focusing on the words that were introduced in class that day.

If you’re having trouble memorizing some words, make flashcards for them. This ensures you won’t fall behind in vocabulary memorization and have to cram before your Spanish test.

Dustin Williamson - How to Ace a Spanish Test

Be very focused in class; you can learn most of the material just by paying close attention and staying on task.

This means you will be in reviewing mode before a test instead of cramming mode.

Write down grammar concepts and examples on index cards, and review them every couple days.

Trying to comprehend too many Spanish grammar concepts in a short amount of time can leave you confused. This method will ensure you have plenty of time to digest each concept.

How to Pass a Spanish Test

It’s go-time! Now that you know how to study for a Spanish test, you’ll be well-prepared come test day. Here’s what to keep in mind as you take the test.

Elizabeth Dentlinger - How to Study for a Spanish Test

Check to make sure your nouns and adjectives agree in number and gender.

Don’t forget to use the correct plural, masculine, or feminine form of the word!

Your verb endings should match the subject of each verb.

Be sure to double check your conjugations!

Look at the previous sentence and the sentence that follows when filling in blanks.

These sentences usually contain clues that as to which vocabulary word you should use.

Reread your answers all the way through once you’ve finished the exam.

If you have the time, this will save you from making simple mistakes!

With each of these tips, you should be able to easily improve your grade in Spanish class. Try to implement one suggestion per week, and you’ll see a noticeable difference in your overall skill level!

Need some extra help with your Spanish classes? Working with a private tutor can be an excellent way to learn how to speak Spanish both in and out of the classroom. Search for a Spanish tutor today!

Joan BannaPost Author: Joan B.
Joan B. lives in Carmichael, CA and has been teaching high school Spanish for more than 18 years. Joan helps students improve on tests and increase their conversational ability. Learn more about Joan here!

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Special thanks to the following bloggers, who contributed to this list:

spanish past tense conjugation

How to Conjugate Verbs in the Spanish Preterite (Past Tense)

Past Tense (Preterite) Conjugation: How to Conjugate Spanish Verbs

Spanish past tense conjugation is necessary for describing situations and events that have already happened. Once you learn these conjugations, you’ll be able to talk about so much more with friends and family!

[This is Part 3 of a guide to conjugating Spanish verbs. In previous posts, we’ve reviewed the basics of conjugating Spanish verbs, as well as how to conjugate stem-changers].

Next, we’re going to take your verb conjugation skills to an even higher level. This involves learning Spanish past tense conjugation, so that you aren’t restricted to only describing actions in the present tense.

How to Conjugate Verbs in the Spanish Preterite

It’s important to note that Spanish has two types of past tenses: the preterite and the imperfect. Here, we’ll start with Spanish preterite conjugations and review the imperfect in a future post.

The Spanish preterite tense is a way to express the past, and it breaks down verbs into five different endings. Keep reading to learn how to change a verb into its past tense form.

Conjugating -AR Verbs in the Spanish Preterite

Here is an example using the Spanish verb mirar (to watch). First, shave off the -ar ending. Then…

  • If you are referring to Yo or ‘I,’ add the letter é to end the conjugated verb, forming miré.
  • If you are referring to  or ‘you,’ use the ending –aste, to form miraste.
  • If you are referring to él or ella or ‘he’ or ‘she,’ use the ending –ó to form miró.
  • If you are referring to nosotros or ‘we,’ use the ending –amos to form miramos. (This is the same as present tense conjugation!)
  • If you are referring to ellos or ‘they,’ use the ending –aron, to form miraron.

SEE ALSO: 46 Spanish Adjectives to Describe All Your Friends

Conjugating -ER Verbs in the Spanish Preterite

Now let’s use comer (to eat), as an example. First, shave off the -er ending. Next…

  • If you are referring to Yo or ‘I,’ use the ending –í, (instead of é) to form comí.
  • If you are referring to  or ‘you,’ use the ending –iste, to form comiste.
  • If you are referring to él or ella or ‘he’ or ‘she,’ use the ending –, to form comió.
  • If you are referring to nosotros or ‘we,’ use the ending –imos, to form comimos.
  • If you are referring to ellos or ‘they,’ use the ending –ieron, to form comieron.

Conjugating -IR Verbs in the Spanish Preterite

Conjugating -ir verbs shares the same rules as conjugating -er verbs. See the following chart as an example.

Vivir (to live):
Yo viví
Tú viviste
Él/Ella/Usted vivió
Nosotros vivimos
Ellas/Ellos/Ustedes vivieron

SEE ALSO: 75 Most Helpful Spanish Cognates

Ready for some Spanish past tense conjugation practice? Fill out the following chart:

Spanish Conjugation Chart - Preterite

12 Irregular Spanish Preterite Endings

There are 12 core verbs in Spanish that have irregular past tense conjugations in the preterite tense. Fortunately their main endings are similar to what we’ve already learned in this post: –é, –iste, , –imos, –isteis, –ieron/*eron. Here are the 12 verbs, also known as “the dirty dozen.”

