Accelerated Spanish, Lesson 10

The Shops Around the Corner

It’s time to do an exercise that involves strong, active imagination. You’re going to have to imagine yourself walking out of Joel’s house and down the street.

Accelerated Spanish memory palace Yol neighborhood map

We’ve been introduced to some of the verb shops nearest to Joel, including Ser and Ir (the two closest), Haber, Hacer, Querer, and Poder (a stone’s throw down the road, at the fork), and Estar and Tener (to the right).

Before we start walking around in our imagination, let’s talk about why these shops are where they are.

Irregular Verb Map Accelerated Spanish

As you’ve learned, all of these verbs are pretty complicated. Each one seems to follow its own rules. In particular, the past tense of each verb seems to have its own unique pattern.

For example, in Ir, Joel’s preterite form (“I went”) is fui. This sounds completely different from his preterite tense for Hacer (“I did”), which is hice. And then that’s different from the equivalent form of Poder (“I was able”), pude.

What do fui, hice, and pude have in common? Not a whole lot.

But look at the map. Ir, Hacer, and Poder are pretty far apart from each other. Suppose we look at two shops that are closer together.

Compare these conjugations of Hacer and Querer:

quise / hice

quiso / hizo

quisiste / hiciste

querían / hacían

queríamos / hacíamos

These past tense forms should sound suspiciously similar. That’s because these two verbs are closely related. Notice that Hacer and Querer are neighbors, facing one another across the street.

We’re about to exercise our spatial imagination in order to memorize how these verbs are grouped together. As we do, we’ll also be learning the names of a few more shops.

Imagine that you’re Joel, and you want to take a flight around the neighborhood just to get some exercise and fresh air.

To start out, you fly out of the house and take a look down the street. To your right is Ser, and to your left is Ir.

As you fly along, you’re going to have to make your first decision of the day: Right or left? As you approach the fork in the road, you see Haber to the right and Hacer to the left.

You feel more inclined to turn toward Hacer. Looking down that left-hand street, you’re greeted by Hacer, Querer, and a few other shops.

On the left side, beyond Querer, there’s a gift shop called Dar. It’s run by a girl who calls herself “darling”. She sells and gives away novelty items, like musical cigarette boxes: The kinds of things you might buy as gifts for other people but that you would not be likely to buy for yourself.

The word dar means “to give”. Note that it’s next door to Querer, which means “to want” or “to love”. Querer sells jewelry, which you might buy for someone you love. Both of these shops are associated with giving.

As Joel, you probably don’t feel very generous, so you turn away from the left side of the street. Let’s look instead at what’s on the right side.

In the distance, there’s a building called Decir. When Joel says “Decir”, it sounds kind of like he’s saying “the seer”. The woman who runs it is a self-proclaimed prophetess, and everyone calls her “the seer”.

Decir is a creepy place where the seer tries to tell people’s fortunes. But instead of reading palms or a crystal ball, she tells them things based on what they say. When you enter Decir, you have to be careful what comes out of your mouth, because she’ll judge every single word. The word decir means “to say”.

Next door to Decir is Venir. This is another creepy place, but in a different way. Venir is supposed to be a convenience store, but it’s a little TOO convenient: Any time you walk by Venir, it tries to get as close to you as possible. It uses its wheels to roll as close to you as it can, and sometimes it actually follows you around, down the street. The person who runs it is nick-named “Near” because he always comes uncomfortably near to you, and venir means “to come”.

To the right of Decir and Venir is another creepy store, Hacer, where live pigs are cooked and served.

Today, you don’t feel like giving anything away or being creeped out. So you turn around to see what the other road has to offer.

To the left, the first shop is Haber. You have no interest in going there, because not only is this where the blind bear lives, today he seems to be practicing karate in the back yard.

Further down the road is Poder. This might be a good place for you to work out, but let’s consider the other options first.

Between these two stores is Saber. Like Haber, Saber is run by a bear, but it’s a different bear: The local mailman. Saber is the post office. But this bear is a very sad mailman, because nobody sends him any mail. So he cries a lot, which gives him the nickname “sob bear” (“Saber”).

