Las Uvas de la suerte or Midnight Grapes.


Photo by jacinta Lluch 

I love Spanish traditions, and one of my favourites is eating UVAS at MEDIANOCHE  on NOCHE VIEJA  (GRAPES at MIDNIGHT on NEW YEAR’S EVE. )

I’m so excited.

Tonight I’ll be going to the PLAZA together with most of the people of my town to hear the town clock (RELOJ) strike twelve midnight (MEDIANOCHE). On each CAMPANADA (stroke of the bell) everybody in the PLAZA (town square) will pop an UVA (grape) into their BOCA (mouth) with such seriousness and ceremony that it is hilarious! 

 By the time there have been five or six CAMPANADAS (strokes of the bell), everyones BOCA (mouth) is brimming with UVAS (grapes), but the idea is to continue stuffing until all twelve UVAS (grapes) are eaten, synchronising with the CAMPANADAS  (strokes of the bell). Only then will you have BUENA SUERTE  (Good Luck) for the New Year (AÑO NUEVO) [Pronunciation: ANYO NOOAYBO]

I’ll be meeting up with lots of AMIGOS (friends) and people we know, we’ll open some ‘cava’ (Spanish sparkling wine typically used in celebrations and enjoy a toast (BRINDIS)  for AÑO NUEVO (New Year). 

 Then there will be fireworks  (FUEGOS ARTIFICIALES) [literally : fires artificials]  and a FIESTA (party) with MÚSICA (music) for everyone. 

I know it will be great fun, as I have been following this tradition for many years now!

Would you like to join me?

 We are meeting in the PLAZA at 11.30, so get your UVAS ready and peeled to make it easier to guzzle them all.  ¡BUENA SUERTE!  Good Luck !

Please let me know if you enjoyed reading about my plans like this.

More next time…

Some reminders:

UVA   [Pronunciation: ooba]  Grape 

UVAS    [Pronunciation: oobas] Grapes 


NOCHE VIEJA New Year’s Eve. (Literally: Night Old)

PLAZA  Town Square

RELOJ   Clock

 PLAZA DEL RELOJ  Clock Square  (Literally: Square of the Clock)

CAMPANADA     Stroke of the bell 

BOCA     Mouth


AÑO NUEVO (Pronunciation: ANYO NOOAYBO) New Year

AMIGOS   Friends

BRINDIS   A toast ( e.g. raising a glass of wine in celebration) 

FUEGOS ARTIFICIALES  Fireworks (literally : fires artificial)  





Gender issues?

gendersignGender issues are very important. There is a growing  awareness of the debate on gender in society nowadays. This is all good.

Now I’d like to consider the vital importance of gender in language learning!

Especially in Spanish language learning.

Spanish is very concerned with gender. All nouns (the NAMES of things) have a given gender. This means that some THINGS are considered FEMININE  while others are considered MASCULINE. This may not seem important but depending on the ‘gender’ of each thing, there are certain patterns to follow.

In my experience over the years teaching Spanish, most textbooks and learning programmes present the MASCULINE form of nouns and pronouns first, and expect the FEMININE form to be understood by osmosis! Well I am revolutionising Spanish language learning here and now, by presenting the FEMININE  form first.

Girl power!

In the following, I’d like to begin showing first the FEMININE form of nouns and how to use the ‘indefinite article’ ( ‘a’ or ‘an’ as in ‘a table’ or ‘an orange’ = UNA [Pronunciation: OONA]  

Note: UNA also means ONE, as in the number one. 


Una amiga   A friend (who is a girl) / one friend

Una casa      A house / one house

Una flor        A flower / one flower  


ByLucy Roberts


Una falda      A skirt / one skirt

Una mesa      A table / one table

Una bolsa       A bag / one bag

Una nieta    A grand-daughter / one grand-daughter 


Some important words are a little tricky to pronounce without hearing them first.

Una hija   [pronunciation: EEHA]    A daughter / one daughter

Una botella   [pronunciation: BOTEYA]   A bottle / one bottle

Una manzana  [pronunciation: MANTHANA] An apple / one apple 


Try and memorise these few nouns with the indefinite article  (UNA) which goes with them. I am so excited because in my next post you will be able to start using them in important sentences!  

I really hope this helps. 

Please ask any questions if I haven’t been clear. 



Little Red Riding Hood and how she can help


You probably know at this stage of your Spanish language learning, you aren’t going to launch into reading the first chapter of “Don Quijote” by Miguel de Cervantes just yet. (Cervantes was/is to Spanish literature as  William Shakespeare was/is to English literature.)



Isabel Naftel (Wikimedia Commons)

In fact your literary level may be more akin to Little Red Riding Hood.  And that would be great. There are so many language learning resources available now that it only makes sense to tap into as many of these as possible.

You have to swallow all that pride and go back to basics. The thing is that ‘basics’ in language learning can mean really basic.

Would you not be thrilled if you could speak Spanish as well as a 3 year-old Spanish child? Your ultimate goal may be to speak a little better than that in the future, but at the moment that would be a fine goal.

Children’s fairy-tales in bilingual texts are a great learning resource. A bilingual text usually means that the story or text is written in a target language, (in this example Spanish) and on the next page, usually visible, is the parallel text in (this case) English.

An example of this could be this bilingual text of Little Red Riding Hood, which I found on Amazon, very cheaply.

(Disclaimer: I have no connection with Amazon but simply want to provide an example of a bilingual text which could prove useful and fun.)

The key would be to choose stories you are familiar with (we all know Little Red Riding Hood) and so half the battle of understanding is already won.

The best way to use a story like this would be:


  • Read the text in both English and Spanish
  • Look up words you don’t know.
  • Notice the verbs of SER and ESTAR and when they are used.
  • Enjoy understanding the story, like a three-year-old would.