Spanish Dirty Dozen - Irregular Past Tense Conjugations

Let’s conjugate estar as an example:

Estar (to be):
Yo estuve
Tú estuviste
Él/Ella/Usted estuvo
Nosotros estuvimos
Ellas/Ellos/Ustedes estuvieron

Now that you know how to conjugate Spanish past tense verbs, you’re once step closer to becoming fluent in Spanish! As always, it’s a great idea to work with a Spanish tutor who can help you work through these concepts and provide extra guidance as needed.

You can also take online Spanish classes to get even more practice conjugating verbs in everyday conversation. Buena suerte!

Jason N width=Post Author: Jason N.
Jason N. tutors in English and Spanish in Fairfax, CA. He majored in Spanish at UC Davis, lived in Mexico for 3 years where he completed a Master’s degree in Counseling, and studied Spanish Literature and Psychology at the University of Costa Rica. Learn more about Jason here! 

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Photo by John Loo

Mother's Day Poems in Spanish

5 Beautiful Mother’s Day Poems in Spanish

Mother's Day Poems in Spanish

Mothers love a genuine and creative gift. Writing a poem, or even simply reciting a poem, is a great addition to any Mother’s Day present or greeting card. If you’re learning Spanish or have a Spanish-speaking mother, here are five Mother’s Day poems in Spanish that will melt her heart!

5 Beautiful Mother’s Day Poems in Spanish

“A mi madre”

Mamá

Eres una mujer muy fuerte

Traes bendiciones y buena suerte

Me ayudaste a crecer como una mariposa

Y esta es la razón por la que te estoy dando más de una rosa

Feliz dia de las madres a la mejor mamá

Te amo

Translation:

Mother

You are a strong woman

You bring blessings and good luck

You helped me grow like a butterfly

And that is the reason why I am giving you more than a rose

Happy Mother’s day to the best mom

I love you

This is a beautiful poem for a strong mother who truly helped shape you into the person you are today. If you choose to read this poem to your mom, I’d suggest also giving her some roses as the poem suggests, and maybe even some chocolates too!

“Ella”

Me dio vida

Amoroso honesto

La mejor mamá

Translation:

Gave me life

Loving, honest

The best mom

This simple yet elegant poem is a haiku when written or recited in Spanish. It’s perfect for the artsy and creative mother who prefers something short and sweet.

“El Mejor”

Eres la mamá más graciosa

Me haces reir todo el dia

Eres la mamá más fabulosa

Desfruto tu compania

Feliz día de la madre

Translation:

You are the funniest mom

You make me laugh all day

You are the most fabulous mom

I enjoy your company

Happy Mother’s Day

If your mom is silly or a jokester, then she’ll love this poem. Think outside of the box with how you share this poem with her. Maybe you can get it written on a cake!

SEE ALSO- Mother’s Day Music: 5 Guitar Songs to Play for Mom

“De Mamá a Abuela”

Tú me muestras amor, Me muestras fuerzas

Me enseñaste todo lo que sé

Y ahora tengo mi propio bebé

Mis hijos dicen feliz día de madres para mí

Siempre te diré feliz día de madres a ti, la mujer que empezó todo

Translation:

You show me love, You show me strength

You taught me everything I know

And now I have my own baby

My children say Happy Mother’s Day to me

I will always say Happy Mother’s Day to you, the woman who started everything

If this doesn’t make her tear up, we don’t know what else will! This is a great poem for a mother to write to her own mom. Any grandmother would love it because it acknowledges her as the woman who started it all!

“Como tú”

Cuando crezca quiero ser como tú, una gran mujer

Eres honesto y verdadero

Eres inteligente y creativo

Eres cariñoso y amable

No más que decir excepto tener un fabuloso día de madres

Translation:

When I grow up, I want to be just like you, a great woman

You are honest and true

You are intelligent and creative

You are loving and kind

There is nothing more to say except have a fabulous Mother’s Day!

This poem is ideal for a young girl who admires her mother and all of her virtues. Recite this poem to your mom and she will surely appreciate that she’s your most cherished role model.
Any of these poems would make your mother smile on her special day. If you want to use one of these poems, feel free to change some of the adjectives to make it more personal for your mom. You can also frame and decorate the poems to add that personal touch!  

Breeana D.Post Author: Breeana D.
Breeana D. teaches Spanish lessons in Abington, PA. Specializing in Early Childhood, Elementary, and Special Education, she is currently enrolled in Temple University’s Elementary Education program. Learn more about Breeana here!

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50 Beautiful Spanish Words 500x300

50 Beautiful Spanish Words For an Instant Mood Boost

There are so many cool Spanish words to choose from, that it’s hard to narrow it down to just 50! Spanish is a beautiful language, and as you listen to native speakers, you’ll notice how elegant it can sound.

Scientists have even deemed it the happiest language, too!

Not only is Spanish a cool language, but it also has a logical structure. Pair that with the many Spanish-English cognates, and you can see why it’s one of the most popular languages to learn.

As you learn Spanish, you’ll come across many words that stand out – whether for the melodic way they roll off your tongue, or their meaning. Check out the infographic below for some of our favorite, beautiful Spanish words!

