Posted by: janecronin | February 25, 2018


“Vivir” is one of the best known Spanish verbs thanks to that great anthem  “Y Viva España” rendered in Spanish by the late great Manolo Escobar.  To get the grammar over with quickly, “viva” is the present subjunctive form of “vivir” and means “May it live…” or as we say in English “Long live …”  If you have attended any of the thousands of fiestas in Spain you may have noticed that at various points in the proceedings someone shouts up “Viva … (whichever saint it happens to be)” to which everyone around shouts back “Viva” at the tops of their voices.

The verb “vivir” is completely regular in all its forms and only has one meaning “to live”.  However, it does give rise to lots of interesting derivations.  Firstly, we can add the prefix “re” and make “revivir” which immediately resonates with the English word “revive” which has the same meaning.  We don´t have an English equivalent however for “convivir” (to live with).  From this we get the word “convivencia” which means “living together” “getting along together” and is also the term used for retreats for work colleagues , religious or cultural groups, who go away for a weekend “convivencia” to bond together in a different environment.

If you own a home in Spain you may have noticed that on contracts and bills your home is referred to as a “vivienda” (dwelling).  Another word seen very frequently is “vida” which is the noun “life”.  Another beautiful song has just come to mind “Gracias a la Vida” (Thanks to Life) composed by the Chilean singer Violeta Parra.  Other nouns from “vivir” are “vivero” (nursery, that is for plants) and “vividor” is a person how lives off others, in other words a scrounger or a free-loader.

Adjectives from “vivir” are “vivido” (someone who has “lived” and is therefore worldly-wise) and “vivaz” meaning lively or vivacious.  Another English word that derives from the same Latin root is the adjective“vivid”.  Finally on a more negative note, we have the expression in Spanish “un sin vivir”.  A typical context would be someone who is suffering from a serious illness or is in a state of constant anxiety.  They might say “esto es un sin vivir”.  This is one of those phrases that one understands perfectly but are difficult to translate.  It’s something like:”this is no life at all” although that doesn’t quite carry the weight of the Spanish words.

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