Spanish All-in-One For Dummies®

Table of Contents


About This Book

Conventions Used in This Book

Foolish Assumptions

How This Book is Organized

Book I: Speaking in Everyday Settings

Book II: Grasping Basic Grammar Essentials

Book III: Mastering More Advanced Grammar Essentials

Book IV: Spanish at Work

Book V: Appendixes

Icons Used in This Book

Where to Go from Here

Speaking in Everyday Settings

Chapter 1: Warming Up with the Bare Basics

Starting with What You Already Know

Don’t let the false cognates fool ya

Noting common similarities

Reciting Your ABC’s




Honing Your Pronunciation Skills

Looking for stress in the usual places

Scouting out accented syllables

Discovering accents on diphthongs

Getting Familiar with Punctuation Rules

Brushing Up on Basic Phrases

Chapter 2: Uno, Dos, Tres: Numbers, Colors, Dates, and Time

Counting with Ordinal and Cardinal Numbers

Cardinal numbers

Ordinal numbers

Adding a Touch of Color

Making Dates



Writing dates

Spanish holidays

Telling Time

Exploring Common Expressions of Time

Chapter 3: Greetings, Salutations, and Farewells

Greetings in Formal or Friendly Settings

Meeting on formal terms

Making more solemn introductions

Getting chummy: Informal greetings

Addressing Others by Name or Surname

Deconstructing Spanish names

Introducing yourself with the verb llamarse

Asking “How Are You?”

Being in a permanent way with ser

Being right now with estar

Saying “¡Adios!”

Chapter 4: Engaging in a Little Chitchat

Sparking Conversations with Questions

Chatting about the Weather

Discussing Work, Hobbies, and Activities

Discussing Family Matters and Relatives

Talking about Where You Live

Engaging in “Small” Talk with Diminutives

Brushing Up on Common Expressions

Use It or Lose It: Practicing What You Know

Chapter 5: Speaking of Food . . .

Getting Up to Speed on Table Talk

Table terms

Phrases for food and drink

Eating and Drinking: Three Must-Know Verbs

Take and drink with tomar

Drink up with beber

Chow down with comer

Sampling the Exotic Cuisine

How do you like your salsa?

Making a restaurant reservation

Ordering up some grub with the verb querer

Paying the bill

Going to Market

Shopping with the verb comprar

Selecting fruit

Picking out veggies

Fishing for seafood

Knowing your weights and volumes

Shopping at the Supermercado

Chapter 6: Going Shopping

Checking Out the Local Department Stores

Sampling the Goods with Probar (to Try)

Shopping for clothes

Discussing fibers and fabrics

Take That! The Verb Llevar

Comparing Products: Good, Better, Best

Adding Even More Emphasis

Shopping in Specialty Stores

Sticking with Traditional Markets

Sampling typical market items

Haggling for a better deal

Shopping for copper, glass, clay, and wood goods

Shopping for embroidered clothes

Shopping for baskets

Chapter 7: Conversing Over the Phone

Placing a Call

Delivering an Effective Opening Line

Slowing Down and Spelling It Out

Slowing down fast talkers

Spelling it out for clarity’s sake

Calling Listening, Hearing, and Other Phone-y Verbs

You called? The past tense of llamar

Did you leave a message? The past tense of dejar

Have you heard? The past tense of escuchar

Chapter 8: Asking Directions

Going Places with ¿Dónde?

Where Is . . . ? Where Are . . . ?

