Monthly Word / La palabra del mes

February 2005 ~ Spanish that Works Review

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Canciones de amor (Love Songs)La palabra del mes

NOTE:  The “dd” in the pronunciation guide is a tapped “r,” similar to the fast “dd” of the word “buddy,” and the “th” in the guide is the voiced “th” of “brother.” The “eh” of the guide is like the Canadian “eh?”, similar to the “a” of “gate.”  You should stress the syllable written in all caps.

This month’s lesson is an introduction to some of the Spanish one typically hears in a love song.  You may find that the English translation of a song will sometimes be so romantic as to sound ridiculous, but don’t worry --- it usually sounds good in Spanish!  

Let me call you sweetheart

Spanish has many terms of affection used by los enamorados / eh-nah-mohDDAH-thohss (the ones in love).  Here are a few, with their literal translations.  Please note that some English words of endearment such as “honey” and “sweetie” don’t translate literally into Spanish:

mi amor – my love
mi vida – my life
corazón –heart
querido – dear (m.)
querida – dear (f.)
cariño – affection

Falling in love

Here are some words and expressions associated with falling or being in love:

¡Te quiero!  (I love you!)

enamorarse – to fall in love
amar – to love
adorar – to adore
estar enamorado (m.) – to be in love (man)
estar enamorada (f.) – to be in love (woman)

amor (m.) – love
alegría – happiness
felicidad (f.) – happiness
feliz – happy
placer (m.) – pleasure
sueño – dream
ilusión (f.) –dream, fantasy, illusion
pasión (f.) – passion

cuerpo - body
(el) alma (f.) – (the) soul
corazón (m.) - heart
ojos - eyes
brazos – arms
piel (f.) – skin
beso – kiss
abrazo – hug
cariño – affection
caricia – caress

Touches of poetry

Love songs in Spanish tend to be very poetic, and often use words from nature or expressions of time.  Here are a few basics you will need to know:

¡Estoy loco por tu amor!  (I’m crazy (m.) for your love!)
¡Estoy loca por tu amor!  (I’m crazy (f.) for your love!)

flor (f.) – flower
canción (f.) – song
baile (m.) - dance
sol (m.) – sun
luna – moon
estrella  - star
mar (m.) - sea
música - music

junto a ti, junta a ti – next to you
juntos – together
los dos – the two of us
a mi lado – by my side
a tu lado – by your side
en mis (tus) brazos – in my (your) arms

día (m.) – day
noche (f.) – night
años –years
otra vez – once again
para siempre – forever
por toda la vida – the whole life long (literally, “for all the life”)
hasta la muerte (f.) – until death

Problems in love

Some songs don’t paint such a rosy picture of love.  Here are some words and expressions for complications and heartbreak:

¿Qué voy a hacer sin ti?  (What am I going to do without you?)

sufrir – to suffer
doler – to hurt
llorar – to cry

estar desesperado (m.) – to be out of hope or in despair (man)
estar desesperada (f.) – to be out of hope or in despair (woman)

dolor (m.) - pain
tristeza – sadness
triste - sad
lágrimas – tears

tiempo - time
distancia – distance
el pasado – the past
el destino - destiny
mentiras – lies
la verdad – the truth
orgullo – pride
otro – another (man)
otra – another (woman)

el final – the end
el adiós (m.) – the good-bye

Healing the pain

Some songs talk about reconciliation, and others just talk about getting over it.  Here are some words you’ll need to know:

¡Te deseo lo mejor!  (I wish you the best!)

regresar – to return
volver – to return
pedir perdón – to ask for forgiveness
perdonar – to forgive
sentir – to feel
perder – to lose
entender –to understand
recordar – to remember
olvidar – to forget
seguir adelante – to continue forward, to keep going

memoria – memory
recuerdo – memory, keepsake, memento
paz (f.) –peace

Intimate you and verb endings

Spanish has two different kinds of address, or ways to say “you.”  The Spanish that Works™ course teaches the polite forms usted (You) and su (Your), and not the intimate or “buddy-buddy” forms (you) and tu (your), because the polite forms are more appropriate for customer service situations and simplify the verb conjugations for the beginner.  However, in a love song, intimacy is the key!   Here are some of the intimate you form pronouns that you are likely to hear in songs:

– you (subject)
tu, tus – your
te – you, to you (object of verb)
ti – you (object of preposition)
contigo – with you

In the present tense (and most other tenses), the intimate form verbs end in –S.  For example:

Me dices que me quieres.*  (You tell me that you love me.)
Eres mi vida.  (You are my life.)
Yo sé que me vas a querer.* (I know that you are going to love me.)
Me has robado el corazón.  (You have stolen my heart-- literally, “you have robbed me the heart.”)

