Copyright © 2018-2020 Spectrum Monkey |  monkey@spectrummonkey.com



 BLOG ZONE
¡EMPECEMOS!
 02 AUG 2018 | WELCOME | POST #1
 1 MIN | by Spectrum Monkey

Welcome to the Spectrum Monkey Blog Zone. Let's begin our journey!

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PROGRESS UPDATE
 06 AUG 2018 | SITE UPDATE | POST #2
 2 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

A short progress report of site development to date.

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LEARN YOUR ABCs


 08 AUG 2018 | BEGINNER | POST #3
 20 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Pronunciation - Let's not run before we can "talk".

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“At last, a post about Spanish!” I hear you cry. “Oh wait, it’s really really basic stuff...” But do not despair. Whilst this topic is aimed at the beginner. Even if you consider yourself at a more advanced level, this subject is worth recapping. Getting this right from the start will save you an enormous amount of time later on. And if you’ve already formed bad habits, I’d argue it’s even more important to correct those habits as soon as possible. So, let’s begin by discussing the pronunciation of the Spanish alphabet and why it’s important to get this right from the start.

Believe it or not, even if today is your first foray into learning Spanish, you already know hundreds of Spanish words. Why? Because English and Spanish have a huge number of words in common that are spelt EXACTLY the same. Furthermore, there are even more words that, whilst aren’t identical, are so similar you could guess their meaning. This is great news, right? Well yes, but before we conclude we’ve already made a great head start on things, it’s important to realise that those identical or similar words may only be such in the written. How they are said, could be quite different.

Mispronunciation of letters and words in general is, in my opinion, the single biggest barrier to understanding and being understood when starting out with Spanish. Even amongst my English and Spanish speaking friends with very good levels of proficiency and fluency, exactly this problem occurs time and time again. The problem with words we already know or find familiar is, we tend to gloss over them, and our brains just assume we already know how to say them. Luckily this is relatively easy to address early on, providing we focus on pronunciation now. I’d much rather someone reading this comes away not learning a single new Spanish word but be able to say what they know correctly, than learn 10 new words said badly.

The pronunciation of Spanish letters is fairly straightforward in comparison to English. By that I mean: overall, Spanish only observes a few rules for pronunciation, and generally speaking, once you know the rules, you should be able work out how a word is spelt just by hearing it. This is not the case in English, where spelling is a law unto itself. In English you need to learn both how a word is spelt AND pronounced.

Spanish has the same 26 letters from A to Z, as found in English. In addition to this there are 4 extra characters, not found in English (more about those in a moment). You may also have noticed that Spanish vowels can have accents over them in some cases. I’m going to deal with accents in another blog entry, as their function are so important they deserve a post in their own right. But we can simply summarise and say: Any vowel with an accent above it, doesn’t in fact change its sound in any way. Instead this tells you where to put stress in the word.


In addition to A to Z, in Spanish, ch, ll, rr and ñ are also considered to be letters from the alphabet. Of course, in English, a double-r, ch or double-l, are not considered seperate letters, but in Spanish they are.

So, what are the rules of letter pronunciation in Spanish? Well, this is where things start to feel easier, compared to English. Unlike English, where spelling, more often than not, seems to break every rule under the sun. Spanish on the other hand, has very few rules and modifiers. For example, in English, the sound of a vowel changes depending if it’s grouped together with other vowels and most notably, depending if the word ends in an e or not. In Spanish vowels are not modified based on other letters in the word.

The following list goes through each letter of the Spanish alphabet giving some pronunciation tips and audio examples to help you perfect your Spanish lilt. It's worth checking the audio clips several times to fully appreciate how each letter sounds within real Spanish words. Remember if you can make a conscious effort to get this right today, you will find you will be understood much more readily from the start.

A | la a The letter A sound is pronounced in Spanish words rather like the short interjection sound ah used in English. For example: “Ah, yes you’re right.”

alto, antes, África


B | la be Pronounced much like the English B sound. Note: The letters B and V are considered phonetically the same in Spanish, they both have a sound like the English B, not the V.

bailar, burro, trabajo


C | la ce The letter C sound follows a very similar rule to English in its pronunciation. Usually C has a sound like an English K as in “car, coat, carry, cup”. But when the C is followed by either an E or I, the sound changes to be either like the English C sound in “centre, city, cinema, cellar” or the th sound from ”thick, this, thin”. This depends on the part of the Spanish speaking world you find yourself.

cien, centro, cama, color


Ch | la che Sounds exactly as you’d expect. Think of the ch sound in the English words “chat, chess, cheese, chew”.

