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Archive for the ‘Language Tips’ Category

by Jake Beus

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December 30th, 2011

From all of us here at Visual Link Spanish, I’d like to wish you a very happy New Year. 2011 has been a fantastic year. Personally, I’ve enjoyed being a very small part of your lives this past year as I’ve tried my best to give you tips, updates, discounts, and anything else I could think of to help you on your journey to learn Spanish the right way. I hope that I have helped motivate you to continue your journey into 2012.

The best way to learn Spanish is obviously to live in a Spanish speaking country and be completely immersed in the Spanish language. That is not possible for most of us, so we do the best we can using our native tongue while learning Spanish at the same time. I highly recommend that you spend at least 15 minutes each day using the Visual Link Spanish software or some other method of learning. Cramming sessions are just as effective as they were in high school; they will help you pass the test, but you will soon forget the majority of what you crammed into your brain. I encourage you to set a goal to make time for learning every day.

With that I will leave you for the year and let you begin your preparations for the New Year. Have fun and I hope you are able to bring in the New Year with the people you desire. And of course, please be responsible and safe with your New Year’s celebrations. Plan wisely and enjoy!

by Dave Clark

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December 19th, 2011

Pregunta de la semana/Question of the week:

Dear Dave i have a really important question for you
alot of times when i hear people speak spanish then dont add the word yo to quiero or yo to the word tengo …

alot of times i well hear

quiero ir ( i want to go ) or alot i hear this word
tengo pregunta para ti ( i have a question for you )

but in spanish i though you had to add the word yo following the word quiero or tengo or ect…beacuse i think wouldent it make more sense to say yo tengo pregunta para ti ( i have a question for u ) or yo quiero ir ( i want to go ) an now i could be wrong and thats why i am asking ..

also when i speak spanish here is one more example where somtimes i find my self in a sticky situation for example i say usted tiene/ tienes comida porque tengo hambre
but my friend will say tienes comida porque tnego hombre
…they say tienes mean ( you have ) but dont u have to add the usted or tu ..to the word tiene ? to make it say you have ?

i hope when your reading this ..,my message is not confuseing to you ..but im just wondering alot do i have to add the words …yo to quiero ..or add the word yo to tengo for i have …or usted to tienes ..like this is all confuseing to me cuz they just say quiero…tengo…tienes
ect ..ect.. .


In Spanish, personal pronouns (yo, tú, él, ella, etc.) are completely optional. I realize this is a complete paradigm shift from how we speak in English (or how they do it in French or other languages). Often, native Spanish speakers with talk to you and not use them and sometimes, when you are new to Spanish, it will leave you wondering whom they are talking about. After a while you get used to it and realize whom they are talking about.

Basically, here’s how they do it – for everyday conversation, they’ll usually leave the personal pronoun off. For example, if someone said to someone else, “¿Quiere ir?” it could mean, Do you want to go? (formal) or “Does he or she want to go?” The way to tell the difference is by their body language or the context of what they are talking about. If they they are looking directly at the person, it probably means “Do YOU want to go?” If they are motioning to someone else or were previously talking about someone else, they mean “Does he/she want to go?”

Also, the personal pronouns are used when you want to emphasize. For example, if someone asked a group of people, “Who wants to go?” (¿Quién quiere ir?) If I really wanted to go (and only a few people could go) I would say, “Yo quiero ir.” (I want to go.)

Hopefully all of that makes sense and answers your question.

¡Hasta luego!



by Jake Beus

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December 16th, 2011

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It’s that wonderful time of year when there is not a lot of time left for you to find Christmas presents for those special people around you. There are millions of people just like you. Don’t feel bad. Next year you will plan better. Next year I will do a better job of planning as well. Do the people around you have a desire to learn Spanish? Have they ever mentioned that learning Spanish would be nice? If so, here are a few things on Amazon.com that I recommend:

I can personally recommend all of these learning tools because I have used them. The best kind of Christmas presents that you give and receive are those that require some thought and those that will last. Give yourself and others the gift of learning. I’m not saying that everything you give needs to be educational (I really do love getting new socks on Christmas), but learning new things is a big thing that makes life more exciting and rewarding. Nobody can tell you that you are too old, too young, or too stupid to learn Spanish. If you have a desire to learn, then you should learn.

