We continue with our series of Learn Spanish from the News where I take short news clips and turn them into short Spanish lessons by teaching you some of the language contained within said news clip.  This one is about how the Prado Museum has adapted to the recent pandemic by opening an outdoor exhibition of some of its most renowned works.

We’ll have a look at the clip first (it’s only one minute long), I want you to try to understand as much as you can, then we’ll cover some of the more difficult/unique/obscure language used within it, after that I’ll offer you a short quiz you can take about what we just covered so you can apply what you learned before, lastly, I’ll post the clip a second time for you to watch in order to see how much more of it you can understand (and it lets you work on  your listening comprehension, which is very important).  Here’s a direct link to the clip if you prefer that, or you can play the embedded version below.

“…y encontrarse cara a cara con ella.”

La cara” is “the face”, in Spanish, and “a” just means “to”.  “Cara a cara” is how you say “face to face” in Spanish, word-for-word how we say it in English.

“Encontrar” literally means “to find”, making it reflexive turns it into “to find oneself”, but when you combine it with “con”, which means “with”, it’s used to mean “to meet or encounter someone”, in this case “ella”, which means “her” and refers to the woman in the painting.  Very easy to remember since you can see how the literal meaning of “encontrarse con”, “to find oneself with”, means “to meet [someone]”, right?

The full phrase with translation:

Llegar a la plaza mayor de Sigüenza y encontrarse cara a cara con ella…

Sigüenza is a city in central Spain, just a bit northeast of Madrid, since I’m sure some of you are wondering.  The translation:

To arrive in the main plaza of Sigüenza and meet her face-to-face…

“Pues es un lujo, vamos, es un lujo…”

“Lujo” means “luxury”, and although “vamos” literally means “let’s go” (it’s the imperative 1st person plural form of ir, which means “to go”), in this context it means something more like “come on” in the sense of (full translation next):

“Well it’s a luxury, I mean come on, it’s a luxury…”

Oh and “pues” is a filler word that most commonly means “well“, which it does here.

Lastly, the painting they’re talking about which is on display at this outdoor exhibition is Goya’s La Maja Desnuda.  I wanted to be able to tell you what a “maja” was, and led me down an interesting little rabbit hole.  I’ll simply quote from Wikipedia:

Majo (masc.) or maja (fem.), also manolo and manola, after the most popular names, were people from the lower classes of Spanish society, especially in Madrid, who distinguished themselves by their elaborate outfits and sense of style in dress and manners, as well as by their cheeky behavior.  They flourished from the late 18th to early 19th century, and to some extent later. Majos and majas were one of the favorite subjects of some 19th-century Spanish painters.

Now the irony of this is that our best guess as to who the subject is, is one María del Pilar Teresa Cayetana de Silva-Álvarez de Toledo y Silva, 13th duchess of Alba, who is most decidedly not “lower class”.  So this was a duchess pretending to be a cheeky, lower-class, Spanish libertine so she could be painted nude by the great Francisco Goya.  How naughty.  The famous painting of her cheeky grace, La Maja Desnuda, follows (click to open a much larger version in a new tab):

la maja desnuda goya

La Maja Desnuda de Goya es una de las obras maestras que el Museo del Prado ha sacado de nuevo a las calles…

An “obra” is a “work”, typically in the sense of an artistic work or, occasionally, a structure of architectual importance (so again, something with artistic value).  It commonly refers to a painting, sculpture, play, or film.  “Maestra” means what you think it does: “master”, so an “obra maestra” is a…masterpiece.  Yes, very good.

Sacar” is a verb which means “to pull out, take out, remove”, so when they say “que el Museo del Prado ha sacado de nuevo a las calles” that means it’s something the museum has taken out again (“de nuevo” = “of new” = “again”) to the streets (“las calles”).

Full phrase:

La Maja Desnuda de Goya es una de las obras maestras que el Museo del Prado ha sacado de nuevo a las calles…

Translation:

La Maja Desnuda by Goya is one of the masterpieces that the Prado Museum has taken out to the street again…

Hemos querido mostrar la riqueza del Prado en cuanto a temas.  Por eso el visitante podrá ver…

“La riqueza” means “the richness”, in this case the richness of the museum’s works, more specifically the richness in terms of the different themes of artwork that it offers, because he then says “en cuanto a temas” and “una tema” is…can you guess…a theme, yes.  “En cuanto a” is a very common expression you should definitely learn and it means, “with regards to”.  I regret to inform you that there is another very common expression that differs by just one word, “a”, and means something entirely different: “en cuanto”, which means “as soon as”.

“Podrá” is the future 3rd person form of the verb, “poder“, which means “to be able to, can”.  “Por eso” means literally, “because that”, so what do you think a better translation of it would be in English?

If you said, “therefore” or “because of that”, well done, that’s what it means.  The full phrase once more:

Hemos querido mostrar la riqueza del Prado en cuanto a temas.  Por eso el visitante podrá ver…

Translation:

We wanted to show the richness of Prado with regards to themese.  Because of this the visitor will be able to see…

And then he goes on to list some of the various types of paintings the visitor will be able to see at the exhibition.

En volver a poder hacer acesible nuestro patrimonio a todos, pues, es maravilloso.