It seems hard to understand why this special character was introduced. But I believe it stems from how the H is treated as a silent letter, always. This special character was created as an exception to an otherwise hard and fast rule for H.

champú, chico, chorizo


D | la de Pronounced as a soft English D sound.

de, dolor, día


E | la e The letter E sounds like the interjection sound eh used in English to convey confusion. For example: “Eh? What?”

entrada, esposa, este


F | la efe Exactly as the English F sound.

familia, flores, fuego


G | la ge Usually G has a sound like an English G as in “gate, grin, get, got”. But when the G is followed by either an E or I, the sounds changes to be more like a stronger English H from words like “how, hope, harrow”. In this case the sound is more like the Spanish J.

Notice that the G actually has the same rule as the C in Spanish. In that it changes its sound if followed by an E or I.

gafas, gordo, gema, jengibre


H | la hache The letter H in Spanish is silent. Always. If you hear a word where its said like an English H, the chances are it’s simple an English word that’s crept into the vocabulary. Brand names are good examples and are rife.

hasta, helado, alcohol


I | la i Pronounced like the ee sound in the English words “bee, see, tree, glee”. It's ee and never eye.

Ibiza, iglesia, iris


J | la jota The Spanish J sound is very much like the English H sound. It is never said like an English J. For many newcomers, this is one of hardest habits to break. To reprogram your mind to sound an H instead of a J.

José, jamón, Japón, jarra


K | la ka Exactly as the English K sound.

kilogramo, koala, karate


L | la ele Pronounced like the English L sound.

limón, león, letras


Ll | la elle Pronounced how an English Y sound would be. Like the y sound in the words “yes, yelling, yikes”.

llaves, ella, bocadillo


M | la eme Pronounced like the English M sound.

madre mia, menos, microscopio


N | la ene Pronounced like the English N sound.

naranja, negro, niños


Ñ | la eñe This letter sounds like an English N and Y in combination. You may even see used NY as alternative spelling for Ñ, although strictly speaking it’s not correct. It should be pronounced much like the ny sound from ”canyon”.

niña, señor, ñame


O | la o The Spanish O sound is very much like the English O. Think of the o sound from ”top, stop, operate” Remember, when 2 Os are side by side in Spanish that does NOT make an oo sound as in English. You just sound out each letter individually.

ocho, ola, cooperar


P | la pe Pronounced much like as you would the English P sound in words.

padres, papá, piano


Q | la cu The Spanish letter Q is always followed by U. In combination they take on the sound of the English K.

quiero, queso, quizá


R | la ere The Spanish letter R when is used inside a word is fairly close to a standard English R sound. However, there is a rule change if the R is the first letter of the word. In this case it takes on the more drawn out and rolled sound of the Spanish rr letter. See below for more details.

rápido, red, pero


rr | la doble ere rr or the double R is probably one of the hardest letters for non-Spanish speakers to master. Often referred to as the Spanish Trill, or a rolled R. However you want to call it, it’s a tricky one to master. I could do an entire blog post on this subject alone, and probably will do in the near future. But don’t get too bogged down if you can’t do it immediately, most people can’t. Just be aware there is a big difference in Spanish between R and rr. To many English speakers there really is no appreciable difference, but always try to remember there is one even if you can’t master it yet. It will come. Because any word starting with an R automatically takes on the sound of rr, no Spainish word can start with rr.

perro, burro, Roberto


S | la ese Exactly as the English S sound.

sábado, sí, sucios


T | la te Sounds as the English T sound.

triste, tomate, tortilla


U | la u As the English ue sound found in words like ”glue, sue, blue, true”. In addition to this, there are some subtle but important rules with U. In Spanish, the U becomes completely silent if between G and E or G and I. For example in the Spanish word ”guitarra”, the U makes no sound. It is also silent between Q and E and Q and I. Examples being "que, queso, quiero".

agua, Juan, último, uno


V | la uve As mentioned above: in Spanish the letters B and V are considered phonetically the same. The V is often referred to as the soft B. I think for the purposes of this list, it perfectly fine to continue to treat the Spanish V sound much like an English B. How soft you feel you need to make it, is up to you. But don’t get bogged down by this. It’s a B.

