Thursday, May 31, 2012

Is "Hasta la vista" a common phrase in Spanish?

The short answer: yes, and no.

“Hasta la vista” means “see you later,” “good-bye.” It literally translates as “until the view,” in other words, “until the next time I see you.” This phrase is common in textbooks, similar to the phrase “así, así.” Frankly, I have never said “hasta la vista” without mocking Arnold Schwarzenegger. I do not remember saying “hasta la vista” to any of my friends or family members. I am from Mexico. Perhaps in other places people use it often. Again, I never use it.

The long answer: yes and no.

Wikipedia in English has entry for “Hasta la vista, baby” (,_baby), and it explains how this is a worldwide catchphrase. When you read the same entry in Spanish, there is a note about the differences between the Latin American and Spanish (Iberian) versions. According to this article, the subtitles of the  Latin American version of the Terminator 2 ( )movie reads “Hasta la vista, baby,” while the subtitles for moviegoers in Spain say “Sayonara, baby.” (,_baby)

If you don’t want to sound like Arnold in Terminator 2, then you may use any of the following phrases:

Hasta luego
Hasta pronto
Hasta mañana
Nos vemos

There are more ways to say “bye” in Spanish, by the way. But five is a good list for any student taking elementary and intermediate classes.

Now, the real problem with Arnold’s Terminator 2 is not “Hasta la vista, baby,” but rather “no problemo,” which should be “no hay problema” instead. But that’s an issue for another entry.

Hasta luego. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Is it ‘las clases de español’ or ‘las clases de españoles’?

The easy answer

The answer to this question depends on what you want to say in English. If you mean to say, “the classes of Spaniards” as in the types of Spaniards, then “las clases de españoles” is the best translation.

However, if you want to say “Spanish classes,” as in the classes you’re taking at school, then “las clases de español” is the correct translation.

The short explanation

One of the problems here is that whenever we have a preposition, the gender and number agreement is not necessary anymore.  In this case, “de” is a preposition. Here are a few other examples:

El traje de baño = bathing suit
Los trajes de baño = bathing suits

La hora de oficina = office hour
Las horas de oficina = office hours

El libro de ejercicios = workbook
Los libros de ejercicios = workbooks

El día de la bandera = flag day
Los días de la bandera = flag days

La noche de brujas = Halloween
Las noches de brujas = Halloweens (every Halloween)

The long explanation

Yes, prepositions break the harmony, somehow. In this case, the preposition “de” is linking two nouns. Imagine that when you say, “la clase de español” you are saying, “the class of Spanish.” The “de” may also mean a type or kind of, made of, even intended for. Now, let us see the same examples:

El traje de baño = bathing suit
The suit of/intended for bathing

Las horas de oficina = office hours
The hours of office

El libro de ejercicios = workbook
The (type of) book for execises
Los días de la bandera = flag days
The days for the flag

La noche de brujas = Halloween
The night for/of the witches

I hope it helps.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Hacer + tiempo, Or some time ago

Hace casi un año que no escribo en este blog.

It has been almost a year that I don't write on this blog. (Or, I wrote on this blog almost a year ago)

There are more ways to translate the sentence above, but the idea is the same: something happened X-time ago. The idiomatic expression in Spanish is expressed with the verb "hacer." Imagine that Father Time "makes" the time pass and that's why we say "hace." Of course it's not the original idea for this use of hacer, but that may help you to remember. My first translation of "Hace casi un año..." is "It has been almost a year" because it is closer to the idea of "hace." Yes, in English we use the compound present tense to express what in Spanish is the simple present tense, but don't get lost thinking about that too much. "Hacer + an expression of time" can be used in the present, past, and future.

Something to remember:
  • Hacer is conjugated in the third person, singular, just like "ella" and "él": hace (presente), hacía (imperfecto or copretérito), hizo (pretéterito), hará (futuro).
  • Some expressions of time that you may use: un año, un mes, un día, un siglo (century), una hora, un minuto; unos años, dos años, unos días, dos días, unos siglos, dos siglos, unas horas, dos horas, unos minutos, dos minutos, una semana, unas semanas, dos semanas, tres semanas, tres años, etc.
  • "Hacer" may be in one verbal tense, but the rest of the sentence may be in a different tense.
  • When we use this expression, the emphasis is on the time that has happened, therefore it frequently goes at the beginning of the phrase. In this case, we need "que" to connect the idea of time to a complete sentence--this means, that the sentence has subject, verb, and complement.
  • When the expression of time is used at the end of the phrase, then we don't need "que."
  • "Since X-time ago" or "For X-time" translate as "desde hacer + an expression of time."
  • To ask a question, we use "¿Cuánto tiempo hace...?" or "¿Cuánto hace que...?" in the present tense.

Here are a few ways to use "hacer + tiempo" 

Hacer in the Present Tense: 
Hace dos años que fui a Costa Rica. (I went to Costa Rica two years ago.)
Fui a Costa Rica hace dos años.
¿Cuántos años hace que estudias español? (For how long have you been studying Spanish?

¿Cuánto hace que vives en Richmond? (How long has it been since you live in Richmond? or For how long have you lived in Richmond?)
Vivo en Richmond desde hace tres años. ( I have lived in Richmond for three years, or I have lived in Richmond since three years ago.)
Desde hace tres años vivo en Richmond.

Hacer in the Preterite Tense:
Ayer hizo un año que nació mi sobrino. (My nephew was born a year ago yesterday.)
¿Cuánto tiempo hizo la semana pasada que se construyó esta casa? (How long has it been since this house was built? or How long ago was this house built?)
La semana pasada hizo un siglo que se construyó esta casa. (This week was built a century ago last week.)

Hacer in the Imperfect (copretérito or imperfect preterite) Tense:
Ese día hacía dos años que ellos se habían casado. (That day, it had been two years since they got married.)
Hicimos una fiesta anoche porque hacía un mes que compramos la casa. (We had a party last night because we bought our house a month ago, or We had a party last night to celebrate that we bought our house a month ago.)
¿Cuánto tiempo hacía que había venido tu abuela? (How long had it been since your grandmother came?)
Hacía tres semanas que había venido mi abuela.   (It was three weeks ago yesterday that my grandmother came, or my My grandmother came three weeks ago yesterday.)

Hacer in the Future Tense:
Mañana hará cinco años que visité Barcelona. (Tomorrow will be five days that visited Barcelona.)
El próximo año hará cuatro siglos que se fundó esta ciudad. (Next year, it will be four centuries that this city was founded.)
¿Cuánto tiempo hará mañana que vino el huracán? (How long will it be tomorrow that the hurricane came?)

An advanced Spanish note

What is the difference between the following two sentences?
Hace un año que no escribía en este blog.
Hacía un año que no escribía en este blog.

Both mean the same: It has been a year since I wrote on this blog, or I didn't write on this blog for a year. But the emphasis is different and the use of one or the other depends on the speaker's preferences. The first sentence sounds more like a completed comment, while if I hear the second one I expect a longer story.

If you look at the posts history of this blog, the phrase from the beginning is true: Hace un año que no escribía en este blog.

These are just a few examples. I hope it helps.