Spanish Lesson 2
Welcome to the second installment of my Web-course in Spanish. If this is
your first time visiting the Spanish Lessons, be sure to check out the
first Lesson for an introduction to the
course and to Spanish. Aiding me with Lesson 2 is Jennifer Chambers, also of
Lesson 2 now has audio! It's a different form than lesson 1 -
instead of getting a pronunciation of a particular word, you select the
audio clip that accompanies a particular section (such as the Nouns or the
Colors). It's a much larger audio clip to download, but should be simpler
to use once it has been transferred.
Lesson 2 - La Casa (the house)
This week's new words:
Click here to hear these words spoken
Click here to hear these numbers spoken
Click here to hear these colors spoken
Most of the Spanish alphabet is exactly like the English alphabet. Here are
some exceptions from words in this lesson.
- The Spanish c has 2 possible sounds, just like English. It can
sound like the s in some, or like the k in
kite. Unlike English, there are very strict rules about when
the Spanish c sounds like an s or a k. If the c precedes (comes
before) an e or an i, the c will have an s sound. For example,
once. If the c precedes any other letter (a, o, u, or a
consonant), then it will have a k sound, as in cuarto.
The word cocina has both types of c in it - the first c
makes the k sound, and the second c makes the s
- The Spanish j has no exact English equivalent. It is like
a strong English h as in happy, made further back in the
throat and with more sound, much like one were clearing their throat. Listen
to the pronunciations for rojo, anaranjada, and
- In Lesson 1 you learned how to pronounce the Spanish r. The
Spanish rr is pronounced differently than the single r - it
is made by rolling the r on the upper palate, to produce a
quick series of the Spanish r sounds. If a single r occurs
at the beginning of a word (as in rojo), it is pronounced
as a double-r (rr). Otherwise, only the rr is pronounced
this way, as in marrón. If you are old enough, you might
remember the "R-r-r-r-ruffles have r-r-r-r-r-ridges" commercials - this is
the sound you are trying to make. It takes practice to do it well.
- The Spanish v is very short and quick, and almost sounds like
the English b in bed. It is never drawn out like
the English word very.
- The Spanish z is pronounced as an s, or
an s-sounding c. Thus, azul is pronounced like "assule"(one
word). In Spain, the z is pronounced like the English th in
this. Azul would be pronounced "ath-ule". Use whichever
pronunciation you prefer.
Two confusing verbs - ser and estar
If you have already read the New Words section, you probably noticed that the
two verbs introduced this week both mean the same thing - to be, or to exist.
These are two of the most confusing verbs for people learning Spanish, because
there is a difference between when you use ser, and when you use estar.
Hopefully, introducing them now and practicing them throughout the rest of
the lessons will make them a little bit easier to comprehend.
As in English, verbs are conjugated, or take various forms, in Spanish. In
the present tense, there are 6 verb forms, depending on who the subject
of the verb is. Here are the conjugations for ser and estar:
ser - to be
estar - to be
Audio of conjugations of ser and estar.
Note that the conjugations for usted (you), él (he),
and ella (she) use the same form of the verb. The same goes for their
plurals (though the singular and the plural use different forms).
* - the vosotros form is shown only to describe all 6
conjugations for ser and estar. Vosotros is the
familiar plural form of tú, and is not used in Latin America. Because
my own instructors have ignored the vosotros forms of verbs, I do not
use that verb form myself, and will not use it in examples. I will include it
with all verb conjugations for those who are interested, however.
Now that you have this pretty little conjugation, what does one do with it?
Make sentences, of course. The conjugation of a verb tells you which form of
the verb to use depending on who is the subject of the verb. In English we
conjugate without thinking about it - I am, you are, he
is, etc. You don't (normally) say "I are" or "you is", because it's
gramatically incorrect. Likewise in Spanish, you don't say "yo eres",
because it's just plain wrong. Here are some examples of using ser
Now it's time to explain the differences between ser and estar,
before we go any further. While both verbs mean "to be" or "to exist", there
are very distinct rules as to when you use one or the other. The rules are
ser is used to indicate more permanent aspects of people or things, such as -
- Identity - Yo soy Carla. ("I am Carla")
- Profession - Él es un profesor. ("He is a teacher.")
