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If you're going to be taking an immersion class, or if you're going to be traveling in a Spanish speaking country, or if you're just taking a class where the instructor insists on you using Spanish as often as possible, you should know a few key phrases to get you along without having to resort to English. ‘¿Comó se dice…?' means ‘How do you say…?” and can be used before a word in English that you would like to know how to say in Spanish. For example: “¿Comó se dice ‘car'?” would mean, “How do you say ‘car'?” The response would be “Se dice ‘coche'.” meaning “You say ‘coche.'” If you want to know what something in Spanish means in English you say “¿Qué significa…?” meaning “What is the meaning of…?” For example: “¿Qué significa arbusto?” means “What is the meaning of ‘arbusto'?” The response for which would be “Arbusto significa ‘bush'” meaning “ ‘Arbusto' means bush.” (Note that if you ask this question to a native speaker they may just give you a definition for ‘arbusto' in Spanish since you have just asked what the meaning of the word is, and haven't specified that you want the meaning in English. If you do want the meaning in English just tag on “…en ingles” to the end of your question. For example: “¿Qué significa arbusto en ingles?”)
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|