Let’s talk about sport in Spanish!

Let's talk about sport in Spanish!

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Want to play a bit of fútbol? Fancy a quick round of golf? If you understand both of those words in bold, you already know a bit of Spanish vocabulary about sports. It’s actually incredibly easy to learn Spanish words for different sports as an English speaker, as a lot of them are very similar with pretty much no falsos amigos (false friends) to worry about. Here are just a few:

Spanish English
El fútbol Football
El golf Golf
El baloncesto Basketball
El tenis Tennis
El voleibol Volleyball
El hockey Hockey

Let's construct a sentence with the verb jugar (to play)

That’s easy, isn’t it? Now we just need to construct a sentence to say which of these sports you actually play, and for that we need the verb jugar (to play). This verb has a stem change in that the “u” becomes “ue” when we use it to talk about certain people. Let’s have a look at what that means:

  • I play = Juego
  • You play (singular) = Juegas
  • He/she plays = Juega
  • You play (plural) = Jugáis
  • We play = Jugamos
  • They play = Juegan

Then, to make a full sentence with this verb, we always add a + noun and now we can start having a proper conversation! If I want to say I play football I should say Juego al fútbol. Or, if I’m talking about my friend Juan, then I would say Juan juega al fútbol. Simple! But, not all sports are “played” obviously, and so we need to learn some other verbs to expand our vocabulary.

Spanish English
Practicar To practise/do
Hacer To do (in this case anyway!)

Both of these verbs can be used with different sports to give us the chance to speak about many more activities. For instance:

  • Hago/Practico boxeo = I do boxing
  • Hago/Practico natación = I do/go swimming
  • Hago/Practico bicicleta = I do/go cycling

Once we’ve established which sports we do, maybe you’d like to tell people how often you do things. Again, this is fairly straightforward in Spanish as you simply say how many veces (times) per day/week/etc. So, I can say Juego al baloncesto dos veces al día/a la semana/al mes/al año which means I play basketball twice a day/week/month/year. You can simply swap out the word dos for any other number you like.

So, to sum up so far, we can now say which sports we play or do and how often we do them. It might be useful at this point to also mention how we can ask other people for this same information. Here are the questions you’ll need to start chatting about sport with your Spanish-speaking friends:

  • ¿Qué deportes haces? = Which sports do you do?
  • ¿Con qué frecuencia los haces? = How often do you do them?

Try and get speaking to some native Spanish speakers, or your classmates on your course at Hablamos about which sports they like to do and when!

Vocabulary for different sports

You might also like to know some specific vocabulary for different sports, so here are some lists of the most common words for a variety of activities. Why not try using them next time you’re out and about to strike up a conversation?

El fútbol – Football

Spanish English
Marcar un gol To score a goal
El golaveraje Goal average
El árbrito Referee
El delantero Striker
El centrocampista Midfielder
El defensa Defender
El penaltí Penalty
El campo de fútbol Football pitch

El tenis – Tennis

Spanish English
La pista de tenis Tennis court
La pista de hierba Grass court
La raqueta Racket
La pelota Ball
La red Net
El árbrito Umpire
El saque Serve
El jugador Player

El golf – Golf

Spanish English
El campo de golf Golf course
El palo de golf Golf club
El hoyo Hole
Golpear la pelota Hit the ball
Un hoyo en uno A hole in one
La bandera Flagstick
Una vuelta A round
La puntuación Score

La natación – Swimming

Spanish English
La piscina Pool
Estilo libre/crol Freestyle/front crawl
El estilo espalda Breastroke
El estilo mariposa Butterfly
El salto Dive
El fondo de la piscina Bottom of the pool
Un largo A length
El flotador Armband

And there you have it – a guide to how to start speaking in Spanish about sports and some useful vocabulary for when you’re learning how to read and listen in Spanish to information about different activities.

Why not try to get talking with some Spanish speakers about this interesting topic to practise your speaking skills? Also, come to Hablamos and we’ll teach you tons of useful vocabulary for this and many more topics!

What's so different about Spain Spanish and Latin American Spanish?

What's so different about Spain Spanish and Latin American Spanish?

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Spanish, that global language spoken by over 500 million people, isn’t as homogenous as you might think. Just like with English, the language has evolved in different ways depending on the country you’re talking about. Fancy a zumo de naranja or a jugo de naranja? Well, actually they’re the same thing (an orange juice just in case you didn’t know) and that’s just one of a multitude of examples we’re about to show you!

