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Mastering Spanish & Obtaining Fluency

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Ser & Estar – Master The Verbs!

Here is an excerpt from Master The Uses of Ser & Estar: The Two Most Important and Fundamental Verbs:

Debunking the Myth of Permanent & Temporary

In the realm of Spanish study, there are lists and lists of rules that are used for helping the language learner understand the difference between Ser and Estar. Here are a couple of the rules that we have all seen, time and time again:

For anything that is permanent, use Ser.

For anything that is temporary, use Estar.

There cannot be anything worse than telling this to a Spanish language student. Why? Because the only thing that these rules are going to do is confuse the heck out of people. These rules just don’t cover everything. For example, look at these two properly written sentences:

El hombre está muerto. (The man is dead.) Is he dead only temporarily? Will he come back to life tomorrow, since this seems to be temporary?

Mi primo es policía. (My cousin is a policeman.) Will he be policeman permanently, forever and ever? What if he decides to switch to become a lawyer instead?

These rules are taught in our schools. They are taught via the Internet on Spanish learning websites. These rules are in the Spanish grammar books that I have on my bookshelf in my living room. Now, it doesn’t have to mean that we can’t buy these books and use them. There is certainly some very helpful information in them. I’ve used them with the concept in mind:

Eat the meat, spit out the bones.”

But why should we have to do that? The authors of these books are simply not telling us the whole story about the usages of Ser and Estar. And that’s where this book comes in. I want you to know the whole story about Ser and Estar.

The “DOCTOR and PLACE” rule is just not good enough.

Here is something that is taught in the Spanish learning world that you may have come across:

The uses of Ser and Estar can be memorized using the acronyms DOCTOR and PLACE.”

Don’t get me wrong – acronyms can surely be of some help. But the problem that I have with these two lists is that they are incomplete. Here’s what I’m talking about, just in case you haven’t run into these lists before:


  • Date/Description

  • Occupation

  • Characteristic

  • Time

  • Origin

  • Relationship


  • Position

  • Location

  • Action

  • Condition

  • Emotion


There is a lot more where that came from! Clear explanations and handy exercises. You can pick up a copy on Amazon here:



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My Dog “Just” Pooped on the Carpet – in Spanish.

Some things are just plain tricky in Spanish. But once you learn the trick and practice it often, it tends to “stick”, just like learning a new word. Here’s are some examples of how we can use the the English adverb “just” in Spanish:

just — justo, sólo, solamente.

Note: Just so you know, sólo is an adverb meaning “only,” “solely” or “just”– the same as solamente. As a matter of fact, sólo and solamente can be used interchangeably. A speaker can decide which sounds better in any their sentence. On the contrary, solo without an accent mark is an adjective meaning “alone” or “on one’s own”.

I’m just sitting here. That’s all.
Sólo estoy sentado aquí. Es todo.

It’s located just down the street.
Está ubicado justo al final de la calle.

Just do it!
¡Sólo hazlo!

The runner completed the marathon in just three hours.
El corredor terminó la maratón en sólo tres horas.

to just have done something/to have just finished doing something — acabar de hacer algo

In Spanish, we use the properly conjugated present tense form of acabar + de + the infinitive form of the verb (-ar, -er, -ir). This is expressed in English in the past tense. It may take some getting used to, but this phrasal formula is very useful in daily Spanish.

My dad just took a bath.
Mi papá acaba de bañarse.

My dog just pooped on the carpet. Gross.
Mi perro acaba de cagarse en la alfombra. Qué asco.

The Korean lady has just finished making some tasty soup.
La señora coreana acaba de preparar una sopa deliciosa.

I was in Quito, Ecuador for a week. I just got back yesterday.
Estuve en Quito, Ecuador durante una semana. Acabo de regresar ayer.

This enjoyable Spanish stuff is from the upcoming book, Real Life Spanish Phrases.


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Ser & Estar Book: FREE. June 1 – June 5

Beginning Thursday, June 1, 2017, my book Ripping Apart The Spanish Language: Ser & Estar will be free… for five days.

Grab yourself a copy. Share it with your buddies. Leave a review, or not. Either way, you can get it here:


Why do I need this book?

You may be asking yourself this question. Like the rest of us, you may have seen a couple of books floating around out there that deal with the subject of Ser versus Estar. But I have not seen many books that explain Ser and Estar in sufficient detail, that squash all doubts about their usage, and instill such a sense of confidence in the reader that by the time they complete the book he or she can proudly say, “Hey, I really get it now!”

Therefore, it is my mission to change this.

It has been my purpose to write a book that gives you exactly what you need and ends the quest for that missing information in your Spanish learning journey.

This book will take you through many uses of Ser and Estar individually, explaining just how it works, using lots of examples and providing lots of exercises to “make it stick”.

By the end of this book, I am confident that you will have mastered the usages of Ser and Estar and will be ready to go out and speak like you know what you’re doing.

