Archive

High Frequency Words in Spanish

sobre

Sobre is the forty seventh most common word in the Spanish Language.

This lively two-syllable is both a masculine noun and a preposition. My Collins Spanish -English dictionary gives the following key meanings of the word.

Sobre as a masculine noun means an “envelope”

Sobre as a preposition means “on”.

It is clear though that most of the use of sobre will be with its meaning of “on”.

Here is an example of each of the meanings.

¿Dónde está el sobre? – where is the envelope? Sobre, therefore, is being used as as a masculine noun.

Sobre la mesa – on the table    In this case, sobre is being used as a preposition.

And here is a sentence, putting both of the previous examples of both the noun and the preposition into action. Such fun!

El sobre está sobre la mesa – The envelope is on the table

To conclude – sobre is the 47th most common word in the Spanish language. It doubles up as both a masculine noun and a preposition. Such are the varied lives led by these high frequency Spanish words!


mi

Mi is the fourty eighth most common word in the Spanish language.

Mi, without an accent, simply means “my”. In this context, it is, in technical grammatical terms, a possessive adjective.

with an accent means “me”. Here is being used a pronoun.

Have you ever really noticed how these slight vowel changes have a huge impact on the meaning of the word and its function in the sentence? The human mind and ear are amazing bits of equipment!

When mi is acting as a possessive adjective, it is mi in the singular and mis in the plural.

Here are examples:-

Mi reloj – my watch

Mis bolis – my biros, my pens

And here is an example of the use of mí, with an accent.

Para – for me.

So, there it is, number 48 in the top 100 Spanish words. A short, punchy, monosyllable with two meanings to its name. All power to its elbow!

que

 

Qué is the forty-fifth most common word in the Spanish Language.

Qué with an accent is a Spanish word which gets British listeners, especially of a certain age, in a bit of a twist. If you are familiar with Monty Python, one of the stars of Monty Python, John Cleese had a hit comedy series called Fawlty Towers. Fawlty Towers was a disaster of a hotel and one of the hotel’s employees was a hapless Spanish waiter called Manuel who repeatedly said in most episodes “¿qué?“. The word for a while became a catch phrase.

Qué is a one syllable word which simply means “what?”.

Qué is an interrogative pronoun, which is an academic way of saying that it helps you to ask questions. And, of course, it is not a coincidence that the English word questions begins with the same three letters as qué It is also recorded as being an adjective and an adverb.

Notice that there is an accent on the eé. The purpose of the accent is to differentiate qué (what) from que (that). My trusty Spanish dictionary, the Collins one, which also has an iPad app,gives a number of different meanings of the word qué, but the simplest and easiest translation is “what”.

Here are a couple of examples of the use of qué

¿Qué dices?What are you saying?

¿Qué día del mes es hoy? What day in the month is it?

Qué comes in at number 46 in the top 100 Spanish words. I have a funny feeling that this particular word is committed easily to memory, especially for those people who are familiar with John Cleese and his immense and amazing comedic masterpiece Fawlty Towers. And, as they say in Spanish “¡qué va!”

saber

 

SABER is the 45th most common word in the Spanish language.

SABER is what appears to be an innocuous two-syllable verb. OK, I admit that it is irregular in certain parts and that in itself can cause some challenges. SABER causes a lot of discussion and heart-ache in Spanish lessons – this is because the word, or verb, means to know in English. However, there is also another word in Spanish which also means to know, namely CONOCER. Given the fact, therefore, that there are two words in Spanish and only one in English, gives rise to a certain amount of confusion and difficulty for the English speaker.

In such circumstances, I think the best approach is to keep it simple. SABER means to know a fact. CONOCER needs to know, in the sense of to be acquainted with.

As mentioned above, SABER is an irregular verb and I list below the key irregular parts of verb in the first person singular (the “I” form).

means I know …… this is the first person singular of the present tense.

Supe means I knew ….. this is the first person singular of the preterite tense.

Here are a couple of examples of the use of SABER.

The first one is in the first person singular of the present tense, and the second one is in the first person singular of the preterite tense.

que Londres es la capital de Inglaterra – I know that London is the capital of England.

Supe que Madrid es una ciudad muy encantadora. – I knew that Madrid is an enchanting city.

So there it is in all its complicated glory, SABER, a dual syllable irregular verb in Spanish. It causes problems, and it is well worth looking up in the dictionary – my trusty Collins Spanish English dictionary has always held me in good stead, why not give it a go? In fact, this may well be another of those opportunities to read the dictionary, which I have referred to other posts before.

