Accelerated Spanish, Lesson 11

Physical Nouns

We’re going to spend the entirety of Lesson 11 inside Joel’s house.

Hanging from Joel’s ceiling, we find the most common substances he talks about: Water, light, and fire.

On the left side, the chandelier gives light via some very loose light bulbs, and Joel’s word for light is luz. Meanwhile, just in case the light bulbs get too hot, this chandelier is created with several built-in water taps, sort of like fire protection sprinklers, occasionally spraying out a blue-green watery substance that Joel calls “aqua” or agua.

On the right, a wig is dangling down and producing flames and smoke. Joel’s word for “fire” is fuego (stress on “wig”).

Behind the stairs, Joel keeps pictures of animals. In particular, on the right he has a pear-shaped picture of a dog, which he calls a perro.

In front of the stairs, Joel has a table where he keep all the foods that can’t be found in the kitchen, mostly for daytime snacks. On the left above the table, he has posted a sign that says “Come eat!”. His word for food is comida.

Along the right edge of this table, Joel has wrapped some small cans of food in Yen bills. His word for “goods”, meaning things that you own or sell (such as “canned goods”), is bienes. (“A good” is un bien). Admittedly, this may seem a bit weird since his adverb for “well” is bien but his adjective for “good” is bueno. And yet bien is the noun.

Further back to the left is the door to the kitchen. But this “door” is made of cloth; it’s basically a curtain. When Joel is bored, sometimes he likes to wrap himself in this door and say, “Look! I’m wearing the door!” For this reason, his word for “door” has the stressed syllable “wear”: puerta.

Among the pink coasters on the left side of the floor, one item stands out: A tiny piece of furniture shaped like a comma. Sometimes Joel is too tired to fly or even to crawl upstairs, so he rests on this tiny comma-shaped bed for the night. His word for “bed” is cama.

Upstairs, on the balcony, Joel has a suit of armor that holds a weapon. The weapon is difficult to identify, though it is shaped kind of like a human arm. Joel’s word for “weapon” is arma.

The window on the right side of the room shows the weather outside. But it’s a special window that exaggerates the weather depending on the time of day. For example, as the sun comes up on a clear day, the window displays a calm, smooth scene. But if there’s any rain at all, the window turns into a violent display of shapes and colors as the day goes on; it looks scariest at sunset during a storm.

Joel’s word for “weather” is tiempo. This is a bit odd, as we think of tiempo as “time”. But out here in the hall it has a different meaning. For example, “good weather” is buen tiempo.

In front of the window, falling from the dinero bag, is a shower of US dollars. Joel is disappointed: “I wanted Yen, not dollars!” His word for “dollars” is dólares (with the stress on the first syllable).

Below these dollars, on the table, is Joel’s telephone. This phone is a lot like our phones on Planet Earth, but the receptor has a leaf on it. This leaf supposedly helps transmit the sound, but Joel thinks it just makes his voice sound muffled. His word for “telephone” is teléfono, with the stress on the syllable “lef”.

On the same table is a drill. When Joel bought this drill, the first thing he did was go home and stick it through the table. Although it got stuck and he was never able to get the drill out of the table again, Joel was impressed that it had the ability to put holes in things so easily. Joel declared, “That’s a keeper!” His word for “equipment” is equipo, pronounced “eh-KEEP-o”.

On the floor in the walkway is a toy car. This car is much smaller than the “real” cars that he keeps outside, but he likes to drive around the house in it once in a while. Since it’s a remote control car, he also likes to surprise his guests with it. He can even program it to drive at them automatically when they first open the door, just to startle them. His word for “car” is auto.

Family Room

Joel’s uncle has made an appearance. Joel has always liked his uncle, because he always makes people make him happy by bringing them tea. Joel calls his uncle his tío.

Actually, Joel occasionally calls other people tío in a casual way, using it kind of like the word tipo. (This use of tío is common in Spain.)

Let’s also look at the relationships between some of these people.

We’ve already talked about the parent-child relationships here: Parents are padres or papás, and children are hijos.

Those are vertical relationships. But what about the horizontal relationships?

First of all, notice how Joel’s parent look into each other’s eyes lovingly. This “spouse” relationship gives us the words esposa and esposo, which mean “wife” and “husband”.

But the horizontal relationship between Joel and his sister is not so positive. In Joel’s world, siblings fight constantly, and they basically need a referee to keep them from killing each other. A man stands between them, holding up his hands. Because this man represents the relationship between Joel and his sister, Joel’s word for “sister” is hermana, and his word for “brother” is hermano (stress on “man” in both cases).

Family Room Window

On the window above the stage we find an interesting tracing of a human. When the sun hits this “person”, it glows yellow. This represents Joel’s general word for “person”, which is persona (stress on “son”).