Please let me know if this has helped.

More next time…

Making it easy!


image copyright Moyan Brenn

You know when you have been waiting and waiting for something but you don’t know what it is exactly? You have been waiting for something that would help you clarify confusion and consolidate true understanding.

You never know, this could be it.

This might be exactly what you’ve been waiting for. This is a short, sharp, quick, summarised version of patterns with SER and ESTAR we have seen so far.

How more exciting could things get?


When to use SER …(SOY / ERES / ES)


Soy / eres/ es        inglesa                   I’m/ you’re / she’s   English

Soy / eres/ es        española               I’m/ you’re / she’s    Spanish

Soy/ eres/ es         inteligente           I’m/ you’re / she’s      intelligent

Soy / eres/ es        tonta                      I’m/ you’re / she’s    silly

Soy/ eres/ es         baja                        I’m/ you’re / she’s    short

Soy/ eres/ es         alta                        I’m/ you’re / she’s      tall

Conclusion: Choose SER (SOY = I’m /ERES = you’re /ES = she’s) if you are going to use adjectives which describe inherent personality traits or characteristics of people or things. i.e. English, Spanish, intelligent, silly, short , tall, etc.


When to use ESTAR  (ESTOY / ESTÁS / ESTÁ )


Estoy / estás / está     cansada                 I’m/ you’re / she’s     tired

Estoy / estás / está     enfadada               I’m/ you’re / she’s    angry

Estoy / estás / está     tranquila              I’m/ you’re / she’s    calm

Estoy/ estás / está      casada                  I’m/ you’re / she’s     married

Estoy / estás / está     divorciada            I’m/ you’re / she’s    divorced

Estoy / estás / está     enferma                I’m/ you’re / she’s    ill

Estoy /estás / está     borracha                I’m/ you’re / she’s   drunk

Conclusion : Choose ESTAR   (ESTOY = I’m / ESTÁS = you’re / ESTÁ =  she’s) if you are going to use adjectives which refer to the temporary state  of people or things. I.e. tired, angry, calm, married, divorced,  ill, drunk, etc…..


SER or ESTAR…Which way to go?


Spanish people must have quick-thinking minds (but then so have you!) First, they think about the describing word (adjective) they are going to use AFTER the verb TO BE when they describe someone or something. Depending on which type of characteristic they are referring to, they choose to use SER; (SOY/ERES/ES) or ESTAR;  (ESTOY /ESTÁS / ESTÁS).

Please let me know if this helps.

More next time…..






Girl Talk


I’ve been teaching the beautiful Spanish language for many years and so I’ve used  many different types of textbooks and grammar aids. I’ve noticed they all have one thing in common and that is their consistent habit of presenting the MASCULINE form of nouns, verbs or adjectives FIRST and in FULL, with often only a cursory nod to the feminine form of said verb or adjective.


A perfect example of this is :

Friend = Amigo/a

Small = Pequeño/a

Which word would be more memorable to a new language learner, the ‘amigo’ or the ‘a’ ?

The feminine form (amiga, pequeña) is not even printed out in full, in many texts I’ve seen. Many new second-language learners will probably not even notice/understand that there should be another word written there!

Now, I am known in my circles to have a patient temperament, to be a humble, unassuming type of girl, but not anymore.

I’m extremely irritated by this ‘trend’ and it’s time it stopped! We live in an era where there is no doubt that equality of the sexes is an important issue and is to be striven for. Why has this not filtered into grammar yet?

If you have been able to read any of my previous posts, you must have noticed that I have been only addressing the feminine form of the adjective, in relation to the verbs  ‘SER’ and ‘ESTAR’: A bit of gossip?

It’s not that I have anything against the masculine form. The problem is that it is the PROMINENT form which is consistently taught first. Isn’t it  time to give the girls a chance?

So please forgive me that small but necessary rant on sex equality in grammar and let’s talk about this lovely Japanese lady. Any of the following sentences coud apply to her!


She’s tired              Está cansada

She’s angry             Está enfadada

She’s calm                Está tranquila

She’s married          Está casada

She’s   divorced        Está divorciada

She’s interested       Está interesada

She’s bored               Está aburrida

She’s busy               Está ocupada

She’s ill                      Está enferma

She’s smoking          Está fumando   

She has a nice little cocktail there so there is a possibility that 

She’s drunk              Está borracha


In my next post I will summarise the three forms of the verb SER and three forms of the verb ESTAR which we have seen so far, and the nouns and adjectives which are used with each verb.

I really hope this helps! Please ask about any clarification needed in comments.

More next time…



Are you tired?

Are you tired of not understanding the difference between SER and ESTAR in Spanish grammar?

For many people this particular grammar point can lead to a bit of confusion.  But trust me…it’s not that bad!

I really hope that I will be able to clarify to some extent when Spanish people use Ser and Estar, and how they come to choose!


In my last post To Be or not To Be… I explained about the difference between SER and ESTAR with examples using the First person singular: i.e. “I am”

These following examples are using the verb ESTAR, because , as we saw in the last post, these sentences are describing a state of a person or a thing, that is a TEMPORARY state, not an inherent characteristic.

The verb we are using this time is ESTAR = TO BE.

(For more information on ‘SER = TO BE’ , To Be or not To Be………… in Spanish

 Estás cansada          You’re tired

Estás enfadada      You’re angry

Estás tranquila        You’re calm

Estás casada            You’re married

Estás divorciada      You’re  divorced

Estás interesada      You’re interested

Estás aburrida          You’re bored

Estás ocupada           You’re busy

Estás enferma          You’re ill

Please note I am using the FEMININE form of the adjective at the moment. This means I am assuming in these cases that the speaker is female. More on masculine adjectives later. They will just have to be patient.

Please, please tell me you can see a pattern emerging!

More next time…