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Adverbs Ending with “-mente”

Can you turn an English adverb into a Spanish adverb by simply ending it with “mente” instead of “ly”? Let’s talk about some of the nuances of Spanish adverbs that end with -mente, including the “false friends” (or false cognates) that can trip English speakers up, such as últimamente.

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Intro: Join us on a rigorous, step-by-step journey to fluency. I’m Timothy and this is LearnCraft Spanish.

Today we’re going to learn our last essential adverbs, as well as some fun things you can do to customize nouns, adverbs, and adjectives in Spanish.

To begin with, let’s learn the words for “completely” and “totally”. “Completely” is completamente, and “totally” is totalmente. So for example:

Are you completely ready for the test?

¿Estás completamente listo para la prueba?

I’m sure that it was totally correct.

Estoy seguro de que fue totalmente correcto.

And as we’ve mentioned earlier, there are a lot of English adverbs that can turn into Spanish adverbs pretty easily by having them end with mente instead of L-Y. So far we have realmente, exactamente, probablemente, simplemente, completamente, and totalmente.

Let’s learn a few more, just for fun, even though the following words are well below the top 1000 words in Spanish. The word for “obviously” is obviamente. The word for “absolutely” is absolutamente. Here’s an example:

Obviously there is absolutely no reason to do this.

Obviamente no hay absolutamente ninguna razón para hacer esto.

Let’s go ahead and practice completamente, totalmente, absolutamente, and obviamente. In this first example, to say “you’re absolutely right”, put the word absolutamente after the verb, as the second word in the sentence. Try to predict the Spanish.

You’re absolutely right.

Tienes absolutamente la razón.

We completely agree with you.

Estamos completamente de acuerdo contigo.

What you(plural) did was totally stupid.

Lo que hicieron fue totalmente estúpido.

I completely agree, she obviously likes my friend.

Estoy completamente de acuerdo, obviamente le gusta mi amigo.

Absolutely, you’re right. I would wish he were in agreement.

Absolutamente, tienes razón. Desearía que él estuviera de acuerdo.

He’s totally lost, obviously he doesn’t know where he has to go.

Él está totalmente perdido, obviamente no sabe a dónde tiene que ir.

All right, let’s learn two more adverbs that end in mente. The word for “definitely” is a mouthful: definitivamente. This word stresses “mente”, like all these other words, but it might help to think of a secondary stress on “tiv”. Definitivamente. For example:

This is definitely much better.

Definitivamente esto es mucho mejor.

Notice how we restructured the sentence; definitivamente isn’t a perfect one-to-one equivalent of “definitely”. First of all, it has a much stronger tendency to stay right at the beginning of the sentence rather than be thrown in the middle. And secondly, it actually has a second meaning; sometimes it’s used to mean “permanently”. For example:

Can I permanently change my address?

¿Puedo cambiar definitivamente mi dirección?

And in fact, we have to be careful about trying to change English adverbs to Spanish adverbs by just ending them with mente and using them in the same way. A pretty common Spanish adverb is últimamente, but this DOESN’T mean “ultimately”, the way we use that word in English. Instead, this word means “lately”, as in “in the recent past”. Here’s an example:

Lately I sleep until 10 each morning.

Últimamente duermo hasta las 10 cada mañana.

So this is an example of what we call a “false cognate” or a “false friend”: A word that seems very similar between the two languages, but it has a different meaning.

Let’s practice definitivamente and últimamente.

Definitely, every time I saw them I wished them the best.

Definitivamente, cada vez que los veía les deseaba lo mejor.

This is definitely impossible, have you talked to them lately?

Esto es definitivamente imposible, ¿has hablado con ellos últimamente?

I know that lately she’s not doing very well. Promise me you’ll talk to her.

Sé que últimamente no está muy bien. Prométeme que hablarás con ella.

All right, let’s learn our last few essential adverbs that don’t end with mente. First of all we have the word temprano, which means “early”. This word is the opposite of tarde. For example:

They arrived very early.

