So this is a blog about matters Spanish, as well as promoting the notion that Spanish does indeed matter.
The blog contains articles in both English and Spanish. Don Pablo hopes it will be helpful to those learning the language." />
All EOS blogs All Spain blogs  Start your own blog Start your own blog 

Spanish Matters - a blog in English and Spanish for those learning the language

This blog is entitled "Spanish Matters", because it does! Matter, that is. If you have committed to living in Spain, you should also make a commitment to learn some Spanish.
So this is a blog about matters Spanish, as well as promoting the notion that Spanish does indeed matter.
The blog contains articles in both English and Spanish. Don Pablo hopes it will be helpful to those learning the language.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Most Western European languages have two ways of saying "you". A formal/polite way and an informal/familiar mode. This happens with all of the so-called Romance languages, ie those derived from Latin and spread across Europe by the Roman legions during their long-standing eponymous empire.  This occurs in French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and, of course, Spanish. It also happens in the Germanic languages, ie German, Dutch and Flemish, but strangely NOT in English.


So, what are the rules?

In my experience, which only extends to Dutch, French, German and Spanish, the "rules" are different. In France, Belgium, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland, you'd better stick to "vous" and "Sie" until such time as you come to an agreement to switch to "" and "du" and their equivalents.

Oddly, though, abroad, eg here in Spain, Germans are happy to go striaight for "du" and "ihr". Not the French, though.

Many years ago I had a professional friendship for many years with French counterparts from Chalon-sur Saone (Burgundy). It was the twin town link with St Helens (Merseyside) where I was in charge of educational and work experience exchanges for students.

When, after some time, I had the temerity to suggest we dropped the formality and used Christian names and the familiar form, you could have heard a pin drop!

Nevertheless, we did try it from that point on, but one lady, my main contact, Marguerite Ligier (Guite) occasionally called me Monsieur Whitelock and used "vous". She found it really hard to maintain the switch.



España es diferente

The situation in Spain is totally different, particularly since the death of the dictator Franco in 1975 and Spain's return to democracy.

Here, it's mostly "" and "vosotros", although, as I get older, I am more often addressed as "usted". I hate that. When I ask my interlocutors why they don't use "", I am told the use of "usted" is a mark of respect for an older person (I am 73).

My strategy for years has been to only use the familiar form. Well, most people are younger than me, so that's ok, according to the "rules of the game".




What to do, then?

My colleague, Peter Edgerton, a long-time Spanish resident, runs a bar, The Shakespeare, in Malaga City (see below), as well as being a columnist for SUR in English. He's just published an article (09/02/2024) that tackles the problem in an amusing manner.

Here's a link to his piece: Peter Edgerton: To use 'tú' or not to use 'tú' | Sur in English

What more can I say? A great article. Thanks, Peter.


©  Don Pablo


The Shakespeare

C/ Muro de Puerta Nueva, 5, Distrito Centro, 29005 Málaga

English-style pub in the heart of Malaga, The Shakespeare is a hub for expat activity. Run by Peter Edgerton, musician and writer, there is a strong sense of community here.

Right in the centre of Malaga, just off Plaza de la Constitución, there is always something going on with a full itinerary of events each week (follow The Shakespeare on Facebook for events). They include live music (with weekly ‘open mic’ nights), bilingual pub quizzes and language exchanges.

Major live football and rugby are also shown on the two screens.

With a selection of beers, both bottled and on tap, and spirits, your more international tastes are catered for here.




Peter Edgerton

SUR in English

The Shakespeare






Nathalie FLE






Austria, Belgium, Chalon-sur-Saône, Don Pablo, du, Dutch, English, Facebook, Flemish, Franco, French, German, Germanic, Germany, Guite, Interlenguas, Italian, Marguerite Ligier, Netherlands, Peter Edgerton, Portuguese, Roman, Romance, Romanian, St Helens, Sie, Spanish, SUR in English, Switzerland, tu, tú, ud, usted, vosotros, vous, Whitelock, Wikipedia

Like 1        Published at 7:06 PM   Comments (1)

"YO SOY TEATRO" - Book review
Friday, September 22, 2023

Friday, September 22, 2023 @  06:35 AM

This is a review, in Spanish, of a recent book published by Ronda residents and actors Charo Carrasco and Emma Cherry. It should be accessible to intermediate students of Spanish. Good luck!


