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Spanish Lesson Fifty-Three: Health and The Body

Updated on June 30, 2013

Good Day, Readers

It's Monday again! I know... the time sure does fly! Just thought I'd say hello and welcome you to the next Spanish lesson. I hope you all like the new format. I've received no complaints, so I can assume that all is well. Thanks for reading these lessons and I hope you enjoy today's!

Onward and Upward!


  • To Be Able to discuss illness and health in the Spanish language
  • To Be Able to incorporate new knowledge into everyday Spanish conversation
  • To Be Able to describe a person's physical features

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Discussing Illness in Spanish

Hey Readers,

So when discussing Health and The Body, you have to think of the good and bad. Unfortunately, you'll learn how to describe illnesses in Spanish. I won't go through the really bad illnesses, just those that all common people face. In this section I will provide some common expressions and explain the usage each one. Deal? Now... let's start with some common ones.

Health: La Salud

How Do You feel?: ¿Cómo the sientes?

Sick: Estar Enfermo(a)

Sore Throat: Tener Dolor De Garganta

Fever: Tener El Fiebre

Flu: Tener La Gripe

Headache: Doler La Cabeza*

Runny Nose: Tener Una Rinorrea

Upset Stomach: Doler El Estómago*

Chills: Tener Los Escalofrios

Okay. As you've noticed these expressions are formed in certain ways. Use "Estar" to discuss how you are feeling right now. If you are sick you can say several things:

Estoy enfermo. I am sick.

No me siento bien. I don't feel well.

Me siento enfermo. I feel sick.

Note that the verb Sentirse is used to describe how one feels. Estar can be used in several cases, but sentirse works just as fine. When a certain body part hurts, you must use "doler" which means to hurt or pain. The way to use it is by using yourself or someone else as the Indirect Object Pronoun. Like this:

Me duele la cabeza. It hurts (me) the head (My head hurts). Note that doler has a stem change for every conjugation save for the nosotros form. That makes it Duelo, Dueles, Duele, Dolemos, Duelen. You can also use "tener" to specify that you have something like.

Tengo dolor de cabeza. I have pain of head (I have a headache).Use "dolor" which is the noun meaning "pain" to describe that you have a pain of something.

*There are many ways to discuss illness in Spanish. I've only touched a few of them. I will have another lesson sometime in the future to discuss this topic even further*

English Word
Spanish Equiv
La Cuerpa
La Cabeza
La Mano
La Pierna
La Cara
El Pelo
El Hombro
El Pie
La Rodilla
El Dedo De Pie
El Brazo
La Oreja
La Naríz
La Boca
Los Labios
La Muñeca
El Tobillo
La Espalda
El Estómago
El Dedo
El Cuello
La Piel

Today's Vocabulary

Hey Readers!

Yeah I know that this list is pretty long, but I wanted to include as many words as possible. They aren't too terrible hard to follow really. I suggest making a game of the words or creating some flashcards to learn all the words. There are also several references you can find below to help you all learn these words. I remember not having very much difficulty when I learned them the first time. Like I said, create a game or song to help you learn. You'll have no problems at all. Or can you can play Simón Dice.

It literally means "Simon Says". Play this with some friends. Here's how to play.

  • Pick someone who will lead
  • Let them play just like the regular game. They will say "Simón Dice" before each command and each person will have to follow what they do. Of course if the person does not say "Simón Dice" first and the person does it, they're out.
  • The tricky part is knowing what body part the leader is referring to. If someone touches the wrong body party, they too are out.
  • The leader can trick the audience by touching the wrong body part despite naming the body body part. If "Simón dice... toca (touch) la cabeza", the audience much touch their head even though "Simón" touches his leg. Get it?

Try this game with friends and family. It's super fun!

Using Physical Descriptors

  • Require the use of "ser"
  • Must reflect proper gender
  • Must also reflect number

Physical Descriptors

So I know we've gone over this before, but since it does go hand in hand with the body, I thought we'd review this concept. Earlier, in a much earlier lesson, we learned how to describe a person's physical features. Remember? Well if you don't, we can go back over it. Here are a few words that you can practice with. Of course, like all languages, there are MANY words that can be used to describe a person's physical features.

Tall: Alto(a)

Short: Bajo(a)

Beautiful: Bonito(a)

Handsome: Guapo(a)

Ugly: Feo(a)

Thin: Delgado(a)

Fat: Gordo(a)

Now remember that when describing someone physically or personality wise, you must use Ser. Remember that Ser is one of two verbs meaning "to be". Don't confuse it with "Estar" whose meanings only reflect that of Emotional Condition, Temporary Health, Relative Location, Temporary States. Now one can claim that physical attributes and personality characteristics are not permanent. In Spanish, this things are still discussed with Ser. Soy, Eres, Es, Son, and Somos is the conjugation for the verb ser. Let's look at some examples.

Somos delgados. We are thin. Note that I followed gender (which in this case could be mixed or masculine) and number.

Somos Los delgados. We are thin. The article I've added does not change the meaning of the sentence. It simply adds more to it. Do not get confused when articles are used in this way. It's simply an addition to the sentence. Don't forget to add adverbs to your sentences.

Él es muy guapo. He is very handsome.

Él es tan guapo. He is so handsome.

Instead of describing just the body of a person, you can describe something else like skin color, hairstyle, nose structure. These are all a bit more advanced. There will be a lesson to further explore describing the physical intricacies of a person. So keep a lookout for that. Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your week!

Oh! On July 8, 2013, we'll discuss Ordinal Numbers. Come on back for that lesson!!


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    • CrazedNovelist profile image

      A.E. Williams 4 years ago from Hampton, GA

      What an interesting story...

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I'll never forget the first time I was asked to interpret for a doctor in an emergency room. Sure, I could ask Donde tiene dolor, usted? or Donde le duele? por tanto tiempo? etcetera.

      But the doctor also wanted to know stuff like, "When was your last bowel movement?" Have you had a tetanus shot in the last 10 years? Does your pee smell funny?

      I was so embarrassed and frustrated after that I could not think straight in English or Spanish.

      I think I meant to reassure the patient that the doctor wasn't going to kill him, and I inadvertently said, "The doctor is going to kill you"!

      or something to that effect.

      After that, I never volunteered to do medical spanish in the e.r. again.