Welcome to Spain….now forget everything you thought you knew about the Spanish language. While I can definitely say that my Spanish has improved exponentially as a result of being here (I’m much better at the pretérito perfecto and the pretérito imperfecto), I still have a long way to go (darn subjunctive!). Here are some insights that I’ve had with the Spanish language (or Castellano because it’s not called Spanish when you’re in Spain).
1) Vosotros actually exists
I’ll never forget the relief I felt in high school and college when I found out that the vosotros verb conjugations would not be included on an exam. One less thing to learn! Many students in the United States do not learn the vosotros verb conjugations because they are not used in Latin America (as Latin American speakers use ustedes when addressing a group formally or informally). Oh how I wish I would have learned vosotros. Turns out vosotros is a subject pronoun used only in Spain. The vosotros conjugation of a verb is informal and refers to a group of two or more people. After a few weeks of hearing vosotros over and over, I’m getting the hang of it. Kind of.
2) Past Participles
This gets a little technical if you haven’t studied the Spanish language, but bear with me. Whenever you conjugate a compound verb, you have the conjugation with the participle. For example if I want to say, “I have eaten already”
- He comido ya.
Or, “I had played basketball.”
- Había jugado baloncesto.
Notice that the participles in these examples are -ido and -ado.
Many people in my region of Spain speak very quickly and don’t pronounce the “D.” Imagine my confusion when I heard the words “comio” (sounds like the past tense of eat) and “jugao” (no idea what this means). I finally asked a student about it and she told me that no one really pronounces the “D” in this region.
3) Slang, y’all.
Turns out there is Spanish slang just like there’s slang in the U.S. Now let’s take it one step further. Imagine that your town has words that are only used in that town….
- Guacho/a: Same as chico/a or muchacho/a
- Ea: This is said when someone doesn’t know what to say or how o respond. It can also mean “I don’t know” “fine” or “okay”. For example, some can respond to “How are you doing today?” with “Ea.”
- Madre mía: I can’t help it, but I always think, “Mamma Mia!” when here this. This means “Oh my!” or “Good grief!” Also, I’m pretty sure this is common in the rest of Spain, but I wanted to include it on my list too.
- Many “palabras rotas.” I’m not going to type them. If you have questions, you can ask me.
Well, theses are just a few examples of some of the ways I’ve had to learn, or rather re-learn, Spanish. I’ve enjoyed learning all of the different colloquial terms, and I’m sure I will learn plenty more before I leave. Have you ever been to Spain or Latin America? How was the Spanish similar or different to what you learned in school?
“To reach a goal you have never attained before, you must do things you have never done before.” Richard G. Scott