Notice that this tracing is only on the left side of the window. Strangely, the word for “person” is always feminine, no matter whether the person is male or female. So “a person” is always una persona. This word is also commonly plural: “Several people” is algunas personas.

On the right side of the window, Joel represents the only two alternatives that he knows to “persons”, besides animals: Spirits.

One is a “devil”. It has horns and amazing abs, because Joel imagines that a devil must be strong. His word for this is diablo, with a stress on “ab”.

Besides that is a group of circles, like the letter O drawn several times. Joel can’t imagine what a god looks like, so he simply represents it with “O”s. His word for “god” or “God” is dios.

Let’s go down to the stage, where we see many new actors in Joel’s play.

On the Stage

Opposite the señor and his mansion is a similar mansion. This one is where the formal, wealthy women live. There are two of them: An older señora and a younger señorita.

In general, señora means “Mrs.” and señorita means “miss”. But just like señor, these words tend to indicate dignity or status; for example, sometimes parents may tell their daughter to behave like a señorita (“act like a young lady!”).

Something interesting to notice: señorita looks like señora, but with an extra syllable. For you grammar nerds out there, this suffix -ita or -ito is called the Spanish diminutive. You can make pretty much any Spanish noun smaller by appending this to the end; for example, instead of cama to mean “bed”, you could say camita to say “little bed”. Or instead of perro to mean “dog”, you could say perrito to mean “little dog” or “puppy”.

Between these two ends of the stage, Joel has positioned a long line of kids.

Almost all of the younger people are in chicken costumes. This represents the word chico, which minds “kid” or “child”. This word has some variations: chicos means “boys” and chicas means “girls”. This word can refer to boys and girls of all ages.

However, the children are behaving differently based on their ages. The youngest kids have fallen on their knees and torn their costumes, hurting themselves. Since all the young kids have a way of hurting their knees, Joel calls them niños (or niñas).

Meanwhile, the older, teenage chicos are dancing and singing “chacha! chacho!” Joel finds this very annoying, and he tends to dislike teenagers in general, so they don’t usually make it into his plays. He calls a teenager a muchacho or a muchacha (stress on “chacho” and “chacha”).

The only person who’s not in a chicken costume is the baby. Joel has basically no experience with babies, except that he has seen moms (mamás) and dads (papás) holding them. Since he pronounces his words mamá and papá with a stress on the final syllable, he does the same with his word for baby: bebé.

[baby should be wrapped in pink-and-blue cloths]

Meanwhile, the village idiot in the play is standing behind this line. His main role is to say “yo, yo, yo” over and over as he tries to hit a fly on his forehead. Joel’s word for “idiot” is idiota (stress on “yo”).

At the end of the señor porch, we find several professions that Joel finds interesting.

Joel has organized these people by his concept of importance. On the top are what Joel considers royalty: A king and a president. Lower down are a “master” and a “boss”.

At the top, a ray of light is shining on the king, so Joel’s word for “king” is rey. The president sits next to him sadly, feeling silly because he’s wearing a wig with a huge dent in it. The word for “president” is presidente (stress on “dent”).

The “master” stands awkwardly, trying to speak to the people below them, but all that comes out is “um… um…” Joe’l word for “master” is amo.

Lower down, the “boss” is a chief who wears feathers on his head and gives orders grumpily. Joel calls this man “Chief Head Feathers”, or jefe for short (sounds like the beginnings of the words “head feathers”). The word jefe means “boss” or “chief”.

Each of these rulers has a person serving beneath them.

The jefe is trying to give orders to a doctor, but the doctor is messing up. He’s trying to heal a teddy bear, but instead he’s accidentally torn the toy. Feathers fly everywhere (in Yol, teddy bears are stuffed with feathers). Joel’s word for “doctor” is doctor (stress on “tore”).

Meanwhile the amo, saying “um…”, is trying to give directions to a captain, but the captain is not listening. This captain is enormous, and the amo feels helpless to give him any orders, because he seems very powerful. Besides, he weighs so much that he is breaking the stage, and particularly the step that the amo is standing on. This captain must weigh a ton. Joel’s word for “captain” is capitán (stress on the last syllable, which sounds a little like “ton”).

Part of the reason that the presidente is sad is because someone has blindfolded the police officer that he’s in charge of. The president doesn’t know what to do about it. Joel’s word for “policeman” is policía, with a stress on “see” because the policeman can’t see.

Below the king, with the light shining on him, is a “knight”. This knight has been preparing for this position for a long time: He’s been basking in the presence of the king for an entire year, and now that the year is over, he’s officially a knight. (Apparently that’s how it works in this imaginary world.) Joel’s word for “knight” is caballero, with a stress on the syllable that sounds like “year”, because of this “year” of standing in the king’s light.