More than anything, get the gift giving taken care of. Get it off your list so that you can spend a little bit of time relaxing and spending time with family and friends. It may do some good to do a little volunteering as well. Think about those who are less fortunate than you. Don’t just focus on yourself this holiday season. If you have any comments or other things you would like to suggest, please use the comment section.

by Jake Beus

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November 7th, 2011

Certain Spanish verbs may be immediately followed by the infinitive form of another verb. An infinitive verb is essentially an un-conjugated verb. This is not a full list, but here are some of the major conjugated Spanish verbs that may be followed by infinitive verbs and some examples:

querer | to want
Quiero ir al parque. (I want to go to the park.)
Quieren ir a Florida. (They want to go to Florida.)

deber | be obligated to
Debes comer más verduras. (You should eat more vegetables.)
Deben pagar la multa. (You have to pay the fine.)

preferir | prefer to
Prefiero comer solo. (I prefer to eat alone.)
Prefieren vivir en las montañas. (They prefer to live in the mountains.)

esperar | hope to
Espera hablar con Ron Washington. (He hopes to speak with Ron Washington.)
Espero conocer a John Stockton. (I hope to meet John Stockton.)

saber | know how to
Mi hijo no sabe manejar. (My son doesn’t know how to drive.)
Mi padre no sabe cocinar. (My father doesn’t know how to cook.)

necesitar | need to
Necesito dormir. (I need to sleep.)
Necesitas llamar al médico. (You need to call the doctor.)

encantar | love to
Me encantaría cantar con ella. (I would love to sing with her.)
Me encanta nadar en el océano. (I love to swim in the ocean.)

pensar | plan to
Pensamos salir temprano. (We plan to leave early.)
Pienso hablar con él. (I’m planning to speak with him.)

gustar | like to
Me gusta jugar baloncesto. (I like to play basketball.)
Me gusta comer ensalada. (I like to eat salad.)

poder | be able to
No puedo ir contigo. (I can’t go with you.)
Podemos salir a las ocho. (We can leave at eight.)

To master Spanish verb conjugation, try our Spanish verb courses with a free 7 day trial!

by Dave Clark

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November 2nd, 2011

Note: For more Visual Link Spanish questions, please comment at the bottom of any blog post, and we’ll answer them here on the blog.

Level 3 Question:

Hola Dave,  I just started on level 3 and am a little confused on a couple of things. I’ve noticed that on some infinitive verbs you have place an “a” as in “to” before some verbs and not others. I thought that the infinitives included the “to”. For example, nadar means “to swim” but you have placed an “a” before the verb. Just not sure when to do that and when not to do that. I also noticed that in level 3 you have gone to “le” instead of “lo” and “les” instead of “los”. Again, not sure when to do that.  I would appreciate some clarification on this. I’m sure you’ll get some more questions from me as well. I am really enjoying the course and have recommended it to several people. Hasta la proxima.—–Anonymous User—-

Hola Amigo!

That is a great question and one of my favorites to answer. In Spanish, there are many times when you use two verbs together. For example:

Quiero comer (I want to eat), necesito caminar (I need to walk), puedo hablar (I can speak).

However, there are certain initial verbs that always have a preposition afterwords if followed by another verb. The prepositions or “helping words” really don’t mean anything, they simply have to be put on in Spanish to “sound correct”. Here are a few examples:

Vamos a comer (we’re going to eat), tengo que caminar (I need to walk), enseñar a jugar (to teach to play), aprender a leer (to learn to read).

The verbs that do this just have to be memorized. The verbs that do it will always do it.

Book Recommendation to Help:

I highly recommend the 501 Spanish Verbs Book. It has a section that shows the verbs that use prepositions and many other useful things. It is my favorite non Visual Link Spanish language learning book. It shows all of the conjugations and tenses for 501 Spanish verbs.

Here’s a link to the book on Amazon:

To answer your question about “le” vs “lo”, “le” is an indirect object pronoun and “lo” is a direct object pronoun. Now, I realize that is pretty technical, so I’ll give you a few examples. Here is the brief and simple answer. For a more in-depth answer, please see our Online Digital Learning Center which has many in-depth lessons on grammar.

Direct object pronouns use “lo” (the “lo” is what receives the action).

Don’t hit him.   No lo pegues.

She loves him.   Lo ama

She hates him.  Lo odia.

Indirect object pronouns use “le” (the “lo” changes to “le”): If you can put the word “something” after, then use the “le” which indicates is is an indirect object pronoun. Here are some examples:

I want to tell him. Quiero decirle (I want to tell him “something” – you can add “something” on afterward so you use “le”.)

