Spanish Reading Practice: Advice Columns

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  • 0:01 Asking & Giving Advice
  • 0:31 The Conditional Tense
  • 2:15 Recomendar, Sugerir &…
  • 3:26 Querida Abby?
  • 8:20 Practice
  • 10:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Pablo Serna

Pablo has taught college Spanish at the University of Missouri and Central Methodist University, and has a master's degree in Spanish literature.

In this lesson, we will practice the conditional tense and verbs, such as recomendar, sugerir, and aconsejar, that help us give and receive recommendations, suggestions, and advice. We will also practice some vocabulary related to giving advice.

Asking & Giving Advice

In this lesson, we will practice some verbs that help us give and receive advice, suggestions, and recommendations in Spanish. Different conjugations, like the conditional tense, give us great tools to tell people what we think they should do responding to certain circumstances, doubts, or questions. We will also use vocabulary that is relevant when giving and receiving recommendations such as recomendar, sugerir, and aconsejar.

The Conditional Tense

The conditional tense is used to talk about what you would do, or what would happen in certain circumstances. Both in Spanish and English this tense is used to give suggestions. Let's look at some examples!

  • En tu situación, hablaría con mis padres. (In your situation, I would talk to my parents).
  • En ese caso, escribiría mi tarea hoy mismo. (In that case, I would do my homework today).

What do you see? How did we form the conditional tense to say what we would do in those situations? We use the infinitive form of the verb + the endings '-ía,' '-ías,' '-ía,' '-íamos,' '-íais,' '-ían' according to the person - infinitive + '-ía,' '-ías,' '-ía,' '-íamos,' '-íais,' '-ían.' These endings are the same for all verbs, '-ar,' '-er,' and '-ir,' regular, and irregular.

Infinitivo yo él/ella/usted nosotros vosotros ustedes ellos
hablar hablaría hablarías hablaría hablaríamos hablaríais hablarían hablarían
comer comería comerías comería comeríamos comeríais comerían comerían
vivir viviría vivirías viviría viviríamos viviríais vivirían vivirían

Recomendar, Sugerir & Aconsejar

Some words and expressions we also use to give and receive advice are recomendar, sugerir, and aconsejar. Let's look at some sentences that use these words:

  • Recomiendo relajarse cuando hay mucho estrés. (I recommend relaxing when there is a lot of stress).
  • Sugerimos enfrentar los problemas. (We suggest facing your problems).
  • Nos aconsejan tomar las cosas con calma y llevar una vida tranquila. (They suggest taking it easy and having a calm life).

Do you remember 'Dear Abby'? Well, in our lives we ask questions, ask for advice, and give advice when needed (and sometimes when no one is asking for it but… you know what I mean). Our own version of 'Dear Abby' is 'Querida Abby'. Let's read and listen to some short letters to our 'Querida Abby' and then we can provide some suggestions and recommendations to help these people.

Querida Abby

Querida Abby,

Mi nombre es Fernando. Últimamente (lately) tengo muchos problemas y muchas presiones en el trabajo. No duermo bien y estoy cansado todo el tiempo. Qué recomiendas en mi situación?

Muchas gracias,


So, Fernando has had problems, and he has felt under pressure at work. He doesn't sleep well and he's tired all the time. What would you do in Fernando's situation? Let's answer using the (a) conditional tense and then one of these three options (b) recomiendo, sugiero, or aconsejo.

  • (a) Yo renunciaría a mi trabajo para llevar una vida más tranquila. (I would quit my job to have a more tranquil life).
  • (b) Le recomiendo hablar con su jefe. (I recommend talking to his boss).

Let's look at another letter from the 'Dear Abby' column:

Querida Abby,

Me llamo Mauricio. Mi vida es demasiado tranquila. No hago nada emocionante (exciting). Me gustaría tener un poco más de emoción y adrenalina en mi vida. Qué me recomiendas?

¡Hasta luego!,


Mauricio lives a very relaxed life - nothing exciting happens. He would like to have some excitement and an adrenaline-filled life. Recomendaciones para Mauricio?

  • (a) Yo me registraría en un club de fútbol o de escalada en roca. (I would register in a soccer or rock climbing club).
  • (b) Aconsejo encontrar personas con los mismos intereses. (I advise finding other people with the same interests).

Let's think about this one:

Querida Abby,

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