Note that the word caballero is common because it means not only “knight”, but also “gentleman” in some cases.

The Wall

The walls on either side of the stage store pictures of groups of people. We’ve already learned la gente to mean “the people”. Some other groups might be “the family”, “the class”, “the police”, and “the team”.

On the left side, Joel has posted pictures of the categories of people that he might hire.

One category is family. He has a picture of his family sitting down eating a meal. For him, the concept of “family” is basically equivalent to a bunch of people eating a meal together, so this is how he always represents it. Consequently, his word for “family” is familia, with a stress on “meal”.

Another category is “class”. We simply have a picture of students sitting in a classroom, and the word for “class” is clase.

A final category is “police”. Joel displays a group of policemen, all blindfolded like the policeman on the stage. “The police”, as a group, is la policia.

On the right side, Joel advertises two very dark plays that he wants to put on.

One is called “The Team”. In this, a band of men with electric drills run around terrorizing people. This represents the word equipo, which looks and sounds like the word that we learned in Joel’s hall, but when it’s used to refer to people, it means “team”.

Finally, below the equipo poster is a picture of a bunch of people about to be hit by a wave. Joel is imagining an upcoming play where this group of people, basically an enormous family, is suddenly eliminated by a tsunami. This represents the word pueblo. (The word is pronounced PWEB-lo, but remember that Joel’s B and V sound identical, so the stressed syllable sounds like “wave”.)

Pueblo essentially means “people”, but in a different sense from gente; whereas gente generally refers to any group of people, pueblo tends to refer to a people group, such as all the people of a nation.

Having Feels for Dinner

Although Joel eats casually throughout the day, he has some interesting superstitions about dinner in particular. He always has dinner in the dining room, and this room is almost a sacred place for Joel. Everything must be done with extreme care and perfect ritual.

As you can see, Joel sits at the left end of the table, and his food is served to him on the right end. Before eating, Joel insists that everyone who is here must “pass the peace pipe” around the table. That way, there will (supposedly) be great peace during dinner. In fact, the more times they pass it around, the more peace there will be. The word for “peace” is paz.

Joel strictly forbids swearing at the dinner table. Personally, he doesn’t have a problem with swearing in general, but during dinner he thinks it’s bad luck. Good luck, however, comes from wearing a green shirt that says “Don’t swear! Bad luck!” The word suerte (stress on swear) means “luck”.

When it’s finally time to eat, despite the general “peace” that Joel has promoted, he has trouble controlling his feelings. He is emotionally very unstable at the dinner table. All his feelings become exaggerated.

For example, if a servant carries in a plate of food, Joel becomes immensely affectionate. Even though the man who’s carrying in the food is not special at all, Joel feels extreme affection for him in the moment, simply because he’s carrying in food. Sometimes in these moments Joel bursts out saying the word “Cariño!”, which means “affection” but sounds kind of like “carry in” (“ca-REEN-yo”).

Let’s look at what this servant brought and why it made Joel so happy. Apparently it’s a cooked goose. Joel feels a lot of morbid pleasure when he thinks of annoying people as dead. It seems that when Joel sees this goose, he’s imagining that this is the goose from the Gustar shop, cooked and ready to eat, and that gives him immense pleasure. The word for “pleasure” is gusto.

But nearby is something that terrifies Joel. A bunch of disembodied human heads float in a jar. These heads give Joel an enormous sense of fear, and his word for “fear” is miedo (stress almost sounds like “head”).

Finally, let’s come to Joel’s word for “love”. Joel doesn’t think about love and affection the way that most people do. He felt the most affection (cariño) when someone carried in a dead goose for him to eat. But the more extreme word, “love”, can only be attained by providing Joel with “more” of these things that give him pleasure. To the right of the dining room table, you can see that more and more dinner supplies are in store, and that’s where Joel’s most positive emotion is stored up. Give him more and more, and he’ll experience the feeling that we identify as love. His word for “love” simple stresses the syllable more: amor.

All of these words can be used after the verb Tener or Dar. To say “I have affection”, you say tengo cariño. “I’m afraid” is tengo miedo (literally “I have fear”). To say “It gives me pleasure”, you can say me da gusto, and “it gives me luck” is me da suerte.

Kitchen Refrigerator

The first thing we encounter in the kitchen is the refrigerator.

The refrigerator is divided into two parts: The freezer on top and the main part of the refrigerator below. On top, we’ve already learned verdad (on the left) and acuerdo (one the right), both of which are commonly used after the word de.

