Today, as part of my new series of short Spanish lessons, we’re going to briefly (I promise) cover three words/expressions: deberse (most commonly seen as “se debe a”), pérdida, and abarcar. All three come from a single sentence used in the Spanish news report, the audio of which follows. Let’s get started with the whole phrase – read it below and play the audio to listen to the original source speaking it (this was a Spanish reporter with RTVE appearing on the news program, Telediario):

El cese de Pérez de los Cobos, asegura, se debe a una pérdida de confianza que abarca, dice, diferentes aspectos.

by Telediario, RTVE | Spanish News Reports

What does “se debe a” mean in Spanish?

The infinitive form of the verb is “deberse” and it’s always used with the preposition “a”, which usually corresponds to the English, “to”, and it does here.  “Deber” means “to owe” and the “se” makes it reflexive, so “deberse” means “to owe itself”.  Now, can you guess what it means yet?  “Deberse a” would, based on what we’ve already covered, mean: to owe itself to.  Or…

To be due to.  Right, “se debe a” means “it owes itself to”, more commonly stated in English as, “it is due to”.  So they’re saying that something is due to, or caused by, something else, but what?

What does “pérdida” mean?  Well, “la pérdida” is…

“The loss”.  It’s a noun and simply means the loss of something yet to be specified, here it’s “confianza” or “confidence”, so they’re saying that first part of the sentence, “El cese de Pérez de los Cobos”, is due to a loss of confidence.  Quickly, “el cese” literally means “the cease/cessation”, but in Spanish it’s almost always used, as it is here, to refer to the dismission or removal of a person from office, i.e. their firing.  “Pérez de los Cobos” is the name of the person in question who was dismissed here, and “asegura” means “they assure”, simply being the third-person present conjugation of the verb “asegurar”, which means “to assure”.

Let’s look at the sentence again with what we already know:

El cese de Pérez de los Cobos, asegura, se debe a una pérdida de confianza que abarca, dice, diferentes aspectos.

So the dismissal of this person, Pérez de los Cobos, [someone] assures, is due to a loss of confidence that…?

What does “abarcar” mean in Spanish?

To cover, it means “to cover”, in a metaphorical sense.  If you want to say “to cover” in a literal sense, the verb you’re looking for is “cubrir”.  However, if you want to say that certain subjects have already been covered, or that this policy covers that eventuality, then you need to use “abarcar”.  Another word we might use would be “encompass”.  Let’s have a look at a couple more examples of this verb being used in other contexts that I found on Reverso Context:

Esta enmienda permitiría abarcar toda la gama de situaciones posibles.

“This amendment would permit covering the whole gamut of possible situations.”

Se establecerán redes para abarcar las diferentes regiones geográficas.

“Networks will be established to cover the different geographical regions.”

El Poder Ejecutivo ya ha empezado a trabajar en esferas que podría abarcar la política corriente.

“The executive power has already begun to work on areas that could cover the current policy.”

The whole phrase we’re studying, once more:

El cese de Pérez de los Cobos, asegura, se debe a una pérdida de confianza que abarca, dice, diferentes aspectos.

So, “to cover what?”, you ask.  To cover “different aspects” (of something that’s later specified).  “dice”, for those who don’t know, just means “he/she/they say”, so the full translation of our phrase is this:

“The dismissal of Pérez de los Cobos, they assure, is due to a loss of confidence that covers, they say, different aspects.”

That’s it.  Try the short quiz below and then replay the audio (provided again under the quiz) while reading the Spanish a few times, then listen to the audio without reading it to see if you can understand what’s being said, in real time, as quickly as the speaker says it (this make take a few tries, that’s fine, be patient with yourself):

Welcome to your Short Spanish Lesson #3 quiz.

1. "Se debe a" means what?
2. "La pérdida" means "The %BLANK%".
3. From the phrase in the news broadcast above, when she says, "...que abarca, dice, diferentes aspectos.", the word, "abarca", in this context means what?

Listen again and see how much you understand!

Here’s the Spanish once more, listen while reading it then listen without reading it until you can understand everything they’re saying in real time, as they’re saying it.  Doing this type of exercise will really help improve your listening comprehension:

El cese de Pérez de los Cobos, asegura, se debe a una pérdida de confianza que abarca, dice, diferentes aspectos.

El cese de Pérez de los Cobos, asegura, se debe a una pérdida de confianza que abarca, dice, diferentes aspectos.

by Telediario, RTVE | Spanish News Reports

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).

Also, I wrote a book about how to learn Spanish from popular media (movies, TV shows, music, etc.) that you can get on Amazon in Kindle or paperback format.  If that interests you and especially if you’d like to support my work, I’d really appreciate if you could check it out here on Amazon, it’s called The Telenovela Method.

Hope that helps, please consider subscribing to my emails (sidebar on the right) or at least push notifications for when I put up new blog posts.  My social media accounts are on the slidey thing on the left (I’m active on YouTube, Instagram, Tiktok, Pintrest, Facebook, and Twitter).  You can find other similar lessons to this one in the “Short Spanish Lessons” category here, or you can go straight to the previous short Spanish lesson I did here if you like: Short Spanish Lesson #2: Reafirmarse (se reafirma), apuesta por, por otra parte, derogar (and derogación), rectificación, lesivo / lesiva.

Cheers,

Andrew

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