The emphasis for this lesson is school, either gradeschool, secondary school, or at a university, and what you do or find there. The numbers from 100 to 999999 are covered, regular -ar verb conjugation is introduced, you'll learn some question-and-answer words, and you'll find out how to tell time in Spanish.

If you're new to the Spanish lessons, you might want to check out the first 2 lessons at the Spanish Lessons Homepage.

Spanish Lesson 3 - en la escuela (at school)

This week's new words:

Click here to hear these words spoken
  • la biblioteca (bib-lee-o-tek-a) - library
  • la biología (bee-o-lo-ghee-a)1 - biology
  • el amigo/la amiga (ah-mee-go, ah-mee-ga) - friend
  • el borrador (bor-ra-dor) - chalkboard eraser
  • el cuaderno (kwa-der-no) - notebook
  • la clase (klah-say) - class
  • el diccionario (dik-see-o-nar-eeo) - dictionary
  • el dinero (dee-ner-oh) - money
  • la economía (eeko-nom-eeka)- economics
  • el español (es-panyohl) - Spanish
  • el/la estudiante (estoo-dee-ahn-tay) - student
  • el escritorio (eskree-tor-eeo) - desk
  • la escuela (esk-way-la) - school
  • la geografía (geeo-gra-fee-a) - geography
  • la hora (or-a) - hour
  • el inglés (eeng-layss) - English
  • el lápiz (la-peess)- pencil
  • el libro (lee-bro) - book
  • las matemáticas (mat-ay-mat-ee-kass) - math
  • la página (pa-ghee-na)1 - page
  • el papel (pah-pel) - paper
  • la pizarra (pee-ssara) - chalkboard
  • la pluma (ploo-ma) - pen
  • el reloj (ray-lojh)2 - clock/watch
  • la sala de clase (sah-la-day-kla-say) - classroom
  • la tarea (ta-ray-a) - homework
  • el tiempo (tee-empo)- time
  • la tiza (tee-ssa)- chalk
  • la universidad (oo-nee-ber-see-dahd)- university
    Click here to hear these words spoken
  • amar - to love
  • escuchar (es-koo-char) - to listen
  • estudiar (es-too-dee-ar) - to study
  • hablar (ah-blar) - to speak/talk
  • llamar (yah-mar) - to call
  • necesitar (neh-seh-see-tar) - to need
  • regresar (reh-greh-sar) - to return
  • trabajar (trah-bah-jhar)2 - to work
    Click here to hear these words spoken
  • cuál (kwahl)- which
  • cuándo (kwahndo) - when
  • cuánto(-a) (kwahnto) - how much
  • cuántos(-as) (kwahntos)- how many
  • dónde (dohn-day) - where
  • por qué (poor-kaay)3 - why
  • qué (kay) - what
  • quién (kee-en) - who
    Click here to hear these words spoken
  • porque (poor-kay)3 - because
  • y (ee) - and
  • a (ah) - at, to, the personal a
    Click here to hear these words spoken
  • corto(-a, -os, -as) (korto) - short
  • cuarto(-a, -os, -as) (kwar-toh) - quarter (one-fourth)
  • difícil(-es) (dee-fee-sil) - difficult
  • fácil(-es) (fa-sil) - easy
  • largo(-a, -os, -as) - long
  • medio(-a, -os, -as) (meh-dee-o) - half
  • Numbers 100-999.999

    Click here to hear these numbers spoken
  • 100 cien (see-en)
  • 101 ciento uno (see-en-toh oo-no)
  • 102 ciento dos
  • 103 ciento tres
  • 110 ciento diez
  • 120 ciento veinte
  • 199 ciento noventa y nueve
  • 200 doscientos (dohs-see-en-tohs)
  • 201 doscientos uno
  • 255 doscientos cincuenta y cinco
  • 282 doscientos ochenta y dos
  • 300 trescientos (tray-see-en-tohs)
  • 400 cuatrocientos (kwa-troh-see-en-tohs)
  • 500 quinientos (keen-ee-en-tohs)
  • 600 seiscientos (say-see-en-tohs)
  • 700 setecientos (set-ay-see-en-tohs)
  • 800 ochocientos (oh-cho-see-en-tohs)
  • 900 novecientos (no-bay-see-en-tohs)
  • 1.000 mil (mill)
  • 1.001 mil uno
  • 1.010 mil diez
  • 1.100 mil cien
  • 1.538 mil quinientos treinta y ocho
  • 1.999 mil novecientos noventa y nueve
  • 2.000 dos mil
  • 3.000 tres mil
  • 9.000 nueve mil
  • 10.000 diez mil
  • 15.000 quince mil
  • 27.000 veintisiete mil
  • 76.000 setenta y seis mil
  • 99.999 noventa y nueve mil novecientos noventa y nueve
  • 100.000 cien mil
  • 210.005 doscientos diez mil cinco
  • 305.111 trescientos cinco mil ciento once
  • 500.000 quinientos mil
  • 860.789 ochocientos sesenta mil setecientos ochenta y nueve
  • 911.222 novecientos once mil doscientos veintidós
  • Pronunciation Notes

