Two Words You Need to Know to Solve Problems

problema (proh-BLAY-mah) problem

I.... problem.

“I, Problem.”


Please read the sentence above aloud.


Do it.

Por favor.


OK – nice work, thank you.


With that simple exercise, you are ready to begin solving problemas on the job.


How? Well, you can’t solve problemas you don’t know exist.


“Hay” is the Spanish word that means (Is there….?) or (“There is….). It’s pronounced exactly like the English first person “I” or “eye.” Not “hay” for horses.


Remembering how to say “problem” is easy. It’s a Spanish Twin. Spanish Twins are words that are either identical or nearly the same in both languages.


So how do you say it?

Problem + a = Problema (proh-BLAY-mah)


Practice the pronunciation a few times & you are golden, my friend.


¿Hay problemas?

(I  proh-BLAY-mahs)

Are there any problems?


Easy enough, right?


Listen for a “Sí” or a “No” in the response and see where it takes you.


Practice this saying exactly one time tomorrow with a Spanish-speaker and let me know how it goes! If you don’t run into a Spanish-speaker tomorrow, try it on an English-speaker and teach them what you are doing.



Bradley Hartmann is founder and el presidente at Red Angle (, a Spanish language training firm focused on the construction industry. He likes Problem Child (the movie) and problem solving (the activity). Read Hartmann’s Red Paper (like a white paper, but not nearly as lame…), The Puente Problem at It’ll provide you soluciones to bridge the language gap and make your life easier.

There is a language barrier on your jobsite. That's a problem. Let's fix it. Here's how.

Categories: Jobsite Leadership

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