Frases cotidianas para memorizar: Primera parte

While learning Spanish, if you’re like me, you come across phrases that may not translate exactly word-by-word to English or even into Spanish so that the phrase makes any sense. But these are really useful phrases that you want to learn and use.

These everyday, ordinary phrases (frases cotidianas) exist in every language and they are spoken and heard all the time. But they can trip you up as you're learning to listen and comprehend Spanish, and also trying to say ordinary phrases you might use in English while speaking Spanish. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at and learn some of these phrases. As I discover more frases cotidianas in my Spanish-learning adventure, I’ll put them in a future blog post. This is part of my quest to present Spanish you can use! ¡Español que puedes usar!

Sometimes frases cotidianas don’t directly translate into the common meanings that they are used for among Spanish speakers.

Por ejemplo: De todas formas. A word-by-word Spanish translation is: “Of all ways.” That doesn’t make much sense. Instead, the actual use among Spanish speakers of de todas formas is “anyway.” 

Estoy muy ocupada, pero ayudo a mi padre de todas formas.  I am very busy, but I help my father anyway. 

Sometimes, however, frases cotidianas are simple enough to translate, but using them for their correct meaning takes a bit of practice. 

Por ejemplo: El uno al otro. A word-by-word Spanish translation is: The one to the other. That’s sort of logical. However, in conversation, Spanish speakers use this frase cotidianael uno al otro to mean “each other.”  

Ellos están enomorados y se respetan el uno al otro.  They are in love and respect each other. 

These examples illustrate why it is super important to familiarize yourself with frases cotidianas so that you can boost your Spanish-speaking skills, keep up with what Spanish speakers are actually communicating, and speak more colloquially. These phrases are used to speak casually and to speak precisely. 

Here’s the tricky part: Most of these phrases are ones you must simply memorize and try to incorporate into your Spanish speaking and writing. I like using flash cards and drilling myself with them as I practice. Whatever is your favorite way to tackle memorization, buckle down with the list below and train your brain to memorize and use these helpful phrases. Your efforts will be rewarded as learning these frases cotidianas will make speaking Spanish feel more comfortable and hopefully, as the learners we are, will help us feel more at ease, too. Nosotros nos sentiremos más a gusto.

Oh, and one more thing. Here’s a breakdown of my favorite word of the week, mi palabra favorita de la semana:

Cotidiana – everyday, ordinary. Compare this to the similar, but not the same: Todos los dias – Every day (used to state something done every single day). 

Ready to memorize? Let’s do it! ¡Vamos a hacerlo! or ¡Hagámoslo!

Frases Cotidianas

Mí mismo(a) – Myself

Sigo pensado – I still think

Siempre y cuando – As long as 

A lo mejor – Maybe

Tal vez – Perhaps, Maybe

Para siempre – Forever

Después de un rato – After a while 

Nos vemos en un ratito – See you in a little bit

De vez en cuando – From time to time 

Ya no – Not anymore

No más – No more

¿Como te fue? – How did it go?

Estoy deseando que llegue – I’m looking forward to it

Todo va a salir bien – Everything will be fine

Relájate – Just relax 

Más a gusto – More at ease

Lo que sea – Whatever

En cualquier lugar – Anywhere

De todas formas – Anyway

Por fin – Finally, At last 

Al menos – At least 

Sin embargo – However 

Menos mal – Luckily 

Por suerte – Fortunately

Por si acaso – Just in case 

Así que – So…

Así que bien – So good 

Y todo lo demás – And everything else

Y todo lo demás esta bien – And everything else is fine 

A las demás – To the others / Escucharé a las demás – I will listen to (the) others

El uno al otro – Each other 

Hace el momento – A moment ago 

En este momento – Just now

Giros y vueltas – Twists and turns

Yo no sabía – I didn’t know / No lo sabía – I didn’t know it / Yo no sabía eso – I didn’t know that 

Estoy de acuerdo – I agree / (con usted, con ti – with you) 

¡Voy en camino! – I’m on my way!

Ya llegué – I’m here 

Nos vemos otro día,

¡Las palabras confusas están por todas partes!

No matter what language you speak or are learning, there are confusing words. You know, those words that sound or look alike but have different meanings. In fact, whatever language you grew up speaking – English for me – also has confusing words. It’s just that when you’re learning a new language – Spanish for me – those confusing words feel especially troublesome. After all, it’s hard enough to remember all the new vocabulary and verb tenses and what words to use and when! 

Fear not! Boulder Spanish is here to help with classes for every type of learner, travel immersion experiences, and more! 

From time to time in this blog, we will present a group of confusing words with some tips to get them straightened out and to remember which words to use and how to use them. Learning a new language is challenging, and also fulfilling. So let’s clear up the confusion around a few of my favorite confusing words. First, a few ideas to keep in mind:

Pronunciation (Pronunciación): Listen to native speakers pronounce a word. Even without being in Mexico, Ecuador, or Spain, this is easy to do these days with the help of pronunciation audio guides on your computer or smart phone. Then pronounce each new vocabulary word syllable by syllable until you can say the word precisely. With Spanish, it’s particularly important to focus on Spanish vowel sounds. 

A, E, I, O, U.        MU-chAs GrA-cI-As. A-dI-Ós. 