As you can see, there are a few new things in the freezer: Some pictures of Joel’s dad’s wings, a frozen tiny whale turning around, and on the right, a picture of an “H”, like a helicopter landing pad.

The Vs represent the word veras, which is a lot like the word verdad. The phrase “¿de veras?” simply means “really?”; it’s basically a more casual version of “¿de verdad?”

The whale turning around represents the word vuelta. The whale seems to be chasing its tail, as if it wants to go back to where it was. (Well, if it were alive, that is. It seems to be frozen in the middle of the “redo” action.) The word vuelta (stress on “whale”) means “return”, but its most common use is in the phrase de vuelta, which means “once again”.

Meanwhile the H is a bit funny. Joel has painted this here to represent the word hecho, which as a noun means “fact” or “act”. For example, un hecho can mean “an act”. But this word’s most common use is in the idiom de hecho, which means “in fact”.

Practice using these words with de before them, and then proceed to the refrigerator:

Below the freezer, in the refrigerator itself, are nouns that tend to have the word de after them rather than before them.

The refrigerator is where Joel likes to do experiments on birds. He likes to put them in the refrigerator and see how long they can survive. For example, the sparrow in the middle of the refrigerator has been here for several weeks. It keeps asking Joel, “How much longer do I have to wait in here?”, and Joel keeps telling it, “Just be patient and wait, little sparrow. You’ll be in a better place soon. Just wait.”

The word espera means “wait”, as a noun. It often is followed by the word de when you’re referring to what you’re waiting for; for example, when you’re waiting for food, you might say that you’re in espera de comida.

As you can see, the sparrow is shouting “ayuda!” What she’s saying is, “Help! Joel, I thought youda helped me by now! Or chef! I thought at least YOUDA helped me!” The word ayuda means “help”. For example, “the help of a friend” would be la ayuda de un amigo.

Below the bird is a sideways egg carton. Unfortunately, all the eggs fell out of the egg carton, which makes Joel upset; instead of having eggs, he only has a lack of eggs, because they all fell out. The word falta stress on “fall” means “lack”. For example, “a lack of food” is una falta de comida.

[the vapor and spoons should be to the left of the bird and the lack of eggs]

This sparrow is always looking for a way to get out of the refrigerator. A formation of water vapor in the refrigerator gives her an idea: Maybe she can hide in this formation, and when Joel opens the refrigerator door and doesn’t see her, she can burst out of it before he knows it. This would be a great way to get out.

The word forma sounds like it should mean “form”, but more commonly it means “way”. So “a way of doing it” would be una forma de hacerlo.

There’s a synonym for this word: Notice that the “form” of vapor looks kind of like Ner (from the Tener shop). The word manera means “manner” or “way”. So it’s also common to say una manera de hacerlo.

Below this is a pair of spoons. The sparrow sees these as another opportunity to escape: Maybe if she tries to play a “tune” on the spoons, it will distract Joel for a moment and she’ll be able to escape. Actually, this almost worked once; the bird clacked the spoons together, and Joel suddenly tuned out for a moment and said, “Oh, that tune reminds me of the tunes that my dad used to play!” The bird saw this as a great opportunity, but unfortunately Joel collected himself and slammed the door. The sparrow missed her chance.

The word oportunidad has the stressed syllable “dad”, with a secondary stressed syllable “tune” (op-or-TUNE-i-DAD). Una oportunidad means “an opportunity” or “a chance”. For example, “a chance of doing it” is una oportunidad de hacerlo.

Kitchen: Shelves

In the shelf with the light bulbs, somebody has stuck gum all over the wall and the bottom of the shelf. (One of the pieces of gum is sticking one of the light bulbs to the wall, which is disgusting.) This makes Joel extremely angry when he found out: “Gum in my kitchen? Whose fault is this?” he demanded. At that moment, the chef made an enormous, guilty-sounding gulping noise: “Culp!” (In doing so, he swallowed the gum that he was chewing.) When Joel heard that, he immediately knew who was to blame. “It’s your fault! The blame is yours!”

Joel’s word for “blame” is culpa. For Joel, “being guilty of something” is the same as “having the blame of something”, or tener la culpa de algo.

In a shelf on the right side, the chef has hung some aromatic tea bags, simply for the scent. The chef told Joel, “The scent of this tea helps me to cook better.” Joel responded, “That doesn’t make any sense…” but then he smelled the beautiful aroma and he changed his mind: “OK, you’re right, that makes sense.”

The word sentido (which sounds like “scent-TEA-doe) means “sense”. For Joel, something that makes sense actually has sense; for example, “that makes sense” is eso tiene sentido.

These tea scent bags are held up by a mini-figure of Dare from the Poder shop. This represents poder, which as a noun means “power” or “ability”.