vale, vaca, vehículo


W| la doble uve Sounds as the English W sound. However, there are no natively Spanish words using the letter W.

el wok


X | la equis In most cases X will be preceded by an E to make words beginning with ex. This is pronounced much like English words beginning with ex. Other times you’ll see X used in Spanish is likely to be names and there will be a lot of regional difference. A topic for another post.

extinto, excitó, contexto, mixto


Y | la i griega Sounds as the English Y sound in most cases. However, when finishing a word it can sound more like a Spanish I.

yo, yema, guay


Z | la zeta This is another one where regional accents will come into play. A nice way to describe this is, as sounding like anywhere between the th sound from the words ”thick, both, thin” to simply a normal English S sound. Depending where you are in the Spanish speaking world will put you somewhere along that scale. But the sound is more s or th than Z.

zanahoria, zorro, zona, zarzamora

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ACCENTS AND ACCENTS
 14 AUG 2018 | BEGINNER | POST #4
 10 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Following on from our ABCs. Why accents are important, both kinds!

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ADJECTIVES QUIZ
 17 AUG 2018 | LEARNING TOOL | POST #5
 3 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

How to get the most from the Adjectives Quiz.

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DECONSTRUCTING 10
SPANISH PHRASES

 23 AUG 2018 | BEGINNER | POST #6
 15 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Let's looks at 10 simple Spanish phrases and really understand their sentence construction.

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NUMBERS, TIMES, DATES & GENDER AGREEMENT
 28 AUG 2018 | BEGINNER | POST #7
 20 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Exploring different types of numbers in Spanish and how they are affected by gender agreement.

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DAYS AND MONTHS CONTINUED
 30 AUG 2018 | BEGINNER | POST #8
 20 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Continuing on from the previous post. Let's expand our vocabulary beyond just numbers.

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ASKING QUESTIONS
 05 SEP 2018 | BEGINNER | POST #9
 10 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Examining how questions are formed in Spanish, using statement phrases and question words.

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SALUTATIONS
 14 SEP 2018 | BEGINNER | POST #10
 15 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Exploring common ways to say Hello and Goodbye in various situation.

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ADVERBS
 24 SEP 2018 | BEGINNER | POST #11
 7 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Introducing more concepts of Spanish grammar.

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THE RAIN IN SPAIN STAYS MAINLY ON THE PLANE
 27 SEP 2018 | BEGINNER | POST #12
 10 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

¡El tiempo! - Looking at different ways to describe the weather.

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5 SPANISH WORDS THAT DON'T EXIST IN ENGLISH
 3 OCT 2018 | BEGINNER | POST #13
 5 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Let’s look at five different words that have no direct English translation and see what we can learn.

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NOUNS
 10 OCT 2018 | BEGINNER | POST #14
 12 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

A beginner's guide to nouns, and why we have gender agreement.

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ARTICLES
 15 OCT 2018 | BEGINNER | POST #15
 8 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Following our recent lesson on Nouns. Let's explore the articles that accompany them.

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ANTONYMS: BECAUSE OPPOSITES ATTRACT!
 17 OCT 2018 | BEGINNER | POST #16
 5 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Learning words with their opposites in pairs.

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AN INTRODUCTION TO VERBS
 30 OCT 2018 | BEGINNER | POST #17
 12 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Scratching the surface of "doing" words.

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VERB PARADIGMS AND PATTERNS
 08 NOV 2018 | BEGINNER | POST #18
 20 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Continuing to explore verb forms. Learning by patterns.

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DIMINUTIVES
 13 NOV 2018 | BEGINNER | POST #19
 5 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Words that are not only reserved for small cute things.

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AY, HAY, AHÍ OR ALLÍ?
 19 NOV 2018 | BEGINNER | POST #20
 4 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Demystifying some common words that are phonetically similar.

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MORE PAST TENSES AND AUXILIARY VERBS
 29 NOV 2018 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #21
 15 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Learning more verb tenses, and how to use the auxiliary verb haber.

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MOODS AND MORE SIMPLE FORM VERB TENSES
 10 DEC 2018 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #22
 15 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Expressing commands, ideas, feelings and opinions with the subjunctive and imperative tenses.

