Spanish Learning Tips: Listening to Music

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Tips on how to use Spanish music as a language learning!

Spanish Learning Tips: Listening to Music

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Spanish Grammar Lesson On The Topic Of Possession

English-speakers learning Spanish often assume that Spanish functions more or less exactly like English, except with different words.  Therefore, many beginners will express the thought,

“I am my mother’s daughter”


“Yo soy mi madre’s hija.”


There is no apostrophe-s construction in Spanish.

There is no ’s construction in Spanish.

As we have seen and will continue to see, Spanish is a totally different system of expression.  While it has certain similarities and common roots with English, it is important to keep English grammar in your English brain.

So how would one express “I am my mother’s daughter” in Spanish?  Well, if you had to say it in English without using ’s, how would you do it?

“I am the daughter of my mother.”

It sounds awkward in English, but the original meaning of the sentence remains, and no erroneous or non-existent structures have been inserted into the sentence.  Can you translate that sentence word-for-word into Spanish?

“Yo soy la hija de mi madre.”


“Hija de mi madre” is the ONLY correct way to express “My mother’s daughter” in Spanish.  Questions 1-5 at the end of this lesson will help you practice this point.

Possessive Adjectives

Possessive adjectives exist to avoid repetition in speaking of the things that belong to people.  The Spanish and English systems are very similar with regard to possessive adjectives—in fact, unlike most adjectives in Spanish, possessive adjectives come before the noun, just as they do in English!

The possessive adjectives are:

Español English

mi my

tu (notice: no accent mark!) your (familiar)

nuestro our

su his, her, its, their,

your (formal and plural)

Notice that su has multiple applications, whereas the other three possessive adjectives have only one meaning each.  The meaning is usually apparent in the context of the sentence: if the whole paragraph is about someone’s brother, it’s assumed that su means his.  It isn’t always obvious, though, and in order to be more specific, these structures are also used instead of su:

de él                                         his (or its, masculine noun)

de ella                                       her (or its, feminine noun)

de ellos                                     their

de usted                                   your (formal)

de ustedes                                your (plural)


¿Dónde está su libro?  (Whose book?)

¿Dónde está el libro de ella?  (Oh, her book.)

Except for coming before the noun, possessive adjectives follow the general rules for noun-adjective agreement:  mi, tu and su have singular and plural forms, and nuestro has singular and plural, masculine and feminine forms.

Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns are used both in Spanish and in English to replace the possessive adjective and noun—instead of, “This is her pencil” say, “This is hers.”  The possessive pronouns are:

Español English

el mío** mine

el tuyo                            yours (familiar)

el nuestro ours

el suyo his, hers, its, theirs,

yours (formal and plural)

** Just like Spanish nouns, Spanish pronouns can be singular or plural, masculine or feminine.  For example, mine may be translated as el mío, la mía, los míos, or las mías, depending on whether the noun to which it refers is masculine, feminine, singular or plural.  Observe:

Su novio es menor que ella; el mío es mayor que yo.

Esta computadora no es de la escuela, es mía.

(Definite articles are omitted after ser.)

Tus padres son jóvenes, los míos no.

Sus hermanas son más altas que las mías.

All four possessive pronouns function this way.


Translate these phrases to Spanish:

1)      David’s brother

2)      the man’s wife

3)      the children’s parents

4)      Susan’s son

5)      the dog’s tail

Fill in the blanks with the possessive adjective or pronoun indicated in parentheses:

6)      (My) ______________ hijos van a jugar fútbol esta noche.

7)      ¿De verás?  ¿Cuantos años tienen (your)______________ hijos?

8)      Tienen nueve y once, igual que (yours) _________________.

9)      Creo que (our) ____________________ niños tienen los mismos maestros.

10)  ¿Verdad?  ¿Cómo se llaman (their) ______________________ maestros?


1)      el hermano de David                             6)  Mis

2)      la esposa del hombre                            7)  tus or sus (Ud. form not required)

3)      los padres de los niños                          8)  los tuyos or los suyos

4)      el hijo de Susan                                    9)  nuestros

5)      la cola del perro                                  10)  sus

The Future Indicative Tense

This Learning-Spanish Grammar lesson covers the Future Indicative Tense for regular verbs.  Similar to English, the Future Indicative Tense in Spanish is used:

1.         To express a future action or condition.

Juan no hablará durante la misa.

(Juan will not speak during the mass.)

2.         To express something that is probable and phrased in a question.

¿Qué será lo que te preocupa?

(What is bothering/preoccupying you?)

The conjugation pattern is standard.  Unlike other tenses, the future tense in Spanish is simple, as its ending is the same in -ar, -er, and -ir verbs.  Its conjugation is as follows:

Hablar (to have)

yo habla (I will speak)                                   nosotros hablaremos (we will speak)

tú hablarás (you will speak)                              ellos hablarán (they will speak)

él hablará (he will speak)                                 ellas hablarán (they will speak)

ella hablará (she will speak)                              ustedes hablarán (they will speak)

usted hablará (you will speak)


Ellos hablarán mucho del amor.