Studying Spanish in Spain, you’ll learn words like bolígrafo or boli for pen, whereas in most of Latin America this would be called a pluma, which incidentally means fountain pen in Spain. To be honest, you’ll be understood in any Spanish speaking country using either term, as in today’s globalised world, everyone is exposed to a multitude of cultures and linguistic differences. The same can’t be said for the phrase coger el tren/bus, which means take the train/bus here in Madrid and the rest of the country. Be very careful about saying this in Latin America, where the normal term is tomar el tren/bus, as the version from Spain means you’d like to have some intimate relations with that vehicle! Bit of a weird difference, right? Here are a few more ones to watch out for when travelling around the Spanish-speaking world:

Spain Latin America English
Móvil Celular Mobile phone
Ordenador Computadora Computer
Coche Carro Car
Conducir Manejar To drive
Palomitas Pororó Popcorn

Differences in pronunciation

Not only are there differences in terms of vocabulary between Spain and its Latin American cousins, there are also several changes in pronunciation. The biggest difference when listening is the sound of the letters “c” and “z” when they come before “e” or “i” as in cielo (sky). Over here in Spain, this word starts with a clear “th” sound like in the word think, whereas someone from Chile, for example, would use a “s” sound as in the word song. Having said that, there are certain accents in Spain which also use this pronunciation at times, mainly in the Canary Islands but also in parts of Andalucía. This one tiny sound can change the whole rhythm of a Spanish sentence as it is extremely common, as well as having an effect on certain wordplays. Take, for example, the following sentence:

“Vamos a cazarle, cazar con una zeta.” – We’re going to hunt him, hunt with a zed.

This sentence is a line from a famous Mexican telenovela (soap opera) and it only works as a play on words if you use Latin American pronunciation. Let me explain. Cazar (to hunt) and the word casar (to marry) only sound the same in Latin America, and the character was trying to emphasise that she wasn’t going to marry the guy who’d just been trying to chat her up, but destroy him as he was also ruining the life of her family through some dodgy business dealings. If that sounds a bit far-fetched, I recommend you go and practise your listening skills by watching any of the myriad of telenovelas now available online. You’ll soon find that this sort of thing is a common plot!

Beyond this, the differences in pronunciation between the different variants of Spanish mean you should always try to listen to a range of accents when learning to understand native speakers. There’s no use in always focusing on just Spain Spanish or Latin American versions otherwise you’re missing out on a vast amount of cultural knowledge and meeting some really interesting people.

And what about the grammar?

Another aspect of Spanish which is worth mentioning is the grammar, as here too there are some elements which differ depending on where you are in the world. One of the main differences is in the use of the vosotros form of a verb in Spain to refer to you in plural (as in a group of people) in a more informal way. This is standard when you’re speaking to a group of people you know well, like friends, or a teacher to their students. The formal version of this, for Spaniards anyway, is ustedes which for anyone from a Latin American country is the normal form for both formal and informal situations. Something else you’ll hear used differently are the past tenses. To refer to something that has happened today/this week/this month/etc, in Spain you’d hear something like “hoy he trabajado siete horas” (today, I’ve worked seven hours) which is the equivalent of the present perfect. A Columbian person, for instance, would use the past simple and say “hoy trabajé siete horas” (today, I worked seven hours).

Making sure you use the right words in the right countries is important when learning Spanish, as with any other language, as it clearly shows you’re interested in and aware of cultural differences. It’s a sign of respect, and means you’ll be more easily able to communicate on your travels.

Come join us on one of our Spanish courses here at Hablamos - we're waiting to teach you all about these differences and to help you make yourself understood wherever you go in the Spanish-speaking world!

Why learn Spanish in Madrid?

Why learn Spanish in Madrid?

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Madrid, the capital of Spain and one of the best cities to live in the world. These are just five of the many reasons why coming to study Spanish in Madrid is a great idea. Let’s look at each of them in turn.

World-class museums

No matter what sort of museum you’re into, Madrid has something for everyone. The famous Prado museum caters for those fans of such artists as Velázquez, Goya and the ahead of his time El Greco. You could easily spend half a day wandering the vast corridors of this palatial building and still not discover all of its secrets. However, if classical art isn’t your thing, then the Reina Sofia with its impressive collection of contemporary art might be more up your street. Picasso’s Guernica is the star painting here and hangs proudly alongside works from other great artists such as Miró, Dalí and Juan Gris.

“But I don’t like art”, you might say. Never fear- Madrid has plenty of other museums such as the Museo del Traje, Museo de América, Museo de Ciencias Naturales and many more. You’d be hard-pressed not to find something you’ll like!

Fantastic nightlife and cultural activities

Madrid has some legendary nightclubs, some of which are a holdover from the Movida Madrileña of the 1980s. The massive Kapital in the city centre is a seven-storey (yes, seven!) mega club, while Penta in trendy Malasaña plays all the best hits from the 80s and 90s. A big advantage of getting out and about in the evening is that you’ll come into contact with lots of locals to practise your Spanish with!

If clubbing isn’t your cup of tea, then there are lots of other ways to soak up the cultural atmosphere of Madrid. Like the theatre? Well, Gran Vía, one of the main boulevards in the city, has tons of theatres where you can enjoy the biggest musicals and productions. You could also take a food and drink tour, which is another great way of picking up some basic Spanish vocabulary too, or take in the breath-taking views from one of the multiple miradores in the city such as the Faro de Moncloa or at Centro Centro.

Excellent restaurants

Being the capital of Spain, Madrid has a wide range of culinary delights to sample while you immerse yourself in Spanish culture and learn its beautiful language. An unmissable place to go is Botín which holds the Guiness World Record for being the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the world- it opened in 1725! More relaxed options include the myriad of tapas bars dotted throughout the city where you can snack on some fantastic mini portions of Spanish cuisine while having a glass of locally produced wine.

