Are You in Love with Spanish Grammar?

by David

Whether or not you’re in love, the new Spanish Grammar Reference might be of interest to you. It’s a wiki, meaning that any Tomisimo member can edit it. I have primed the pump with a few articles on topics related to grammar and specifically Spanish grammar. So feel free to take it for a spin and be sure to let me know about any suggestions you might have. And feel free to edit/add to any pages and even add new articles if you want!

Macs Usados

by David

¿Qué pensaría Steve Jobs de esto?

Si alguien sabe de dónde viene esta imagen, por favor dime.

Update: Creo que Jae ha encontrado el autor en http://www.macusado.com.br/



Children’s Insight

by David

About one in sixty-two thousand forwarded emails is worthy of reading.

This is one of them.

I thought all the teachers out there would like to read this. And if you want to do a similar exercise in class you can post some of the results in the comments. For the non-native speakers, if you want to know the correct version of any of these proverbs, just ask!


A first grade teacher collected well known proverbs. She gave each child in her class the first half of a proverb and asked them to come up with the remainder of the proverb. Their insight may surprise you.

  • Better to be safe than … … Punch a 5th grader
  • Strike while the … … Bug is close
  • It’s always darkest before … … Daylight Savings Time
  • Never underestimate the power of … … Termites
  • You can lead a horse to water but … … how?
  • Don’t bite the hand that … … looks dirty
  • No news is … … impossible
  • A miss is as good as a … … Mr.
  • You can’t teach an old dog new … … math
  • If you lie down with dogs, you’ll … … stink in the morning
  • Love all, trust … … me
  • The pen is mightier than the … … pigs
  • An idle mind is … … The best way to relax
  • Where there’s smoke there’s … … pollution
  • Happy the bride who … … gets all the presents
  • A penny saved is … … not much
  • Two’s company, three’s … … the Musketeers
  • Don’t put off till tomorrow what … … you put on to go to bed
  • Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and … … you have to blow your nose.
  • None are so blind as … … Stevie Wonder
  • Children should be seen and not … … spanked or grounded
  • If at first you don’t succeed … … get new batteries
  • You get out of something what you … … see pictured on the box
  • When the blind leadeth the blind … … get out of the way

And the best one:

  • Better late than … … pregnant.

The New Idiom Dictionary is Live!

by David

For the past couple of weeks I have been hard at work creating the framework for an Idiom dictionary for Tomisimo.

Why do idioms matter?

An idiom is a word or phrase that does not mean what it says literally, such as telling an actor to “break a leg“.

You can search the idiom dictionary in Spanish or English to find an idiom and (hopefully) get an equivalent idiom in the other language, or browse the idioms alphabetically in Spanish or in English.

Anyone who is a member of Tomisimo can also contribute idioms, translations and comment on each idiom page. If you’re not a member, now’s the time to sign up for a free account.

Special thanks go out to Rusty and Gemma who spent a lot of time testing the interface while I was developing it, and in the process entered literally hundreds of idioms and sayings.

This is a work in progress, so if you have any suggestions for improvement or see something that’s not working properly, please let me know in the comments so it can be fixed immediately.

The Importance of Punctuation

by David

Last night I was in a class where we learned about the importance of punctuation in Spanish. Consider this sentence:

Un señor tenía un perro y la madre del señor era también el padre del perro.

Here’s a literal translation:

A man had a dog and the mother of the man was also the father of the dog.

The exercise was for us to try and place a single semi-colon in the sentence to make it make sense. And we can’t have the mother of the man being the father of the dog at the same time.

So where would you put the semi-colon?

Take a second to go back and try to place the semi-colon before reading on.

I wasn’t able to come up with the answer right away, although perhaps for native Spanish speakers it’s more obvious. Here’s the answer:

Un señor tenía un perro y la madre; del señor era también el padre del perro.
A man had a dog and the mother (of the dog); of the man was also (the man also owned) the father of the dog.

The sentence doesn’t work so well in English, but works perfectly in Spanish.

Woman and her man

This exercise reminded me of a joke I heard where an English professor walks into the classroom and writes the following sentence on the board, and instructs the students to insert the proper punctuation.

Woman without her man is nothing.

The male students wrote:

“Woman, without her man, is nothing.”

and the female students responded with:

“Woman: without her, man is nothing.”

Eats, shoots and leaves

Which leads us right to the famous panda story.

A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and starts shooting at the other patrons.

“Why did you do that?” asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it at the waiter.

“Well, I’m a panda,” he says, walking out the door. “Look it up.”

The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation. “Panda– Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.”

Which, of course, should have read “Eats shoots and leaves”.

Julia, Irene and Soledad

Then there was the poor guy who was in arrears because he had three lady friends– Julia, Irene and Soledad– and all three of them thought they were the love of his life. He penned a poem to let them know what he really thought.

Si obedecer es razón
digo que amo a Soledad
no a Julia cuya bondad
persona alguna no tiene
no aspira mi amor a Irene
que no es poca su beldad

Of course each one of these three ladies interpreted the poem as she wished.

Julia thought he meant:

Si obedecer es razón
digo que ¿amo a Soledad?
no, ¡a Julia cuya bondad
persona alguna no tiene!
no aspira mi amor a Irene,
¿qué? no, es poca su beldad.

Irene took it to mean:

Si obedecer es razón
digo que ¿amo a Soledad?
no, ¿a Julia cuya bondad
persona alguna no tiene?
no, ¡aspira mi amor a Irene
que no es poca su beldad!

And of course Soledad read it as:

Si obedecer es razón
digo que amo a Soledad;
no a Julia cuya bondad
persona alguna no tiene.
No aspira mi amor a Irene,
¿qué? no, es poca su beldad.

In reality, it was all a misunderstanding, since what he really meant was:

Si obedecer es razón
digo que ¿amo a Soledad?
no, ¿a Julia cuya bondad
persona alguna no tiene?
no, ¿aspira mi amor a Irene?
¿qué? no, ¡es poca su beldad!

An ambiguous will?

And if that wasn’t sad enough, let me finish with the will (testamento) that un señor dejó al morir:

“Dejo mis bienes a mi sobrino Juan no a mi hermano Luis tampoco jamás pagaráse la cuenta al sastre nunca de ningún modo para los jesuitas todo lo dicho es mi deseo.”

Now pretend you’re Juan, then Luis, then the tailor, then one of the jesuitas and try to punctuate this will. I’ll post the answers after a few days.

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