Simple lifehacks of the Spanish Language
Spanish – “easy, friendly, yours”.
300 – this is the number of words an average Spaniard uses in their regular conversation. Isn’t it amazing?
Overall, there are about 350 thousand words in Spanish. Approximately 40 thousand words make up a passive vocabulary of a native speaker. Passive vocabulary consists of the words which speakers can recognise when they hear them or see in a written text, but they aren’t necessarily used by them. Active vocabulary of a Spanish speaking person contains the words which they can use on a day to day basis and it’s even less with just about 20 thousand words.
So where does a number 300, which sounds so improbable yet tempting for a Spanish freshman, come from? A friend of mine has a Cuban husband. And of course, all the communication in this family is in Spanish (yep, thy speak Spanish in Cuba). Once my friend decided to record 30 minutes of a conversation with her husband over dinner. Then she counted how many unique words they used during those 30 minutes sharing the details of that day. And the amount she got was 330 words. We can all agree that it’s not a lot.
You may say: enough about words, there is grammar as well! And you are right. Beginners often dread the fact that there are really A LOT of verb forms in Spanish for all the tenses: present, future and all the past ones. It looks like it can take years to learn them all. Another thing to memorise is how to conjugate all 100 most used verbs in Spanish, what rules all five verb groups follow and it’s all in different tenses! But what can you do if you are eager to talk about your last vacation and future plans right now?
I must say, that you can’t really avoid learning all the verb forms by heart. And yet it’s possible to postpone it for a bit of time. What you can do, for example, is to memorise forms of some verbs and infinitives of others. Here I am talking about “magic constructions” which will make it relatively easy for you to say what you want.
For instance, that’s how you can talk about things you like:
• Use the most favourite formula for beginners:
me gusta (I like) + infinitive* (don’t be scared, it’s just the basic form of the verb)
Me gusta estudiar español – Y a mí me gusta dar clases de español. İVamos a ser amigos! – I like learning Spanish. – And I like giving classes of Spanish. Let’s be friends!!
You can talk about something you USUALLY do:
• soler + infinitive. The verb soler means something you usually do and it’s conjugated just like the verb poder (can), which I’m sure you already know: (yo) suelo, (tú) sueles, (él) suele
Suelo aprender 100 palabras nuevas – I usually learn 100 new words a day.
You can talk about your future plans:
• ir a + infinitive (ir – go, move*)
We use this construction to talk about actions in the future. Something you are going or planning to do (just like “going to” in English). It allows us not to use any future forms (Future simple) just by conjugating this wonderful verb ir (go, move).
¿Qué vas a hacer? - What are you going to do?
– Voy a dormir. –I’m going to sleep.
Mañana voy a quedar con amigos –Tomorrow I’m going to meet with friends.
You can talk about something you have just done:
• acabar de + infinitive (acabar – finish)
¿Cariño, vamos a ir a alguna parte? – Darling, let’s go somewhere?
– Acabo de llegar, cielo. No voy a ir a ninguna parte – Sweetheart, I have just come. I am not going anywhere.
Acabo de entender que no entiendo nada – I have just understood that I understand nothing.
You can talk about something you should or have to do:
• tener que + infinitive (tener – have)
¿Cariño, entonces vamos a salir después de la cena? – Darling, let’s go somewhere after dinner.
- No puedo. Después de la cena tengo que descansar. I can’t. i should rest after dinner.
You can talk about something which is necessary for everyone to do:
• hay que + infinitve
Hay que comer para vivir y no vivir para comer – You should eat to live, and not live to eat.
Para ser sano hay que practicar deporte – To be healthy, you should do sport (this statement is controversial. We can discuss it in our classes).
- Pay attention that most of the verbs may change their initial meaning when used in these constructions.
I wish I could just tell you now that you got yourself covered and Spanish is easy, friendly and yours. But it is quite a deep and engaging language. Its simplicity on the outside keeps you hooked when you just start and eventually leads you to something far more interesting as you study. But I hope that these simply constructions-formulas will be your friends.
Happy Spanish to everyone!