Singing the Basics Intermediate Spanish

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Now only $11.00! Nine songs that help students commit to memory some of the most important concepts they are supposed to learn in Spanish II, but struggle with throughout intermediate and upper levels. Includes pdf teacher’s guide.

Listen to song samples here, and view lyrics below.

SKU: 2012-0002 Categories: ,


These songs were written when, while teaching Spanish IV, I realized that much of the key material that was covered in levels two and three was not actually learned. Now that I’m teaching Spanish II, I use most of these songs a lot. And students appreciate the help.


Topics include: Por and Para, Ser and Estar, Regular Preterite Forms, Irregular Preterite Forms, Preterite vs. Imperfect, False Cognates, and more!


A pdf of the teacher’s guide is included with the CD to help you make best use of the songs.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: I have lowered the price of the book/CD sets from $24.00 to $11.00 because am phasing-out CDs and the hard copies of the teacher’s guide. There are no more hard copies left of the teacher’s guide, so you will be sent an email containing the pdf of the book the same day that your order ships.


Backward Verbs

Don’t be fooled by the backward verbs
The verbs that work like gustar
Just remember what the subject is
And what the objects are

Me gusta el café
Means coffee pleases me
Me doesn’t seem indirect
But that the way it’s gotta be

Le gustan los CDs
Means CDs please him
CDs are the subject, not le
Make gusta plural add an “n”

Le encantan los cafés
Cafés enchant him
Les molesta el TV
The TV bothers them

If you need to clarify
Don’t forget to add an “a”
A Luis le gusta escribir
A Juan le gusta Panamá

False Cognates

False cognates are words
That don’t mean what you think
Though they look like English
They’re not what they seem

Realize is darse cuenta
Realizar is to make real
Actually is realmente
Actualmente means currently

Tener vergüenza is to be embarrassed
Embarazada means with child
Don’t use suceso  use éxito
for success, suceso is event, that’s right


Most any verb can be reflexive
If the do-er and the done-to are the same
If you wanna say “self” or each other
Then reflexive is the way

You can wash your car or wash yourself
Talk to yourself or someone else
You can shave your dog or shave your head
You can dress the kids or just get dressed

él se lava or él lava el carro
Tú te hablas o  hablas con otro
Se afeita o afeita al perro
Visto al nino o yo me visto

Some verbs just don’t seem reflexive
These verbs you’ve gotta learn one-by-one
It doesn’t seem like the action is reflected
Like saying goodbye or having fun

Enamorarse is to fall in love
Divertirse is to have some fun
Arrepentirse is to change your mind
Despedirse is to say goodbye

To brag is jactarse
To complain is quejarse
To take a risk or dare is atreverse
To look like someone else is parecerse

Ser and Estar

Spanish has two words for “to be” which depend
On which kind of being you’re trying to say
To say “I am” “you are” “he is”
Ser is characteristics, estar is for states
Ser is characteristics, estar is for states

Characteristic or state is usually all you need to ask
To decide ser or estar really fast
A state is the way something is at a specific instant
Characteristic’s the way something generally is
Choose ser or estar based on the emphasis

Location may not seem like a state
Of a thing like a building that does not move
But estar is used for where any thing is standing
Stationary or out on the loose
Events don’t stand anywhere, use ser!

Characteristic or state is usually all you need to ask
To decide ser or estar really fast
A state is the way something is at a given instant
Characteristic’s the way something generally is
Choose ser or estar based on the emphasis

Por and Para

Learning por and para can be kind of slow
But goal, exchange, or the way, is most of what you need to know
Para is used when goal is what you’re trying to say
Not only for “for”, use por to show exchange or the way

A destination is a physical goal
A mental goal’s a deadline
The intended purpose of an act, or object
Reflect a goal someone had in mind

But sometimes with para, there isn’t a goal
Like “I work for my dad”
For a dad, he doesn’t pay me too much”
“I’m about to quit, and he’s glad”

Por is used to show exchange
Thanks, money, time, for something else
Gallons for miles, action for a noun
Along the way, by, through, or down

The way something’s done, or who it’s done by
Duration, because of, on behalf
Estar with por is in favor of
Don’t say “porque de“, unless you want a laugh

Preterite Forms

-ar preterite is é aste ó amos aron
-er/ir forms are í iste ió imos ieron

ar preterite is é aste ó amos aron
er/ir forms are í iste ió imos ieron

Verbs ending is –uir (not guir) change the “i”
of the endings third singular and plural to “y”
The same is true of many stems with a vowel on the end
like leer, oír, creer, caer, poseer

The only verbs that have a change in the stem
Are –ir verbs, you must remember them
Third person stems will have the vowel replaced
By u or i, just one letter in its space

Because i’s and e’s soften g’s and c’s
Sometimes a spelling change is what you need
 Don’t let an ending change the way you say
The last letter of the stem–make a consonant change

Irregular Preterites

Irregular preterites
have got their own set of stems
And their own set of endings
that don’t have accent marks on them

cup, sup, hub
are caber, saber, haber
quis, vin, hic,
are querer, venir, hacer

Endings: e, iste, o, imos, isteis, ieron
e, iste, o, imos isteis, ieron

anduv, tuv, estuv,
andar, tener, estar
traj, dij, traduj,
traer, decir, traducir

e, iste, o, imos, isteis, ieron
e, iste, o, imos, isteis, ieron

Finally now remember for poder the stem is pud
You see, they both have “d”,
The stem rhymes with food

The toughest stem of all, although it’s no excuse,
The stem for poner
Isn’t pon, it’s pus

e, iste, o, imos, isteis, ieron
e, iste, o, imos, isteis, ieron

Preterite vs. Imperfect

Use the preterite to speak of past events
As a whole or the beginning or the end
Imperfect sets the scene for the story being told
What was going on as preterite events unfolded

Imperfect’s for repeated actions in the past
Unless the number of times it happened is expressed
States of mind in the background are imperfect
Non-action verbs are not events unless made manifest

Let me tell you what I mean by that
A state of mind can be an event
when expressed with outward evidence
or speaking of a specific instance

These non-action verbs are made preterite
to focus on completion, beginning, or end
The “special meaning” verbs are explained by this
Or compressing the verb into a single moment

Comparatives and Superlatives

El fútbol es bueno, pero el béisbol es mejor
Yo lo aprendí de mi primo mayor
Dicen que soy el mejor jugador de mi equipo
mejor que el mismo entrenador

¿Eres tan bueno como yo? ¡No!
¿Es él tan bueno como yo? ¡No!
¿Eres tan bueno como yo? ¡No!
Nadie se jacta como yo

Nadie es tan guapo como yo
Nadie tiene tantas novias como yo
No hay ningún chico tan suave como yo
Nadie rima tan suavemente como yo

El peor, no, no, no, no, ¡soy el mejor!
El menor no, no, no, no, soy el mayor
Nadie mas popular que yo, hago furor
¡Cuidado, que no te queme mi calor!

Now, I realize that the explanations in these songs may be different from the explanations you’re comfortable with. That’s one of the reasons for the accompanying book–it breaks down these explanations for you and your students. When you use the explanations from the songs, whenever a student has a question or makes a mistake in class, you can give them the first few words of the relevant line from the song, and they realize that they are capable of remembering the rest, if they use what they know!


Written, performed, produced, recorded, and mixed by Todd Hawkins


CD and Teachers’ Guide/Activity Book



1 review for Singing the Basics Intermediate Spanish

  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    Señora Mayo

    My students absolutely love the “Irregular Preterites” song and it really helps them learn the endings! You’ll see them humming or singing it to help review. 🙂 Very useful, thank you!

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