Different Answers Confusing

Hi All
I’m at Lesson(Challenge?) 9 and finding things relatively ok. Here and there though I see some differences in the Spanish responses e.g.

Lesson 7 “You have been learning for about a month”
response: “Usted lleva aprendiendo desde hace aproximadamente un mes”

            "Have you been learning for about a month"

response: “lleva usted aprendiendo por aproximadamente un mes”

Lesson 9 “You have been learning for about a week”
response: “usted lleva aprendiendo aproximadamente una semana”

Also “an opportunity to…” sometimes “una oportunidad de…” and “una opertunidad para…”

Lesson 10 “You have learnt it very well”
Why “Lo ha aprendido usted muy bien” and not “usted lo ha aprendido muy bien”

Any clarification on these things would be good.


I can’t give confident answers about Spanish specifically because my own Spanish is a bit dodgy, but this sounds like a common source of confusion for people learning any language. Languages never map perfectly onto one another, and there’s pretty much always more than one way to say any given thing.

For example, looking at the examples you gave, “por un mes” is the equivalent of “for a month”, and “desde hace un mes” seems to be “since a month ago”. The two English versions mean pretty much exactly the same thing, they’re just saying it in a slightly different way - and so I imagine the same is true of the Spanish versions too!

But the good news is that, when doing an SSi course (as when speaking in real life!) there’s never one correct answer. You don’t necessarily have to give exactly the same Spanish response as you hear on the lessons - as long as your version means the same thing, then you’re doing great. And even if the response you manage to come out with doesn’t quite mean the same thing, you’re still giving your brain valuable practice in producing Spanish sentences.

So if you notice that the lessons have provided two alternatives, don’t see it as confusing -
just see it as twice the chance for you to remember one of them :slight_smile: If you were speaking to a real Spanish speaker they would understand you either way, so treat the lessons the same way.

Thanks for those comforting words. I understand that Languages never directly map to one another and there’s always more than one way to say the same thing!! It was just a little surprising that a structure suddenly,appeared with no previous explanation, but as you say it just adds to the fun, so embrace it.

Hi John!

In an ideal world, we would have caught and standardised every single example of this kind of stuff - but when there’s more than one natural way to say something, it’s a real challenge for the translator to remember over the course of such a long document which has been used where - and it’s a real nightmare to catch all of them at the proofreading stage!

Ifan is working on an algorithm at the moment which I’m hoping will pretty much solve this for us - but in the meantime, as he says, don’t worry when you hear variations - just pat yourself on the back for your correct different answer, and consider it a ‘two for the price of one’ kind of situation…:wink:

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Hi John,
Just curious - how long has it taken you to get to challenge 9?

And are you following the “you should get about 80% before Rosa speaks” guideline as the challenges suggest or the “forge ahead to the next challenge straight away no matter how much you got right” guideline that Aran suggests in his book?

And lastly - if you’re forging ahead and not waiting till you hit the 80% mark, how’s it going with that approach?


The ‘go for it!’ advice is significantly more recent than the ‘hit 80%!’ advice, and I really rather regret the 80% advice (although at the time it was an attempt to try and persuade people that it didn’t have to be 100%, which was a worthy aim!).

We’ll be going back and re-recording the intros/outros at some point when we all have enough energy to update the advice in them… :sunny:


It’s taken me about a week to get to level 9 (I’m currently looking at lesson 14). My approach has been to get through the lesson and move on, but going back 3 or 4 lessons and revisiting, because although new words and structures are introduced in a new lesson, words and structures from previous lessons crop up , and I find that when I go back things seem more straight forward. What I tend to do is get up early, “batter” my way through say lesson 13, then at lunchtime or evening got back to say lesson 9; the next day do 14 and 10. If I’m say 10 minutes into a new lesson and it’s going pear-shaped (as it did in lesson 13), stop the thing, cup of tea, deep breath and start it again.

Having done languages (Latin and French) the “old way” at school, and found the approach dull and boring, learning grammar, i.e. verb tenses and noun declensions (yawn yawn), I find this way more natural. Here we are a few days into things and we’re already using present and imperfect subjunctive tenses without even knowing it. You try to explain that to native English speakers from a grammar stance as used to be do in schools and they’d run a mile!!

Just plug away Dan, persistence and consistency are the keys. Hope that’s ok.