Reseña de un nuevo libro concebido y nacido en Ronda: “Yo soy teatro”

Review by The Culture Vulture



Yo conocí a Charo Carrasco y a Emma Cherry cuando empecé a asistir a un curso teatral en Ronda durante la pandemia de Coronavirus. El curso se realizó en la Pequeña Compañía de Proyecto Platea  bajo la dirección de actor profesional rondeño Marcos Marcell

Emma, inglesa y también actor profesional, y su buena amiga Charo, mujer de negocios de Ronda, colaboran durante un par de años en escribir obras de teatro. Una de las primeras, “Novias”, vi yo tres veces en dos años en tres distintos espacios: en el Convento de Ronda, al aire libre en Atajate y en el Pequeño Teatro de Proyecto Platea de Ronda. Es una obra muy entretenida con música y humor. 

Ahora acaban de publicar estas amantes del teatro un libro, “Yo soy teatro”, que es una antología de obras de pequeño, mediano y gran formato que han escrito juntas estas dos mujeres talentadas. Emma y Charo son dos mujeres independientes con el deseo de contar historias en la que sus personajes siempre tienen algo que decir. 

Según Charo Carrasco“Tras más de cinco años de colaboración, mi compañera Emma Cherry y yo presentamos esta recopilación de algunas de las obras de teatro que hemos escrito juntas.   

“Con toda la ilusión del mundo y recién salida del horno, este libro representa la pasión, el esfuerzo, el amor y nuestra pasión infinita por el teatro.”  

“Yo soy Teatro” está disponible ya en AMAZON. 



Otros comentarios: 

Marta Pérez Tirado: 

“Mis queridas Charo Carrasco García y Emma Cherry Rolf acaban de estrenar su primera obra. Si sois amantes del teatro no os la podéis perder y si nunca habéis leído teatro tampoco porque descubriréis un mundo maravilloso. ¡¡Yo ya tengo la mía!! 

“Estoy orgullosa de vosotras, chicas.” 


Jose Antonio Rios: 

“Maravilla teatral. Una visión de futuro a las artes escénicas. 

“Quizás no sea nuevo pensar en una antología de microteatros, pero sí muy novedosa la apuesta de estas dos actrices en la escena literaria. 

“Son obras inclusivas, desde punto de vista humano y personal. A través de sus microteatros y sus personajes, estas actrices, ahora en el papel de dos escritoras independientes, nos muestran una visión de la vida y las relaciones humanas muy especial. Personajes, cada uno con su complejidad e historia y que conviven armónicamente en esta antología preciosa, lista para disfrutar e interpretar. “Ahora, YO también SOY TEATRO, gracias a ellas. Felicidades por esta apuesta y por mostrarnos vuestro arte convertido en un libro. What's next?”


Emma Cherry Rolf:

"¡Número uno en nuestra categoría!

"¡Inesperado y muy agradecido!

"¡Gracias a todos!

Click here


© The Culture Vulture

Note: This article was first published on the website on 20 September 2023 and on the same date by The Culture Vulture on 


Tags: Charo Carrasco, Emma Cherry, Marcos Marcell, Novias, Proyecto Platea, Ronda, Yo soy teatro

Like 0        Published at 6:33 AM   Comments (0)

20 Countries Divided by the Same Language
Sunday, April 2, 2023

You’ve heard the one about the United Kingdom and the United States – two countries divided by the same language. That’s good; witty but true. Not only is the pronunciation quite different, but so is the spelling sometimes (, eg colour v color, honour v honor) and usage. The two versions of English, commonly known as Oxford (or BBC) English and American English, often have different words for the same thing, eg bonnet (of a car) v hood; boot v trunk; curtains v drapes; wardrobe v closet.

They say the same about Portuguese from Portugal and Portuguese in Brazil; also French and Canadian French or Quebequois.

Well, I have to tell you that it’s also similar in the Spanish-speaking world. There are 20 countries or territories around the world where Spanish is the official or de facto language, testament to the success of Spain as a colonial power.

Pronunciation usage and vocabulary vary from country to country. In many isolated areas, the Spanish spoken is closer to the original Spanish spoken by the conquistadores than to modern-day castellano. In others, local languages have had a direct influence on the Spanish they inherited from the colonial invaders.

One word which highlights this difference rather well is tortilla. In Spain this is an omelette; in Central America and Mexico it’s a flat maize pancake. In colloquial usage it can mean lesbian sex and a prostitute.


Countries Where Spanish is an Official Language

There are 19 countries other than Spain where Spanish is an official or de facto language. In fact, Spanish has the largest number of native speakers besides Mandarin Chinese. With 380 million native speakers, Spanish surprisingly surpasses even English for the number of native speakers, to the tune of over 100 million. 