Joel associates mail with knowledge. Whenever Joel gets a letter, he feels smart, because it’s like he has new information to apply to his life. And he likes sending mail, because he feels like he’s sharing his knowledge with other people. The word saber means “to know”.

Haber and Saber are closely related. The bears are brothers, and both of them go around Yol to all the different stores and houses. But of course, the “Haber” bear likes to drink water from people’s roofs, leaving them drier. “Sob bear”, meanwhile, does the opposite: He usually leaves everything wet, because he cries all the time. In fact, his tears are what cause the back yard of Poder, next door, to be constantly muddy.

Also look down at the street that Haber, Saber, and Poder are attached to. The road has been worn down like a canyon, thanks to the rushing water of Saber’s tears. Instead of a road, it’s more like a U-shaped trench. If you’re walking, you might find it hard to climb up to the shops on either side.

Haber, Saber, and Poder are to the left, but let’s look to the right. Here we have two businesses that have very closely-related names: Poner and Suponer. Poner is a board game store and Suponer is a soup kitchen. These are both owned by Ner, the same eccentric old man who runs the toy shop. But Ner is often too busy with his toys, leaving his very young son to run Poner and Suponer.

Would you like to go into one of these shops? Let’s consider whether it would be any fun.

At Poner, the most entertaining thing to do is to place chess pieces on the chess board. That may sound boring, but there’s a special trick to it: If you do it right, the pieces magically get stuck and never move. Some people think this is fun. They say, “If you put a piece on the board right, it never moves!” But the word “never” is shortened to “ne’er”: “The piece ne’er moves!”

The word poner means “to put”. For example, “I want to put something here” would be “Quiero poner algo aquí.”

Next door is Suponer, the soup kitchen. Here, there’s really nothing fun to do except try to guess what’s in the soup.

For example, you might say, “Why does this taste like a wet dog? I guess maybe you put chihuahua hair in here?”

Remember the stressed syllables “soup” and “ner”, and you’ll remember that the word suponer means “to guess” or “to suppose”.

Look around again at these five shops, and internalize the scene. Imagine yourself standing in front of Saber (the post office), facing the street. Look to your right at Haber, look to your left at Poder, look down at the muddy trench of a street, and look across the road at Suponer and Poner. From this angle, Suponer is to the left and Poner is to the right.

Next, you’ll turn toward Poder and consider going in. But no, let’s continue down the street a little further.

As the road curves to the right, something changes. The road is still a U-shaped ditch, but it’s a bit more stylish, with some ultraviolet lights along the sides and down the middle.

We’re approaching the UV area. UV stands for “ultraviolet”, but it also indicates something about the verbs we’re visiting: Estar and Tener. They have a strange “uv” in the preterite tense (e.g. tuve and estuvo).

Now turn around and fly back to the fork in the road. Fly back home, past Ser and Ir.

You’ve just explored all the essential verbs in Joel’s neighborhood!

But here’s the thing. Even though you just did that whole exercise, I recommend that you do it again… but this time entirely in your imagination.

Close your eyes, put on your wings, and imagine yourself flying from Joel’s front door down the street. See if you can remember every single shop, from Ser and Ir to Decir and then all the way to Tener and back to Joel’s house.

If you can accurately remember where every single shop is, you’re ready to explore the new stores’ features.


We’ve learned the names of six new shops, but it’s time to scratch past the surface to see what’s inside.

Today Joel goes to the mailman because he’s expecting a check. He lied to his rich uncle that he was having “financial difficulties”. His uncle said he’d send him something.

When Joel picks up the envelope, the pandas crowd around him to find out what’s inside. “How much did he send?” they ask enthusiastically.

This annoys Joel. Why is it their business? Anyway, he hasn’t even opened the envelope yet. Sometimes he prefers to wait, savoring the excitement of not knowing. As long as he doesn’t read the check, he can imagine that he’s been sent a million dollars!

He stands there silently while the pandas continue to push him:

“How much is it? Say! Say!”

Saber himself is curious too. He stops crying for a moment, and he joins in the chanting: “Say! Say!”

