Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Qué pichudo mae

Today we're going to look at a thank you note for a wedding gift I gave to my tico friend that just recently got married.  By the way, if you're wondering what the word tico means, it's an apodo (nick name) for the people of Costa Rica, or costarricenses.  And tica would be used for a woman.

He knows how much I love learning colloquial Spanish so he wrote the thank you note in pure Costa Rican slang.  Needless to say translating it kept me busy for several hours and I enjoyed every minute of it.   This little note certainly put my Spanish skills to the test.

I thought you all would enjoy the Spanish I learned, especially since I've already done all the hard work.

We're going to take a close look at this card, so here it is.

I'm not sure what was harder, deciphering his handwriting or the slang.  But with that said, let's examine this note line by line.

Qué pichudo mae

Let's start with the easy stuff, the word mae

Mae is the de facto Costa Rican word for dude, and you'll hear it constantly walking up and down the streets of San Jose and most likely all of Costa Rica.  Guys use it, girls use it, it's everywhere.  You can also use it to refer to a person in general.

Ese mae no me cae bien
I don't like that guy

Mae, ¿Dónde estás?
Dude, where are you?

Now, as always exercise some caution because you may just run across the one person who doesn't like the word or is offended by it.  Or takes offense at you (a.k.a a gringo) using it, but the word itself is perfectly safe.  Just remember it carries this meaning in Costa Rica.  In another country it may not exist at all or possibly be offensive.  Know your audience.

Next we get to pichudo.  Pichudo is another very Costa Rican word meaning genial or buenísimo in standard Spanish.   In English it would be something along the great, cool or awesome.

So our translation would be something along the lines of:

Qué pichudo mae
How awesome dude

Translating slang isn't an exact science, but this conveys the idea.

The next line is a bit trickier and I actually needed help with this one.

Mae, demasiados tenquius por esa harina

If you're looking at the word tenquius and can't figure out what it means or how to pronounce it, don't feel bad, you're not alone.  I searched the internet far and wide for the meaning of that one to no avail.  It turns it out it means "thank you's", but it sounds like "tank youz".  Go figure.

The next word, harina, is a lot easier.  The dictionary meaning is flour, but in Costa Rican Spanish it's money.  In fact, the currency of Costa Rica is called colones, but I'll write more about that in another post.

The literal translation "Too many thank you's" just doesn't sound right to my English ears, so I'm going with the below instead.

Mae, demasiados tenquius por esa harina
Dude, thanks so much for the money

Moving on the next line, this is something else I would never have figured out with my friends help.

Esta en tuas!

This actually has a bit of history to go with it and you will totally impress your Costa Rican friends with your knowledge of this one.  Or at least the one's old enough to remember this.

The first thing you need to know is that this phrase, when written in proper Spanish, is actually

Está en todas

And unlike the vast majority of the Spanish phrases I learn, I was actually able to learn the origin of this one.  Or least how it become popular.

These may look familiar to you.

Yep, they look like M&M's don't they?

Our phrase, estás en todas, became a popular saying as a result of an 80's commercial.   Thanks to the magic of YouTube, we get to watch this too.

If you don't see the video below, here's the direct link:


¡Con teens estás en todas!

Now, this is the hard part, translating our expression.   I'm thinking it's somewhere along the lines of you're awesome or really cool.

Moving right along we get to the next line.

Fue un placer contar con teus en esa tafies tan memorable

Keeping with our tradition of tackling the easy words first, tafies is a fiesta, or party in English.

Teus is a bit trickier.  My amigo tico told me that this simply means usted in pachuco.  Great, now we have to figure what pachuco is.

Pachuco is a very informal and slangy form of Costa Rican Spanish, which according to Google has it's roots in Mexican Spanish used in the days of zoot suits.   I can't really tell you much about it but a Google search will give you enough info to keep you busy if you're really interested.

And if you don't know, everyone in Costa Rica speaks with usted.  It's just what they do.