Spain sought to expand its influence into the New World after Christopher Columbus discovered it in 1492. The conquistadores headed to America, as did the other great colonial nations of the time, like the Dutch, English and Portuguese. But Spain was more successful, which is why all but five countries in South and Central America speak Spanish, the exceptions being Belize (English), Brazil (Portuguese), French Guinea (French), Guyana (English) and Surinam (Dutch).


The 20 countries

Let’s take a look at the 20 countries that have Spanish as an official or de facto language. They are organised by continents and regions.


Equatorial Guinea- a small country in central Africa, this country is named for its location on the Equator.









Caribbean Sea

Cuba- island that sits where the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic Ocean meet.

Dominican Republic- on an island shared with Haiti (French-speaking).The original name of the island was Hispaniola.

Puerto Rico- territory owned by the United States, both English and Spanish are official languages.




Central America

Costa Rica- means "rich coast" due to the amount of gold jewellery worn by the natives when discovered by Christopher Columbus.

El Salvador- means "the Saviour”, ie Jesus Christ. 

Guatemala- largest population in Central America.

Honduras- means "depths". The country has a high poverty index.

Nicaragua- Spanish is the de facto language. It is the largest Central American country by area.

Panamá- bridge between Central and South America, broke away from Colombia with the help of the United States Army, which then oversaw the completion of the Panama Canal.

Belize - formerly British Honduras, does not recognise Spanish as its official language, yet it is the de facto language, but it is not officially recognized by the government as the official language of Belize, which remains English. 


Spain- country where Spanish originated that colonised all other future Spanish-speaking countries









North America

Mexico- the 13th largest country in the world by area, has over 126 million inhabitants, Spanish is the de facto language.










South America

Argentina- Spanish is the de facto language. It  is the largest Spanish-speaking country by area.

Bolivia- has two capitals, a constitutional one (Sucre) and an executive one (La Paz).

Chile- Spanish is the de facto language. It is a long strip of land with the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west.

Colombia- second only to Brazil in its level of biodiversity, it is categorised as a "megadiverse" country due to so much biodiversity.

Ecuador- named for its location on the Equator.

Paraguay- 90% of the population also speaks a dialect of Guaraní in addition to Spanish.

Perú- considered a megadiverse (biodiversity) country.

Uruguay- Spanish is the de facto language. Despite territorial disputes involving Spain and Portugal and Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay has remained independent.

Venezuela- one of the first countries to declare independence from Spain. Named after Venice in Italy.


There are a few other places where Spanish holds significant influence, such as Andorra in the Pyrenees between Spain and France, Gibraltar, on the southern tip of Spain, which  belongs to the United Kingdom, and the United States, which is second only to Mexico when it comes to the number of native Spanish speakers.

A word or two on the Philippines, which was a Spanish colony for some four centuries. Spanish was the official language of the archipelago from the beginning of Spanish rule in the late 16th century, through the Philippine–American War (1899-1902) and subsequent colonisation by the USA and remained co-official after independence in 1946, along with Filipino and English, until 1973. Its status was initially removed in 1973 by a constitutional change, but after a few months it was re-designated an official language again by a presidential decree. Under the current constitution, Spanish is designated as an auxiliary or "optional and voluntary language".




They used to say that the sun never set on the Spanish Empire. Now that it's empire is long gone, you could say that the sun never sets on a Spanish speaker.

©  Don Pablo

Additional material courtesy of,, Pinterest, Wikimedia Commons, Wikipedia, and World Maps.


Like 1        Published at 6:48 AM   Comments (0)

False friends in Spanish and English
Thursday, January 19, 2023

By Don Pablo

Languages are categorised into families, depending on their origen. Romance languages, those descended from the Latin spoken by Roman legionaires during the Roman conquest and occupation of much of southern Europe, include Spanish, as well as French, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian.

The Germanic family includes Dutch, Flemish, German and English, although English has many Latin-origin words as a result of the Norman (French) conquest of England in 1066 and the subsequent repopulation of many areas by Normans.

As a result there are many words in English and Spanish which are the same or similar. These are called cognates.

The problem is not all cognates have the same meaning. These are called false cognates or, more commonly, false friends or falsos amigos.



Spanish and English have literally thousands of cognates, words that are basically the same in both languages, having the same etymology and similar meanings. 30% to 40% of all vocabulary in English have related words in Spanish.


Perfect Cognates

These are words which are spelt exactly the same in two languages and have the same meaning. Be careful – although the spelling may be the same, the pronunciation is often different.

Examples in English and Spanish include:

  • animal – animal
  • chocolate – chocolate
  • hotel – hotel
  • simple – simple

Near Perfect Cognates

These are words which are very similar and have the same meaning, but the spelling is slightly different.