Using Yourself as a Reference Point

Space Travel: Grasping Spatial Directions

Referring to a Map When All Else Fails

Dealing with the Normal Ups and Downs: Subir and Bajar

Going up with subir

Going down with bajar

Being Here, There, and Everywhere

Knowing How Far to Go with Cerca and Lejos

Chapter 9: Dealing with Emergencies

Hollering for Help

Dealing with Medical Issues

Helping out with the verb ayudar

Ouch! and other expressions of pain

Telling where it hurts

Seeing the dentist

Talking about insurance

Calling the Police

Reporting a robbery

Describing the crime and suspect

Looking for Help with Buscar

Book II: Grasping Basic Grammar Essentials

Chapter 1: Getting to Know Your Parts of Speech

Unveiling the Parts of Speech









Meeting Subject Pronouns Face to Face

Applying subject pronouns

Omitting subject pronouns

Chapter 2: Addressing Gender Issues

Expressing Gender with Definite Articles

Identifying the definite articles

Using the definite articles

Omitting definite articles

Using contractions with definite articles

Remaining neutral with lo

Indicating Gender with Indefinite Articles

Recognizing the indefinite articles

Omitting indefinite articles

Getting Particular with Demonstrative Adjectives and Pronouns

Demonstrative adjectives

Demonstrative pronouns

Sorting Out Masculine and Feminine Spanish Singular Nouns

Gender benders: Reverse-gender nouns

Transgender nouns: The same for both genders

Meaning-changing nouns

Rule breakers: Special cases

Pluralizing Your Nouns

Becoming Possessive

Using de

Showing possession with adjectives

Making your pronouns possessive

Chapter 3: Dealing with the Here and Now: Present Tense Verbs

Conjugating Verbs in the Present Tense

Conjugating -ar verbs

Conjugating -er verbs

Conjugating -ir verbs

Speaking of the Passive Voice . . .

Dealing with Irregulars

Spelling-changing verbs

Stem-changing verbs

Verbs with spelling and stem changes

Common verbs with irregular yo forms

The irregular yo, tú, él (ella, Ud.), and ellos (ellas, Uds.) forms

A couple of really irregular verbs

Another notable exception: gustar

Some common, though irregular, expressions

Chapter 4: ¿Qué? Asking Questions

Spanish Inquisitions

Asking yes/no questions

Probing for information

Yes, Sir/No, Ma’am: Answering Questions in Spanish

Answering yes

Saying no in oh so many ways

Answering a positive question with a negative answer

Answering information questions

Chapter 5: What’s Happening: Present Participles and the Present Progressive Tense