Llegaron muy temprano.

Next we have the adverb enseguida, which means “immediately”. This is a long word, but it’s related to the verb Seguir, which means “to follow”. So think of enseguida as meaning “immediately following”. It’s spelled e-n-s-e-g-u-i-d-a. Enseguida. For example:

She lost her voice immediately.

Ella perdió la voz enseguida.

This is also sometimes translated into English as “right away”, which means basically the same thing. For example:

Can you come to the office right away?

¿Puedes venir a la oficina enseguida?

Next, we have the adverb aun, which means something like “even”. This is a bit complicated, because we already have a word that means “even”, and we already have a word aún. So let’s dig into this a little bit. This new word is spelled a-u-n, without an accent mark. The word we already know, aún, is spelled a-u-n, with an accent mark on the U. And it means “still” or “yet”, as a synonym for todavía. This new word, aun, means “even” or “still”, but in specific circumstances. Here’s a very typical example:

Her face turned red, even without being sad.

Su cara se puso roja, aun sin estar triste. 

So here, in the English, the word “even” is being applied to the preposition “without”. “Even without”. In Spanish, this could be translated as hasta sin, but in situations like this it’s more common to say aun sin. Basically, aun is a synonym for hasta in cases like this. And technically, any time you use hasta as an adverb to mean “even”, you COULD use aun instead. But native speakers tend to use hasta most of the time, except when “even” comes before a preposition, where it’s more common to say aun instead of hasta.

Let’s get some practice choosing between hasta and aun when translating the adverb “even” from English into Spanish. I’ll also throw in some uses of temprano and enseguida, and just for fun I’ll also throw in some uses of aún, the version with the accent mark that means “still”. Try to predict the Spanish.

I swear to you I’ll do it right away.

Te juro que lo haré enseguida.

Yes, but it’s a bit early now.

Sí, pero es un poco temprano ahora.

We still want them to run, and even she wants that too.

Aún queremos que corran, y hasta ella quiere eso también.

They saw it in many places, even on the road.

Lo vieron en muchos lugares, aun en la carretera.

Why do you wish him a happy birthday? It’s still early.

¿Por qué le deseas un feliz cumpleaños? Aún es temprano.

That area is not safe, even for them. They have to come back right away.

Esa zona no es segura, aun para ellos. Tienen que volver enseguida.

Our next adverb is a strange one. It’s the word ojalá, which means something like “hopefully”. This is used very often to trigger a subjunctive phrase of intention. For example:

Hopefully he arrives on time!

¡Ojalá llegue a tiempo!

This word is so common that in natural Spanish, it often takes the place of the verb Esperar. For example, the English phrase “I hope they aren’t sad” should theoretically be translated into Spanish as espero que no estén tristes, but sometimes it’s translated simply as ojalá no estén tristes.

To make matters even more complicated, this verb even replaces the verb for “to wish”. Check out this sentence in English:

I wish this weren’t so difficult.

Now, we might expect the English verb “wish” to translate as the Spanish verb Desear. But in situations like this, where what we’re wishing is for something we know isn’t true, it’s more common in Spanish to use ojalá. This will be followed by a phrase with a past-tense subjunctive. Here’s the Spanish translation of “I wish this weren’t so difficult.”

Ojalá esto no fuera tan difícil.

Try it yourself in this next example:

I wish I were a little taller.

Ojalá yo fuera un poco más alto.

Let’s get some practice with ojalá.

I wish they didn’t have so many problems.

Ojalá ellos no tuvieran tantos problemas.

Hopefully there won't be so many problems on the ground.

Ojalá no haya tantos problemas en el suelo.

I wish he could do that, but I know he can’t.

Ojalá él pudiera hacer eso, pero sé que no puede.

Hopefully he’s here soon; I promised him we were going to see each other.

Ojalá él esté aquí pronto; le prometí que íbamos a vernos.

All right, before we go on to today’s final quiz, let’s look at something fun you can do with Spanish nouns. Check out this sentence in English:

The other boy has a doggy!