Examples in English and Spanish include:

  • attention – atención
  • public – público
  • religious – religioso
  • delicious – delicioso

False Cognates/False Friends

There are, however, many word pairs that look like they might mean the same thing but don't. They can be confusing, and if you make the mistake of using them wrongly in speech or writing you're likely to be misunderstood.

Following is a list of some of the most common false friends — some of the ones you're most likely to come across when reading or listening to Spanish:

  • actual: This adjective (or its corresponding adverb, actualmente) indicates that something is current, at the present time. Thus, the day's hot topic might be referred to as un tema actual. If you wish to say something is “actual” (as opposed to imaginary), use real (which also can mean "royal") or verdadero.
  • asistir: Means to attend or to be presentAsisto a la oficina cada día, I go to the office daily. To say "to assist," use ayudar, to help.
  • atender: Means to serve or to take care ofto attend to. If you're talking about attending a meeting or a class, use asistir.
  • boda: Means a wedding or wedding reception. A body (as of a person or animal) is most often cuerpo or tronco.
  • campo: Means a field or the country(side). If you're going camping, you'll stay in a campamento or a camping.
  • carpeta: Means a file folder (including on a computer) or a briefcase. "Carpet" is most often alfombra.
  • compromiso: Meaning a promiseobligation, or commitment, it does not usually convey the sense that one has given up something to reach an agreement. There is no good noun equivalent in Spanish of "compromise".
  • constiparse, constipación: In verb form, it means to catch a cold, while una constipación  means a cold. Someone who is constipated is estreñido.
  • contestar: It's a very common verb meaning to answer. To contest something, use contender.
  • corresponder: Yes, it does mean to correspond, but only in the sense of to match. If you're talking about corresponding with someone, use a form of escribir con or mantener correspondencia.
  • decepción, decepcionar: Means disappointment or to disappoint. To deceive someone is engañar a alguién. Something deceptive is engañoso.
  • delito: This is an offence or a minor crime. The feeling of delight can be un deleite, while the object that causes it is un encanto or una delicia.
  • desgracia: In Spanish, this is little more than a mistake or misfortune. Something shameful is una vergüenza .
  • despertar: This verb is usually used in the reflexive form, meaning to wake up (me despierto a las siete, I wake up at seven). If you're desperate, there's a true cognate you can use: desesperado.
  • disgusto: Derived from the prefix dis- (meaning "not") and the root word gusto (meaning pleasure), this word refers simply to displeasure or misfortune. If you need to use a much stronger term akin to disgust, use asco.
  • embarazada: Means pregnant, so be careful. Someone who feels embarrassed tiene vergüenza or se siente avergonzado.
  • emocionante: Used to describe something that's thrilling or emotionally moving. To say emotional, the cognate emocional will do fine.
  • en absoluto: This phrase means the opposite of what you think it might, meaning not at all or absolutely not. To say absolutely, use the cognate totalmente or completamente.
  • éxito: Means a hit or a success. If you're looking for a way out, look for una salida.
  • fábrica: That's a place where they fabricate items, namely a factory. Words for cloth include tejido and tela.
  • insulación: This isn't even a word in Spanish (although you may hear it in Spanglish). If you want to say insulation, use aislamiento.
  • ganga: It's a bargain. A gang is una pandilla.
  • inconsecuente: This adjective refers to something that is contradictory. Something inconsequential is de poca importancia.
  • introducirThis isn't truly a false cognate, for it can be translated as, among other things, to introduce in the sense of to bring into beginto put, or to place. For example, se introdujo la ley en 1998, the law was introduced (put in effect) in 1998. But it's not the verb to use to introduce someone. Use presentar.
  • largo: When referring to size, it means long. Large, ie big, is grande.
  • minorista: Means retail (adjective) or retailer. A minority is una minoría.
  • molestar: The verb doesn't have sexual connotations in Spanish. It means simply to bother or to annoy. For the sexual meaning of to molest in English, use abusar sexualmente or some phrase that says more precisely what you mean.
  • once: If you can count past 10, you know that once is the word for eleven. If something happens once, it happens una vez. By the way, la ONCE is the Spanish National Organisation for the Blind, which runs a daily lottery to raise funds.
  • pretender: The Spanish verb doesn't have anything to do with faking it, only to try. To pretend, use fingir or simular.
  • realizar, realizacón: realizar can be used reflexively to indicate something becoming real or becoming completedSe realizó el rascacielos, the skyscraper was built. To realise as a mental event can be translated using darse cuenta (to realise), comprender (to understand) or saber (to know), among other possibilities, depending on the context.
  • recordar: Means to remember or to remind. The verb to use when recording something depends on what you're recording. Possibilities include anotar or tomar nota for writing something down, or grabar for making an audio or video recording.
  • revolver: As its form suggests, this is a verb, in this case meaning to turn over, to revolve, or otherwise to cause disorder. The Spanish word for a revolver is similar, but pronounced differently:  un revólver.
  • ropa: clothing, not rope. Rope is cuerda.
  • sano: Usually means healthy. Someone who is sane or in his right mind is en su juicio.
  • sensibleUsually means sensitive or capable of feeling. A sensible person or idea can be referred to as sensato or razonable.
  • sopa: Soup, not soap. Soap is jabón.
  • suceso: Merely an event or happening. A success is un éxito.
  • tuna: Order this at a desert restaurant and you'll get edible cactus. The fish is atún.