Dare is also holding a very thick, heavy notebook that says “plan” on it. This contains many plans that Joel has for making more money. The word plan is a cognate meaning “plan”.

At the back of this shelf, Joel has installed a steering wheel and a couple of levers. These “controls” don’t really do anything, but they give Joel comfort: He likes to feel like he has control. The word control is a cognate; tener control means “to have control”.

One the door of this cabinet, Joel has a big yellow sign that says, “¡Cuidado! Wet paint!” This direction is actually aimed at his dad: He is tired of his dad taking things from the cabinets (even though they’re things that his dad lent to him). He is trying to scare his dad away, and his word for “carefulness” has the stressed syllable “dad”. The idiom for “being careful” is tener cuidado (literally “having carefulness”).

Practice going through all these shelves, using the verb Tener before each word. Then we’ll move down to the wall below them.

Kitchen: Wall

Things written into the kitchen wall represent verbs that are commonly combined with the verb Dar. On the left side, Joel has decorated with some Christmas lights, shaped like another whale. Just like the whale in the refrigerator, this whale seems to be turning around backwards. This represents the word vuelta, which means “turn”.

It may seem strange that the word for “turn” is used with Dar. But that’s normal in Spanish: Instead of “making a turn”, you always “give a turn”, or dar una vuelta. Actually, una vuelta can mean “a walk” as well as “a turn” (even though whales can’t walk), so be prepared to see it used both ways.

Next to the whale is a picture of a coin, with a list of prices on it. One of the funny things about Yol is that most of the money is in bills, but itemized lists of money (such as bills and account summaries) are written down on metal coins. In this case, Joel has taken money from various investors, and their account information is on this coin. The word cuenta (stress sounds kind of like “coin”) means “account”. (It’s also used in some common idioms, which is why it’s such a common word.)

Now check out the right wall. Joel and his chef don’t use recipes. Instead, they use three simple steps for every meal. These three steps are written on the wall above the counter, and Joel likes to talk about “passing over” each step. Whenever he completes a step, he says “OK, we passed that step! Let’s pass on to the next one.” His word for “step” is paso.

Kitchen: Counter

On the counter we’ve seen things that Joel can “do”: “I do the work” is hago el trabajo, and “he did me a favor” is me hizo un favor.

You might be surprised at some of the other things that Joel can “do” or “make”: He can “make a deal”, “make a question”, and in some cases, “make case”. This may seem odd, because for example in English we don’t “make” a question, we “ask” a question. But Joel uses the verb Hacer with everything on the counter.

On the left side of the counter, under the cuenta, are a bunch of tiny goons, all carrying clubs. These goons keep asking Joel very difficult questions; one of his investors is apparently very suspicious of how Joel is using the money. He has sent his goons to find out if it’s true that Joel wasted 10,000 Yen on a miniature pony, when he agreed to use that money to start a business. Joel thinks that the questions that these goons pose are very uncomfortable. In general, Joel refers to a question as a pregunta (stress on “goon”).

To the right, where the stove is, Joel’s tiny pony trots around happily, carrying a suitcase. This was part of a deal that he made with the chef: The chef didn’t want Joel’s mini-pony in the kitchen, because the “clip clop” of its hooves is very distracting, but Joel agreed only to let it trot around on the stove to avoid leaving black hoof prints on the nice green counter. This “deal” that they made is referred to as the trato (stress on “trot”).

Note that although the word trato generally means “deal”, it can also be used to mean “treatment” in some cases. Joel insists that the pony must be treated very gently and carefully; for example, a stove burner should not be lit when the pony is on top of it.

But why is the pony carrying around a suitcase? This is full of the papers that Joel has prepared for his lawyers. He’s drawn up an entire case for why he should be allowed to have a pony in the kitchen, and why it was a good investment. The word caso means “case”, and this word is used in a variety of ways as we’ll learn soon.

Kitchen: Inside the Island

Inside the kitchen island, we encounter a couple of nouns that usually have the word en before them.

There’s a tiny pathway through the island, leading to a minuscule doorway. This is actually a prank that Joel plays on guests: He has them start walking down the path, but then it gets smaller and smaller, and they aren’t able to fit through the tiny door at the other end. They always end up saying, “That’s so mean! This isn’t a real path, and it doesn’t go anywhere!”

The word camino (stressed syllable “mean”) means “path”, “route”, or “way”. For example, “on the way” is en el camino.

To the left, Joel keeps a virtual reality headset that he lets his guests play with. He only does this so that they won’t bother him, especially his dad, who loves virtual reality but also likes messing with things in Joel’s kitchen. The word realidad means “reality”; it sound similar to the English word, but the stress is on the syllable “dad” at the end.

