Top Picks – Spanish-Language Videos (Spain)

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Guide Picks – Top Spanish-Language Videos (Spain)
These are among the best or best-known films produced in or about Spain. If you’re interested in the viewing a film because you enjoy or are hoping to improve your Spanish, make certain you avoid buying a version that has been dubbed into English.
1) Flamenco
If you enjoy watching flamenco, this is the ultimate in films. There’s not much of a storyline, but the dancing is exquisite.
2) Todo sobre mi madre
At first watching, this Pedro Almodóvar seems like little more than an overblown soap opera. But the depth of the film becomes clearer on later reflection, making it clear why Almodóvar’s films are so highly acclaimed.
3) Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!

There’s plenty of black humor in the Almoóvar film that is decidedly for adults only due to the subject material indicated in the title.
4) Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

An Oscar nomination for best foreign film in 1989 went to this screwball comedy about women and their problems with men.
5) Abre los ojos

One of Penélope Cruz’s best-known films, this has been made into an English-language Hollywood version in which Cruz plays her role in English this time and starring opposite Tom Cruise. The plot, full of twists, turns and surprises, explores the natures of perception and reality.
6) Jamón, jamón

This European hit features Penélope Cruz and others in love trianges and mischief among blue-collar workers of Spain.
7) Tango

Argentine/Spanish production tells the story or a tango artist who films a movie about the tango.

Here and There: Spanish Adverbs of Location

Broadly speaking, in English something can be in one of two places: here or there. But Spanish has three such locations.

They are aquí, roughly the equivalent of “here”; ahí, roughly the equivalent of “there” when speaking of an object or action that is close to the person being spoken to; and allí, roughly the equivalent of “there” or “over there” when speaking of an object that is distant from both the speaker and the person being spoken to.

Note also that ahí is sometimes used to refer to something emotionally close rather than simply physically close to the listener, so allí can suggest emotional as well as physical distance.

Grammatically, all three of these words in Spanish (and the English equivalents as well) are known as adverbs of place.

Although allí and ahí can sound similar in regions where the ll sound is softened and they are often translated the same in English, you should be careful not to confuse them. Ask a native Spanish speaker, ¿Qué pasa ahí? (“What’s happening there?”), and the person will likely look in his or her vicinity. But ¿Qué pasa allí? (which you might translate as “What’s happening over there?”) will have the person looking in the distance.

Here are some examples of these adverbs in use:

  • Necesitas aceptar las condiciones aquí descritas. You need to accept the conditions described here.
  • Vente aquí para comer. Come here and eat.
  • La gente aquí es muy pacífica. The people here are very peaceful.
  • Haz clic aquí. Click here.
  • ¿Hay alguien allí? Is someone there?
  • El hombre que nunca estuvo allí. “The Man Who Wasn’t There” (title of movie)
  • Te puedes sentar ahí. You can seat yourself there.
  • Allí viene el heladero. There comes the ice cream man (in the distance).
  • Como siempre ahí. I always eat there.
  • ¿Qué hacen allí mirando al cielo? What are they doing there looking at the sky?

You might notice that these adverbs roughly correspond to the demonstrative adjectives and pronouns:

  • Adverb of location: aquí. Demonstrative: este (this), éste (this one).
  • Adverb of location: ahí. Demonstrative: ese (that), ése (that one).
  • Adverb of location: allí. Demonstrative: aquel (that over there), aquél (that one over there).

As in English, these adverbs can occasionally be used as pronouns. A few examples:

  • Los dulces de aquí son muy caros. The candy from here is very expensive.
  • Desde allí puede ver el lago. From there you can see the lake.
  • Aquí es donde nació Silvina. Here is where Silvina was born.

Regional variations: In some parts of Latin America, you may hear acá, allá and acullá used instead of (or in addition to) aquí, allí and ahí. You may also find some subtle variations in how these terms are used in different regions.

A final caution: Be careful not to confuse allí with the existential use of haber, such as using hay to mean “there is” or “there are.” Although “hay dos libros” and”dos libros están allí” can both be translated as “there are two books,” the two sentences in Spanish don’t mean the same thing. “Hay dos libros” means “two books exist,” while “dos libros están allí” means “two books are in that location.”.

Spanish Alphabet and Pronunciation

Spanish Alphabet and Pronunciation

The Spanish language is quite easy to pronounce since most letters (or phonemes) only have one sound. The list below will serve as a guide for how to pronounce each letter alone and in combination with other letters.

a ah Close to “ah.” This sound does not exist exactly in English, but a close approximation can be found by saying “my” omitting the last “ee” sound.
b beh After a pause or the letters l, m, or n, it sounds much like an English b. However, in all other cases, the lips do not even touch, producing a more whisper like sound almost close to the pronunciation of the letter v.
c ceh Sounds like k in most cases. Before e or i, it sounds like an s (or th (thick) in many parts of Spain).
ch cheh Sounds like the ch in “cheese” in English.
d deh After a pause or the letters l, m, or n, it sounds much like an English d except you should place your tongue to your upper teeth instead of the roof of your mouth. However, in all other cases, the tongue touches nothing, creating a whispery th sound like “the”.
e eh Close to “eh.” This sound does not exist exactly in English, but sounds much like the a in mate.
f effe Sounds like the f in English.
g ge After a pause, or the letters l, m, or n, it sounds much like an English g. Before e or i, it sounds like a harsh h (much like the Spanish j).
h hache In general, this sound is silent. However, words with foreign spelling and no Spanish equivalent, the breathy aspiration is maintained: Hawái, Hollywood, etc.

* Many newly introduced words are written in italics to highlight their foreign origin (hámster, hip-hop, etc.).

i i Close to “ee”, but short. Before vowels a, e, and o, it forms a y sound.
j jota Close to the English h sound, but it varies from country to country. In some places, the sound is very harsh in the back of the throat (like you are trying to spit something up). It never sounds like the English J.
k kah Uncommon in Spanish, but sounds much like the English k with less breath.
l ele Close to the English l, but with the tongue raised closer to the roof of the mouth rather than dipped down
ll elle While this is not considered a letter anymore by the RAE, it has a distinct y sound (like in use) in most countries. In other countries it can sound like the g in genre.
m eme Just like the English m.
n ene Just like the English n.
ñ eñe A completely separate letter from the n, it sounds much like the ni combination in onion or the ny combination in canyon.
o oh Close to “oh” as in so, but shorter.
p peh Close to the English, but with less breath aspirated
q koo Always followed by the letter u, it makes the same sound as the letter k
r ere Similar to the d sound in caddy in most cases. When following a pause or the letters l, n, or s or in the combination rr, it has a trilled sound.

* To trill the rr, try to say brr, but instead of using your lips, use your tongue. When you exhale, the tongue should be raised and widened so it touches the upper teeth.

s ese Just like the English s.
t te Softer than the English t, the tongue touches the teeth and there is no explosion of breath after moving the tongue away.
u u Close to the “oo” in food, but shorter.
v veh Much like the Spanish b where the lips do not touch and there is less aspiration.
w doble veh Not native to Spanish, but with the same pronunciation as the English w.
x equis Between vowels and at the end of a word, it sounds like the English ks. At the beginning of a word, it sounds like the letter s.

* Not too long ago, the x sounded more like the letter j which can still be seen in words such as Mexico and Oaxaca.

y y griega Most of the time, it sounds like the English y in yes. At the end of a word, it functions as a vowel and sounds like the letter i.

* Many books in Spain will say the sound is different from the ll, but the difference is small and you will be understood pronouncing both as y

z zeta Mostly pronounced like the English s, but can sound like the th in thin in many parts of Spain.