For a complete list of false friends, click here.

Phew! Got all that?

The chances are you'll make a few mistakes, but just have a laugh about them and remember for the next time.




Tags: cognate, Don Pablo, Dutch, English, etymology, false cognate, false friend, falso amigo, Flemish, French, German, Germanic, Italian, language family, Latin, Near Perfect Cognate, perfect cognate, Portuguese, Roman, Romance Language, Romanian, Spanish, Spanish Matters

Like 3        Published at 9:27 AM   Comments (3)

SER and ESTAR – a short follow-up
Sunday, January 1, 2023

By Don Pablo


As a follow-up to my recent post about SER and ESTAR, consider these uses of both verbs with the same adjectives and how they differ in meaning:

SER                                                                                ESTAR

bueno – to be good (by nature)                                bueno – to be well (ie in good health)

malo – to be bad (by nature)                                    malo – to be ill

muerto – to be killed                                                muerto – to be dead

vivo – to be lively (by nature)                                    vivo – to be alive

aburrido – to be boring (by nature)                            aburrido – to be bored

cansado – to be tiresome                                           cansado – to be tired

divertido – to beamusing                                           divertido – to be amused

guapo – to be good-looking (inherently)                     guapo – to look good (today)

listo – to be clever                                                    listo – to be ready



Advanced Spanish Course, K Mason (Pergamon 1967)


© Don Pablo


About Don Pablo

Don Pablo is a former languages teacher, schools adviser and OfSTED inspector in the UK.

In days gone by in Spain, as a mark of respect teachers were addresed as don or doña plus their forename, eg Doña Isabel, Don Pablo.


Tags: aburrido, alive, amused, amusing, bad, bored, boring, Bueno, cansado, clever, dead, divertido, good, good health, good-looking, guapo, ill, killed, listo, lively, malo, muerto, tired, tiresome, vivo, well,

Like 1        Published at 9:42 AM   Comments (0)

"To be or not to be? That is the question". 2. SER or ESTAR
Sunday, December 25, 2022

Indeed. SER or ESTAR? Which to use? And when?

In the second in his series of articles about particular difficulties encountered by English-speaking learners of Spanish, Don Pablo tackles the problem that is the verb "to be".



The two verbs for TO BE in Spanish are not interchangeable. So, when do you use SER and when ESTAR?

As a broad general rule, SER is used to describe permanent or inherent characteristics, whereas ESTAR is used to indicate a temporary, transient or accidental state and position or location.


Let’s be more specific and look at some examples:

El hielo es frío.

El azúcar es dulce.

Ese hombre es muy grande.

Estas flores son muy bonitas.


Esta sopa está muy fría.

Mi café está muy dulce.

Las patatas fritas están muy calientes.



La chica es muy guapa.

La chica está muy guapa hoy.


SER is also used:

a) to denote origin, ownership or the material from which something is made:

Sus padres son de Ronda. 

El coche es suyo.

La silla es de madera.


b) to indicate nationality, religion, rank and profession:

Es inglés.

Ella es católica.

Rubén es capitán.

Paco es carpintero.


c) when the predicate is a noun, pronoun or infinitive:

Mañana será otro día.

Algo es algo.

Trabajar bien es lo que importa.


d) with past participles to form the passive:

ser quemado vivo

ser declarado vencedor

El asesino fue condenado a muerte.


e) in impersonal expressions and expressions of time:

Es lógico que .....

Es evidente que .....

Ya son las once.

Es hora de cenar.


ESTAR is also used:

f) to indicate position:

Madrid está en el centro de España.

Tus amigos están en la playa.

"Estuvimos en el Bar Encuentro."


g) to form continuous tenses:

Está lloviendo a cántaros.

