Thursday, October 15, 2020

Preterite/pretérito in Spanish: how to form it and learn it!

Perfect or Preterite in Spanish Grammar

The perfect tense (pretérito perfecto) and the preterite tense (indefinido) are both used for completed actions in Spanish grammar. However, they are used in different situations: The preterit tense is used for completed past actions, while the perfect tense is used for actions that take place in a time frame that has not yet ended, or for past actions that continue to influence the present. The usage of these tense is similar to the present perfect and past simple in English grammar. However, they are not exactly the same.

Learn the difference between perfect and preterite tenses in Spanish grammar. Master their conjugation and get tips on the correct usage with Lingolia’s tense comparison.


Example

La semana pasada me apunté a un curso de tenis. Lo primero que hice fue comprarme una raqueta en la tienda de deportes de la esquina.

La primera clase ha sido esta mañana y me ha encantado. Así que he decidido comprar un bono anual de entrenamiento.


Verb Conjugation


Perfect

personhaberpast participle
yohe

hablado

aprendido

vivido

has
él/ella/ustedha
nosotros/-ashemos
vosotros/-ashabéis
ellos/ellas/ustedeshan

Preterite

-ar
hablar
-er
aprender
-ir
vivir
habléaprendíviví
hablasteaprendisteviviste
hablóaprendióvivió
hablamosaprendimosvivimos
hablasteisaprendisteisvivisteis
hablaronaprendieronvivieron

Usage

Perfect

Use the perfect tense to express:

  • an action completed within a period of time that counts as the present in Spanish (este semana, hoy)
    Example:
    La primera clase ha sido esta mañana y me ha encantado.
  • a completed action that has an influence on the present or the future
    Example:
    He decidido comprar un bono anual de entrenamiento.

    Result: I’d like to train more often.



Preterite

Use the preterite tense to express:

  • an action completed at a point in time that counts as the past in Spanish (see signal words below)
    Example:
    La semana pasada me apunté a unas clases de tenis.
    Lo primero que hice fue comprarme una raqueta en la tienda de deportes de la esquina.


Signal Words

One way to decide whether to use the perfect tenses or the preterite tenses is to pay attention to expressions of time. We can use them as signal words that allow us to identify the correct tense.

Below is a list of the most common time expressions for each tense.


List of Signal Words for Perfect

  • esta mañana/semana/…
    este mes/verano/año/siglo/…
    example:
    Esta mañana me he despertado a las seis.
  • hoy
    Example:
    Hoy no he comprado el periódico.
  • últimamente
    Example:
    ¿Has tomado el sol últimamente?
  • nunca
    Example:
    Nunca he ido a México.
  • siempre
    Example:
    He vivido siempre en esta casa.
  • ya
    Example:
    La ducha ya se ha roto dos veces.
  • aún, todavía
    Example:
    Aún no he regado las plantas.


List of Signal Words for Preterite

  • ayer
    Example:
    Ayer me desperté a las seis.
  • el año pasado
    Example:
    El año pasado fui a México.
  • la semana pasada
    Example:
    La semana pasada no compré el periódico.
  • en (mes, estación, año)
    Example:
    En 2010 me mudé a esta casa.
  • de repente
    Example:
    De repente, se rompió la ducha.
  • anoche
    Example:
    Anoche regué las plantas.

    Exercises

    Type in the verbs in the perfect tense.

    1. Ya (terminar/yo)  la carrera de periodismo.
    2. ¿(Tú/ir)  al médico esta mañana?
    3. Nosotros (apuntarse)  a tu clase de baile.
    4. ¿(Hacer/vosotros)  el examen esta mañana?
    5. A ellos les (gustar)  mucho la comida del restaurante.

    Type in the verbs in the preterite tense.

    1. Justo (llamar/ellos)  a la puerta mientras entraba en la ducha.
    2. El otro día (encontrarse/yo)  con Pedro por la calle.
    3. Creo que no (estudiar/vosotros)  suficiente para el examen.
    4. Ayer Luis (conducir)  por primera vez un camión.
    5. La semana pasada (volver/nosostros)  de nuestras vacaciones.

    Decide if the verbs should be in the perfect or preterite tense.

    El mes pasado (inscribirse/yo)  en la secretaría de la universidad. Como no (recibir/yo)  ninguna confirmación, la semana pasada (llamar/yo)  por teléfono para ver si mi inscripción estaba en regla.

    «Entonces la secretaria (mirar)  en el registro y me (decir) : “(introducir/yo)  en el ordenador tus datos y de momento tu nombre no (aparecer) . ¿Estás seguro de que (registrarse)  correctamente? ”»

    «Yo (responder) : “Claro que sí. ¿No (encontrar/tú)  nadie en la lista con el apellido Rebollo?”»

    «La secretaria (contestar) : “No, sólo (ver)  alguien con el nombre de Alberto Repollo. Quizás aquel día (escribir/ellos)  mal tus datos en la base de datos. ¿Tú (nacer)  el 3 de marzo de 1989?”»

    Por fin (certificar/yo)  que se trataba de un error.

