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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.

dar

DAR is the thirty-eighth most common word in the Spanish language.

A short, snappy, monosyllabic, top drawer irregular verb.

Why top drawer? – because DAR and all of its irregular parts are one of the keys to learning Spanish and the fact that it crops up so often, being the thirty-eighth most frequently word in the Spanish language, makes learning the verb a “no brainer” (as my students might say).

DAR means to give in English and is linked into the English word donate.

My trusty Collins English-Spanish dictionary has some 25 different meanings and shades of meaning. It previous posts I have talked about the usefulness of learning how to read the dictionary and DAR is a case in point – if you drift through the various and take ,say, one and use it and remember it, slowly but surely the quality and breadth of your language will improve.

Before giving some examples of the use of DAR, I give the key first person irregularities of the verb.

DOY – I give

DI – I gave

These do not follow any real pattern as they are irregular and, as such, simply have to be learned and committed to memory. As a tip, learn them in context or in a phrase that you know you will be wanting to use quite frequently.

Here are two examples of the use of DAR

Voy a dar un bocadillo a Juan – I am going to give a sandwich to Juan

Voy a dar un paseo – I am going for a walk (literally I am going to give a walk..a nice example of an idiomatic phrase.

There it is – DAR, to give in English. An irregular must-know high frequency very common Spanish verb.

 

TODO is the twenty-first most common word in the Spanish language.

I always remember a few years back one of my pupils said “to do” instead of TODO. Such is the imprint  and the power of the maternal tongue.

So, happy Spanish language learners, this word, the twenty-first most common word in the Spanish language is TODO not ” to do”. (If you have been following this series of podcasts and posts the word for “to do” is coming up shortly. I know you cannot wait – it is, in fact, high frequency word number 24. I will say no more – hacer is a cracking and confusing two syllable irregular verb).

TODO is a an adjective, a pronoun and is in particular neat verbal constructions.

TODO can mainly be translated into English as all.

In my previous post (the twentieth most common word in the Spanish language LO I talked about the value of reading the dictionary. I will know give an example of that. The next entry to TODO in my dictionary is todopoderoso. The first that all good linguists do is split a word up into its constituent parts – so, here we have TODO poderoso. So the first part means all, and usually, when there is some context around the word, that helps to give the meaning away. If, therefore you came across the following:-

el Todopoderoso está en el cielo – the Allmighty (all-powerful) is in heaven.

Here are some examples of the use of TODO

todo el mundo – all the world i.e. everybody

todo o nada – all or nothing

todos los coches – all the cars

For those on the other side of the pond (I am writing and podcasting this from the UK), the word coche in Spanish Spanish means car. The word “carro” in Spanish Spanish means “cart”. Such are the difficulties presented by the Atlantic divide. Carro thus potentially is a false friend (un amigo falso) depending on where you are in the world.

There we have it. TODO, the twenty first most common word in the Spanish language. One to know – that’s for sure!

Why not pop details of any Spanish false friends you know in the form below. The more the merrier!

To get us started – actual does not mean actual in Spanish, it is current, present day, as in el gobierno actual – the current government.

ir

IR is the twenty-ninth most common word in the Spanish language.

And, oh boy, this irregular verb is a “biggy”. It is a must know, a no brainer a simple got to know …I think you get the gist!

This little, seemingly innocuous, one syllable word which hardly bothers the eye and flips off the tongue in the battering of an eyelid (caution! – metaphor mixing) is an essential building block and step in the Spanish language learning process.

IR, with a pleasant little trill on the end of the verb (or rolling r), a sound which is not easy for the maternal tongue English speaker (with perhaps the exception of the Scots), means “to go”.

This little monosyllable certainly packs some linguistic punch. My Collins English-Spanish dictionary has a whole maze of meanings and subtleties attached to it. Again, this is where reading the dictionary can again come into its own (click on the tag below, reading the dictionary for other posts where I have talked about this particular topic).

But, to cut to the chase, and to keep it simple, the basic meaning of IR is “to go”.

Key parts of the verb are:

VOY – I go / I am going

IBA – I used to go / I was going

FUI – I went

HE IDO – I have gone

I have deliberately only used the first person ( I ) in the different key tenses. Note that each part of the verb does not bear any real resemblance to the infinitive IR. And, come to that, notice how the English is also, apparently,  “all over the place”. (go, went, gone) – but that is another story for another website / blog. If however, you would like to follow this up, I would suggest that verbix.com is a very good place to start.

Here are a couple of examples of the use of IR and its various parts.

Voy a ir a España – I am going to go to Spain.

Fui a Argentina – I went to Argentina

He ido a Francia – I have been to France

Iba a Bolivia – I used to go to Bolivia.

Well there it is – the muscly, mighty, powerful one syllable with the trill, IR. It is the twenty ninth most common word in Spanish.

For those competitive types amongst you, I am offering a free half an hour online Spanish lesson for the first person to respond to the question below. ¡Vamos!

hacer - to do, to make

 HACER is the twenty-fourth most common word in the Spanish Language.

And, oh boy, this two-syllable irregular verb and all of its parts is an absolute must learn for all students of the Spanish language. There is no way of getting around this one – my best advice is to know it and know it well. The dictionary will reveal all of the delights and shades in meaning of this ubiquitous two syllable verb.

A quick count in my dictionary gives well over thirty possibilities of translation of HACER. My aim, though, in these posts is to give a simple overview of the most frequent words in the Spanish language and their meanings and usage and not to compete with the dictionaries (who can anyway?). My favourite dictionary is the Collins English-Spanish dictionary. I have both the hard bound book version and the app on the iPad. Both are superb, but I am now a real fan of the iPad app because it is so quick and easy to use.

HACER, then, in simple terms is best translated into English as “to do” or “to make”.

¿Qué haces? – what are you doing / making?

I am going to leave you with just this one example today.

My best advice and, as a top language learning tip, is to become very aware of this particular verb and note down its various uses as and when you come across it. Its irregularity can be seen as a problem – to me its irregularity and lack of pattern is part of its charm and stems from the bashing about it has received from human tongues (and minds come to that).

So, HACER is the twenty-fourth most common word in the Spanish language. It is a verb which will repay getting to know intimately.