Using Present Participles: It’s an “ing” Thing

Turning Regular Verbs into Present Participles

The Present Participle of Stem-Changing and Irregular Verbs

Expressing Progress with the Present Progressive

Forming the present progressive with estar

Expressing ongoing action with other verbs

Chapter 6: Two More Simple Tenses: Future and Conditional

Peering into the Future

Implying future with the present

Expressing the near future with ir + a

Futurizing regular verbs

Futurizing irregular verbs

Foretelling, predicting, and wondering with the future tense

As If: The Conditional Tense

Waffling with the conditional tense

Forming the regular conditional

Forming the irregular conditional

Chapter 7: Spicing Up Your Talk with Adjectives and Adverbs

Describing Stuff with Adjectives

Changing an adjective’s gender

Making adjectives plural

Placing adjectives in the right spots

Abbreviating your adjectives

Describing Actions with Adverbs

Forming adverbs

Keeping an eye on adverb placement

Comparing Stuff

Comparing equals

Comparing inequalities

The best: The superlative

Even better: The absolute superlative

Checking out the irregular comparatives

Chapter 8: Defining Relationships with Prepositions

Meeting the Most Common Spanish Prepositions

Telling the Difference between Prepositions



En and hasta

Por and para

Combining Prepositions with Infinitives

A + infinitive

De + infinitive

En + infinitive

Con + infinitive

Spanish verbs that can stand alone

Brushing Up on Prepositional Pronouns

Book III: Mastering More Advanced Grammar Essentials

Chapter 1: Getting Bossy with the Imperative Mood

Issuing Formal Commands

Commandeering regular verbs

Commandeering other verbs

Delivering Informal Commands

Issuing singular commands with tu

Issuing plural commands with vosotros

Chapter 2: Getting Object Pronouns Involved

Acting Directly on Direct Object Pronouns

Using Indirect Object Pronouns

Picking the Right Object Pronoun for the Job

Direct object verbs

Indirect object verbs

Putting Object Pronouns in Their Places

Doubling Up with Object Pronouns

Chapter 3: Involving Yourself in the Action with the Reflexive

Grasping the Concept of Reflexive Verbs

Doing More with Reflexive Verbs

Reflexivity Not Always Required

Enlisting the Aid of Reflexive Pronouns

Putting Reflexive Pronouns in Their Places

Chapter 4: Been There, Done That: Past (Preterit) Tense

Conjugating Regular Verbs in the Preterit

Using the Preterit in a Sentence

Facing Some Irregularities

Yo! Spelling changes in the preterit yo form

Changing stems in the preterit

Sampling representative irregular verbs

Chapter 5: Continuing in the Past with the Imperfect Tense

Preterit or Imperfect? You Decide

Uses of the preterit

Uses of the imperfect

Conjugating Regular Verbs in the Imperfect

Practicing the Imperfect with Timely Expressions

Meeting the Three Irregular Imperfect Verbs

Chapter 6: Getting That Subjunctive Feeling

Conjugating Regular Verbs in the Present Subjunctive

Confronting Irregularities

Verbs irregular in the yo form

Verbs with spelling changes

Verbs with stem changes

Verbs with spelling and stem changes

Irregular verbs

Wishing in the Subjunctive

Conveying Doubt, Opinion, or Incomplete Action

Expressing doubt and uncertainty

Expressing impersonal opinion

Describing conditional actions

Stepping Up to the Imperfect Subjunctive

Forming the imperfect subjunctive

Wishing, doubting, and expressing opinions about the past

Issuing polite requests

Dreaming of possibilities with “if”

Assuming with “as if” or “as though”

Chapter 7: Forming the Compound Tenses

Laying the Groundwork

Conjugating haber

Transforming -ar, -er, and -ir verbs into past participles

Brushing up on irregular past participles

Forming the present perfect

Tackling the Pluperfect and Preterit Perfect

Forming the pluperfect tense

Checking out the preterit perfect

Choosing the right tense at the right time

Forming the Future Perfect and Conditional Perfect

Forming the future perfect tense

Giving yourself wiggle room with the conditional perfect

Future perfect or conditional perfect? You decide

Encountering the Present Perfect Subjunctive

Forming the present perfect subjunctive

Putting the present perfect subjunctive to good use

Doubting the Past with the Pluperfect Subjunctive

Forming the pluperfect subjunctive

Putting the pluperfect subjunctive to work

Book IV: Spanish at Work

Chapter 1: Spanish for Healthcare Workers

First Things First: Key Words and Emergency Lingo

Doctor-speak: Using basic terminology

Naming body parts

Dealing with emergencies

Admitting New Patients

Setting appointments and asking initial questions

Dealing with forms and other formalities

Discussing insurance and payments

Asking Questions: The Patient Interview

Examining Your Patient

Taking a patient’s blood pressure and temperature

Say “aah”: The physical exam

Explaining the Diagnosis and Treatment

Delivering your diagnosis

Recommending treatment

Referring patients to specialists

Chapter 2: Spanish for Law Enforcement Professionals

Breaking the Ice with Common Words and Phrases

Introducing yourself

Gathering basic information

Establishing locations

Dealing with Traffic Violations

Pulling over a driver

Requesting a driver’s information

Explaining why you stopped the driver

Interviewing Witnesses

Asking some opening questions

Asking “What happened?”