Joel bursts out: “I don’t know!”

But to say this, he says “¡No sé!”

The word means “I know”. When Joel says “No sé”, he means “I don’t know”.

Joel often equates the words “know” and “say”. He’s one to speak his mind, so for him, knowing something is often the same thing as saying it. For example, to say “I already know”, Joel says “ya sé.”

Admittedly, this is a strange conjugation. It doesn’t fit most of the first-person patterns that we’re used to, such as soy, estoy, voy, tengo, hago, and quiero. Instead of “o” or “oy”, it ends with “e”. Haber and Saber, the two bear shops (which are right next to each other), are the only places where Joel’s conjugation ends this way: he (“I have”) and (“I know”).

But other than that, Saber is actually a pretty normal shop. When Joel drops his envelope into a puddle of tears on the floor, the bear and the pandas all start crying, especially the bear, who sobs loudly. It’s contagious: Joel begins to sob too. The conjugations are sabe, sabes, saben, and sabemos.

The past tense is very standard, and we don’t even need a mnemonic for it. Remember hacía, había, and podía, the past-tense forms of the verbs close to Saber. They have the stress on “EEH-ah”. The past tense of Saber is sabía, sabían, sabíamos, etc.; to say “I knew it”, Joel says “Lo sabía.”

If it helps, think of the stressed syllable as “bee”. But in the future, we won’t use mnemonics for every single form of new verbs, because they’ll fit the normal patterns that we’re already familiar with.

We’ve now learned all the common conjugations of Saber. But let’s take a peek in the back yard.

Behind Saber, a bunch of apes dressed in mailman suits are playing in a pile of mail. One of them grabs Joel’s soaked envelope and tears it in two.

The stressed syllable “ape” represents that sepa is Saber’s strange subjunctive. For example, “I want you to know” is quiero que sepas.


Joel is furious that his precious envelope has been destroyed.

Maybe if he finds his uncle, he can explain what happened, and his uncle will write him a check in person. But where will he find his uncle?

Looking across the street, Joel decides to go to Poner. Sometimes Joel’s uncle goes there to play chess.

When Joel arrives at Poner, Joel doesn’t find his uncle. However, he sees that Ner’s young son is here, running the shop in Ner’s absence. This gives Joel a new idea: Maybe he can take advantage of this boy somehow.

A price tag in the window says “Special chess pawn! 3.45 yen. Collector’s item.”

Joel decides to pull a trick on Ner’s kid, who can’t pronounce his Rs.

“How much is that chess pawn in the window? The one that says ‘three forty-five’?”

The three-year-old responds, “Thwee fowty-five.”

“What’s that? How much?”

“Thwee fowty-five!”

“I’m sorry, I can’t understand what you’re saying.”

The child is clearly frustrated. He decides to modify the price so that he can say it without any Rs:

“Two ninety-five.”

“I’ll take it!”

Joel is thrilled; he just saved 0.50 yen! But when he receives the pawn, he sees that it’s from a very cheap, ugly chess set.

“This chess piece looks like an orangutan with holes drilled all through it.”

It really does! It disgusts Joel, and he wants to get rid of it. He decides to put it some place where it won’t be seen. He quietly says to himself, “I’ll put this ugly thing where ugly pawns go: In the trash.”

To say “I’m putting this here”, he says “Pongo esto aquí.”

The word pongo sounds ilke “pawn go”, and it’s how Joel says “I put” or “I’m putting”.

Other forms of Poner in this room are pretty standard. The stressed syllable “pawn” applies to pone, pones, and ponen.

In the aisles of shelves, Ner allows a cat named “Puss” to knock over the merchandise and play with the chess pieces.

The most common past tense forms of Poner are puse for “I put” and puso for “he/she/it put”. This is very similar to the stores across the street. Compare puse and puso (Poner) with pude and pudo (Poder).

As an example, “He put it there yesterday” is “Lo puso ahí ayer.”

In the back yard, some chess pieces float in a pool of mud. The subjunctive of Poner is ponga, based on pongo.

