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Trying to learn how to understand Spanish

 

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Old November 21, 2017, 08:02 PM
jramsay jramsay is offline
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Trying to learn how to understand Spanish

Well I am trying to be able to hear spoken spanish and understand what is being said? In addition, to understand how to respond in Spanish. One of my biggest problems is that I might know what individual words would mean, but then when put together with something else it means something totally different. For example, I am listening to a song Igual Que Ayer and there is this phrase: "Extraño Tanto". When I look up the phrase I believe it means I will miss you very much. Then when I look up the words individually Extraño means weird/odd, then Tanto means so/so much. I just don't get the connection between the meaning of the phrase verses the individual word meanings. Another thing is being able to listening to someone talking in spanish and actually hear and understand what they are saying. I might catch one or two words there, but I don't understand what they are trying to see. Lastly, is trying to respond to them, where I have a bad habit of thinking about it in english then trying to say it in Spanish. There are several times I would think about something and then say it, but the whole meaning gets skewed in translation. An example of this is when I was trying to find out if a young lady was single. I asked if she was a Senora or Senorita, which when I told my friend he laughed and told me never say that again to a woman. After he explained to me why, I never knew that is how it would be taken. So need some help
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  #2  
Old November 21, 2017, 08:36 PM
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AngelicaDeAlquezar AngelicaDeAlquezar is offline
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You have to take into account the nature of the words and the fact that very rarely a literal translation will give you the actual meaning of a sentence or expression.
If you're trying to learn with a dictionary, you need a very good one that will give you all the meanings of a word, just keep in mind that no dictionary will give you conjugations. For that, you'll need a conjugation manual. (My recommendation is Larousse's Conjugación Lengua Española.)

So, if you're trying to make sense of "Te extraño tanto", you'll have to know that the word "extraño", can be a conjugated verb (I miss), a noun (a stranger) or an adjective (strange/weird). So, when you check the word in a dictionary, you will find these two last meanings, but not the first one, so you'll need to learn how conjugations work. And I'm not counting the "te", which may be a confusing pronoun, as it's used in many different grammatical cases.

As for how to understand Spanish speakers, well, it's just a matter of practice and increasing your vocabulary. You may read blogs, books, magazines, etc.; listen to songs; watch videos; talk to people... It's all a matter of systematic dedication and lots of patience.
And in my experience, never expect to understand each and every word said all the time. Grasping general ideas of what is being said depends on how much you actually have learnt, so don't despair, it will come with time. That's the same about cultural features and ways in which some words or expressions may be interpreted. It's only through interacting with the native speakers that you'll learn when and how to use certain pieces of language.

My only advice is don't try to translate anything. Learn expressions in context and take them as they are (like "me llamo..." for "my name is...", which are different ways to say the same in both languages); take one piece of language at a time and practice in different sentences and situations, until you feel confident that you know its meaning and usage, then it will be easier to move on to different ones.

Don't worry, it's not easy, but never impossible.
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Old November 22, 2017, 07:29 AM
jramsay jramsay is offline
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Thanks for the response and advice.
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