Fue un placer contar con teus en esa tafies tan memorable
It was a pleasure to have your support in this memorable occasion

As I mentioned earlier, tafies means party, but for translation purposes occasion or celebration seems to fit better.

Me comprare una chema y la guila unas chanclas

Chema is Costa Rican slang for a shirt.  And just so you know, they use the word cachos for shoes.  I mentioned that in some of my earlier posts about Costan Rican Spanish.

Next we get another very, very common word in Costa Rican slang.  Guila.

Here's a well written definition in Spanish I found.

Guila should actually be written as güila, and it can be used to refer to a guy or a girl in general, or your girlfriend or boyfriend.  It's always written as güila, so to specify the gender you  say el güila or la güila.  In informal writing it's nearly always seen written with a regular u and not ü (with the diaeresis).

Mae, esa güila es muy bonita
Dude, that girl is really pretty

¿Como está su guila?
How's your girlfriend?

Es un queque, right?  That's tico for "it's easy, right?"

Moving on.

Chanclas, are flip flops or sandalias (sandals).  Generally speaking, chanclas and sandalias are synonyms, with the exception that chanclas also refers to flip flips, while typically sandalias does not.

The word chancla generally refers to any flat sandal, but that's not a strict rule.  Various styles of sandals can be referred to as chanclas.

Me comprare una chema y la guila unas chanclas
I'm going to buy myself a shirt and my girlfriend some sandals

And we're finally getting to the end.

Espero que se le haga un nudo en la jupa desentrañando mi mensaje escrito en lenguaje de tiquicia.

Jupa means cabeza, or head.  And Tiquicia is nothing more than an affectionate reference to the country of Costa Rica itself.

Espero que se le haga un nudo en la jupa desentrañando mi mensaje escrito en lenguaje de tiquicia.
I hope you tie a knot in your head trying to figure out my message written in the language of Costa Rica.

And there you have it.  Go forth and impress your tico (Costa Rican) friends with this new bit of Spanish you've learned today.

If you want or need to learn more Costa Rican slang, I found these lessons on Costa Rican Spanish to be of great help.  They do a great job of zeroing in on the most common terms.  You can also find several books on Costa Rican slang at Amazon.

Of course the best thing to do to learn some Costa Rican slang is to make friends with some ticos or hop on a plane to Tiquicia, but if you can't do either one of those then the options I gave you above aren't bad either.

¡Hasta la próxima!

Friday, June 9, 2017


In my last post, Tenemos Chinelas, I gave you a mini-tour of Managua, Nicaragua.  And a little bit of Nicaraguan Spanish to boot.  I also promised you I'd do the the same for the city of Granada.   So with that said, let the Nicaragua adventure continue.

Let's start with a little bit of Nicaraguan Spanish I should have explained to you the first time.

People from Nicaragua are called nicaragüense.  But that's kind of a mouthful, so I like to say the abbreviated version, nica.  And it's nica for both sexes.  You would say un nica for a man and una nica for a woman.

¿Eres nica?
Are you Nicaraguan?

Soy Nica y eso nadie me lo quita
I'm Nicaraguan and no one can take that from me

Here's the Nicaraguan flag (bandera) if you're never seen it.

The currency of Nicaragua is called the córdoba.  Here are a few pics.

Great!  We've got the basics covered so let's get on with that mini-tour of Granada.

I got to Granada in a buseta much like this one.  A buseta is just a smaller version of an autobús.  It can only carry 30 people or so.

My Granada adventure started with ride in a coche de caballos or a horse and buggy.   You may also hear a coach and buggy referred to as un coche con carruaje.  Or cabellos con  carruajes.  If you're familiar with Spanish you know how it is, there's always more than one way to say something.

It's an enjoyable way to tour the city.   You can find them at Parque Colón.  They'll be lined up in the street waiting to take you on the grand tour.

By the way, the word for tour in Spanish is recorrido.  However, don't be surprised if you just hear the word tour.  With a Spanish accent of course.