Et voilà! – the 45th most common word in the Spanish language – SABER to know.

mucho

 

Mucho is the 44th most common word in the Spanish language.

For English speakers mucho does not cause many problems. In fact, mucho does what lots of English speakers want to happen all of the time if you cannot think of the Spanish word – take an English word and “lob” an “o” on the end.

Mucho is an adjective and an adverb. My Collins Spanish – English dictionary runs to some 7 or so definitions. But given its similarity to the English word “much”, its translation does not really cause much (!) difficulty.

The translation comes down to “a lot” or, of course, much.

Here is a simple example of the use of mucho.

Tengo mucho trabajo – I have a lot of work.

Much to do about nothing then! – Mucho the forty fourth most frequently used word in the Spanish language.

vez

Vez is the forty fourth most common word in the Spanish Language.

Don’t be put off by that Z in the word. The pronunciation of the word varies, according to where you are in the world. In the north of Spain and Madrid, for example, the word would be pronounced “veth”. This is known as the “ceceo”. In the south of Spain and throughout Latin America the word would, in fact, be pronounced “ves”. This is an example of the “seseo”.

Vez is a feminine noun and the best translation into English is “time”.

My trusty Collins Spanish-English dictionary has four different translations for the word  vez, but the following couple of example give a good feeling for its meaning.

Note the spelling change when the z is replaced by a c in the plural.

Muchas veces – often (literally – many times)

Una vez fui a Madrid – once (literally – one time) I went to Madrid

Vez is the 43rd most common word in Spanish words. This is definitely one to lock away and learn – not once but forever!

muy

Muy is the 41st most common word in the Spanish language.

This little word really does pack a punch underneath its unassuming one syllable outside.

The word is most easily translated into English as “very”.

My trusty Collins Spanish English dictionary has a further three possible translations for the word but the easiest one to remember is simply “very”.

Muy is an adjective.

Here are a couple of examples of the way that the word is used in context.

Es muy inteligente – he / she is intelligent

Rafael Nadal es un tenista muy bueno

So there it is – muy is the 41st most common word in the Spanish language. It is well worth learning for all Spanish learners.

stevenfrenchlanguages.com

SIN is the 42nd most common word in the Spanish language.

It is one of those words which are learned by lots and lots of Anglo-Saxon children learning how to say still water – the expression is “agua sin gas”.

The translation for SIN is “without”.

SIN is a preposition and my trusty Collins Spanish English dictionary gives three translations for SIN, but the one to retain for the Spanish student in the initial stages is “without”.

SIN has got nothing to do with the English word sin. It is interesting to record, however, that in the past a Cardinal of Manila in the Philippines was, in fact, called Cardinal Sin. ¿Interesante – no?

Here are some examples of the use of the word SIN

Agua sin gas – still water i.e. water without bubbles

¡Sin estudiar, aprendes nada! – without studying, you learn nothing!

Number 42 in the list then – it would be a sin not to know this Spanish monosyllable! Sorry – I could not resist it!

el

Él (with an accent) or el (without an accent) is the fortieth most common word in the Spanish language.

This is a very interesting monosyllable. It is one of those words that people who have not even learned any Spanish will at least recognise.

El certainly packs a punch – small though it is, this word means “the” in English. But it can also mean he – but when it means “he”, the little word has an accent.

Here are a couple of examples of the use of both with and without accents

El libro es interesante – the book is interesting.

Él es el mejor – he is the best

So there it is, a tale of well-known monosyllable, with and without an accent.

cuando

 

Cuando is the thirty-ninth most common word in the Spanish Language.

This two-syllable word is both a conjunction and an adverb.

The easiest and best translation for cuando is “when”.

My trusty English – Spanish dictionary gives a whole range of translation possibilities, but the simplest and most useful one to keep in mind is “when”.

When writing this post the well-known song “dime cuando, cuando, cuando“, has been rattling around in my head – I am sure that you know it. Well, perhaps it has not quite been rattling around in my head – it is a little more pleasant than that, but it is definitely proving to be difficult to move from my mind.

Having had a closer look at the dictionary, cuando, without an accent, carries more the sense of the English word “whenever”. However, when there is an idea of a question behind it, although it makes no difference when you are speaking, when you are writing you have to add an accent – cuándo.

Here are a couple of examples of the use of cuando both with and without an accent.

Ven cuando quieras – Come when(ever) you want to…there is no idea of a question here

Desde cuándo – since when? ..clearly with the idea of a question

So, cuando, or is it cuándo, the thirty-ninth most frequently used word in the Spanish language is a tale of a well-known song and an accent.