50 Beautiful Spanish Words

50 Beautiful Spanish Words

1. bonita: pretty (adjective)
2. precioso: precious/beautiful (adjective)
3. señorita: young lady (noun)
4. guapo: handsome (adjective)
5. rosado: pink (adjective)
6. amor: love (noun)
7. encantar: to enchant (verb)
8. desear: to wish (verb)
9. sonreîr: to smile (verb)
10. bailar: to dance (verb)
11. cantar: to sing (verb)
12. beso: kiss (noun)
13. vivir: to live (verb)
14. abrazo: hug (noun)
15. novia/novia: boyfriend/girlfriend ( noun)
16. contigo: with you (pronoun)
17. palabra: word (noun)
18. chocolate: chocolate (noun)
19. café: brown (adjective)/ coffee (noun)
20. naranja: orange (noun)
21. dulce: sweet (adjective)
22. ángel: angel (noun)
23. fuego: fire (noun)
24. cielo: sky (noun)
25. zapatos: shoes (noun)
26. corazon: heart (noun)
27. estrella: star (noun)
28. noche: night (noun)
29. caliente: hot (adjective)
30. rica: rich/delicious (adjective)
31. dinero: money (noun)
32. serenidad: serenity (noun)
33. mariposa: butterfly (noun)
34. fuerte: strong (adjective)
35. siempre: always (adverb)
36. seda: silk (noun)
37. favorito: favorite (adjective)
38. mañana: tomorrow (adverb)
39. bienvenido: welcome (adjective)
40. sol: sun (noun)
41. montaña: mountain (noun)
42. azúcar: sugar (noun)
43. mirar: to look (verb)
44. fruta: fruit (noun)
45. medianoche: midnight (noun)
46. luz: light (noun)
47. diamante: diamond (noun)
48. flor: flower (noun)
49. mar: sea (noun)
50. helado: ice cream (noun)

SEE ALSO: An Introduction to Spanish Culture

How to Use These Cool Spanish Words

Want to start memorizing these cool Spanish words? Here are some additional tips to keep in mind as you study these fun vocabulary words.

  • Categorize the words. Try grouping words together based on their similarities. For instance, each of these pretty Spanish words is related to showing affection – besos (kisses), abrazo (hug), and amor (love). Create multiple lists with different categories to study.
  • Try forming sentences. When you create your own sentences, it’s easier to remember the definitions of the words because of the relevant context. Try writing a few sentences down with some of the words we listed above.
  • Post them around your house. Labeling items around the house is a great way to learn new words. You can label the chairs, refrigerator, doors, etc. with their corresponding Spanish word.
  • Play vocabulary games. There are plenty of Spanish websites with free games to check out. You can also purchase apps, or make DIY games such as Bingo and charades.

Good luck studying these beautiful Spanish words, and have fun along the way!

Readers, what other cool Spanish words would you add to this list? Leave a comment and let us know.

Breeana D.Post Author: Breeana D.
Breeana teaches Spanish lessons in Willow Grove, PA. Specializing in Early Childhood and Special Education, she also has a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education. Learn more about Breeana here!

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spanish traditions

20 Spanish Traditions, Customs, and Superstitions

20 traditions in Spanish, Mexican, and Hispanic Culture

One of the best ways to improve your understanding of the Spanish language is to learn more about Spanish traditions. A major aspect of any culture is its traditions.

Spain, and other Spanish-speaking countries like Mexico, have very unique traditions that are fascinating to learn about, and they might just inspire you to plan a visit soon!

No matter where you are in your Spanish lessons, you will love learning about the Mexican and Spanish traditions, holidays, and customs on this list.

Click through this table of contents if you’re looking for something specific:


Spanish Traditions

Piñatas

Spanish and Mexican tradition: PIÑATA

You may have already seen cardboard piñatas decorated in brightly colored paper-mâché at childrens’ birthday parties. Blindfolded participants try to hit the piñata with a stick, to break it open and spill out fruits, candies, and other treats hidden inside.

There’s a lot of speculation about the true origin of the piñata. Some believe they originated in China, in animal shapes like cows and oxen. Other reports claim that piñatas originated in Mexico with the Aztecs and Mayans, and were originally clay pots made in the shape of the gods.

When piñatas first came to Spain, the first Sunday of Lent was called the “Dance of the Piñata.” While the first piñatas in Spain were made of clay, decorations and bright colors were eventually added to the design.

Even though the history of the piñata has spiritual significance, modern-day piñatas are mainly used for games during parties and celebrations. It’s also one of the most widely popular Mexican traditions.

 Quince Años

spanish traditions - quince anos in hispanic countries

For girls in Hispanic countries, the 15th birthday signifies a coming of age. The family throws a big party, called a Quinceañera, which begins with a Misa de acción de gracias, or giving thanks for completing childhood

The festejada (birthday girl) wears a formal dress and receives gifts from family members. Common Quinceañera gifts include tiaras, bracelets, and earrings.