So what we’ve done in English is we’ve taken the word “dog” and added a syllable to it to make it sound more cute, maybe for baby talk. This is something you can only do with certain nouns in English, particularly animal names, such as “horsey”, or with some family names, such as turning “dad” into “daddy” or “mom” into “mommy”.

Well, Spanish has something similar that it does, and it isn’t just used in baby talk. Here’s the Spanish version of that sentence:

¡El otro chico tiene un perrito!

So we’ve turned the word perro into perrito. Basically, you can take almost any noun in Spanish and then change it to end with either i-t-o or i-t-a. This is called a “diminutive”, because by default, the meaning is that something is smaller than it would otherwise be. Here’s another example:

Look at the little house!

¡Mira la casita!

But there’s no perfect way to translate the diminutive from Spanish into English, because the diminutive is actually somewhat complex. Sometimes it does indicate that something is small. For example, cosa, or “thing”, can become cosita, which means something like “little thingy”. But other times, and perhaps more often, the diminutive is used to express familiarity and affection. Here’s a very typical example:

I want to spend more time with my granny.

Quiero pasar más tiempo con mi abuelita.

So here we said abuelita instead of abuela. The speaker chose abuelita to express fondness and closeness.

Some other common examples include niñita, niñito, hermanito, hermanita, and even amiguito or amiguita.

We’ve actually seen an example of this previously, where the word señorita means something different from señora. But señorita is such an established word in the language that it actually does mean something different from just “little mrs”; it means “miss”. The same thing does happen with some other nouns, but for now we’ll just focus on taking nouns we already know and making them smaller or more familiar by ending them with ito or ita.

Note also that turning a noun into a diminutive is easy if it’s a noun that ends with A or O. But if it ends with the letter E, you do something different: You add cito or cita to the end, spelled with a C.

For example, let’s say you want a little coffee. The word café ends with an E rather than an A or an O. So the word for “little coffee” is cafecito. For example:

I’d like a small coffee, please.

Me gustaría un cafecito, por favor.

Now, of course, we could have simply translated this as café pequeño, but Spanish speakers choose the diminutive when they want to give something a fun and special name, and cafecito is actually a common name for a tiny cup of coffee.

Here’s another example:

What a lovely little man!

¡Qué hombrecito tan bonito!

You might say this about the young boy of a close friend.

Let’s get some practice with diminutives.

We’d like a little coffee(dim), please.

Nos gustaría un cafecito, por favor.

Look at my granny’s doggy! It’s on the sidewalk.

¡Mira el perrito de mi abuelita! Está en la acera.

He’s a very funny little man(dim), and that little girl(dim) too.

Es un hombrecito muy gracioso, y esa niñita también.

That little boy(dim) is his little friend(dim), do you know him?

Ese niñito es su amiguito, ¿lo conoces?

It’s a cute little thingy and there’s a lot of space here for that.

Es una cosita muy bonita y hay mucho espacio aquí para eso.

Run! You have to say goodbye to your little sister(dim) before you leave the little house(dim).

¡Corre! Tienes que decirle adiós a tu hermanita antes de que te vayas de la casita.

So now that we’ve had some fun with the -ito and -ita suffixes, let’s talk about just one more suffix that’s applied to the ends of some words for fun. Check out this example:

It was super good!

¡Fue buenísimo!

So here we turned bueno into buenísimo to make it stronger. Basically we’re saying it wasn’t just good, it was extremely good. This is called the superlative, and unlike the diminutive, we don’t use this on nouns; instead, we use it on adjectives and sometimes adverbs. Here’s another very common example:

I did a whole lot today.

Hice muchísimo hoy.

And actually, the most common use of the superlative, by far, is in muchísimo, or its variations: muchísima, muchísimos, or muchísimas. Try it yourself in this next example:

I found a whole lot of things in the living room.

Encontré muchísimas cosas en la sala.

