WHATâ€™S YOUR NAME? Jonathan Most people get it pretty easily that Â¿CÃ³mo te llamas? or Â¿CÃ³mo se llama? means â€œWhat is your name?â€ Literally, the question is asking â€œWhat do you call yourself?â€ To literally say â€œWhat is your nameâ€ is â€œCuÃ¡l es tu/su nombre?â€ which is a different way to ask the same thing. The answer, however, is often confused by the English speaker because of, again, literal translation and trying to speak English with Spanish words, if that makes sense. To answer â€œCÃ³mo te llamas?â€ one should reply â€œMe llamo (Julio)â€ but often learners will mix the two and say â€œMe llamo es (Julio)â€ which is not correct. This actually says â€œI call myself is Julio.â€ Not good. It is an easy mistake to make because it sounds more like what we say in English: My name isâ€¦
EITHER state your name with â€œMe llamoâ€ or â€œMi nombre esâ€ but not a combination of the two.
TENER: TENER, the verb TO HAVE, is a verb that is used in many common idiomatic expressions that English speakers often will mistakenly use SER (TO BE) to express. ALWAYS use tener for:
AGEâ€”Yo tengo 25 aÃ±os. (NEVER â€œSoy 25 aÃ±osâ€)â€”this is another common error of direct translation.
The following idioms:
TENER hambre/sed/sueÃ±o/miedo/frÃo/calor/celos/prisa (to be hungry/thirsty/tired/scared/cold/hot/jealous/in a hurry)â€”In English we say I AM which in Spanish, is the verb SER or ESTAR.
QUERER vs. GUSTAR: Querer means â€˜to wantâ€™ where gustar means â€˜to likeâ€™. â€œYo quiero Taco Bellâ€ means I want Taco Bell, where â€œMe gusta Taco Bellâ€ means I like Taco Bell. The verb QUERER is also used to mean love in situations like â€œI love/want youâ€ (Te quiero)â€”but is not used to mean I love Taco Bell. It is only used with people in this way. To say one loves something (as we would say something like â€œI love skiingâ€), use ENCANTAR which works as the verb GUSTAR does: Me encanta esquiar.
A PERSONAL: In Spanish, the word â€˜aâ€™ is used between a verb and a person but it does not translate in English, so is often forgotten. To say â€œI call my momâ€ would be â€œLlamo a mi madre.â€ To say â€œWe wait for the doctorâ€ would be â€œEsperamos a la doctora.â€ But to wait for the bus would be â€œEsperamos el autobus.â€
The personal A is NOT, however, used with the verb tener. For example, Tengo dos hijos (I have two children) would NOT have the â€˜aâ€™ between the verb and people.
SER vs. ESTAR: These verbs cause language learners a lot of grief. Basically, SER is used to describe things that donâ€™t change (along with origin and professions) where ESTAR describes conditional or temporary things. Examples: Soy de California, Eres rubio, Somos altos, vs. Estoy enferma, EstÃ¡s en Kansas City, Estamos tristes etc. These verbs require a lot of study.
ADJECTIVE AGREEMENT: In Spanish, adjectives always reflect the number and gender of the words they describe. As we donâ€™t have gender per se in the English language, this is a tricky thing to get used to. First off, gender in language does not mean that feminine words only have to do with â€œwomenâ€ and masculine words only have to do with â€œmen.â€ It is not like that at all. Two good examples are the Spanish words for tie and dress. Tie is â€œla corbataâ€ â€“a feminine word–and is typically a manâ€™s article of clothing were â€œel vestidoâ€â€”a masculine word– is the word for dress, which is typically something worn by a woman. The gender and number of a word is obvious by looking at the definite or indefinite article: el/la/los/las (un/una/unos/unas). If you se â€œLOSâ€ in front of a word, the adjective needs to be masculine and plural: Los perros son blancos. Similarly, observe the adjectives and how they are different for the following sentences: El perro es blanco. Las casas son amarillas. La casa es amarilla.
Adjectives follow nouns in Spanish and precede them in English, so if it sounds backwards, it is probably right!
MUY vs. MUCHO: â€œMuyâ€ means very. (El bebÃ© es muy pequeÃ±o.)â€”The baby is very small. (Estoy muy muy cansada.)–I am very very tired.
â€œMuchoâ€ means a lot. (Tengo mucho trabajo.)â€”I have a lot of work. (Hay muchos carros en la calle.)â€”There are a lot of cars in the street.
BUENO vs. BIEN: This concept is mixed up a lot in English as well. â€œBuenoâ€ means good. (Los tacos son buenos.)â€”The tacos are good.
â€œBienâ€ means well. (Estoy bien. Bien hecho.)â€”I am well. Well done.
DIVERTIRSE: This verb means â€œTO HAVE FUNâ€ and is so very often literally translated, logically, to be â€œTENER DIVERTIDOâ€ (which sadly is incorrect.) This is again direct translation gone wrong. Also seen a lot from the novice language learner is â€œtener un buen tiempoâ€ for â€œto have a good time.â€ Unfortunately, when this is said, the person is saying â€œto have good weather.â€ Use the verb DIVERTIRSE. Me divierto en la playa. (I have fun at the beach.) Nos divertimos mucho anoche. (We had a lot of fun last night.) Â¡QuÃ© te diviertas en Madrid! (Have fun in Madrid!) Expressions equivalent to â€œhaving a good timeâ€ are: Lo pasamos bien. (We had a good time.) Lo pasamos en grande. (We had a blast.) Espero que lo pases bien en Mexico. (I hope you have a good time in Mexico.)