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Like every culture weathered by time and shaped by history, Mexico has a language of its own. Yes they speak Spanish but what you hear in the streets of Mexico doesn't sound like what you hear in any other Spanish-speaking country. You'll hear words that despite not being standard Spanish, are quintessentially Mexican and having them in your active vocabulary is key to blending if you ever see yourself in that country in the near future. Words like güey and cabrón define Mexico as much as, or perhaps even better than, tequila and mariachi. If you are fortunate enough to have a decent number of Mexicans in your community (likely if you live in any major American city), you're probably familiar with some of them already. But if you aren't, here's 6 of them to get you started. Learn not only what they mean but also how to memorize them effortlessly with super-easy mnemonics and tricks so that you have them ready when you need them.
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Always Spanish

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Is it Xalapa? Or Jalapa? The argument seems unlikely to settle until Rapture but here's a fun fact that can make you sound a tad more like a local if you know what I mean: It's Jalapa to everyone, including the government...but Xalapa to the natives of the city. Ever been to Mazatlán? If you did a few centuries ago, you'd have come across some funky Aztecs...and a whole lot of deers! That's right, and the reason it was named Mazatlán. Aztecs spoke Nahuatl, the language that would later come to heavily influence the Mexican flavor of Spanish and change it forever. Mazatl is Nahuatl for deer and the -tlan suffix translates into "a place abundant in..." Now you can easily dissect any place name ending in -tlan and figure out that it's gotta have plenty of something. And there's a whole lot of such names. Take, for example, Ocotlan (rich in pine trees), or Coatlan (rich in snakes). Just learning a handful of suffixes like -tlan can help you figure out nearly all of those cryptic place names in Mexico that seem nearly impossible to comprehend otherwise. Be it -oacán, -co, -apan, or any of the half a dozen others, every name has a story. This article not only tells those stories but also aims to leave you feeling like a Nahuatl scholar...at least to your friends!
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Subjunctive. The very name is notorious for striking terror in the very hearts of countless Spanish learners across the world. And then we have an even more terrifying imperfect subjunctive. This is the grammar nazi way of referring to most situations where you'd use the subjunctive in the past tense. Take for instance, "If I were you, I wouldn’t do it." Here, the "were" bit is your imperfect subjunctive. Using it is easy and so is using it in the right conjugation. There are tricks to learn everything about this and retain it all without any efforts. What makes the imperfect subjunctive tricky is also the two sets of conjugation. This article attempts to demystify everything about this elusive yet extremely common concept of Spanish grammar. So get ready to supercharge your Spanish with some super exclusive tips here...
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Did you know that Posada (Spanish for "inn") comes from the same Latin root that gives us the English word "pause"? The analogy shouldn't be hard to wrap your head around since pausing your day and resting is what inns are made for. This is what Joseph and Mary were scouting for in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago during these days. And this is what the Latinos reenact every year in a pivotal Christmas tradition known as "Las Posadas." Speaking of Latinos, here's another fun fact for you: Poinsettias are the flowers Catholics the world over associate closely with Christmas. But that's not the fun fact. The fun fact is that not only is this flower native to Mexico but the very tradition of poinsettias being "Christmas-y" is too! And there's a pretty cool story behind how it all started. Learn more about this and other such cultural quirks of Latin American Christmas while absorbing some important Christmas terms in Spanish without breaking a sweat in this article.
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Always Spanish

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Like every culture weathered by time and shaped by history, Mexico has a language of its own. Yes they speak Spanish but what you hear in the streets of Mexico doesn't sound like what you hear in any other Spanish-speaking country. You'll hear words that despite not being standard Spanish, are quintessentially Mexican and having them in your active vocabulary is key to blending if you ever see yourself in that country in the near future. Words like güey and cabrón define Mexico as much as, or perhaps even better than, tequila and mariachi. If you are fortunate enough to have a decent number of Mexicans in your community (likely if you live in any major American city), you're probably familiar with some of them already. But if you aren't, here's 6 of them to get you started. Learn not only what they mean but also how to memorize them effortlessly with super-easy mnemonics and tricks so that you have them ready when you need them. Remember: You lose them if you don't use them!
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Depending on where you live, "to pull" can be rendered in Spanish as "tirar," "halar," or "jalar." Although the most formal way to go would be "tirar," you will sound better assimilated if you try one of the other two when in Latin America. Are they perfectly synonymous? In the context of pulling, yes. So how do we pick the right word for the right place? Both "halar" and "jalar" are well understood in Latin America but "jalar" does enjoy a much better currency in Mexico and around. Argentina and Uruguay side with Spain on this issue and prefer "tirar." On the other hand, old-timers in Canary Island and most parts of Andalusia in Spain prefer "jalar." This article not only charts what word sounds better where but also shows you ways to memorize all three of them in a blink using our signature trick: Mnemonics!
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There are many such pairs in Spanish: Ser vs. estar, para vs. por, mirar vs. ver, and so on. This article attempts to unravel one such pair to you and make it easy to remember for good: Comprender vs. entender. The good news is that this pair isn't as big a deal-breaker as the ones I listed above. But they do have differences and knowing them can only help you sound more native. TL;DR: When you know Spanish well enough to stay afloat and are still stumped when someone says something idiomatic to you, you can understand but not understand what was just said. In other words, you can "entender" but not "comprender." In other words, you can decrypt the words and understand the literal meaning of what was just said but you still fail to grasp its real connotation...the idiomatic meaning. That's why they say comprender implies a deeper level of understanding as compared to entender. But how do you remember this difference? There's a very easy trick...actually there's two. Read on for more...
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Have them in circles
38 people
jin kim's profile photo
Maria del Rosario Rueda's profile photo
Rose Andy's profile photo
Carolina Pineda's profile photo
Gary Paulson's profile photo
Trolman, Glaser & Lichtman, P.C.'s profile photo
Terry Ngai's profile photo
Jodie Mae Evans's profile photo
Birgit Schultz's profile photo
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Tips and tricks to learn Spanish the lazy way
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The social gateway to the radical, unorthodox Spanish acquisition blog, Always Spanish. Feel free to comment and discuss your opinions on the content and help build a strong community of the most adventurous language learners around the world!