She should ask him. Debe preguntarle. (She should ask him “something”.)

We are going to send him the letters. Vamos a mandarle las cartas. (In this case, “something” could take the place of “the letters” so you use the indirect object “le”.)

That is a brief answer. However, this topic goes much more in-depth that this and is covered well in our Digital Learning Center.

Hopefully that answers your questions.

¡Hasta luego!

by Jake Beus

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October 19th, 2011

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Spanish Subject Pronouns

A subject pronoun replaces a noun that names the subject in a clause or sentence. You place a subject pronoun at the beginning of a clause or sentence and before the verb. Pronouns replace nouns that are understood either because of previous use or from context. Here are the Spanish subject pronouns (also called personal pronouns) in English and Spanish.

I | yo
you | tú (informal)
you | usted (formal)
he | él
she | ella
we | nosotros (masculine)
we | nosotras (feminine)
you (as in you all) | vosotros (informal, masculine)
you (as in you all) | vosotras (informal, feminine)
they | ellos (masculine)
they | ellas (feminine)
you (as in you all) | ustedes (formal)

I will write more about Spanish verb conjugation in a future post, but for now it is important to understand that Spanish verbs must be conjugated. I suggest trying out the Visual Link Spanish Verb Courses so that you can master Spanish verb conjugation. You can get a free 7-day trial download and have access to the courses for 7 days by visiting the Visual Link Spanish Free Trial Download page.

It is often not necessary to say or write the subject pronoun in Spanish, because the conjugated form of the verb indicates the subject. In Spanish, it is only necessary to include the subject pronoun for one of the following reasons:

1. Clarity. In the third person, including the subject pronoun allows you to differentiate between él and ella or ellos and ustedes. Look at these examples:

They need to listen. | (Ellos) necesitan escuchar.
You (all) need to listen. | (Ustedes necesitan escuchar.
He needs to listen. | (Él) necesita escuchar.
She needs to listen. | (Ella) necesita escuchar.

2. Emphasis. To emphasize the difference between two subjects, even though they are both understood, include the subject pronoun. Look at these examples:

I live in an apartment, but you live in a house! | ¡Yo vivo en un apartamento, pero tú vives en una casa!
I want to learn Spanish, but you want to learn French. | Yo quiero aprender español, pero tú quieres aprender francés.

I hope you learned at least a little bit! There will be more Spanish grammar lessons coming soon!

by Dave Clark

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September 21st, 2011

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As I was working, a few years ago, with our linguists and software developers to create our Level II Introductory Verb course, I spent hours and hours researching a Spanish Verbs List that we could use in the course that would have the most common Spanish verbs.

Spanish Verbs List
162 Most Common Spanish Verbs

Spanish Verbs List
(Click image for verbs list)

This Spanish verbs list contains 162 of the most common Spanish verbs. It is organized first by “regular” verbs – “ar”, “er” and “ir” (alphabetically). Then, I’ve categorized them by all the types of irregular verbs in the present tense. I believe we’ve covered every category of irregular verbs in Spanish. The stem-changing verbs have the letters that change underlined with the letters they change into in parenthesis. Finally, the Spanish verbs list contains a great little list of the most common reflexive verbs – both regular and irregular.

If you want to try a 7-day trial download of our Level II verbs course, you should be able to learn all the present tense verbs (including irregulars) for free during the 7-day trial (if you push yourself). The software contains classroom-style lessons that teach you all the verbs and conjugations.

To learn how to conjugate all the verbs in the “Spanish Verbs List” in 5 major tenses in Spanish, try our free download below:


Spanish Introductory Verb Conjugation Download

Visual Link Spanish - Level II (Introductory Verbs)

Free 7-Day Trial

Topics Covered: Present Tense, Reflexive Verbs, Present Progressive, Present Perfect (Have), Preterite Tense, Direct Objects

Verbs Learned: 162 Most Common Verbs

Time to Download: 15-90 minutes depending on your modem speed

Start Free Spanish Download



Enjoy learning Spanish! I love sharing Spanish – ¡Es lo mejor! (It’s the best!)

by Tyler

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September 9th, 2011

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For those of us who are just beginning Spanish, sometimes it helps to learn a few key phrases and some pronunciation tips. Here are a list of important phrases for beginning students of Spanish:

Hola, me llamo (name) – Hi, my name is (name)

Mucho gusto.  – It’s nice to meet you.

¿Cómo te llamas? – What is your name?