Different Spanish speakers may drop or gloss over consonant sounds, but you’ll hear the vowel sounds distinctly and that will help clarify a specific word and its meaning. 

Accents (Acentos): Especially with all the various verb tenses, accents matter a lot in Spanish. As you practice pronunciation, emphasize the accented syllables until they become automatic. 

Paying attention to both pronunciation and accents will require you to practice words and phrases over and over until they flow off your tongue and feel natural. This is especially fun in Spanish, though, since the musicality and rhythm of Spanish make it delightful to speak and to hear, even as we’re learning. 

Caballo (horse)          Cabello (hair)             Cebolla (onion)

These words were among my very first blunders in Spanish. I couldn’t keep them straight – or curly! 

Although these words look very similar, if you give them proper Spanish pronunciations – for example, por ejemplo, strong vowel sounds, the “ll” pronounced similar to a “y” in English, and a soft “c” for Cebolla – they don’t really sound alike, just as they don’t have similar meanings. 

{Remember the rule for a hard or soft “c” sound: say a hard “c” sound (like “k”, as in cat) before a consonant or “a,” “o”, or “u;” say a soft “c” sound (like “s”, as in city) before “e” or “i.”}

My tricks: I imagine the two “a” letters in Caballo as the two front hooves on a horse. Yes, you have to use your imagination! I associate the second part of Cabello, with “bello” (beautiful), as in beautiful hair. For Cebolla, I think “Say-o for onion,” because I like onions! Me gustan las cebollas.
¡Mi cabello es rizado y a mi caballo le gustan las cebollas! My hair is curly and my horse likes onions! 

Hombre (man)           Hombro (shoulder)      Hambre (hunger)

Here’s another tricky threesome that relies on clear vowel pronunciation. 

{Remember the “h” in Spanish words is silent, so emphasize the vowel sounds, especially that first vowel after the “h.”}

My tricks: These are a little complicated but you’ll see their quirkiness makes them work! For Hombre, I think of the Latin scientific name for “humankind,” or “wise man,” Homo sapiens, as it begins with “hom” and there is an “e” in sapiens. To distinguish Hombre from Hombro, since both begin with “hom,” I visualize a man slapping another man on the shoulder and saying, “Bro!” (short for “brother”), as some men do in greeting each other. “Hom” (man) + “bro” (shoulder) = Hombro. For Hambre, I visualize “ham” for “breakfast,” and I get “ham-bre.” Just be sure to use strong Spanish vowel sounds not English vowel sounds so that “hom” is distinct from “ham,” and “bre” is distinct from “bro.” And keep the “h” silent.
El hombre tiene mucha hambre y le duele el hombro. The man is very hungry and his shoulder hurts. 

Caro (expensive)        Carro (car)                      Pero (but)       Perro (dog)  

Here again, similar words with very different meanings. Pronunciation makes all the difference. 

{Remember, a single “r” is simply a tap of your tongue against the roof of your mouth. A double “rr” is a deliberate trill of your tongue and should have a unique sound.} 

My tricks: With these words, the vowel sounds are the same. So, as a Spanish learner, practice and have some fun learning to roll Rs for a variety of Spanish words. 

¡Sí, este carro es caro, pero mi perro puede correr más rápido! Yes, this car is expensive, but my dog can run faster!

Consejo (advice)         Conejo (rabbit)

OK, I’ll admit it. This is an amusing word confusion that I still stumble over from time to time. 

{My tip is to remember that Consejo has a “s” sound similar to the “s” sound in advice. Conejo does not. Just think of a cute bunny! Also, to say “to advise,” the Spanish word is the regular verb “aconsejar.”}

El conejo blanco me dio buen consejo. The white rabbit gave me good advice. 

Finally, it's true that the context of a conversation can help us to recognize and expect what word might be used, but context cannot always save the day, or even keep us from becoming embarrassed sometimes as we try to communicate in Spanish. It’s OK. Just smile, and know that learning from mistakes is a time-honored tradition. Spanish speakers will appreciate your effort.

¡Sólo sonríe! Los hispanohablantes apreciarán su esfuerzo. 

Hasta pronto,


¡Cariño y coqueteo en español!

Valentine’s Day is wonderful, but it doesn’t have to be the official holiday for love to be a good day to express admiration and affection – admiración y cariño. Such expressions in Spanish might help you make new friends, find a romantic partner, or maybe just discover a fun way to flirt. You'll also be practicing your Spanish. ¡Qué maravilloso!

As you probably know, Spanish is referred to as a romance language, but this designation isn’t about Spanish being romantic, even though many believe it is a very romantic language to hear and read in songs, novels, and poems. In fact, “romance language” is a term used to refer to any language that is derived from Latin, the language of the Roman Empire. 

More history later. This blog is the first installment about the art of flirting in Spanish. We will learn a few phrases so that you can show some interest in someone you might like to flirt with and get to know a bit better. 

Similar to trying to tell a joke in a language you’re learning, being romantic or flirting as a Spanish learner can be tricky. Ultimately, the best way to learn flirting, or any manner of speaking in Spanish, is to listen to native speakers. (Boulder Spanish offers travel and immersion experiences for students at all levels.) 