(They will speak a lot about love.)

Durante la cena, hablaré con mis tias de como cocinar bacalao.

(During dinner, I will talk to my aunts about how to cook salted codfish.)

Beber (to drink)

yo bebe (I will drink)                                     nosotros beberemos (we will drink)

tú beberás (you will drink)                                ellos beberán (they will drink)

él beberá (he will drink)                                   ellas beberán (they will drink)

ella beberá (she will drink)                                ustedes beberán (they will drink)

usted beberá (you will drink)


Durante la fiesta Marcos beberá mucho ron.

(During the party, Marcos will probably drink a lot of rum.

Los bebés beberán mucha leche.

(The babies will drink a lot of milk.)

Escribir (to write)

yo escribi (I will write)                                   nosotros escribiremos (we will write)

tú escribirás (you will write)                              ellos escribirán (they will write)

él escribirá (he will write)                                 ellas escribirán (they will write)

ella escribirá (she will write)                              ustedes escribirán (they will write)

usted escribirá (you will write)


Escribiré una gran novela.

(I will write a great novel.)

En la universidad escribiremos muchos ensayos.

(In the university we will write many essays.)

**Notice how the above conjugations follow the same pattern: é, ás, á, emos, and án.

With this conjugation pattern in mind, here are a few more examples of the future tense for regular verbs:

¿Qué será lo que me quiere decir Luís?

(What is it that Luis wants to tell me?)

Mis amigas y yo viajaremos al Perú este verano.

(My friends and I will travel to Peru this summer.)

Regresaremos del Perú en agosto.

(We will return from Peru in August.)

Sé que nuestro viaje a Machu Pichu nos fascinará.

(I know that our trip to Machu Pichu will fascinate us.)

La madre de Josefa irá con nosotros.

(Josefa’s mother will go with us.)

¿Cuándo será que me escribirán mis padres de sus vacaciones?

(When will my parents write to me about their vacation?

Después de su viaje, las mujeres volverán a Nueva York.

(After their trip, the women will return to New York.)

Now let’s try a few exercises.  Translate the following into Spanish.  The answers follow the exercise.

1.         This summer I will travel to Europe.

2.         Juana’s family will go to Santiago in April.

3.         This course will teach us Spanish.

4.         Roberto will be sad to leave his country.

5.         Someday, you will be a good doctor.

6.         Next week, we will have an exam.

7.         Enrique’s parents will buy a big cake for his birthday.

8.         What is it that worries you?

9.         What can this mean?

10.       Where will you live next year?

1.         Este verano viajaré a Europa.

2.         La familia de Juana irá a Santiago en Abril.

3.         Este curso nos enseñará el Español.

4.         Roberto estará triste al salir de su país.

5.         Algún día, tú serás un buen doctor.

6.         La próxima semana, tendremos un examen.

7.         Los padres de Enrique comprarán una torta grande para su cumpleaños.

8.         ¿Qué será lo que te preocupa?

9.         ¿Qué será lo que significa esto?

10.       ¿Dónde vivirás el próximo año?

The Preterite Tense

The preterite tense is another topic that seems to confuse English speakers of Spanish. English speakers learning Spanish have a tendency to confuse the preterite with the imperfect and vice versa. Both tenses describe actions that took place in the past. But I think English speakers just learning Spanish have a tendency to confuse the two because in English in certain instances we sometimes use the same form of a verb to describe an action that took place in the past. But in Spanish, in the same instance, you cannot use both the preterite or the imperfect. Only one would be correct.

For example, in English , we can use the past tense of the verb “to go” (i.e. “went”) to describe two different actions that took place in the past.

1. I went to the shopping mall three times.

2. When I was young, I went to the shopping mall.

(Note: In English, for number “2” you could also say “When I was young, I used to go to the shopping mall.)

Both sentences use the same verb “went” to describe the action that took place in the past. But in Spanish, you cannot use the same verb tense. In the first sentence, you must use the preterite of “ir” (fui), and the imperfect verb tense (iba) in the latter.

Yo fui al almacén tres veces.

Cuando yo era joven, yo iba al almacén.

We will cover the “imperfect” verb tense in greater detail in a future lesson.  But for now, think of the “imperfect” as a verb tense used to describe “how things used to be” or to describe an action that was continuous or habitual in the past.

The preterite verb tense is generally used to tell what happened (1) during a fixed period of time (either stated or implied), (2) a specific number of times, (3) or during an enclosed period of time. Here are some examples.

(1) During a fixed period of time:

Ayer compré un martillo.

Yesterday, I bought a hammer.

(2) A specific number of times (either state or implied)

Él perdió mi destornillador dos veces.

He lost my screwdriver two times.

I went to the hardware store.

Yo fui a la ferretería.

(It is implied that you went to the hardware store one time).

(3) During an enclosed period of time.

You hammered the nail for an hour.

Tú martillaste el clavo por una hora.

The following are some regular verbs in the preterite tense.

“AR” Verbs (hablar)

Yo                               hablé

Tú                                hablaste

Él/ella/usted                  habló

Nosotros/nosotras        hablamos

Ellos/ellas/ustedes         hablaron

“ER” Verbs (beber)

Yo                               bebí

Tú                                bebiste

Él/ella/usted                  bebió

Nosotros/nosotras        bebimos

Ellos/ellas/ustedes         bebieron

“IR” Verbs Vivir

Yo                               viví

Tú                                viviste

Él/ella/usted                  vivió

Nosotros/nosotras        vivimos

Ellos/ellas/ustedes         vivieron

Here are some examples.

1.         Last week you bought a saw.

La semana pasada, tú compraste una sierra.

2.         Yesterday, the man needed a hammer.

Ayer, el hombre necesitó un martillo.

3.         They used the rake nine times.

Ellos usaron el rastrillo nueve veces.

4.         The brother-in-law put the leaves in the bag.

El cuñado metió las hojas en la bolsa.

5.         This morning the women sewed the clothes.

Esta mañana las mujeres cosieron la ropa.

6.         Last night, I covered the dessert.

Anoche yo cubrí el postre.

Now let’s try some on your own. The answers follow.

1.         The son-in law ate shrimp two times.

2.         Today they decided to tell the truth.

3.         Did you use the hoe in the yard today? (Familiar)

4.         The daughter-in-law turned on the oven a two o’clock.

5.         Last summer, the soldiers marched in the parade.

6.         He suffered a lot in the war this year.


1.         El yerno comió camarones dos veces.

2.         Hoy ellos decidieron a decir la verdad.

3.         ?Usaste tu el azadon en el jardin hoy?

4.         La nuera encendió el horno a las dos.

5.         El verano pasado los soldados marcharon en el desfile.

6.         El sufrió mucho en la guerra este ano.

The Present Progressive Tense

The progressive tense is used to describe actions that are in progress at a specific moment in time (the present). In English, it is the auxiliary verb “to be” and the present participle. In layperson terms, the “present participle” means verbs with “ing” attached to the end of the verb.

The present tense is used much more frequently in English than it is used in Spanish. As in Spanish, we use it to talk about actions that are in progress “now” or “right now.” But in English, we also use the present progressive tense to describe habitual actions or to speak in general. For example:

I am living in the suburbs.

I am working in the post office.

I am taking Spanish lessons.

In Spanish, the present tense is used to emphasize that an action is taking place now. But many Spanish grammar books do not indicate that there is another use for the present progressive tense. And that the present progressive tense can be used to stress that an action is continuous.

I learned this one from trial and error. As embarrassing as it is to admit, a five year old little girl corrected my Spanish grammar. That’s how I found out.

The first time it happened it happened with an adult. I was trying to tell an adult that I am learning Spanish. Since the Spanish grammar books taught me that the Spanish present progressive tense is only used to describe actions that are in progress “right now,” I did not use the present progressive tense to say that “I am learning Spanish.” Because I was not learning Spanish at that specific moment. At that very moment, I was trying to talk to her in Spanish.  So I said “Aprendo español.” She politely corrected me and said “se dice estoy aprendiendo español”.

At the time, I thought that maybe she was wrong and that my textbook was right.  So I tried telling my next door neighboor’s five year old that “Yo aprendo español” who proudly corrected my Spanish.  She told me: you’re supposed to say ‘“yo estoy aprendiendo español.”

Forming the Present Progressive Tense

In Spanish, we form the present progressive tense by conjugating the verb “estar” with the present participle. You form regular “ar” present participles by dropping the “ar” and adding “ando.”  And you form regular “er” present participles by dropping the “er” and adding “iendo”

Let’s try it.

My grandmother is eating pork chops.

Mi abuelita está comiendo chuletas de cerdo.

The uncle is working.

El tío está trabajando.

The father-in-law is dancing.

El suegro está bailando.

The stepmother is cooking the lobster.

La madrastra está cocinando la langosta.

The grandson is doing nothing.

El nieto no está haciendo nada.

You are washing the windows.

Tú estás limpiando las ventanas.

Now let’s try a few on your own. The answers appear at the bottom.

  1. The nephew is selling cars.
  2. The daughter-in-law is writing a letter.
  3. The sister-in-law is receiving a lot of gifts.
  4. The grandchildren are playing.
  5. The cousin is buying a tie.


  1. El sobrino está vendiendo carros.
  2. La nuera está escribiendo una carta.
  3. La cuñada está recibiendo muchos regalos.
  4. Los nietos están jugando.
  5. El primo está comprando una corbata.