Getting a suspect’s description

Taking a Suspect into Custody

Chapter 3: Spanish for Educators and Administrators

Admitting New Students

Leading parents through the enrollment process

Gathering personal and contact information

Requesting medical and emergency contact information

Describing required school supplies

Communicating with Students

Interacting in the classroom

Giving instructions for the cafeteria or lunchroom

Supervising students in the gym or on the playground

Asking about the restroom

Getting kids on the bus safely

Communicating with Parents

Adjusting to cultural differences

Dealing with common issues

Chapter 4: Spanish for Banking and Financing

Brushing Up on Banker-Speak

Mastering the meet and greet

Requesting identification

Getting a handle on bank vocab

Describing routine customer needs

Giving customers common instructions

Processing Common Transactions

Opening an account

Cashing checks

Accepting deposits

Processing withdrawals

Handling transfers

Addressing Common Problems

Offering help

Explaining problems cashing checks

Explaining other problems

Chapter 5: Spanish in the Office

Interviewing Job Candidates

Having candidates complete an application

Identifying skills

Checking previous positions

Asking some key questions

Checking a candidate’s availability

Explaining Compensation and Benefits

Laying out your pay rate

Describing lunchtimes and breaks

Explaining vacations and sick days

Discussing health insurance and pension

Describing Buildings, Furniture, Equipment, and Supplies

Buildings, hangouts, and other key areas

Office furniture, equipment, and supplies

Training New Hires

Mastering some useful expressions

Issuing basic commands

Giving directions

Laying down the rules

Chapter 6: Spanish for Hotel and Restaurant Managers

Greeting Guests and Patrons

Mastering the meet and greet

Asking a few key questions

Explaining room rates, check-in times, and more

Showing your guests to their table or room

Training the Housekeeping Staff

Stocking the cart

Cleaning rooms

Cleaning bathrooms

Changing beds

Restocking rooms and bathrooms

Training the Laundry Room Staff

Operating the washing machines

Operating the dryers

Pressing and folding items

Managing Spanish in the Kitchen

Kitchen equipment and utensils

Cooking and baking activities

Common kitchen ingredients and measurements

Chapter 7: Spanish for Builders, Mechanics, and Factory Workers

Brushing Up on the Tools of the Trade

Using the Tools of the Trade

Issuing Common Commands

Communicating on the Factory Floor

Referring to buttons and controls

Describing common actions

Filling and emptying containers

Chapter 8: Spanish for Real Estate Professionals

Setting Appointments

Answering the phone

Calling a client

Gathering basic information

Agreeing on a meeting time and place

Understanding Your Clients

Describing Homes

Describing the home’s age, size, and style

Touring the various rooms

Highlighting a home’s amenities

Location, location, location

Discussing the Financing and Purchase

Talking money

Making a purchase offer

Navigating the Closing

Dealing with Sellers

Chapter 9: Spanish for Gardening and Landscaping

Brushing Up on the Tools of the Trade

Commanding Your Crew

Prepping the Ground for Planting

Grading the lot

Preparing the soil

Laying landscaping fabric and edging

Planting Trees, Shrubs, and Flowers

Lawn Care Lingo



Applying fertilizer and herbicides

Aerating and dethatching

Spreading grass seed

Laying sod

Book V: Appendixes

Appendix A: Spanish Verbs

Appendix B: Spanish-English Mini Dictionary

Appendix C: English-Spanish Mini Dictionary

Appendix D: About the CD

Spanish All-in-One For Dummies®

by Cecie Kraynak with Gail Stein, Susana Wald, Jessica M. Langemeier, Berlitz


About the Authors

Cecie Kraynak, MA has taught and tutored Spanish at the junior high, high school, and college levels for more than 25 years. She is a frequent traveler to Spanish-speaking countries and has studied abroad at the University of the Americas in Cholula, Mexico and the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Spanish and secondary education in 1980 and her master’s degree in Spanish literature from Purdue University. Cecie authored Spanish Verbs For Dummies and has edited numerous books on learning Spanish. She is currently the ESL coordinator for the South Montgomery Schools in New Market, Indiana.

Gail Stein, MA is a retired language instructor who taught in New York City public junior and senior high schools for more than 33 years. She has authored several French and Spanish books, including Intermediate Spanish For Dummies, CliffsQuickReview French I and II, CliffsStudySolver Spanish I and II, 575+ French Verbs, and Webster’s Spanish Grammar Handbook. Gail is a multiple-time honoree in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.