Remember, in each country, region, even each city or town you visit, the native Spanish speakers will have their own phrases and idioms for flirting. We will do our best in this blog post to get you started with some basic “get-to-know-you” phrases, with a touch of affection, and perhaps, also familiarize you with what you might hear yourself from a Spanish-speaking admirer. Hey, you never know… 

So let’s begin with the word for flirting in Spanish. Coquetear – to flirt.

Por ejemplo:

Coqueteo con él porque es guapo. – I flirt with him because he’s handsome.

Ella le sonrió dulcemente y dijo, "¿Estás coqueteando conmigo?" – She smiled sweetly at him and said, “Are you flirting with me?” 

For the noun, a flirt is coqueto/coqueta. You can tease someone nicely, with a smile, by saying,

¡Eres un coqueto! – You are such a flirt!

A couple of ground rules: first and foremost, and in any situation, always be friendly and be kind. Sea siempre amigable y amable. Once you’re ready to get to know someone more and perhaps to flirt, be sincere and caring. If you get turned down or the person is not interested, be polite and gently move on. 

Begin with a genuine smile. Experts say a happy smile has a way of opening doors – una sonrisa feliz tiene una forma de abrir puertas. The person you're trying to connect with may smile back, and now you’re ready to introduce yourself. 

Hola, soy… o Hola, me llamo… – Hi, my name is…”

¿Cómo te llamas? – What’s your name?

¿De dónde eres? – Where are you from?

¿Puedo invitarte una bebida? – May I buy you a drink?

¿Quieres bailar? – Would you like to dance?

Once you are sharing a nice conversation and enjoying each other’s company, you might want to ask to see them again. You can say:  

Me gusta mucho hablar contigo y me encantaría verte otra vez. – I really like talking with you and I’d love to see you again. 

Quisiera conocerte mejor. – I’d like to get to know you better.

¿Te gustaría salir conmigo algún día? – Would you like to go out with me someday?

Me gustaría salir contigo. – I would like to go out with you.

Podríamos dar un paseo y cenar juntos, si quieres.  – We could take a walk and have dinner together, if you like.

¿Puedo tener tu número de teléfono o correo electrónico? – May I have your telephone number or email address? 

Aquí tienes mi número de teléfono. – Here’s my phone number.

In a future blog post, we’ll get into some richer romantic and flirty phrases that will help you express your feelings in a deeper or certain way, perhaps (wink, wink) (guiño, guiño)

For this early encounter with a new friend, you may want to express mutual affection. Quizás querias expresar afecto mutuo.

Nos llevamos muy bien, verdad? – We get along very well, right?

Nos llevamos bien juntos, ¿no es así? - We get along well together, don't we?

And when it’s time to go, you may want to leave a good impression or express a desire to stay in contact or be together again. 

¿Cuándo podrenos reunirnos de nuevo? – When can we meet again? 

No puedo dejar de pensar en ti. ¿Cuando te puedo volver a ver? – I can’t stop thinking about you. When can I see you again? 

Te extrañaré. ¿Podemos mantenernos en contacto? – I will miss you. Can we stay in touch? 

Te voy a extrañar – I’m going to miss you. Tip: Use this phrase when you’re parting ways with someone to let them know you enjoy being with them and will miss them after they (or you) leave.

And once you’re apart, keep the affection going, if it’s real, and use these phrases. 

Te extraño – I miss you. (This is most common in Latin American Spanish.)

Te echo de menos – I miss you. (This is most common in Spain.)

Ojalá estuvieras aquí (conmigo). – I wish you were here (with me).  

And if you hear or read these phrases from your cariño (sweetheart), you can respond with, Yo también – once again demonstrating the useful word también – la palabra utíl también.

Por ejemplo: 

Yo también te extraño – I miss you, too. Or in Spain, Yo también te echo de menos

Eso es todo por ahora. Diviértete y sigue practicando, porque nunca se sabe… 

Hasta la proxima vez.  


¡En la carrera con palabras confusas!

All languages have confusing words. We get used to them in the language we grow up speaking, but confusing words can be troublesome when learning a new language. Worst of all, they can add to confusion and frustration when we are trying to learn Spanish. 

Oh no, we don’t want to feel confused and frustrated! 

¡Ah no, no queremos sentirnos confundidos y frustrados!

Don’t worry! ¡No te preocupes!

Boulder Spanish is here to help with great instructors, an emphasis on natural conversation, and a fun and effective approach to learning, including becoming familiar with and adding some confusing words to your vocabulary with confidence – con confianza.

In this blog post, and from time to time in future ones, we’ll tackle some confusing words in Spanish so you can get used them. I will offer some methods for practicing confusing words and a few ideas to straighten out some specific examples. Hopefully, this will assist you with your Spanish so that you can keep moving forward with greater clarity and certainty.

As I’m learning Spanish, I come across new vocabulary words that confound me. It may be a word I’ve already learned but with a different meaning, or two different words that sound or look very similar but have very different meanings. !Ay, caramba!

Here’s one idea. I like to write these confusing words together on the same notecard or piece of paper. I want to look at them together and observe what makes them similar and different from each other. Next, I’ll write the meaning or meanings for each word. Now I can practice these words and their meanings in an organized collection. For me, when confusing words are presented together, I find it easier to discover the details and make distinctions of the different spellings and meanings of the words. 

