Should I learn grammatically correct Spanish?

Should I learn grammatically correct Spanish?

So, in many of our videos, we get comments with this feeling: 

ACTOR 1
Según la RAE, esta expresión es coloquial y no se ampara en las reglas de la gramática. 
(According to the RAE, this expression is colloquial and does not follow the rules of grammar.)

No se conocen casos en los que el uso de esta expresión prohíba su comprensión.
(There are no known cases in which the use of this expression prohibits its understanding.) 

Es posible utilizar esta frase de esta forma, puesto que las reglas gramaticales lo permiten.  
(It is possible to use this phrase in this way, because the grammatical rules allow it.)

And guys, you’re not wrong: we teach Spanish that doesn’t always follow the grammar rule book. And we’re proud of it! 

So, grammar freaks, watch out: in this video, you’ll discover why we’re okay teaching “grammatically incorrect Spanish”, and why we’ll always continue doing so! Reason number 1:

1. So you know the shortcuts

ACTOR 1
Hola, buenas tardes. Disculpa, ¿me podrías indicar la hora, por favor?
(Hello, good afternoon. Excuse me, could you tell me the time please?)

ACTOR 2
Seguro, dos treinta.
(Sure, 2:30.)

ACTOR 1
Es decir, dos y media, ¿no?
(That is, two and a half, right?)

ACTOR 2
Claro, es lo mismo.
(Sure, it's the same thing.)

In language schools and in language class, the teacher and textbooks often start with teaching grammar, pero ¿es realmente la mejor manera de aprender un idioma? (but is that really the best way to learn a language?) 

The problem with that is, that spoken language is not perfect. We, native speakers, shorten words, use grammatically incorrect phrases, slang and illogical sentence structure. Además de atajos para situaciones del día a día como la del role-play. (Plus shortcuts for everyday situations like the one in the role play.) 

I would’ve never said so much to ask for the time, and I would certainly know this person learned Spanish from a book. Lo cual, definitivamente, no es algo malo, pero sí es menos natural. (Which, definitely, isn’t a bad thing, but it is less natural.) In native speech, this is how it could’ve gone:

ACTOR 1
Hola, disculpa, ¿tienes hora?
(Hi, excuse me, do you have the time?)

ACTOR 2
Seguro, dos treinta.
(Sure, 2:30.)

ACTOR 1
¡Gracias!
(Thanks!)

Ahora, por supuesto, depende de cada quien. (Now, of course, it’s up for everyone to decide.) Some people don’t want to learn the Spanish that is spoken in the streets of Spanish-speaking countries, they would rather just be communicating in grammatically correct phrases. Sin embargo, en Spring Spanish nos esforzamos por enseñar el lenguaje nativo. (However, we at Spring Spanish strive to teach the native speech.) 

By the way, stick with me ‘till the end if you want to see Paulísima, from Mexico, and me, from Venezuela, compare the different words we both use to refer to the same thing! 

2. So you are familiar with slang and unstructured Spanish

We believe in the increased practicality of learning to speak like the natives, even if in a textbook these might not pop up at all. También es por eso que encontrarás un montón de vídeos en nuestro canal sobre jerga o cómo dicen las cosas los nativos. (That’s also why you will find a ton of videos on our channel with slang or how natives say things.) 

As a matter of fact, Cory made a video comparing textbook and Mexican Spanish that showcases this completely! By learning this way, you won’t be blindsided when something like this happens:

ACTOR 1
Y, ¿qué te dijo?
(And, what did he tell you?)

ACTOR 2
Pff, lo que le dio la gana porque, sinceramente, no entendí. O sea, dijo como que no podía, pero que se lo estaba pensando igual… Pura tontería porque al final no quedamos en nada igual.
(Pff, whatever he wanted because, honestly, I didn't understand. I mean, he said he couldn't but he was thinking about it anyway… Pure nonsense because in the end we didn't settle on anything anyway.)

I don’t even know what textbooks would say in this case, but I’m sure half of this isn’t in there. And this is precisely how we actually talk. So much so, that it leads us to a:

Chunk Alert!

Lo que le dio la gana (Whatever he wants) is one of those chunks that do not belong to the “official Spanish language” and is rather thought of as a “colloquial expression”. Funny enough, that doesn't mean it is less used and, in fact, I believe all Spanish countries use this and/or definitely understand it. 

