Culture around Spanish language

Qué pena con usted. Colombia, why do you cause us so much confusion?

Culture around Spanish language History of Spanish language

The Spanish of Argentina and Uruguay

If you listen to an Argentinian and a Uruguayan speaker, will you know how to differentiate each other? The truth is that it is challenging. There are those who say that the only way to distinguish them is by seeing what they have in their hand: the Argentinian will always have his hands busy with the mate and the thermos, while the Uruguayan will have the mate in one hand and carry the thermos in a bag. It’s not a wrong clue; it’s pretty accurate, but here we give you some linguistic tips so you can get to know them a little better and know where their unique way of speaking comes from.

¿Y vos cómo estás? The ‘voseo’ as a singular pronoun

Spanish began to spread throughout the American continent more than 500 years ago. Still, today, the unique use of the pronoun ‘vos’ as a second-person singular is a linguistic curiosity found only in Argentina and Uruguay.

Upon the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in America, ‘tú’, ‘vos’, and ‘vuestra merced’ were used in Spanish—these three expressions, each with unique connotations, refer to the second person singular. The communicative context determined the use of one over the others; both ‘tú’ (you) and ‘vuestra merced’ (your grace) were used in the context of closeness and trust, while ‘vos’ was exclusively used to address a person of greater authority.

Due to hierarchical relationships, the pronoun ‘tú’ was much more common. However, this changed over time. This is how, in the 16th century, the ‘vos’ began to be a disused expression in Spain and the places in America with a Viceroyalty, such as Peru or Mexico, and ‘you’ became the expression corresponding to the voice of I respect. Thus, the countries furthest from the viceroyalties, such as those in the southern cone and Central America, retained the ‘voseo’.

Currently, the ‘vos’ is widely used in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Costa Rica, and in some regions of Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Cuba, although in the latter, the connotation given to its use may vary according to regions and socio-cultural stratum.

¿Uruguasho, sho?

If you speak Spanish, you will know that an Argentinian and a Uruguayan speak very similar and, at the same time, different from any other Spanish speaker. They pronounce “y” and “ll” uniquely to any Spanish-American Spanish speaker. They say posho instead of pollo (chicken); they go to the plasha, not the playa (beach), and they call shuvia (rain) to the water that falls from the sky. Where does this way of speaking come from?

The unique sound in the Spanish of Argentina and Uruguay, also found in other languages ​​such as Portuguese and English, can be attributed to the nations’ formation by migratory waves from Europe. This linguistic landscape, further shaped by the proximity to Portuguese-speaking Brazil, has led to a contagion of certain sounds of these languages in the Spanish spoken in these regions.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, the Río de la Plata area experienced a substantial migratory influx from Spain, Italy and France, translating into the gradual incorporation of sounds from Galician, Italian and French. Furthermore, the Argentine sociolinguist María Beatriz Fontanella de Weinberg, a student of the Buenos Aires phonetic particularity, mentions in her works that at the end of the 19th century, there was a significant influence of French in Argentine culture and, with it, an explicit desire to incorporate phonological elements in your vocabulary. There are similar theories that explain the incorporation of sounds from Italian.

Whatever the explanation, the truth is that linguistic loans are transformed and finally appropriated to adapt to the values ​​and culture of the people that incorporate them. Whether it’s with a thermos in your hand or a bag, the culture of the Río de la Plata is inseparable from mate and herb, che!

Keep learning curiosities about the language and the Spanish language, visiting and reading the articles we publish weekly on the iScribo blog. If you are looking to improve your Spanish writing and correct a specific variant of this language, remember to subscribe to our wonderful grammar checker. We are waiting for you!

The language today

Spanish phrases and vocabulary on your summer holiday

Are you going on holiday to a Spanish-speaking country? What better opportunity to enjoy the heat, the beach or a nice tan and practice Spanish? Isn’t that a good plan for you?

