Let’s get right down to it.
If you are a beginner-level Spanish student (or any level Spanish student for that matter) and you come across something in the following list that is not painfully obvious to you, you literally need to get out some blank flash cards right now and study these until your face falls off.
If I were to teach 100 beginner-level students this afternoon, I would bet my cat, Michifú, on 90 of said students forgetting at least 75% of the following list. And anyone who knows me knows how much I love my Michifú.
Let’s do the dirty work…
1. hay – there is; there are (e.g., Hay un vaso sobre la mesa/There is a glass on the table)
2. esperar – to hope; to wait (for); to wish (e.g., Estamos esperando el tren/We are waiting for the train)
3. me parece (bien) – Seems/sounds/looks (good) to me (e.g., Me parece bien ir al parque/Going to the park sounds good to me) Replace ‘bien’ with any adjective you’d like.
4. muy (very) vs. mucho(s) (much, many, or a lot (of)) vs. más (more) (Use them identically to the way you would in English, just make sure ‘mucho’ agrees in gender and number with what it’s describing).
5. bastante – this is just a fancy word for ‘muy’, whose English equivalent is ‘quite’ (e.g., Es bastante peligroso conducir ahora/It’s quite dangerous to drive right now)
6. lo que – this essentially means ‘what’ when it’s not a question (e.g., Esto es lo que me gusta/This is what I like.)
7. a lo mejor – probably; my best guess is… (e.g., A lo mejor está Gary en el baño/Gary is probably in the bathroom)
8. It’s tranquilo, not tranquillo. (Single ‘L’, not the double ‘L’ sound) – Tranquilo means ‘calm’ or it can be used as a command, meaning ‘Take it easy.’ ¡Traquilo!
9. The difference between verbs like gustar and reflexive verbs – I will probably write a full blog post on this one day soon, but until then, just know that there is a key difference. This can be observed in the difference between ‘me llamo’ and ‘me gusta.’ Notice that both ‘me’ and ‘llamo’ agree with the subject ‘yo’, but ‘me’ and ‘gusta’ don’t seem to agree. If they did, it would read ‘me gusto,’ meaning ‘I like myself.’
10. The subject pronouns – For the love of it all. If you don’t yet know the difference between ‘ellos’ ‘usted’ and ‘ustedes’, guess who’s falling asleep tonight on a pile of flash cards?
What do you or other beginner-level Spanish students you know seem to have a tough time remembering? Share in the comments and let’s conquer it once and for all!