3 Vote

The number one question today was "considering quitting the language." Most people quit because they can't remember, and I have a few fun sayings to memorize words. Example: Behind Detrás What is the last two letters of detrás? What does the last two letters look like that is another word for behind (the bottom way). Tomorrow Mañana It's funny how today is a woman's world, but tomorrow is a * *odd (referring to the mark on the n) man's world** world, Ana. First Primera When painting, you always use a primer first.You didn't? A!!! (Ah, but primera isn't spelt primerah, it is primera) On Top Encima The book is on top, so you can see, Ma (encima). PLease post some of your own! Please explain well, because what makes sense in your mind may confuse someone else. Over-explaining is better than under explaining.

21 Answers

5 Vote

I confuse the words for "spoon" ("cuchara") and "knife"("cuchillo"), so I picture the l's in "cuchillo" as 2 knives.

I try not to do too much of this, though. You really can't think that way or you will be on the third step of translating something in your head when the speaker is 10 sentences past. But anything that can help remember words or phrases, until you've got them memorized is helpful.

  • I agree entirely- tricks for short term seeding of the word can be useful, but I have not found anything other than beating the word into your head with repetition to convert it from a word you can "think of" to one you "know". - Stadt Dec 8, 2010 flag
  • I have to agree, there is no quick fix, nothing tops study, study, study. - Ann-Frances Dec 8, 2010 flag
4 Vote

Funny if you haven't studied etymology. Words like manufacture have the same root, and no one think they are funny.

Funny, I was under the impression that the word manufacture stemmed from the words manu - a hand (ablative case of manus) and factūra - a making (from the verb facere - do, act, make); meanwhile, the word mañana, if I am not mistaken, stems from the Latin word mane - morning, early, early in the morning. When prescribing medicine, this term is still used today (sig codes) by physicians: manein the morning.

On the other hand, words with similar roots to the word manufacture would be manual, manubrium, manuscript and manifest. Meanwhile, Spanish words that share this root would be mano, manufactura, manual, manejo, manejar, manifestar and manejable.

  • Odd! I thought the same thing about manufacture. Perhaps we both saw the same TV show (the primary dispenser of all modern knowledge). - samdie Dec 8, 2010 flag
3 Vote

Really the only thing I do to associate words is to try to match them with the English word that might have come from the same root. I say might have, because I am not lazarus, so my guesses are guesses. So there are the obvious- mano and manual, the less obvious- feo and fetid (I do not know if they really are related, but it works for me) and the more obscure - volar and volant, árbol and arboreal (knowing biology really helps since most of the vocabulary is Latin based).

I really agree with DR 1980 that the goal is instantly knowing the word, not just being able to figure it out, if you are really trying to learn the language and not just pass a class. For me, with words like delante and detrás, I find that success comes with a huge number of repetitions done as quickly as possible so that it comes out right, without thought. I have idly thought about rigging up an electroshock device (for any mistakes) to speed up the learning process, but am not sufficiently technically adept.

I actually find some of the words that are very similiar to be challenging in a different way, in that I find myself disinclined to study them enough to have confidence in using them. I actually did challenge my wife to find a word in English that ended in "ity" that I could not find a related "idad" word for in Spanish (she won with serendipity). This kind of learning game can be a fun way to learn words, but you have to watch for where the meanings do not overlap precisely.

I think games such as naming everything you can see, describing your actions to yourself with everything you do, etc. actually can be more fun.

Finally the key is repetition, I think KevinB said in one thread that you do not learn anything until you have said it 16 times; I am not convinced I can do it that quickly.

  • Wow - an electroshock device. The beeps in Rosetta Stone eventually got to me and caused severe tension in my neck and upper back. Who needs electroshock? :) - Steven-Neube Dec 8, 2010 flag
  • Please see lorenzo9's comment, serendipidad apparently is a valid word, even if not in DRAE or our dictionary. - Stadt Dec 8, 2010 flag
3 Vote

I have two objections to the general thrust of the thread. !) inventing and learning a mnemonic for a single word seems like a doubling of effort. Why not just remember the word (along the lines of what Lorenzo said)? The other is more general. On the whole, language learning is about learning phrases (patterns of sentences/utterances) than about vocabulary (in isolation).

Nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs can, of course, be learned in isolation. However, the emphasis should be on learning phrases since they are, in fact, the building blocks of conversation. When you have the phrase in mind, substituting a noun, verb, adjective or adverb is fairly mechanical but coming from the other direction: constructing a phrase out of its individual grammatical elements is much more prone to error.

  • I have seen published scientific literature backing this viewpoint. Very good point. - Stadt Dec 8, 2010 flag
2 Vote

Example: Behind Detrás What is the last two letters of detrás? What does the last two letters look like that is another word for behind (the bottom way).

That's one way. The other is to think of "trans-oceanic" (over or behind the ocean), transmit (trans- = over + mittere = send), transfer (trans- = over + ferre = carry), transcribe (trans- = over + scribe = write, escribir), tranport (trans- = over + portare = carry),...

Tomorrow Mañana It's funny.

Funny if you haven't studied etymology. Words like manufacture have the same root, and no one think they are funny.

  • Okay thx I edited my paragraph due to this comment, I meant, as if talking, "It's funny how it's a woman's world..." Not my phrase was funny. :) - valiente Dec 8, 2010 flag
2 Vote

Funny, I was under the impression that the word manufacture stemmed from the words manu - a hand (ablative case of manus) and factūra - a making (from the verb facere - do, act, make)

What I meant is that "manufacture" in English and "manfufactura" in Spanish have the same root. I wasn't comparing "manufacture" and "mañana", but I can see why you thought that after re-reading my post.

  • Oh! I'm sorry that I misunderstood you. The way that "Mañana...funny" and "Funny...manufacture" were juxtaposed, I assumed that you were making a comparison between the two - Izanoni1 Dec 8, 2010 flag
2 Vote

Read the rules. You are supposed to be encouraging!

Being encouraging (providing "courage" ["heart"]) does not mean indiscriminately praising any and all statements made in a/any thread. That's "flattery" rather than "encouragement". Corrections, contrary opinions, and alternative constructions/translations/explanations are all welcome.

Perhaps, introductory statements like "Nice try but ..." as opposed to "You should say ..." are perceived by some as more "encouraging" but the simple fact is that in learning a new language you will make tons of mistakes (the only alternative being to say nothing which some people do out of fear of making mistakes but that is not the road to language competence). You will make mistakes and the kindest/most encouraging people are those who will take the trouble to provide corrections.

I don't think I've ever seen a reply that said "That's a really stupid answer/opinion" although I've certainly seen ones that stated that "Nobody would say that."

2 Vote

You know, some folks find they are helped by these little games and word associations, others aren't. So I think this is a good thread for those who find it helpful. The problem with these little mind tricks is that they are, by and large, connections my by us as individuals, and draw on our life experiences, perhaps something memorable that's happened to us, so something that might be helpful to one will be totally lost on another.

If nothing else, it's interesting to see how others' minds work, and it also shows the unbelievable lenghts that some of us go to try to get a new language to "stick". So, if it works for you, go for it. If it doesn't, don't pick on folks that do. Just my opinion.

1 Vote

To remember "este/ese", as in "this/that"...someone in my Spanish class had come up with the phrase "I want THIS 'T', not THAT 'T', because este (this) has a "T" in it. But, when saying the phrase aloud it sounds like you're saying, "I want this TEA, not that TEA".

I hope that makes sense! tongue laugh

1 Vote

To lazurus- I did not mean "it is funny" as if thinking my way to remember was funny. I'm sorry it was unclear. I meant, as if talking to a friend, named ana (the end of mañana), "it's funny how it's a woman world today but a strange man's tomorrow..." excaim Read the rules. You are supposed to be encouraging! Please be. People who write items such as the one you wrote are the cause of "Thinking About Quitting" questions. You cause doubt in learners...