A traditional Quinceañera begins with a church ceremony, followed by a party with food, music, and dancingThis is also one of the most common Mexican traditions.

Carnival

Spanish traditions - carnival

In Spanish-speaking countries, Carnival celebrations are held between late January to early March, the time leading up to Lent.

Carnival is generally recognized as the final chance to celebrate before Lent. There are many festivities, including dancing and music, throughout the day and night. Spanish traditions for carnival also include dressing up and wearing masks.

SEE ALSO: 50 Interesting Facts About Spain


Mexican Traditions

Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe

Mexican tradition: Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe

Devout Catholics in Mexico make a pilgrimage to the Basilica de Guadalupe in Mexico City every year on December 12th. The date commemorates the appearance of the Virgin Mary to Juan Diego in 1531.

According to the story, no one believed that Juan Diego had seen the Virgin and asked him to return with proof. The Virgin reappeared and told Juan Diego to collect flowers in his coat.

He returned to see the archbishop of Mexico City and dropped the flowers. A miraculous picture of the Virgin had formed on the material, which today is displayed in the Basilica. Many Mexican traditions such as this one have religious significance.

Día de la Independencia

Mexican tradition: Día de la Independencia

Dia de la Independencia (Mexican Independence Day) falls on September 16th, but begins the night before when the President of Mexico rings the bell at the National Palace in Mexico City and shouts “Viva México!” This is one of the most widely celebrated Mexican traditions.

There is a national military parade ever year on September 16th, and to celebrate Mexico’s independence from Spanish rule, people decorate their homes, dress in the colors of the flag, throw confetti, and hold parties where they feast on traditional foods.

San Judas Tadeo

Mexican tradition: San Judas Tadeo

This is another one of the many Mexican traditions with spiritual significance. San Judas Tadeo (St. Jude Thaddeus) is known as the Saint of Lost Causes. On the 28th day of every month, people gather at San Hipólito Church, the church dedicated to St. Jude in downtown Mexico City.

People bring icons and statues of St. Jude, and ask for his blessing and help in difficult circumstances. The same events are held every October 28th, which is St. Jude’s saint’s day.


Spanish Christmas Traditions

 Posadas

spanish christmas traditions - posadas

Originally Spanish Christmas traditions, Posadas are now also Guatemalan and Mexican traditions. In Spanish, posada means “inn,” and in Mexico, people hold candles and sing songs as they reenact Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter in Bethlehem.

Christmas Posadas last from December 16 until Christmas Eve.

Nochebuena

spanish christmas traditions - nochebuena

Nochebuena (“the Good Night”/Christmas Eve) is a family event, celebrated with a feast. Traditionally, families would have lechón (pork) for dinner on Nochebuena, but in more recent times, the meal varies depending on the region.

Dinner generally incorporates music and gifts, and many families also attend Misa del Gall0 (Midnight Mass) on Nochebuena.

 Misa del Gallo

spanish christmas traditions - misa del gallo

Another one of the religious traditions in Spain, the midnight mass on Christmas Eve is called Misa del Gallo (The Mass of the Rooster). This event is known as The Mass of the Rooster because it’s believed that a rooster crowed at midnight the day that Jesus was born.

In Spain, attendees first light small oil lamps in their home before setting out to the church. In Bolivia, people only eat after mass, usually a traditional dish of picana de pollo, a chicken stew with carrots, peas, and potatoes.

Reyes Magos

spanish christmas traditions - reyes magos

Reyes Magos (Three Kings Day) starts on January 5th with a reenactment of the arrival of the Three Kings. The Spanish Christmas tradition features a parade, Cabalgata de los Reyes, where the Three Kings arrive on horseback or on decorated floats, and throw treats and presents to the children.

Before bed that evening, children leave goodies for The Kings, and leave their shoes out for The Kings to fill with presents.


Spanish Holidays

Día de los Muertos

Día de los Muertos - spanish holiday

In Hispanic cultures, it’s important to remember family members and friends who have passed. Día de los Muertos is a particularly significant holiday in Mexico, where it’s observed on November 1st and 2nd.

Mexican traditions for Día de los Muertos combine Catholic elements with Aztec rituals. People create altars in their homes with photos, foods, and other objects that have some link to the deceased.

They also visit the graves of their loved ones, where they may spend hours or even the entire day. Art related to the holiday depicts skeletons enjoying life on the other side.

Semana Santa

semana santa - spanish holiday

Semana Santa (Holy Week) runs from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, and is one of the most important events of the year in Catholic countries.

While all of Mexico celebrates Semana Santa, different regions have different events. Many Semana Santa celebrations include cascarones (colored egg shells), church services, and the Passion Play – the reenactment of the “Passion of the Christ.”


Spanish Customs

 Las Serenatas

spanish custom - las serenatas

One of the more romantic traditions in Spain, this unique custom involves hiring a band of mariachis, or arriving with a group of friends, to play music below a lover’s window.

Traditionally, the recipient of the serenata keeps the light off during the first song, turns the light on for the second, and comes out to the balcony (or at least opens the window) for the third song.

