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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.

porque

Porque is the thirty-seventh most common word in the Spanish language.

Porque without an accent means, quite simply, “because” in English.So this is one word in all – not two. This can cause confusion for foreigners writing in Spanish – porque, without an accent and only one word is not to confused with por qué (two separate words and with an accent on the qué) which means “why”. If it helps at all, I remember the por qué as a little translation “for what” i.e. why.

Porque, then, meaning “because” is a conjunction according to my trusty Collins English-Spanish dictionary.

For the sake of completeness, I will add that el porqué (one word, accent on the e) means the reason, that is to say that el porqué is a noun. Looking in the dictionary, I particularly like “no me interesan los porqués” – I am not interested in the whys and wherefores.

Here is an example of the use of porque –

No puedo estudiar porque tengo mucho tabajo en la oficina durante el día – I cannot work because I have too much work during the day.

The thirty-seventh most common word in the Spanish language is therefore a tale of accents and one words or two.

Remember – porque, no accent, one word,means because.

ya

Ya is the thirty-fifth most common word in the Spanish language.

This monosyllable is described in the dictionary as an adverb and a conjunction.

My trusty Collins English-Spanish dictionary has a variety of translations – but the key translation to remember is “already”. The dictionary, of course, then develops this translation a lot more, but, in essence, “already” is sufficient for our purposes.

Here is an example of the use of ya

Ya lo he visto – I have already seen it

Well, there it is the thirty-fifth most common word in the Spanish language. Short,nice and precise.

SI

Si is thirty third most common word in the Spanish language.

It is also one of the words that most people recognise – even those who have never learned a word of Spanish.

This monosyllabic sibilant has two potential meanings in Spanish.

My Collins Spanish English dictionary gives quite a substantial write-up, with some ten differences of meaning and shades of meaning.

Si (without an accent) means “if”

 (with an accent) means “yes”.

Here are examples of the different uses of Si

Sí, señor – “yes, sir”

Si lo quieres – tómalo – If you like it, take it!

And, here is an example (with potential to confuse).

, sé que si significa “if” en inglés – Yes, I know that si means “if” in English.

What a short, sexy, and sibilant lexical item. Si or weighs in at number 33 in the top 100 Spanish words.

o

25 done – 75 to go!

This is also a bit of a milestone in this series of posts and podcasts – one quarter of a century completed, and three quarters of a century to go. The reference to a century is prompted by my love of cricket. For the initiated, you will know what I am talking about. For the unitiated, don’t worry!

Producing these podcasts and writing the posts is, I suppose, a lot like like learning a language. Lots of baby footsteps, consisitently completed over a series of time. Slowly, but surely, building onwards and upwards. As I am sure a Chinese philosopher once said – each journey starts with one step. Each of these high frequency words in Spanish is just a simple baby step. One, after one, after one. But learning a language is not a race, but something to be savoured and enjoyed over time. Indeed, it is an ongoing task – perhaps the task of a whole life time to really become imbued with the subtleties and human frivolity of language.

And, life is full of surprises, some big, some little. Here is one that has just happened. I use the iPad app Wordfoto to produce the, erm, word photos at the beginning of each post. The one I have just created can be read as “or” on the background but also “oro”. And, of course, “oro” means gold in Spanish. ¡Qué suerte! (what luck).

…and now, back to the script!

O is the twenty fifth most common word in the Spanish Language.

What a lovely rounded word! This is really a one syllable cracker of a word. Short, simple and to the point and entirely appropriate its meaning, and, come to that, its purpose in life.

O is a conjunction.

means “or”. It can also be an abbreviation for “west” (oeste in Spanish).

O can be used in exactly the same way as in English.

Here are some examples of its use:-

Tiene 7 o 8 años – he is 7 or eight years old.

There it is then – short post entirely befitting a short word – o the twenty fifth most common word in the Spanish language.

mas

Más is the twenty-third most common word in the Spanish Language.

Más is a comparative adverb and helps form the comparative (e.g. bigger in English) and the superlative (the biggest). In essence, the word can be translated as “more” in English.

Mas without the accent on the a is a conjunction and means “but”. The use of mas tends to be more literary. Pero is the more common word for but (see Spanish high frequency word number 22 – pero the twenty second most common word in the Spanish language).

You may well ask, what is all this about with and without an accent. Well, I would not worry too much. Increasingly, the Spaniards themselves are becoming relaxed about the use of accents – but the grammar pendants (and, on occasion, I have been known to be a bit of a grammar pedant myself) would still prefer for accents to be used (especially when the accent changes the meaning of a word) accurately and appropriately.

Here are some examples of the use of más

España es más barata que Inglaterra – Spain is cheaper than England (literally more cheap)

Juan es más grande que Roberto. – Juan is taller than Roberto (literally more tall)

Juan es más inteligente que Juanita – Juan is more intelligent than Juanita.

There we are – mas (but) without the accent and más (more) with the accent – the twenty third most common word in the Spanish language.

Do you have any thoughts about the use of accents in Spanish? Why not comment below?

High Frequency Words in Spanish – 4

y

Coming in at number four in the top 100 High frequency Spanish words is “y”.

“Y” means “and” in English.

It is a conjunction.

My dictionary lists five different types of use, but for the beginner, let’s face it again this is an obvious simple must-learn. “Y” is a sine qua non (for non latin speakers, and there are quite a few out there given the Roman empire’s demise a few years back, that means indispensable)

Example of use:

Voy a Madrid y a Londres. (I am going to Madrid and London). Another teacher type note – notice that London changes to Londres in Spanish.

The pronuciation is “ee”.

So there it is number four in the top one hundred Spanish words.

The clip below is an audio version of this post.