Quiero ir al cine. – I want to go to the movies.

¿Dóonde está el (aeropurto, banco, playa)? – Where is the (airport,bank,beach)?

norte – north

sur – south

este – east

oeste – west

Here are a few quick pointers on pronunciation:

D – The D in Spanish is  alot softer then the English D. It’s what we call “interdental”.  You say it between your teeth, like how we English speakers say ‘the’.

R –  The Spanish R is like our D…it’s hard…If you want to avoid sounding completely gringo do not say a Spanish R as we do in English with words such as Round or Rowboat.

LL- This letter does not exist in English. In Spanish, there are two ways to pronounce it:  Either as a ‘y’, as in yarn, or like a soft ‘j’, as in jam. Typically in Mexico, the Carribean and Central America, it is pronounced like a ‘y’. Keep in mind, however, that it can be mixed. It’s often pronounced almost like a soft ‘j’.  The ‘j’ pronounciation is used in South America, particularly in Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay. This has a more definitive ‘J’ sound than you might here in Mexico or Central America.

by Dave Clark

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September 7th, 2011

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“How Do You Say in Spanish?”

 The phrase, “How do you say in Spanish?” is “¿Cómo se dice en español?”

For example, if you are talking to a native Spanish speaker and you want to learn how to say “cat”, you would say, “¿Cómo se dice cat en español?”

This is a very useful phrase that can help turn any Spanish speaker into your personal tutor (provided they know some basic English words).

“How do you say in Spanish” is the same if you’re talking about plural words or singular words. For example, “How do you say cars in Spanish?” would be “¿Cómo se dice cars en español?”

If you want a literal breakdown of what it means, the word “cómo” means “how”, the phrase “se dice” means “is it said”, and “en español” means “in Spanish. So, if you said “¿Cómo se dice bike en español?, the literal translation would be “How is it said bike in Spanish?”

In summary, “How do you say in Spanish?” is “¿Cómo se dice en español?”

Now, for a related tip, if you hear a Spanish word and you want to know what it means, a super-useful phrase is, “¿Qué quiere decir?” For example, if you hear the word, “montaña” and you don’t know what it means, you could say, “¿Qué quiere decir montaña?” which means “What does montaña mean?” The literal translation is, “What does it want to say montaña?” (That’s one that really doesn’t translate well into English but native Spanish speakers use it all the time.)

Both of those useful phrases and many more are found in the Visual Link Spanish course, to get it free, just go to the free learn to speak Spanish download page.

Hopefully those language tips give you a little confidence in conversing with native speakers. Practice them and let us know how it goes when you try them out. We’d love to hear your comments on our blog.

by Jake Beus

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August 29th, 2011

Balancing Act

When people are learning Spanish, they typically tell me that they can speak but not understand, or they tell me that they can understand but can’t speak. When I began learning Spanish, I could speak but not understand. Most people tend to understand better than they can speak, especially in the beginning.

There needs to be a better balance in the learning process. People tend to focus too much on speaking or listening. There are the extra studious who focus too much on writing. Rarely will I encounter somebody who has focused too much on reading. The best way for you to learn Spanish would be to move to a Spanish-speaking country and become completely immersed in the language. However, most people are forced to study the language and learn it without going to a foreign country.

I recommend that you spend at least 20 minutes per day 5 times per week studying Spanish. It is important for you to have a balance in your study time, so this is how you should break it down:

-Speaking 35%
-Listening 35%
-Reading 20%
-Writing 10%

Speaking 35%. Speak as much as you can, but make 35% of your dedicated study time focused on speaking. Talk to yourself. Meet native speakers who will help you in exchange for you helping them. Read aloud. Ask questions. You will surely make mistakes, but do your best and continually improve.

Listening 35%. When you first learn Spanish it seems like native speakers talk a million miles per hour. Don’t be afraid to ask them to slow down. If you consistently listen to Spanish, you will understand much faster because your mind will start to think in Spanish. Just relax and listen. Don’t let your mind freak out.

Reading 20%. I recommend that you read aloud as much as possible. This will help your reading and pronunciation skills at the same time. You will surely learn a lot of new vocabulary, but in the beginning you should do your best to understand the gist of what you’re reading.

Writing 10%. If you are training for business and you will be doing a lot of writing  in Spanish, then you should probably make this a bigger percentage of your study time. If not, then you should practice writing for about 10% of your study time.

If you agree or differ on my philosophy of learning Spanish, please leave a comment below.

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