Remember that Spanish is spoken in Spain and many other Latin American countries, such as Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru. Also, in Central America and some African countries, there will always be a hot season in some months of the year, and you can practice Spanish in one of these countries. Isn’t it great? If you can travel, you can always enjoy good weather and a relaxed atmosphere like summer vacations somewhere in the world.

During the holiday atmosphere, there are always many relaxed activities to gain self-confidence and enrich your command of the language, so keep reading. We will give you a hand here so you can practice your Spanish.

First rule: you already know where you will travel, and your trip is almost there, so I advise you that if you want to soak up the atmosphere of the place, look for a movie set in one of the cities you will visit. That will make your visit much more interesting because once you are there, you will seek to recognise what you saw in the film, whether it be the landscape, way of life or, better yet, expressions or phrases you heard. Ah! And, of course, I encourage you to change the language of your mobile phone to Spanish.

Well, we’re there: now to practice.

As you gear up for your exciting summer adventure in Spain, let’s dive into the world of the Spanish language. Today, we’ll explore some key phrases and expressions that will help you communicate and enrich your stay.

  “Buenos días” (good morning) is one of the most common greetings. To greet a person in the afternoon, we say “buenas tardes” (good afternoon/evening) finally, we use “buenas noches” (good night).

Imagine you are walking down the street and must attract someone’s attention to ask them a question. In that context, you would use “perdone” (excuse me) in its formal form or “perdona” in its informal form, depending on the age of the person you are addressing. After saying this and attracting their attention, you can now ask the question you want.

Is this your first-time meeting someone, and you don’t know what to say at the end? If you’ve had a good time with her, you can use the classic “encantado/a de conocerle” (this is the formal version) (nice to meet you) or “encantado/a de conocerte” if it’s someone your age or someone you feel comfortable enough to speak on a first-name basis. You can also say, “es un placer” (It’s a pleasure) or simply “encantado/a” (delighted).

Basic vocabulary

Let’s consider the means of transport in Spain. We will mainly discuss el tren (train), bus, avión (plane), and coche (car).

When discussing accommodation, you must master the concepts of hotel, hostel, (Albergue juvenil) youth hostel, apartamento (apartment), camping, parador, casa rural (cottage), and camping. The Paradores is a public hotel chain in Spain managed by a state commercial company.

Spain offers a wide range of activities that are of interest to everyone. You can enjoy the sun and sand at the beach, cool off in a pool, explore the scenic mountains, go hiking, experience the outdoors with camping, immerse yourself in art and history by visiting museums, indulge in retail therapy with shopping, take a leisurely stroll around the city, or stay active with sports.

The recommended products for summer are protector solar (sunscreen), mapas (maps) and planos (plans). Sombrero (a hat) or gorra (cap), gafas de sol (sunglasses), cámara fotográfica (a camera), and cargadores (chargers). If you are not from the European Union, it is advisable to buy a tarjeta SIM (SIM card).

Essential extras: taxi, pasaporte (passport), billete (ticket), maleta (suitcase), mochila (backpack), equipaje (luggage).

Interrogative formulas

«¿Dónde está el hospital? » (Where is the hospital?)

«Tiene (usted)/Tienes (tú) un mapa?» (Do you have a map?)

«¿Cuándo nos vamos?» (When do we go?)

If you want to explain that you don’t speak Spanish well, you could say, «Disculpe, no hablo bien español» (Excuse me, I don’t speak Spanish well). If you don’t understand what they said, you can say, «no entiendo lo que ha dicho» (I don’t understand what you said), and add, «¿podría repetirlo, por favor?» (could you repeat that, please?).

If the situation is too complicated for you, you may want to ask if someone speaks English. In this case, you would have to say, «¿habla usted inglés?» (do you speak English?/poliness grammar) or «¿hablas inglés?». To ask for help, say, «¿podría ayudarme?» (could you help me?) and to express desire, for example, if you are in a cafe and you already know what to order, use the conditional verb: «me gustaría tomar un café, por favor» (I would like to have a coffee, please).

