When and how to use "usted" in Spanish
Many new Spanish speakers hear "usted" used by other Spanish speakers, but often don't know what it means, when to use it, and how to use it.
"Usted" is simply another subject in the Spanish subject chart and it means "you". Wait, does that mean there are two subjects that both mean "you" in Spanish? Si, señor (yes sir).
So at this point the important question to answer is when and how to use Usted. Ana is going to answer all those questions for you in the video below. ¡Buena suerte!
Helpful tips to learn Spanish faster
Learning Spanish should be fun, a little challenging, and extremely rewarding. The eSpanishTeacher philosophy is that students should first build a foundation in Spanish verbs and verb conjugation. Once the foundation has beeb built, the student will be in such a great position to move forward learning all the other principles that are built upon the foundation.
There are of course many sub-strategies you can employ to facilitate your language skill development. Here are some tips & perspectives from Sasha Little on how you might learn Spanish faster and more effectively.
Here is a summary of 25 important verbs all Spanish speakers should learn as early as possible. If you are equipped with a small number of important Spanish verbs, you'll be surprised how much you can actually say. Learning these is a much more effective approach than simply memorizing a few phrases to get around town.
Remember that you'll receive the eSpanishTeacher 101 Spanish Verbs course when you purchase our Beginner Spanish course. This course will teach you to use the 101 most common verbs in the entire Spanish language and you'll get plenty of practice speaking out loud.
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5 Language Tips for New Spanish Speakers
If you're learning the Spanish language for the first time or refreshing your language skills after years of not using them, here are 5 things you need to know to get the most out of your early Spanish education.
5. Number & Gender
In English, nouns, articles, and adjectives don't have to agree in number & gender. But in Spanish agreement between these three is of the highest importance. The advice to new speakers is to make understanding this principle a priority and start using it right away. You'll make mistakes in the beginning, but don't hold back because your hard work early on will pay off soon. If this is confusing, let me break it down for you:
La bicicleta roja es buena = The red bike is good
La = article
bicicleta = noun
buena = adjective
Las bicicletas rojas son buenas = The red bikes are good
Las = article
bicicletas = noun
buenas = adjective
Understanding basic pronunciation is vital to proper Spanish speaking. To avoid forming bad habits that will make you look foolish down the road, start learning & implementing proper pronunciation in the things you say now, even if it's difficult. Spanish is great because with only a few exceptions, most of the letters in the Spanish language are pronounced exactly the same every time. So once you've memorized the proper pronunciation, it will become natural and you won't give it a second thought. But native Spanish speakers will notice right away and give you credit for the importance you've placed on pronunciation. For help with pronunciation, check out my Beginner course.
3. Step into the Darkness
As with learning any new skill, many of us begin our learning experience with a lot of energy, excitement, and enthusiasm. But over time as reality sets in we find that learning & developing skills is not always easy, so we become discouraged. No doubt you'll encounter this...everyone does. Those that successfully navigate these moments have something in common.
I've always believed that anything worth doing is not going to come easily, which means it's worth our time to have patience, set a lot of small & realistic goals, and persevere through the difficult moments because that's where the most growth and learning takes place.
I learned early on that it's crucial to develop a "stick-to-it-ness" when it comes to learning Spanish. Instead of getting discouraged by the obstacles you're certain to encounter, consider them "moments of truth" where your true character will be revealed. When I hit roadblocks in the early days, one trick I used often was to know that the answer exists somewhere. I didn't have it, so I needed to get it. Don't get me wrong, learning Spanish is not nearly as difficult at advanced algebra or quantitative analysis. It's more similar to learning to play an instrument where you might fumble with the notes but with a lot of repetition and practice the masterpiece will finally reveal itself.
So when you face those moments of unknown (any moment where you find your progress is stopped by missing pieces), don't give up. Taking a step into the darkness means that you are willing to identify a few things you can do to solve the problem and start taking action to pursue those steps. Doing this will reveal clues and information that will fill in the puzzle and allow you to make progress. Stepping into the darkness is a skill that helps in many areas of life (business, family, school, relationships) and like any muscle it requires training and development. Over a time if you are developing this muscle, you'll get really good at working through barriers, whether it's related to the Spanish language or some other aspect of life.
2. Practice Practice Practice
One of the best strategies to start speaking Spanish fast doesn't require a teacher in a classroom. Instead of sitting and listening, start speaking the language! You might ask, "well how do I speak the language if I don't know it yet?" Good question. The answer is to find one of your favorite books in Spanish, a book with a story that is familiar to you, so that you can still follow the story as you read. Then, in a quiet, private location, read the book out loud in Spanish. That's right, read the Spanish text out loud!
Not only will this help your pronunciation, but it will help you hear how the language flows. It's a form of training your ear and tongue to hear and mimic the Spanish language. I often hear people who learn English as a second language that one of the best aids for them was watching TV in English. Reading a book out loud is similar to this.