In the preterite tense (completed past), the form verbs end in –ISTE / EE-steh.  For example:

No me quisiste.*  (You didn’t love me.)
Me dijiste adiós. (You told me good-bye.)
Te fuiste.  (You left, you went away.)

*NOTE:  The verb querer / keh-DDAIRR can translate as “to want,” but it also means “to love a person.”  You can use querer to talk about love of parents, children, and friends, as well as romantic interests. 

In direct affirmative commands (the ones that you use to tell someone to do something), the intimate you form verbs usually look exactly like the present tense s/he & formal You verbs, though there are some exceptions.  Here are a few commands you might hear:

¡Mira!  / MEE-ddah (Look!)
¡Bésame!  / BEH-sah-meh (Kiss me!)
¡Dime la verda!  / THEE-mah lah bairr-THATH (Tell me the truth!)
¡Regresa, por favor!  (Come back, please!)

We and we verb endings

Love songs also talk a lot about “we” and “us.”  Here are the pronouns you’ll need to recognize.  You’ll notice that they all start with “n” :

nosotros – we (subject & object of preposition – changes ending to show feminine gender)
nuestro – our (changes ending to show gender and plural)
nos – us (object of verb)

The we form verbs are easy to spot because they always end in –MOS.  For example:

Nos amábamos. (We loved each other.)
Pasamos mucho tiempo juntos.  (We spent a lot of time together.)
Somos una pareja feliz.  (We are a happy couple.)
¡Vamos, mi amor!  (Let’s go, my love!)

Building your vocabulary

Oftentimes a Spanish noun and adjective, or noun and verb, will have similar forms.  Learning one word or form can help you to learn the other, but you need to recognize that they are used differently.  Here are some examples of related words from Spanish love song vocabulary:

amor (m.) – love
amar – to love
amante (m. or f.) - lover
amado / amada – loved one

beso – kiss
besar – to kiss

abrazo – hug
abrazar – to hug
estar abrazados  - to be in an embrace, to be hugging one another

perdón (m.) – forgiveness
perdonar  - to forgive
perdonado / perdonada – forgiven

esperanza – hope
esperar – to hope, to wait
desesperar – to despair, to lose hope
desesperado / desesperada – out of hope, in despair

feliz – happy
felicidad (f.) – happiness
felicitar – to congratulate

canción (f.) – song
cantar – to sing
cantante (m. or f.) - singer 

baile (m.) – dance
bailar – to dance
bailador (m.) – dancer (m.)

Learn it!

The best way to learn these love song words is to get a CD you like and listen to it again and again.  Many CD’s include the words to the songs, and some give an English translation.  For CD’s that don’t include lyrics, you can usually find them on the internet.  (Run a search with the name of the artist or group and the word discografía and you should find something.)

At first, you may want to just listen to see how many words you can pick out.  Then read along as you listen to the songs, so you get used to how the words sound.  You don’t need to translate every word at first; just follow along and get the flow of things.

Then, when you are familiar with the CD, choose a couple of songs you really like, and learn those by heart.  

You may find that learning a few songs a fondo / ah FOHN-thoh (deeply) will open doors in your mind to the fluency in Spanish that you have been wanting!

For recommendations on some music CD’s that students seem to like, visit the enrichment page and look for supplemental materials.  You can check out your local bookstore or public library, or do an online search for music to download.  There is something for everyone ---  rock, ballad, slow, salsa, hip-hop, folk....  just pick what you like!

Oh, and here are some translations of Valentine’s Day:

Día de los enamorados (Day of the Lovers)

Día del amor y de la amistad (Day of Love & Friendship – celebrated in Mexico)

Día de San Valentín  (St. Valentine’s Day)

¡Que pase un día muy feliz!

read about recommended music
go to
Día de San Valentín website

©2005 Elizabeth Almann

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