    1. The g in biología and página is a soft, throatal g sound. It does not have an English equivalent, but it is very much like the English h in "help", except made further back in the throat, like one was softly clearing their throat.
    2. The j in reloj and trabajar is pronounced in a similar manner as the g in Note 1.
    3. There are two very similar-sounding words in this lesson - por qué, and porque. The accent on por qué tells you that the stress is on that syllable (qué). In porque, the stress is on the second-to-last syllable, which is por-; when speaking, you must make sure you pronounce these words correctly becuase your pronunciation and the context of the word are the only clues others will have about what you are saying.

    Regular -ar verbs

    All Spanish verbs fall into one of three categories - they either end in ar, er, or ir. Within each category, there are regular and irregular verbs. Regular verbs all conjugate with a similar pattern - all the new verbs in this lesson are regular (as you'll see soon). Irregular verbs don't follow a pattern, and each verb's conjugation has to be memorized separately - the two verbs you learned in Lesson 2, ser and estar are irregular.

    Here are the new verbs for this lesson: amar, escuchar, estudiar, hablar, necesitar, regresar, trabajar. These are all regular -ar verbs. Here are the present-tense (present indicative) conjugations of them all:

  • yo hablo ("I speak")
  • hablas ("you speak")
  • usted, él, ella habla ("you (formal), he, she speaks")
  • nosotros hablamos ("we speak")
  • vosotros habláis ("you (familiar plural) speak")
  • ustedes, ellos, ellas hablan ("you (formal plural), they (male), they (female) speak")
  • Regular verbs are made up of a body (habl), and a suffix (ar). To conjugate regular verbs, replace the infinitive suffix (ar, er, ir) with the correct conjugation suffix from the example conjugation for hablar above. For example, take amar, and conjugate it:
  • yo amo ("I love")
  • amas ("you love")
  • usted, él, ella ama ("you (formal), he, she loves")
  • nosotros amamos ("we love")
  • vosotros amáis ("you (familiar plural) love")
  • ustedes, ellos, ellas aman ("you (formal plural), they (male), they (female) love")
  • Click here to hear the spoken conjugations of hablar and amar

    All verbs can be split into a body/suffix pair, but only regular verbs follow these patterns. There are 3 different regular-verb patterns - one for -ar verbs, one for -ir verbs, and one for -er verbs. (In the next lesson, we'll learn the rules for regular -er and -ir verbs.) In summary, to conjugate any regular -ar verb in the present (present indicative) tense, remove the -ar suffix, and add one of the following (depending on who is the subject of the verb):

  • yo, -o
  • tú, -as
  • usted, él, ella, -a
  • nosotros, -amos
  • vosotros, -áis
  • ustedes, ellos, ellas, -an
  • Here are complete conjugations of 2 more verbs from this lesson:
    yo trabajo, tú trabajas, usted, él, ella trabaja, nosotros trabajamos, vosotros trabajáis, ustedes, ellos, ellas trabajan
    yo regreso, tú regresas, usted, él, ella regresa, nosotros regresamos, vosotros regresáis, ustedes, ellos, ellas regresan
    Now that we have the conjugation for these regular -ar verbs, we can make sentences with them, like this:

    A - At or To, and the Personal A

    In a few of the sentences above, the preposition a is used, as in Ellos estudian a las ocho. The preposition a translates to the English "at" or "to", depending on the sentence. The preceeding sentence ("ellos estudian...") is an example of a meaning "at". The sentence nosotros ecuchamos a la profesora is an example of a meaning "to". When the a comes before an el, as in nosotros escuchamos "a el" profesor, the a and the el combine to form al. So the correct way to write the preceeding sentence is: Nosotros escuchamos al profesor.

