Native spanish speaker repairing some mistakes.

In all the things I've read in the "Discussion" section, I've noticed that there are some mistakes you frequently make.

1.- When to use "Nosotros" and "Nosotras".

Both are translated into english as "we" (yes, the pronoun). If I (a girl) am with a female friend or with 74576574 female friends, then we are "Nosotras". Otherwise, if I (a girl) am with a boy, then we are "nosotros". If I (a girl) am with 3747 girls and 4 boys, we're still "Nosotros". If there is at least 1 male human being in the group, then that would be "Nosotros". Finally if there are only men, they should obviously say "Nosotros". So...

only women = Nosotras.

Only men = Nosotros.

a mixed group = Nosotros.

Now... What happens with the verb if we are "Nosotros" or "Nosotras"? Nothing happens. We have 2 option: "Nosotros dormimos" or "Nosotras dormimos" (we sleep). As you can see, in both cases the verb is "dormimos" no matter if the sleepers are women, men or both. The verbs in spanish change according to the person (Yo, tú, él, nosotros, etc...) and not acording to the gender.

2.- "Él vs. El", "Tú vs. Tu"

This is very simple. "él" means he or him. "El" means 'the' (masculine singular definite article). Note: I suppose you already know we have only two genders: masculine and feminine. Not as in german, in which we have also the "Neuter" form).

Examples: "Él es agradable" (HE is nice)

"El perro corre" (THE dog runs) -> Perro = masculine noun

"El libro es de él" (THE book belongs to HIM) -> libro = masculine noun

"Él llora porque el libro es feo" (HE cries because THE book is ugly)

"Tú" means "you" (Singular only) and "tu" is a possessive adjective (tu means your).

"Tú lees un libro" (YOU read a book)

"Tú lees tu libro" (YOU read YOUR book).

"Tu gato toma leche" (YOUR cat drinks milk).

3.- Usted.

No, "Usted" doesn't exist in english. We use it when we talk to someone we have respect for. It could be an old person (like a neighbor), an older member of your family (like an aunt, an ancle, a grandfather/mother or even your parents), a stranger or just someone you respect, an authority (a doctor, a teacher, a lawyer, the president, the police, a singer, whatever). there are no specific rules about this though (for instance I say "tú" when talking to my father but sometimes he says "usted" when talking to me, lol) it has to do with how confident you feel with a person.

How do we use the verb with "Usted"? The verb is conjugated in the same way as if it were the third person singular (Él/Ella). So if you say "Ella toma agua" (She drinks water) or "Él toma agua" (He drinks water) "usted" would be "Usted toma agua". See? Nothing happened to the verb. Neverthelees "Usted" is considered as a second person singular.

Secong person singular, 2 options: 1.- Tú (informal), 2.- Usted (formal). In german, this would be "du" and "Sie" (capitalized), and in french I think that would be "tu" and "vous" respectively.

4.- Adding an "s" to the verb doesn't mean that's a plural.

Many people couldn't understand why we add a final "s" when we conjugate the "Tú" person. "You write" would be "Tú escribeS" (In the informal way, of couse) but that final "s" doesn't mean that this is a plural form. On the contrary, this is a singular one. I think it is very similar to when english people add an "s" to the verb in what "he", "she" or "it" concerns (he/she writeS), but it doesn't mean that's a plural, does it?

5.-Translation exercises.

A random exercise: "Translate "Es el perro" into english" (the correct answer would be "it is the dog" by the way) and some people ask "Why can't it be 'This is the dog'?" and I reply: That option adds some extra information. "This" implies that the object you're talking about is near to you. On the other hand, "That" implies that there is a larger distance between the subject and the object. A sentence like "Es el perro" doesn't say if I'm close enough to say "This dog" or if I better say "That dog", so please use "it" and don't add some extra data (even in english "this" and "that" are different. Also are "these" and "those").

6.- Mujer, esposa, ella.

Mujer = woman

Esposa = wife

Ella = she

Niña = girl

In some cases, you can use "Mujer" instead of "wife". In those cases we usually add the possessive "mi". So "Mi mujer" means "My wife". Nevertheless that's a little informal, I mean, if you're introducing your wife to a friend, for example, you better say "Esta es mi esposa".

In some exercises I saw "Ella es bonita" and people asked "Couldn't it be 'the girl is pretty'?" Nope, when we say "ella" we're talking about a female human being. We're not talking about her age or marital status. If I say "Ella es bonita" I could be talking about an old woman and you don't have a way to know it and it doesn't matter because what I'm particularly saying is that I think she's pretty. So if you translate it as "the girl is pretty" or "the lady is pretty" that's incorrect because you're assuming something else. a girl is not a wife, "she" is not a lady. It could certainly be, but we don't know that.