Los jóvenes están bailando.


h) some idiomatic expressions:

estar de acuerdo

Está bien.

¿A cuánto están las fresas?


Phew! Did you get all that?



© Don Pablo



A Manual of Modern Spanish, Harmer & Norton (UTP 1935)

Advanced Spanish Course, K Mason (Pergamon 1967)


Tags: accidental, Don Pablo,, estar, expression, Harmer, idiomatic, impersonal, inherent, location, Mason, Norton, not to be, permanent, position, question, Spanish, Spanish Matters, temporarary, time, to be, to be or not to be, transient 

Like 1        Published at 11:12 AM   Comments (3)

The Languages of Spain
Friday, December 16, 2022

By Don Pablo

You may think that the language of Spain is Spanish. Well, it is of course. Officially known as castellano, Castilian Spanish, it is the equivalent of Oxford or BBC English in the UK or Hochdeutsch in Germany, ie the official, pure form of the language. In some countries this is “protected” by a body, eg the Real Academia Española in Spain, the Académie Française in France and Duden in Germany.


But, whilst castellano is the official language of Spain, there are other official languages too. Four in fact, although another two claim similar status. The four other official languages are regional languages, viz catalán, euskera (Basque), gallego and valenciano.

Their use banned during the 40-year dictatorship of General Franco, since his death in 1975 and the subsequent and rapid democratisation of the country under Franco’s protégé, the now disgraced Juan Carlos I, the prohibited regional languages have been allowed to flourish. Euskera and catalán are the languages of officialdom and of instruction in schools in their regions. Basques and Catalans speak it as their mother tongue, only switching to castellano with reluctance. Catalunya wants to secede from Spain; the Basque country wants more independence. Valencia and Galicia are less “independista”.


Facts and figures

99 per cent of Spaniards speak castellano as their first or second language. Of the rest, eight percent of the population claim their first language to be catalán, four per cent valenciano, three per cent gallego and one per cent euskera.

There are also dialects like andaluz, aragonés and zaragozano.

What is the difference between a language and a dialect? It’s difficult to define, but usually a language boasts its own body of literature. One commentator suggested a language is the speech of a country with an army, which isn’t strictly accurate, but you get the idea.

Scouse, Geordie and West Country are dialects or accents in the UK; Welsh, Scots Gaelic and Irish Gaelic are languages.


Which to learn?

If you’re a foreigner who lives in Spain or visits regularly, I would always recommend learning castellano, except maybe in Catalunya. However, catalán is not spoken widely throughout the world, whereas Spanish is a truly global language, nearly as important as English in world terms. With English and Spanish you can communicate pretty much everywhere on the planet.

Obviously, depending on where you live, you will inevitably pick up dialect words and phrases and to some extent pronunciation and intonation. But, that’s OK.

The important thing to realise is that you are extremely unlikely to pick up Spanish by osmosis. Of the very good foreign Spanish speakers I know around here, most have a degree in Spanish, were born here, have a Spanish parent, married a Spaniard, have a Spanish lover, or have lived here for a very long time. The rest need to work at it. And although it may sometimes seem like a struggle, it’ll be worth it in the end.See my top ten tips for learning Spanish here.

Castellano or andaluz?

Andaluz has to be the worst dialect in Spain.

Even though I have an honours degree in Spanish (castellano), and have lived in the country for the best part of a decade and a half, I still struggle with the Andalusian dialect.

Mind you, I have a similar problem when I visit Baden-Württemberg in Germany with my German wife. Schwäbisch is arguably the most impenetrable of the German regional dialects.

I have an honours degree in German also, but in the country villages of this southern German Land (state), that’s not a help.

What to do? In Spain, I put myself about in local bars, I watch CanalSur or AndaluciaTV and listen to Radio Andalucía in the car. It helps ….. I’m getting there!


© Don Pablo


Tags: Académie Française, Andalucía, AndaluciaTV, Andalusia, andaluz, aragonés, Baden- Württemberg, Basque, BBC English, CanalSur, castellano, Catalan, catalán, degree, Don Pablo, Duden, euskera, France, Gaelic, gallego, General Franco, Geordie, German, German,  Hochdeutsch, Irish Gaelic, Juan Carlos I, Oxford English, Radio Andalucía, Real Academia Española Schwäbisch, Scots Gaelic, Scouse, Spain, Spanish, valenciano, Welsh, West Country, zaragozano

Like 3        Published at 11:41 AM   Comments (2)

The Three Big Problems in Learning Spanish 1. POR or PARA
Tuesday, November 29, 2022

By Don Pablo

When I was studying for my degree in Spanish back in the late 1960s/early 1970s we were made aware of three quite major problems for English-speaking learners of this most widespread language in the world.