“Provecho”

spanish custom - provecho

This is the Hispanic tradition or custom of wishing someone a good meal. It’s similar to “bon appétit” in French, but it’s not restricted to fine dining.

You can say “provecho” when you sit down to a meal with family or friends, or you can use it in passing, if you see someone you know who is about to eat.

RELATED: 20 Easy Spanish Words and Phrases

Siestas

spanish custom - siesta

A siesta, or afternoon nap/rest (between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.) is one of the classic traditions in Spain and other Hispanic countries.

The three-hour siesta doesn’t necessarily mean nap time for everyone. Some people will take a long lunch, while others will use the  break to spend time with their family.

“La Mordida”

spanish custom - la mordida

La Mordida is one of the Mexican traditions for birthdays.

While friends and family sing “La Mordida,” the birthday boy or girl must take a bite of birthday cake without using his or her hands. This generally results in a face full of cake.


Spanish Superstitions

 Mal de Ojo

spanish superstition - mal de ojo

There’s a great fear of the mal de ojo (evil eye) in some Hispanic traditions. The superstition dates back to medieval Europe and the belief that a look can curse people, or cause children to become ill.

There are different remedies, like amulets and bracelets, for mal de ojo, and some more specific cures in different regions. For example in Central America, people believe that mal de ojo can be cured by rubbing around the eye socket with an umbilical cord.

La Mal Sal

spanish superstition - la mal sal

La mal sal means bad salt or bad luck. Many people refuse to take a saltshaker, when it’s handed to them, as this is seen as receiving someone’s bad luck. Instead, you must place the salt shaker on the table, within reach of the person who wants it.

Sweeping Over Feet

spanish superstition - feet sweeping

Some Hispanic traditions say that if you sweep over someone’s feet, that person will never marry.

Also, it is believed that leaving an upside down broom behind your door can ward off unwanted visitors.

Cutting Babies’ Hair


spanish superstition - baby haircuts

You may want to think twice before cutting your baby’s hair. According to Spanish superstitions, cutting a baby’s hair before he or she learns to walk, will prevent him or her from learning to do so.

Also, if you want your son or daugther to learn to speak in Spanish, do not cut his or her hair before they turn one.


If you want to experience these Spanish traditions firsthand, consider taking a trip to a Spanish-speaking country soon. To get ready for your trip, you can also take some free online Spanish classes so you know how to communicate with the locals.

Do you know of any other customs or traditions in Spain? Share them with us in the comments below!

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Photo by Joey Parsons

28 Spanish Phrases & Jokes That Don't Quite Translate

28 Funny Spanish Phrases & Sayings That Don’t Quite Translate

28 Spanish Phrases & Jokes That Don't Quite Translate

There are dozens of funny Spanish phrases and sayings that will make you sound more like a native when conversing with friends and family. These sayings and jokes provide a unique “cultural window” that reflects the morals and values of many Spanish-speaking countries.

However, many of these funny things to say in Spanish don’t quite translate to English.  Check out the list below to see just how much Spanish speakers love to play around with words! (Translations included).

28 Funny Spanish Phrases, Sayings, & Jokes

Querer es poder.

Literal translation:
Wanting to, is being able to.

What it actually means:
Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

This wise saying points to the resilient heart of Spanish culture, that even if an obstacle appears insurmountable at first, you can overcome it!

No hay mal que por bien no venga.

Literal translation:
There’s nothing bad that doesn’t occur in the name of a greater good.

What it actually means:
Every cloud has a silver lining.

This is one of our favorite funny Spanish sayings. It points to a belief in Spanish culture that even if an event appears negative, you should trust that it happened for a reason. Life is giving you what you need now, even if it feels rough.

You can also attribute it to the belief in a greater good, or a greater power.

Échale ganas.

Literal translation:
Insert desire.

What it actually means:
Try your best.

Ponte las pilas.

Literal translation:
Put your batteries on.

What it actually means:
Work hard.

Es mejor pedir perdón que permiso.

Literal translation:
It’s better to apologize than to ask for permission.

What it actually means:
Do what you need to do now.

Here the attitude is “you better just do what you need to do now and worry about the consequences after,” highlighting another cultural proclivity toward staying in the present moment and doing whatever is needed in that moment.

SEE ALSO: 35 Spanish Slang Words

Despacio que tengo prisa.

Literal translation:
Slowly that I’m in a rush.

What it actually means:
Slower is faster.

Many funny Spanish sayings also have a bit of wise advice attached to them. This one suggests that doing what you need to do slowly and thoroughly is more productive in the long-run.

Más vale mal por conocido que bueno por conocer.

Literal translation:
Known evil is better than unknown good.

What it actually means:
Be content with what you have now.

This saying suggests that known imperfection is better than idealizing a future alternative that may not be too good at all. This is a double-edged sword, however, as staying in your comfort zone can actually prevent you from better options.

Él que transa no avanza.

Literal translation:
He who deceives never advances.

What it actually means:
Deception never pays off.

This rhymes smoothly but only in Spanish.

Tirar la casa por la ventana.

Literal translation:
Throw the house out the window.