When you’re planning to travel within Spain, these questions can be your lifesavers: «Dónde se pueden comprar los billetes de bus/tren?» (Where can I buy bus or train tickets?) and «a qué hora sale el próximo tren a Madrid?» (What time does the next train to Madrid depart?).

I hope these tips are helpful for your practice and your next vacation. Remember that the key to learning Spanish, as with everything in life, is motivation, which is entirely up to you.

Keep learning curiosities about the language and the Spanish language, visiting and reading the articles we publish weekly on the iScribo blog. If you want to improve your Spanish writing and correct a specific variant of this language, subscribe to our superb grammar checker. We are waiting for you!

History of Spanish language

Castilian or spanish? one language, two names

In the Anglo-Saxon world, Spanish is spoken in generic terms, but when they want to specify the Spanish spoken in Spain, they refer to this language as Castilian. However, all of us who speak Spanish do not make that difference in usage because we know it is incorrect since both terms are synonymous. Both names are correct and mean the same thing. Proof of this is that, in 1611, the first monolingual dictionary called Treasure of the Castilian or Spanish language was published.

Despite this, the question repeatedly arises about which of these two names is appropriate or which corresponds to which country. However, on behalf of the Royal Spanish Academy of Language (RAE) and the language academies of the rest of the countries of Spanish speakers, the answer is clear: the two names are synonyms.

Birth of Spanish

When languages derived from Latin had to be classified in some way, they began to be spoken of as Romance languages, and from this classification emerged the names Castilian, Catalan and Aragonese, among others.

In this way, around 1250, the term Castilian romance was born about the language spoken in the kingdom of Castile and León. As this kingdom’s political power grew, so did its language, which expanded and was enriched with contributions from the other languages spoken in the Iberian Peninsula.

Thus, at the end of the Middle Ages, different ways of speaking were grouped under the name of Castilian or Castilian language, both from Castile and León, Navarra, and Aragon, both from the north and the south. Starting in the 15th century, Spanish began to be used as a lingua franca throughout Spain.

The first records of the Spanish term

From the 16th century onwards, the new name, Spanish language or Spanish, began to compete with the traditional Castilian language. The name was not born in Spain but outside. At first, it was a purely geographical demonym, but later, neighbouring countries began to use it to refer to the language. Thus, little by little, driven first from abroad, the term Spanish language gained followers.

From then until the beginning of the 20th century, there was a clear and constant preference for the term Spanish language until, in the last century, Castilian and Spanish became interchangeable terms in the cultured language.

Currently, from a linguistic point of view, Castilian is the variety of Spanish spoken in the ancient Kingdom of Castile, that is, in central Spain.

Uses in Spain and Latin America

After the independence processes of the new American republics, the new countries were inclined to use the term Castilian, mainly to distance themselves from the demonym of the country from which they were becoming independent.

Currently, preferences are distributed: from Ecuador to the north, in Colombia, Venezuela, Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean and the United States, the use of Spanish or the Spanish language is overwhelming. In most of South America, the word Castilian is used more. Nevertheless, the international voice of the Spanish language has been gaining ground, especially among young people.

In Spain, the name Castilian is common in bilingual territories to distinguish it from other co-official languages such as Galician, Basque, and Catalan. At the same time, it is usually called Spanish in the rest of the country.

Keep learning curiosities about the language and the Spanish language, visiting and reading the articles we publish weekly on the iScribo blog. If you are looking to improve your Spanish writing and correct a specific variant of this language, remember to subscribe to our wonderful grammar checker. We are waiting for you!

History of Spanish language

The Spanish calendar: days, months, and seasons of the year. Where do their names come from?

What is time? From philosophy, the thinking around time lies in its nature: does time exist or not, and if it exists, can we really measure it?

Today, we will observe time from physics, where it is proposed that time is a magnitude with which the separation, simultaneity or duration of events is measured. This allows us to organise them in their simplest temporal form. That is, past, present, and future. Where events are in each of these sets depends on their relationship.