7.- Beber, tomar.

both mean "to drink". What is the difference? I think "beber" is more specific since it has that unique meaning while "tomar" could be a synonymous of "take" (for instance "tomar una siesta" would be "to take a nap") but I think "tomar" is more used for "to drink". At least in Chile.

PEOPLE, PLEASE! "bebe" is the conjugation in the third person singular. "Él bebe" = "he drinks" which is absolutely different from "El bebé" because that means "the baby". Pay attention to the accents.

Now, if you want some extra information about the accents in order to be a crazy master of spanish, I'll leave you this answer I wrote yesterday.

I'll be probably adding more things to this list. All comments are welcome.


January 29, 2014


it's useful info that helps avoiding some common mistakes. thank you so much, I'm gonna follow it :)

January 29, 2014

If you need help some time, let me know :)

January 30, 2014

ok thank you so so much :)

January 31, 2014

Am I allowed to say hasta la vista on phone conversation?

March 21, 2014

If you say that, it's very clear what you mean, but actually we never say it that way. We commonly say "Nos vemos" no matter if we're actually seeing each other or we're just talking at the phone. In spanish it doesn't matter (in german it does, for instance).

March 24, 2014

This is super helpful! Thank you so, so, so much for taking the time to write this!

January 29, 2014

Yay! I'm glad you all liked it :D

If you want, I could explain some things about our To be verb. I've always thought it might be confusing since english, french and german people have only one verb while we have 2.

Anyway, if you have some questions or trouble I'll be happy to help.

January 30, 2014

If you do decide to make a post over Ser/Estar, could you also touch up on the past tenses of ser and estar as well? Fue seems to be the hardest from me.. It means 'went' and 'was/were'?

January 31, 2014

Sure. I'll refresh some things and I'll tell you.

February 2, 2014

I am from Colombia, and I agree, I see this stuff all the time, glad you took the time to clarify.

January 30, 2014

Interesante y completo ensayo. Me recuerda una historia que lei hace poco, un articulo escrito por Hector Abad Faciolince en la revista Semana, en la cual el autor replica a un comentario de Florence Thomas. La polémica es acerca del genero en gramatica española, y vale la pena leerlo. Aquí esta el enlace o link. Si no logra acceder el link, google colombianos y colombianas, y va a encontrarlo.

February 2, 2014

Muy interesante, gracias!

Entiendo ambos puntos de vista, pero concuerdo totalmente con Hector. Si bien hemos sido criados principalmente en una cultura machista, no veo por qué tenemos que culpar al uso del idioma por ello. Además, él expuso tanto los aspectos positivos como los negativos de usar el lenguaje así. No se trata de que alguien en particular sea ganador por ello.

Si vamos a atacar un injusticia, hagámoslo donde y como corresponde, no?

Muchas gracias por todo.

February 2, 2014

¡Hola Valestellarium! Thank you very much for the useful info. Although I already knew what you explained in your post, it's still very kind of you to take the effort (tomar el intento?). Here is a lingot as token of my appreciation. And although it's clear that you are quite fluent in English, I would be available in case you ever need any help there. ¡Saludos!

February 8, 2014

"Hacer el intento" or "Hacer el esfuerzo" sounds better.

Thank you very much for your appreciation. It is very heartwarming when it's either useful or valued the things you do. Besides, that's my point of view of learning: to colaborate, a kind of intellectual barter hahaha.

I still have to learn things about English, so I'll probably take your word at some point :P


February 12, 2014

Thanks a lot for correcting me.

I just wish there were more nice people like yourself on the internet, or on the planet for that matter.
Good luck to you specifically, and to all nice folks like you.

BTW, I will be at your service to help with your English, but the offer comes along with a big IF, I mean IF I can! You see, my knowledge of the language is not limitless, you may even be more knowledgeable in English language than a native speaker such as myself! But the offer stands (with that big if, lol) anyway; I will be available and I will try my best to help, that's a promise.
¡Un abrazo!

February 13, 2014

omg, thanks a lot!!

Don't worry about your "if", the same thing applies to me anyway. Nonetheless, this could be a great chance for you to improve the understanding of your language. Since I started to give some advices and correct some mistakes, I've been more conscious about the spanish rules.

If you're learning spanish and some troubles come along, let me know :)

February 14, 2014

Muy bien, ¡empezamos! :)

Si quiero traducir la frase: "Still it's very kind of you to take the effort."; tengo razón si lo traduzco como:
Todavía es muy amable de tu parte hacer el esfuerzo.
¿A ti qué te parece la traducción? Por favor corrígeme si me equivoco.
¡Muchas gracias de antemano!