One such collection of words involves the Spanish verb correr – to run. I found that some words in this collection involve the root of the verb correr, and have related meanings to correr. Other words in this collection have very similar spellings, but the words are not related to correr and do not have related meanings either. Take a look. Echar un vistazo.

Here is my collection (so far) of confusing words similar to correr, and those that begin with “corr-

Correr – to run 

Correa – strap or belt

Corredera – sliding (puerta de corredera = sliding door), rail (track), and cockroach!

Corredor - hallway

El/La Corredor(a) – runner (male/female)

Corregir – to correct 

Correo – mail 

Correoso – tough 

Correría – raid 

Corretear – to play and run around, to loiter

Corriente – common (not extraordinary), current (ongoing), running (flowing)

Corrillo – huddle, a small group of people

Corrimiento – movement, slipping, displacement, and also embarrassment (vergüenza) or shyness (timidez)

Corromper - to corrupt

Carrera – a race, a career

Carretera – highway, road

Carro – car, automobile

Cartera – purse, handbag, billfold, briefcase 

For me as a Spanish language student, seeing a collection of “confusing” words altogether in one place helps me to see how they are similar or different, related or not. Does this new word begin “corr-” or “carr-”? Does the meaning have to do with movement, running, a path or track of movement, or not?

Being able to study confusing words in this way helps me to increase my Spanish vocabulary. I can also find some useful ways to remember these similar-looking words in the future. 

Ciertamente, hay muchas más palabras que comienzan con “corr-,” pero este es un comienzo. 

Of course, there are many more words that begin with “corr-,” but this is a running start – un comienzo corriendo. 

And just for fun, Y solo por diversion

La corredora corre por la puerta corredora, recorre el corridor, y recorre la carretera con su cartera, su correo, y su correa.

(The runner runs through the sliding door, down the hallway, and down the road with her purse, her mail, and her belt.)

Tengo que correr ahora. Nos vemos pronto,


¡Tienes que creer!

For the New Year, many people are thinking ahead, committing to resolutions, setting goals, and making plans. ¡Fantástico!

Best of all, you’re learning Spanish at Boulder Spanish! That’s exciting! ¡Eso es emocionante!

And it’s also a challenge (un desafío) You’re figuring out how to put together your thoughts and ideas with the words and grammar you’re learning. It’s a lot to take on! 

To help you, we will share on the Boulder Spanish blog some useful and frequently used phrases in Spanish that can make it easier for you to jump in and start communicating. 

It’s handy to have a few go-to phrases that can help you express yourself, especially as you’re building vocabulary, conjugating verbs on the fly, and learning all those verb tenses. Believe me, I know that preterite, imperfect, and subjunctive tenses take time and lots of practice! Tengo que practicar mucho! 

So, while you’re learning all this and more at Boulder Spanish, a few useful phrases that we’ll share from time to time will help carry you through as you gain more fluency and more confidence. 

Presenting – Tener que

You’ve probably already learned the verb tener – “to have.” And the useful little word que – which means “that.” Put them together and they mean “have to.” Next, add a verb in the infinitive form after tener que. Now you’re talking. Por ejemplo: Tengo que practicar mucho! For example: I have to practice a lot!

As usual, conjugate tener for the subject (yo, tu, ella/él/usted, nosotros, vosotros, y ellas/ellos/ustedes) and for tense (present, past, future, etc.)  

Algunos ejemplos

Tengo que hacer mucho ejercicio.                               I have to exercise a lot. 

Tienes que comer tus vegetales.                                  You have to eat your vegetables. 

Él tiene que trabajar a las ocho de la mañana.         He has to work at eight in the morning.

Tenemos que hablar más a menudo.                          We have to talk more often. 

Tenéis que cuidar de vuestras mascotas.                  You all have to take care for your pets. 

Ellas tienen que conducir por las montañas.             They have to drive through the mountains.

Ella tuvo que mudarse a otra ciudad.                          She had to move to another city. 

Tuvimos que llegar muy temprano.                             We had to arrive very early. 

Ellos tuvieron que pagar mucho dinero.                     They had to pay a lot of money. 

Tendré que devolver todos los libros.                          I will have to return all the books.

Usted tendrá que decir la verdad.                               You will have to tell the truth. 

Tendremos que tomar un vuelo diferente.                 We will have to take a different flight.

In Spanish, you can simply ask a question using tener que with your tone of voice, or in writing, just add a question mark at the beginning and at the end of the sentence.

¿Tienes que irte hoy?                                                  Do you have to leave today?

¿Tienen que correr en la calle?                                 Do they have to run in the street?

You have to try it. Tienes que intentarlo. 
You have to think. Tienes que pensar
You have to practice Spanish a little bit every day. Tienes que practicar español un poco cada día. 
You have to smile when you make mistakes. Tienes que sonreír cuando cometes errores. 
And you have to believe. Y tienes que creer. Bit by bit, day by day. Poco a poco, día a día.

Hasta la próxima vez,

¿Eres Listo y Estás Listo?