This is another pattern that you should get used to. We’ve learned several verbs that have a rogue letter G in the first person, such as tengo and hago. For each of these verbs, the G comes back in the backyard subjunctive form as well.

tengo / tenga

hago / haga

pongo / ponga

Any verb that has G in the first person will also have G in the subjunctive.

Poner’s imperative is also very commonly used. Remember that imperatives, like vete, ten, and haz, are always stored on the moving sidewalk beside the store.

As Joel leaves Poner, a man in the muddy back yard shouts to him: “Buy my pawn! Don’t buy from Ner. My pawns are cheaper, because they’re pawned second-hand.”

This poor fellow is putting muddy chess pieces from the back yard on the conveyor belt, hoping that this will catch people’s attention so that he can sell these dirty items at discount price.

The word here is simply pon, and it’s an order: “Put…”

For example, “Put that here” would be “Pon eso aquí.”

Very often, the reflexive imperative is used: “Put yourself…” As an example, “Put yourself in contact with him” is “Ponte en contact con él.”

Joel isn’t interested in muddy chess pieces, but something else catches his attention: Ner’s son is on the rooftop, trying to perform the chess trick that the Poner store is famous for. Remember, these chess pieces can magically get stuck to chess boards if the trick is performed correctly.

Ner’s son shouts the magic word, “presto!” But he does it without pronouncing his R, so it sounds like puesto.

This is Poner’s participle. For example, “He’s put it here” is “Lo ha puesto aquí.”


As Joel leaves Poner, he glances at the soup kitchen next door.

The funny thing about Suponer is that it’s conjugated exactly the same way that Poner is. So if you can remember each conjugation of Poner, you can remember everything about Suponer.

So we won’t visit Suponer. Instead, we’ll quickly do a review all the conjugations of Poner, and then we’ll add “soup” at the beginning.

First, here are all the conjugations we learned from Poner. Recall each scene from Poner as you look through these.

Present tense:

pongo / supongo

pone / supone

Preterite past tense:

puse / supuse

puso / supuso


ponga / suponga


pon / supón


puesto / supuesto

Since Poner and Suponer are completely identical in their conjugations, we won’t even look inside Suponer. Joel never goes there, because he associates soup kitchens with poverty, which disgusts him. In other words, we don’t need ANY conjugation mnemonics for Suponer.

We also won’t worry about the meanings of these Suponer conjugations. Just remember that suponer means “to suppose” or “to guess”. We’ll look at examples soon.


While we’re in the neighborhood, let’s visit Haber again. He has a few more conjugations that we’ll find useful.

First of all, remember that today we saw this mostly-blind bear doing karate in the back yard. The subjunctive of haber is haya (with a silent H, stress on “AY!”). This is something a bear might scream while doing blind kicks and punches.

Also notice the mud bricks that have formed in the ground. You might remember something similar in the muddy back yard of Poder. In Yol, when mud sits in one place for a year, it turns into bricks.These bricks have spelled the word “year”. The word hubiera is the past tense subjunctive of Haber.

Hubiera is a very common word in Spanish, one of the most important words of this lesson. But for now, just say the word a couple of times (with the stressed syllable “yer”), and remember where it is. We’ll talk about how it’s used later.

To the side of the store, as always, is an air conditioning unit. The conditional of Haber is habría, with the stressed syllable “Ría” as always.

Before we leave Haber, let’s look inside really quickly. In addition to the animal skins hanging around the store, there’s a stuffed owl in the merchandise area. When it’s dark, this owl spontaneously hoots loudly. Most owls in Yol say “Hoo!”, but this owl doesn’t pronounce the H, so it says, “Ooh!”

The word hubo (stress: “ooh”) is the most common preterite form of Haber. It means “there was” or “there were”, at a particular moment. For example, “there was a problem” is “hubo un problema”.

Look Down

You might have noticed by now that there’s an interesting abstract connection between the businesses in this neighborhood. The preterite tense always has a strange letter U in it: puso in Poner, hubo in Haber, pudo in Poder.

The path between the buildings is a trench that’s shaped like the letter U. This path is what ties all of these buildings together. The designer of Yol (his name is Timothy) decided that these stores belong together because of the U in their preterite tenses.