Susana Wald is a writer and a simultaneous and literary translator in Hungarian, Spanish, English, and French. As a publisher, she has been working with books and authors for many years. She has been a teacher in Chile and Canada and has known the joy of learning from her students and their untiring enthusiasm and tolerance. She is also an artist and has had her work shown in many countries in North, Central, and South America and in Europe.

Jessica M. Langemeier received her BA in education, with a second major in Spanish, from the University of Northern Iowa in 1998. After moving to Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1999, she taught Spanish, English as a Second Language (ESL), and general education in multilingual communities and schools. She also has developed ESL and Spanish language programs for individuals and companies. She received her MS in language education from Indiana University in 2004. She has lived and worked in Mexico and Japan and has taught students of all ages and nationalities.

Berlitz has meant excellence in language services for more than 120 years. At more than 400 locations and in 50 countries worldwide, Berlitz offers a full range of language and language-related services, including instruction, cross-cultural training, document translation, software localization, and interpretation services. Berlitz also offers a wide array of publishing products, such as self-study language courses, phrase books, travel guides, and dictionaries.

The world-famous Berlitz Method® is the core of all Berlitz language instruction. From the time of its introduction in 1878, millions have used this method to learn new languages. For more information about Berlitz classes and products, please consult your local telephone directory for the Language Center nearest you or visit the Berlitz Web site at, where you can enroll in classes or shop directly for products online.


To my children, Nick and Ali, who have opened my eyes anew through their explorations of Spanish language and culture and who make great travel companions. — Cecie Kraynak

Author’s Acknowledgments

Thanks to Michael Lewis for choosing me to write this book and working closely with me during the initial stages to formulate the vision. Thanks also go to project editor Tim Gallan for carefully shaping the manuscript and shepherding the text through production, and to Megan Knoll, copy editor, for purging the manuscript of any typos and ugly grammatical errors. Last but not least, thanks to my husband, Joe, who assisted in preparing the numerous manuscript submissions. — Cecie Kraynak

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our online registration form located at

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial, and Media Development

Senior Project Editor: Tim Gallan

Acquisitions Editor: Mike Lewis

Copy Editor: Megan Knoll

Technical Reviewer: Language Training Center

Editorial Program Coordinator: Joe Niesen

Editorial Manager: Michelle Hacker

Editorial Assistants: Jennette ElNaggar, David Lutton

Sr. Editorial Assistant: Cherie Case

Cartoons: Rich Tennant (

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Kristie Rees

Layout and Graphics: Carl Byers, Reuben W. Davis, Melissa K. Jester, Christin Swinford, Christine Williams

Proofreader: ConText Editorial Services, Inc., Caitie Copple

Indexer: BIM Indexing & Proofreading Services

Publishing and Editorial for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher, Consumer Dummies

Kristin Ferguson-Wagstaffe, Product Development Director, Consumer Dummies

Ensley Eikenburg, Associate Publisher, Travel

Kelly Regan, Editorial Director, Travel

Publishing for Technology Dummies

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher, Dummies Technology/General User

Composition Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services


Gaining mastery over your first language is as easy as learning to walk. One day it’s all goo-goo ga-ga, and the next you’re stringing together words like a born orator. Picking up a second language, particularly when you’re not immersed in it, is quite a bit more challenging. You have to set aside the conventions of your own language and get up to speed on new rules, structures, and vocabulary all at the same time.

Sure, you can pick up a handful of phrases overnight and perhaps recite the alphabet and count to ten by the end of the week, but that’s not going to get you through a normal dinner conversation or enable you to understand foreign soap operas. You need some serious training to reach that point. Fortunately, Spanish All-in-One For Dummies, along with some practice, can get you there.

