Beginners series 1

Beginners 13: Habits and Customs

Using “adverbs of frequency” to talk about how often you do things, how to ask “how often”, and using the incredibly useful verb soler.
Lis Salinas

Lis Salinas







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Spanish Obsessed beginners 13, habits and customs. Hola, ¿qué más?, ¿qué tal? [Hi, how are you?]
Buenas tardes Rob, muy bien, muy bien. [Good afternoon Rob, very good, very good]
Qué día más precioso [What a beautiful day]
Sí. Está muy lindo, además que es domingo, entonces fabuloso. Podemos salir a disfrutarlo. [Yes, it’s very nice, as well as it being Sunday, so fabulous. We can go out to enjoy it]
Yes, so it’s a Sunday, it’s a beautiful sunny day, and we’re doing this podcast before we head out into the sunshine and enjoy this beautiful day. As is often our habit when it’s a nice sunny day, which doesn’t happen to often here in London. But in this podcast we’re going to talk about habits and customs, and there’s several ways you can do this in Spanish. There’s lots of really interesting, useful vocabulary which you would typically use, so we’ll cover a lot of that, and then we’ll go over a few examples, and then we’ll also look at a really interesting verb, which is soler. And this is a verb which you often use with habits, so we’ll look at that as well. So when you’re talking about habits, you might want to ask “how often do you do something”? And this is something I actually often struggled with, because there’s not many translations for “often”, but we’ll go over those in a minute. How do you say “how often”?
We say cada cuánto
Cada cuánto. So cuánto means “how much”, and cada means “every”. “Each”, or “every”. So literally translated it sounds very strange, we’re saying “every how much”… So instead of saying “how often”, it’s every “how much”. So for example, you might say “how often do you go to the gym”?
¿Cada cuánto vas al gimnasio?
¿Cada cuánto vas al gimnasio? Or, “how often do you study English?”
¿Cada cuánto estudias inglés?
Yeah, so a really useful little tip that, cada cuánto. You can also ask how many times a week, or how many times in a certain time period
Do you do something
Yeah, so how would you say “how many times a week”
¿Cuantas veces a la semana…?
¿Cuantas veces a la semana…? So again cuantas, this is how much, veces comes from vez, and in the plural it’s VECES, it changes its spelling, it means time. How many times a la semana, la semana is “week”, so ¿Cuantas veces a la semana…?, “how many times a week?” What about “how many times a year”?
¿Cuantas veces al año…?
¿Cuantas veces al año…? So we’re using this preposition a, ¿Cuantas veces a…? al, in this case, so a + l becomes al, al año. And that’s literally “to”, so “how many times to the year”, not “in”. So you don’t say ¿cuantas veces en la semana?
No, sounds strange
¿Cuantas veces a la semana? Rob: “How many times to the week…?” And if it’s every day, you might say
Cada día
Cada día. So cada, which is what we met in our first question, cada cúanto, is “each”. Cada día, each day. Each week?
Cada semana
Cada semana. Each month?
Cada mes
And each year?
Cada año
So that’s one way of saying “each”, cada. Or you could say “every day”, and you might say that by saying Lis: Todos los días
Todos los días. So todos means “all”. “All of the days”. Todos los días. “All of the weeks”:
Todas las semanas
Yeah, so this is “every week”, “all of the weeks”, todas las semanas.
Todas because semanas is female
Feminine, exactly
Días, male
Días, yeah although it ends in a, it’s actually a masculine noun. El día, not la día, el día. There’s a few other ways to say how often you can do things, so let’s look at those as well. If I want to say “never”, how could I say that?
Nunca, and there’s another word, which is
Nunca jamás, so that’s “never”, never ever. If it’s a bit more than never, you might say “almost never”, how do you say that?
Casi nunca.
Casi nunca. So casi, “almost”. Casi nunca, or casi jamás
Casi jamás, I never heard before. Casi jamás.
No? So casi nunca is better.
Casi nunca, casi nunca.
Ok, and if it’s more often than that, it might be Lis: De vez en cuando
De vez en cuando, which I think is best translated as “from time to time” , de vez en cuando. If it’s quite often, you might say
A menudo
A menudo, “quite often”. Similar to that is
Con frecuencia Rob: Con frecuencia.
O, frecuentemente
Or frecuentemente. Frecuentamente, or frecuentemente?
No, frecuentemente.
Yeah, frequently.
Or if it’s very frequently, con mucha frecuencia. And more than that might be “always”, which is
So there we go, we’ve run the scale from “never” to “always”. So I’m going to ask Lis a few questions about her customs and her habits, and she’s going to reply using some of those words we’ve just covered. ¿Cada cuánto vas al gimnasio? [how often do you go to the gym?]
Casi nunca [Almost never]
Casi nunca [Almost never]
I subscribed but I cancelled a month ago
¿Cada cuánto estudias inglés? [How often do you study English?]
Casa siempre [Almost always]