Granada is a colonial town full of history and super old houses.  The guide pointed out one that was over 400 years old.  Amazing.  What's even more amazing is I didn't take pictures.  What was I thinking?

After touring the city we headed to the Centro Turistico.

The Centro Turistico in Grenada is an awesome place.  It's like a huge park where families go to have picnics, let the kids run around, take a swim in the lake (Lago Cocibolca) and have asados (barbeques).  You can also walk along the lake front and more importantly, take a tour of Las Isletas.

Las Isletas consist of 75 small islands formed from eruptions of el volcán Mombacho.  A good number of the isletas have houses of varying sizes on them.  By the way, an isleta is a small island.  A regular size island (however big that is) is an isla.

If you take a recorrido of Las Isletas you'll also get a chance to have lunch at one of the restaurants found on the isletas.

I really enjoyed the recorrido of las isletas.   Nothing like enjoying the cool breeze on the lake on a hot day.

I'll leave you with a couple of more pictures of Granada.

And to wrap up my mini-tour of Granada, here's a short promo video I found of Granada.  It will give you a great idea of what to expect if you decide to go.


And to finally wrap this post up, let's look at the word diacachimba.

You probably immediately noticed the difference in spelling from what I typed and what's in the photo.  Since it's an informal word to begin with it really doesn't matter.     You may also see deachachimba.  Anyway, it means something is really cool, really well done, or even to say you're in a good mood.

Que fiesta mas deacachimba
This party is awesome

It can also apply to people.

Ese mae es deacachimba
This guy is really cool

Here are a couple more examples:

Esta entrada esta deacachimba
This post is awesome

Me siento diacachimba
I feel great

Tu carro está deacachimba
Your car is really cool

Este trabajo me esta quedando diacachimba
This job is turning out great

Well, that's it.  Almost.  The last thing I'll add is that if you get the chance try the Toña

and the Flor de Caña, which is their flagship rum.  Awesome stuff.

There really is a lot to do in Nicaragua, much more than I expected.  There were a few things and places I didn't get to see, so who knows, maybe a return trip is in order.

That's it for today, Hasta la próxima!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Tenemos Chinelas

Well, I've been traveling again, this time to Central America.  Managua, Nicaragua to be exact.  I have to say, I picked up a couple of interesting tidbits of Spanish that I'm going to share and I'll also give you a mini-tour of Managua and Granada.

Let's jump right into things.

I actually flew into Managuga from Costa Rica with an airline called Avianca on an avión that looked something like this:

When we got to Managua I was pleasantly surprised by the airport (Aeropuerto Internaciónal Augusto C Sandino).  It was clean and pretty modern.

From there my Nicaragua adventure begin!

I guess we'll start with one of the things that surprised me the most about Managua.  The traffic.  The streets are packed with cars.  La hora pico (rush hour) was absolutely insane.  And because of that, nearly all of the conversations I had with taxistas (taxi drivers) always included:

Hay mucho tráfico
There's a lot of traffic

Except that in Managua they don't say tráfico.  They say presa.

Hay mucha presa
There's a lot of traffic

 Here's another tip you'll need to know if you ever find yourself catching a cab in Managua.

The taxis are colectivos, meaning they pick up multiple passengers.  By the way, it's not uncommon to hear buses referred to as colectivos in some Latin American countries.  But I digress, let's get back on track.

If you're riding solo in a cab and someone else going your direction needs a ride, the taxista will pick them up too.  And there is no taximetro (taxi meter), so negotiate your carrera (fare) before you get in the cab.  And you can expect to pay what I call the gringo tax, meaning you're going to be overcharged.

It was also in a taxi cab that I came across the verb dilatar for first time.  In Managua, dilatar is a synonym for the verb tardar in the context of how long it takes to get somewhere.   Here's an example:

Me:       ¿Cuanto tiempo tarda para llegar al malecón?
             How long does it take to get to the boardwalk?