About This Book

Spanish All-in-One For Dummies is a comprehensive guide to acquiring Spanish as a second (or third or fourth or fifth) language that delivers the information and instruction in easily digestible, bite-sized chunks. It’s the closest thing to a Spanish language immersion program you can get off a bookshelf — addressing both spoken and written Spanish and presenting it in the context of real-life situations. Think of it as your own personal tutor, reference book, and workbook all rolled into one.

This book is not a class that you have to drag yourself to twice a week for a specified period of time. You can use Spanish All-in-One For Dummies however you want to, whether your goal is to pick up a few common words and phrases, write a Spanish-speaking pen pal, or travel to a Spanish-speaking country. We set no timetable, so proceed at your own pace, reading as much or as little at a time as you like. You don’t have to trudge through the chapters in order, either; just read the sections that interest you.

And don’t forget to practice by using the CD at the back of this book for help in pronunciation. The only way to really know and love a language is to speak it. Throughout the book, we give you lots of words, phrases, and dialogues, complete with pronunciations. Only a sampling of them are on the CD, but we’ve provided a broad selection that should serve most of your basic needs.

Conventions Used in This Book

To make this book easy for you to navigate, we’ve set up a couple of conventions:

Spanish terms are set in boldface to make them stand out.

English pronunciations, set in italics, accompany the Spanish terms.

Whenever we include the phonetic pronunciation of a Spanish word, we also use italics to denote any stress you add to that word. (See Book 1, Chapter 1 for more on pronunciation and stress.)

As you begin to use this book, you will no doubt notice that we chose a rather conventional method to introduce the different verb conjugations — a conjugation box, which looks like this:

pedir (e to i) (to ask for)







This handy little tool acts like a mental billboard. It displays the Spanish verb, its English meaning, and then conjugates the verb, presenting the three singular conjugations in the left column (for I; you informal singular; and he, she, it/you formal singular) and the three plural conjugations (we, you informal plural, and they/you formal plural) in the right column. Some even include an example sentence below the conjugations at no extra charge.

Vocabulary chart: Vocabulary charts provide a quick rundown of common words or expressions, typically providing the Spanish word in the left column with its English equivalent in the right column. In some cases, the charts contain additional columns to illustrate different forms, such as a present participle.

Language learning is a peculiar beast, so this book includes a few elements that other For Dummies books don’t, such as the Talkin’ the Talk dialogue. One of the best ways to learn a language is to see and hear how it’s used in conversation, so we include dialogues throughout Books I and IV. The dialogues come under the heading “Talkin’ the Talk” and show you the Spanish phrases, the pronunciation, and the English translation.

Also note that because each language has its own ways of expressing ideas, the English translations that we provide for the Spanish terms may not be exactly literal. We want you to know the gist of what’s being said, not just the words that are being said. For example, you can translate the Spanish phrase de nada (deh nah-dah) literally as of nothing, but the phrase really means you’re welcome. This book gives the you’re welcome translation.

Foolish Assumptions

To write this book, we had to make some assumptions about who you are and what you want from a book called Spanish All-in-One For Dummies. Here are the assumptions we’ve made about you:

You know little or no Spanish — or if you took a Spanish class some years ago, you don’t recall much of what you knew.

You’re looking for more than your average conversational Spanish lesson, but you want that, too.

You want to have fun and pick up a little bit of Spanish at the same time.

If these statements apply to you, you’ve found the right book!

How This Book is Organized

This book is actually six books in one, each of which tackles Spanish and Spanish language acquisition in a different way. In the following sections, we provide a brief description of what you can expect to find in each book.

Book I: Speaking in Everyday Settings

This book focuses on the spoken word and allows you to get your feet wet and wade in slowly. We begin with the bare basics, including some guidance on proper pronunciation; introduce words for numbers, colors, dates, and time; show you how to initiate conversations with greetings and small talk; and then place you in various situations where you pick up Spanish in everyday settings, including grocery stores, restaurants, department stores, and even in emergency situations.