What it actually means:
Roll out the red carpet.

This saying is about splurging on special occasions, namely spending a lot of money when the situation warrants it.

Mandar a alguien por un tubo.

Literal translation:
Send someone through a tube.

What it actually means:
Tell them to shove it.

This is about setting limits when people don’t treat you right.

Quedarse con los brazos cruzados.

Literal translation:
Staying with your arms crossed.

What it actually means:
He/she froze.

SEE ALSO: 36 Popular Spanish Slang Words

This is when someone gets paralyzed and doesn’t act when they need to.

Caras vemos corazones no sabemos.

Literal translation:
We see faces but we don’t know hearts.

What it actually means:
Don’t judge a book by its cover.

This isn’t one of the funny things to say in Spanish, but rather something more serious. It means that you should realize things aren’t always the way they appear.

Mejor solo que mal acompañado.

Literal translation:
It’s better to be alone than in bad company.

What it actually means:
It’s okay to be alone sometimes.

This saying reminds people to take care of themselves in relationships.

De golosos y tragones, están llenos los panteones.

Literal translation:
Cemeteries are full of greedy people.

What it actually means:
Care for others — or else.

This saying works in English but doesn’t rhyme at all.

Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente.

Literal translation:
A shrimp that sleeps is carried away by the current.

What it actually means:
You snooze, you lose.

Here, again, the rhyme is lost in translation but it’s a good reminder to seize opportunties as they come your way.

Más vale un pájaro en mano que ciento uno volando.

Literal translation:
One bird in hand is better than 100 birds flying.

What it actually means:
A bird in hand is worth two in a bush.

The meaning behind this message is simple: you already have something that’s guaranteed yours, so don’t be greedy and try to grab two more that may or may not be yours.

Se puso hasta las chanclas.

Literal translation:
He/she put themselves up to the sandals.

What it actually means:
He/she got hammered.

There are many funny Spanish phrases that have to do with drinking. Use this one when you have a friend who got a little too carried away the night before!

Palabras necias, oídos sordos.

Literal translation:
Annoying words, deaf ears.

What it actually means:
If you don’t have anything positive to say, don’t say anything at all.

Nobody likes to listen to someone nagging, so it’s better to keep quiet!

Entre la espada y la pared.

Literal translation:
Between the sword and the wall.

What it actually means:
Between a rock and a hard place.

This describes a difficult situation where no matter what you do, it feels like the wrong choice.

Del dicho al hecho hay mucho trecho.

Literal translation:
There’s a giant gap between the saying and the action.

What it actually means:
It’s easier said than done.

Sometimes it’s easier to talk about an action getting done than to physically carry it out.

Se fue de Guatemala a Guata-peor.

Literal translation:
It went from Guate-bad to Guata-worse.

What it actually means:
Things went from bad to worse.

This play on words is clearly compromised in the translation, as the original saying in Spanish uses the country Guatemala, which has the word “bad” in its last two syllables.

Entre broma y broma la verdad se asoma.

Literal translation:
Between jokes and jokes, the truth lurks.

What it actually means:
Jokes can reveal truths.

The beautiful rhyming in Spanish is again lost in the English translation.

RELATED: 50 Beautiful Spanish Words

Now let’s look at some funny Spanish phrases and jokes to share with your friends!

¿Qué le dijo un pez a otro pez? Nada.

Translation:

What did one fish say to another? Nada.

The word “nada” in Spanish can refer to the command to swim, or the word “nothing.” So this joke is a play-on-words

Hay dos palabras que te abrirán muchas puertas: Empuje y jale.

Translation:

There are two words that will open many doors for you: push and pull.

This hilarious little joke is another play-on-words in Spanish.

¿Qué le dijo una ganza a la otra? Venganza

Translation:

What did one goose say to the other? Revenge.

If you separate the first syllable ven, meaning “come,” from the next two, ganza meaning “goose,” you’ll see that the joke’s answer simultaneously reads, “come goose” and the word “revenge.”

Clearly, this joke does not work in English, so if it were translated in a movie, the subtitles wouldn’t capture it well, no matter how skilled the translator is. Talk about a dad joke!

Se encuentran dos abogados y uno le dice al otro:

-¿Vamos a tomar algo?

-Bueno… ¿de quién?

Translation:

There are two lawyers and one says to the other:

-“Let’s get a drink.”

-“Yes. From who?”

In Spanish the verb tomar (“to take”) is also used to mean “to drink,” so the lawyers are “taking a drink” and “taking something from someone” simultaneously. This highlights the cultural tendency to view lawyers as corrupt, opportunistic, and greedy.

“¡Te dije que me gustan las películas viejas y buenas y tú me llevaste a una película de viejas buenas!”

Translation:

“I told you I liked good and old movies, but you took me to see a movie with pretty women!”

This play-on-words is especially complicated. While vieja means “old,” it also refers to a woman, and while buena usually means “good,” it can also mean “attractive” when referring to a person.

Now that you know these sayings, you won’t feel confused if you hear them in conversation! Good luck with your Spanish studies and learning the intricacies of this fascinating language and culture.