- Origin - Nosotros somos de Costa Rica. ("We are from Costa Rica.")
- Religious or political affiliation - Tú eres católico?
("You are Catholic?")
- Time of day or date - Son las ocho. ("It is 8 o'clock.")
- Posession - La casa es de Juana. ("It is Juana's house.")
- Nationality - Soy de México. ("I am from Mexico.")
- Physical aspects or characteristics of something - Las sillas son
verdes. ("The chairs are green.")
- Essential qualities of something or someone - Soy viejo. Eres
antipático. ("I am old. You are unpleasant.")
estar is used to indicate more temporary aspects of people or things, such as -
Notes: Notice that the verb form used for things like la silla is
the él/ella/usted form. A chair is an "it" (below, you'll see
that it's actually a "she"), which uses the el/ella/usted
form of the verb. Also notice that you can make sentences like Soy de
México, without including the pronoun. To English speakers this may seem
like saying "Am from Mexico", which we would never do, but in Spanish, because
the subject can be figured out by the form of the verb used (since
the sentence used soy, the subject must be yo, or I), there
is no confusion about who the subject of the sentence is and the pronoun can
be left out. If it would be unclear what the subject of the sentence is, then
the pronoun has to be included.
- Location - La silla está en la cocina. ("The chair is in
- Condition or emotion that is subject to change - Estoy enfermo.
("I am sick.")
- Personal observations or reactions, how something "seems" or "feels" -
La cocina está limpia. ("The kitchen is (seems) clean.")
The above lists of when to use ser and estar have to be
memorized - using them incorrectly means you will be less likely to be
understood, and people will definitely know you are not a native speaker. The
same goes for the conjugations of ser and estar. Every
Spanish verb has a conjugation, and memorizing them just goes along with
learning the language.
El, la, un and una (definite and indefinite articles)
In Spanish, as well as all the other Romance languages (French, Italian, etc),
all nouns have a gender associated with them. "Chair" is feminine, "telephone"
is masculine. The way to tell whether a noun is masculine or feminine is to
look at the el or la that precedes the noun in the New Words
section of these lessons. El (differing than él,
which means "he", by the accent mark over the "e") is the definite article that
corresponds to masculine nouns - el cuarto, el teléfono.
La is the definite article that corresponds to feminine nouns - la
casa, la mesa, la ventana. Whether a noun is considered feminine or
masculine is generally based on the last letter of the noun. If the noun ends
with an "a", as in silla or cocina, or with "-sión"
"-ción", "-tad", "-dad", or "-umbre", then it is probably
a feminine noun. If it ends with an "o" or a consonant, such as cuarto
or reloj (wristwatch), then it is probably a masculine noun. Exceptions
do exist to this rule - mapa (map) is masculine, and pared
(wall) is feminine - but the majority of Spanish nouns behave normally. The
exceptions just have to be memorized as you come across them.
When using nouns, you must make sure that you use the correct gender and number
when using an identifier. The identifiers are el, la, los, las,
un, una, unos, and unas. El and la are
singular definite articles, which means you are talking about a
specific thing. La silla means "the chair" - you
are talking about a specific chair. Un and una are
singular indefinite articles, which means you are taking about
any member of a group of things. Una silla means "a
chair" - you are talking about any chair in general. The use of these
identifiers is identical to the way you would say it in English - if you want
to say "a table", use una, and if you want to say "the table", use
la. Los is the plural of el, and las is
the plural of la. You use these plural definite articles
when you are talking about several specific members of a group - las
mesas means "the tables". Unos and unas
are plural forms of un and una, respectively, and translate
to "some" when used in sentences - unas mesas means "some tables".
These are plural indefinite articles, which means they don't refer to
any specific objects but to a class of them, such as tables or chairs.
Here are some examples using these 8 articles:
De and en
De is Spanish for of or from. La casa de Theresa means
"Theresa's house" (literally, "the house of Theresa"). Soy de Mexico
means "I am from Mexico". De is used most often to show possession or
origin, as per the preceding examples. When de is followed by an
el, as in la casa de el profesor, the de and el
are combined into del. So the correct way to say "The (male)
teacher's house" would be la casa del profesor.