Later, during my Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) course in 1973-4, I naturally had lectures in Spanish pedagogy, ie HOW to teach Spanish.

The professor focused on the same three areas of usage which are deemed to be a problem for school pupils and students.

What are these three issues?


Over the next few weeks, in a series of separate articles, I shall tackle each in turn and hope that my thoughts are helpful.


1. POR or PARA

First up is POR or PARA. Both can mean "for", although they also have other meanings.

In the "Old Testament" of Spanish learning, A MANUAL OF MODERN SPANISH by Harmer and Norton (UTP 1935) the authors devote a whole 18 pages to the matter.

The "New Testament", AN ESSENTIAL COURSE IN MODERN SPANISH by H Ramsden (Chambers Harrap 1959) takes a similar amount of space.

My own university lecturer, Ken Mason, published his ADVANCED SPANISH COURSE (Pergamon 1967), in which he needs six and a half pages. 

But the best analysis I have seen is by fellow Eye On Spain blogger, mac75.

Therefore, I shan't attempt to better what mac75 wrote recently; I shall simply refer you to his article here: 


Keep listening and learning!


Tags: degree, Don Pablo, English-speaking, estar, Harmer, imperfect, mac75, Mason, Norton, para, personal 'a', por, Postgraduate Certificate in Education, PGCE, preterite, Ramsden, ser, Spanish

Like 0        Published at 7:46 AM   Comments (0)

El Día de la Hispanidad
Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Tomorrow is el Día de la Hispanidad. Don Pablo thought this article in Spanish about this Fiesta Nacional would be in reach of many of you who are learning Spanish.

If it's too difficult, there is an abridged version in English here.

El Día de la Hispanidad

Mañana es El Día de la Hispanidad. Como sabemos, las tiendas y oficinas quedarán cerradas, pocas personas irán a trabajar y mucha gente aprovechará la oportunidad de pasar un fin de semana prolongado fuera de casa. ¿Pero por qué es un día de fiesta? Don Pablo investiga…


¿Qué es la hispanidad?

La hispanidad se refiere a la generalización del carácter de los pueblos de lengua y cultura hispánica, o sea, aquellos pertenecientes o relativos a España y a los países y culturas de habla española.


¿Por qué el Día de la Hispanidad se celebra el 12 de octubre?

El día 12 de octubre de 1492 la expedición capitaneada por Cristóbal Colón llegaba a la isla Guananí, en el archipiélago de las Bahamas.

Este acontecimiento se llama el descubrimiento de América. Sin que ellos lo supieran, acababan de descubrir un nuevo continente y establecieron el primer contacto entre europeos y americanos, mal llamados indios debido a que se pensó que habían dado la vuelta al globo y habían desembarcado en la India. Más de 400 años después, el 12 de octubre sería convertido en un día de celebración en España y muchos países latinoamericanos. La elección de este día contaba con añadido extra para el país de la península ibérica ya que el 12 de octubre también es el Día de la Virgen del Pilar, patrona de España.


¿Cómo se celebra en España?

La celebración incluye tradicionalmente un desfile militar al que asiste el rey, junto a la familia real, el presidente del Gobierno y otros altos representantes de todos los poderes del Estado, comprendiendo también los de las autonomías.
Sin embargo, por el tema de la pandemia de Covid-19 el desfile fue cancelado en 2020. Este año va a suceder como normal.


¿Qué países celebran el 12 de octubre?

El Día de la Hispanidad es, ciertamente, celebración en España, pero su origen fue una denominación extraoficial, el Día de la Raza, y con este nombre aún se celebra cada 12 de octubre en muchos países latinoamericanos, como México, Colombia, Honduras o Uruguay.


Historia de la Fiesta Nacional

Aunque, legalmente, el Día de la Hispanidad no alcanzó reconocimiento en la España del franquismo hasta 1958, cuando un decreto de la Presidencia del Gobierno de 9 de enero de 1958 estableció: «Dada la enorme trascendencia que el 12 de octubre significa para España y todos los pueblos de América hispana, el 12 de octubre será fiesta nacional, bajo el nombre de Día de la Hispanidad».

