In this volume, we discuss the alphabet, definite and indefinite articles, and verbs ser and estar, among other topics.
Learning Spanish body parts is not only about knowing the terms themselves, but also about learning what verbs are used and how to use them.
In this article, you will learn the most common Spanish body parts and you will also learn how to talk about them using the correct verbs and articles. We will also have some examples so you can see how we use all these words together.
We will present the Spanish body parts divided into the areas of the body:
You will then read about common verbs used with body parts and what articles to use.
At the end, you will also have a chance to practice what you learned.
Ready? Let’s get started!
¡Ojo! (Watch out!) The pronunciation of LL can be like the Y in yes or like the J in jelly, but not like an L as in leg. Anytime you see LL don’t forget! It is NOT pronounced like an L.
There are 20 Spanish-speaking countries, and that means that there will be some variations with pronunciation, as well as vocabulary and even grammar structure. The good thing is, no matter what term you use people will normally understand you, and if not, they will ask!
Also, did you notice that ojo aside from eye means to watch out for something or to pay attention to something? You will be seeing it used this way throughout this article.
¡Ojo! Although in English we don’t have the letter Ñ, we DO have that sound in words like canyon or onion.
In Spanish, nouns have gender (masculine or feminine), and that is why when you study vocabulary lists, the definite articles (el/la/los/las) are included to indicate if the word is masculine/singular (el), masculine/plural (los), feminine/singular (la), or feminine/plural (las). Some students think the article is part of the word, but it is not! In English we only have ONE definite article which is the, so much easier, isn’t it?
Although mano ends in O it is still a feminine noun. There are always exceptions to the rule and mano is one of them. Another feminine noun ending in O is radio.
¡Ojo! The letter H is silent in Spanish, so do not pronounce it in the word hombro.
Fun fact! The word muñeca (wrist) also means doll.
¡Ojo! The word pie is not pronounced like the pie in apple pie, but more like [peeEH]. Try it!
¡Ojo! Don’t forget to roll your Rs in words like rodilla, radio or rótula. It is okay if you can’t do it, it’s a very difficult sound to produce for English speakers and it takes a lot of practice!
Now that you know some of the most used Spanish body parts, how to use them? One major difference in Spanish is that as a general rule, we use definite articles (el/la/los/las – the) instead of possessive adjectives (mi/mis – my) when referring to our body parts.
However, there are times when possessive adjectives are used, especially if the person we are talking about has been previously mentioned: Sus ojos son verdes (His/her eyes are green).
Let’s look at more examples:
In English we would say:
I broke my finger.
However, in Spanish, we would say:
Me he roto el dedo (I broke the finger.)
In English we say:
Show me your hands.
But in Spanish we say:
Enséñame las manos. (Show me the hands.)
What if you said Enséñame tus manos? Would it be wrong? No, it wouldn’t. It would sound different to a native speaker, but they would completely understand you. Don’t worry if you ever forget to use definite articles. People will still know what you are trying to say!
We talk about body parts in everyday conversations: to describe ourselves or someone else, to compliment a friend and describe an ailment or condition to our doctor. We normally use the verbs tener (to have) or ser (to be).
Let’s see some examples:
Sara tiene el pelo largo. (Sara has long hair.)
El pelo de Sara es largo. (Sara’s hair is long.)
Pedro tiene los ojos verdes. (Pedro has green eyes.)
Los ojos de Pedro son verdes. (Pedro’s eyes are green.)
Mi hermana tiene las manos muy bonitas. (My sister has very beautiful hands.)
Los brazos de Alberto son fuertes. (Alberto’s arms are strong.)
¡Ojo! The verbs tener and ser are both irregular verbs, which means they have a different conjugation than regular -er verbs. Don’t forget to review their conjugation!
In English, we use the Saxon Genitive to show possession. That’s when we add ‘s to a name (Sara’s hair or Pedro’s eyes). In Spanish, it is done by using the preposition de (of) as in the above examples. So instead of saying Pedro’s eyes, in Spanish we say: The eyes of Pedro.
We also refer to our body parts when we are expressing a condition or state:
Me duele la cabeza. (My head hurts.)
Me duelen las piernas. (My legs hurt.)
Me pica la mano. (My hand is itchy/itching.)
Reflexive verbs such as levantarse, lavarse, peinarse, romperse are used when a person performs an action to or for himself/herself. They are used with reflexive pronouns (me, te, se, nos, (os - only used in Spain), se). Reflexive verbs are commonly used to talk about daily habits or routines.
Although the verb doler (to hurt) looks like it is also reflexive because of the use of the pronoun me, it’s not a reflexive verb. The pronoun me is in this case an indirect object pronoun.
Marta se lava las manos después de comer. (Marta washes her hands after eating.)
Paco se cepilla los dientes cada mañana. (Paco brushes his teeth every morning.)
Nosotros nos levantamos a las 7 para ir a trabajar. (We get up at 7 a.m. to go to work.)
Wow! That was a lot of information! But don’t worry! Just focus on the basics: study the body parts that you think you will be using or needing, know that we use verbs like tener and ser, remember that in Spanish definite articles are used more than possessive adjectives, and finally, learn and practice some of the reflexive verbs that we studied today. Don’t forget to use reflexive pronouns!
Now, let’s test what you learned so far!
It is okay if you don’t know or forget all the words. You can look up the terms you do not know in an online dictionary, here are two:
Alicia Fernández is a content writer at Berges Institute.