Uses of Ser

Some of the uses of Ser that we’ll be covering in this section
are as follows:

● Nationality And Place Of Origin
● Race
● Profession/Occupation
● Physical Traits
● Personal Characteristics
● Religious Affiliation
● Shapes
● Size
● Materials Things Are Made Of
● Possession
● Ser With The Infinitive
● Time & Date
● Relationships Between People
● Location of Events
● Gender
● Prices of Things Using Ser
● Impersonal Expressions
● Political Affiliation
● Amounts and Numbers
● Predicate Nominatives
● Commands Using Ser

Uses of Estar

Some of the uses of Estar that we’ll cover in this section are
the following, to name a few:

● Greetings
● Location and Position (but not Events)
● Present Progressive
● Conditions
● Civil Status
● Results of an Action
● Commands
● Expressions

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Real Life Spanish Phrases to Beat the “Beginner” Tag

There are all kinds of language learners in the world. The kinds that “speak from day one”.  The ones that study in schools for two or three years, then take a trip to Latin America or Spain and see if they can remember how to order some paella. There are those that become introverted (if they weren’t that way already) and study for hours per day until they get a substantial amount of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation practice under their belt to hold a decent conversation, before going out and trying out their skills with real people, whether in person or on Skype.

Regardless of what kind of student you may be, there is one thing that all of us will go through, and that’s trying to get over the mountain of beginner status and flipping over the top into intermediate status and ultimately, advanced status. The famed light at the end of the tunnel, except there is no end to this tunnel, because language learning never really ends, does it?

If you are someone that is studying Spanish, for example, there are certain things that you can do to get over the beginner hump. And that is to learn some real-life Spanish phrases, slang and idiomatic expressions to accomplish your goal.

So, you wanna sound like a native? Then learn the way natives speak, and speak like them.

Below are a few examples of what I am  talking about. These (and about 2,000 other phrases) will be included in my current book project: “2,001 REAL SPANISH PHRASES”. Title subject to change. This is a very young (but very fun) project.   🙂REAL SPANISH PHRASES Template - With Fonts 050117

Accord — el acuerdo

of one’s own accord — por propia voluntad

She gave it to us of her own accord.
Nos lo dio de propia voluntad.

to be afraid — tener miedo, estar paniqueado (Ecuador)

Look at him. He’s all scared.
Míralo. Está todo paniqueado.

Míralo. Tiene mucho miedo.

to get along — llevarse bien (con alguien)

Pamela gets along with her mother-in-law.
Pamela se lleva bien con su suegra.

to not get along — no llevarse bien, llevarse como perro y gato (lit.) to carry like each other like dog and cat

Carlos and Rachel do not get along. (Carlos and Rachel fight like cats and dogs.)
Carlos and Rachel se llevan como perro y gato.

to go along — llevar/seguir la corriente

I always go along with my mom because I don’t like to argue with her.
Siempre le llevo la corriente a mi mamá porque no me gusta discutir con ella.

bean — el frijol

to spill the beans — descubrirlo todo

The little boy spilled the beans.
El niño lo descubrió todo.

to beat — batir

It beats me — no tengo ni idea

It beats me why they do that.
No tengo ni idea por qué hacen eso.

to be broke — en bancarrota, estar pelado, estar chiro (Ecuador), arruinado (Spain), sin blanca, no tener ni un duro, estar limpio (Spain)

I can’t pay. I’m broke.
No puedo pagar. Estoy chiro.

dude — vato (Mexican American slang)

What’s up, dude?
¿Qué pasó, vato?

guy — tipo, chavo (Mexico), tío (Spain)

Tell that guy to shut his mouth.
Dile a ese chavo que se calle la boca. (Mexico, informal)

I am a nice guy.
Yo soy un tío majo. (Spain, informal)

See also dude.

guys — (plural) la gente

Say hi to all the guys at the meeting.
Saluda a toda la gente de la reunión.

Keep studying, keep reading, keep listening, and keep speaking.


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OF ALL PLACES – Just released

Today I published a novelette called OF ALL PLACES.


What happens when the chosen ones, having survived a crash landing and now suffering the after-effects of the injections administered by the astrophysicists back home, take on a journey through the untraveled, dusty, rocky terrain of Kepler, en route to the oasis that was promised to them?

For Tess Hadfield, a fist-clenching, tomboy from New York, and Gunner McAuliffe, a jokester ex-military school student from Glass Wire Point, New California, this is just the beginning.

It can be found here:


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There are myriads of books out there on Spanish learning. Too many. But as we browse through the rows and rows of these books at Barnes & Noble, as we peruse through pages and pages on, we don’t always find what we’re looking for. What is it, exactly, that you would love to see in a Spanish learning book. What would really help you out?
For example, would you like to see a book on reflexive verbs, pronoun usage, slang words and phrases, difference in language between Spain and Mexico, how phrasal verbs translate into Spanish, Spanish dialogue, etc.?
Would you want a book that is written to teach you a specific problem area of yours?
I’d like to get your input for my next project. My goal has been to help other people learn this beautiful language!
Please comment below and let me know what you think. I’d love to help.