The best-known system of representing the passage of time is the calendar. The calendar model officially used in almost the entire world is the Gregorian calendar, named in honour of its promoter, Pope Gregory XIII.

The term calendar comes from the Latin calendarium, from calendae (calendas), a name that in ancient Rome was given to the first day of each month, corresponding to the phase of the new moon. Furthermore, the calendarium was the book where the loans that fell due on the calendas were recorded.

In different ancient peoples, the days were grouped into seven concerning the lunar phases. Rome continued with this organization, where each day was linked to a divinity: Luna (Moon), Marte (Mars), Mercurio (Mercury), Jupiter, and Venus. Sábado is a consecration to Saturn and domingo derives from dies dominicus (day of the Lord).

Months and seasons of the year

Initially, the lunar calendar consisted of ten months: Martius (marzo), in honour of Mars. Aprilis (abril), perhaps related to the Etruscan Apru and this to the Greek Aphrô of Aphrodite. Maius (mayo) is linked to Maia, a deity related to flowering. Iunius (Junio) in memory of the goddess Juno. Quintilis (quintile), Sextilis (September) derived from septem (seven), being the seventh month and following the same formula, it was continued with October, November, and December (octubre, noviembre and diciembre). In the 8th and 7th centuries, the months of Ianuarius (enero) and Februarius (febrero) were added in honour of Janus, God of the double face, symbol of the beginning and the end, and Februus to whom the purification rites were dedicated. In 153 BC, Ianuarius became the first month of the year. Quintilis was renamed Iulius (julio) in a clear allusion to Julius Caesar, while Sextilis was replaced by Augustus (agosto) in homage to Octavius Augustus.

The months were grouped into seasons, which since the Romans until now we divided into four: ver, aestas, autumnus and hiems (verano [current primavera], estío, otoño e invierno). Later, the voice prima vera (primera primavera) was incorporated, and the seasons became five: primavera, verano, estío, otoño e invierno. From the 17th century onwards, primavera – the time of the first flowering – displaced verano and merged with estío, definitively forming the four seasons that we know now.

So, we already know that, if time exists, the Spanish calendar tells us that today is spring and summer on one side of the world and autumn and winter on the other. Moreover, it is March [Marzo] (Martius) worldwide in honour of Mars.

Keep learning more curiosities about the Spanish language by visiting and reading the articles we publish weekly on the iScribo blog. And if you are looking to improve your Spanish writing, don’t hesitate to subscribe to our superb grammar checker.

History of Spanish language

Words from Quechua and Mayan in Spanish

Quechua and Mayan are two indigenous languages of Latin America. Quechua is one of the two indigenous languages with the largest number of speakers today (about 14 million, considering all its variants). Mayan or, rather, the Mayan languages currently have nine hundred thousand native speakers of the languages that make up this linguistic family.

Quechua is the language of the Inca Empire and has more than 500 years of contact with Spanish, so the influence between both languages has been natural. Loanwords happen from Spanish to Quechua and from Quechua to Spanish. Today, we will see some examples of words of Quechua origin that are part of the usual lexicon of Spanish, especially the one spoken in many Latin American countries.

On the other hand, Mayan is another of the native languages of Latin America that has influenced the Spanish we speak today. Notice, however, that what is currently known as the “Mayan language” is a linguistic family of around 30 different languages spoken in the ancient Mayan territory, which ranges from southeastern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador. These languages, which still live, share specific characteristics but are very different. Among all these, Peninsular Mayan is one of the official languages of Mexico.

In today’s article, we will see what are some of the words originating from Quechua and Mayan in Spanish:

The mayisms

Patatús: in Mayan, it means feigned death, and in current Spanish, it is a colloquial expression used to express astonishment or fainting. For example: con esta noticia me va a dar un patatús [This news is going to give me a patatús].

Cachito: Is synonymous with a piece, rather a little piece and comes from the onomatopoeia [cach] heard when something breaks. In Mayan, cach means “broken thing” or “that breaks.”

