Let’s get you speaking Construction Spanish ahorita. Right now. How’s that sound?
Consider today Payday. Not the kind of Payday where you receive money. The kind of Payday where you save time and stress and receive money.
The best part about this Payday is you get paid for getting out of work. You get paid for having other people do work for you. This Payday will have you feeling like young Tom Sawyer watching his pals paint his fence while he naps barefoot under the tree. You collect money for having other people do your work. Do this often enough… and you’ll get promoted.
Let me explain: Have you ever had the experience of explaining something in English to a Spanish-speaker and despite all the affirming head nods and subtle “OK, yeses,” you return later to find it wasn’t done right? Or wasn’t done at all?
Well, in addition to the obvious language barrier, there is a cultural aspect to that scenario (a future post, to be sure), so don’t be too hard on yourself… or the listener. Follow these 3 steps and this problema de comunicación will gone.
This 3-Step Process is guaranteed to have you speaking Spanish in 7.46 minutes. Más o menos….
Step Uno :: The Puede Payday
PUEDE (PWAY-day) rhymes with Payday and means “Can you…” or “You can.” Say this 9 times fast with 135 calories of candy bar in your mouth.
Largely Worthless Fun Fact: In the 80’s, every Payday had an individually wrapped nickel in it. This dumb idea became dumber when commodity markets rendered the cost of producing a nickel (let alone individually wrapping it and jamming it headlong into caramel and peanuts) about fifty cents.
Anyway…. PUEDE. Can you….
Step Dos :: Spanish Twins
Have you ever heard anyone pretend to speak Spanish by adding an “O” onto the end of every word? “Hey-oh Pedro-oh, Can-oh you-oh help-oh me-oh with-oh this-oh?” Don’t do this. It’s insulting, annoying, and not funny.
But if this was how you speak Spanish, leveraging the Spanish Twins is still easier. Now that we have PUEDE, we are going to add a non-conjugated verb right behind it.
If you felt a stabbing pain in your retina when you read non-conjugated verb, don’t worry. That’s from high school where they made learning Spanish much harder than it needs to be. If it lasts longer than 4 horas… see an MD.
A non-conjugated verb is like that bamboo plant on your kitchen ledge. You ignore – it functions great. Don’t water it – not a problem. Dust gathers all over it – no issue here. It performs perfectly when you literally do nothing.
So below are a few Spanish Twin Bamboo-ish verbs we’ll use. We will take them and slap them right behind PUEDE. Remember all verbs end in one of 3 ways: -AR, -ER, and -IR. And the emphasis is always on the last syllable.
Now… see if you can guess the meanings of these words below:
MOVER :: moh-BAYR
INSTALAR :: een-stah-LAHR
ORGANIZAR :: ohr-gah-nee-SAHR
REPARAR :: ray-pah-RAHR
COMPLETAR :: kohm-play-TAHR
EXCAVAR :: ayks-kah-BAHR
DESCONECTAR :: days-koh-nayk-TAHR
How’d you do?
MOVER :: move
INSTALAR :: install
ORGANIZAR :: organize
REPARAR :: repair
COMPLETAR :: complete
EXCAVAR :: excavate
DESCONECTAR :: disconnect
Now we add the PUEDE Payday and you are saying:
Puede mover – Can you move…?
Puede instalar – Can you install…?
Puede organizar – Can you organize…?
Puede reparar – Can you repair…?
You get the idea.
Difícil? I think not….
Step 3 :: Este
ESTE (AYS-tay) THIS
So here we’ll use some Caveman Spanish – simply plan on pointing at the objeto in question that needs to be moved, installed, organized, etc…. Go easy on the S sound in Este (like AY-tay) here and tack it on behind the Bamboo Verb you picked from above.
Puede mover este – Can you move this?
Puede instalar este – Can you install this?
Puede organizar este – Can you organize this?
Puede reparar este – Can you repair this?
Winner, winner, pollo cena.
Try it mañana and let me know how it goes!
Bradley Hartmann is founder and el presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a Spanish language training firm focused on the construction industry. He likes Paydays, nickels, the ingenuity of Tom Sawyer, and the bamboo plant on his kitchen ledge that is continually ignored.
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