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How to tell an anecdote in Spanish (Confidently!)

how to tell an anecdote in Spanish

Once you know the past tense (yo hablé), you must think: I’m ready to tell an anecdote in Spanish I want. Well, yes and no.

Of course you can tell your anecdote with the past tense, but… can you actually tell an anecdote as naturally as you would do in your mother tongue? That is, using different past tenses, adverbs and unique expressions? Not really.

Most Spanish students just use one verb tense and one or two adverbs (al principio, después, finalmente…). That’s totally ok for beginners.

However, if you want to achieve or improve your intermediate level and connect with others through your interesting stories, you should be able to tell anecdotes confidently.

In today’s post, I’ll show you how to tell an anecdote like a native speaker. Different tenses, adverbs and expressions included.

So, are you ready to impress with your anecdotes? I hope so!

 

1. HOW TO AROUSE INTEREST IN THE ANECDOTE

If you start telling your anecdote in Spanish without any introduction to your listener, he or she may feel a bit lost or struck. That’s why it’s wise to start your anecdote with these expressions:

  • ¡No te vas a creer qué me pasó/ocurrió! (You won’t believe what happened to me)
  • Si te cuento lo que me ocurrió… (If I tell you what happened to me…)
  • ¿Te puedes creer lo que me ocurrió/pasó? (Can you believe what happened to me?)
  • ¿Te he contado lo que me pasó? (Have I told you what happened to me?

The verb “pasar” or “ocurrir” means to happen in this context. These verbs should always agree in number with the number of events you’re referring to (me pasaron dos cosas increíbles, me pasó una cosa increíble).

 

2. HOW TO START THE ANECDOTE IN SPANISH

After the introductory question or exclamation, it’s time to use an essential expression to start your anecdote:

(Pues) Resulta que… + preterite tense.

  • “Pues” here is a filler word. It doesn’t really mean anything but it’s widely used by native speakers in oral conversations, usually as a way to introduce a sentence.
  • “Resulta que” means “it appears that” or “it seems that” if your start your anecdote with this Spanish expression. However, if you use it later, to continue the anecdote, it can be used to talk about an unexpected event, like in “it turns out to be…”.

Moreover, you would normally start your anecdote with the main action and the preterite tense. The imperfect tense will be used to add complimentary information about secondary events, causes or contexts.

In addition, if you want add more information about the time or location of your special event, you could use adverbial/contextual phrases like: “una vez” (once), “el mes pasado” (last month), “hace dos semanas” (two weeks ago). The list is long. 

Let’s see an example:

Lara, ¿te he contado lo que me pasó? /  Resulta que el mes pasado fui a la oficina de correos para enviar una carta a mi amiga estadounidense. Pensé que sería barato.

 

3. HOW TO CONTINUE THE ANECDOTE IN SPANISH

You’ve started your anecdote, great. Now it’s time to give more details and get the listener “hooked”. We’re going to use different elements to do this.

A) IMPERFECT TENSE. As said before, the imperfect tense here is perfect to add extra information and secondary events to the main action:

La oficina de correos estaba llena de gente. Era casi Navidad ya.

B) EXPRESSIONS TO CONTEXTUALISE: “por error” (by mistake), “en teoría” (in theory), “sin aviso” (without notice), “una vez allí” (once there), “al cabo de unos minutos” (after some minutes), “como” (since + subject + verb: “como” is used to express the cause of your following action).

Una vez allí, como tenía que esperar mucho, decidí preparar mi dinero para pagar el envío de la carta. Pero me di cuenta de algo: ¡solo tenía 3 euros! Me puse muy nerviosa.

C) ADVERB TO EMPHASISE: ENCIMA (on top of that). This Word is used to express the fact that the situation was even worse than initially thought to be. We also use “para más inri” in informal conversations and it basically means the same.

Encima, no conocía a nadie, mi móvil no tenía batería y el banco estaba muy lejos. Solo tenía un bolígrafo. Qué desaste.

D) CONNECTORS OF CONSEQUENCE:  “por eso” (that’s why), “así que” (so), “de modo que” (so that), “por tanto” (therefore).

En realidad, no sabía cuánto costaba enviar una carta al extranjero, así que dije: voy a esperar a saber el precio. Cuando pregunté cuánto valía enviar la carta, la chica de la oficina me dijo: “¡7 euros!” Y pensé: “¿7 euros por una postal? ¿Estamos locos?” Resulta que (unexpected event) el señor de atrás me escuchó y me dijo: “si necesitas un par de euros, te los puedo dar, no te preocupes”. ¡Qué amable! Acepté su ayuda, obviamente.

 

4. HOW TO FINISH THE ANECDOTE IN SPANISH

Finally, it’s time to tell the unexpected or funny event. You have two options to do this.

A) Connectors:

  • Al final, (In the end,)
  • Como resultado,  (As a result,)
  • En pocas palabras, (In short,)
  • En definitiva, (In conclusion,).

B) Unique expression that only native speakers use: Total, que… + preterite tense.

Al final, / total, que: tuve que darle mi número a aquel señor para devolverle el dinero después. ¡Qué verguenza! Si tengo que enviar una postal a todos mis amigos, me arruinaré.

 

TELL YOUR BEST ANECDOTE IN SPANISH

Now you’re ready to tell your best stories to others and connect with Spanish native speakers or just Spanish speakers.

What should you remember? Three things:

  • Use at least to tell two different past tenses to tell anecdotes: preterite tense and imperfect tense.
  • Use filler words (“pues”) and contextual phrases (“la semana pasada”, “encima”; “una vez allí”, “por error”, etc.).
  • Use unique expressions (“resulta que”, “total, que”, “como tenía que esperar”).

Finally, don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter here to get the free guide “How to Boost your Fluency in Spanish at Home”, exclusive content soon and blog updates.

Now, let’s practise: tell me an anecdote in Spanish below to practice the new contents. I’ll correct you so you’re definitely ready to tell anecdotes confidently for once and for all.

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