    Note that the English "at" may translate to either a or en in Spanish, depending on the sentence. En is usually used to refer to something being at something else, such as estoy en la universidad - "I'm at the university". A usually refers to a state or condition (sort of) of something, such as "at great speed", or when referring to time, such as a la una ("at one o'clock").

    In one sentence above, amo a Tanya, the a isn't either of the above two meanings. When a person or name of a place is the direct object of a verb (with the exception of the verb tener, "to have"), an a is placed before the object, as in amo a Tanya. This is known as the "personal a", and it is required. Some more examples of the personal a:

    Numbers 100 to 999.999

    If you've looked at the numbers in the New Words section, you may already have seen some patterns developing in Spanish numbers. First, the numbers 100, 200, 300, etc., all have a similar form - ciento, doscientos, trescientos... If you look carefully, and remember the numbers 2 through 9, you'll see that each hundred above 100 is just "two hundreds" (doscientos), "three hundreds" (trescientos), and so on. There are three exceptions, for pronunciations' sake - quinientos (500), setecientos (700), and novecientos. To form numbers in between the hundreds, you use the numbers 1-99 you learned in the last 2 lessons, but add the hundreds on to the front. Eleven is once, 111 is ciento once. Three-hundred and twenty is trescientos veinte, and so on.

    Mil is Spanish for 1.000. No, this isn't "one point zero zero zero zero", this is one-thousand. English uses a comma to separate thousands, millions, etc., in a number. Spanish uses the period (".") instead. In English, we would expect to see this number: 12,399,100. In Spanish, the same number is written: 12.399.100. In much the same way, where English uses the period to denote numbers between whole numbers (as in "12.99"), Spanish uses a comma ("12,99"), but this will be discussed in another lesson.

    Multiples of 1000 are treated as such - 2000 is dos mil, literally "two thousand". Three thousand is tres mil, and so on. This pattern is the same for thousands up to 999.000 (that's nine-hundred ninety-nine thousand), so that 50.000 is cincuenta mil, and 231.000 is doscientos treinta y uno mil. Combining these two rules for numbers, we can read numbers like 123.456 (ciento veintitres mil cuatrocientos cincuenta y seis) and 784.675 ( setecientos ochenta y cuatro mil seiscientos setenta y cinco). So now, practice saying things like:

  • The current year. (mil novecientos noventa y tres)
  • How many miles are on your car. (cien mil cuatroscientos treinta y dos)
  • The number of pages in the book you're reading. (trescientos ochenta)
  • The number of CDs and tapes you own. (doscientos cinco)
  • Your yearly salary. (diez mil)
  • Telling Time

    Yo regreso a la universidad a las tres. Telling time in Spanish uses only 2 forms of the verb ser: es and son. Spanish for "it is one o'clock" is es la una. Times are always given in the feminine form because la hora ("hour", or "the time") is feminine. Es la is only used if you are talking about one o'clock, since "one" is singular. For all other hours, you use son las, as in son las seis ("It's 6 o'clock"). Minutes are expressed as numbers after the hour, using either y or menos to represent after or before the hour, respectively. At 15 minutes before or after the hour, cuarto ("a fourth") is used instead of quince ("fifteen"). Likewise, at 30 minutes after an hour, media ("half") is used instead of treinta ("thirty"). Media is never used with menos Here are some exapmles: To say that something is "at" a certain time, use a la or a las: To ask for the time in Spanish, use ¿Qué hora es? ("What time is it?"). To ask what time something happens at, use ¿A qué hora...? ("At what time...?") as in ¿A qué hora es la clase?, or ¿A qué hora regresas a la universidad? ("What time do you return to the university?").

    To differentiate between AM and PM when telling time, Spanish uses de la mañana ("in the morning"), de la tarde ("in the afternoon"), and de la noche ("in the night") to describe what time of day being referred to. So 9 o'clock PM becomes son las nueve de la noche, while 9AM is son las nueve de la mañana, and 5PM is son las cinco de la tarde.

