It’s never too late to learn.

Nunca es tarde para aprender.

It’s never too late to learn.

This is something I find myself saying to people in one way or another almost every day.  On a similar subject, I was reading in a Spanish magazine the other day about women over fifty who had turned their lives around.  The stories were quite inspiring.  Luckily for me and this article, they were also full of Past Tenses.  Here are a few quotes from one lady called Menchu:

Me casé a los 22 años y dejé de trabajar.

I got married at 22 and stopped working.

Estaba contenta dedicándome a mi familia.

I was happy dedicating myself to my family.

Cuando mis hijos crecieron, una amiga me propuso trabajar con ella.  El cambio me gustó y me puse a hacer cursos como una loca.

When my children grew up, a friend suggested that I worked with her.  I liked the change and I started doing courses like crazy.

Nunca pensé que era mayor para buscar empleo.

I never thought I was too old to look for work.

Una de las cosas que me aporta el trabajo es que rejuvenece.

One of the things that work does is rejuvenate.

Here are the words of another lady, Maite, who started studying at 59:

Me enteré hace siete años de que existía la Universidad de Mayores y me picó la curiosidad.  No dije nada a mi marido ni a mis tres hijos y me presenté a la prueba de selección.  Levaba 40 años sin hacer un examen.  Estaba como un flan, pero cuando me aceptaron sentí una gran satisfacción.

I have decided to let you translate this one, but here’s some help!  

Enterarse means ‘to find out’.  

Another expression I rather like is: estar como un flan -to be like a flan. 

This doesn’t mean those round sponge things we eat, but a Spanish flan which wobbles about.  Now you’re imagining a lady with lots of wobbly bits, but it actually means ‘shaking like a jelly’.  

Let’s get back to the point. This short extract illustrates the Spanish Past Tenses wonderfully, as it contains a sequence of events – she found out; she was curious; she said nothing; she sat an exam; she was accepted; she felt satisfied.

Contrasted with these are two descriptions using the Past Continuous Tense – she was (had been) 40 years without taking an exam; she was shaking like a jelly.

Here is the final statement in Maite’s story:

Si tienes la cabeza ocupada, no te estancas. Y es una forma estupenda de llegar a la madurez.

If your mind is occupied you don’t stagnate.  It is a marvelous way to reach your mature years.  

This takes me back nicely to the first point of this article – nunca es tarde para aprender.    

Reading Spanish magazines is good too. One was called Mujer Hoy (but is also good for men!).  I liked it except for its lead story which told me that Sarah Jessica Parker considers herself a victim of fashion! 

Jane Cronin’s ‘Step by Step Spanish’ articles are available as E-books at where you can also obtain Jane’s ‘Step by Step Internet Spanish Course’.