Kitchen: Other Abstract Nouns

We’ve already stored dozens of abstract nouns in various places in the kitchen, depending on what words they tend to be used with. But on top of the island in the middle, we store more general abstract words like cosa that are commonly used in a variety of ways.

The window in the island gives Joel a very nice view of anyone who happens to be inside the island below him. Joel always feels very important when he looks out a window at anyone or anything below him. He calls the view a vista because he thinks it feels particularly grand, and it makes him feel special.

But Joel wants this vista (view) to be reserved for him only, and protected from anyone else. In order to keep it safe, he has surrounded the window with things that look like insect wings, just for security. These wings remind him of the security that his own dad used to make him feel as a child, and his word for “security” is seguridad (stress on “dad”).

To help prevent people from trying to hop over the wings of seguridad, he has posted some interesting items that he hopes will distract people.

One says, “Word lab! Danger, do not enter; words are being invented here.” Joel has been told that words are very dangerous, and that laboratories are dangerous, so he thought that this would scare people away. Joel’s word for “word” is palabra (stress “lab”).

The second is simply a long list: “Lista. Read this list before proceeding.” Joel’s word for “list” is lista.

But the third and most strange thing that he posted is a wanted poster: “Wanted! Gary, the bad guy, is wanted for starting a war. Reward: $1 million Yen.” Of course, this interests guests greatly (if they don’t realize that it’s fictional). But now it has confused Joel’s mind, and every time he thinks of a “war”, he calls it a guerra (pronounced “GEHR-rah”).

On the right side of the counter is a record player with a record that has a drawing of Joel and the chef, just like in the freezer. This is a recording of a funny conversation between Joel and the chef, where they had an argument and Joel actually won the argument (mostly because he threatened to kick the chef out of the house). Joel is obsessed with this memory, and he listens to it over and over. His word for “a memory” is un recuerdo.

Partly underneath the record player is a powdered wig. This is for a game that Joel likes to play: He puts the wig on different people and laughs at them. Any time a guest asks “Can we play a game?”, Joel says “Yes!” and then subjects them to this embarrassment. Since this is the only game that Joel knows how to play, he calls every game a juego (stress on “wig”).

Now it’s time to go upstairs. Let’s leave the kitchen through la puerta, and proceed up the stairs (past el perro), across the balcony (past la arma), and through the big double doors on the left into the ballroom.


On the left side of the ballroom, in the space of floor unoccupied by mints, a man is lying down and sleeping. According to Joel, a new man lies down here every week. Each man wakes up and leaves after seven days, when the next man comes to replace him. This represents the word semana (stress on “man”), which means “week”.

Between the man and the vase, Joes has put up some Easter decorations, including chocolate bunnies and colored eggs. Joel’s biggest party every year is held at Easter. He also leaves some of the decorations up year-round because it’s too much hassle to change them every time. Although Joel holds informal gatherings all the time, he always looks forward to his big Easter party, and so for him, each party is just a reflection of Easter. His word for “party” is fiesta (stress on “esta”, which sounds kind of like “easter”).

On the right side of the room, we see Joel’s clock. The minute hand of this clock is shaped like a slimy newt. Instead of ticking steadily, this newt moves all of a sudden every minute, making a slippy squeaking sound as it does. Joel’s word for “minute” is minuto, with a stress on “newt”.

Joel loves measuring time in minutes, hours, days, and weeks. However, he thinks months are stupid. They aren’t proper measurements of time, because they’re of differing lengths. Some months are 31 days long, and others are only 28 or 29 days. What a mess! How is that useful for measuring time?

To reflect this, Joel keeps a home-made calendar on which he’s scribbled out every page, because he thinks months are a “mess” in terms of tracking time. His word for “month” is mes.

Behind the temple, Joel has a relic from a former life: A sad, small piece of broken-down furniture slumps in the corner. This represents the word pasado, which means “past” (and has the stressed syllable “sad”).

A piece of grain from the baker’s stand has found its way to the ballroom, sitting on top of one of the mints. This grain used to ring loudly, like the ones in the plaza, but this one has lost that ability and sits there uselessly. When entonces is used as a noun, it refers to a specific period of time (usually in the past).