This isn’t trivia. These types of connections will become more and more important throughout the rest of the book.

Before continuing with this lesson, make sure to review what we’ve learned by mentally exploring Saber, Poner, and Haber again. Make sure you can remember what words are in each location.


We’ve just explored the part of the neighborhood that has a U-shaped trench. Now let’s go back to the fork in the road and explore the businesses in the neighborhood of Hacer and Querer. Here, the street is much nicer; it’s paved, with clearly-painted lane markers. These are curiously shaped like a capital letter I.

At the end of this street, on the right, is Decir, home of the seer who tells fortunes based on people’s words.

Today, Joel goes to Decir with his friends. He tells the pandas, “Make sure not to say ANYTHING that can be misinterpreted. Keep it simple.”

Personally, Joel expects to get a good fortune reading. As they walk in, Joel shows the pandas something he’s brought for luck: A playing card.

“It’s the ace of spades,” he tells them. “I think it means good luck.”

The seer hears this and shouts excitedly, “Did you say ‘spades’? I know exactly what that means! A spade is a shovel. Joel, you are destined to DIG in my back yard for a thousand years!”

She gives Joel a shovel.

Meanwhile, the pandas remember Joel’s advice to say only simple things. The simplest thing they can think of is a single letter. They start yelling the letter “D” over and over. “D! D!”

“Ahh!” says the seer. “That’s one of my favorite letters! But there’s one letter I like even more…”

Joel thinks for a second. Apparently D is her favorite letter, because that’s the first letter of “Decir”. The only other letter he can think of is C.

All at once, Joel and his friends say, “C?”

Sure enough, those are the seer’s two favorite letters: D and C.

In this scene, Joel’s word is digo (stress “dig”). This means “I say”.

Other words are dice, dicen, and dices, all of which have the stress on “D”.

For “we say”, the word is decimos, with the stressed syllable “C”.

Compare these words with the present tense forms of Hacer:

digo / hago

dice / hace

decimos / hacemos

Decir takes Joel and the pandas to the “red room” for the preterite tense. Here she shows them a pile of hay and a hoe.

“This is the best way to dig,” she tells them. “Keep saying ‘D’, and use the hoe in the hay.”

Joel starts digging in the hay with his shovel, and the lizard is given the hoe.

Here are the most common preterite forms of Decir:

dije (pronounced “D hay”): “I said”

dijo (pronounced “D hoe”): “he said”

Following the pattern that you learned at Hacer, you should be able to extend this to the other conjugations:

dijiste (like hiciste): “you said”

dijeron (like hicieron): “they said”

dijimos (like hicimos): “we said”

Focus on remembering dije and dijo for now.

Next, Decir throws Joel in the back yard and tells him to “dig!”… something he’s completely unwilling to do. He sees several holes in the ground, showing that many former customers previously suffered this fate.

The subjunctive of Decir is diga (and the related digan, digas, etc.).

Joel would rather not dig. He finds the moving sidewalk beside the store, which is decorated with the letters D and C. As he climbs onto the sidewalk, he yells to his friends, “If someone tries to enslave you, just say NO!” When Joel says “say no”, he uses the imperative word di, pronounced like “D.” It means “say” as an order.

More often than di, Joel likes to use the imperative dile, which means “say to him” or “say to her”. For example, to say “Tell her that I’m not doing it,” Joel says “Dile que no lo hago.”

When Joel reaches the front of the store, he considers getting vengeance on Decir, using magic. He says, “I’ll say what I want to say by using my magic wand.” He pulls out his wand and uses the word diré, which means “I will say”.

You might have expected the future tense to be deciré, which would be normal. But this future tense word is unusually shortened, just like haré from nearby Hacer (which would otherwise be haceré).

Joel chickens out, because he’s not sure if his own magic would measure up to the seer’s experience. So instead, he takes a sneakier, more ironic route: He flies up to the roof, carrying the shovel with him. Decir’s roof is made of dirt, and Joel thinks it would be funny to use the seer’s weapon, a shovel, against her.

