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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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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When starting out with Spanish, many of us will learn a few helpful phrases without paying much attention to exactly how or why such constructions are made. One such example is sentences starting with “Me gusta…” which many newcomers will learn translates to mean “I like…”.

Of course, phrases such as “I like…” are extremely useful and the perfect way to get oneself up and running speaking a little Spanish immediately. However, it serves us well to try to understand exactly why “Me gusta…” translates to mean “I like…” so we can correctly use this verb and many others like it. So, today we are going to take a closer look at these so-called back to front verbs.

The expression “Me gusta…” uses the verb gustar. So if “Me gusta…” means “I like…” then surely the verb gustar means to like? This would be the obvious assumption and some people do consider this to be the direct meaning. However that’s not strictly correct. In fact, gustar more accurately means to please.

Whilst some might argue to please and to like are more or less the same thing, it is this subtle yet important difference we are going to look at today.

Let’s take a complete sentence and look in more detail what we’re really saying here: “Me gusta la playa”.

“Me gusta la playa” translates to mean “I like the beach”, however the literal translation is “to me (it) pleases the beach”. In English we could make the same construction as “The beach pleases me” which whilst sounding perhaps a little old-fashioned is the same thing as saying “I like the beach”.

So, what’s really happening here?

In English when we make constructions like “I like the beach”, in this instance I am doing the liking, so I am the subject. However, when phrasing things such as “The beach pleases me”, then in this case the beach itself is performing the act of pleasing, and I (oneself) becomes the recipient of the action, so the beach is now the subject and I become the indirect object.

So, whilst statements like “I like the beach” are clearly describing something that is about oneself, the way we phrase it is actually from the point of view of the beach. It is pleasing to us, not that we like it.

When learning Spanish, it seems that gustar (to please) is always given as the de facto example of these so-called back to front verbs. But are they really backwards? Or is it just that we have to grow accustomed to their literal meaning and how they are commonly used?

There are plenty of examples in English where we use verbs whereby the thing is the subject and we become the indirect object. “It seems to me”, “It bores me”, “It bothers me” are all examples where really we are talking about ourselves, yet we phrase it from the point of view of the thing. Once we realise this happens in English all the time, it should be less daunting to then see Spanish verbs used in the same way.

Before we look at some other verbs, let’s quickly see gustar used in a few other constructions so we can begin to get a real flavour of how we use this verb from several different perspectives:

Spanish Literal translation Meaning
“Me gusta ese perro” To me (it) pleases that dog I like that dog
“Me gustan los perros” To me (they) please the dogs I like dogs
“¿A ella le gusto?” She to her I please? Does she like me?
“A ella le gustas mucho” She to her you please a lot She likes you a lot
“Me gustaría probarlo” To me (it) would please to try it I would like to try it
“¿Te gustó la película?” To you did (it) please the movie Did you like the movie?
“Me ha gustado To me it has pleased I (have) liked it

Remember: the verb gustar must agree with thing that is pleasing. So, if we’re describing more than one thing then we need to use a plural form as shown with “Me gustan los perros” (I like dogs).

Now that we’ve seen gustar in some detail, let’s see a few other examples of verbs that can also be used in this way.

Verb Spanish Meaning
Parecer (to seem) “Me parece bien” It seems good to me
Encantar (to love / enchant) “Me encanta la playa” I love the beach
Molestar (to bother) “¿Te molestaron mis amigos?” Did my friends bother you?
Quedar (to remain) “¿Cuántos te quedan?” How many have you got left?
Faltar (to lack / miss) “¿Qué te falta?” What are you missing?
Doler (to hurt) “Me duele la cabeza” My head hurts

The above are all examples of verbs being used in such a way that neither the speaker nor the person being spoken to are the subject of the sentence. The thing being spoken about is the subject and people involved become indirect objects.

“Me encanta la playa” doesn’t literally mean “I love the beach”, it more literally means “The beach enchants me”, albeit with that Spanish word order. If we wanted to express the same thing with another verb meaning to love, we could say “Amo la playa” using the verb amar (to love). In this construction the subject is indeed the speaker. So we may love things ourselves directly with the verb amar, but we may also love things indirectly when we are enchanted by them using the verb encantar.

Conclusion | En conclusión
English expressions like “It seems to me…” being used as an alternative to “I think…” are a great example of the very concept we are describing today. Once we get used to alternative ways of phrasing things, and more importantly why they are phrased this way, we soon grow accustomed to seeing and using verbs like gustar.

We will certainly return to this topic another time and look at some more interesting constructions using these ”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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