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“Perfecting the Past in Spanish” (Smith-Durán)


A while back I purchased the book “Perfecting The Past In Spanish”, written by Gordon and Cynthia Smith-Durán. Why? Well, a little over a year ago I had purchased one of their other books called “Demystifying the Spanish Subjunctive: Feel the Fear and ‘Subjunctive ‘ Anyway!” for which I wrote a review. (The review can be found by clicking here.)

blog-image-300x164 After having such a great experience with the book about the Spanish subjunctive and it’s usages, I figured that their other books were just as good. So, I bought another one of their books – one called “Pocket Por and Para“. Wowzy. What a great book as well. Of course, I just had to write a review of this one too, which can be found by clicking right here.

PPPSo far, I was very satisfied with these books from Gordon and Cynthia. I’ll tell you what! Whether you are a fairly new learner of Spanish, or someone who has studied Spanish for years (like me), these books are great. The explanations are amazingly simple to understand and the example sentences and exercises make it even easier to just “get it” and “make it stick”!

Going through these books and doing EVERY exercise was a tremendously good refresher for me, and would be for anyone else.

So why haven’t I written a review yet for “Perfecting The Past In Spanish”? Simply, it’s because I have been so busy writing my own books that I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. But I think pretty soon I’ll be taking a little break from writing and write something up. You betcha.

I realize that I am praising the books very highly, but I mean every word that I said, er… wrote. And you will see (and believe) exactly what I mean if you get these books. If you’re serious about Spanish, get them. You won’t regret it.

Please know that I am NOT getting any kick-backs from writing about the Smith-Durán’s books, nor did they ask me to write reviews. I just know and appreciate hard work when I see it. And their work, so far, has been worth my time. That, I can tell you.

Thanks for reading.



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Next Book: Short Stories in English/El Siguiente Libro: Cuentos en Inglés Americano


I’ve been busy on my latest project, and am having lots of fun at it, of course.

Lo que sigue es un extracto del capítulo uno del cuento El mejor café! de mi nuevo libro Cuentos Breves en Ingés. El texto en el libro será centrado en la página para que los estudiantes de inglés puedan seguir el texto un poco más fácil. Al final de cada breve capítulo, habrá una lista de vocabulario inglés y español de las palabras seleccionadas y frases utilizadas en el texto.

The following is an excerpt from chapter one of the short story The Best Coffee!  from the Cuentos Breves en Ingés. The text in the book will be centered so that English learners can follow the text a little easier. At the end of each short chapter, there will be an English-Spanish vocabulary list of select words and phrases used in the text.


It was just another day in the town of Misty Forge.

Phil Griggs threw on his brown golf cap and slammed the door behind him.

He hurried out the door to grab the wet newspaper on the lawn.

The metal ribs of his umbrella swooshed open and he trotted up the street towards his little café.

The air smelled really sweet today.

The clean, crisp smell of the autumn rain filled Mr. Griggs’ nose.

The crash of thunder to the east behind him reminded him of the day he opened the East Coast Brewing Company.

This was the same kind of day.

He had always thought that the loud sound of the rain plinking on the the asphalt around him was comforting.

Mr. Griggs wiped his leather boots on the the welcome mat before going into the coffee shoppe.

Jack Snide was already there.

His head whipped around when he heard the tinkle-tinkle of the bell above the door as Mr. Griggs stumbled in.

Jack! You’re already here!

That’s what I like about you, young man.

You’re always ready to go get ‘em.”

Jack managed a quiet laugh.

Is there any other way to do it, Mr. Griggs?”

He had only worked at the East Coast since August, but was proving to be a great barista.

According to Jack, preparing and serving different types of coffee was in his blood.

He had worked at his Uncle Matt’s “The Roasted Bean” further up the street for several years until their fallout over his new girlfriend Susan.

That was to be expected, of course, seeing that Susan constantly expressed her opinion that Mr. Matt Snide was a grumpy old miser, only thinking about how he could benefit himself and his bank account.


Golf cap

Gorra de golfista

To slam

Cerrar de un golpe

To grab


The metal ribs

Las costillas metálicas

His umbrella

Su paraguas

To swoosh open

Abrirse con un zumbido

To trot

Caminar en trote, trotar

The crisp smell

El fresco aroma

The crash of thunder

El sonido fuerte de los truenos

To remind


To plink

El sonido de la lluvia pegando la tierra

The asphalt

El asfalto

To be comforting

Ser reconfortante, reconfortar

To wipe


The welcome mat

El tapete de bienvenida

To whip around

Voltear la cabeza rápidamente


El sonido de una campana

To stumble in

Tropezar al entrar

To be ready to go get ‘em

Estar listo para trabajar

To manage a quiet laugh

Lograr reírse en silencio

To prove to be


To be in one’s blood

Ser una característica heredada

The fallout

El problema entre dos personas, el asunto

That was to be expected

Se esperaba que pasara eso

Seeing that

Ya que

A grumpy old miser

Un viejo avaro

To benefit oneself

Beneficiarse a sí mismo

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Updated Spanish Book (Ser & Estar)

Thanks to those who pointed out some typos in my book, “Ripping Apart the Spanish Language: Ser & Estar”. (That’s what I get for doing my own editing.) There is now an updated version on Amazon some corrections (and a new book cover). If you obtained the book on Amazon, you should have received an email from them explaining how to get the update from you “Manage Your Content and Devices” page. If you don’t already have the book, you can get it here: