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 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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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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For many newcomers to Spanish, learning the difference between two very common prepositions, por and para, can be a real challenge.

The challenge appears to be made all the more difficult by the fact that we tend to learn both words as being an equivalent to the English word “for”.

Whilst both por and para can indeed translate to mean “for”, they also mean many other things. Thus, if we can get away from just thinking of these words as direct replacements for “for” and begin to understand the true spirit of how they should be used. Then we soon break away from what can be, at times, an unhelpful comparison.

So, with this being said, let’s take a look at both words individually and begin to form an appreciation for each.

Para
The first thing we should note about the word para is that it can also function as a conjugated version of the verb parar (to stop). Today we are not learning about the verb form but rather how it functions as a preposition. Although, this acts as a timely reminder that many Spanish words can end up with exactly the same spelling as others, despite being completely unrelated.

Para as a preposition describes a relationship between the subject and other words in the sentence. Let’s see the main uses of para and the types of relationship is can describe:

Para: when referring to destinations or recipients
Using para when referring to destinations or recipients is our first example of why is not always helpful to just see para as meaning “for”. As it begs the question: How is it "for"?

In this instance it might be better to consider para to mean "destined for". Let’s see a few examples:

Spanish Meaning
“Salgo para París hoy” I'm leaving for Paris today
“¿El autobús es para el pueblo?” Is the bus for town?
“David compró flores para María” David bought flowers for María
“¡No! Estos no son para ti” No! These are not for you

Combining the concept of destinations and recipients can take a bit of getting used to it. But consider the statement: “David bought the flowers for Maria”. Maria is the recipient of the flowers, but she also the destination of the flowers too. So, if we can think of recipients of things, as also being the destination of things, then really, we are describing the same kind of relationship.

Whilst it creates a bit of a mouthful, we could re-word any of the English statements above to make this point more obvious. For instance: "No! These are not destined for you".

Para: “in order to” do something
The next use of para can translate to simply mean “to” rather than “for”. But when we scratch the surface a little more, we realise it means “in order to”. Let’s see some examples:

Spanish Meaning
“Estoy aquí para ayadar” I'm here to help
“Él está pagando ahora para estar seguro” He's paying now to be sure
“Comemos bien para vivir una larga vida.” We eat well to live a long life

Whenever we are making a statement conveying purpose, we should always be looking to see if we can say it with the construction “in order to”. If so, then it is likely that we need to use para.

Notice that it is common for constructions that mean “in order to” to use para followed by an infinitive.

Para: when referring to deadlines
When referring to deadlines we tend to use para.

Spanish Meaning
“Lo necesito para mañana” I need it by / for tomorrow
“Estará listo para las 8 en punto” It will be ready by / for 8 o'clock

As we can see in the above examples, we could translate para to mean either “for” or “by”. It’s up to you how you remember this type of association, providing you don’t confuse deadlines with other references to time. For instance, when we refer to duration rather than deadline, then para is no longer appropriate, as we will soon discover.

Por
Por, like para, is a preposition that describes a relationship between the subject and other words in the sentences. As already mentioned, as English speakers, we tend to confuse the two because of a perceived shared association with the word “for”.

This is not helped by the fact that por and for rhyme, which undoubtedly will cause some to make a subliminal connection, wanted or otherwise.

So, let’s see if we can continue to put some distance between this confusion, and explain how and when we should use por.

Por: when exchanging
The first use of the word por we’re going to look at, is when it’s used to describe exchanging things. Let’s see some examples:

Spanish Meaning
“¿Puedo cambiarlo por otro?” Can I exchange it for another one?
“Los compramos por 5€ cada uno” We bought them for 5 euros each
“¿Cuánto por esos?” How much for those?
“Gracias por la información” Thanks for the information

Straightaway we’re presented with a translation that appears to mean “for”. But to understand a little better the spirit of how we are using por, it can be better to think of the phrase “in exchange for”, rather than just “for”.

We don’t always need to exchange physical things for money either. Indeed, in the last example, we are giving thanks in exchange for the information.