Ser o Estar y Adjetivos Cambiantes 

One of the trickiest parts of learning Spanish, especially for new learners (like me), is when to use ser and when to use estar. It’s confusing because unlike English, Spanish has two ways to express “to be,” ser and estar. The differences between them sometimes feel small, but those differences are really important. Spanish speakers use each verb in specific situations and they express distinct ideas that can change the whole meaning of a statement.  

As a simple, easy-to-remember, general concept for now – Ser is used when something is fundamentally a certain way, its essence, a permanent state, and it’s unlikely to change, and Estar is used for temporary states, conditions, qualities, and locations.

In future blog posts, we will dive into more of the distinctions and ways to use ser and estar correctly. 

Trust that with time and practice, and with helpful instruction and conversations here at Boulder Spanish, your knowledge of how and when to correctly use ser and estar will become easier and feel a more natural part of your Spanish communication. 

For now, let’s examine one frequent and effective construction that is very helpful in conversation and also helps clarify the distinctions between ser and estar

Ser or Estar + Adjective (Adjetivo)

An important aspect of the ser versus estar choice includes that particular adjectives in Spanish work well with either of the verbs but these adjectives change their meaning depending on if they are used with ser or estarFascinante, ¿sí?

In English, when we want to say someone is smart or someone is ready, we use those two different adjectives, “smart” or “ready,” and the same verb, “to be.” In Spanish, one adjective, the same adjective, can change meaning depending on if the adjective is used with either ser or estar.

Por ejemplo:

Ser: Sara es lista. (Sara is smart.) – A permanent quality, the essence of Sara.

Estar:  Sara está lista. (Sara is ready.) – A temporary quality or condition of Sara. 

Learning some of these phrases using Ser o Estar + Adjetivo will actually help with the struggle of when to use ser or estar because the adjectives emphasize the choice of permanent or temporary qualities being expressed. 

And don’t forget, with Spanish adjectives, you always have to consider gender and number. The form of most Spanish adjectives changes depending on if the noun they are modifying is masculine or feminine, and also if it’s singular or plural.  

Por ejemplo:

Ser: Las familias que viven aquí son ricas. (The families that live here are rich.) – A permanent quality, feminine and plural.

Estar: Este plato de pescado está rico. (This fish dish is tasty.) – A temporary quality, masculine and singular. 

Here is a list of some of the most frequently used adjectives that change meaning when used with either ser or estar. Learning these adjectives and practicing them when you speak Spanish will enhance your conversations and improve your understanding of when to choose ser or estar. These changing adjectives will help you distinguish between more permanent (ser) or more temporary (estar) qualities of what our want to express. 

Ser: aburrido - to be boring Esta clase no es aburrida. (This class isn’t boring.)

Estar: aburrido - to be bored Mis hijos esta aburridos hoy. (My sons are bored today.)

Ser: orgulloso - to be prideful, haughty Ese rey es muy orgulloso. (That king is very prideful.)

Estar: orgulloso - to be proud Estoy orgullosa de ti. (I’m proud of you.)

Ser: borracho - to be a drunk Tú no eres una borracha. (You are not a drunk.)

Estar: borracho - to be drunk Después de tres tequilas, creo que estoy borracho. (After three tequilas, I think I’m drunk.)

Ser: distraído - to be absentminded Él es un profesor distraído. (He is an absentminded professor.)

Estar: distraído - to be distracted Estamos distraídos por la lluvia. (We are distracted because of the rain.)

Ser: interesado - to be selfish, self-interested Luke es un interesado. (Luke is a self-interested person.)

Estar: interesado - to be interested Ella está interesada en este libro. (She is interested in this book.)

Ser: libre - to be free, unrestrained Los pájaros son libres. (The birds are free.)

Estar: libre - to be unoccupied La jefe está libre este tarde. (The boss is free this afternoon.)

Ser: listo - to be smart, clever Ese gato es listo, ¿no? (That cat is smart, isn't he?)

Estar: listo - to be ready Ahora ellas están listas. (Now they are ready.)

Ser: rico - to be rich, wealthy Esa actriz famosa es muy rica. (That famous actress is very rich.)

Estar: rico - to be tasty, delicious Los postres aquí están ricos. (The desserts here are delicious.)

Ser: seguro - to be safe, secure Es muy importante que te sientas segura. (It’s very important that you feel safe.)

Estar: seguro - to be sure, certain ¿Estás seguro? (Are you sure?)

Ser: solo - to be lonely Me sentí sola el invierno pasado. (I felt lonely last winter.)

Estar: solo - to be alone Ella prefiere estar sola. (She prefers to be alone.)

Ser: verde - to be green (color), inexperienced Aquellos arboles son verdes. (Those trees are green.)

Estar: verde - to be unripe Esta banana está verde. (This banana unripe.)

Ser: bueno - to be a good person Las enfermeras son buenas. (The nurses are good people.)

Estar: bueno - to be attractive, sexy ¡Ese tipo está bueno! (That guy is hot!)

Ser: malo - to be a bad person Su madre es mala. (His mother is bad.)

Estar: malo - to be sick (people) or expired (food) Estoy malo. ¿La leche esta mala? (I’m sick. Is the milk bad?)

Ser: pesado - to be annoying Mi hermano mayor es un pesado. (My older brother is annoying.) 

