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12 signs you’ve totally nailed the Spanish language

How do you know when you've really mastered the Spanish language? If you can tick off most of the points on this list, then are well on your way.

12 signs you've totally nailed the Spanish language
Photo: ornello_pics/Flickr

1. When no matter what somebody says, whether it be good or bad, it never feels wrong to throw in a claro or a couple of vales whenever an opportunity presents itself.

2. When you know exactly how to order your drink without hesitation – You can order a vaso of wine, a caña of beer or a copa of gintonic (never gin AND tonic for that may confuse everyone involved).

Say goodbye to ordering a small or large beer but instead start using these Spanish measurements: Caña, tubo, doble, jarra, tanque, mini (a mini ironically being anything but small at 750 ml). Photo: CiViLon/Flickr

3. When you start taking on the accents or slang words of particular regions. There is nothing better than hearing an Anglophone saying “Madrizzz me mola mogollón” in a Madrileño drawl, or someone who has spent a lot of time in Andalusia and starts dropping letters from words with such ease you would never have thought they were supposed to be there in the first place, like a casual “¿Qué ‘ase, illo?”.

READ ALSO:  Ten things never to do when dining in Spain

4. When after long days and nights trying to get your head around the subjunctive clause, you finally feel like you have understood it and can even use it well, only to discover nearly everyone uses it incorrectly anyway.

5. When you start taking in the enormous pleasure that is swearing constantly and for no particular reason in Spanish. Slipping in a casual “Joder, I have just lost €50” or a “Jodderrrrr, look how cheap this jamón is”. You know you have peaked when you start playing with your vulgarities. Perhaps it is so cold that you are pooing yourself (me cago de frío) or maybe you have started replacing “oh crap” with a “oh communion wafer” (hostia).

They are obviously getting on “¡de puta madre!”- Not to be confused with “tu puta madre”. Photo: Diariocritico/Flickr

6.      You start saying English words with a Spanish accent: It is never WiFi but weefee. Not Harry Potter but Herrrry Poterrr. I haven’t caught myself saying Espain yet, but I know this is the next step.

7.      When you finally manage to master the difference between Ser and Estar, and you know that in a restaurant situation, the olive oil es bueno (of good quality) and the waiter estábueno (handsome).

“Oyé, qué bueno está el camarero…..y además es buena gente”…The same word meaning two very different things with Ser and Estar. Photo: AFP

8.      When you spot false friends or incorrect word endings a mile away. When you say you are constipado/a, you are referring to your nose, not your bottom. When you say something embarrassing, it doesn’t usually mean you are embarazada and when ordering a chicken dish at the restaurant you certainly never, ever order polla.

READ MORE: The eleven most annoying Spanish false friends of all time 

9.      When you read a text message from a Spanish friend and are able to decipher Spanish text slang. Suddenly “Sipp wapa, por k estan payá” becomes clear to you, even if you do have to read it out loud to clarify it. You especially know that you are a winner, when you start laughing in Spanish jajaja

10.  When the interjecting noises you have never, ever had to think about before, start to slowly change. For example, you hit your head on the doorframe and you shout “AY” instead of “OW” or when you start replacing brain farts or gaps in your speech, “erm” goes to “ey”. Maybe you are even knocking on doors saying “Toc Toc” before you enter a room! (Although telling a Toc Toc joke would surely be taking things too far…)

“Like”, “um”, “basically” and “so” are replaced with “pues”, “o sea”, “bueno” and “a ver”. Which all mean: Give me a second, my mouth is moving faster than my brain is making thoughts. Photo:Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

11.  When even animals start changing their language. Dogs do not go “woof” but instead “guau” and the cock no longer goes ‘”cockledoodledoo” but “kikirikí”.

12.  When your Spanish gets better but it means your English starts to get a little worse. Your friends laugh when you go home because you start translating from Spanish with errors like: “I want to take a beer later” and then when you ask them if they will be joining you “You are coming, no?”

This article was contributed by Naomi Swainson, who moved to Madrid from Edinburgh in the beginning of 2015, to escape The Scottish Haar and primarily, to pursue a lifelong desire to learn Spanish.

She works for, the online dictionary and language-learning portal – feels she is finally getting to grips with the local lingo.

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Five things to know about the Galician language

You may have visited Galicia, but what do you know about the Spanish region's unique language? Here are five things to know about Galician or Galego.

Five things to know about the Galician language

It’s a language, not a dialect

Many may assume that Galician or Galego is just a dialect of Spanish, but in fact, like Catalan and Basque, Galician is in fact a separate language. In 1978 the language was officially recognised as one of the five official regional languages of Spain.

According to Galician’s Council of Culture, before it was officially recongised, Castilian Spanish was the dominant language, socially and culturally, while Galician was marginalised. However, today it is taught in schools, there are media outlets written in Galician and it is more integrated into the society.  

It’s more closely associated with Portuguese than it is with Spanish

Both Galician and Portuguese are said to have derived from the same Romance language spoken around the 9th century called Galician-Portuguese, however around the 14th century these languages began to diverge slightly as borders were established. 

“Despite a divergent historical evolution since the Middle Ages, today Galician and Portuguese are mutually understandable almost effortlessly,” says the Galician Council of Culture. Today, Galician and Portuguese still have similar grammar and vocabulary, however there are differences in the way they sound and in the spelling of the words. 

READ ALSO: Ten unique Basque words you need to learn right now

It’s spoken by around 2.8 million people

According to the Galician government, Galego is spoken by 2.8 million people. It is spoken mostly in Galicia, but there are also Galician speakers in Asturias, León and Zamora, as well as three small places in Extremadura. 

Galician’s Council of Culture also says that it is spoken by immigrant communities in South America, particularly in Argentina and Uruguay; in Europe mostly in Germany, Switzerland and France. It also states that the majority of the inhabitants of Galicia speak Galician as their first language and use it on a daily basis. 

Galician has its own public holiday

Galician even has its own public holiday, known as Galician Literature Day or El Día de las Letras Galegas. It has been celebrated every May 17th since 1963 by the Royal Galician Academy as a tribute to writers of Galician literature.

Each year, the festival is dedicated to a different Galician literary figure, in 2021 it was the poet Xela Arias and this year, it will be dedicated to the poet Florencio Delgado Gurriarán, who was exiled to Mexico. 

READ ALSO: Five reasons why Galicia is Spain’s version of Ireland

Galician has over 70 words to describe rain

It is said that Arabic has many different words for ‘camel’ and according to language experts Galician has around 70 words to describe rain. It’s no wonder, as Galicia is known as the wettest region in Spain. 

The language has different words depending on whether the rain is light, heavy, if there are lots of clouds or if it’s sunny and raining at the same time. For example, ‘Battuere‘ is used when the rain is intense and ‘Torbón‘ describes rain accompanied by thunder and lightning. While ‘Sarabiada‘ means the rain that falls on ice and snow. 

Useful words and phrases in Galician: 

Next time you’re in Galicia, why not try speaking some Galician for yourself? Here are a few useful words and phrases to get you started. 

Bos días – Good morning 

¿Como te chamas? – What’s your name?

¿Falas galego? – Do you speak Galician?

Saúde! – Cheers 

Bo proveito! – Bon appetit or Enjoy your meal