All the best


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I sort of like the 80% guide actually. With the Spanish lessons I have found less understanding than that means real trouble for me going forward and then the potential agro associated with that. My issue has been finding the time to regularly use the lessons ( common among many I am guessing), which also results in review. Still, onwards and upwards to challenge 12 for me.
The welsh course SSiw was superb and I have recommended this Spanish course to others here in the USA who really want to use the language.

Thanks Simon, appreciated :sunny:

I think it would be well worth your while seeing how it works out if, instead of reviewing after a break, you press straight on with the next session - because the course structure will review everything for you anyway. We’re seeing lots of evidence that the instinct to review after a break helps slow things down unnecessarily…

Aran… Thanks for the tip. Find myself too busy watching endless episodes of gran hotel on Netflix is half the problem, y necesito practicar a hablar mas. Although gran hotel helps in a way and is easy on the eye!

Extra input is always valuable, especially if it’s something you enjoy doing - the only way it can trip you up is if it cuts back the amount of time you spend on speech production, as you’re obviously already aware…:wink:

By the way, Simon, does your school offer Spanish? If you’d like me to arrange access to Level 1 for any of your students, I’d be happy to do so :sunny:

Hi Aran

Just a quick question (it’s really just confirm what we’ve already said about different ways to say the same thing). In lesson 20:

“Are you going to read that book tonight?” I would have translated as “va usted a leer ese libto esta noche”

The speakers said “va a leer usted ese libro esta noche”. Is the latter a more common way amongst native speakers, or have I got it wrong?



Until Gaby sees this (he can give you much more insight as a first language speaker) I’ll say that what you went for was fine - this is an area where there’s a lot of variation, as people cheerfully move words around in sentences and/or drop them completely - ‘usted’ would often not be used at all, unless there was some uncertainty about who you were talking about.

So, don’t worry about this at all - the key thing is that you’re able to communicate, and then the more you do that, the more conversations you get into, the further through our listening material you get (exercises for Level 1 just about to be published!), the more you’ll develop a natural feel (which will boil down to you tending to use the patterns you hear most often)… :sunny:

Hi John,

First of all congratulations on you progress! It sounds as if you are getting a lot out of these lessons and I’m glad that you’ve come to the forum to ask these questions.

As Aran said there’s more than one way to say this phrases in Spanish, and in the process of translating the lessons some days one way would seem more natural to me, and I would pick that one over another one. While we’ve had several people proofreading the lessons before they were published, there are occasionally some variations on phrases that we haven’t spotted.

In this particular case you are right that “Are you going to read that book tonight?” could be translated as “Va usted a leer ese libro esta noche?”. Nevertheless that translation sounds too scholastic to my ear. I would naturally say “Va a leer ese libro esta noche?” As Aran pointed, the “usted” is often omitted and if you include it it can also be added after the verb, as it was on my translation. We had been trying to keep the “usted” in the phrases to be consistent, but you don’t really use it that much in questions. The same happens with the informal “Tu”, where you would almost always hear “Vas (tu) a leer ese libro esta noche?”.

I hope this helps, and let us know if you have other questions.


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Thanks for the reply Gaby. I accept that here and there there’ll be differences; I’ve noticed “usted” being dropped and “que” used where I’d have used “lo que”. I only pointed out the example purely because I hadn’t heard it before. On the whole though, delighted with progress, seems to be getting easier!! Looking forward to listening material. Thanks again for the help.


We’re always delighted to have people point out issues, because it helps us catch some stuff that we might need to change, and it helps other learners get answers to their questions, and see that they’re not the only people needing a bit of explanation - so thank you very much indeed for taking the time to ask :star:

Hi Aran, Gaby

Grinding through lesson 22 and again little confusion; we’re asked to translate…

“I’ve done that already”. My attempt was “Ya he hecho eso”, the speakers said “Ya hice eso”. I would translate that as “I did this already”, Difference between perfect and preterit tenses?



Hi John,

In Argentina (and the whole Southamerica I may say) we don’t use the perfect tense, so we use “hice” for both “I’ve done” and “I did”. In Spain there’s more of a distinction, but I couldn’t tell you if it matches exactly the English use, or if it’s a regional thing. So, you are fine with either of the two, but in Southamerica you’ll sound more natural saying “Ya hice eso”


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Yup, that’s a hiccup our end - but you’ll find consistently that pretty much every example of hiccup will be because you can go either way in ordinary speech without being misunderstood :sunny: