Updated: Jun 2, 2022
Do you ever get confused as to which Spanish word, este or esa, means this or that? Then today’s episode is for you! :) And due to the hectic nature that this past week has been, the cultural tip will focus on three fun Spanish sayings.
This blog includes affiliate links to Amazon. What does that mean? In essence, at no extra charge to you, I receive a small commission if you choose to purchase the product using my link. I only recommend products this way that I have bought and used myself and that I found useful.
***My apologies! I need to make a correction. In this episode, I incorrectly attributed the first two phrases from the cultural tip section to "Gramática para la composición" by M. Stanley Whitley and Luis González [Affiliate link to Amazon]. This book was used as a reference for writing the episode. The book that the phrases actually come from is "The Street-Wise Spanish Survival Guide: A Dictionary of Over 3,000 Slang Expressions, Proverbs, Idioms, and Other Tricky English and Spanish Words and Phrases Translated and Explained" by Eleanor Hamer and Fernando Díez de Urdanivia [Affiliate link to Amazon]. So this episode actually has 2 affiliate links. I have updated the blog and show notes accordingly.***
This, that, these, and those are what you call demonstrative adjectives, or adjetivos demostrativos. In Spanish, they use them in a similar way, but with a few exceptions.
This = Este or Esta
In Spanish, este or esta is what you use when you want to refer to something very close to you (either you are holding it or it is right next to you, or if you are referring to a location, it is where you are at, generally). Remember, since they are adjectives, los demostrativos must agree with the subject in quantity and gender. So you use este for all singular, masculine nouns and esta for all singular, feminine nouns. We’ll discuss the plural in a little bit.
Examples of este and esta:
This cheeseburger is delicious! ¡Esta hamburguesa con queso es deliciosa! (singular, feminine)
This room is too small. Este cuarto es demasiado pequeño. (singular, masculine)
Does this dress come in blue? ¿Este vestido viene en azul? (singular, masculine)
Where did you buy this shirt? ¿Dónde compraste esta camisa? (singular, feminine)
*One thing to note with esta: the stress - or emphasis - is on the first syllable, rather than the second, as it is with está (third person singular - he, she, or Usted - for the verb estar). Can you hear that difference? Ella está en el aula. Esta hamburguesa es deliciosa.
That = Ese or Esa
In Spanish, ese or esa is what you use when you want to refer to something farther away from you (for something nearish, but you aren't holding it. You have to point a little bit to mark it. Or if someone else is holding it, or it's lying away from you. Things like that.).
Examples of ese and esa:
That cheeseburger looks gross! ¡Esa hamburguesa con queso parece asquerosa! (singular, feminine)
That room is much bigger. Ese cuarto es mucho más grande. (singular, masculine)
Does that dress come in blue? ¿Ese vestido viene en azul? (singular, masculine)
Where did she buy that shirt? ¿Dónde compró esa camisa? (singular, feminine)
Do you struggle to remember which Spanish word means which demonstrative? I did, so I came up with a mental trick. In English, this only has 1 "t" (1 in this, 2 in that), and in Spanish, este has only 1 “t” (1 in este and 0 in ese). They both line up, as it were. ;) This and este both only have 1 "t" in them! I hope that helps. ^_~
Unique to Spanish - Aquel/Aquella
Something cool about Spanish is that it actually linguistically distinguishes between things that are sort of far away from the speaker and things that are really far away. for things kind of far, you use ese/esa; for things really far, you use aquel/aquella. In English, you have to use intonation: I want that apple vs. No, I want thaaat (really pointing) apple.
Examples of aquel and aquella:
That cheeseburger (way over there) looks gross! ¡Aquella hamburguesa con queso parece asquerosa! (singular, feminine)
That (far away) room is much bigger. Aquel cuarto es mucho más grande. (singular, masculine)
Does that dress (hanging up waaay over there) come in blue? ¿Aquel vestido viene en azul? (singular, masculine)
Where did she buy that shirt (the one hanging up across the hallway)? ¿Dónde compró aquella camisa? (singular, feminine)
Plural - These and Those
The plural is really easy. To make esta, esa, and aquella plural, just add an “s”!
These cheeseburgers are delicious! ¡Estas hamburguesas con queso son deliciosas!
Where did she buy those shirts? ¿Dónde compró esas camisas?
Those cheeseburgers (way over there) look gross! ¡Aquellas hamburguesas con queso parecen asquerosas!
To make este and ese plural, delete the last "e" and add an "os" (estos and esos).