Taxista: Dilata unos diez minutos
             It takes about 10 minutes

Pan comida right?

Moving right along...

A popular greeting that Nicaragua (or at least Managua) shares with México is qué onda.  I heard this several times.  Qué onda simply means "What's up?".  It's very informal, used in exactly the same way you'd use it's English counterpart.

Another greeting I heard often is buenas.  Buenas is a informal greeting you can use any time of the day.  You can use it with pretty much anyone.  Unless of course you find yourself in a situation you need to be more formal in.  However, it's perfect for greeting folks in stores, restaurants, in the street, etc.  I think you get the idea.

As you walk or drive up and down the streets of Managua you'll see what they call an arbol de la vida everywhere.

I found them to be really pretty at night when they're all lit up.  However as nice as they may look, not everyone is a fan of these.  You see, they're illuminated all night, every night, 365 days a year, paid for by the tax payers.  They also have guards that protect the trees.  Also paid for by the tax payers.  I think you now understand why everyone isn't fan.  Anyway, a taxista filled me in on all the gory details, which I've spared you from.   At any rate, they are nice to look at regardless of the politics and controversy behind them.

I didn't have as much time as I'd like to get around Managua, but one of the places I felt obligated to visit was Puerto Salvador Allende.

Puerto Salvador Allende is what they refer to as the malecón, or boardwalk.   It sits on the orilla del Lago de Managua.  The lago (lake) is also called by it's indigenous name Lago Xolotlán.   By the way, orilla in this context means shore, or edge.

It's a really awesome place.  Huge, as a matter of fact.  You'll find restaurants and shopping, a playground for the kids, historical monuments, all kinds of cool stuff there to see and just a great place to pass the time walking around.   I went there at night because the summertime heat in Managua is insane (90+ degrees).

Night time at the malecón is amazing.  The restaurants have music blaring and are filled with people dining and dancing the night away.  The malecón is filled with locals and tourists alike just walking around and enjoying the atmosphere.

Here's a short video for you to see what it's like.  If you can't see the video, I also included the direct link.


Here are a few photos I took as well.  On the first couple you'll see the palm leaves that cover the benches. The word for those is palapas.

If you find yourself in Managua a visit to the malecón vale la pena (it's worth the trouble).

While this next word isn't exclusive to to Nicaragua, it was a new word I picked up.  I found myself sitting in a bank waiting for my friend to cambiar dinero (exchange money) and I was looking for a water fountain,  which you can call a fuente (para beber) or a bebedero.  Hard to believe after more than 10 years of learning Spanish I've never had to ask for a water fountain.

This post is starting to get a little long, so I'll wrap it up with today's expression, tenemos chinelas and finish the rest in part two, where I'll share the last couple of words I picked up and a brief tour of Granada.

And finally, we get to our expression, tenemos chinelas.

I actually heard "tenemos chinelas" in the airport on my way back to Costa Rica.  I was doing a bit of last minute shopping and while the owner of the shop was showing me all of her goods, she said tenemos chinelas.  Needless to say, I was surprised by the term as I had never heard it before.

It turns out chinelas in Nicaragua are nothing more than sandalias, or chancletas.  In other words, sandals.

The word seems to apply to any and all types of sandals.   The sandals the shop keeper showed me were pretty nice.  If you google the phrase chinelas nicaragua, you'll see a wide variety of chinelas in the results.

And ya, that's it for today.  Stay tuned as part two is coming soon. I'll share a little more Nicaraguan Spanish with you, including a very, very Nicaraguan term as well as some of my photos of Granada.

¡Hasta próxima!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Voy a hacer lo que me da la puta gana

Before we get into today's expression, we need to talk about the word gana.

A gana is a desire, or a want.

You'll also (and more commonly) hear the plural form of the word, ganas.   We won't be looking at the word ganas today, but I did write  about how to use the word ganas back in 2010.   I recommend you read the post on ganas to get a handle on the word, it's pretty common so you'll need to have this one in your Spanish toolbox for sure.