En 1935, el por entonces gobierno de la Segunda República quiso celebrar por primera vez el Día de la Hispanidad, aunque no estaba regulado y por ello no fue hasta 1958, momento en el que el país se encontraba bajo la dictadura militar de Franco, que se estableció oficialmente esta fiesta. Originalmente fue llamado ‘Día de la Raza’, con un simbolismo muy próximo a las ideas del régimen y una celebración similar a la de la Fiesta del Trabajo Nacional (18 de julio) o la Fiesta del Caudillo (1 de octubre). Fue el escritor Ramiro de Maetzu quien, en un artículo llamado ‘La Hispanidad’ publicado en la revista Acción Española, afirmaba que “el 12 de octubre, mal titulado Día de la Raza, deberá ser en lo sucesivo el día de la Hispanidad”.

Desde 1987 pasa a llamarse Fiesta Nacional y ya no se hace mención a la hispanidad. Aparece reflejado en la ley 18/1987 según la cual esta fiesta simboliza «la efeméride histórica en la que España, a punto de concluir un proceso de construcción del Estado a partir de nuestra pluralidad cultural y política, y la integración de los Reinos de España en una misma monarquía, inicia un período de proyección lingüística y cultural más allá de los límites europeos».

En 2014, la Organización de Naciones Unidas, ONU, también decidió que el 12 de Octubre fuera el día para conmemorar «la lengua española», como un elemento más de unión y consolidación del mundo hispánico.



En los últimos años han surgido voces críticas, tanto políticas como culturales, que opinan que el 12 de Octubre no hay nada que festejar. El presidente de Bolivia, Evo Morales, dijo en 2009 que es «un día de luto….la invasión nos trae hambre, miseria, enfermedades». También Nicolás Maduro, presidente de Venezuela, criticó en 2013 con dureza a España por celebrar «el inicio de la masacre» en América. Por ese sentimiento, en países como Nicaragua o Venezuela en lugar del Día de la Hispanidad lo que se celebra es «El Día de la Resistencia Indígena».


Fuentes: Wikipedia, MuyHistoria, Antena3

Like 0        Published at 12:15 PM   Comments (0)

The RAE Introduces New Rule Changes to the Spanish Language
Thursday, September 22, 2022

Many a country has an official body which acts as the custodian of its language, setting the rules and making changes and additions. In Germany Duden has the final say about matters to do with the German language. In France the Académie Française tries to set the rules, in particular to protect le français from contamination by foreign words, but it rarely works – the French aren’t going to stop using the word le weekend, just because the Académie says so. In Spain the Real Academia Española (RAE) says what’s what; from time to time changing the rules and approving new words and phrases.

In this article Don Pablo highlights the main changes to be introduced to castellano in 2022.


The RAE has recently announced some significant changes to the Spanish alphabet, much to the surprise of Spanish-speakers throughout the world (at the last count almost 600 million native speakers).


Disappearing letters

The letters “ch” and “ll” are to disappear as unique letters in their own right from the Spanish abecedario. This is on the grounds that they are digraphs, ie groups of two letters. So, from now on children in schools will be taught that the Spanish alphabet consists of just 27 letters (our 26 plus “ñ”).

The RAE points out that words containing these digraphs, such as chino, coche, llave and calle, will continue to be pronounced and spelt as before. Why make the change then?


Name changes

Some names of letters are to be changed:

“y” used to be called “y griega”. From now on it’s to be “ye”.

“i latina” will now be just “i”.

“b” will be “b” and “v” will be “uve” (I thought that was already the case!).

“w” will be “doble uve” instead of “doble u” (I thought it was “uve doble”, and so did all the Spanish speakers I know!).


New words and phrases

A number of new words and new uses of words have been approved, particularly in the fields of the new technologies, gastronomy, sex and gender and the Coronavirus. These include:

New technologies

bitcóin, bot, ciberacoso, ciberdelincuencia, criptomoneda, geolocalizar and webinario.


sanjacobocachopo (típico de la gastronomía asturiana) paparajote (dulce murciano preparado a partir de la hoja del limonero) and el rebujito andaluz.

Also quinoa and crudité.

Tinto de verano (para referirse a la bebida típica de España compuesta de vino tinto y gaseosa o refresco de limón) and the addition of balsámico before vinagre.

Sex and gender

poliamortransgénerocisgénero and pansexualidad.


COVID, cubrebocas, hisopado and nasobuco, as well as new uses for terms such as cribado, burbuja social, nueva normalidad, triaje and vacunología.



The 2022 version of the digital DLE (Diccionario de la Lengua Española – official online dictionary of the Spanish language) incorporate a massive 3836 modifications. Blimey! I think I’ll just carry on as before …..

Keep up the good work!

Hasta pronto.

Like 3        Published at 6:16 AM   Comments (2)

Spam post or Abuse? Please let us know

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse you are agreeing to our use of cookies. More information here. x