Cacao: Cacao was “the food of the gods” since the Mayans considered its plant sacred. Today, this food is known throughout the world and is an essential ingredient to produce chocolate.

Cenote: They are the characteristic wells of Yucatán province, in Mexico. It comes from the Mayan word tz’onot, which means well or cavern with water.

Cigar: Comes from the Mayan siyar and is a word that has spread to other languages due to the custom of inhaling tobacco made in the form of a roll.


Quechuisms are words of Quechua origin assimilated into Spanish over time. Some linguistic loans remain in Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, and Colombia. Countries that were part of the Inca Empire. Let’s review some of these:

Cancha: It comes from the Quechua kancha and means enclosure, like the space intended for specific sports or shows.

Charqui: Dehydrated and salted meat typical of South America’s Andean and southern regions.

Chaucha: Currency of low value. Chauchera: in Bolivia and Chile, it is synonymous with a purse.

Concho: Sediment located at the bottom of a container and used to refer to the last child of a couple. In the case of the last child, the diminutive conchito is more common.

Mate: Drink made from the leaves and branches of Ilex paraguariensis, the plant itself and the container used to drink it.

Nanai: caress to soothe pain. The Chilean Academy of Language defines it as “a very tender caress that attempts to soothe pain or sorrow.” It is also used to express tenderness; for example, when one sees a very tender baby, they express “Nanai!”

Morocho: Comes from the Quechua “muruch’u”, which means “variety of tough corn.” But in Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay, it is an adjective for a person with brown skin and black hair.

Palta: Peruvians and Chileans call palta to this green and creamy fruit. It is known as aguacate in the rest of the countries in the region.

Poncho: A coat consisting of a square blanket made of wool or cloth with an opening in the centre.

Pucho: means leftover. In Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay, it refers to a cigarette or its butt.

Guagua: Boy, girl and infant. Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, and Ecuador use it as a synonym for baby.

Yapa: Is an Andean idiom that refers to a gift or extra addition to a product during a commercial transaction, especially in a popular context.

As a bonus track, two Nahuatl words used in current Spanish: aguacate and apapachar. Aguacate: It comes from ahuacatl, which means testicles. The avocado has this name because of the shape of this fruit.  Acapachar is the action of squeezing or giving love to another with the first impulse. It is adorable and is a verb used in Latin American Spanish to hug or, to be more precise, to pamper to another.

Now you know that you can always comfort a loved one with a “nanai” or “apapacharlo” until he or she feels better. You know the influence of Quechua and Mayan in Spanish, and you can use it to take your Spanish to the next level.

Keep learning more and more about the Spanish language and its different cultures through the articles published on our blog.

History of Spanish language

Why does the letter “h” exist in Spanish?

The letter “h” is a big headache for many Spanish speakers. When speaking, there is no problem; the difficulty is when writing a letter with no sound and having certainty about when and where to place it. It is such a discreet letter that many have advocated for its elimination, but this queen of imperceptible sounds has triumphantly held a place in the Spanish alphabet. Is it a simple whim? No. In grammar, everything generally has an explanation.

The letter h is the eighth letter in the Spanish alphabet. It is pronounced only when preceded by the letter c, forming the sound “ch”. The problem is that more than 2,000 words begin with the letter h in Spanish and a few more have this letter interspersed. But then, if it doesn’t sound, why do we write it? Why write something that doesn’t exist? One of the reasons is that it was not always mute.

The origins of the “h”

Let’s go back to its past: the Phoenicians were the first to use this letter and pronounced it as an aspirated “j”. The Phoenicians passed it to the Greeks, who adopted it with a gentle aspiration. Then, it passed into Latin, from Greek, and the sound became even softer.

