Trouble with DECIR? Learn it with CHUNKS, never forget it again (Conjugation)

Trouble with DECIR? Learn it with CHUNKS, never forget it again (Conjugation)

Yo digo que nos vayamos a las cinco.
(I say that we leave at 5.)

Yo digo que mejor a las seis. ¿Ustedes que dicen?
(I say we better leave at 6. What do you all say?)

Did you notice the verb that I used there? It’s the verb “decir” (to say/tell) an important Spanish verb equivalent to “say” and / or “tell”. Because “decir” (to say/tell) is an irregular verb, it can be hard to use. Soy Paulísima de Spring Spanish y en este video vas a aprender (I’m Paulisima from Spring Spanish and in this video you’ll learn) to conjugate “decir” but with chunks instead of conjugation tables, which makes it much easier to remember.

1. Chunks con “decir” en infinitivo (Chunks with “decir” in infinitive)

First, we’re going to use the verb decir (to say/tell), in its base form, the infinitive.  

  • Es decir (This is to say). We use this phrase to clarify a point, or to provide more information about it.

Mi papá se dedica a la apicultura, es decir, a la cría de abejas.
(My dad is an apicultor, that is to say, he raises bees.)

  • Es un decir (It’s just a saying). We use this when we kinda want to take something back. When we didn’t really mean something literally.

Fue muy difícil subir la montaña.
(It was very hard to climb the mountain.)

¿Cuál montaña? Es una calle cuesta arriba, y bien chiquita.
(Which mountain? It is a street that goes up, and a very small one.)

¡Ay bueno, es un decir!
(Oh well, it’s just a saying!)

  • ¿Qué quiere decir______? (What does ______ mean?) ¡Esta es muy importante para un estudiante de español! (This one is very important for a Spanish student!) This is the equivalent of “what does something mean?”

Tengo que ver a un otorrinolaringólogo.
(I have to see an otolaryngologist)

¿Qué quiere decir otorrinolaringólogo?
(What does otolaryngologist mean?)

Es el especialista en oído, nariz y garganta.
(It’s the ear, nose, and throat doctor.)

¡Ojo! (Attention!) Decir on its own means to articulate, to pronounce the sounds of a language, and to communicate through words. But when we say querer decir, that changes. “Querer decir” stands for “mean”.

2. Cuando “decir” significa “say (When “decir” means “say”)

  • Yo digo qué (I say (that)). We use this one when we want to express our opinion, our take on something. We use this amongst people we know.

¿Qué cenamos? ¿Hamburguesas o tacos?
(What should we have for dinner? Burgers or tacos?)

Yo digo que tacos.
(I say tacos.)

  • ¿Quién dice yo? (Who says “I”? / Any volunteers?)

Necesitamos que alguien maneje el auto, es estándar. ¿Quién dice yo?
(We need someone to drive the car, it’s a manual. Any volunteers?)

  • ¿Quién diría? (Who would’ve said?) We use this one exactly like “who would’ve said”.

For this one I’ll break into song:

Quién diría, quién diría que son años los que ya llevamos juntos de la mano.
(Who would’ve said, who would’ve said that it’s been years since we’re together holding hands.)

That’s a song by Guatemalan singer-songwriter Ricardo Arjona, that’s really famous. Learn how to make the best out of listening to songs to learn Spanish in this video.

3. Cuando “decir” significa “tell” (When “decir”  means “tell”)

  • Digo (I mean). Esta es equivale al inglés (This one is equivalent to the English) I mean. You can use it when you misspoke, or when you want to clarify a point.

Día de Reyes es el cuatro de enero, digo, el seis.
(Epiphany Day is on the 4th of January, I mean, the 6th.)

En este chunk el verbo está conjugado para la persona “yo.” (In this chunk, the verb is conjugated for the person “I”.) I say: Yo digo. Mi gente (My people) do stay with me to learn which is my favorite cheeky “decir” chunk.

  • Si necesitas algo, me dices. (If you need anything, let me know.) This phrase is very common in Mexico and Latin America. iSolidaridad, mi gente! (Solidarity, my people!) The full phrase Si necesitas algo, me dices. (If you need anything, let me know.) is a chunk but alsoMe dices” is a chunk on its own and el verbo está conjugado (the verb is conjugated) for the person you, . Tú dices (You say). This is very similar to “you let me know”. It literally means “you tell me”.

¿Ya tienes todo para la cena?
(Do you have everything ready for dinner?)

Sí, ya. Todo.
(Yes. Everything.)

Bueno, si necesitas algo, me dices.
(Well, if you need anything, let me know.)

¿Ya empezó la conferencia?
(Has the conference started?)

No, todavía no.
(No, not yet.)

Voy a pasar por un café entonces. ¿Cuando empiece, me dices?
(I’m going to go grab a coffee then. When it starts, would you let me know?)

Sí, claro, te digo.
(Yes, of course, I tell you.)

¿Ya se suscribieron al canal? Cuando lo hagan, me dicen. (Have you subscribed to the channel? When you do it, let me know.) Me dicen is the right conjugation for the person “you” plural, like, you all.