Book II: Grasping Basic Grammar Essentials

In Book II, we get more formal as we introduce you to the various rules and regulations that govern the Spanish language. Don’t worry, we start out very slowly with the building blocks — the parts of speech, including nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs — before moving on to slightly more involved topics like conjugating verbs in the simple past, present, and future tenses. In very short order, you’ll be constructing your own original expressions in complete sentences! You also discover how to ask questions, spice up your expressions with adjectives and adverbs, and build your own prepositional phrases.

Book III: Mastering More Advanced Grammar Essentials

Consider this book a more advanced course in Spanish grammar than Book 2. Here, you discover how to issue commands with the imperative mood, take action on object pronouns, talk about yourself with the reflexive, wish and hope with the subjunctive, and double the number of verb tenses with the helping verb haber.

Book IV: Spanish at Work

Even if you’re fairly fluent in everyday Spanish, you may have trouble communicating with customers or colleagues at work because the words and phrases you need so specific to your line of work. To assist you with your Spanish on the job, we’ve included several chapters that deal with various professions and workplace scenarios:

Healthcare workers

Law enforcement professionals

Educators and administrators

Banking and financing professionals

Office workers

Hotel and restaurant managers

Builders, mechanics, and factory workers

Real estate professionals

Gardeners and landscapers

Book V: Appendixes

At the very back of this book, just before the index, we provide four appendixes for quick reference:

Appendix A: Verb conjugations for regular and irregular verbs

Appendix B: Spanish-to-English dictionary

Appendix C: English-to-Spanish dictionary

Appendix D: About the CD

Icons Used in This Book

You may be looking for particular information while reading this book. To make certain types of information easier for you to find, we’ve placed the following icons in the left-hand margins throughout the book:

Tip.eps This icon highlights tips that can make learning Spanish easier.

grammaticallyspeaking.eps Languages are full of quirks that may trip you up if you’re not prepared for them. This icon points to discussions of these weird grammar rules.

culturalwisdom.eps If you’re looking for information and advice about culture and travel, look for these icons. They draw your attention to interesting tidbits about the countries in which Spanish is spoken.

audiocd.eps The audio CD that comes with this book gives you the opportunity to listen to real Spanish speakers so that you can get a better understanding of what Spanish sounds like. This icon marks the Talkin’ the Talk dialogues you can find on the CD.

Remember.eps Remember icons call your attention to important information about the language — something you shouldn’t neglect or something that’s out of the ordinary. Don’t ignore these paragraphs.

Where to Go from Here

Like all For Dummies books, this one is designed for a skip-and-dip approach. You can skip to any chapter or section that catches your eye and find a mini-lesson on the topic du jour. If you’ve never had any instruction in Spanish or much exposure to it, we encourage you to begin with the first four chapters of Book I. These chapters form the foundation on which you can start building your knowledge.

Books I and IV present a more conversational, situational approach, for when you need to know a few key words and phrases and you don’t have time for the rules or you need some specialized vocabulary you can’t find anywhere else.

When you do have time for the rules, spend some time cozying up to Books II and III, where true Spanish mastery is laid and hatched. This stuff is the meat-and-potatoes Spanish . . . or should we say rice and beans?

Book I

Speaking in Everyday Settings


In this book . . .

When you’re just getting started with a new language, sampling a few appetizers can whet your appetite for more. In this book, we warm you up with some basics, including rules on pronunciation and stress (without stressing you out too much). We cover numbers, colors, dates, and time; engage you in some Spanish small talk; and then place you in common situations in which you pick up the language quite naturally.

Here are the contents of Book I at a glance:

Chapter 1: Warming Up with the Bare Basics

Chapter 2: Uno, Dos, Tres: Numbers, Colors, Dates, and Time

Chapter 3: Greetings, Salutations, and Farewells

Chapter 4: Engaging in a Little Chitchat

Chapter 5: Speaking of Food . . .

Chapter 6: Going Shopping

Chapter 7: Conversing Over the Phone

Chapter 8: Asking Directions

Chapter 9: Dealing with Emergencies