Now we're ready to move on to the good stuff.

Hago lo que me da la gana
I do whatever I feel like

Dar la gana is the idiomatic expression you use to tell people that you do whatever you feel like.  It can come across as kind of strong, so be careful of how you use it.

I reserve the right to dress however I want

¿Por qué no vas a la fiesta?
No me da la gana

Why aren't you going to the party?
I don't feel like it

Por mí puedes hacer lo que te da la gana
You can do what you like for all I care

Now, if you want to really to emphasis the fact that you aren't in the mood to do something, then you just need add what I like to call a sentence enhancer.  The first sentence enhancer we'll look at is regalada.

Normally regalada means something is a good deal, a bargain, or a steal as we would say.   But for some reason when you use it with the expression dar la gana, it takes on whole new meaning.

Hago lo que me da la regalada gana
I do whatever the hell I feel like

Por qué quieres hacer eso?
Porque me da la regalada gana

Why do you want to do that?
Because I damn well feel like it

And now we get to the next sentence enhancer and today's expression:

Voy a hacer lo que me da la puta gana
I'm going to do what I f'ing want to do

I'm pretty sure I don't need to explain what "f'ing" means.  Much less that this is for sure one of those situations that this will come across as rather strong.

The word puta in Spanish is very much a bad word and has quite a few meanings.  I tend to keep this blog PG (ok, sometimes PG-13) so you can read about the many uses of puta on my No Seas Pelangoche blog.

Now, as usual, there's more than one way to skin a cat (hay muchas formas de pelar un gato) in Spanish, which brings us to the expression pegarsele la gana. In grammatical terms that's pretty complicated.  The examples below will help you figure out how to use it.

It means the exact same thing.

No se me pega la gana
I don't feel like it

Sé de él solo cuando le pega la gana
I only hear from him when he feels like it

Porque se me pega la regalada gana
Because I damn well feel like it

Hago lo que se me pega la gana
I do whatever I feel like

Me hablas cuando se te pega la gana
You talk to me whenever you feel like it

You can use the same sentence enhancers I mentioned above as well.

Te llamo cuando se me pegue la regalada gana
I'll call you when I damn well feel like it

Haces lo que se te pega la puta gana
You do whatever the f@ck you feel like

And that's it.  Before I let you go, don't forget to read my post on ganas (¿Tienes ganas?) because it will help you get more a complete understanding of the word and the concept.

¡Hasta la próxima! 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

No seas gallina

Apparently Spanish books think the only thing you need to know about chickens in Spanish is the word pollo.  Well, sooner or later you're going to discover that you need more than the word pollo to talk about chicken.

With that in mind, let's take a look at few things you should know.

Pollo is what chicken is called when it's on your plate.  While it's alive and well it goes by another name.

A gallo is what we call a rooster.

A gallina is a hen.

And little baby chickens, chicks, are called pollitos.

Maybe you remember this movie:

I have no idea why they called the chickens pollitos since they aren't chicks, but maybe they thought it sounded cuter than Gallos a la fuga.

Let's back up a minute and talk a little more about what chicken is called when it's on your plate.

To be honest, I spent years learning Spanish without ever knowing any words for chicken other than pollo.  In fact, it never even occurred to me to ask until I found myself in a situation where I needed the vocabulary and didn't know it.

I was wandering the streets of Tijuana and saw a viejita (little old lady) selling pollo rostizado (roasted chicken) .  I had to have some.  Of course as soon I stepped up to the ventanilla (the little window) to order, I realized I had no idea what I was doing.  Luckily for me she had a few signs up.

I ended up ordering a medio pollo , a half a chicken.  Which by the way was way too much.  I should have ordered the cuarto de pollo, or quarter chicken.  My eyes being bigger than my stomach aside, it was muy rico.  At least I didn't order a pollo entero (whole chicken).