  • Hm....I don't see why you think Lazarus' post is discouraging or anything negative for that matter. - --Mariana-- Dec 8, 2010 flag
  • Me either - read some more of Lazarus's posts, you will see how great he is at helping us. :D - galsally Dec 8, 2010 flag
  • Lazarus is incredibly helpful (he does expect you to do your part) and what's more, he is always right. On one of my questions he e-mailied people across the Spanish-speaking world to ensure he could speak to regional variation for me. He is awesome! - Stadt Dec 8, 2010 flag
  • You truly misunderstood Lazarus. If not for him, many of our "best guesses" would stay just that....guesses. He is ALWAYS right in matters of grammar and he gives us his knowledge to us for free. - Echoline Dec 8, 2010 flag
1 Vote

what about this:

Mesa (table) to learn the word simply picture a messy table.

There are loads of books available for this kind of help. Comic Mnemonics for Spanish Verbs Is a fantastic book for learn verbs.

  • Or "mesa" as "table land" (a geological description) - samdie Dec 8, 2010 flag
1 Vote

I remember being taught a phrase in grammar school like "A red Indian. . ." in order to help us learn how to spell "arithmetic". I never did learn the phrase and found it easier to just learn how to spell the word. Most tricks for learning Spanish have the same problem for me: they are just another thing to remember, often harder than the original word/phrase/grammar rule was to learn. I guess we all learn in different ways.

  • Agreed- I have seen mnemonics for all kinds of thing and can't figure out why to spend the time learning a meaningless phrase. - Stadt Dec 8, 2010 flag
  • We learned it--A Rat In The House May Eat The Ice Cream--arithmetic - Echoline Dec 8, 2010 flag
1 Vote

I was having difficulty with casar and cansar. A friend of mine said to think of how one set's up house after they marry. Casa + r

1 Vote

When I learn a new word I often draw a wee picture to remind me; I seem to remember better that way! However, at the moment, I'm studying legal interpreting, so the new words and phrases I'm learning (in both English and Spanish) are often laws or abstract ideas which are much harder to relate to an image!


I used to remember "avispa" as a wasp because of the common "ssszz" noise, which sounds like a buzzing insect.


I also remembered "codo" was elbow because the elbow curves in the shape of a C.


I remembered "gatear" as to crawl because a cat (gato) crawls.


  • Ditto with 'Codo', Amy, also I have a young friend called Toby, and I (sort of) picture his ankle to remember Tobillo. :P - galsally Dec 8, 2010 flag
1 Vote

Este concepto se introdujo en occidente en el año 1754 de la mano del escritor inglés Horace Walpole. ¿Cómo conoció la palabra? Pues se quedó prendado de ella en uno de sus viajes a Asia en el que escuchó un relato muy famoso de Las Mil y Una Noches: La Historia de Simbad. Un cuento que narra la historia de los tres príncipes de Seréndip que viajan por todo el mundo para aprender a solucionar los problemas que se les plantean en su reinado, y encuentran las respuestas a sus dudas de forma fortuita y de la manera más inesperada. El término por tanto es de origen persa, pero parece que proviene del árabe sarandib o serendib, denominación ancestral de la Isla de Ceilán. En España, a pesar de que la Real Academia no lo tenga en su patrimonio es un término bastante aceptado. De ello da fe Manuel Seco en su Diccionario del Español Actual, que recoge la palabra Serendipidad y la define como: facultad de hacer un descubrimiento o hallazgo afortunado de manera accidental. Fuente: serendipia.com


  • Okay you win, I only checked our dictionary and DRAE. I will have to restart the game and add a general web search to my checks. - Stadt Dec 8, 2010 flag
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