In this series, “Learn Spanish from the News”, I’ll take short news clips and use them to teach you some of the Spanish used in them.  Today we’ve got a clip just a bit over a minute long from RTVE in Spain talking about the reopening of The National Gallery in London.  I’ll post the video directly below so you can view it and do your best to understand it, then I’ll cover a few words and expressions used in the report, there will be a short quiz you can opt to take, and finally I’ll post the video again so you can see how much more you understand.  Let’s get started by having a look at the clip (here’s a direct link to it if you prefer that), just do your best:

“La Gallery Nacional de Londres reabre sus puertas después de más de cien días cerrada…”

As many of you already know, “abrir” means “to open”, so what do you think “reabrir” means?

Right, “to reopen”.  So what is said here is, “The National Gallery of London reopens its doors after more than one hundred days closed…”

“Cerrada” comes from the verb, “cerrar”, which means “to close”.

“Cita previa para entrar…”

A “cita” is a date or appointment, and “previo/previa” means “previous”, so they’re saying you have to have made a reservation in order to get in along with other requirements.

“…y pantallas plásticas para el personal de una de las pinacotecas más grandes del mundo.”

If you’ve never heard that word before, don’t feel bad: this was the first time I’d ever heard it.  “Pinacoteca” means “art gallery”, so what they’re saying is, “plastic screens for the staff (“personal” in this context means employees or staff) of one of the largest art galleries in the world”.

Tip: Search Google Images for words that you don’t know, especially if they’re physical objects or concepts well-represented by images, this helps you remember what the word means, gives you a better idea of the exact meaning than what a written definition can give you, and if you’re making electronic flashcards in Anki, Memrise, Quizlet, etc. then this gives you an image you can use (e.g. put the image on the front of the card and the word on the back so when you see the card you only see the image and then have to think of the word, “pinacoteca” in this case).  Here’s what came up for me when I searched for “pinacoteca”:

“…este museo nunca había cerrado tanto tiempo, incluso durante la segunda guerra mundial mantuvo sus puertas abiertas aunque sin cuandros en las paredes.”

  • “incluso” means “even” but only in the sense of “not even”, that is it serves to emphasize something.  If you want to say that one thing is even with another, you might use “igual” (literally, “equal”).
  • “mantuvo” is the 3rd person preterite tense of “mantener”, which means “to maintain”.  The conjugation of “mantener” follows that of the verb it’s based on, “tener”, which is irregular, hence why it looks a bit odd.  “Tener” is a really common verb and several other common verbs, such as “mantener”, are based on it and have identically irregular conjugations, so yes it’s worth learning.  So “mantuvo” hear means “maintained”, as in “the museum maintained (kept) its doors open”.
  • cuadro” literally means square/rectangle (it can also be an adjective meaning the same thing), but in this context it means “painting”, because paintings are generally rectangular in shape, so it became kind of slang for “a painting”.
  • pared” just means “wall”, so “en las paredes” means “on the walls”.

So what we get here is this: “…this museum had never been closed for so long, even during the second world war it kept its door open, although without paintings on the walls”.

“Antes de la llegada del coronavirus, un día normal, se calculaba que cerca de quince mil personas podían visitar la National Gallery…”

“Llegada” just means “arrival”, as you’ve likely guessed, since “llegar” is the verb which means “to arrive”.  “Se calculaba” is what I wanted to focus on here: you can probably guess that “calcular” means “to calculate”.  Now, the way that you do the passive voice in Spanish is by making a verb reflexive, usually when it wouldn’t be.  Here, “calcular” just means to calculate and it wouldn’t normally be reflexive, so the way we say that “it is calculated” (the passive voice leaves out the subject, so we don’t know who caclulated it and it’s implied it doesn’t matter) is by saying, “se calcula”.  Now, you’ll note that it’s “se calculaba”, not “se calcula”.  This is because they’ve also put the verb, “calcular”, in the Spanish imperfect tense, which is a past tense but one that implies that the action, though started in the past, is still ongoing, so I would assume that although the caclulating (of the number of visitors) began in the past, they’re still doing it.

The full translation:

Before the arrival of the corona virus, a normal day it was calculated that around fifteen thousand people could visit the National Gallery…

Also note that “podían” is in the imperfect tense (the verb is “poder“, which means “can, to be able to”), implying that not only could people visit the gallery in the past but that they could now as well (using the preterite form of poder, “pudo”, would imply people can no longer visit the gallery).

“…que han pedido cita a través de la web, con varios días de antelación.”

