For starters... 1

Welcome to the Spanish Online lecciones lessons "L "E *. Para empezar will offer you a smooth transition through the basics of Spanish. Now is the time to drill yourself on the words and sentences you'll learn and to get used to the layout of the lecciones. If you take the time to complete these Para empezar beginner lesson lessons, you’ll be ready to tackle the intermediate lessons.

*If you see "L "E, you have a choice! Click one or the other to hear the example in Latin American Spanish or European Spanish ("Spain" Spanish).



The best way to start is with a good conversation. Fortunately, this is a small one, without a lot of meat, but don't think we won't get a lot out of it!

One thing to keep in mind during your stay with us: this is NOT a sterile classroom environment. When you see some text in Spanish, there is only one thing to do with it: ¡Abra la boca! Open your mouth! Speaking this language out loud is crucial. If you want to speak, then speak!

Juana y Enrique Jane and Henry are two young coworkers who have seen each other around the office, but don't know each other. Shhh... let's eavesdrop on them as they meet for the first time...

Juana ¡Hola! ¿Qué tal?
Enrique ¿Qué tal? ¿Cómo estás?
Juana Muy bien, gracias. ¿Cómo te llamas?
Enrique Yo me llamo Enrique ¿y tú?
Juana Me llamo Juana.
Enrique ¿De dónde eres?
Juana Santo Domingo. ¿Tú?
Enrique El D.F.
Juana Qué bueno.
Enrique Mucho gusto.
Juana Mucho gusto, Enrique.
Enrique ¡Adiós!
Juana ¡Adiós!

At first glance, it's all, well, Spanish to you. But, the truth is, it's really an easy and repeatable conversation. Soon, you'll have no more difficulty with it than these two new friends.

Let's take a look at each line:


>>Understanding the Language 
Phrases, Grammar and Pronunciation

Questions and Answers

With all those words and phrases at hand, the task of building a real, usable conversation in Spanish should be a breeze.

If you take a look back at our diálogo, you might notice that so much of a basic conversation has some sort of call-and-response formula. In other words, it works like a question and answer session. Let's take those phrases out of our dialogue and look at them in a way that makes them more reusable.

When you greet someone

Statement Answer
¡Hola! ¡Hola!
Hello! Hi!


Question Answer
¿Como estás? ¡Muy bien!
How are you? Very well!

When you ask someone's name

Question Answer
¿Como te llamas? Yo me llamo...
What's your name? My name is...

When you ask where someone's from

Question Answer
¿De dónde eres? Soy de...
Where are you from? I'm from...

When you thank someone

Question Answer
¡Gracias! De nada.
Thanks! You're welcome.

When you say your goodbyes

Question Answer
¡Adiós! ¡Adiós!
Bye! Bye!

As we've already learned, these aren't the only ways to express the same concepts - there are more ways to say hello and goodbye, for example. However, armed with these phrases, you can introduce yourself and ask about someone else in Spanish.


Certain types of words in Spanish demonstrate something known as grammatical gender. This is grammar speak, and I'll decode it for you: there are two groups of words in Spanish (masculine and feminine), and nouns (naming words) proudly belong to one of those two groups.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves at this point, because it does get just a bit trickier. One small hint should last you: Antonio is a male and Juana is a female. More on this to come...

Watch where you put those LL's, Y's and Ñ's!)

We're left with one more topic in this section! In the pronunciation guide, you learned the basics of pronouncing Spanish (it is suggested that you read through that guide before continuing on). If you paid attention to that guide, the dialogue in this lesson was easy to sound out - all the rules applied. One of the bigger objectives of these
Para empezar lessons is to solidify, to strengthen your knowledge of how Spanish is pronounced before you dive into the intermediate lecciones.

Spanish has a couple of letters that make y-like sounds: ll, y, i and ñ. How do you keep them straight?

For the most part, Latin American speakers pronounce ll and y exactly alike. This might sound like the English y (most formal), the j in "joy" (popular in both Latin America and Spain) or the sh in "show" (most casual, and only in some regions of South America), but y and ll will sound identical.
>example yo me llamo (pronunciation 1 vs. 2 v.s 3)

Now, it wasn't so long ago, in a land not so far away, that Spanish speakers pronounced y and ll differently. Some of them still do. From some speakers in Spain, you may hear the ll pronounced like lli in "million", while the y comes out a lot like you'd expect it to in English.
>example yo me llamo

But the story doesn't end there. Our y has another trick up its sleeve. When you see it alone, it's pronounced like the "ee" in "seem", so it acts as a vowel.
>example y

The letter ñ may look a bit strange to you, but it's the easiest of the bunch to deal with. It always sounds like the "ni" in "onion".
>example año

A small note for those who search for the origins of things... The little mark (~) is a convention introduced by scribes. When copying manuscripts, they sometimes wrote the nasal N above another n instead of immediately next to it. The word you just learned, año, for example, comes from Latin annus (with two n's).

If you ever feel lost in this information, I recommend taking it piece by piece and applying it in steps. You can't ultimately learn in your chair, memorizing page after page of "it kind of sounds similar to...". No! Instead, develop an approach that lets you sound out and read your new language. You need to hear and repeat, and practice more than you memorize!



A. Enrique y tú Henry and You

The tables have turned. As you were eavesdropping, you rustled the paper in the basurero trashcan. Enrique turns around, and you're face to face with him. How will you respond to his greetings? Use the blanks and punctuation as a guide.

Enrique ¡Hola!
Enrique ¿Cómo estás?
_________________. _________________?
Enrique Bien, gracias. ¿Cómo te llamas?
_________________. _________________?
Enrique Yo me llamo Enrique.
Enrique San Diego, ¿y tú?
Enrique ¡Mucho gusto!
Enrique ¡Adiós!

Answers (don't peek!):
- ¡Hola!
- Bien
(or Bien, gracias or muy bien or muy bien, gracias ). ¿y tú?
- Yo me llamo (your name) ¿y tú?
- ¿De dónde eres?
- (Soy de) ____.

- Mucho gusto.
- ¡Adiós!

B . LL's Y's and Ñ's... yet again

Take a stab at pronouncing the following words without looking back at Understanding the Language. After you have finished pronouncing a word, listen to the sound file.

allá haya ñato nato


>>El mundo hispano
The Spanish-speaking world

Hispano hispanic is an adjective describing anything that originated in Spain. Hispanohablantes are Spanish speakers. El mundo hispano is the Hispanic world. This unique identity shares a common language, a common culture and, in many ways, an important shared history. At the same time, however, the label hides some of the amazing diversity found even within smaller microcosms of the Spanish speaking world.

While you make your way through the upcoming lessons, these short notes will provide small windows into the new culture you're discovering as a learner of the Spanish language. I highly recommend that you take the time to learn beyond these boxes. Music, dance, newspapers, literature, art and cinema are all great ways to become acquainted with el mundo hispano, and, at the same time, strengthen your language abilities.


>>What Did I Just Learn?
Reviewing the major points of this lesson

Promise me that at least a few things stuck with you as you read:

Chew this information well, let it sit for a bit, go over the lección once or twice more, and I'll see you in the next lesson!

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