Wings are an extremely popular menu item in sports bars, heck, just in general.  And if you want to order them, then you need to ask for alitas de pollo.  Or the simpler and more common way to refer to them, alitas.

Boneless chicken wings are alitas deshuesadas.

And if it's chicken fingers you're after, just ask for dedos de pollo.

You can have pollo asado (grilled chicken),  pollo frito (fried chicken), pollo del horno (baked chicken), or even pollo empanizado (breaded chicken).

Boneless chicken is referred to as  sin hueso.  Chicken that's been deboned is deshuesado.  The verb for deboning chicken is deshuesar.

Well, we learned how to ask for wings, let's look at how to ask for other parts of the chicken.

La pierna is a chicken leg.

A muslo is a thigh.  There are a lot of Spanish speaking countries, so you might get some variation and hear it called a cadera de pollo, or simply cadera.  But I would say muslo is your best bet.  And pechuga is chicken breast everywhere.

There's also caldo de pollo or caldo de gallina, chicken soup.  Technically gallina refers to a hen, but on a menu the word gallina tends to just be a synonym for chicken.

Oh, I almost forgot.  Piel de gallina is how you refer to goosebumps as well as chicken skin.

Tengo piel de gallina
I have goosebumps

There are also some fun expressions involving chicken.

¿Quén pidió pollo?

This expression is uniquely Colombian.  Well, at least to my knowledge it is.  It literally means:

Who ordered chicken?

And while you may actually find that question useful one day, the meaning we're after is quite a bit different.

In Colombia, the expression "¿Quén pidió pollo?" is a way to talk about someone you find attractive.

Here's how it works.

Someone attractive walks in the room and you look at your friends and say

¿Quén pidió pollo?
Who's that hottie?

My translation isn't literal, but that's pretty much the sentiment of the expression.  Keep this one in your back pocket for just the right time and your Colombian friends will be impressed.  And it works for both men and women.

By the way, if you're interested in picking up some more Colombian slang, then you can read some of my prior posts on Colombian Spanish or pick up a copy of the book Colombian Spanish.

¿Quién es tu gallo?

This expression is very Mexican.

So what does the expression "¿Quién es tu gallo?" mean?

It's a way of asking who you're rooting for.  In standard Spanish that would be:

¿Para quién vas?
Who are you going for?

This would also work

¿A quién apoyas?

I remember very clearly the first time I used the expression  "¿Quién es tu gallo?".  I was talking with a cab drive about the Mayweather vs Canelo fight.   I'm guessing he was quite surprised because he turned and looked at me and said "hablas mucho español" before answering the question.

That aside, to answer the question you can reply with the word gallo.

Canelo es mi gallo

And this expression isn't just limited to to boxing.  You can use this expression to talk about any sort of event.

This next one you'll probably find quite interesting.  Maybe even more so than the first two.

Eres  más puta que las gallinas

Literally this means you're more of a whore then female chickens.  Figuratively it's more like "You're a real slut", only stronger.   Maybe an equivalent expression would be "You'll f@ck anything wearing pants".  The word puta is what makes it so harsh, as if you needed me to tell you that.

If you want to soften that up just a tad, you can say:

Eres más suelta que las gallinas

The message is still the same, you just aren't using bad words to deliver it.  

However you translate it, you're saying that this woman is very loose, so be careful with this one.

Don't ask me where this expression comes from, I have no idea.  I guess hens are a lively bunch.  And one last thing.  That's the shortened version of the expression.  The full version is:

Eres mas puta que la gallina que aprendió a nadar para follarse a los patos
You're more of a whore then the hen that learned to swim to have sex with the ducks

Now, I softened up my translation because I generally like to keep this blog family friendly.  Just realize that follar is the vulgar way to talk about having sex.  If you're interested in learning about more explicit language then you want to read my No Seas Pelangoche blog.  I have a number of posts about the verb follar and it's like there.  But be warned, that blog is entirely composed of frank and explicit language.  It's not for the sensitive types.