These rooms are too small. Estos cuartos son demasiado pequeños.
Do those dresses come in blue? ¿Esos vestidos vienen en azul?
To make aquel plural, just add "los" (aquellos).
Those (far away) rooms are much bigger. Aquellos cuartos son mucho más grandes.
Do those dresses (hanging up waaay over there) come in blue? ¿Aquellos vestidos vienen en azul
Use as Pronouns
You can actually use these demonstratives as pronouns (such as in the sentence, "This is not the book I wanted."). When you do, you still need the gender and quantity to match the noun it is representing in Spanish. So in the example sentence I just gave you, the Spanish translation would be: Éste no es el libro que quería. You use Este because libro is singular and masculine. If you were to say instead, "These are not the photos I wanted.", you would say: Éstas no son las fotos que quería. When used this way, these are called los pronombres demostrativos.
Now, when you use them as pronouns, it used to be that you were supposed to add an accent mark on the "e" (i.e., éste, ésta, ése, ésa, éstos, éstas, ésos, ésas, aquél, aquélla, aquéllos, aquéllas) to help distinguish them as pronombres demostrativos. I personally prefer this style of writing, as it was the way I was taught; however, the RAE recommended in 2013 getting rid of the accent mark. This has had mixed results, as many people (such as myself) continue writing with the distinguishing accent mark and view this suggestion as a mistake. In fact, back in 2020 the RAE kind of walked it back, making it merely a suggestion rather than a rule (at least, that's my understanding). Apparently, this was quite a hot topic of debate, and several people were quite proud to have never stopped using the accent mark. So, since it is no longer a hard rule either way, feel free to do what you would like (but you still need to use the accent mark! :D).
If you're wondering why there's no mention of esto, eso, and aquello (or maybe you're surprised that those words exist in Spanish after all!), that's because these words actually have different uses. But that's for a different episode!
Latter and Former
In Spanish, éste and aquél (and their feminine and plural counterparts) act as the equivalent to our former and latter.
Mary is my sister and John is my brother. The former was born in Colorado and the latter in Texas (in other words, Mary was born in Colorado and John in Texas). Mary es mi hermana y John es mi hermano. Éste nació en Tejas y aquélla en Colorado.
The difference being that while former always refers back to the first mentioned noun, éste/ésta always refers to the closest noun and generally comes first, whereas aquél/aquélla comes last and refers to the farthest noun.
Remember, learning a language is a lifelong journey.
¡Aprovéchalo, Disfrútalo y Compártelo!
Cultural Tip: Some Fun Spanish Phrases!
I didn't have time this week to delve into the Argentinian holidays, so instead we are going to talk about 3 fun Spanish phrases! The first two sentences are from the book, "The Street-Wise Spanish Survival Guide: A Dictionary of Over 3,000 Slang Expressions, Proverbs, Idioms, and Other Tricky English and Spanish Words and Phrases Translated and Explained" by Eleanor Hamer and Fernando Díez de Urdanivia [Affiliate link to Amazon] (which I love!), and the last one is from a page by FluentU.
"¡Ni son enchiladas!" Translation: "It is not like making enchiladas!" (Or rather, "it isn't even enchiladas!") As we would say in English: "It's not that easy!"
"¡Trágame tierra!" Translation: "Swallow me, Earth!" As we would say in English: "I wish the ground would just swallow me up!" This is used when you are super, super embarrassed!
"Me pica el bagre." Translation: "The catfish is biting me." As we would say in English: "I am SOOOO hungry!" Or, "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse!"
© 2021 by Language Answers, LLC
Intro and Closing Music by Master_Service from Fiverr
"El adverbio «solo» y los pronombres demostrativos, sin tilde" by the Español al Día of the Real Academia Española
"Fracasó la RAE: sólo y éste, con tilde" by Estandarte on April 24, 2020
"La RAE no ha cambiado de criterio: "solo" se escribe sin tilde" by Jamie Rubio Hancock on May 1, 2020 for El País
[Affiliate link to Amazon.] "Gramática para la composición" second edition, by M. Stanley Whitley and Luis González
[Affiliate link to Amazon.] "The Street-Wise Spanish Survival Guide: A Dictionary of Over 3,000 Slang Expressions, Proverbs, Idioms, and Other Tricky English and Spanish Words and Phrases Translated and Explained" by Eleanor Hamer and Fernando Díez de Urdanivia
"11 Fun Spanish Phrases That’ll Knock Your Socks Off" by Devynricks for FluentU