Give Me Fluency

Mastering Spanish & Obtaining Fluency

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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:


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Aprende Inglés Leyendo: “Eat Live, Eat Die”


Lo siguiente es un extracto del cuento “Eat Live, Eat Die” (del capítulo dos) de mi próximo libro “Cuentos Breves en Inglés“, que contará con cuentos en “inglés americano real”.


These were the kinds of things that Rudy remembered.

It was difficult to believe that 30 years had already passed by since that day with his buddies.

Rudy had grown up surviving on sugar and bacon grease.

Each day he had with his mom was a day with yummy goodies and plenty of them.

His favorite days were Fridays, when he would come home from school and find his mom in the hot kitchen pulling out a batch of homemade cookies.

Boy, those cookies were good, too!

Chocolate chip, sugar cookies, pumpkin cookies, you name it.

But his favorite… Ah, those were the ones…

The peanut butter cookies. They were the best.

Rudy remembered getting his hand slapped when he tried to sneak a taste of the cookies as his mom placed the dark-coated pan on the top of the stove.

Didn’t matter.

Rudy tried anyway.

The cookies were steaming hot, but that’s why he had his fork ready.

All he needed was a piece.

Just a little piece.

As soon as Mom turned around, it was on!

He attacked the cookie as though he was killing a snake with a shovel.


By the time Mom turned back around, there was half a cookie missing and Rudy was taking a drink of his freshly poured milk.

“Thanks Mom!”

Yes, indeed. Mom was the best.

And before she released the peanut butter cookies, they sat down to eat their dinner.

Fried chicken, hot dogs, hamburgers and…

…and the tacos. The homemade tacos.

These weren’t your typical crispy shells bought in the store, filled with ground beef, drained and seasoned with a packet of “Taco Seasoning”.

Nope. Not these.

His mom would get a corn tortilla, cover half of it with ground beef and fry it, fold it in half after about 10 seconds of it floating in the hot, spattering, vegetable oil.

Nothing like homemade yummy goodness!


Buddies Compañeros
To survive Sobrevivir
Bacon grease Grasa de tocino
Yummy goodies Manjares culinarios, comidas deliciosas
Plenty of them En abundancia
To pull out Sacar
A batch of homemade cookies Una hornada de galletas caseras
Boy! ¡Caray!
Chocolate chip cookies Galletas con (chispas de) chocolate
Sugar cookies Galletas de azúcar
Pumpkin cookies Galletas de calabaza
You name it Por mencionar algunos
Getting his hand slapped Que le golpeó la mano
Tried to sneak a taste Intentaba probar (sin que su mamá supiera)
Didn’t matter No importaba
Steaming hot Muy caliente (le sale vapor)
Fork El tenedor
It was on! !Ya empezó la lucha!
To attack Atacar
A snake Una serpiente
A shovel Una pala
To chop Picar
There was half a cookie missing Le faltaba la mitad de la galleta
Freshly Recién
Indeed De hecho
To release Soltar
Fried chicken Pollo frito
The homemade tacos Los tacos caseros
Typical Típico
Crispy shells Tortillas fritas crujientes/crocantes
Filled with Rellenos con
Ground beef Carne de res molida
Drained Escurrido
Seasoned Sazonado
Taco seasoning Sazonador para tacos
Corn Maíz, elote
To fry Freír
Spattering Salpicando
Vegetable oil Aceite vegetal

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Using Impersonal Expressions in Spanish

(The following is an excerpt from “Ripping Apart the Spanish Language: Ser & Estar.)

Impersonal expressions are sentences or phrases that do not have a specific subject when speaking about something that is taking place. In Spanish, we use Ser for these types of expressions.


For example, in English we say:

It is easier to go to the store early in the morning.

In this sentence, the verb is “is” and the subject is “it”, but there is no specific subject that “it” refers to. Just “it”. What is “it”? It’s just a place holder in English, a pronoun for a non-existent subject, if you will. And in Spanish, we would say the sentence like this:

Es más fácil ir a la tienda por la mañana temprano.
It is easier to go to the store early in the morning.

In Spanish, it becomes clear what the subject is. The infinitive form of the verb is the subject.

The commonly used construction is simply:

Form of Ser + adjective + the infinitive

Here are some examples of impersonal expressions in Spanish:

Es bueno asistir a la iglesia.
It is good to attend church.

Sería malo pegar a otra persona mientras estés enojado.
It would be bad to hit another person while you are angry.

Es fácil cumplir con las reglas con tal de que seas una buena persona.
It is easy to follow the rules as long as you are a good person.

Va a ser difícil hacer tortillas como las de mi abuela. Sin embargo, lo voy a intentar.
It is going to be difficult to make tortillas like my grandma’s. Nevertheless, I will try.

Impersonal expressions are also seen with the Spanish subjunctive. The construction is different:

Form of Ser + adjective + the subjunctive form of the verb

Es lógico que se comporte así.
It is logical for him to behave like that.

Era imprescindible que lo hicieras como te dije.
It was essential that you did it like I told you.

We also see it with “if” sentences:

Será interesante si el candidato gana la presidencia.
It will be interesting if the candidate wins the presidency.

Sometimes we use a noun instead of an adjective:

Form of Ser + a noun + subjunctive

Es una lástima que ustedes lleguen tarde.
It is a shame that you guys are late.

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Night Before Christmas in Spanglish




noun: Spanglish
  1. a hybrid language combining words and idioms from both Spanish and English, especially Spanish speech that uses many English words and expressions.

Twas the Noche
by María Eugenia Morales

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the casa

Not a creature was stirring, caramba! Qué pasa?

Los niños were tucked away in their camas

Some in vestidos and some in pijamas.

While Mamá worked in her little cocina,

El viejo was down at the corner cantina.

The stockings were hanging with mucho cuidado,

In hopes that Saint Nicholas would feel obligado

To bring all the children both buenos and malos

A nice bunch of dulces and other regalos

Outside in the yard, there arose such a grito

That I jumped to my feet like a frightened cabrito

I ran to the window and looked afuera,

And who in the world do you think that it era?

Saint Nick in a sleigh and a big read sombrero

Came dashing along like a crazy bombero!

And pulling his sleigh, instead of venados,

Were eight little burros approaching volados.

I watched as they came and this quaint little hombre

Was shouting and whistling and calling by nombre:

Ay Chato! Ay Pepe! Ay Cuca! Ay Beto!

Ay Pancho! Ay Chopo! Maruca y Nieto!’

Then standing erect with his hand on his pecho,

He flew to the top of our very own techo!

With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea,

He struggled to squeeze down our old chimenea,

Then huffing and puffing, at last in our sala,

With soot smeared all over his red suit de gala;

He filled the stockings with lovely regalos,

For none of the niños had been very malos.

Then chuckling along, seeming very contento,

He turned like a flash and was gone like el viento.

And I heard him exclaim and this is verdad,

‘Merry Christmas to all, Feliz Navidad!’

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The Present Progressive in Spanish


Present Progressive—El Presente Progresivo

The present progressive in English is a verb form that uses a conjugation of “to be” followed by a word ending in –ing (called a present participle). It is used to express that an action is currently in progress, or is being repeated.

I am eating.
We are dancing.
The lady in the drawing is running.
You are reading.

side-note-50Side Note: In Spanish, we call the participle “el gerundio”, not to be confused with the English word gerund, which is a verb used as a noun.

In Spanish, we use a form of Ser, followed by a word ending in -ando or -iendo depending on whether the verb is an -ar, -er, or -ir verb.

Caminar = Alberto está caminando.
To walk = Alberto is walking.
Fallecer = El anciano está falleciendo.
To pass away = The old man is passing away.

Escupir = Flor está escupiendo.
To spit = Flor is spitting.

Estudiar = Las chicas están estudiando.
To study = The girls are studying.

side-note-50Side Note: In English, we use the progressive tense to explain what is happening at the moment, is in progress, or is repeating itself. …And in English, we commonly use the present progressive to say that something will happen in the future, as in this sentence:

Juliana is cooking chicken and rice tomorrow night. (This will happen in the future.)

In Spanish, this is NOT the case. We only use the progressive tense to describe what’s going on right now, right this second, right this moment, right at a specific moment in time, with an action that is progressive, or with an action that is being repeated.

In Spanish, we say the same sentence like this:

Juliana va a cocinar pollo con arroz mañana por la noche.
Juliana is going to cook chicken with rice tomorrow night.


Juliana cocinará pollo con arroz mañana por la noche.
Juliana will cook chicken and rice tomorrow night.

If we are expressing that Juliana is cooking right now, we say:
Juliana está cocinando pollo con arroz (en este momento).
Juliana is cooking chicken and rice (right now).


1. Yo __________ ahora mismo.
I am studying right now.

2. Si te __________, hay que irte ya.
If you are getting angry, you need to leave now.

3. Noemí __________ pantalones azules hoy.
Noemí is wearing blue pants today.

4. Raquel __________ al lado del niño para que aprenda.
Raquel is painting alongside the boy so that he can learn.

5. Más vale que te __________ para salir. Vamos a llegar tarde.
You’d better be getting ready to leave. We’re going to be late.