Viernes de Vocabulario: Lo que más me gusta

Instituto Cultural Oaxaca

Instituto Cultural Oaxaca (Photo credit: hmerinomx)

Viernes de Vocabulario: Me gusta

This Friday we have chosen a few words from our last google hangout in which we learned how to express likes and dislikes about something.

Me gusta el Instituto Cultural Oaxaca y sus clases de Español por Google +

Me gustan las tlayudas – I like tlayudas – In this case the verb “gustar” is referred to taste. In this sentence we are expressing a like for a traditional Oaxacan dish which is a big tortilla with beans, avocado, tomato and cheese.

Me gusta cocinar – I like to cook – In this sentence the verb “gustar” is referred to like

Me gusta ir de día de campo o me gusta hacer un picnic.  I like to go on picnics. 

Me gusta hacer trabajo voluntario – voluntariado – I like volunteering.

Me gusta salir con amigos – I like to go out with friends

Me gusta hacer crucigramas – I like to do crossword puzzles

Me gusta ir al cine – I like to go to the movies

Me gustan las caricaturas, pero no me gustan las películas de terror, por que no puedo dormir en las noches.

Me gusta usar netflix por que tiene millones de películas, se pueden ver en casa o en la computadora.

Streaming: Transmisión, Transmitiendo. Netflix transmite sus películas por internet

Maullar – Maullido – El sonido que hacen los gatos.

You can also watch our last Google Hangout with our teacher Angeles Olivares.

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For Spanish Language Classes at Instituto Cultural Oaxaca visit



Ser y Estar

Del español al inglés, casi siempre se puede traducir estar por be. Pero la equivalencia no es simétrica. No siempre cabe traducir be por estar, y para decidirlo no hay una regla, sino muchas: una para cada tipo de frase. Las aprenden los niños sobre la marcha, y hacen sufrir a los adultos que estudian español.

La Real Academia registra unos 70 usos de estar, por ejemplo: Estar en tal lugar, momento, situación. Estamos a 15 de enero. Estamos a 5 bajo cero. Están a $30 el kilo. Están a punto de llegar. Estar de buenas. Estar triste. Estar molesto. Estarse muriendo. Estoy en que vendrá. Está de buen ver. Está que trina. No estoy para bromas. Cuarto de estar. Está viviendo con sus tíos. Estará un mes. Está para firma. Estoy por el que gane. Estar en todo. Estarse quieto. Están verdes. Estar de más. Estar de acuerdo. Estar de prisa. Estar a oscuras. Estar mal con alguien. Estar de cocinero. Estar en lo dicho. Está siendo cada vez más difícil. Está bien. Está claro. Está por resolverse. Estoy sobre el asunto. Estar listo.

También registra los mexicanismos: Se está haciendo. Está en veremos. Pero no otras frases de origen desconocido, como la misteriosa: Está entre azul y buenas noches.

Para Leer el artículo completo en la Revista Letras Libres visite Estar.

Viernes de Vocabulario: Mexicanismos

Viernes de Vocabulario

This Friday we have choosen a few words that are commonly used in México. Therefore they received the name in Spanish of Mexicanismos or Mejicanismos

Canchanchán – Informal Lover

Canchanchán – Amante informal 

Titipuchal –  Crowd, Multitude – exageration of a large number of messy things or people. 

Titipuchal – Multitud, muchedumbre, principalmente de cosas revueltas o desordenadas

Borlote o Mitote – Scandal 

Borlote o Mitote – Escándalo

Chanclazo – It is used when someone hits another person with a sandal.

Chanclazo – Golpe dado con la chancla,

Chancla – Sandal.

Chancla – Sandalia

Changarro – Very Small Busines – President Vicente fox reffered to small business using this word. 

Changarro – Pequeño Negocio – El presidente Fox se referia así a los pequeños negocios. 

Cháchara o Chuchería – Little things without much value that you can buy in a flee market.

Cháchara o Chuchería – Baratija, adornito comunmente de poco valor

Chacharear – Comprar o vender chacharas 

Chacharear – Buy and sell stuff with no value 

Garnacha – Alimento del grupo de Antojitos, que consiste en una tortilla de Maíz pequeña, frita en manteca, al a que se pone encima frijoles, salsa picante y trocitos de chorizo, papas y carne. 

Garnacha – Street food made with a fried corn tortilla with beans, salsa, chorizo, potatos and meat.

Tianguis – Mercado sobre ruedas

Tianguis – Flee Market or open air market

For More information about the Instituto Cultural Oaxaca or our Spanish Language Classes please visit or email us at

Diccionario del Español de México (DEM), El Colegio de México, A.C., [Septiembre, 21, 2012].

Diccionario de Mejicanismos – Editorial Porrúa – Francisco J. Santamaria

Viernes de Vocabulario: Hacer & Satisfacer – To Do & To Satisfy

In Spanish as in English the verb Satisfacer has different meanings depending on the context

  • To pay a debt entirely 
  • To do something that deserves the forgiveness of a punishment
  • To calm an apettite, a passion, etc.
  • To make happy
  • To gratify to the full
  • To put an end to a doubt or an uncertianty 
  • To convince

On the other hand the verb Hacer in Spanish can be used as To Do or To Make. For instance in English you say make your bed, make dinner or do the homework and in Spanish Haces tu cama, haces la cena, or haces la tarea. The verb hacer can be used either way as To Do or as To Make. 

Satisfacer is an irregular verb and it is conjugated just like the verb Hacer, so in Spanish it is not apropriate to say satisfará not satisfacerá which is a common mistake amongst Spanish speakers. 

Below you can find some innapropriate forms of the verb Satisfacer that it is possible to find on the press or in media or the day to day life among native spanish speakers: 

Satisfací instead of Satisfice 
Satisficiera instead of Satisficiera
Satisfacería instead of Satifaría
Satisfacerá instead of Satisfará

It looks very difficult right? but if you think about it, It is very easy, It is just like conjugating the verb Hacer which is more used in Spanish than the verb Satisfacer 

Present Tense              
Yo Hago – Satisfago
Haces – Satisfaces
Él Hace – Satisface
Nosotros Hacemos – Satisfacemos
Ustedes/Ellos Hacen – Satisfacen

Past Tense
Yo Hice – Satisfice
Hiciste – Satisfaciste
Él  Hizo – Satisfizo
Nosotros Hicimos – Satifacimos
Ustedes/Ellos Hicieron – Satisfacieron

Both verbs Satisfacer and Hacer are conjugated in the same way except in the imperative form which is congujated as follows

Satisface o Satisfaz  
Usted  Satisfaga 

For more information about the Instituto Cultural Oaxaca or Spanish Language Courses please visit or email ICO at

Viernes de Vocabulario: Gender Neutrality

Here at ICO, we hope that you’ll learn just how much fun Spanish can be.  Like any language, Spanish is full of colorful slang expressions.  On Fridays, we’ll be teaching you a combination of useful everyday words and fun common colloquialisms.


If you’ve ever had to exchange contact information with a Spanish speaker, you might know that the name of the symbol @ is arroba.  What you might not know, however, is that this symbol is used for way, way, way more than email addresses.  If you read informal written Spanish, it’s absolutely everywhere.

To explain why, I’ll have to backtrack and talk about some fundamental aspects of Spanish grammar.

As you know, Spanish has grammatical gender, which English doesn’t have.  A “friend” can be either a man or a woman, but in Spanish, you have to specify if you are spending time with an amigo or an amiga.

A group of male friends are amigos, and a group of female friends are amigas. However, a mixed group always takes masculine agreement, even if it consists of 99 women and 1 man.  (If you want to know more about this topic, check it out here.)

A lot of folks have dealt with this asymmetry by saying and writing things like amigos y amigas, or amigos/-as.  And this is where the arroba comes in!

Since the arroba, @, looks like an a surrounded by an o, it is used in written Spanish to indicate gender neutrality.  Most commonly, this is used in email salutations, as follows:

Querid@ amig@, Dear friend,
Compañer@s, Classmates/workmates,
Estimad@ cliente, Dear client,

And so on and so forth.  It’s also used in contexts where English speakers would use things like “s/he” to be inclusive.  A letter from schools to parents, for example, might refer to su hij@ (“your child”) to avoid using either hijo (son) or hija (daughter).

That said, this is still a fairly informal usage.  It’s more common in email than in other forms of written communication, and the Real Academia Española (an institutional body that monitors the Spanish language) disapproves of this usage, and so it will remain informal for the time being.

Viernes de Vocabulario: Awkward

Here at ICO, we hope that you’ll learn just how much fun Spanish can be.  Like any language, Spanish is full of colorful slang expressions.  On Fridays, we’ll be teaching you a combination of useful everyday words and fun common colloquialisms.


Some words and phrases are just plain difficult to translate.  Sometimes, it’s because there’s no good equivalent, and sometimes it’s because some particular word has a much wider range of meanings in one language or the other.

English speakers use the world “awkward” all the time.  A situation can be awkward, a person can be awkward, and a feeling can be awkward.  Yet these are not the same word in Spanish.

An awkward situation is a situation in which you feel uncomfortable.  In Spanish, then, to describe a situation or moment as awkward, you would say it’s incómodo, or uncomfortable.  It might also be delicado, “delicate”, if what you mean is that it requires particular social finesse.

An awkward person can be a few different things.  Someone who’s awkward might be physically gawky, or they might be particularly adept at saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.  Both of these are best described as torpe, or clumsy.

An awkward turn of phrase can also be torpe, but you could describe it as poco elegante (“not at all elegant”) as well.

If you feel awkward at any given time, you might say me siento incómodo (“I’m uncomfortable”), or me siento raro (“I feel weird”).  You might also use the verb cohibirse or the adjective cohibido.  Cohibirse means something like “get awkward” or “clam up” – and cohibido means “self-conscious.”

Fue un momento muy incómodo porque soy una persona torpe, siempre digo la cosa menos indicada.  It was an awkward moment because I’m an awkward person, I always say the worst thing.  Después me cohibí, y ya no volví a abrir la boca.  Then I got self-conscious, and I didn’t open my mouth again.

Viernes de Vocabulario: Understanding, Not Understanding, and Not Knowing

Here at ICO, we hope that you’ll learn just how much fun Spanish can be.  Like any language, Spanish is full of colorful slang expressions.  On Fridays, we’ll be teaching you a combination of useful everyday words and fun common colloquialisms.


When you’re just learning a language, it can be hard for others to know if you understand them, or for you to know if others have understood you.  So you might think you would want to know this word:

¿Entendiste?                Did you understand? (tú)
¿Entendió?                   Did you understand? (usted)

However, many (although not all) Spanish speakers consider this a rude questionThose who find this rude thinks that it places the blame on the person listening for not understanding, and prefer to place the blame on themselves.  So instead of asking someone if they understood, you would ask this:

¿Me explico?                Do I explain myself?  Do I make myself clear?

Of course, just knowing how to ask politely is only have the battle.  Sometimes you’ll have to tell someone that you didn’t understand, or that you don’t know, or that you’ve forgotten something or gotten confused.  For this, we have three more useful phrases:

Me quedé en blanco.    I drew a blank.
Perdí el hilo.                  I lost the thread (of the conversation)
Se me fue el avión.       I lost my train of thought.

These three phrases have different uses.  When someone asks you a question and you can’t remember the answer, you’d say, me quedé en blanco.  If someone’s talking too fast or you zone out in the middle of the conversation, the appropriate phrase is something like, es que perdí el hilo. And when you get tripped up in the middle of a sentence, you’d say, se me fue el avión.

Why is thought a train in English and an airplane in Spanish?  That may be one of the great mysteries of language learning.