    Questions and Question Words

    Asking a yes or no question

    There are many ways to ask questions in Spanish. The simplest form of a question is to use a regular sentence but either add question marks (when written) or change the inflection (when spoken). Look at these 2 sentences: When writing a question in Spanish, question marks occur at both the beginning and the end of the question. The beginning question mark is always inverted, i.e. upside-down (¿), to specify the beginning of a question. Question marks do not need to surround the entire sentence if the entire sentence is not a question - see the example below. When speaking, you can't draw little question marks to let the other person know you're asking a question, so you must change the inflection of the sentence. A normal Spanish sentence ends on a low inflection, as in "maRIsa esTUdia", with capital letters denoting syllable emphasis. When asking a question, the sentence ends with a high inflection, as in "maRIsa estudIA", much the same as English questions.

    It is also possible to change the word order when asking a question. Look at these sentences:

    All three of these sentences say the same thing, "Is Marisa studying Spanish?" The subject of the sentence, namely Marisa, can be placed at the beginning of the sentence, after the verb, or at the end of the sentence, for questions only. The same rules of inflection apply as above. It is important to note that, the second form above (¿Estudia Marisa español?), with the subject after the verb, is the most "question-like", and is the preferred form for asking questions of this kind. In the section above, the proper way to ask "does Marisa study" would be ¿Estudia Marisa?

    One other common way of asking a question is to add ¿no? or ¿verdad? ("right?") to the end of a sentence. So the question above could also be written: Marisa estudia español, ¿verdad? ("Marisa is studying Spanish, isn't she?" or "Marisa is studying Spanish, right?").

    Question words

    All of these questions have implied either a yes or no answer - "Is Marisa studying?", "Is she studying Spanish?" To ask questions that require more than a yes or no answer, you generally have to use a question word. Here is a list of some English question words and their Spanish equivalents:
    1. What - qué
    2. Who - quién
    3. When - cuándo
    4. Why - por qué,
    5. Which - cuál
    6. How much - cuánto(-a)
    7. How many - cuántos(-as)
    8. Where - dónde
    Each question word, or interrogatve, works similarly to its English counterpart. Perhaps the easiest way to explain how to use them is through example sentences. Take a look at these:
    1. ¿Quién es Roberto? ("Who is Roberto?")
    2. ¿Cuándo regresa? ("When is s/he returning?")
    3. ¿Dónde estudia? ("Where does s/he study?")
    4. ¿Qué hora es? ("What time is it?")
    5. ¿A qué hora es la clase? ("At what time is the class?")
    6. ¿Cuál es la tarea? ("What is the homework (assignment)?")
    7. ¿Quién está en la casa? ("Who is in the house?")
    8. ¿Dónde está el lápiz? ("Where is the pencil?")
    9. ¿Por qué regresa a la escuela? ("Why do you return to school?")
    10. ¿En cuál universidad estudias? ("At which university do you study?")
    11. ¿Cuántos estudiantes estan en la clase? ("How many students are in class?")
    Notice the similarity between English and Spanish? Try making your own questions by translating the following English sentences (note that not all of them need a question word). Type in your answer in the text box after each sentence, then press the Translations button to compare what you typed to what the right answers are. (Answers for users without forms support.)
    1. What is in the book?
    2. Where does s/he work?
    3. Who is it?
    4. Is it 2 o'clock?
    5. What do you(informal) need?
    6. Why do you love him?

    Test yourself

    Here's your chance to see how much you know. All of these sentences you should be able to translate either from or to Spanish, if you've gone through all three lessons. Type in your answer in the text box after each sentence, then press the Translations button to compare what you typed to what the right answers are. (Answers for users without forms support.)

    English to Spanish
    1. Hello, miss, are you in school?
    2. You're the teacher, aren't you?
    3. The class is long and difficult.
    4. Is the television in the kitchen?
    5. The green chair is big.
    6. I listen to the teacher in (the) class.
    7. Are the students unpleasant?
    8. The chalkboard is dirty.
    9. I'm sorry, I don't speak English.
    10. They're Tim's papers.
    Spanish to English
    1. ¿Es la tarea difícil?
    2. ¿Cuándo está la clase?
    3. Hablo inglés y español bueno.
    4. ¿Está ella bonita?
    5. La sala de clase es grande y limpia.
    6. ¿Dónde estudias geografía?
    7. ¿Quién llamas en la cocina?
    8. ¿Cuándo trabaja en la escuela?
    9. Es un libro de matemáticas.
    10. Necesito una pluma azul.

    Spanish Lesson 3 copyright Tyler Jones, 1994. Written by Tyler Jones, with help from Fernando García-Loygorri. Proofreading by Fanny Fierro and Fernando García-Loygorri. October 21, 1994.

    (FORM) Send a note to Tyler