 From Latin, it made its jump to Spanish, where at first it was also pronounced as an aspirated sound, accompanied by a small explosion of air similar to the current pronunciation of the aspirated “h” in English. But Spanish not only used Latin words that began with “h”, but it also appropriated numerous Latin words that began with “f”. At first, these words also began with “f” in Spanish, but as the years went by and since, in some parts of Spain, the “f” sound was also pronounced with an aspiration, in the 14th century, the “f” initial began to be replaced by the initial “h”. This is what happened with farina, which became harina (flour), the verb hacer (to do), which in its beginnings was facer, helecho (fern)(which during the Middle Ages was felecho), humo (smoke), which was fumo, hola (hello), which derives from fola and many other words. This change also affected some words that had the f interspersed, such as the case of búho (owl), which comes from bufo in Latin.

According to the RAE records, until the mid-16th century, the letter h in Spanish was still pronounced with an aspiration, especially in words initially written with f in Latin.

Starting in the 15th century, the trend changed, and the aspirated h began to be considered a vulgarism typical of the lower classes, so little by little, the h began to be silenced entirely until it became the silent letter that it is today.

H: the only letter that is not a sound but is equally necessary

One more historical fact explains the existence of this letter: in the past, both the letters u and v were written precisely the same, although they were not pronounced in the same way. Therefore, to identify that the corresponding sound was that of the vowel “u” and not that of the consonant “v”, an h was placed before it. In this way, it was known that huevo (egg) should be pronounced as “uevo” and not as “vevo” as it would have been without the h in front.

Furthermore, the letter h in Spanish differentiates homophonous words in writing. Those that are pronounced the same but have different meanings. Thus, we can quickly differentiate writing hola (hello) from ola (wave), hojear (leaf through) from ojear (to browse), hecho (fact) from echo (he/she drop) or differentiate the preposition a (to) by ha from the verb hacer (to do).

As you have seen, “H” is a silent letter with a great history that still fulfils essential functions in Spanish. The discreet queen can only be used correctly if you practice reading and writing a lot. The mere fact of being the only letter in Spanish that holds the title of having no sound makes it very special. After knowing its story, I hope you are encouraged to correct your spelling and remember your “Hs” here or there.

And remember that if you still need help with Spanish grammar, iScribo is always here to help you improve!

Culture around Spanish language

The most beautiful words and expressions in Spanish

Spanish is the second most studied language in the world, and although it is difficult to say precisely, it is estimated that it has about three hundred thousand words in its lexicon. Let’s consider the combinations of these and the uses by the different variants of Spanish. We are talking about a vibrant language, where even conversations between speakers of different variants of Spanish cannot be understood so easily by each other.

There are also lovely words that have yet to have an exact translation in other languages. Today, iScribo invites you to see some of them and have fun getting to know part of Spanish speakers’ culture through their use of their language.

The fact that there are expressions or words without a precise translation is not a phenomenon unique to Spanish. It happens a lot between different languages. The reason for this is that language is the communication tool of a community, and what is essential for one is not necessarily crucial for others.

To be or to be? That is the problem

Languages have the words their speakers need: no more, no less. Therefore, learning a language implies being aware that you are also learning how to live the life of the culture corresponding to said language.

Let’s start with a beautiful distinction between ser and estar verbs. In Spanish, unlike English, we understand that in life, you can ser and you can estar, which are not the same thing. While estar implies occupying a space or becoming visible and includes a property susceptible to change, ser suggests some way of giving existence meaning. Ser transcends estar since it gives it meaning. It is the difference between essence and attribute; an attribute can change, but the essence cannot. I am a human being (essentially), and I am living on planet Earth, for example.

A fascinating use colloquially in Chile makes the difference between dejar ser (letting be) and dejar estar (letting be). When someone tells me dejé estar (I let myself be), he/she means that he/she did not do anything he should have done. On the other hand, when he/she tells me dejé ser (I let myself be), he/she means I freed myself, or I let myself go, something like the Beatles’ Let It Be.

Beautiful words without translation into other languages

The Spanish words in this selection are related to the culture around food and taking a walk, and some are linked to the night.

Sobremesa: everyone practices it, particularly on weekends. Millions and millions of families and friends spend a great time sharing at the table after eating. That pleasant moment is the after-dinner meal.