And finally, we get to the tittle of today's post.

No seas gallina
Don't be chicken

I don't think this one needs any further explanation.

And that's it!  Unless you're a chicken farmer, you probably learned everything you need to know about chickens in Spanish.

¡Hasta la próxima!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

¡Qué tal!

Sure, you may have heard the expression qué tal before, but if you haven't you're going to be glad you came across this post because it's going to simplify your life when it comes to speaking Spanish.

You see the expression qué tal in Spanish books on occasion, but most of the time they just tell you it's an informal greeting and case closed.  That hardly does the expression qué tal any justice, so I put together a podcast about some of the most common uses for this expression and you'll be pleasantly surprised at some of its other uses.

You can listen to the podcast here by using the player below or you can click here to download it from iVoox

By the way, if you missed my previous podcast, Español en Las Calles de Tijuana, you can listen to it clicking here.

The transcript is posted below.  Enjoy the podcast!

Hi, this is Rodney and today I'm going to talk about the expression qué tal.

Qué tal is an informal expression that has several different uses.

Don't bother trying to make a literal translation because it's an idiomatic
expression and it just won't make sense.

But don't worry, it's not as bad as it sounds.  Once you see how's it's used
you'll realize how simple and useful this expression is.

Let's take a look at some examples

The first and perhaps most common usage of qué tal is as a greeting that you can use any time of the day.

You can use it to address one person or a group people.

If you're speaking directly with someone, you can say:

Hola, ¿qué tal?
Hi, what's up?

Or simply ¿Qué tal?

While I translated qué tal as what's up, that's not really a literal translation.

It could also be translated as:

How are you?
How's it going?
How's everything?
How are you doing?

If you want to address a group of people you can say:

¿Qué tal todos?
How is everybody?


¿Qué tal chicos?
How are you guys doing?

You can also ask about a third person

¿Qué tal tu hermana?
How's your sister?

¿Qué tal tu amiga Marta?
How's your friend Marta?

You can even ask about animals

¿Qué tal tu gato?
How's your cat doing?

In fact, you can use qué tal to ask about anything.

¿Qué tal todo?
How's everything?

¿Qué tal el día?
How's your day going?

¿Qué tal la comida?
How's the food?

¿Qué tal tu trabajo?
How's your job going?

¿Qué tal tu clase?
How's your class going?

¿Qué tal el fin de semana?
How's your weekend going?

Before we move on, did you notice that we didn't use a verb in any of those examples?

¿Qué tal?
¿Qué tal tu hermana?
¿Qué tal la comida?
¿Qué tal el fin de semana?

So what's going on here?

When you use qué tal to ask about how something or someone is you're actually using the verb estar,
but it's assumed and not explicitly mentioned.

¿Qué tal? is actually ¿Qué tal estás?
¿Qué tal chicos? is ¿Qué tal están chicos?
¿Qué tal tu hermana? is ¿Qué tal está tu hermana?
¿Qué tal la comida? is ¿Qué tal está la comida?

Now here's the really nice thing about qué tal, you can also use it to ask about events in the past
with the exact same structure.

¿Qué tal el vuelo?
How was the flight?

¿Qué tal el fin de semana?
How was your weekend?

¿Qué tal la comida?
How was the food?

And just like in the present tense, the verb estar is understood.

¿Qué tal el vuelo? is  ¿Qué tal estuvo el vuelo?
¿Qué tal el fin de semana? is ¿Qué tal estuvo el fin de semana?
¿Qué tal la comida? is ¿Qué tal estuvo la comida?

Let's talk about some more ways to use qué tal.

You can also use qué tal to make suggestions by saying "Qué tal si..."

which translates to "How about if"

And remember, this is "si" without an accent which means if

Let's look at some examples.

¿Qué tal si vamos al cine?
How about if we go to the movies?

¿Qué tal si vamos todos a jugar billar?
How about if we all go shoot pool?