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¡FELIZ NAVIDAD A TODOS!
 17 DEC 2018 | BEGINNER | POST #23
 5 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Seasons greetings! A festive look at some Spanish Christmas phrases.

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YET MORE SIMPLE FORM VERB TENSES
 30 DEC 2018 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #24
 10 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Finishing our look at simple form verb tenses: The conditional and imperfect subjunctive.

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IRREGULAR VERBS
 10 JAN 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #25
 15 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Let's talk about verbs that don't follow the rules.

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SPANISH OMELETTE | TORTILLA DE PATATAS
 15 JAN 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #26
 10 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Indulging our inner foodie with this Spanish classic.

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5 CANARIAN WORDS
 19 JAN 2019 | BEGINNER | POST #27
 3 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Five interesting yet completely different Spanish words that originate from the Canary Islands.

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AN INTRODUCTION TO PRONOUNS
 22 JAN 2019 | BEGINNER | POST #28
 15 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Taking our first look at one of the most fiddly aspects of Spanish grammar.

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VERB CONJUGATION TOOL
 24 JAN 2019 | LEARNING TOOL | POST #29
 1 MIN | by Spectrum Monkey

Introducing the Spectrum Monkey verb conjugation tool.

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¿SER O ESTAR?
 31 JAN 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #30
 12 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

“To be, or not to be, what is the difference?”

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NI
 08 FEB 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #31
 3 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Exploring a tiny little word that deserves a proper explanation.

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EL DÍA DE SAN VALENTÍN
 12 FEB 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #32
 10 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Dissecting six “romantic” phrases in time for St. Valentine’s Day.

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RELATIVE PRONOUNS
 19 FEB 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #33
 15 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Continuing our look at fiddly Spanish grammar with relative pronouns.

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CONJUNCTIONS
 26 FEB 2019 | BEGINNER | POST #34
 8 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

A brief look at linking words with some interesting alternative forms.

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SPANISH FITNESS AND EXERCISE CLASSES
 07 MAR 2019 | BEGINNER | POST #35
 5 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

How keeping fit in groups can improve our Spanish.

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OBJECT PRONOUNS
 14 MAR 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #36
 20 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Furthering our look at Spanish pronouns with direct and indirect object pronouns.

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REFLEXIVE VERBS
 20 MAR 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #37
 10 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Actions where we act upon ourselves

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¿POR O PARA?
 26 MAR 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #38
 15 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Explaining two easily confused prepositions.

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YA
 30 MAR 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #39
 5 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

A word every newcomer should know "already".

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O SEA
 03 APR 2019 | BEGINNER | POST #40
 2 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

An expression not only reserved for young people.

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THE FUTURE SUBJUNCTIVE TENSE
 05 APR 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #41
 5 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Ideas for the future that have been left in the past.

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THE PERSONAL “A”
 09 APR 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #42
 5 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Explaining a very Spanish preposition.

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COMPOUND VERB TENSES
 18 APR 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #43
 10 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Describing actions completed and on-going.

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THE PASSIVE VOICE
 26 APR 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #44
 8 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Focusing on the action rather than the subject.

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NEGATIVES
 29 APR 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #45
 7 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Learning how to form negative sentences.

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SPANISH CAFÉ CULTURE
 09 MAY 2019 | BEGINNER | POST #46
 10 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Beyond just ordering a coffee.

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¿ESTE O ESTO?
 12 MAY 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #47
 5 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Is it really this one?

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“ACABAR DE...”
 21 MAY 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #48
 5 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

How to express having just done something.

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FILLER WORDS | MULETILLAS
 25 MAY 2019 | BEGINNER | POST #49
 9 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Muletillas: words that offer us a little support through conversations.

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“AL + INFINITIVE” CONSTRUCTIONS
 05 JUN 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #50
 4 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

An alternative way to describe when things are occurring.

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HABER
 13 JUN 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #51
 7 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Expressing existence.

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FALSE FRIENDS
 23 JUN 2019 | BEGINNER | POST #52
 5 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Words that aren't what they seem.

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5 TIPS THAT WILL IMPROVE YOUR SPANISH
 01 JUL 2019 | BEGINNER | POST #53
 9 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Some simple tips that will help us remain on the right path.

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ADJECTIVES: PART 1
 10 JUL 2019 | BEGINNER | POST #54
 12 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Taking a closer look at describing words.