Provecho: I love this one, also because it has some controversy. For some, it is not polite to say it, while for others, it is a good wish. Anyway, there is something nice about it: by saying “provecho” or “buen provecho”, you are wishing the person who is eating, or with whom you are sharing the meal, that the meal will be pleasant. Isn’t that a good feeling towards each other? Its equivalent in French is “bon appetite”.

Now let’s move on to the night: has it happened to you that you are tired and try but can’t sleep? Well, that is what in Spanish is called desvelar(se): it means to prevent sleep or to lose sleep due to the inability to fall asleep.

Trasnochar: Are you one of those who likes to stay late? So, you are someone who usually stays up late. Some people do it only on the weekends when they go out to party, but some live a life that way because they are more productive; anyway, with them, we use the verb to stay up late.

Madrugada: refers to the moment when night and morning merge. It is before dawn and after night.

Estrenar: If one goes to the premiere of a movie in English, the verb release is used, but in Spanish, estrenar also refers to wearing a piece of clothing for the first time. It is a particular activity for many people: hoy estrenaré un vestido nuevo.

Vitrinear: It is somewhat related to the previous concept. Vitrinas are the shop windows where stores display their products. Vitrinear, therefore, is the verb that indicates going out to browse the windows without necessarily having the goal of purchasing. Let’s go window shopping is an invitation to go out and visit stores without necessarily buying. It is more of an invitation to walk.

Here comes a bonus track: la vergüenza ajena is amusing. Not all cultures have it, but the expression is understood. It is a borrowed feeling because here, one does not feel ashamed for what one did but instead for what someone else did. In English, it would be something like feeling embarrassed by someone else, although it is not precisely the same since, with that phrase, what is being done is rationalising the feeling.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Keep visiting the iScribo blog to learn more about the world that revolves around a language as beautiful as Spanish. Here we are, waiting for you with more topics of interest!

Writing in Spanish

I loved you versus I have loved you: verb tenses in Spanish

Today is February 14, Valentine’s Day. Everyone is talking about love, flowers, and chocolates, but what is the time for love? Did you know that in Spanish, you can say I loved you, and I have loved you? Depending on the country you are in, it can mean the same thing or something subtly different. Pay attention here because the times of love are different everywhere.

Pretérito perfecto simple v/s pretérito perfecto compuesto: When and which countries use a particular verb tense the most

What tense is used to express recent actions? Well, it depends: while in that case, the pretérito perfecto compuesto (te he querido [I have loved you], lo he visto [I have seen it], or he salido [I have gone out]) is more common in much of Spain, in America, and some areas of Spain such as the Canary Islands, what would be used in this case would be the pretérito compuesto simple, that is: te quise [I loved you], lo vi [I saw it], and salí [I left]. In these areas, what happens is that both the pretérito perfecto compuesto and the pretérito compuesto simple can be used to express the same idea. That is something that occurred in the recent past.

Let’s look at an example to make it clearer.

  1. No he desayunado
  2. No desayuné

Depending on whether you are in Latin America or Spain, these two sentences could be interpreted in different ways:

In Spanish from Spain, sentence (a) can only refer to today (a recent past), while the second (b) refers to yesterday. In Latin America, both sentences can be used interchangeably to refer to today’s action. Even the first could mean that he has not eaten yet, but he can still do so, and the second could mention that at the moment, he has not had breakfast because it is too late. I love those subtleties of language!

If you speak English, you will realise that these two tenses in Spanish from Spain are the same as the distinction between the past simple and the present perfect in English.

Going back to the original example of this day of love, the “te quise” in Spain means that “until yesterday I loved you, but no more”, and the “te he querido” means that until sometime today I also loved you, but for some reason not anymore. 🥺

I’m sorry; love and grammar are like that sometimes.

I hope you learned something more today or that you are at least enjoying a beautiful date on this day of love. Lots of love and Spanish to you! 😍😎

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