English Lessons


Spanish Words in English, Part I

Many words of Spanish origin have been absorbed into the English language, especially in the United States, whose Hispanic and Latino residents account for nearly 18% of the total population. As well as having predominantly Spanish-speaking territories such as Puerto Rico, the United States also borders the mainly Spanish-speaking Mexico. Thus you will find many words of Spanish origin listed in American English dictionaries that you won't necessarily find in British English dictionaries, or in the latter they will be identified as Spanish words rather than English words with a Spanish origin.


Some of the most common words of Spanish origin in English are food-based: 


Yellow split peas, boiled and grounded [sic] in the food processor, cilantrohabanero [pepper], garlic...

Captions 49-50, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives - Pam's Trinidadian Caribbean Kitchen - Part 1

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The fresh herb "cilantro" is most commonly called "coriander" in British English, whereas in US English, "coriander" usually refers to the dried root of the plant and not the fresh leaves.


Habanero peppers (habeñero in Spanish) are among the hottest chilis around, rating at 100,000 to 350,000 on the Scoville scale. The word "chili" (also spelled "chile" in English) is, although also a Spanish word, derived from the indigenous Nahuatl language that is still spoken by 1.7 million people in Mexico. Chili is also a kind of thick stew made from beans, tomato sauce, and chilis: 


Don't ever eat chili out of a dented can. That's my advice.

Caption 27, Karate Kids, USA - The Little Dragons - Part 9

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In the US, it's common to see canned (or "tinned" in British English) chili labeled as "chili con carne," so watch out if you are vegetarian, as con carne is Spanish for "with meat."


...and the good news is that I got some extra tortillas.

Caption 38, Travel + Leisure - Weekend Getaway: Santa Barbara

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In US and British English, as well as North American Spanish, a tortilla is a thin, round pancake made of corn meal or flour. But in Spain, a tortilla is more often a kind of egg omelette! 


Packaged foods, like chocolate and tea and salsa... 

Caption 9, New York City - The Union Square Holiday Market

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Come summer, this place is full of people sunbathing in bikinis, playing beach volleyball, and even dancing salsa.

Captions 24-25, World Cup 2018 - A Tour of Cities and Venues - Part 4

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Here you see "salsa" in its two meanings as a sauce and a kind of music and dance. 


Of course, nearly everybody knows this one, from the Spanish adíos:


If you didn't worship him, it was out, adios, you know, off.

Caption 76, Ask Jimmy Carter - Interview with Anthony Hopkins

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Actor Anthony Hopkins is British-born, but has lived in Southern California off and on since the 1970s, and in fact got US citizenship in the year 2000.


With that, we'll say goodbye for now! 


Further Learning
Take a look at this extensive list of Spanish words in English on Wikipedia and see if you can find some of them used in a real-world context on English Yabla

Infinitive Verbs - Part 2

Infinitive Verbs - Part 1

An infinitive verb is the plain form of a verb that is not conjugated and often has the word "to" before it. It is good to know the plain or base form of a verb, since that is the form that is typically the main listing for the word in a dictionary. You may hear the infinitive "to sit" conjugated as "sat" or "sitting," but the form of the word you will need if you care to look it up is the infinitive "sit." In standard usage, the infinitive will always be preceded by another verb.


An infinitive is often used in a sentence in combination with a conjugated from of "to be." In these examples, the subject "it" is used to make general observations: 


It is going to blow up!

Caption 37, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives - Pam's Trinidadian Caribbean Kitchen

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It's going to boil down.

Caption 6, Cooking with Aria - French toast and a berry topping

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It is not enough to obey Big Brother.

Caption 15, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four - BBC TV Movie

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"The world is watching. It's time to detox."

-Greenpeace: Detox How People Power is Cleaning Up Fashion


The infinitives are written in bold above: to blow up, to boil, to obey, and to detox.



Further Learning
Read this in-depth article on infinitive verbs, then search for examples on Yabla English to see them used in a real-world context. 

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