What other funny Spanish phrases, sayings, or jokes have you come across? Leave a comment and let us know!

JasonNPost Author: Jason N.
Jason N. tutors English and Spanish in Athens, GA. He majored in Spanish at UC Davis and studied Spanish Literature and Psychology at the University of Costa Rica. Learn more about Jason here!  

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35 Slang Words From Different Spanish-Speaking Countries

35 Spanish Slang Words and Phrases You Should Know

HEADER 35 Slang Words From Different Spanish-Speaking Countries

Want to add some Spanish slang to your vocabulary? Every country has its own unique usage of slang, and each generation invents new slang words.

So if you’re learning Spanish “by the book,” you may find it difficult when you try to communicate with native speakers in casual settings.

Just like you learned your native tongue, native Spanish speakers learned formal Spanish in school and the more conversational aspects of the language outside of the classroom.

Here, we’ll discuss common Spanish slang words from a few different countries so you can start practicing with friends. (You should also practice cognates – words you already know in Spanish – to add even more to your vocabulary)!

Spanish Slang From Around the Globe

Spanish Slang in Mexico

Spanish slang is often used in Mexico when speaking with friends in informal settings. Here are some of the most common words and phrases you’ll come across, along with a visual reminder below:

  • ¡Chale! (Give me a break!)
  • ¿Mande? (What did you say?)
  • ¡Noombre! (No way!)
  • Sale (Alright)
  • ¡Qué padre! (That’s tight!)
  • ¡Ándale! (Come on!)
  • ¡Órale! (All right!)
  • ¡Aguas! (Watch out!)
  • Sangrón (Stuck up person)
  • Fresa (Preppy/snobby/spoiled brat)

T:MarketingContent Marketingblog photosfeature imageAugust 201535 Slang Words From Different Spanish-Speaking Countries

Here is an example conversation where you can see some Spanish slang in action:

“¡Mijo!” (My son!)
“¿Mande?” (What?)
“¿Dónde está tu prima?” (Where’s your cousin?)
“¿Cual prima?” (Which cousin?)
“Ay, tú sabes. La fresa.” (Oh, you know. The snob.)
“Pues, no sé. Pensé que estaba trabajando.” (Well, I don’t know. I thought she was working.)
“¡Noombre! Nunca hace nada.” (No way! She’s never doing anything.)
“A poco. Pues, está mal.” (Really? Well, that’s not good.)

Related Article: 20 Spanish Traditions

Spanish Slang in Argentina

There are just as many Spanish slang words that you can use in Argentina. Here are some words and phrases to know:

  • ¿Qué onda? (What’s up?)
  • ¿Como va? (What’s up?)
  • Tacho (Taxi)
  • Bondi (City bus)
  • Pilcha (Clothes)
  • Garca (Cheater/dishonest)
  • Charlar (To have a conversation)
  • ¡Ojo! (Be careful!)
  • Dar bola (To pay attention)
  • La Cana (The police)
  • Trucho/a (Fake)

T:MarketingContent Marketingblog photosfeature imageAugust 201535 Slang Words From Different Spanish-Speaking Countries

Here is a sample conversation using Argentinian Spanish slang:

“¿Como va?” (How are you?)
“Pues, más o menos, y tu?” (Well, I’m so-so, and you?)
“Un poquito enojado con mi novia.” (A little mad at my girlfriend.)
“Por qué?” ( How come?)
“Porque es una mujer garca.” (Because she’s a dishonest woman.)
“No me digas. Te dije que te das bola.” (You don’t say. I told you to pay attention.)

Spanish Slang in Colombia

The Colombians know how to use their slang as well! Try any of these Spanish slang phrases out next time you’re having a casual conversation.

  • ¿Qué más? (What’s up?)
  • ¿Qué hubo? (What’s up?)
  • ¡Pilas! (Be careful!)
  • ¡Qué boleta! (How embarrassing!)
  • Camello (Heavy work)
  • Mono (Blonde)
  • Estar en la olla (To be in a bad situation)
  • Storbar (To disturb)

35 Slang Words From Different Spanish-Speaking Countries

Another example conversation using Colombian Spanish slang:

“¿Qué hubo?” (What’s up?)
“Nada, solo aqui pensando.” (Nothing, just thinking.)
”¿Algo pasó?” (Did something happen?)
“Pues… estaba en la olla en mi trabajo.” ( Well… I was in a bad situation at my job.)
“¿Y?” (And?)
“Alguien me dio el trabajo equivocado y no sabia.” (Someone gave me the wrong job to do and I didn’t know it was wrong.)
“¡Qué boleta!” (How embarrassing!)

See Also: 14 Venezuelan Slang Words

Spanish Slang in Guatemala

Lastly, check out some of the Spanish slang words that Guatemalans use in everyday conversation. Don’t forget to practice these if you’re traveling to Guatemala soon!

  • Calidá (Cool)
  • Pizado (Idiot)
  • Mula (Dumb)
  • Chiveado (Blushed)
  • Chavo/a (Guy/Teen girl)
  • ¡Que chilero! (Cool!)

