Tag Archives: Arriba

UTA’s Spanish Proficiency Exercises are my new favorite toy

I was looking for some resources to help a classmate of mine with listening skills this weekend when I came across a great site run by the University of Texas at Austin’s Spanish and Portuguese language department. The site, which is labeled “Spanish Proficiency Exercises,” is clearly meant as a resource for the students at the school, but it can help anyone learning Spanish at any level.

The site is a collection of tons of short videos, each featuring a native speaker talking on a particular topic. They range from things as basic as counting and listing the contents of your backpack to describing a desert mirage or talking about stereotypes. The videos are grouped by topic and arranged by difficultly. For each topic, there is a scripted video in which the speaker uses clear annunciation and no slang. But then that video is followed by several off-the-cuff pieces in which the speakers use slang and show off their dialects. Each topic has about five or six speakers, and they come from all over the Spanish-speaking world: Mexico, Spain, South America, and so on.

Spanish transcription, English translation, and vocab and phrase help are available for each video as well.


*University of Texas at Austin Department of Spanish and Portuguese

*Spanish Proficiency Exercises Welcome Page


Quiero que me quieras : Spanish Present Subjunctive Help

Mis compañeros y yo started a long battle with the subjunctive mood yesterday. Luckily, the conjugation of the first form we’re using (present subjective) is pretty easy…even if its usage can boggle the mind of a native English speaker. During class, I couldn’t get Gael García Bernal’s cover of Cheap Trick’s “I Want You to Want Me” (“Quiero que me quieras”) from Rudo y Cursi out of my head. The chorus is filled with the present subjunctive.

Quiero que me quieras.
Quiero que me adores.
Quiero que me sientas.
Me urge que me ames.

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of good resources on the internet to help the Spanish student with the present subjunctive, relative to all sites providing help with basic vocabulary and the indicative mood. But Jason Jolley does have a couple of great videos explaining its conjugation and use. The first video here is on the form; the second is on the usage.

There are also a couple of good sites that let you practice conjugating the form…

*Trinity’s test on conjugating verbs without a stem change.

*Trinity’s test on verbs with a stem change.

*Mix of both.

*This present subjunctive quiz allows you to pick which verbs and pronouns you want to use.

*Barbara Kuczun Nelson’s site has extensive resources, quizzes, and practice opportunities.

Por vs. para quizzes

We’ve got a big test over por and para tomorrow. Who knew that two little words could cause so many frustrations for a group of English speakers? I’ve been doing my part by investigating the web for useful quizzes, tests, and the like. But if you need a little bit of a refresher over the grammar itself, I’d point you to Gerald Erichsen or Barbara Kuczun Nelson. Of course, nothing beats just doing a bunch of practice sentences on your own…

*McGraw-Hill’s relatively easy quiz for ¿Qué tal? will get your Spanish energies flowing.

*Trinity’s test is also a good starter.

*By the time you try StudySpanish.com’s quiz, you should be on a roll.

*Give Barbara Kuczun Nelson’s test a try.

*One last one, and you should be good to go.

The Long and Winding Road : Spanish Imperfect Tense

We started our adventure with the imperfect indicative tense this week in class. When our instructor announced that there are two simple past tenses in Spanish, an audible groan emanated from the back of the room and one grumpy soul offered up this gem of a question: “Why would they do that?” With a wink and a grin, our Colombian professor replied, “Because we like it.” I love this guy!

What I don’t love are all the junky explanations on the net for when you use the preterite tense and when you use the imperfect. Particularly bad are many of the videos from YouTube. I suffered through one seven-minute video that suggested that the imperfect only means “used to.” Really? That’s the only way it’s used? I did find this video from Professor Jason helpful though.

*Gerald Erichsen offers up a short but helpful description of the two tenses here. You can follow that up with a practice quiz on his site.

*Choose the length of an imperfect quiz on StudySpanish.com: 10, 15, 25 questions?

*Here’s a Jeopardy-style activity on the imperfect you can play with a friend.

*A traditional fill-in-the-blank test can be found at Learn Spanish, Feel Good.

*Phil Endecott has a verb exercise that you can personalize to your heart’s content here. Mix any and all tenses in any and all persons with whatever frequency you want, and in whatever length you want. It has a couple of kinks in it, but generally it’s a good database.

