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Better Call Saul #6

Context: Jimmy and Tuco find themselves in an awkward situation. Tuco tells Jimmy to talk, or to explain himself.

Jimmy: I’m gonna make an educated guess what happened here.

Spanish Subtitle: Voy a adivinar lo que sucedió aquí.

Topics Covered: adivinar vs. acertar, suceder, future w/ the present, lo que

ISSUE #1: ADIVINAR VS. ACERTAR

Both “adivinar” and “acertar” can be used for “to guess”. But most the time we say “to guess” in English, “adivinar” works the best in Spanish.

Because “acertar” only means “to guess correctly” (from “ascertain”). And we only know if we’re correct or not, after the guess. So you can refer to a past correct guess with “acertar”.

adivinar = to guess

acertar = to guess correctly

I guessed
= adiviné (just noticed the connection to “divine” now!)

I guessed correctly
= acerté

In this case, he was clearly “guessing” without knowing anything--even educated guesses use “adivinar” (this confused me for a while, so sorry if I ever misspoke).

ISSUE #2: SUCEDER

“Suceder” looks like “to succeed” and it is “to succeed”. But not the “to succeed” like “to win” or “achieve” -- though they’re certainly connected.

“Suceder” means “to succeed” like “to follow” or “replace”.

Tim Cook succeeded Steve Jobs
= Tim Cook replaced Steve Jobs
= Tim Cook followed Steve Jobs
= Tim Cook sucedió a Steve Jobs

In our example though, “suceder” means more “to happen” or “occur”.

...what happened here
= ... que sucedió aquí

“Suceder” is used just like “pasar” would be in this context:

¿Qué pasa?
= What event is passing right now?
= What event is happening right now?

¿Qué sucede?
= What event is following the last event?
= What event is happening right now?

It’s like the difference between saying “today” and “the day after yesterday”. They both refer to the same day, right?

ISSUE #3: THE FUTURE WITH THE PRESENT

In both English and Spanish, we use “to go” and “ir” to speak in the future, but with the present tense.

I’m going to guess
= Voy a adivinar

That’s a present tense conjugation in both languages, even though both are talking about the future.

But we only BASICALLY do the same thing. The way our verbs work in English, if we translate the Spanish to English, we end up with a double “to”.

Voy a adivinar
= I’m going TO TO guess

The preposition “a” translates to “to”. Then in English, the infinitive of every verb is “to ____”. To eat. To say. To run. But in Spanish, the infinitive either ends in AR, ER or IR.

So in English, to avoid the double “to” -- we drop one.

I remember this being a little confusing at the beginning. I couldn’t tell if we did the same thing, or if Spanish added an “a”. Turns out, neither! English drops a “to”! And now I know. And so do YOU!

The Future with the Present [Spanish Quickie]

ISSUE #4: LO QUE

This confused me for way too long. I’m a little bitter about it actually.

No matter what your book, teacher or anybody in The Spanish Authority tells you otherwise, “lo” only means one thing. THE THING.

lo = the thing

And “que” means “that”.

So naturally:

lo que = the thing that

Now, in English, we don’t say “the thing that” always. Sometimes we do. But most the time, we just say “what”.

Voy a adivinar lo que...
= I’m going to guess the thing that...
= I’m going to guess what...

But if you memorize that “lo que” means “what” -- not only will that get you to the wrong English translation sometimes, but it will do you NO GOOD going from English to Spanish (speaking).

The Thing About “Lo” [Spanish Quickie]

ALL TOGETHER NOW

Voy a adivinar lo que sucedió aquí.
= I go to to guess the thing that succeeded here.
= I’m going to guess what happened here.
= I’m gonna make an educated guess what happened here.

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