Joel has only been to school one day in his entire life. He hated it. Right after going to school, he went home and wrote a book that talks about what a horrible place school is. The entire book is shaped like a face that’s crying loudly, or “wailing”. In fact, whenever Joel thinks about the idea of going to school, he almost wants to “wail”. His word for “school” is escuela (stress on “wail”). Not many people have bought Joel’s book, but he proudly displays a copy on his shelf.

escuela, lado, cuarto, hospital, país

A spot of fluffy mud is sitting on top of Joel’s book about school. During Joel’s only day at school, he was taught that Planet Earth is made of mud and air. They were required to create a model by shaping fluffy mud into a circle. Joel was embarrassed when his classmates took his own circle of mud and put it on Joel’s head, saying, “Look at Joel! He’s wearing a tiara!” Joel shudders when he remembers that day, and he has put this “tiara” made of earth on top of his book about school so that he can remember how awful it was. His word for “Earth” is tierra.

As a quick note, remember that we have our word for “the world” on the right: el mundo. But la tierra represents “the earth”. These two words mean basically mean the same thing, though el mundo sometimes refers to the people in the world and la tierra tends to refer to Earth as a planet and what it’s made of (such as dirt or mud).

Joel sometimes builds cities out of Legos in the library. He loves large cities, because he thinks that they’re powerful and wealthy. However, one sad day, his careless dad knocked over his Lego city. Joel was very angry, and he thought about suing his dad for destroying his creation. “Sue dad!” he shouted in anger. His word for “city” is ciudad.

To the right of this Joel has also created a much smaller town out of legos. It’s modeled to look like the tiny town that Joel was raised in as a baby bee. But Joel hates small towns. He likes to pretend that this little town is in big trouble: A wave of water is about to wash over it, destroying the town. To enact this, Joel splashes water from a small cup on this incredibly small town. Then he laughs: “Hahaha! You silly small town! You’ll never survive a wave of water!” His word for “town” is pueblo (the same word as is used for “people”), with the stress on “wave”.

Above the pueblo, Joel has a painted ladder that is used for accessing books on the top shelves (when he doesn’t feel like flying, of course). As you can see, this word is right next to the parte window, and the colors painted on the ladder are suspiciously similar to those on the window. Joel calls this ladder his lado.

The word lado is very much like the word parte, in that it’s used to mean “place” right after indefinite adjectives (such as otro and cada and muchos). So “another place” could be otra parte, or it could be otro lado.

The tallest book that Joel owns on this large bookshelf is a book about hospitals. This book is so tall that it takes up the height of two shelves. Joel imagines that hospitals must be tall too, and so his word for “hospital” is hospital, with the stress on “tall”.

A few misshapen pies are sitting on top of some of the books on the shelf. This is the geography section of Joel’s library; the different countries are represented by different books. But Joel’s pie crusts are made with yeast, and the yeast is causing the crusts to run down in front of the different countries, covering up their names in varying amounts. Joel refers to a “country” as a país, a word that sounds kind of like “pies” but has an emphasis on the ending, which sounds like “yeast”: “pa-YEES”.

Meanwhile, there is some empty space on one of the shelves. This area of the shelf has green bumps all over it. Joel doesn’t know what these bumps are, so he doesn’t put any books here, for fear of infecting them. Instead, he plays with some of his toys here, pretending that it’s a little bedroom instead of a bookshelf. The word cuarto is used to mean “room” or “bedroom”.

Speaking of which, let’s turn around and go into Joel’s bedroom.


Joel often crawls into his bedroom extremely tired from flying all day. When de does so, all he cares about is getting into bed comfortably.

The poco yen bills on the floor are sometimes nice for poking his feet and reminding him of his wealth, but when he’s tired, he doesn’t want to be poked. So as you can see, he’s let a pair of socks in the middle of them, providing something softer to step on. This represents the word par, which means “couple”.

Par and poco are used in similar ways to talk about small amounts of something. For example, Joel might have “a little bit of money”, un poco de dinero, or he could have “a couple dollars”, un par de dólares.

Remember that Joel’s bed itself is used to represent parts of something. We’ve seen before that the blanket on the left side of Joel’s bed is divided into partes. But on the right side of the bed, it’s punctuated with dots or “points” instead. He calls these points puntos. He doesn’t like sleeping in the puntos, so he usually sleeps in the parte half of the bed.

Still, the right side of the bed is important. Joel has a small ladder on the right side of his bed, for climbing in when he has no energy to fly. The word lado means “side” (although we’ve seen in the library that it also sometimes means “place”).

There’s a nail at the end of Joel’s bed. In fact, when Joel thinks of the “end” of something, he thinks about this nail. His word for “end” is final,  with the stress on “nal” (like “nail”).

For some reason, this nail is pinning a fish’s fin to Joel’s bedpost. The word fin also means “end”, though it’s used slightly differently (mostly in idioms).

Now let’s look at Joel’s two nightstands, which represent aspects of something. Any person or object has many aspects: They have a life (vida), a name (nombre), and a type (tipo), as we’ve seen before. They also have a death, a form, a story (or a “history”), a number, and a position. We’re about to cover these words.