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ADJECTIVES: PART 2
 18 JUL 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #55
 17 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Continuing our look at describing words.

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DO YOU LIKE IT OR DOES IT PLEASE YOU?
 23 JUL 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #56
 8 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Demystifying so-called back to front verbs.

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SORRY / FORGIVE ME / EXCUSE ME
 26 JUL 2019 | BEGINNER | POST #57
 5 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Looking at different ways to apologise in Spanish.

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WHEN TO USE ARTICLES
 10 AUG 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #58
 8 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Mastering when to include or omit articles in Spanish.

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“POR LO…” EXPRESSIONS
 11 AUG 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #59
 8 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Dissecting six useful constructions that use por and lo.

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5 IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS USING DAR
 22 AUG 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #60
 7 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Continuing our look at some more idiomatic expressions.

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WHAT
 26 AUG 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #61
 5 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Distinguishing between the different ways to express what in Spanish.

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WHEN TO USE THE PERFECT TENSE
 03 SEP 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #62
 5 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Describing recently completed actions.

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SWEARING IN SPANISH
 07 SEP 2019 | BEGINNER | NSFW | POST #63
 7 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

How to curse using a few choice Spanish words.

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COGNATES
 14 SEP 2019 | BEGINNER | POST #64
 8 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Words that are the same or similar in both English and Spanish.

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THE PRESENT PROGRESSIVE TENSE
 25 SEP 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #65
 5 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Describing on-going actions that are happening right now.

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VERBS OF CHANGE
 07 OCT 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #66
 12 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Looking at different ways to express becoming.

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5 WAYS TO USE “ACUERDO”
 15 OCT 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #67
 10 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Exploring different ways to use an essential word based around agreement.

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DECONSTRUCTING 5
SPANISH PROVERBS

 18 OCT 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #68
 7 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Comparing a few wise words across both English and Spanish.

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PORQUE, POR QUÉ, PORQUÉ O POR QUE
 25 OCT 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #69
 6 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Four similar constructions with somewhat different meanings.

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WHEN SÍ DOESN'T MEAN YES
 05 NOV 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #70
 5 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Explaining a meaning of sí that can go unnoticed by “itself”

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5 DIFFERENT WAYS TO EXPRESS “LET'S”
 13 NOV 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #71
 6 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Allowing ourselves and making suggestions.

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“A PARTIR DE”
 22 NOV 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #72
 4 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Beginning to expand our knowledge of idiomatic phrases.

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“ECHAR DE MENOS”
 30 NOV 2019 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #73
 4 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

How to say "I miss you" in Spanish.

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“MUY, PERO QUE MUY”
 11 DEC 2019 | BEGINNER | POST #74
 3 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Emphasising and intensifying a statement.

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“PERO BUENO”
 18 DEC 2019 | BEGINNER | POST #75
 2 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Expressing incredulity, surprise and acceptance.

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PREPOSITIONS
 26 DEC 2019 | BEGINNER | POST #76
 20 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

How people or things relate to others.

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ARROBA
 29 DEC 2019 | BEGINNER | POST #77
 5 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Using @ (the at symbol).

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QUEDAR
 09 JAN 2020 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #78
 8 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Expanding our knowledge of this essential Spanish verb.

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TENER QUE / HABER DE
 13 JAN 2020 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #79
 3 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Alternative ways of expressing obligation or need.

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SPANISH IDIOMS AND PROVERBS
 25 JAN 2020 | BEGINNER | POST #80
 5 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Learning a few catchy phrases that are almost identical across both English and Spanish.

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“ME DA” + NOUN VS
“ME PONE” + ADJECTIVE

 30 JAN 2020 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #81
 5 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Two different constructions that help us describe how we feel.

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3 SPANISH NOUNS WITH AMBIGUOUS GENDER
 12 FEB 2020 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #82
 5 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Nouns that can be both male and female.

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5 SIMPLE PHRASES STARTING WITH "EN..."
 19 FEB 2020 | INTERMEDIATE | POST #83
 7 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Expanding our knowledge with these useful phrases.

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¿TRANQUILO O TRANQUILA?"
 20 FEB 2020 | BEGINNER | POST #84
 3 MINS | by Spectrum Monkey

Two commonly used interjections that offer reassurance.

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