The 5 typical hurdles when learning Spanish

5. “Buenos dias / tardes / noches”

Notice the: plural.
I don’t wish you just one good afternoon, but that all the afternoons may be good. Very handy when you don’t see a person every day!

OK, it’s not a big hurdle. I like this one though, because it’s a first and easy eye opener to people who learn a first new language, as how “translating” from one language to the other, can be merely a translation of the essence. A language is like a fruit, having grown in a specific history, climate, geography, soil, and thus having developed a different set of leaves and colors, in need of a different irrigation.

4. “Tutear”

This verb means: addressing someone by the informal “”, and not the formal or display of respect: “Usted”.
As in: “We are friends now, we can tutear”.

This is only new to English speakers, since in most European languages we have an equivalent. In English there isn’t; whether you address a kid, elderly person, king or friend, there’s just one “you”.

In Spanish there is  and there is Usted.

3. “Sé”

Just how short can things be? Two letters, and they mean: “I know”.
For in Spanish, the pronoun sits in the verb.
You don’t have to say “YO sé”.
This you only do when that emphasis is necessary: all others have no clue, but me I know.

2. Estar and Ser

Two verbs, that both mean the same: To be.
One is for a temporary state, and the other an intrinsic one.

So,  “estoy triste” and “soy triste” do not mean the same.
In the first you are sad, in the second you are basically a sad person.
Soy Belgian but estoy in Spain”.

One exception: estoy muerto. You’d say that’s a pretty final state, but nope, it’s temporary (just relating to the body, or the moment before going to the metaphysical realm).

5. El and la. 

Male or female.
Why would something need to be male or female? What’s so female about a table??

In Dutch the division is between ‘de’ versus ‘het’; but everyone has forgotten what that division is about; we just know which one to use. Who still knows that the first is for both masculine/feminine, and the second for neutral? We don’t. The particle just becomes part of learning the vocabulary.

Not sure where this division between masculine and feminine words comes from. It can be handy to reduce the number of words though: EL papa and LA papa are 2 different things (very different: the pope versus the potato). It’s just one of these things where only time teaches you what to use where.

The rule in language as in marketing is the same: once you’ve heard something some 12 times, it sticks. Which is the reason why immersion is so much easier and faster, than the tedious “studying”.

Ben

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