Unit 3: Introduction to the present tense and adjectives

Unit 3: Basic Vocabulary

Vocabulario básico 


alguno some
barato cheap, inexpensive
bueno good
cada each, every
caliente warm, hot
caro expensive, dear
difícil difficult, hard
distraído absentminded, distracted
enfermo ill, sick (“invalid,” as noun)
fácil easy
frío cold
gran/ grande great, large
malo bad
medio half (media– half past the hour)
nuevo new
orgulloso proud, haughty
otro other, another
pequeño little, small
rico rich, wealthy, delicious
seguro safe, sure
solo alone, lonely
todo all, every
viejo old
vivo alive, clever, sharp

¡Ojo! When todo or one of its forms precedes a noun (used as an adjective), no comprehension problem is presented. When todo is used a pronoun, however, you must distinguish between singular and plural meaning:

  • Todos están aquí.
  • Everyone is here.
  • Todo es fácil.
  • Everything is easy.

Adjetivos: Los colores:

amarillo yellow
anaranjado orange
azul blue (cognate: azure)
blanco white (cognate: to blanch)
castaño brown, chestnut, hazel
color de café brown
gris gray
marrón brown
morado purple
naranja orange
negro black
pardo brown
púrpura purple
rojo red
rosado pink
verde green (cognate: verdant)


bien well
mal bad, badly
menos less (combined with adjective- least)
pronto soon
siempre always
sólo only
todavía still, yet
ya already (sometimes, “now” or “later”; See section 12.4.)

Adverbios temporales (Adverbs of Time):

antes before
después after, afterwards
esta mañana this morning
esta tarde this afternoon
esta noche tonight
tarde late
temprano early
todos los días everyday


a casa home (to home) (expresses motion)
a la vez at the same time
a tiempo on time
en casa at home (expresses location)
hay que + inf. it is necessary (to do something)
no sólo … sino también not only… but also
por eso therefore, for that reason, that’s why
¿qué tal + (form of estar)? how are you/ is he, she, etc. (doing)?


As appropriate, the masculine form of nationalities also serves as nouns for the language of the country. Both forms function as nouns referring to natives of these countries.

alemán German
austríaco Austrian
brasileño Brazilian*
canadiense Canadian*
español Spaniard
francés French
griego Greek
inglés British
noruego Norwegian
portugués Portuguese
sueco Swedish
suizo Swiss

*These endings (-eño and –ense) are very common adjective endings referring to the natives or inhabitants of countries and cities:

madrileño native of Madrid
limeño native of Lima
costarricense Costa Rican/ native of Costa Rica
estadounidense American/ native of the United States

All such words can also carry meaning of “pertaining to” without indicating a person:

Es (una) costumbre madrileña cenar muy tarde. It’s a Madrid custom (custom of Madrid) to eat dinner very late.


treinta thirty
cuarenta forty
cincuenta fifty
sesenta sixty
setenta seventy
ochenta eighty
noventa ninety
cien(to) one hundred
mil one thousand

Otras palabras:

algo something
como like, such, as, how
más more (or with adjective- most)
porque because
que that, which, who

Pronombres (Pronouns):

todo el mundo everyone (synonymous with todos)
cada uno/-a each one, every one


el agua (fem.) water*
el/la alumno/-a student (false friend)
el año year
el árbol tree (cognate-arbor, arboreal)
el bolígrafo pen
el carro car (L.A.)
la casa house, home
el centro center, center of city, uptown, downtown
el coche car (Sp., esp.)
la comida food, meal, evening meal
la cosa thing
el cuaderno notebook
la cuenta bill**
el cuento story, short story**, ***
el cumpleaños birthday
el día day
la escuela school
el/la estudiante student
la fecha date (of month, year)
la frase sentence, phrase
la hija daughter
el hijo son
los hijos children*****
la historia story (in a general sense), tale, history ***
el lápiz pencil
la mañana morning****
el mes month
la mesa table
la noche evening, night
la nota grade; bill (currency); note
el papel paper
la pared wall
la pizarra chalkboard
la pregunta question
la puerta door**
el puerto port**
la ropa clothes, clothing (false friend)
la semana week
el señor (Sr.) Mr.
la señora (Sra.) Mrs.
los señores (Sres.) Mr. and Mrs.
la señorita (Srta.) Miss
la silla chair
la tarde afternoon
la telenovela soap opera
el tiempo time, weather
la ventana window
la vez time, occasion
el viaje trip
la vida life (cognate- vital, vitality)

*Agua takes the masculine definite article for phonetic reasons only. It remains feminine and all adjectives modifying it are feminine (see section 3.2.): El agua está fría hoy. 

**Be careful to differentiate between the very similar nouns el cuento and la cuenta, as well as el puerto and la puerta. 

***Cuento and historia are often not synonymous. The former often refers to the literary genre while the latter mean “story” in a general sense. If one wrote of “the story of Romeo and Juliet,” la historia de Romeo y Julieta would be used.

****When mañana is preceded by an article, its meaning is “morning.” When not, it is an adverb of time and means “tomorrow.”

*****Hijos are always one’s own children, regardless of age. Niños refers to small children, which may or may not be one’s own.


ayudar to help
buscar to look for, to search for
caminar to walk
cenar to dine, to have dinner, to eat the evening meal
cocinar to cook (cognate: cuisine)
comprar to buy
dejar to leave (behind), to abandon, to let, to permit
escuchar to listen
esperar to wait, to hope, to expect
lavar to wash (cognate: lavatory)
llegar to arrive*
llevar to carry, to take
limpiar to clean
mirar to look at (cognate- to admire) 
nadar to swim (cognate: natatorium)
necesitar to need
pagar to pay
preguntar to ask
preparar to prepare
sacar to take (photos), to take out, to get a grade
tomar to take (in/by the hand), to drink, to eat (not a solid food)
usar to use, to wear
viajar to travel (cognate- voyage)

* It may help to remember that the verb of motion of the two is llegar, which has the g, as in the verb of motion “to go.”


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