I feel completely lost with que and de
I learned que is what, than or that. I learned de is from or of. Lots of times I feel like I'm getting the hang of spanish, then I read an article and there a sentence with de or que and I have no idea how to translate it.
An example En Argentina, que al igual que Venezuela se contrajo económicamente en 2014
I read this as In Argentina, "something" to the same "something" Venezuela contracted economically in 2014
I don't understand how to translate things like this.
If I understand the sentence correctly, it goes: In Argentina, which, like Venezuela, shrunk economically in 2014... And I bet the sentence went on.
contraer(se) : to shrink
Hope that helps!
Que is used in a lot of phrases, especially ones with comparisons. This Spanish Dict forum post indicates that "al igual que" can basically be read as "like" or "as." So, "En Argentina, que al igual que Venezuela" might be better read as "In Argentina, as in Venezuela"?
Some other phrases with "que": http://www.studyspanish.com/lessons/subj7.htm
Does that mean I need to learn the phrases it's used in and not try to translate it literally?
Don't try to translate a word at a time. There lies the valley of tears.
There are various mini-phrases that use "que" or "de" in conjunction with something else. If you become familiar with those you'll go a lot faster than always thinking "que=what/that/than" and "de=of/from". Depending on context, que can also mean who, which, so or if, and that's not even getting into subjunctive clauses.
For example, one of the first phrase snippets I learned was comparison of inequality:
mas...X...que --> the concept of "more than" menos...X...que --> the concept of "less than"
So as soon as I see "mas/menos something que", I know that a comparison is being made. In this case we do translate "que" as "than" in English, but by seeing the phrase as a whole you don't have to waste time on thinking "que...does it mean that, than or what in this context?"
Do you know where I can find a list of phrases to study? These things are the main thing that still trip me up.
There are heaps. This one is a pretty good list of prepositional phrases using "de":
I find it easiest to focus on a small number and use them a lot until I feel really comfortable with them, rather than overwhelming myself with a list of dozens of items at once.
Translating it literally is a good start, but if nothing sounds right, then look to those phrases. It's good to be aware of words and phrases that have specific meanings so you can recognize them, even if you don't have them all memorized. Like, "oh, this is ringing a bell as one of those figures of speech, let me look it up..."
Ok, so in this case the direct translation would be "In Argentina, that to the same that Venezuela"?
Yeah, something along those lines. I'd probably try "which the same that," but either way you're still just circling around the idiomatic meaning.