En is Spanish for in, as in inside something (not necessarily inside
a physical object). It can be used to mean that something is inside something
else, as in la silla está en la cocina ("the chair is in the
kitchen"), or that someone is somewhere, Marcos está en
("Mark is in Spain").
Adjectives are words that describe things, words like "red", "fast", and
"pretty". In English, there isn't much to using adjectives because they never
change - "the fast car" or "the cars are fast". In Spanish, the adjective
has to agree, in both gender and number, with whatever it is
describing. If the adjective modifies a feminine noun, then the adjective uses
a feminine ending. If the adjective modifies a masculine plural noun, then the
adjective uses a masculine plural ending. Here are some adjectives with their
The above rules are good for any adjective that ends in an -o or -a. Adjectives
like azul and verde, that end in a consonant or an -e, do not
have separate masculine and
feminine forms. So, you would say el cuarto es azul ("the room is
blue"), and la casa es azul ("the house is blue"), as well as las
sillas son azules ("the chairs are blue"). There are exceptions to this
rule, but that will be addressed in another lesson.
- bonito - pretty
- cómodo - comfortable
- singular masculine - cómodo
- singular feminine - cómoda
- plural masculine - cómodos
- plural feminine - cómodas
- feo - ugly
- singular masculine - feo
- singular feminine - fea
- plural masculine - feos
- plural feminine - feas
- sucio - dirty
- singular masculine - sucio
- singular feminine - sucia
- plural masculine - sucios
- plural feminine - sucias
- blanco - white
- singular masculine - blanco
- singular feminine - blanca
- plural masculine - blancos
- plural feminine - blancas
- negro - black
- singular masculine - negro
- singular feminine - negra
- plural masculine - negros
- plural feminine - negras
Placement of adjectives
In Spanish, adjectives generally go after the noun they are describing. For
example, el teléfono rojo ("the red telephone"), and las
profesoras viejas ("the old (female) professors"). If you want to say
that "something is something", then the sentence structure is the same
as in English, using the correct forms of ser or estar:
el teléfono es rojo ("the telephone is red");
las profesoras son viejas ("the (female) professors are old").
The numbers 11-15, like the numbers 1-10 in Lesson 1, have irregular forms -
memorize them. From 16 on, however, numbers start following some patterns,
much like they do in English. Sixteen is dieciséis, which is
actually a contraction (shortening) of diez y seis, or "10 and 6".
Seventeen is diecisiete, or "10 and 7", and so on. Much like the
"teens" in English - fourteen, fifteen, sixteen,
Twenty in Spanish is veinte. Twenty-one is veintiuno
(a contraction of veinte y uno or "twenty and one"), 22 is
veintidós ("twenty and two"), and so on. Twenty (veinte)
is the only number that allows this contraction. Starting at thirty (treinta),
all numbers are made by combining the 10's and the 1's words via y,
31 is treinta y uno, 38 is treinta y ocho (literally "thirty and 8"). This
pattern holds for all of the numbers 31 through 99. Here are some examples:
- 33 - treinta y tres
- 45 - cuarenta y cinco
- 51 - cincuenta y uno
- 66 - sesenta y seis
- 72 - setenta y dos
- 89 - ochenta y nueve
- 94 - noventa y cuatro
Here are some examples of sentences you can now make, using the words and
grammar from these 2 lessons:
Here are the translations for these
- Soy de México.
- Tim está en la cocina.
- La señorita es bonita.
- Tú eres antipático.
- La silla es cómoda.
- San Juan está en Puerto Rico.
- El profesor viejo está enfermo.
- El teléfono verde es sucio.
- El cuarto de baño está en la casa.
- La casa de María es anaranjada.
That's the end of Lesson 2. As always, feel free to mail me questions,
comments, or corrections on this or any of the Lessons. Believe me, I'm
starting to get a new appreciation for teachers through my work with this.
to the Spanish Lessons Homepage.
note to Tyler.
Tyler Chambers, 6-27-94
Copyright Tyler Chambers 1994.