Estar: pesado - to be heavy Esas maletas están pesadas. (Those suitcases are heavy.) 

In upcoming blog posts, we will look at some adjectives in Spanish that only work with ser and others that only work with estar

Today, have fun learning these changing adjectives! ¡Hoy diviértete aprendiendo estos adjetivos cambiantes!

¿Ustedes estan listos? Estoy segura de que ustedes son muy listos. 

Hasta pronto,


From time to time on the Boulder Spanish blog, we’ll take a look at a cultural or historic aspect of a Spanish-speaking country. This time, it’s Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, widely observed in many parts of Mexico on November 1 and 2, and in other locations by people with Mexican heritage, including in the United States and other areas of Spanish-speaking world. 

Día de los Muertos is a holiday to honor dead ancestors, friends, and loved ones by remembering and celebrating them through a variety of traditions. Families create altars, or ofrendas (offerings) in their homes, with photos of the deceased, bright marigolds (caléndulas), candles (velas), ornate sugar skulls (calvera de azúcar), papel picado (colorful paper banners with cut-out intricate designs), and the departed’s favorite foods (comidas favoritas) and beverages (bebidas) These ofrendas are to welcome the souls of the loved ones to return and visit during the holiday. Altars are also set up in public spaces and town squares. Families will make ofrendas at the departed loved ones’ graves, too, where all-night parties at the cemetery have everyone enjoying food and drinks, dancing, playing music, and sharing memories, stories, and laughter. 

To be clear, Día de los Muertos is not “Mexican Halloween” with spooky ghosts, scary witches, and frightening haunts. Día de los Muertos is a festive opportunity to honor and welcome beloved ancestors with joy, not dread or fear.

A loved one’s death is a sad event, but with this holiday, Mexicans understand it is also a natural part of life. While people mourn their departed loved ones, Día de los Muertos is a time to remember them fondly and happily. When the souls of the dead return to earth to share time with their living relatives, it’s a celebration through a peaceful acceptance of death as a part of all life. 

Día de los Muertos is a centuries-old cultural practice. Most historians believe that Día de los Muertos has roots in ancient Aztec rituals which celebrated the goddess Mictecacihuatl, their Queen of Mictlān (the underworld). After Spanish conquistadors invaded and colonized Mexico, the festival became fused with their Catholicism. This included moving it from early summer to autumn to coincide with their holidays of “All Saints Day” and “All Souls Day,” which also commemorate the deceased. 

The blending of these traditions evolved into the celebration of Día de los Muertos recognized today with families creating altars, decorating the graves of loved ones, bringing food and festivities to the cemetery, and lighting the way with candles and bright flowers for the dead to return to their families. 

Much like the early Aztec festival and the current incarnation of Día de los Muertos, Mexicans who live in the Yucatán peninsula region of Mexico have their own cultural festival to honor passed loved ones. Yucatán is where the Mayan culture originated and exists today. Here, people celebrate the Mayan festival of Hanal Pixan (pronounced ha-nawl peesh-awn), which translates to “Food for the Souls” in the Maya language.

Both Hanal Pixan and Día de los Muertos are celebrated on November 1 and 2, and the holidays have many similarities, but also some differences. While local traditions vary among Mexico’s regions, cities, and families, both holidays are joyful and involve setting up altars (ofrendas) and decorating gravesites to welcome the dead to return in spirit and share time with their loved ones. 

Hanal Pixan is also meant to continue the connection between the dead and living, but it has some unique Maya touches represented in different customs. For example, families do not put photos of their deceased loved ones on the altar until a year has passed since their death. Also, before Hanal Pixan begins, families clean their houses thoroughly to prepare to welcome home their deceased loved ones. Animals are put in the barn so as to not startle deceased loved ones. Candles are set along walkways to usher the deceased home to eat a special meal called Mucbipollo, also called “pib.” A cornmeal shell is stuffed with chicken, tomatoes, peppers, onion, and seasonings; wrapped in banana leaves; and cooked in a “pib,” or underground oven. Like the dead loved ones Hanal Pixan celebrates, mucbipollo is buried and then brought out to share with family. 

If you have a chance to visit Mexico during these festivals (y para practicar tu español, por supuesto), you’ll experience age-old and unique customs. These Mexican traditions of joyfully uniting with deceased loved ones is a beautiful way to celebrate life and the memories and souls of loved ones who’ve passed on. 

Celebre a sus seres queridos muertos y a toda la vida. 

Here are some of the items you may see on altars and at gravesites during Día de los Muertos and Hanal Pixan in Mexico:

Nos vemos pronto,


¡Por Supuesto Que Quieren Saber Como Decir

“Of Course” en español!

As you learn Spanish with Boulder Spanish, you’ll receive instruction on and practice with vocabulary, verb tenses, grammar, and more. But it’s through beginning to speak Spanish with others that you’ll want to have a few helpful phrases on hand. Saying such phrases in conversations brings friendliness and nuance to your speaking. You’ll communicate better, sound more natural, and feel more confident when speaking Spanish.

In this blog post and others to come, we’ll add some of these essential phrases to your growing Spanish vocabulary.

