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About the Spanish Language

The Spanish language is spoken by approximately 500 million people throughout the world. It is currently the #2 language in the world with regards to number of native speakers! There are approximately 330 million speakers of Spanish as their native language.

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One of the really great benefits of learning Spanish is the fact that there are so many people that speak the language. Not only are there approximately 350,000,000 native speakers of Spanish (which ranks second in the world, by the way), but there are also millions of people added to that total who have learned Spanish as a second (or third, or fourth, etc.) language.

I have seen estimates of the total amount of people who can speak Spanish in the 400,000,000 to 500,000,000 range. Measuring the amount of people that speak a language is certainly not an exact science, however, we can get a pretty good idea.

In the United States, over 34,000,000 people speak Spanish as their primary language at home. In key states like California and Texas, the Spanish speaking population makes up approximately 35% of the total population. (The state with the highest percentage is New Mexico, which was at 43% as of 2004.) At least eight states have 1,000,000+ Spanish speakers. Lastly, Spanish is by far the most studied foreign language by students in the United States.

We all learn languages for our own unique reasons. But whatever reason you have, it’s hard to to deny the power of Spanish in the United States and beyond!

There are quite a few commonly used Spanish verbs whose meaning includes a preposition, such as “to”, “of”, “out”, etc. Many beginners will make the mistake of adding the Spanish preposition after these verbs. Be sure to memorize this list!

apagar – to turn off
aprobar - to approve of
bajar – to go down
buscar – to look for
caerse – to fall down
conocer – to be acquainted with
elegir – to choose to
encender – to turn on
envolver – to wrap up
escuchar - to listen to
esperar – to hope for,wait for
lograr – to succeed in
merecer - to deserve to
mirar – to look at
pagar - to pay for
pedir - to ask for
poder - to be able to
preferir – to prefer to
sacar – to take out
subir – to go up

There are quite a few Spanish verbs that seem to give native English speakers problems. The obvious problematic verbs are “ser” and “estar” but I’d like to focus on some other ones in this post.

How do I say “to take”?!

From my experiences with native English speakers, most usually just use tomar anytime they are trying to say “to take”. However, when you are talking about taking people or objects to a different location, you must use llevar.

Darse cuenta de vs. Realizar

If you are wanting to say realize, you need to use darse cuenta de. Realizar is used as the equivalent of the English verb to succeed.

Saber vs. Conocer

The difference between these two is that saber will relate to knowing facts, knowing how to do something, etc.  Conocer can better be understood as meaning to be familiar with or to be acquainted with. Use it when you’re trying to say or ask if someone is acquainted with a person, place, or thing.

How to Say You’re Moving

Finally, remember that if you want to say that you are moving (as in changing your residence) that you need to use mudarse instead of moverse.

Being aware of false cognates is important, because you don’t want to say something without knowing it actually means something completely different!

Following is a list of some common false cognates (also known as “false friends”):

actual meaning: present, current

actual meaning: to attend


actual meaning: bucket

actual meaning: trillion

actual meaning: file

actual meaning: cigarette

actual meaning: lecture; meeting

actual meaning: to tell, to relate (a story)

actual meaning: address


actual meaning: pregnant

actual meaning: [sexually] aroused

actual meaning: success


actual meaning: factory

actual meaning: long

actual meaning: to achieve


actual meaning: to remember

actual meaning: clothing

actual meaning: healthy

actual meaning: soup

actual meaning: event

Here are the Spanish names for various holidays in the United States:

New Year’s Day [Jan. 1st] – el día de Año Nuevo
Mother’s Day [2nd Sunday in May] – el Día de la Madre
Father’s Day [3rd Sunday in June] – el Día del Padre
Independence Day [July 4th] – el Día de la Independencia
Halloween [Oct. 31st] - la víspera del día de Todos los Santos
Thanskgiving [4th Thursday in November] – el Día de Acción de Gracias
Christmas Eve [Dec. 24th] - la Nochebuena
Christmas [Dec. 25th] – la Navidad
New Year’s Eve [Dec. 31st] – la víspera de Año Nuevo