You too can learn Spanish!


This page is being provided by me, Tyler Jones, to hopefully be of value to people using the Web.


My name is Tyler Jones, and I will be your instructor of basic Spanish for this Web-course. I do not purport to know everything about Spanish, or its dialects, but I do know enough to be giving these basic lessons.

I will introduce the new words, along with definitions and also audio clips of what the words should sound like. Click on the word in the "This Week's New Words" section to hear the word spoken.

Lesson 1

This Week's New Words:

  • adiós - goodbye
  • bien - good, well
  • él - he, him
  • ella - she, her
  • ellas - they (female)
  • ellos - they (male)
  • hola - hello
  • gracias - thank you
  • lo siento - I'm sorry
  • nosotros - us, we (plural)
  • señor - sir, mister
  • señora - madame
  • señorita - miss
  • - you (informal)
  • usted - you (formal)
  • ustedes - you (plural, formal)
  • yo - I
  • Numbers 1-10
  • 0 cero
  • 1 uno
  • 2 dos
  • 3 tres
  • 4 cuatro
  • 5 cinco
  • 6 seis
  • 7 siete
  • 8 ocho
  • 9 nueve
  • 10 diez
  • Pronunciation

    The Spanish alphabet is fairly similar to our own (English, or depending on where you're from, American). Each lesson will explain a few more letters. This week, I'll explain the interesting letters (or combinations thereof) from this week's words (above).
    The ll in Spanish is always pronounced like the English y in yes. Thus, the Spanish word ella (she, her) is pronounced like eh-ya.
    The ñ is the same sound as the ny pair in the word canyon. Thus, señor is pronounced like sen-yor.
    The Spanish h is always silent. Thus, hola is pronounced ola (as in cola without the c).
    a, e, i, o, u
    The Spanish vowels each have only one sound, regardless of what letters they precede or follow, or accent marks on the vowel. The a is always pronounced as in the English word car. The e has the sound of the e in bed. The Spanish i is the same as the English long e or ee as in see. The o is always pronounced as the o in the word cold. The Spanish u has the sound of the English oo as in too or the English ue as in blue.
    As opposed to the English r, which is formed in the back of the mouth with the back of the tongue, the Spanish r is formed using the tip of the tongue on the upper palatte, behind the front teeth, more like the English d.

    Being the first lesson, this week you're just learning some of the basics. The main emphasis is on pronouns (yo, usted) and numbers (cero through diez). Also, you're being introduced to some of the most common greeting and short phrases, such as hola ("hello") and lo siento ("I'm sorry").

    Without knowing any verbs, there aren't many sentences to be made with the words we have, but here are some (short) examples with what we know:

    Hola, señorita. - Hello, miss.
    Lo siento, señor. - I'm sorry, sir.
    And yes, that's about all we can do right now, but these are still good examples of Spanish grammatical structure. Notice how similar the above sentences are to English - hola comes first, and then the subject, señorita. You can form the same kinds of sentences using adiós and gracias, and señora, in addition to the example sentences above. However, you can't make a sentence like this:
    Hola, usted.
    What the above sentence literally says is "hello, you", and while it may be possible to think of times in English when you might say that, in Spanish the sentence is meaningless, and people will look at you funny if you say Hola ustedes! in the middle of a group of Spanish-speaking people.

    Numbers. Numbers, as you should all know, are important. That's why I've included some in the first lesson. For the moment, you only know the numbers between 0 (cero) and 10 (diez), but that will change. What can you do with the numbers cero through diez? Count your toes! Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diez.. Recite your phone number! cinco, cinco, cinco, ocho, seis, cero, dos (555-8602). Tell someone how many sisters you have (dos). What you can't do with the numbers cero through diez is make numbers bigger than diez by stringing them together. Dos cero is not the same as 20, although if you were in a pinch, you might be able to make someone understand that 20 was what you meant. Don't worry, we'll get to the rest of the numbers (1-1000) in the next few lessons.

    Pronouns. Pronouns (yo, tú, usted, él, ella, nosotros, ustedes, ellos, and ellas) aren't anything that you can actually use yet, because I haven't given you any verbs. But as we progress, pronouns will be very important, so I'm introducing them now. The Spanish pronouns are used almost always exactly the same way they are in English. In English, you would say

    I went to the store.
    In Spanish, you would just substitute yo for I in the sentence above (we'll pretend that the rest of the sentence is really in Spanish) and end up with
    Yo went to the store.
    Trust me, how one uses these pronouns will make much more sense when we learn some verbs.

    Learning any foreign language requires a lot of memorization, and unfortunately this course is no different. One thing that I find helpful is to mix in Spanish words in my everyday English, so long as the situation can handle it (i.e. don't start calling the businesspeople in your board meeting ustedes next time you get together). So try and memorize the new words for this lesson, and how to pronounce them. Now, you can return to the Spanish Lessons Homepage.
    Tyler Jones, 4-15-94
    Copyright Tyler Jones 1994.