  • Dime. This means “tell me”. In this one we are using “decir” in an imperative form, giving orders, requesting an action.  

¿Te digo algo?
(Can I tell you something?)

Dime.
(Tell me.)

No me gustó la comida.
(I didn’t like the food.)

¿No? A mi tampoco, pero no le digas a nadie.
(No? Me neither, but don’t tell anyone.)

“No le digas a nadie” también es un excelente chunk de español. (”Don’t tell anyone” is also an excellent Spanish chunk.) In this one “decir” is in the subjunctive for the person “you”: “digas” ((you) say). At Spring Spanish, we don’t rely on grammar, instead, our team of experts in language acquisition, teaches through chunks, word combinations that native Spanish speakers use all the time. Just like the ones you’re learning in this video. Chunks work wonders to speed your way into fluency. Get your free copy of a comprehensive list of chunks in the link in the description. Veamos otro ejemplo más con “dime”. (Let’s see one more example with “tell me”.)

Tengo un chisme súper bueno, pero no te puedo contar.
(I have some super good gossip, but I can’t tell you.)

¡Ay, no seas así, dime!
(Oh, don’t be like that, tell me!)

No puedo.
(I can’t.)

¿Entonces para qué me dices que tienes chisme? ¡Dime! ¡Dime! ¡Dime!
(Then why do you tell me that you have gossip? Tell me! Tell me! Tell me!)

Did you catch that chisme bit? It’s Mexican for gossip. Learn everything about the way we Mexicans gossip in this video. If you notice, in this case the verb decir means “tell”. This is why you’ll hear that sometimes Spanish speakers say “say me” instead of “tell me”.

4. Cuando “decir” significa “call” (When “decir” means “call”)

  • Me dicen. (They call me.)

Yo soy Paulísima, pero mi familia y mis amigos me dicen Peque.
(I’m Paulisima, but my family and my friends call me Peque.)

As you can see in this case “decir” means “to call”. “Dicen” is the right conjugation for “ellos”, “they”. Ellos dicen (they call).  If my family was talking about me, they would say:

Se llama Paulísima, pero le decimos Peque.
(Her name is Paulisima, but we call her Peque.)

Otro ejemplo con “decimos”. (Another example with “decimos”.) The conjugation of “decir” for the person “we”, nosotros.

El actual presidente de México se llama Andrés Manuel López Obrador, pero le decimos AMLO.
(The current Mexican president’s name is Andrés Manuel López Obrador, but we call him AMLO.)

  • Y que me dice… (And then he/she/it tells me…)

You’ll hear Mexicans using this chunk a lot. We use it to quote people. Dice is the verb decir conjugated for he/she/it.
Ya estaba por terminar de trabajar, y que me llama mi jefe y que me dice: “Tienes que quedarte a hacer inventario”.  Y yo así de: “no puedo”, y que me dice: “Pues vas a tener que poder”.

(I was about to finish work and then my boss calls me and then he tells me: “You have to stay to do the inventory.” And I was like: “I can’t”, and then he tells me: “Well, you’re going to have to be able to.”)

  • Dígame. This is the formal version of “tell me”. You’d hear it from a customer service agent for example, especially on the phone.

Servicios generales de internet. Buenas tardes, le atiende Lety. ¿En qué puedo servirle?
(General Internet Services. Good afternoon, Lety speaking. How may I assist you?)

Sí señorita, mire, tengo un problema con mi modem.
(Yes Miss, look, I have a problem with my modem.)

Dígame.
(Tell me.)

  • ¡Te lo dije! (I told you so!) A super useful chunk! ¡Definitivamente un favorito mío… y de mi mamá! (Definitely a favorite of mine… and my mom’s!)

No me gusta decir “te lo dije”… pero te lo dije.
(I don’t like to say “I told you so”… but I told you so.)

But I much I rather use a modified version of this infamous phrase:

¡No me gusta decir “te lo dije”… me encanta!
(I don’t like say “I told you so”… I love it!)

5. La tabla de conjugación en presente simple (The conjugation table in present simple)

PronombreConjugaciónChunk
Yo (I)DigoYo digo que… (I say that…)
Tú (You)Dices¿Tú qué dices? (What do you say?)
Él/ Ella/ Ello (He/She/It)Dice¿Quién dice yo? (Who volunteers? Lit.: Who says I?)
Nosotros (We)DecimosEn México, al maní le decimos cacahuate. (In Mexico, we call peanuts cacahuate.)
Ustedes (You plural)DicenCuando se suscriban al canal, me dicen. (When you subscribe to the channel,  let me know.)
Ellos/Ellas (They)DicenMe llamo Paulísima, pero mis amigos me dicen Peque. (My name is Paulisima, but my friends call me Peque.)

I’m sharing the table for academic purposes, but remember ¡Es mucho mejor que se aprendan el chunk completo! (It’s so much better to learn the full chunk!)

We’ve covered a lot of ground and now you’re ready to use the verb decir (to say/tell) like a pro. Learning verb conjugation by chunks is the best thing ever, continue learning more verbs in the special conjugation playlist we’ve curated for you.

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