Although the Madrid restaurant scene is a feast for the belly, you might sometimes want some home comforts in between your Spanish classes. Madrid now has a vast range of international options, from Thai to Colombian and even good old British fish and chips. It’s all a question of getting out into the city and exploring, all the while practising your Spanish conversational skills to get tips from the locals on the hottest new restaurants!

Great outdoor spaces

Nature lovers are spoilt for choice in Madrid as the city and its surroundings have some great green spaces to enjoy when you’re not studying. Right in the city centre is the Parque del Buen Retiro with its beautiful lake, shady grassed areas and remnants of the old palace buildings which used to dominate the area. Furthermore, the vast Casa de Campo on the eastern edge of the city has a fantastic cable car which takes you right into the heart of the park where you can enjoy some incredible views back over Madrid.

When you come to learn Spanish in Madrid, you shouldn’t forget that the city is surrounded by mountainous areas such the Sierra de Guadarrama which is absolutely perfect for hiking and climbing enthusiasts. The nearby countryside is dotted with quaint little villages full of history and beautiful architecture, such as the fortified buildings in Buitrago del Lozoya or the 15th century castle in Manzanares El Real.

Brilliant language schools

Evidently, the most important thing to anyone wanting to study Spanish in Madrid is the quality of the city’s language schools. It’s crucial that you find a school which offers top-quality teaching, great support for students and a range of courses to help you develop your Spanish language skills. With over 30 years’ experience teaching languages, Hablamos is the place for you. Our teachers are highly-qualified and use the latest teaching methods in class to make sure you develop the skills you need to get out into Madrid and confidently start talking to people from the very first lesson. You’ll soon be making lots of new friends and wondering why you didn’t make the move sooner!

What are you waiting for? Contact Hablamos now to reserve your place on one of our Spanish language courses and start enjoying all Madrid has to offer!

Which is right- qué or cuál? How to tell the difference!

Which is right- qué or cuál? How to tell the difference!

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When you started learning Spanish, you probably realised quite quickly that you needed to ask a lot of questions – ¿Cómo te llamas?, ¿Qué te gusta hacer? and many more. One thing you might (not!) have noticed is how the Spanish equivalents of what and which work differently. To ask for someone’s address, do you say ¿Qué es tu dirección? (What is your address?) or ¿Cuál es tu dirección? (Which is your address?). It’s ¿Cuál es tu dirección? Confused? – you won’t be after reading the rest of this blog!

Question words are basic Spanish vocabulary that you need to know, and so it’s important to get them right when speaking and writing. Let’s take a look at some points you need to bear in mind when using qué and cuál. Both of these can be translated as what and which depending on what we are trying to say. Here are some quick and easy rules as to when to use each word:

When we want to say "what"

  • Qué is used to ask for definitions, time and explanations
  • Cuál is more often used for asking for personal information

When we want to say "which"

  • Qué can be used to ask about objects and personal preferences
  • Cuál is used to ask someone to make a choice or pick from various options

Easy, right? No? Well here are some examples to give you a clearer idea

English question Spanish question
What do you want to eat? ¿Qué quieres comer?
What time is it? ¿Qué hora es?
What’s your address? ¿Cuál es tu dirección?
What’s your favourite colour? ¿Cuál es tu color favorito?
Which phone do you have? ¿Qué móvil tienes?
Which museum in Madrid is the most interesting? ¿Cuál es el museo más interesante en Madrid?
Which are the best restaurants in Madrid? ¿Cuáles son los mejores restaurantes en Madrid?

You might have spotted in the last example that cuál has changed to cuáles. Why is that? Simple – it’s because restaurants is in plural. We always have to use cuál for singular nouns, and cuáles for plural nouns. Let’s take a look at a couple of other examples using cuál and cuáles.

Cuál Cuáles
¿Cuál es tu bolígrafo? – Which is your pen? ¿Cuáles son los hijos de Paula? – Which ones are Paula’s children?
¿Cuál es tu coche? – Which is your car? ¿Cuáles son los peores hoteles en Madrid? – Which are the worst hotels in Madrid?

So, to sum up, the main points to remember are that both qué and cuál can be translated as which and what depending on the question you’re trying to form. Knowing the difference means thinking carefully about the type of information you’re asking for, and you need to make sure that you use cuáles when talking about plural forms.

If this doesn’t all make sense yet then don’t worry. Taking a course here at Hablamos will help you to understand and speak Spanish in record time. Asking questions is one of the first things we learn in any new language, and our teachers will give you all the right tools to make yourself understood whatever the situation.

As with anything when studying Spanish, the best way to improve is to practise by having lots of conversations and speaking with as many people as you can. You might not get it right every time, but here in Madrid, people are very forgiving and just love to hear foreigners making an attempt to speak their language. When you come to study or live here, make sure you get out and about as much as possible. You’ll soon find yourself making loads of new friends with your beautifully formed Spanish questions.

Come study at Hablamos and make yourself understood throughout the Spanish-speaking world!