This is a very common phrase you need to get to know in Spanish: “con antelación” and the corresponding, “con (amount of time) de antelación”.  “Antelación” means something like “advanced notice” or “anticipation”, and it’s almost always only ever seen accompanied by “con”, so it’s a lot like the word “notice” in English: usually accompanied by “with” and implies a certain amount of advance notification prior to an event.

So what they’re saying here is, “…who have requested an appointment through the web, several days ahead of time [literally, ‘with several days of notice’].”.

“Todos dicen sentirse felices, a pesar de las limitaciones…”

“A pesar de” is also an extremely common phrase in Spanish you need to know if you don’t already.  It means, “in spite of” or “despite” and can take two forms: “a pesar de” and “pese a”.  They both mean exactly the same thing: “in spite of”.

“Pesar” literally means “to weigh”, and despite some cursory searching I’ve still no idea how it came to mean this when combined with “a”, so if anyone knows and wants to leave a comment, they’re more than welcome.  The full translation of the above phrase is:

Everyone claims to be happy, in spite of the limitations…

Also note the odd phrasing, “Todos dicen sentirse felices”.  Remember that in Spanish, the infinitive of verbs is simply the infinitive form of the verb and the “to” is implied, so the way you say “to feel” in Spanish is simply “sentirse“, not “a sentirse”, therefore how could we possibly translate “Todos dicen sentirse felices…”?

“Everyone says to feel happy”, and in this context you could interpret “decir” more like “claims” than “says”, so “Everyone claims to feel happy” would be a closer interpretation.

Lastly, note how “sentirse” is reflexive: yes, “sentir” just means “to feel”, but it means to feel something external.  When you feel in Spanish, it’s an action you’re taking upon something or someone else: you feel the texture of an orange, you feel the heat in the air, when you apologize you do so by saying, “lo siento”, literally “I feel it”, meaning that you feel the hurt you have caused the other person.  So if you want to describe an internal feeling that you have, guess how you do it?

Yup, you say that you “feel yourself”.  So if you want to say you feel good, you say, “Me siento bien”, literally “I feel well myself”.  “I feel bad” would be, “Me siento mal”, literally, “I feel bad myself”.  If you, like the presenter in this news clip, want to say that everyone feels happy, you would describe how it is that they feel internally, that is the sensation that they are feeling within themselves: “todos dicen sentirse felices” (literally, “everyone says they feel themselves happy”).

Quiz!  Apply what you just learned, it’ll help you immensely when it comes to remembering it (which will help when you watch the video again which is immediately below the quiz)!

Welcome to your "The National Gallery Reopens" quiz.


What does "reabrir" mean?


If something is "cerrada", then it is .


If someone has a "cita previa", then what do they have?


A "pinacoteca" is what?


In the phrase from the video, “…y pantallas plásticas para el personal de una de las pinacotecas más grandes del mundo.”, who does "el personal" refer to?


In the phrase, "incluso durante la segunda guerra mundial mantuvo sus puertas abiertas", the "incluso durante" means what?


In the phrase, "incluso durante la segunda guerra mundial mantuvo sus puertas abiertas", the "mantuvo sus puertas abiertas" means what?


A "cuadro" could literally mean a rectangle, or in the context of "mantuvo sus puertas abiertas aunque sin cuandros en las paredes", it would mean...


"Las paredes" are the .


In "Antes de la llegada del corona virus...",  "la llegada" is the .


If I want to say, "it was calculated that" while implying said calculation was still ongoing, I would say what?


They at one point say, "with several days' notice".  The way they do that is by saying, "con varios días de ". (don't worry about the accent if you can't do it with your keyboard)


What does, "a pesar de" mean?


In this news clip they said that everyone feels happy, how would you say this?


Another way to say "a pesar de" is .

Now have a look at the video one more time and see how much more you can understand

Are you learning Spanish?

As you know and I’ve mentioned elsewhere, conversing with native speakers is crucial and has to be done sooner or later.  A great way to do this is via online classes where the native speaker is the teacher.  I personally can recommend a service called GoSpanish (this is my review of them), having tried it myself.  You can get unlimited classes with them (online, via a video call using a Skype-like system) for as little as $39 per month – that’s insane.  You could take multiple one-hour long classes every day and just pay $39 a month for it if you wanted.  They also guarantee you won’t have more than about five students per class, and in my experience it was less than that (sometimes it was just me and the teacher).

Alright, that’s all.  Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment letting me know what you liked, didn’t like, what I could do better, what you had trouble with, questions, etc.



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