Personalmente, ni siquiera tengo alternativas a esto. (Personally, I don’t even have alternatives to this.) Siempre lo uso cuando quiero decir que alguien hace algo simplemente porque quiere, sin causa ni razón. (I always use this when I want to say someone does something simply because they want to, without cause or reason.) 

Remember to check the link in the description to access our free Essential Spanish Chunking Kit and get many more chunks as common as this one!

3. So you know when grammatically correct Spanish isn’t as correct in real life

Here is one example of this: Paulisima made a video recently about the expression “puedo tener” and how it is incorrect in Spanish. Varias personas la desafiaron en los comentarios diciendo que, aunque no es una forma común de pedir algo, sí es gramaticalmente correcta y la gente lo entenderá. (Several people challenged her in the comments, saying that while it is not a common way to ask for something, it is indeed grammatically correct and people will understand.) 

Yes, that’s true, people will understand, and it is grammatically correct, but a native speaker will never say that to ask for something.

ACTOR 1
Disculpe, ¿puedo tener otra servilleta, por favor?
(Excuse me, could I have another napkin, please?)

ACTOR 2
¿Eres extranjera? ¡No sabía!
(Are you foreign? I didn't know!)

This little role-play is my way of telling you that, grammatically correct or not, if you use this expression to ask for something, it sounds like you might be translating “could I have?”. Al menos, a mí me lo parece, pero eres tú quién decide si importa o no para ti. Decir lo siguiente sería mucho más natural: (At least, it does to me, but it’s up to you to decide whether it is important or not to you. Saying the following would be far more natural:)

  • ¿Me puedes dar otra servilleta? (Can I have another napkin?)
  • ¿Me traes otra servilleta? (Can you get me another napkin?)
  • Otra servilleta, por fa. (Another napkin, please.)

Juan hizo un video completo sobre cómo hablar incorrectamente, que deberías ver para ampliar tu comprensión de esto. (Juan made a whole video on speaking incorrectly, which you should watch to widen your understanding of this.) 

De nuevo, por supuesto, depende de ti decidir si sólo quieres que te entiendan. (Again, of course, it’s up to you to decide if you just want to be understood.) You want to speak with grammatically perfect Spanish even if the natives don’t speak like that, or, maybe, you want to learn to speak like the natives. To each its own! 

4. So you know Spanish is a universe with many different rule systems

While you may never speak the exact same Spanish that natives do, without an accent for example (or you may, who knows), we, at Spring Spanish, still think it’s something that is worth striving for. 

Entre otras cosas, te ayudará con algo mortalmente importante si te interesa el español como segunda lengua. (Among other things, it’ll help with something deadly important if you’re interested in Spanish as a second language.) That is, understanding, accepting, and embracing that no set of rules will apply to all of the cultures, countries, and societies which speak Spanish perfectly. 

Te puedo decir que como una venezolana que hizo un máster en Madrid, me encontré con un montón de situaciones en las que nuestras “reglas” difieren entre sí. (I can tell you that as a Venezuelan who did a Master’s in Madrid, I ran into a bunch of situations where our “rules” differ from each other.) 

Also, you would be missing out on one of the best parts of speaking Spanish: the many colors that compose it and the freedom each “Spanish” can enjoy. Te prometo que es algo que la mayoría de nosotros sí que disfrutamos profundamente. (I promise it is something most of us deeply enjoy.)

ACTOR 1
Paulísima, te digo cosas en venezolano y me las repites en mexicano, ¿vale?
(Paulísima, I tell you things in Venezuelan and you repeat them back to me in Mexican, okay?)

ACTOR 2
¡Vale!
(Ok!)

ACTOR 1
Pitillo
(Straw)

ACTOR 2
¿Popote?
(Straw)

ACTOR 1
Carro
(Car)

ACTOR 2
Coche o auto o carro
(Car)

ACTOR 1
Chévere
(Cool)

ACTOR 2
Padre o padrísimo
(Cool)

ACTOR 1
Bro
(Dude)

ACTOR 2
¿Güey?
(Dude)

Por cierto, si alguna vez alguien te dice que existe un país con un español “mejor” o “más correcto”, hazme un favor, ¿quieres? (By the way, if anybody ever tells you there’s such a thing as a country with “better” or “more correct” Spanish, do me a favor, would you?) Compasivamente, diles que no existe tal cosa y que es muy triste, mezquino y aburrido pensar así. ¡Nadie es dueño del español! (Compassionately, tell them there’s not such a thing and that it is very sad, small minded, and boring to think so. Nobody owns Spanish!)

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