You can also use it to ask about someone's personality or an objects
characteristics by using "es", from the verb ser.

¿Qué tal es tu novia?
What's your girlfriend like?

¿Qué tal es tu nuevo coche?
What's your new car like?

And that's it.

As you can see, qué tal is a very useful expression that allows us to ask about
things that occur in both the present and the past using a very simple

That's it for today.  Thanks for listening and I look forward to seeing you in the next podcast.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Nos arreglamos el chongo

If you've always wanted to know what a chongo is, today's your lucky day.

And if you've never heard of the word chongo, today's still your lucky day.  And guess what else? You'll really impress your Mexican friends with this one.  Your cool points will go through the roof.  OK, it's not that cool, but you will surprise them.

Enough chit-chat, let's get to it.

Here's a picture of a chongo.

That's right, a chongo is a hair bun.  At least in Mexico it is.  In other countries chongo could mean something completely different, so make sure you know your audience.  Anyway, a more universal way to refer to a chongo would be moño de pelo, or simply un moño.

Here are some examples:

El chongo no es sólo para domingos relajados u ocasiones en las que haces ejercicio -- puedes arreglarlo de forma elegante para ocasiones en las que te quieras ver más formal.

The hair bun isn't just for lazy Sundays or when you workout, you can make it look elegant for the ocassions you want to look more formal.

¿Cómo puedo arreglarme mas? ... casi no me peino; me peino con un 'chongo' así equis, no me maquillo  no me gusta usar tacones.

How can I make myself up more?  I almost never do my hair.  I put it a bun, whatever. I don't put on make up and I don't like to wear heels.

Simple enough right?  But guess what?  There's more.  There are also a few expressions that use the word chongo, like agarrarse del chongo.

This picture should take all the mystery out of the phrase "agarrarse del chongo":

Although our female friend  in the black shirt (la de la camisa negra) is pulling the other girls cola (pony tail) , our phrase agarrarse del chongo  still applies because agarrarse del chongo  refers to a fight between women even if hair buns and pulling hair isn't involved.

Let's look at some examples:

Julia y Carolina se agarraron del chongo afuera de la escuela
Julia and Carolina were fighting outside the school

Las niñas estaban felices pero se agarraron del chongo por sus juguetes
The girls were happy but they started fighting over their toys

Lilia esta a punto de agarrarse del chongo con Marisa
Lilia is about to get into a fight with Marisa

Otra vez, ¿te agarraste del chongo con tu jefe?
You got into an argument with your boss again?

Sé que a veces somos como el agua y el aceite, nos agarramos del chongo por que a veces tu dices no y yo digo que sí, o tu dices sì y yo digo que no
I know that sometimes we're like oil and water, we argue because sometimes you say no and I say yes, or you say yes and I say no.

Did you notice that agarrarse del chongo doesn't always refer to a physical fight?

Well, now that your chongo is all out of place (literally or figuratively), it's time to arreglarse el chongo.

If you're not familiar with the verb arreglarse, add it to your list of verbs to learn because you'll hear it a lot and it has several different uses.  The definition we care about in this post is to fix yourself up or to make yourself look nice.

Keeping our definition of arreglarse in mind, arreglarse el chongo doesn't refer to fixing your hair (although it can),  in this context it refers to making things right, working things out or straightening things out between you and the people you were agarrando el chongo with.

Now we can translate today's expression means.

Nos arreglamos el chongo
We worked everything out

Arreglamos el chongo is very much a Mexican saying, so if you want something a little more universal, go with:

Arreglarse con alguien

Teresa peleó con Jose y no poder arreglarse por el orgullo de los dos.
Teresa fought with Jose and they're not able to straighten things out because they're both prideful.

Me arreglé con mi ex
I worked things out with my ex

And that just about wraps things up.  I'll leave you with a few other posts I wrote about hair:

Tengo el pelo chino and Soy pelimorado a rayos

That's it for today.  ¡Hasta la próxima!