On the lefthand nightstand, the vida lamp has emitted a large amount of steam. But this steam clings together in a funny vague shape, almost identifiable as the shape of a person, but not quite. Whenever Joel looks at this, he thinks of the word forma, which means “form”.

Leaning against the lantern is a book that Joel sometimes likes to read as a bedtime story, when he’s not too tired already. This book is simply the story of Joel’s life, or his “history”, so he calls this his “bedtime history”. Joel’s word for “story” or “history” is historia. (The word may look like the English word “history”, but the stress is on story).

Beneath the lantern and the book is a T-shirt. This is a shirt that Joel would never want to wear, because it reminds him of his mortality: It has a big picture of a skull on the front, which is a symbol of death. Every time Joel throws the shirt out, it keeps appearing again, right here under the vida lamp and the historia story book. Sometimes when Joel is half asleep, he thinks that he can hear the skull quietly saying “Wear me… wear me…” Not only that, but the skull glows slightly at night, just like the lamp does, so it’s always present. They seem bound to each other in a mysterious way; Joel has concluded that he can’t get rid of the shirt without also getting rid of the lamp, which he is unwilling to do.

The word muerte (stress on wear) means “death”. In Joel’s world, you can’t have life (vida) without also having death (muerte), no matter how hard you try.

On the right side of the bead, the teapot that the gnome is holding is Joel’s alarm clock. Every morning it brews a different type (tipo) of tea, which is exciting to Joel. But he also likes to look at the clock on the side of the teapot. The numbers on the clock are Roman numerals, and whenever Joel thinks of the word “number”, he pronounces it as número (which sounds kind of like the word “numeral”).

Meanwhile, remember that the gnome doesn’t have a name (nombre). Nevertheless, it does have an identity. The gnome is very proud to be Joel’s teapot holder, because previously, he was just the wastebasket holder. He didn’t like his previous position, but his current position suits him very well. As you can see, another, smaller gnome now has the lower position of holding the wastebasket. Joel’s word for “position” is puesto (stress on waste).


Adjacent to Joel’s bedroom is the bathroom, where we store words for body parts.

On the left side of the room, we see Joel’s toilet and his sink. Check out the base of Joel’s toilet, which is shaped like a human head. The word cabeza (stress on “base”) means “head”.

Now look at the mirror above Joel’s sink. As you know, Joel loves his blue car. He thinks it’s the prettiest thing he owns, and subsequently uses at as the standard by which beauty is measured.

But he’s also a bit of a narcissist. When he looks at his own face, he likes to think that it looks beautiful. To represent this, he always draws an outline of his blue car over his face, in the mirror, it to make his face’s reflection more beautiful. There is now a permanent blue car outline on his mirror.

The word cara (with a stress on “car”) means “face”.

When Joel was growing up, he was always told to “wash the hands! wash the hands!” As he’s grown older and wiser, he’s grown to see the wisdom in “washing the hands”. As a consequence, after using the bathroom, he always washes a pair of human hands. As you can see, he keeps two man’s hands in the sink for washing. The word mano means “hand”.

Note that this word mano is feminine, even though it ends with the letter O. So you would say las manos, just as you would say la cara or la cabeza.

The man’s hands in the sink seem to be bleeding: They’re pouring out a greyish substance with the consistency of sand. Joel concludes that all blood probably looks like this grey sand, and so he refers to blood as sangre.

On the right side of the room, we have Joel’s shower and bathtub. Nowadays, Joel always takes showers rather than baths, because the bathtub has a body in it. Joel doesn’t know where this body came from (or at least he doesn’t remember), but he doesn’t want to call anyone to remove it, because if the police come to his house, they might suspect him of crimes that he may or may not have committed. Meanwhile, Joel calls this body a “corpse”, or as he puts it, a cuerpo. The word cuerpo means “body” (whether the person is alive or dead).

The body in the bathtub pretty much looks like a skeleton, but it still seems to have a heart, though this heart is bright and shiny like the sun. Whenever Joel thinks about someone’s heart, he thinks of this body’s heart, and he imagines that each person’s heart looks like the sun. The word for “heart” is corazón.

A giant, ghostly, apple-shaped head appears next to the shower whenever Joel is bathing. It floats there staring angrily at him until he finishes, and then it vanishes. The word ser, as a noun, means “being”; “a strange being” is un ser extraño.

While showering, Joel uses weeds to clean out the insides of his ears. Since he gets pieces of the weeds stuck in his ears, he calls his ears his oídos.

Meanwhile, he washes his eyes with an O-shaped hose, specially designed for bees’ eyes. He refers to his eyes as his ojos (which sounds like “O hose”).