35 Slang Words From Different Spanish-Speaking Countries

Here is an example of the above Guatemalan slang in action:

“Conocí a una chava.” (I met a girl.)
“Deveras?” (Really?)
“Sí, era tan bonita, y yo en silencio me puse chiveado.” (Yes, she was so pretty, and I was blushing in silence.)
”Jeje, que chilero.” (Hehe, that’s cool.)

As you can see, slang words are commonly used in Spanish culture.

If you have any questions about certain Spanish slang words, you can always ask a friend, or your Spanish tutor, to see if you’re using the word correctly.

Want to learn more colloquial Spanish? Check out this program from our friends at GrittySpanish.com!

Emmanuel NoriegaPost Author: Emmanuel N.
Emmanuel N. teaches online Spanish and singing lessons. He earned his B.A. in psychology from California State University, Fullerton and has been teaching since 2015. Learn more about Emmanuel here!

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Spanish Vocabulary for Kids

19 Easy Spanish Vocabulary Words to Teach Your Kids

Spanish Vocabulary for KidsLooking for ways to incorporate more basic Spanish words into your child’s everyday vocabulary? When it comes to introducing kids to Spanish, the key is to keep it simple and fun.

Although the best way to learn Spanish is with a tutor, there are certain things you can do at home to reinforce what your child is learning during Spanish lessons.

Use the following list of simple Spanish words to incorporate even more vocabulary into your daily activities.

19 Basic Spanish Words for Kids

Hola/Adiós (Hello/Goodbye)

These simple Spanish words are useful when you greet friends, or part ways with a neighbor or acquaintance. With repetition, these are easy words for kids to learn.

Por favor/Gracias (Please/Thank you)

All kids should learn how to say “please” and “thank you” since these words reinforce good manners. It’s easy to find ways to use these basic Spanish words in everyday situations.

For extra practice, try using these words during mealtimes. You can use por favor after a request, but you can also use it at the beginning of a sentence. For example, “Por favor, escúchame” (please listen to me).

There are also many different ways to use gracias. You can use it as a stand-alone “thank you,” or with more detail:  “Gracias por la ayuda” (thanks for the help).

RELATED: 5 Spanish Websites for Kids

Me gusta/No me gusta (I like/I don’t like)

These two Spanish phrases are extremely useful when it comes to vocabulary for kids. Me gusta(n) ___ literally means “___ is pleasing to me,” but in English it’s translated as, “I like.”

Because of the literal meaning, we must add the -n if the item you like is plural. Similarly, if you don’t like something, you can say, “No me gusta(n).” To help your son or daughter practice, ask him or her, “¿Te gusta(n) ___?” (do you like __?).

He or she can then reply, “Sí, me gusta(n) ___,” or “No, no me gusta(n).”

Lo siento (I’m sorry)

No vocabulary list is complete without the phrase “I’m sorry.” This expression is very useful for when kids are playing together, or if a child needs to show sympathy and apologize.

Necesito/Quiero (I need/want)

These basic Spanish words help kids express their needs and desires. Kids can use these words to communicate basic ideas like quiero jugo (I want juice) or no necesito ayuda (I don’t need help).

Gato/Perro (Cat/Dog)

No basic vocabulary list would be complete without including some words to describe animals. To reinforce the meaning of these simple Spanish words, and you can ask questions like “¿Dónde está el gato?” (Where is the cat?) if you have a furry family pet.

Pequeño/Grande (Little/Big)

Size is omnipresent in a child’s life, from a small bug they see in the garden to a big dog they see at the park. Use these Spanish adjectives to make your descriptions more specific: “¡Qué grande el perro!” (What a big dog!)

Bien/Mal (Well/Badly)

These adverbs come in handy to describe the way something happens. With kids, you can use both words to describe feelings: “Estoy bien” (I’m fine.)

Alto/Adelante (Stop/Go)

These two simple Spanish words are great for a game of “red light, green light” in Spanish, or for getting kids’ attention on the street.

In Spanish culture, being polite is also very important, and the words alto and adelante can allow you to be courteous to others (ie. when stopping to allow someone else to go ahead).

SEE ALSO: How to Say the Colors in Spanish

Practice Time!

Do your children learn better visually? For some extra practice, have them watch this quick tutorial and repeat the basic words after our Spanish teacher Rosita R.

Basic Spanish Words Infographic

Here is a fun image to remind you of the words we studied and practiced above. Save it on your phone to help you memorize all of these basic Spanish words in no time!

Spanish Vocabulary for KIds

Try to use each of these basic Spanish words frequently so you can help your child commit them to memory.

Most of all, have fun introducing your child to Spanish! You can use this list of Spanish vocabulary for kids to have lively, descriptive conversations whenever you want.

If you want to take it a step further, consider signing up for Spanish lessons or online Spanish classes for free!

Joan BannaJoan B. lives in Carmichael, CA and has been teaching high school Spanish for more than 18 years. Joan aims to help students improve on tests and increase their conversational ability when traveling to Spanish-speaking countries. Learn more about Joan here!

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