He proceeds to dig a long ditch in Decir’s roof until the dirt falls down inside the building, dirtying the seer’s hair. Then Joel says, “There! I’ve said it.” Finally, he ditches his shovel by dropping it in the ditch, and he flies quickly away.

The participle uses the stressed syllable “ditch”: dicho. So to say “I have said it,” Joel says “Lo he dicho.”


As Joel walks back from Decir, the convenience store Venir rolls up to him on the path. The owner, Near, shouts out to Joel:

“You look like you’re out shopping! Would you like to buy something?”

Joel doesn’t want to buy anything, and he’s annoyed that Near is being pushy. But Near continues: “Do you want a wallet or a hand bag?”

“No thanks, I already have one,” says Joel. He tries to fly away.

“What about a suitcase?”

Joel suddenly listens. The idea of a suitcase makes him think about traveling around Yol in his blue car. He has become interested.

“Hmm, maybe I do want a suitcase,” he says. As he turns around, the store unexpectedly appears around him, and something very strange happens.

Joel is in an X-ray machine.

Although it’s eager to grab new customers, Venir maintains high security, with a complete X-ray scan of every entering customer.

The image of Joel in the X-ray machine is grotesque, with all his veins showing, along with the handbag that he keeps under his coat.

Venir is concerned. “You seem to have a handbag where most people have a heart,” he says judgmentally.

But Joel is freaked out by all the veins. “Get me out of here!” he shouts, flying out of the machine and into the store.

The word for “I come” is vengo, with a stress on “vein”. Imagine Joel coming into the store with all his veins showing.

Inside the store, instead of a price tag, each piece of merchandise has a Yen bill on it, labeling the item according to price. No wonder the security has to be so strong here! There’s money all over the place.

This Yen represents the words viene, vienes, and vienen.

Meanwhile the word for “we come” sounds a lot like Venir itself, with the stress on “knee”: venimos.

In the tiny back room are some V-shaped umbrellas. These represent the most common preterite form of the verb: vine is “I came” and vino is “he/she/it came”.

The other preterite forms start similarly, with the “V” sound at the beginning, but they stress different syllables: “knee” in the case of viniste and vinimos, and “air” in the case of vinieron. These should all be very familiar verb forms to you based on the neighboring shops Hacer (hiciste, hicimos, hicieron) and Decir (dijiste, dijimos, dijieron). Practice saying these various verb forms of these verbs out loud and notice how similar they sound.

This similarity is also reflected by the present-tense Joel version of these words: vengo, digo, and hago. That funny letter G appears in the back yards of all these shops as well: venga, diga, and haga.


Darling’s gift shop is the type of place you might walk in just for the environment. Pleasant items decorate the shop, including festive lights, colorful candies, and dozens of beautifully wrapped gifts.

Although the back room has the most merchandise, all of which appear as gifts and are strangely shaped like the letter D, most guests prefer to sit in the main parlor-like entrance room, with all the pretty lights.

Unfortunately Joel is one of the few people who don’t like going to Dar very much. Darling thinks he’s super cute, and every time he comes, she squeezes his cheeks, calls him a “doll” or a “toy”, and ties a colorful bow around his neck.

Everyone loudly exclaims, “d’awwwwwww!” in admiration of how cute this situation. Joel blushes. Although he appreciates the affection, he really doesn’t like to be put in this situation in front of the whole shop.

Joel gives the bow back to Darling, saying “I’m giving this back, because I’m NOT a doll or a toy.” But instead of “doll” or “toy”, Joel uses the word doy, which means “I give” or “I’m giving”.

Meanwhile the affectionate “d’aw!” that everyone else uses represents the words da, dan, das, and damos.

As we’ve seen, the presents in the back room are shaped like the letter D. The preterite forms of Dar are based on the sound “di”: “I gave” is di, “he/she/it gave” is dio, “they gave” is dieron, “you gave” is diste, and “we gave” is dimos.

 Regular Verbs

Although we’ve learned six new verbs in this lesson, we haven’t had to learn a ton of conjugations. That’s because of the patterns that we’ve come to recognize.