Por: when sending

Another use of por is when sending things. In this instance, por functions more like the English words “by”. We can send things by plane, by train, by post etc.. In all these instances we can use por.

However, one exception to this is when we are travelling or sending ourselves. Then we don’t use por but en. Let’s see some examples:

Spanish Meaning
“Enviarlo por avión” Send it by plane
“David lo envió ayer por correo” David sent it yesterday by post
“Hablé con ella por teléfono” I spoke to her by phone
“Fuimos en avion” We went by plane

Por: referring to location
When we are referring to location, we may also use por.

It is important to make a distinction at this point between location, and destination. Remember we have already learnt that when something or someone is the destination, then we should use para.

In the case of location, por can function to mean words like “around”, “along”, “through”, “though-out” and so on.

Spanish Meaning
“¿Hay un cajero automático por aquí?” Is there a cash machine around here?
“El tren pasa por el túnel y luego por las montañas” The train passes through the tunnel then around the mountains
Por la calle” Along the street
“¿Caminamos por el parque?” Shall we walk through the park?
Por todas partes” Everywhere

Por: when “on behalf of”
Por can also be used when we are doing things on behalf of someone. To explain this a little better. Let’s compare and contrast two similar yet subtly different statements:

Spanish Meaning
“David compró flores para María” David bought flowers for María
“David compró flores por María” David bought flowers for María

Here we have David again with those flowers. Both statements translate to the same construction in English, but with a subtly different meaning.

In the first instance, when using para, David bought flower for Maria, making her the recipient. He bought them for her to have.

However, in the second instance, he’s buying them on her behalf. Perhaps because she was unable to get to the shops herself? But in this case, she is not the recipient or the destination of the flowers.

In fact, in these examples, the English requires us to give a little bit of context or further explanation, as without it the same statements have two quite different meanings which may not be clear.

Let’s see a few more examples of when por can mean “on behalf of”, constrasted with the similar constructions using para:

Spanish Meaning
“Estoy trabajando por David hoy porque está enfermo” I'm working for / (on behalf of) David today because he's sick.
“Trabajo para el gobierno” I work for the government
“Voy a cantar la primera canción para ella” I'm going to sing the first song for / to her
“Voy a cantar la primera canción por él, porque aún no ha llegado” I'm going to sing the first song for / (on behalf of) him, because he's not arrived yet

Por: when referring to duration
Finally, let’s look at por when referring to duration. As we’ve already learnt, we use para when referring to deadlines, so it’s important that we notice and realise the difference between these two similar but different references to time:

Spanish Meaning
“¿Cuánto tiempo duermes por cada noche?” How long do you sleep for each night?
“Quédate por un tiempo” Stay for a while
“Mañana por la mañana” Tomorrow in / during the morning
“¿Ha pasado la fecha límite para hoy? ¿O debo continuar por un tiempo?” Has the deadline for today passed? Or shall I continue for a while?

Expressions using por and para
The following list gives us a good selection of Spanish phrases and expressions that use either por or para. Many of these are idiomatic, so are best learnt as vocabulary, rather than trying to explain how they might fit into one of the above categories:

Spanish Meaning Spanish Meaning
“por ejemplo” for example “por favor” please
“¡por dios!” oh my God! “por fin” finally
“por suerte” luckily “por ciento” percent
“por suspuesto” of course “por cierto” by the way
“por” per / by “4 por 4” 4 by 4 / 4x4
“por eso” because of that “por lo mismo” for that very reason
“por lo menos” at least “por qué” why?
“para qué” for what reason “para que” in order that
“para siempre” forever “para variar” just for a change

Conclusion | En conclusión
Knowing the difference between por and para seems to be a grammatical nemesis for many newcomers to Spanish; largely due to our association with the word “for”.

If you continue to struggle with this, then spend a moment to consider the true reason why certain English expressions use “for” and try to reword these expressions more verbosely.

Phrases like “destined for”, “in order to”, “in exchange for”, “by” and “on behalf of”, all potentially could mean “for” in an English sentence. If we can identify any such usage, then we stand a better chance of making the correct choice between por and para.

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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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