¿Casi siempre? Almost always?
I think siempre. Every day.
Siempre. Of course, because you’re living in Inglaterra.
¿Cuantas veces al día tomas café? [How many times a day do you have coffee?] Lis: Una vez al día [One time a day]
¿Solo una vez al día? [Just one time a day?]
Algunas veces, dos. [Sometimes, two]
Algunas veces. That’s one we didn’t cover before, actually, algunas veces means “sometimes”. Algunas veces. ¿Cuantas veces a la semana comes chocolate?
You love chocolate don’t you? A menudo como chocolate. [I often eat chocolate]
¿Cuantas veces al día? O, a la semana, perdon. [How many times a day? Or a week, sorry?]
Tal vez cuatro. [Maybe four]
¿Cuatro veces a la semana comes chocolate? [Four times a week you eat chocolate?] Lis: Sí [Yes]
I didn’t know about this! You do it in secret.
Me gusta como postre. [I like it as a pudding/dessert]
You like it as a pudding. Un postre, “a pudding”. ¿Cada cuánto llamas a tu familia? [How often do you call your family?]
Con mucha frecuencia. [Very often]
Con mucha frecuencia. Ok, now Lis is going to ask me a few questions.
¿Cada cuánto practicas yoga? [How often do you do yoga?] Rob: Tres o cuatro veces a la semana. [Three or four times a week]
Y ¿cada cuánto vas a la iglesia? [And how often do you go to church?]
Nunca. [Never]
¿Cada cuánto vas a visitar a tus padres? [How often do you go to visit your parents?]
Visitar a mis padres. De vez en cuando, yo creo que cada dos o tres meses. [To visit my parents. From time to time, I think every two or three months]
Y ¿te gusta el cine? [And do you like the cinema?]
¿Me gusta el cine? Claro. [Do I like the cinema? Of course.] Lis: ¿Cada cuánto vas al cine? [How often do you go to the cinema?]
¿Cada cuánto voy al cine? Una vez al mes, cada mes. Dependiendo de las películas. [How often do I go to the cinema? Once a month, every month. Depending on the movies] So there you go, some useful phrases for you there, we hope. Now, we’re going to look at one of the most useful verbs for talking about habits and customs, which is
Soler. A beautiful sounding verb as well, soler. It sounds like sol, “sun”. And it’s an interesting verb, it means that someone does something as a custom or a habit. Or it could indicate something that often happens, so it’s all about repetition. The conjugations are a little tricky because it’s a stem-changing verb, so that o will often change to ue. So, Lis is going to conjugate the verb, have a listen and repeat the following conjugations, in the present simple tense:
Yo suelo. Tú sueles. Usted suele. El suele. Ella suele. Nosotros solemos. Ustedes suelen.
So the stem changing from the o to ue happens on all of the conjugations except for nosotros. Actually, vosotros, we didn’t do that one. In Spain they say vosotros
Vosotros soléis
Soléis. Yeah, so vosotros and nosotros are the only two where the stem doesn’t change to ue. With everything else it becomes ue, so yo, not solo, yo suelo, tú sueles, usted suele, but nosotros solemos. So let’s take a look at a couple of examples. What’s our example Lis?
Suelo tomar dos cafés cada día.
Suelo tomar dos cafés cada día. So we’ll work backwards. You remember that cada día is “every day”, dos cafés, “two coffees”, so “two coffees every day”, tomar is “to take”, , but you use tomar to mean “drink” in this sense. Tomar dos cafés cada día, “to drink two coffees every day”, and then this suelo, so in this case we’re saying “I usually”, suelo. “I usually drink two coffees every day”. What’s another example?
Suelo ir al gimnasio tres veces a la semana.
So again, suelo in this case means “I usually”, suelo ir al gimnasio tres veces a la semana. “I usually go to the gym three times a week”. ¿Qué sueles comer en casa? [What do you normally eat at home?]
Yo suelo comer ensaladas, y sopas. [I usually eat salads, and soups]
Y ¿sueles tomar mucho te? [And do you usually drink much tea?]
En Colombia no solía tomar te, pero ahora en Inglaterra, suelo tomar mucho te. [In Colombia I didn’t use to drink tea, but now in England I usually drink a lot of tea]
So Lis, in Colombia no solía, and that’s in the past, no solía tomar mucho te, “I didn’t have much tea”, and then what else did you say?
But in England I used to have quite a lot of tea now.
But in England I usually, suelo tomar mucho te en Inglaterra. So how could you say in Spanish “I usually eat at home”?
Yo suelo comer en la casa. O, normalmente como en casa. Both are correct.
Yeah, it’s a good alternative, you could say normalmente.
Yo suelo comer en casa, o normalmente como en casa.
How could you say “I don’t usually work at home”?
No suelo trabajar en casa.
So trabajar, just to remind you, is to work, en casa, at home. No suelo trabajar en casa, I don’t usually work at home. How could you say “it usually rains in England”?
Suele llover en Inglaterra.
Suele llover en Inglaterra. So llover is “to rain”, en Inglaterra, with a double-r, so you have to roll, Inglaterra, “it usually rains”, suele, “it usually rains”, suele llover. So some useful phrases for talking about habits and customs. Hasta luego.