¿Le lo o le la? ¡No! Se los : Double Object Pronouns

We have a test today over those pesky double object pronouns, the anti-sing-song terrorists of the Spanish language. Well, they’re not really that bad, right? Just a little switch out to avoid the baby talk of le lo, ¿no? If you missed lecture that day or just need a refresher, here’s a pretty good video on the topic. Don’t be scared off if she goes too fast during the first couple of minutes. The video goes on to a slow and simple explanation in English.

But what you really want to do is get your hands dirty and try practicing it on your own. Right? I found a few quizzes online that help you do that. But be careful…there are a couple of trick questions here and there. ¡Buena suerte!

*Quia has a very basic test that is a good warm-up.

*By the time you take McGraw Hill’s quiz for its Puntos de Partida text you should be starting to feel confident.

*Now try this eight-question quiz that requires you to come up with the answers on your own.

*Most of StudySpanish.com’s test prep work is password protected, but this one is free.

*And finish off with a two-part exercise from Colby College’s Spanish Department: I, II.

¡Arriba! 6 + 7 : Irregular Spanish Preterite Verbs, Part III

Part I, Part II

Here comes the rest of the preterite stem-changing gang. I also found this nice song on Señor Jordan‘s website about the most common irregular preterite verbs. Enjoy!

haber (to have (aux.), hay) : hube, hubiste, hubo, hubimos, hubisteis, hubieron
poder (to be able) : pude, pudiste, pudo, pudimos, pudisteis, pudieron
caber (to be contained, to fit in) : cupe, cupiste, cupo, cupimos, cupisteis, cupieron
saber (to know) : supe, supiste, supo, supimos, supisteis, supieron
poner (to put, to turn on (TV, etc.)) : puse, pusiste, puso, pusimos, pusisteis, pusieron
componer (to compose), oponer (to oppose), ponerse (to put on (clothes), to set (sun)), suponer (to suppose, to assume)
andar (to walk) : anduve, anduviste, etc.
estar (to be) : estuve, estuviste, estuvo, etc.
tener (to have, to hold) : tuve, tuviste, tuvo, etc.
atenerse (to rely on, to depend on), contener (to contain, to hold, to restrain), detener (to detain, to stop (someone/thing)), detenerse (to stop (oneself)), mantener (to maintain, to support), obtener (to obtain), sostener (to sustain, to support, to maintain)

¡Arriba! 6 + 7 : Irregular Spanish Preterite Verbs, Part II

Part I

e to ie in present, e to i in 3rd person preterite

advertir (to advise, to warn) : advirtió, advirtieron
convertir (to convert) : convirtió, convirtieron
divertirse (to enjoy oneself) : se divirtió, se divirtieron
herir (to harm, to hurt, to wound) : hirió, hirieron
hervir (to boil, to simmer) : hirvió, hirvieron
mentir (to lie) : mintió, mintieron
preferir (to prefer) : prefirió, prefirieron
referir (to refer, to relate) : refirió, refirieron
sentir (to feel sorry, to regret) : sintió, sintieron
sentirse (to feel: well, ill, etc.)  se sintió, se sintieron
sugerir (to hint, to suggest) : sugirió, sugirieron

e to i present, e to i in 3rd person preterite

competir (to compete) : compitió, compitieron
corregir (to correct) : corrigió, corrigieron
elegir (to elect, to select) : eligió, eligeron
erguir (to raise, to stand up straight) : erguí, erguiste irguió, erguimos, erguisteis, irguieron
freír (to fry) : freí, freíste, frió, freímos, freísteis, frieron
gemir (to grieve, to groan) : gimió, gimieron
medir (to measure, to weigh) : midió, midieron
pedir (to ask for, to request) : pidió, pidieron
despedir (to fire, to dismiss), despedirse (to take leave of, to say goodbye to), impedir (to hinder, to prevent)
reír (to laugh) : reí, reíste, rió, reímos, reísteis, rieron
reírse (to laugh), sonreír (to smile)
reñir (to scold, to quarrel) : reñí, reñiste, riñó, reñimos, reñisteis, riñeron
repetir (to repeat) : repitió, repitieron
seguir (to follow, to continue) : siguió, siguieron
conseguir (to attain, to get), perseguir (to pursue, to persecute)
servir (to serve) : sirvió, sirvieron
vestirse (to dress oneself) : se vistió, se vistieron
vestir (to dress), desvestirse (to undress)