A basketball coach once told his young players that they should promise themselves that they would shoot at least one basket per day. Once per day! That should be easy, they all thought. Well, come to find out, one young player has stuck to that rule everyday now for the last 25 years. He is Steve Auburn and he later played in the NBA. He admitted later that that one rule, that one tid-bit made him the player that he came to be. He stated that once he got on the court to shoot his 'one' shot, that he ended up staying for hours on end.
That's how it must be when you want to do anything, especially learning a language. You must give it a little time each day - say five minutes. Everyday, for at least five minutes, you are doing to study Spanish; whether it be by jotting down song lyrics, watching a small section of a sub-titled film, or flipping through your notecards on the subway one thing is for sure - practice makes perfect.
Preguntas or Questions
Asking questions in English comes quite naturally. We have been doing it since we came to an age where we were able to explore the world around us. In Spanish, whether you are traveling or just conversating with an amigo, you will want to be able to ask questions. We'll talk about those ways here.
Raising Your Voice
When you want to ask a question that requires a yes/no answer in Spanish, you can simply raise your voice. This is called adding inflexion and intonation to a phrase that puts a questioning tone with the words you are asking. This is the easiest way to ask a question. Notice in Spanish how there is an upside-down question mark that is written before the actual question phrase and an regular question mark following. This is how the Spanish signify that a question is being asked in their written language.
¿Tu comes todo?
The intonation of the above question phrase will begin low and work its way higher as we near the end.
Phonetically it might read: ¿too koh-mASE TODO? where the capital letters signify a raise in the tone of the voice.
Adding Spanish Tags
In English, a tag at the end of a phrase might signify a question is being asked.
Ex. You went there yesterday, right?
In the above example, 'right?' is the tag added to the end of the phrase which turns this regular statement into an interrogative phrase or question. Here, in English, you might also note a slight rise in the intonation of the voice as we use the tag, right?
In Spanish, there are some similar tags.
Tag 1 =¿verdad?
Tag 2= ¿No?
Tag 3= Esta Bien? (Common, but no direct translation. Close to: "All right?")
He wants to study in the United States, right? Isn't that so? All right?
Another way that you can ask a question while speaking Spanish is to use inversion. This is where you inverse the subject and verb. For example, in English:
He is going away. (statement)
We can do basically the same thing when asking a question in Spanish. You will still, however, want to raise your voice towards the end of the phrase to indicate that you are asking a question.
Do you want to go with me? (Notice that we do not have to use the subject prounoun.)
Ex. ¿Quieres (tu) ir conmigo?
You are from Peru?
Ex. ¿Eres (tu) de Peru?
EXERCISE: YOUR TURN!
Conjugate the verbs & ask a question using one of the above methods.
Your answers will vary.
Answering Questions in Spanish
Now that you know how to ask questions, you'll have to be able to respond if someone asks you one.
If your answer is yes, you can say 'Si' -pronounced: 'see'. And, don't forget to conjugate the verb.
¿Quieres comer hamburguesas? Si, quiero comer hamburguesas.
¿Buscas para la respuesta? (Are you looking for the answer?) Si, busco para la respuesta. ¿Tienes el periodico? (Do you have the newspaper?) Si, tengo el periodico.
*Notice the use of the irregular verb, Tener (to have: tienes=you have; I have = Yo tengo).
Other Spanish Responses to Questions
Other responses to questions in Spanish might be in the negative form. In Spanish, simply use 'NO' (prounounced more nasal; 'noh' in Spanish ) followed by the conjugated verb.
Or, you can use any of the following:
Nunca como bocadillos. -noo-kah koh-moh bow-kah-dee-yohs (I never eat sandwiches.)
Nada esta aqui. (Nothing is here.)
Nadie esta aqui. (No on is here.)