Grouping these verbs together makes it very easy to find conjugations. It’s pretty easy to find a past-tense form of Decir (such as “dijiste”) when you know it’s going to rhyme with the equivalent past-tense forms of Hacer (such as “hiciste”). And Suponer and Poner are identical in every way except for the very beginning of the word. There’s no reason to learn all their conjugations separately.

Now it’s time for the best news yet: The rest of the verbs that we learn in this course are regular verbs.

That means that they ALL fit into one of two groups:

– Verbs that end in “-ar”

– Verbs that end in “-er” or “-ir”

That means that instead of being grouped together in clumps of two or three (like irregular verbs), ALL of these verbs are grouped together. If we learn how to conjugate just one “-ar” verb and one “-er/-ir” verb, we’ll know how to conjugate hundreds and hundreds of more verbs, because they’ll all follow the exact same patterns.

In short, the hard work is behind us. We’re almost done learning complicated verb forms. Every new verb that we learn is going to be predictable.

For this lesson, let’s learn just one verb of each type


To get to the regular verbs, we have to venture outside of this prime real estate near Joel’s house, away from this little cluster of irregular verb shops, into realms we haven’t explored yet.

Going to the west (left), beyond Decir, there’s a very long street with shops on both sides of it along the edge of an enormous forest. This is where all the “-ar” verbs are stored. The first and most prominent shop we encounter is the Hablar shop, nestled nicely under the shade of some very tall trees. You’ll notice that the entrance to this street along the edge of the forest has a decoration with an object blowing colorful letters out of it. That’s because Hablar sort of has monopoly over the entrance to the forest. So those things blowing out letters are also all over the front of the Hablar shop itself.

“Hablar” is the word for “speaking” or “talking”. We’ve just seen that decir means “to say”, which indicates specifically what you’re saying; the seer is very particular about what people say and reading meaning into everything that people say. But as with the English terms “to talk” or “to speak”, the Spanish word hablar just to do with the fact that you are speaking or talking, not with specifically what’s being said.

Hablar is a shop where Lar gives speaking lessons. But unfortunately, his lessons are very boring. He gives very boring lectures (“blah blah blah”), and he also teaches his students to give boring speeches. By his standards, doesn’t matter what people say; as long as you’re “blowing out words”, you’re successful. So all of Lar’s students just “blow out words” like Lar does. The word hablar means “to speak”.

You may be able to guess the present tense versions of this word: Hablo for Joel, habla for the lizard, hablas for the owner, hablan for the pandas, and hablamos for “we speak”. The stressed syllable of most of these sounds like “ah” (the first syllable), and the secondary syllable changes.

In Joel’s case, he first says “ah”, and then he simply blows out words boringly like Lar does: “Aaahhh- blow”. The lizard says “ah”, and then he somehow manages to say “blah”, which is perhaps a slight improvement on “rah”, though it’s still very boring. The rest of the words simply follow the normal pattern, although notice that the first person plural hablamos has the stress on the second syllable “blah” instead of the first syllable “ah”.

Now let’s go to the merchandise area of Hablar’s shop.

There’s a window here, and the branches from the forest outside are blowing into the room and hitting the lizard’s face, interfering with its ability to try speaking. Instead of talking, the lizard starts simply blowing at the branches to try to get them out of his way. The word for “he spoke” is habló.

Note that the stress is on the last syllable here, “blow”. Meanwhile Joel is extremely bored of Lar’s nonsense, and he’s often lulled to sleep by wind blowing through leaves, so he decides to lie down and take a nap while listening to the wind blowing. Joel’s word is hablé (with the stressed syllable “lay”).

A blast of wind hits Lar, and he shouts, “ah! blast it!” His word is hablaste, “you spoke”.

The pandas try to imitate Lar, but they simply say his name over and over: “Lar! Lar! Lar!” Their word is hablaron, for “they spoke”.

The last and easiest word is the first person plural, because it’s exactly the same as the present tense: hablamos.

Meanwhile, the imperfect forms of Hablar are very easy. The stressed syllable is always “blah” because that’s all that Lar says as he stands behind the counter: “blah blah blah”. So we have hablaba, hablabas, hablaban, and hablabamos.

