“Speak Spanish in Under 5 Minutes !”

July 6, 2008


This short lesson in Spanish will teach you thousands of words in just a few easy steps. But before we get to the easy part I want to teach you the basic pronunciation rules:

is always pronounced “ah” like in Father.

is always pronounced like a long A in English “eh”

is always pronounced like a long E in English “EE” like in greet.

is always pronounced “O” as in “”oh” A sort of a nasal O and cut off a bit. Not Ohhhhhhhhh, but “O”.

is always pronounced like the double “o” in “cool” or “pool”

is never pronounced because it is silent.

is pronounced like the “h” in the word “hen”.

is pronounced like the “y” in “Yes”
There are more pronunciation rules but these will get you started.


Step 1.

These words are the words you already know that end in “or”. Many of these words are the same word in both English and Spanish.






For example: the actor in English = el actor in Spanish

Other examples: doctor, tractor, interior, color, conductor, error, favor, professor, exterior, inventor, superior











Note: I have used the Spanish spelling of these words, but I know you recognize them. 


No doubt you can think of many other such words. Now, not everyone you think of will be the same word in Spanish, but many will be. 


Step 2

This step involves thinking about words that you know in English that end in “al”.


Many of these words will also be the same in English and in Spanish.

For example: the animal = el animal


Other examples: Criminal, canal, central, commercial, legal, pedal, local, musical, natural, personal, rural, social 







Note: In Spanish “al” ending words are stressed on the last syllable. Examples: lo – CAL, pe – DAL, can – AL, etc. 







Step 3

This step involves the words you already know in English that end in “ble”. Many of these words are the same in Spanish.






 For example: the cable = el cable 

 Other examples: notable, terrible, posible, formidable, noble, notable, flexible, probable, horrible, visible, honorable, inevitable

Note: Spanish words that end in “ble” are stressed on the next to the last syllable. For example: po – SI- ble, hor – RIB – le, no – TAB – le, etc.

 Step 4

Another group of common English words that end in “ic” are also the same as many Spanish words. But, you must add a final “o” to the Spanish word.

 Please only use the technique of adding a final “o” in this situation. It doesn’t work with other word endings. You can’t add an “o” to “bean” Beano is not a word in Spanish.











For example: romantic = romantico 


 Other examples: -publico, Atlantico, artistico, aristocratico, elastico, automatico, anticeptico, etc. 

 Step 5

Still more English words are the same. Those that end in “ent” or in “ant” But these words you will need to add the letter “e” to to get the same word in Spanish.


 For example: the president = el presidente 

 Other examples: accidente, excelente, conveniente, importante, elefante (elephant), cliente, diferente, inteligente 







Note: Spanish words that end in “ent” or “ant” are stresses on the next to the last syllable. For example: pre-si-DEN – te, ex-ce – LEN – te, etc.

Also the”g” in inteligente is pronounced as the letter “h” in our word “hen”

So, inteligente is pronounced “intelihente”.






Step 6

Many English words that end in ist can be converted into Spanish words by simply adding the letter”a”.






For example: the dentist = el dentista 

Other examples: pianista, violinista, oculista, capitalista, comunista, optimista etc.

Step 7

English words ending in “ous” can often be converted to Spanish by changing “ous” to “oso”.


For example: famous = Famoso 

Other examples: curioso, delicioso, generoso, Glorioso, ambicioso, melodioso, religioso, pomposo 

Step 8

This is your final step: If you’re still with me,


Your hard work will pay large dividends when you use what you’ve learned and are greeted with a big smile by your Spanish speaking listener.


This next group is all nouns. Learning a lot of nouns is an excellent way to get jump started into Spanish. You can act out many verbs but how do you act out “civilizacion”? 

Words in English that end in “tion” can usually be changed into Spanish by changing the “tion” to “cion”. 

For example: civilization = civilizacion 

Other examples: descripcion, admiracion, exaggeration, circulatcion, constitucion, cooperacion, invitacion, distibucion, institucion, transmiscion, administracion, etc. 

Note: An Excellent book where I learned these concepts and many more shortcuts to getting to what I call “survival” level Spanish quickly is “Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish” by Margarita Madrigal published by Doubleday.

It is usually found in paper back and has a yellow cover.

Available at www.amazon.com At local bookstores in Ajijic and Chapala the price is about $25.






  • Judy Hunt

    Thanks for the “speak Spanish in Under 5 Minutes” lesson. I am currently on lesson 7 of 52 of “The Destinos”. Learning Spanish is my goal. It will be my 3rd language, Norwegian is my second. They are not similar in any way. I am finding Spanish somewhat difficult, but, all of these aids that you have so graciously furnished are making it a bit easier and enjoyable at the same time. Thank you very much, Sid.

  • http://www.chapalaclub.com Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Judy, Thanks for your nice comments. I bet you will be at advanced survival level in no time. You sound dedicated and have a plan and this will make it happen.

    Spanish here in our area is not a must, but it sure does make your life here more enriched. Every word you know, especially when you’re first learning, is worth it’s weight in gold.

    The people here go out of their way to try and understand our broken Spanish.

    For those who want to learn to get by qickly I recommend learning lots of nouns first. Often times you can act out the verbs.

    I used to carry a 3 x 5 index card for each major activity I needed to be able to complete in Spanish.

    For example I had one for teh service station, the restaurant, the hotel, etc.