Now, of course, we’ve already learned that demasiado often means “a whole lot” or “a large amount”. But for the purposes of this episode, we’ll focus on muchísimo for this meaning.

Let’s get some practice with superlatives.

Those things are super good, I wish to have more.

Esas cosas son buenísimas, deseo tener más.

There are a whole lot of kids near the window; did you see them?

Hay muchísimos chicos cerca de la ventana, ¿los viste?

There were a whole lot of people in that place because it was super good.

Había muchísima gente en ese lugar porque era buenísimo.

For more practice with any of this, feel free to dig deeper at LCSPodcast.com/233. Or if you’re ready, let’s go on to today’s final quiz.

If we go to that destination, we’re going to see your granny.

Si vamos a ese destino, vamos a ver a tu abuelita.

I completely agree with you, but he doesn’t wish for anything for his birthday.

Estoy completamente de acuerdo contigo, pero él no desea nada para su cumpleaños.

Why are you saying that he’s obviously not coming? He’s been doing well lately.

¿Por qué dices que obviamente no va a venir? Ha estado bien últimamente.

Hopefully we can be here, but obviously he’s going to want to get out of the house.

Ojalá podamos estar aquí, pero obviamente él va a querer salir de casa.

I wish we could go to the park and the square, but we don’t have time.

Ojalá pudiéramos ir al parque y a la plaza, pero no tenemos tiempo.

His little friend(dim) lives near the bridge.

Su amiguito vive cerca del puente.

Why are you running so early lately?

¿Por qué estás corriendo tan temprano últimamente? 

I promise you that I definitely won’t do that in that state.

Te prometo que definitivamente no haré eso en ese estado.

I’m completely ready, but I know there will be a whole lot of problems.

Estoy completamente listo, pero sé que habrá muchísimos problemas.

Have you seen the first floor? We don’t like anything on that site.

¿Has visto el primer piso? No nos gusta nada en ese sitio.

They say that it’s everywhere, even among the trees.

Dicen que está en todas partes, aun entre los árboles.

Do you totally agree?

¿Estás totalmente de acuerdo?

He always runs in that direction because there is the entrance.

Siempre corre en esa dirección porque ahí está la entrada.

Even without a car, we arrived early at the little house(dim).

Aun sin auto, llegamos temprano a la casita.

We’ll go to the living room right away because we’re absolutely sad.

Iremos a la sala enseguida porque estamos absolutamente tristes.

Do you promise me that you’ll do whatever I wish for?

¿Me prometes que harás lo que yo desee?

(plural) Run! You’re going to arrive totally late and you’ll have a whole lot of problems.

¡Corran! Van a llegar totalmente tarde y tendrán muchísimos problemas.

You had promised me that you would do it right away.

Me habías prometido que lo harías enseguida.

They wish you the best, so hopefully you’ll be able to do it.

Ellos te desean lo mejor, así que ojalá puedas hacerlo.

You had sworn it to us, why are you not at the exit yet?

Nos lo habías jurado, ¿por qué no estás en la salida todavía?

He promised me something else, but this is hell.

Me prometió otra cosa, pero esto es un infierno.

Why did you promise that? I would wish you hadn’t done it.

¿Por qué prometiste eso? Desearía que no lo hubieras hecho.

I used to wish for a whole lot of things, but that was definitely a mistake.

Deseaba muchísimas cosas, pero eso fue definitivamente un error.

Absolutely, you have to run if you want to arrive on time.

Absolutamente, tienes que correr si quieres llegar a tiempo.

For more practice with all of this, go to LCSPodcast.com/233.

In tomorrow’s episode, we’ll learn some fun new nouns for physical items, including the words for “computer”, “cat”, and “key”.

This show is brought to you by LearnCraftSpanish.com. The Spanish voice in this episode was our coach Michael Agudelo. Our music was performed by the Seattle Marimba Quartet, and I’m Timothy, encouraging you to do the hard work of learning Spanish. Acquiring a second language is one of the most fulfilling things you can do, so start your fluency journey today at LCSPodcast.com.

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