Volver” means “to return, come back”, so when he says “en volver a poder…”, that means “in coming back to being able to…it’s marvelous” (did you guess that “maravilloso” means marvelous?  if so, well done).  This refers to them being able to at least somewhat reopen the museum again after the pandemic.

“Hacer” means “to do or make” and “acesible” means what it looks like: “accessible”, so yes, it’s just the literal translation: “to make accessible”.

Patrimonio” means “patromony”, that is their heritage, referring to the general cultural heritage of Spain.

The full phrase once more:

En volver a poder hacer acesible nuestro patrimonio a todos, pues, es maravilloso.

Translation:

In returning to being able to make our heritage accessible to everyone, well, it’s marvelous.

Obras que permiten conocer nuestra historia, y el arte occidental.

“Permiten” is the present plural form of “permitir”, which means “to permit”.  “Conocer” means to know, but in a deeper way than what is implied by merely “saber” – “saber” is used to indicate knowledge of simple facts.  “Conocer” means something more like “to be familiar with”.  This particular combination of words is a common one you should learn and get used to, you’ll often see “permite conocer” and similar variants.  The best translation in English would be “allows [one] to know” or “allows [one] to become familiar with”.  See this excellent article from Spanishland School to learn more about distinguishing between “saber” and “conocer”.

“Occidental” means “western”.  There’s actually an identically spelled word in English that means the same thing, it’s just rarely used.

The full phrase:

Obras que permiten conocer nuestra historia, y el arte occidental.

Translation:

Works that allow us to know our history, and western art.

…con una calidad que nos permite situarnos frente de estas obras y observar cada uno de sus detalles como si estuviéramos en el propio Museo del Prado

Ok, I’m not going to tackle this whole phrase, just the tough bits.  “Calidad” means “quality”, “situar” means “to situate or place”, so what do you think “situarnos” means? “Situate ourselves”, yes.  In this case she’s talking about physically situating oneself in front of the paintings.

Cada uno” is an extremely common phrase that you should know if you don’t already: “cada” means “each” and “uno” means “one”, and this whole phrase means exactly what the literal translation of it means in English, “each one”.

Now we encounter…the subjunctive.  It took me a good few years to get used to this and really understand what it means when it’s used in Spanish, so don’t feel bad if you’re having trouble with it.  Just don’t give up, be patient with yourself, give it time.  The verb in question here is “estar”, which means “to be”, in this case referring to physical location.  I’m already tackling the subjunctive so I’m not even going to try to start into “ser” vs. “estar” (there’s a whole book about this which is really quite good, if you’re interested).  Ok, so when you see the phrase, “como si”, it’s almost always going to be followed by the subjunctive because, as I explain in my article about the Spanish subjunctive, one of the things the Spanish subjunctive is used to express are hypothetical situations and “como si” means “as if”, so what they’re saying here is “as if we were” with regards to location.  Check out some more examples on Reverso Context of the phrase “como si estuviéramos” to get an idea of how this is used.

“Propio” is a semi-common word that means “proper, actual”, so when they say “como si estuviéramos en el propio Museo del Prado”, they mean, “as if we were in the actual Prado Museum”.

The whole phrase again:

…con una calidad que nos permite situarnos frente de estas obras y observar cada uno de sus detalles como si estuviéramos en el propio Museo del Prado

Translation:

…with a quality that allows us to place ourselves in front of these works and observe each of their details as if we were in the actual Prado Museum.

Ok.  I think that’ll do it for now.  I know there’s a bit more at the end but it’s not especially interesting or difficult Spanish, you can sort it out on your own, plus this is long enough as it is.  Let’s have a short quiz and then take a look at the video once more to see how much more you can now understand.

Welcome to your Prado Museum quiz.

1. The way you say "to meet someone" in Spanish is what?
2. The way you say "face to face" in Spanish is .
3. "Un lujo" is a...
4. One of the many possible meansings of "vamos" is...
5. The word for "work", as in "a work of art", is .
6. When they say, "La Maja Desnuda de Goya es una de las obras maestras que el Museo del Prado ha sacado de nuevo a las calles…", they're saying that the Prado Museum has done what with La Maja Desnuda?
7. The word in Spanish, "riqueza", means .
8. How do you say "with regards to", in Spanish?
9. The way you say "therefore" or "because of that" in Spanish is...
10. If "el visitante podrá ver", the "visitante" (visitor)...
11. The way you say "theme" in Spanish is .
12. What does "patrimonio" mean?
13. Fill in the blank: "Obras que permiten nuestra historia, y el arte occidental."
14. "Occidental" is a means...
15. Look at the following phrase:

"…con una calidad que nos permite situarnos frente de estas obras y observar cada uno de sus detalles como si estuviéramos en el propio Museo del Prado"

What does "como si estuviéramos" mean here?
16. In this phrase:

"…con una calidad que nos permite situarnos frente de estas obras y observar cada uno de sus detalles como si estuviéramos en el propio Museo del Prado"

What does "situarnos frente de" mean?

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

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 Learn Spanish from the News category here, not to mention other similar categories such as Short Spanish Lessons and Learn Spanish from YouTube (I use short, fun YouTube videos to teach the Spanish they use just like with the news clip above).

Cheers,

Andrew

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