February 14, 2014

I think "todavía" sounds weird here, I'd say "aunque es muy amable de tu parte hacer el esfuerzo", or "pero es muy amable...".

Your spanish, in general, seems right anyway :D

February 14, 2014

¡Gracias por tu clarificación!.
Espero que no te moleste si hago otra pregunta. De lo contrario, dime por favor.
¿Cuál es la diferencia entre nunca y jamás; y entre casi y quizás? ¿Son intercambiables?


February 15, 2014

thank you. that helps a lot

April 1, 2015

Muy bien explicado, seguro le servirá a muchos!

January 29, 2014

Well written, thanks!

January 29, 2014

This is great!

January 30, 2014

Thank you! This is super helpful! I have had a hard time understanding and now things finally make more sense.

February 2, 2014

Thank you for the useful information. Cheers!

February 7, 2014

Muchas gracias

February 13, 2014

Nice review. Thanks

February 27, 2014

Thank you Valestellarium!! I was so excited about duolingo until I got to this lesson and suddenly felt in over my head and you lifted me back up!

May 12, 2014

That happens a lot! but it's all about practice and we have to remember that there are always going to be some weird things for us since every language has different rules. But, as I said, it's all about practice. And if you ever need some help with spanish, let me know and I'll try to help :)

May 13, 2014

thanks alot

May 13, 2014

I hav a question to #6: What if i'm not talking about a female human, but a female cat? Would I not say "ella es bonita" then? What would I say?

January 30, 2014

you can use ella for female animals also

January 30, 2014


January 30, 2014

Wow, I missed that. I was trying to emphasize the fact that you cannot just assume "woman", "lady", "wife" etc. as synonymous. But yeah, you can say "ella" in that case too.

January 31, 2014

Thanks for the info, it clarifies so much. I just wanted to ask if it is still Él if the subject is inanimate, ie it. La manzana. Ella es verde. El agua. Él es blanco.

November 1, 2015
  • 2030

Spanish does not have a neuter "it". You use él or ella for the English "it" depending on the grammatical gender of the noun you're substituting the pronoun for. So yes, your examples are correct.

November 1, 2015

Thank you for your answer, I thought the accent on the el might have only been for humans, but you have confirmed it is for any masculine subject :-)

November 7, 2015
  • 2030

él is "he/it"
el is "the" (singular, masculine)

November 8, 2015

That is what I was taught as well, but I have seen some comments throughout this course that make me question what I've learned. So, I began thinking that pronouns could only replace sentient beings (which refers to people and I believe there's a trend to include animals in that group as well). I figured that maybe my high school Spanish classes just didn't want to go into that level of detail at that stage of learning.

To see what I'm talking about, here's an example of what I mean. What I've pasted below is something I read in another discussion thread:

You would not use ellos in this sentence. Ellos applies only to people, not objects. It is a personal pronoun.

Nobody contradicted that user and he received 13 upvotes for it. But he's not the only one. I've seen others post similar comments as well.

Appreciate any thoughts you might have on this.

April 23, 2016

where do you find the accents and the tildes to add to words? They are not on my keyboard.

February 2, 2014

what kind of keyboard do you have? I only know QWERTY and AZERTY keyboards. In both, the tilde is near to the "Enter" button (to the left, exactly).

February 2, 2014

For us English speaking persons that is an apostrophe button, but it does not type over a letter...only next to. If you know how we can easily use it on top of the letters it would be greatly appreciated. :)

May 13, 2014

Oh, unfortunately I don't know your keyboards :/

May 13, 2014

We use QWERTY. From what I searched on the internet it looks like we would have to program our keyboard to do the tildes. Which would mean extra keystrokes when we are typing in English to avoid using tildes. I think it's time for someone to program quick keys into our keyboards to do tildes! A simple alt+' would be nice. :)

May 13, 2014
  • 2030

A little help from the competition!
(It's only for Windows, though.)

May 13, 2014

You rock Rae.F!

May 13, 2014

Thank you!

November 7, 2015

You are welcome :)

November 8, 2015

Excellent! I'll add two notes about usted:

1) The plural form "ustedes" doesn't implies a respectful treatment, it's only "you (all)". Spain is an exception, because they use "vosotros" and "Ustedes", plural of "Usted".

2) In some countries, specially Colombia and Costa Rica, usted is used even among friends and family members. In Chile, usted is used as a tender way of speaking in flirting or among spouses, also for emphasize distance or anger, as when parents reprove children.

April 25, 2016
Learn Spanish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.