In addition to some courteous basics that you likely already know, such as sí, no, por favor, gracias, de nada, hola, and adiós, adding variations of “of course” to your go-to phrases in Spanish will give you new ways to express agreement and affirmation. You’re also likely to hear native Spanish speakers frequently use these alternative ways of saying “of course.” Once you know these synonyms, you can enrich your interactions with Spanish speakers and communicate more effectively.

Por supuesto is the most common way for most Spanish speakers around the world to say, “of course.” In formal situations, por supuesto is a polite way to express agreement. In casual conversations, por supuesto is a warm way to say .


El jefe (The boss): ¿Puede traerme los documentos cuando los termine? (Can you bring me the documents when you finish them?)

El secretario (The secretary): Por supuesto! Estoy casi terminado con ellos. (Of course, I’m almost finished with them.)

Un amigo: (Male friend): ¿Quieres ir conmigo a la fiesta de baile? (Do you want to go to the dance party with me?)

Una amiga: (Female friend): ¡Por supuesto! ¡Necesitarás una pareja de baile! (Of course! You will need a dance partner!)

In informal conversations por supuesto can be made more casual by saying ¡claro que sí! or simply ¡claro! These translate to mean “sure” in English.


Ana: ¿Quieres un poco de mi pizza? (Do you want some of my pizza?)

Jorge: ¡Claro! Yo tengo hambre. Gracias. (Sure! I’m hungry. Thanks.)

Desde luego is another useful synonym for “of course,” and it emphasizes more certainty.


El jefe (The boss): ¿Es posible que pueda completar este informe antes del lunes? (Is it possible for you to complete this report by Monday?)

La empleada: (The employee): Desde luego, sólo me queda una sección más por escribir. (Of course, I only have one more section to write.)

Un hijo (A son): ¿Mamá, puedes ayudarme con mi tarea? (Mom, can you help me with my homework?)

Una madre (A mother): Desde luego, quiero que te vaya bien en la clase matemáticas. (Of course, I want you to do well in math class.)

Sin duda and sin duda alguna translate directly to “without a doubt” and “without a single doubt,” and both phrases are used for “of course.” They are often used to express definite affirmation.


Agricultor 1: Mira estas nubes. ¿Piensas que lloverá pronto? (Look at these clouds! Do you think it will rain soon?)

Agricultor 2: Sin duda, lloverá esta tarde. (Of course, it will rain this afternoon.)

These phrases, claro está, como no, and por cierto are also handy phrases to state agreement and to say “of course.”

Plus, this group of adverbs that can also be used in many situations for nicely agreeing and to say “of course.” Try using efectivamente (indeed), ciertamente (certainly), naturalmente (naturally), evidentemente (evidently), and claramente(clearly).

Be aware when using these words if the context and conversation are more formal or informal. This is where practicing with Spanish speakers will help you learn the speaking patterns and idioms.

Different Spanish-speaking countries and regions will use some of these synonyms for “of course” more than others. Listen to conversations in Spanish in various settings and situations and listen for the distinctive ways people say, “of course.”

Having a few options to politely or enthusiastically agree will add depth and variety to your Spanish skills. While in class, your community, or traveling, practice with other Spanish learners and native speakers and soon you will feel confident – por supuesto que lo harás.

El lenguaje es el vehiculo del pensamiento.  

Language is the vehicle of thought.

Here you are on the Boulder Spanish website reading this blog post. Perhaps you’re wondering, “Why should I learn Spanish?” or “¿Por qué debo aprender el español?”

Lyry here, your blog writer and also a Boulder Spanish student to help answer this valid question. After all, there are lots of ways to spend your valuable time. I get it. 

So, I did some research, spoke to other Spanish learners, and thought about this question broadly. And now, I present to you, The Benefits of Learning Spanish, or 

Y ahora, les presento a todos, los beneficios de aprender español.  

I believe you will find these ideas useful. And you know what else? Once you get started, you will discover your own great reasons, too.

Let’s start big. Really big. Realmente grande.

Simply stated, you can connect to a lot of people and go far in this world speaking Spanish.

For many of us learning Spanish is a way to connect with new communities and experience different cultures. We want to consider many of points of view and understand more about the philosophies and ways of life of other people. Spanish is an excellent way to create bridges between cultures, relationships between families, and friendships with individuals. 

Next up, Traveling! ¡De Viaje!

Yes, Spanish is spoken throughout Mexico, Central America, South America, and in Spain. But you can also find Spanish speakers in the Caribbean (Cuba, The Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico), Europe (with significant numbers of Spanish speakers in France, Portugal, and Italy), the Philippines, and even on the African continent (Equatorial Guinea, and regions in Algeria and near Morocco)! That’s a lot of places to go and each will have its own attractions and charms.  

Closer to home, speaking Spanish is a great way to connect in your community, or 

El español es una excelente manera de conectarse en su comunidad. 

With business colleagues, community leaders, shop owners, school boards and school teachers, politicians, restaurant and store employees, librarians, and health care professionals – there are people of all ages and backgrounds in your community to speak Spanish with. And doing so gives you deeper connection and another level of engagement with your community. 

Happily, it’s never too early or too late to learn Spanish, or 

Felizmente, nunca es demasiado temprano ni demasiado tarde para aprender español. 