1. Master verbs
One of the skills new Spanish speakers should prioritize is that of conjugating verbs properly. Learning and speaking using conjugated verbs is not difficult--especially in the present tense--and mastering this skill will have immediate returns. Learning to conjugate verbs in Spanish doesn't take long and it does more than any other skill to improve you ability to communicate complete thoughts, significantly expanding your vocabulary along the way.
Are you traveling to a Spanish speaking country in the near future and don't have time to learn Spanish? Here are the 10 most useful phrases that you need to know to get around in Spanish speaking countries.
Of course this is one of the most common phrases in Spanish and one you need to know before you go. The phrase means "Where is...?" Obviously you'll need to finish the sentence with any number of options, such as el baño (the bathroom), la playa (the beach), or la estación de tren (the train station). If you ask someone this question, however, hope that they point you in the right direction instead of explaining all the detailed steps to get there.
La cuenta por favor
This is to be used when you are eating at a sit down restaurant and are ready for the server to bring your check. It's the equivalent of "check please!" La cuenta means the bill as in the final tab on your meal. Oh, and another tip on tipping at restaurants. In many countries outside the USA it's not customary or expected for patrons to tip, so make sure you know the local customs in this regard to save face and money.
¿Cuánto cuesta...?, ¿Cuánto cuestan...?
This is what you say when you want to know how much something costs and translates to How much is... Just like with ¿Dónde está...?, you'll want to finish this sentence with some type of noun or pronoun, such as el libro (the book), ésto (this), or éso (that).
el baño, el servicio, el aseo
These words mean washroom or bathroom, as in can you point me to the restroom?
Buenos Dias, Buenas tardes, Buenas noches
These are the easiest way to say hello in Spanish. Dias is used in the morning through most of the day. Tardes is for afternoon greeting, and noches is used after sunset. You might be tempted to say hola but that greeting is much less common when people greet each other.
This translates to very well or ok. It's perhaps one of the most common sayings in the entire language, so get used to it but don't confuse it with our next word...
The meaning of bueno in Spanish is good. You can use this to say la comida es buena (the food is good) and hace tiempo bueno (the weather is good), but you would not use it to say I'm doing well (see muy bien).
Vamos por..., Vamos en...
These two phrases translate into we are traveling by... You would use them to say things like Vamos por autobús a Panamá (We are going to Panama by bus).
¿Qué hora es?
This is another common question that you may find yourself needing to answer while traveling. It means What time is it? and can be useful if your cell phone is out of batteries or you're off the beaten path where no clocks can be found. But as long as you don't have any major commitments that are crucial to your trip, don't get too worried if you find yourself without the time as it can be very liberating to simply forget time and just enjoy the experience.
Muchas gracias, muy amable, adiós
This phrase translates to thank you, very kind of you, and good bye. With all the help and directions you'll need while traveling, you're bound to use this phrase a lot. Chances are locals help a lot of travelers so be sure to say it with a sincere and grateful smile.
There you have it! These are some of the most useful words and phrases you'll need for your next trip to Mexico, Costa Rica, Spain, or any of the other wonderful places where this beautiful language is spoken.
As a bonus, here are a number of other helpful words:
museo = museum
teatro = theater
hotel = hotel
llegar = to arrive
salir = to leave, to exit
carro, coche = car
calle = street
maletas = luggage
viaje = trip
viajar = to travel
avión = airplane
taxi = taxi
Learn Spanish Tip of the Day: Articles
Articles may sound confusing, but they are easy to understand. Most people don't know that articles are perhaps the most common words in the English language: "A" and "The" and "Some".
A - un, una
The - el, la
Some (plural of "A") - unos, unas
The - los, las
Like adjectives, articles must agree in number and gender with the nouns they modify, for example:
Un libro - A book (notice that "Un" is singular and masculine to match "Libro" which is also singular and masculine.
Una mesa - A desk ("Una" is singular feminine because it modifies a singular feminine noun, "Mesa")
Unos libros - Some books ("Unos" is plural and masculine, so is "libros")
Unas mesas - Some desks (Same thing here, "Unas" is plural and feminine to match "mesas", the noun it modifies)
In Spanish, adjectives that modify a noun must agree in number and gender with the nouns they modify. This is true in English too. Here is an example:
The house is small
Notices that house and small are both singular. In Spanish, this is easier to understand:
La casa es pequeña - the house is small (casa and pequeña are both singular)
Las casas son pequeñas - The houses are small (notice that casas and pequeñas are both plural; so too are las and son for that matter, but we are confining this conversation to nouns and adjectives)
This concept may seem basic, but it's an easy one to forget or skip over. And it gets more difficult when the noun you use doesn't end in "o" or "a". Take for example:
El párque es grande - The park is large
Los párques son grandes - The parks are large (Noun: párque and adjective: grandes are both plural)
The noun does not end in "o" or "a", so determining gender can be a bit more difficult, but the adjective must still agree in number and gender with the noun it modifies.
This is where we chat about all things Spanish. Feel free to ask a question, challenge me, passionately disagree, or rant about whatever. Just make it interesting.