Posted by: janecronin | December 10, 2017


Since we have talked about eating, the obvious next priority is drinking, in other words, the verb “beber”.   This seems to be one of the first Spanish words that a lot of people learn, although I can´t imagine why.  One of things I sometimes have to correct from the beginning though is the pronunciation, as it can be confused with the verb “vivir” (to live).  This is because the “b” and the “v” in Spanish sound exactly the same, and so the difference depends on distinguishing the vowel sounds properly: the same “e” in both parts of “beber” and the same “i” in both parts of “vivir”.  As difficult as some people might find this, it is so basic to the Spanish that if you confuse the pronunciation, you might not be understood at all.

Whilst we are on the subject of pronunciation, it’s also worth pointing out that the third person singular of the present tense “bebe” (he or she drinks) has the vocal emphasis on the first of the two syllables and therefore should not sound like the word “bebé” (baby) which is emphasised on the second “e”.

The noun which derives from “beber” is “bebida”.  The fact that “bebida” also translates as “drink” highlights one of the difficulties of the English language.  For us, the same word “drink” can act as a verb, as in “I drink a cup of tea” as well as a noun, as in “Would you like a drink?”  Our language is full of these similarities, as almost any noun can get turned into a verb.  Just think about the parts of the body as an example – “head – to head”;  “hand – to hand”;  “arm – to arm”; “finger – to finger” and so on.  Then think about words like “book – to book”; “table – to table”; “floor – to floor” – the list is endless.   Of course we take these words for granted and use them correctly as verbs and nouns without thinking about their grammatical differences.  However, once we want to translate them into Spanish we have a problem, unless we know how they are being used in a sentence.  It’s useful to know that when you look a word up in the dictionary, the noun is usually listed first, followed by the verb, so for “drink”, you will find something like this:  Drink (n) Bebida.  Drink (v) Beber.

When it comes to the past participle of drink which is “drunk”, and in Spanish “bebido”, this can also be used as an adjective to describe someone’s state of inebriation.  “The man was rather drunk” – “El hombre estaba bastante bebido”.  It is an alternative to the more well-known adjective “borracho”.

Finally, if you want to invite someone to go for a drink in Spanish, we use a different verb, namely “tomar” (to take) so “to go for a drink” in this general, social sense is “tomar algo” (to take something).


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