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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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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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Whilst learning about and using verbs here on Spectrum Monkey we’ve been making a rather large grammatical assumption. That is to say: we have been assuming an active voice.

In both English and Spanish, the default mode of speech uses the active voice. However, we do have another mode of speech we can employ, known as the passive voice.

Let’s quickly explain what the active and passive voices are so we can begin to understand why we might want to employ a different mode of speech.

A sentence is deemed to be in an “active” voice if the subject of the sentence is performing the action. Whereas we consider the construction to be in a “passive” voice if the subject receives the action.

Active: “David comió la tortilla” (David ate the tortilla)

Passive: “La tortilla fue comido por David” (The tortilla was eaten by David)

In these examples David is known as the agent as he is the active subject.

There are a number of reasons why we might want to use the passive voice. These include, shifting the focus away from the person doing the action (the agent) toward the action itself. For example, there are times when the action itself is the most important fact, not necessarily who is performing it. We might only care whether there is any tortilla left, not who ate it.

Furthermore, we might not even know who the agent is that performed the action.

“La tortilla fue comido” (The tortilla was eaten)

Forming the Passive voice
We form passive voice constructions in Spanish by combining the verb ser (to be) with a past participle. We may also append an optional agent to the end of the construction with the use of por:

Ser + past participle (+ por + agent)
As ever, one of the best ways to explain this is to see some examples side by side. Therefore, let’s see some active constructions rephrased into the passive voice, so we can see how we use ser in combination with a past participle:

Active Meaning Passive Meaning
“David está leyendo un libro” David is reading a book “Un libro está siendo leído por David” A book is being read by David
“María envió las flores” María sent the flowers “Las flores fueron enviadas por María” The flowers were sent by María
“Él los compra” He buys them “Ellos son comprados por él” They are bought by him
“Ella los ha comprado” She has bought them “Ellos han sido comprados por ella” They have been bought by her
“David probablemente cometerá muchos errores” David will probably make many mistakes “Probablemente muchos errores serán cometidos por David” Probably many mistakes will be made by David

The very observant amongst you will have noticed that the past participle of the passive construction must agree in both gender and plurality with the subject of the verb ser in the same way an adjective does.

Using the Passive voice
The passive voice is not used in Spanish as much as in English. Having said this, is does still crop up and it always serves us well to be able to spot these types of construction.

Yet, wherever possible in Spanish, we tend to favour an active construction or seek an alternative construction altogether in an attempt to avoid the passive voice.

One such alternative to a true passive voice is to use what is called a passive se.

The Passive se
Passive se constructions are commonly used in Spanish instead of using a true passive voice. Often in advertisements or public announcements, where the action is important but not necessarily who is performing the action.

We create a passive se construction as follows:

se + third person verb (singular or plural) + noun (singular or plural)
Let’s see some common examples:

Spanish Meaning
“Se vende sellos” Stamps sold here
“Se busca vivo o muerto” Wanted: dead or alive
“Se compran artículos viejos y nuevos” Bought: items old and new
“Se hablan español aquí” Spanish is spoken here

Strictly speaking, the passive se is not a true passive voice, but as it often translates into English as a passive voice, we can consider these constructions to serve the same purpose. This is especially useful when dealing with non-personal subjects.

Conclusion | En conclusión
Even though the true passive voice is not used often in Spanish, there are times when you may come across it. Certainly though, passive se constructions are rife, especially in informative situations.

Nonetheless, being able convert any active construction into a passive one is excellent practice, as it forces us to really think about how a sentence is formed. It also forces us to think differently, and this is no bad thing. All too often we learn things just one way, and after a while we stop thinking.

Being able to turn a construction completely on its head whilst retaining its meaning and shifting the focus away from the agent may be considered quite an advanced concept. Yet when we follow the relatively simple rule of combining ser with a past particle that agrees with the subject, we soon realise we are already more than capable.

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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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