    «Ayer (comenzar/yo)  el curso en la universidad y (pensar) : “Menos mal que antes de venir (ponerse/yo)  en contacto con la universidad y hoy no (tenerse/yo)  que quedar en casa.”»

Sunday, October 4, 2020

How many hours does it take to learn a new language if you are a native English speaker?

 

How many hours does it take to learn a new language if you are a native English speaker?


How many hours does it take to learn a new language if you are a native English speaker, how long before you achieve fluency in a foreign language?

English is the most international language on the globe. If you are a native English speaker chances are, you can get along quite comfortably in most western countries without learning a word in another language. In Europe especially, with enough luck, someone out there may know enough English to initiate and sustain basic communication situations.

But of course, for various other reason either personal, cultural or work-related, you will find yourself in need of learning a foreign language. The next natural question after deciding to learn a new language is: how many hours does it take to learn a foreign language and achieve fluency?

It depends a lot on how motivated you are and how much time you have at your disposal for such an endeavor. Depending on these two factors the time spent learning a new language vary greatly.


Interagency Language Roundtable scale or the IRL scale

It is grading scale used by the US government to scale employees and diplomats working for the FSI (Foreign Service Institute).
You’ll find this scale to be the most accurate when it comes to native English speakers learning a foreign language.

Level 0No proficiency
Level 1Elementary proficiency
Level 2Limited working proficiency
Level 3Professional working proficiency
Level 4Full professional proficiency
Level 5Native or bilingual proficiency


Fluency is practically reached at level 3 (professional working proficiency), so basically, this level will be our main benchmark.

But first, we need to clarify a certain aspect of learning foreign languages as a native English speaker: some languages are more difficult to learn than others.

Why? Because English and some languages haven’t been in contact with one another for thousands of years and evolved in a totally different way.


Easiest language to learn for English speakers

The data presented below reflects a study held by FSI (Foreign Service Institute) of the US government. Again, this is probably the most accurate data regarding how much time takes for a native English speaker to become fluent in a particular new language.

The FSI has over 800 language learning courses in more than 70 languages with more than 70 years of experience in training US diplomats and foreign affairs employees.

Tier 1: Let’s start with the languages that are most closely related to English

Germanic languages

Afrikaansabout 575 hours or 23 weeks
Danishabout 575 hours or 23 weeks
Dutchabout 575 hours or 23 weeks
Norwegianabout 575 hours or 23 weeks
Swedishabout 575 hours or 23 weeks

 

Romance Languages

Frenchabout 600 hours or 24 weeks
Italianabout 600 hours or 24 weeks
Portugueseabout 600 hours or 24 weeks
Romanianabout 600 hours or 24 weeks
Spanishabout 600 hours or 24 weeks

 

Even though FSI classifies all the above languages as having the same difficulty score and the same average time of learning (575-600 hours) it only makes sense that Germanic based languages like Danish or Dutch to be generally easier to learn compared with any of the Romance languages like Italian or Romanian.

But most of the languages above are highly easy to learn for very good reasons:

  • use the same alphabet as English
  • comparable stress and intonation patterns
  • already share a number of vocabulary words

Tier 2: Similar to English

German750 hours or 30 weeks

 

Even though German is the most Germanic language of them all, it doesn’t come very natural to learn for native English speakers.

The grammar is more complicated and difficult to understand, hence German gets a tier 2 difficulty score, but of course, there are other Germanic languages out there that are much harder to master, like Icelandic.

Tier 3: Languages that may have cultural and linguistic differences compared to English

Indonesian900 hours or 36 weeks
Malaysian900 hours or 36 weeks
Swahili900 hours or 36 weeks

 

Tier 4: Languages that are profoundly different from English

Polish1100 hours or 44 weeks
Croatian1100 hours or 44 weeks
Latvian1100 hours or 44 weeks
Greek1100 hours or 44 weeks
Turkish1100 hours or 44 weeks
Icelandic1100 hours or 44 weeks
Finnish1100 hours or 44 weeks
Estonian1100 hours or 44 weeks
Hungarian1100 hours or 44 weeks

 

Above are just a part of the European languages classified as tier 4 FSI. The list goes on with other languages from all over the world, like Mongolian, Nepali, Thai, Xhosa, Zulu or Hebrew. All of them taking about 1100 hours or 44 weeks to become fluent in.

Hardest language to learn for English speakers

All of the tier 5 languages are highly sophisticated and complex compared to English having an average learning curve up to 4 times the period it takes for the average English speaker to learn Dutch for example. So arm yourself with a lot of patience and plenty of determination.

Based on all the data and testimonies English speakers made over the years, the hardest language to learn award may go to Japanese due to thousands of characters you need to memorize while having three different writing varieties.

Tier 5: Extraordinary level of difficulty

Arabic2200 hours or 88 weeks
Chinese2200 hours or 88 weeks
Japanese2200 hours or 88 weeks
Korean2200 hours or 88 weeks

 

But don’t let all these statistics scare you! People around the world are learning and assimilating new languages every day. Besides, these are still human languages; it’s not like you need to decipher an alien dialect. All of the above are languages made up by humans, and with enough determination and willpower, you can learn any language on this list.