Outside the front, everything is exactly as you would expect it to be. “I will speak” is hablaré. “He/she/it will speak” is hablará. “We will speak” is just like Joel’s version, hablaré, but with “mos” at the end: hablaremos. And then “you will speak” and “they will speak” are just the lizard’s version with the normal modifications: hablarás and hablarán.

For the subjunctive, everything is much like the the present tense, except since they’re in the woods, Joel lies down to take a nap. So the stressed syllable is “ahh”, but the second syllable sounds like “lay”: hable, hablen, and hables. For the group, the stress is “lay”: hablemos.

Meanwhile the lizard tries to take a nap on the moving sidewalk to the side, indicating that the imperative is simply the same word as the lizard’s present tense conjugation: “Habla.”

The unconjugated versions are also exactly what you’d expect. Hablando means “talking”, as in “I am talking” (estoy hablando). On the roof, hablado is the participle meaning “spoken”, as in “you have spoken” (has hablado).

The verb Hablar stands at the forefront of the long row of hundreds of shops in the woods, to the west of the neighborhood of irregular verbs. But if we go east, to the opposite side, we find something very different.


Just to the east of the irregular verb shops is a long street that runs along the Yol beach.

Something interesting about this street is that the shops on the left side are all in the dry sand, but the verbs on the right sand are so close to the ocean that they often get wet, especially when the tide rises.

One of the most prominent shops is run by a bear named Deber.

A quick note: You may have noticed that all our verbs that have the stressed syllable “ber” are all different people; we had the big blind bear for Haber, the dumb postman for Saber, and now we have a female bear for Deber. She’s the sister of the other two bears.

Deber is a money lender and debt collector. The verb deber can literally be used to mean “to owe”, but it’s used a lot where English speakers would use words like “should” or “must”. Basically it’s a verb that expresses strong obligation to do something.

Deber is pretty strict and going to her store is a very stressful experience. If you ever go there a second time, you can be sure that she’ll harass you about any money that you owe until you pay it all back.

The conjugations of Deber are extremely easy. We don’t even need mnemonics for the normal present tense, because they’re so regular: debe for the lizard (he must), debes for the second person (you must), deben for the pandas (they must), and debo for Joel (“I must”). The plural first person, “we must”, is debemos.

To explain Deber’s meaning a little bit more thoroughly, here’s a quick example of how it’s used. As we’ve learned before, to say “I have to be here”, we would say tengo que estar aquí. But to make it stronger, we’d use “I must be here”: Debo estar aquí.

Now how about the imperfect past tense? These are even easier. They all work the same way that Tener, Querer, and Hacer did: With a stress on “ía”. So we have debía, debías, debían, and debíamos.

Now let’s go to the merchandise area and learn the preterite past tenses, which are generally harder to learn than other tenses. In Deber’s place, she sells some small merchandise items such as wallets and postcards, but everything has a strange price tag. Instead of simple dollar signs or yen signs, all the prices have a bee’s stinger on them. Deb has a subtle meaning behind this: She always tricks her buyers into owing her lots of money down the road after they’ve made a purchase, so the price comes back to “sting” them later.

Joel almost buys some things here, but when he sees the pictures of bee’s stingers on all the merchandise, he figures out that something’s not right. To say “I owed” or “I needed” to do something, in the preterite tense, the word is debí, with a stress on “bee”.

All of the other persons here have the letter “I” in their preterites. The lizard is debió, with a stress on the lettor O at the end (kind of like in Dar with dio and in Hablar with habló). The pandas’ conjugation is debieron (much like fueron). The second person is debiste, like fuiste. And the plural first person is like Joel’s conjugation in that it stresses the syllable “bee”: debimos.

In the back yard, for the subjunctive tense, everything is just like the present tense except with the vowel changed to the letter “A”: deba, debas, deban, and debamos.


Accelerated Spanish quizzes (Master of Memory)

Accelerated Spanish native stories (Master of Memory)

Accelerated Spanish sentence writing (Master of Memory)

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