Sunday, January 2, 2011

day two

It’s the beginning of day two and I already know I’m in trouble. Claudia keeps telling me I have to stop with the negative thinking, but I took 5 years of French (one of it in college) and spent time in France, and can’t really speak a word of it. That’s why I figured if I just focused on learning 8 words a day really well I can at least have the minimum requirements to speak the language. But today’s list presents a number of problems (se, su, por, con, haber, no, para, como):

- What’s the difference between “por” and “para”? Both mean “for”. So far (its early in the day still) is that if there’s a human on the other side of “for” then use “para”. “El libres es para James” versus “por favor”. (I could be wrong on my “El libres” but I’ll worry about that later).

This page:

lists some more uses but they are hard to remember. I’m sticking with “Para” is used instead of “in order to” and “by” and “for the benefit of”, and “por” for just about everything else.

- “Haber” is hard. Apparently it means “to have” but also can be used (as an impersonal) for “to be” like “there is”, “there are”. I’m sticking “to have”: for now and the conjugations:

o Yo he

o Tu has

o El/Ella ha

o Nosotros hemos

o Ellos han

I skipped the plural “You” again (like I did on “Ser” yesterday) because I’m assuming people will know what I mean if I just use “tu”instead of vosotros and just chalk it up to me being “gringo”.

Once I have the conjugations I go to “” and try out different various on “Yo he un libro” to see if it spits back what I think it should spit back. “I have a book” in this case.

- Some of the words on today’s list are easy: no (no), con (with)

- “su” I just have to remember the expression “mi casa es su casa” my home is his home. But is it also “your home”? I guess if I’m speaking to someone directly, its “your” but if I am talking about someone else, its “his”. Also, when I was first typing this into “” I typed “me casa” (since I haven’t learned “mi” yet) and it spit out “marry me”. MUST be careful with that one. Here’s some more on “your” versus “his”:

- “Se” I don’t get at all. It could mean “him” or “Himself” but why not use “El”? I think I’m only going to use it, initially, in any context like this: subject-verb-himself. Like “He ‘se’ sees” – He sees himself. I’m a little confused on this one. Must review with Claudia later.

- “Como” means “like” or “how”. But I guess its not the verb “to like” (in fact, it’s the verb “to eat” but that’s later on the list). I think its on the most common used words list simply because everyone says when they greet each other, “how are you” – “como estas?” but its also used as “like” in analogies. Like “he is like her” is “el es como ella” (its an odd phrase but I only know the verb “ser” until now). I guess I don’t understand at the moment why “estas” means “you” in “como estas?” Any ideas?


  1. Apparently some alternative responses to Como Estas other than "bien":

    Bastante bien. - Eh, good. (Good enough, well enough.)

    Dos tres. - Eh, good.

    Más o menos. - More or less (so-so)

    Muy bien. - Really well.

    ¡Buenísimo! - Great!

    Mal. - Bad.

    Malísimo. - Really bad. (Horrible.)

  2. Yo he un libro” to see if it spits back what I think it should spit back. “I have a book” in this case.

    Should be: Yo tengo un libro.

    He estudio espanol hace anos porque mi esposa es venezolana! Vivia en Caracas seis anos trabajando y fiestiando tomando much escoses y aprendiendo como decir groseria

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  4. Rich, thanks. So whats the difference between "haber" and "tengo"? Do both mean "to have"?

  5. Haber is past tense
    Tengo is present

    I have a cup
    I had a cup

  6. learned another word via twitter and @retheauditors: "Andale!" which means (slang) "Right on!" or "NOW you got it!"


  7. Hmmm, correcting fmi81's earlier comment. Apparently "haber" is the verb for "have been" (like "I have been eating") and "tengo" is "to have".

  8. That's weird ; I'm learning spanish through english and I'm a french Canadian! Some words sound a lot like French though. I should be good with it.

  9. >What’s the difference between “por” and “para”? Both mean “for”.

    Same thing here with Russian where "за" and "для" both mean "for". My overly simple rule is to use "за" when "for" actually means "in exchange for" and use "для" for everything else. Well, the dative case can also indicate "for" as well...

  10. Well, "for" meaning "in order to" would be a fourth situation in Russian, translating to "чтобы". So maybe Spanish isn't that bad. :-)

  11. "Tener" means to have, as in having an actually thing (a book, a friend, a secret).
    "Haber" means "have" only in the sense of having done something (e.g., I have studied, She has eaten...).

    Por vs. para is difficult for everyone; I've studied the differences several times and still get it wrong in some instances. Have you checked out It has a lot of free information, including grammar, vocab, etc.