    I would write the sentences in Spanish. Then, I would write the translation in English. Then I would write the sentence phonetically so I could hopefully pronounce it correctly.

    Then I would try to say the appropriate sentence. If they looked puzzled I would show them the sentence in Spanish and then they would pronounce the sentence correctly and I would repeat it.

    This worked very well. I got what I wanted and a free Spanish less at the same time.

  • Patty Anglemyer

    Thank you so much sid . I relly do injoy speaking spanish . Now all my spanis friend can understand what i am saying. So once agin thank you!

  • http://www.chapalaclub.com Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Patty, Glad you enjoyed the “Speak Spanish in Under Five Minutes!” article. Yu should now follow up with the free lessons you can sign up to get at the link on the bottom row third from the left side on the club website.

    Just click this sentence

    Rocket Spanish is a really great course and the Free Lessons are nice touch. I like the try before you buy concept.

    Siempre tu amigo, Sid

  • grace

    hay um i hope u can tuter me in spanish if u can u know where to email me
    p.s i need it 4 free

  • http://www.chapalaclub.com Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Grace, Well, Have I got a treat for you. If you go to the top of the ChapalaClub.com website you’ll see a link that says
    “Learn Spanish Fast”.

    Just click on this link and you’ll get the first 5 lessons of the Rocket Spanish Course absolutely free with zero obligation to buy the rest of the course. In other words you get to try before you buy.

    Disfrute el curso. Siempre tu amigo, Sid

  • caitlin

    you the best

  • http://www.chapalaclub.com Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Caitlin, Thanks for your nice words and being a very loyal ChapalaClub.com member over the years, Sid

  • Ambhi

    i want to learn spanish….

  • haley warmboe

    my friends can speak spanish and ever since kindergarden i stared talking in odd languages to see if that was spanish but it wasnt and ever since then i became the laughing stolk of mariposa elementry school did i mention that im only 11 years old

  • http://www.chapalaclub.com Sid Grosvenor

    Easier to learn when you’re 11 than when you’re retirement age. So, if we retirees can do it so can you. Siempre tu amigo, Sid

  • http://www.chapalaclub.com/2008/07/speak-spanish-in-under-5-minutes/ APRIL


  • Morgan

    This really helped – I speak Spanish at home (Its ny first language) but my Spanish teacher is really confused with my dialect. My language comes from somewhere near Madrid, but I think she is trying to get me to learn Mexican. It’s REALLY confusing – but this helped tonnes – thanks so much!

  • Bethany

    Well im trying to learn spanish but i dont understand because every one in my class in ruining it for me and i just cant understand it

  • http://www.chapalaclub.com Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Bethany, Sorry to hear you’re having trouble with learning Spanish.

    People learn languages in a variety of ways. Some do well in a class and some don’t.

    More and more these days people are turning to interactive computer programs like Transparent Language or Rosetta Stone where you use sound, pictures and voice practice. Others like programs like Rocket Spanish which is more audio.

    I’ve used a variety of methods and while not fluent, I’m at advanced survival level. In non technical small group conversational Spanish with native speakers I can hold my own. DON’T GIVE UP. Try a different method or combination of methods, change teachers if you prefer using a live teacher, etc,

    Study every day. Here’s a trick to learn more nouns. Take a pad of sticky notes and write a Spanish word on each sticky note along with the correct pronunciation. Then, go around the house and place a sticky note on the things in your home. Each time you enter a given room read aloud each sticky note and soon your vocabulary will be much larger.

    Siempre tu amigo, Sid

  • Steve

    When I first started reading about Lake Chapala a few years ago, it seemed like a wonderful place to live. Interesting expats, friendly locals, streets safe to walk, little fear of anything other than tripping over cobblestones and with mostly nonviolent crime similar to that in my town. Crime reports of the violent type were rare and could be blown off as “that could happen anywhere.” Over the past year, the frequency and violent nature of crime (muggings, murders, home invasions, etc.) reported makes the area much less inviting. When one moves SOB, you realize that you can no longer expect all of the law enforcement NOB. However, you don’t expect to be put into physical jeopardy when doing simple things like standing at an ATM, entering your garage or sleeping in your bed. Buying a home at Lakeside appears unwise at this time since it’s difficult to determine if actions will be taken to reduce crime or whether a larger wave is forming that will further destabilize the region. I’ve noted that the residents of the area are upset and meeting with local officials to address the problem. I hope their actions are successful so that I can put Lake Chapala back at the top of my list of places to retire in a few years.

  • http://www.chapalaclub.com Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Steve, Thanks for your comments. I think we’ll find that the local authorities will be very responsive.

    Tu amigo, Sid

  • Linsa


  • http://www.facebook.com/SidGrosvenor Sid Grosvenor

     Well Hi Yourself Linsa. How can we help you. Tu amigo, Sid

  • tanajah

    it helped me but i really didnt understand soo

  • http://www.ChapalaClub.com/ Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Judy, Learning is a lifelong adventure. I know a lot more Spanish than I need to live here well, but I continue to study, learn, and practice. I enjoyed the “Destinos Course”: as well. I’m currently using “Synergy Spanish”. Its focus is on speaking everyday Spanish with very little grammar rules involved, I’m really enjoying the course. Thanks for your.

    Siempre tu amigo, Sid

  • JustHereForTheBants

    instructions unclear hand stuck in toaster

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