And at any age (I’m older than 60!), it’s really good for your brain. Your brain’s structures and connectivity improve and you are able to think differently, faster, and better in all kinds of ways. Scientific research shows that brains of language learners have greater cognitive growth and improved processing skills, which enhances attention, functioning, memory, new ideas, and communication. Research also shows that you don’t have to be fluent – simply the effort of learning a new language helps your brain resist diseases, such as dementia, and function healthier for longer.

Yes, to learn Spanish you will study grammar and vocabulary. But soon, you will be able to express yourself and communicate well enough to be meaningfully engaged. Each step in learning Spanish makes the next one bigger and better. Momentum happens. 

Best of all, learning Spanish is fun! 

¡Lo mejor de todo es que aprender español es divertido! 

Whether you’re learning in person or online, or one-on-one or in a group, it’s a rewarding and joyful experience. There’s also a beauty in the words and phrasing of Spanish. The sound of Spanish is musical and rhythmic. By the time you’re speaking your first phrases in Spanish, you will feel enriched and really cool. Genial! 

For me, learning Spanish is challenging and also an adventure. I like the prospect of speaking Spanish when I travel and in my own community, too. I like creating greater cultural understanding and social connections – and getting a cognitive workout. I appreciate the many positive impacts that learning Spanish gives me. I’m growing as a person and exploring and interacting in new ways and all of this improves my quality of life. 

Whatever your goals may be, learning Spanish opens doors in your community, city, and world – and also in your mind. 

Abre las puertas y entra. 

Introducing the Boulder Spanish blog! Or, El blog de español de Boulder!

Varon, the owner and director of Boulder Spanish, and the other instructors wanted a new way to connect with current students and potential future students. They thought, “What about a friendly, fun, interactive blog written by an actual Boulder Spanish student! Or, ¿Qué tal un blog amigable, divertido e interactivo escrito por un estudiante real de español de Boulder?

Knowing me to be a writer in his Intermediate I class, Varon asked me if I’d like to write the blog. I said, Yes! What a great idea! Or, ¡Sí! Qué buena idea!

Hola! I’m Lyrysa, although everyone at Boulder Spanish calls me, “Lyry.” I’ll be your contact for this blog and I’ll put up a new blog post about every two weeks. Most of all, I want to advocate for Spanish learners. Come one, come all. Ven a aprender español con nosotros. 

I’m a journalist and a writer with a passion for learning Spanish. I love the language, the many Spanish-speaking cultures, the variety of music, and all the Latin dances. And then there’s the food and drinks! Or, ¡Y luego está la comida y las bebidas!

Here’s part of my story. I’ve been a Spanish language student many times and for many years. It never caught on and I could barely introduce myself in Spanish, much less have a real conversation. But I remained determined. And now, for the first time, I’m actually speaking, hearing, reading, and understanding Spanish better than ever before. This proved to me that the instruction I’m receiving with Boulder Spanish is effective. Learning Spanish with Boulder Spanish is engaging and also a lot of fun, and I think that makes a difference. Or, yo creo que eso hace la diferencia. 

After all, according to Varon, this is a key part of the Boulder Spanish mission. Varon and the other instructors are committed to achieving tangible results for every student while fostering a community and having fun. Boulder Spanish believes that significant learning occurs when we – instructors and students – connect on the human level through language learning.

To this end, Boulder Spanish offers a clear roadmap for learning Spanish efficiently and with a minimum of frustration. (In a future blog post, I will offer some ideas of how to manage the frustration that might occur when learning Spanish or any new language.) Varon and the other Boulder Spanish instructors can provide this type of effective learning and structure by the knowledge they’ve accrued from decades of teaching experience. Varon and many of the other instructors at Boulder Spanish are also learning other languages themselves. This gives them the awareness and perspective of what it’s like to both desire and struggle to learn a new language. 

My plan with this blog is to research and write about topics that you may want to know about, even if you don’t know it yet. 

For example: 

Finally, I want to hear from you. I care about what your interests, concerns, and ideas are. Let’s make this blog an ongoing conversation. 

If you have something you’d like to know or understand better about Spanish or Spanish learning, let me know! I will research and tackle the topic here in this blog, with the assistance of the professionals (Varon and the Boulder Spanish staff).

Maybe you are traveling to a Spanish-speaking country and want some travel tips – I’m here to help. 

Is there a word, conjugation, or maybe a Spanish grammar point you’d like explained in a simple way, such as how do I know when to use estar or ser? When do I use preterito or imperfecto? (Don’t worry, Spanish past tenses make all of us learners crazy, at least at first!)  

This blog is intended to be a Boulder Spanish community resource. Let’s share and learn together. Please leave a comment below and tell me what’s on your mind. I’ll do the legwork to track down answers, stories, tips, and ideas. Then I’ll present them in an upcoming blog post. 

Every couple of weeks, here in the Boulder Spanish blog, you will find something new, review something familiar, or maybe just learn something you hadn’t even thought about before. We’re a community and we will benefit from supporting each other and exchanging ideas. 

My belief is that sharing together will help all of us to figure it out as we make mistakes and laugh, find joy in the learning, make new friends, and feel more confident as we speak Spanish better and better. Or, nos sentimos más seguros a medida que hablamos español cada vez mejor.


Until next time, or hasta la proxima vez,