Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Demonstrative Adjectives

Demonstratives are those adjectives that point a noun out in a conversation: “this”, “that”, “those”, and “these”.
As is the common theme, Spanish demonstrative adjectives differ from the English versions because like all adjectives, they are gender and number specific. 
Like all nouns, there are four forms of demonstrative adjectives: singular masculine, singular feminine, plural masculine, or plural feminine. To refer to something that is close to the speaker we use forms of este (this):

Singular
Plural
Masculine
este
estos
Feminine
esta
estas

este libro  this book
esta página  this page
estos cacahuates  these peanuts
estas palabras  these words

You might have noticed that the singular and plural feminine forms are spelled the same as part of the conjugation for the verb estar, but are lacking the accent of the ultimate syllable.  This is one reason the placement of diacritical marks is so crucial to properly spoken Spanish. 
For the speaker to indicate an object removed somewhat and closer to the listener, then the speaker can use a form of ese (that/those): 

Singular
Plural
Masculine
ese
esos
Feminine
esa
esas

ese retrato  that portrait
esa carretera  that highway
esos pantalones  those pants
esas blusas  those blouses

Lastly, a form of aquel (that, those) is used when the speaker wishes to talk about an object removed from both the speaker and the listener.  Usually, this adjective describes an object unseen, or an abstract concept.  

Singular
Plural
Masculine
aquel
aquellos
Feminine
aquella
aquellas

aquel traje  that suit (over there)
aquella casa  that house (over there)
aquellos sentimientos  those feelings (abstract, literary)
aquellas calabazas  those pumpkins

We can attach one of three phrases to correspond to each of these demonstrative clauses in order to emphasize the placement of the objects. 
por aquí  over here
por ahí  over there
por allí  way over there

Voy a llevar esta comida por aquí.  I’m going to bring this food over here.
Esa blusa por ahí es azul.  That blouse over there is blue.
Voy a alquilar aquella casa blanca por allí.  I’m going to rent that house way over there.  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How to Express the Date

The date, or la fecha, is expressed using the verb 3rd person singular conjugation of ser plus the definite singular masculine article el and the number:
ser  + el + el número (number)
Then, add the preposition de followed by the month.  Here are the months in Spanish.  Note that the name of the month is NOT capitalized, as it is in English.  Also, we tend to not refer to the month with the definite article, as we do other nouns:
enero
January
febrero
February
marzo
March
abril
April
mayo
May
junio
June
julio
July
agosto
August
septiembre
September
octubre
October
noviembre
November
diciembre
December

So, for example, here are several basic examples of telling the date.  Note that it is passable to simply write the numeral out instead of spelling the word, but keep in mind you could very well stumble upon both ways equally in the Spanish-speaking world. 
Es el quince de febrero.  It’s February 15th. 
Es el 2 de mayo.  It’s May 2nd. 
Es el tres de junio.  It’s June 3rd.
Es el primer de agosto.  It’s August 1st.

Instead of the number uno (one), we use the noun primero which is also an adjective that means in English “first”, or “the first one”. 
Expressing the date in Spanish is equivalent to saying in English “It is the five (5) of May” (cinco de mayo). 
The way we ask for the date is
¿Cuál es la fecha?  What is the date?
¿Cuál es la fecha de hoy?  What is today’s date?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Difference Between Tú and Ud.

A lot of my students inquire about the difference between Ud. and.  Perhaps a little explanation is in order.

The "Ud." is short for "usted" and is used as a formal subject pronoun when referring to someone in the second person.  In English, we always refer to someone in the second person as "you".  We can refer to either the Pope, President, grandparents, our boss, or kids on a playground as "you" without offending anybody.  In Spanish, it isn't like that.  There are 2 ways to refer to someone as "you": familiar and formal. it's important to know this just so you don't run the risk of offending anybody!

I guess to say it'll offend someone is a little too harsh.  In my best comparison it's similar to asking your boss, "What's up dude?" upon arriving to work instead of something more light and courteous like "How are you?" or even "Hey, Mr. O'Brien."  It's a built-in language function designed to introduce formality and politeness in a professional or respectful manner.

¡Buena suerte con sus estudios!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

¡Juguemos! Let's Play!

To say you play a sport, use the following formula with the verb jugar (to play):

jugar al + deporte (sport)

Remember that jugar is a stem-changing verb (u-ue)!

Yo juego al bólibol.  I play volleyball.  
Tú juegas al básquetbol.  You play basketball.  
El estudiante juega al jai alai.  The student plays jai alai.  
Nosotros jugamos al béisbol.  We play baseball.  
Los amigos juegan al golf.  The friends play golf.  



Thursday, March 1, 2012

More About Nouns!


Articles and the Noun Phrase
The article makes up part of what is referred to in the field of grammar as a noun phrase.  A noun phrase consists of: 
article + noun
Some examples of noun phrases in English are “the cat”, “a shirt”, “some books”, and “an apple”.  Here are some example of noun phrases in Spanish:  un gato (a cat)”, “los caballeros (the gentlemen, the cowboys)”, and “unas sillas (some chairs)”. 
Like other romance languages, Spanish nouns are separated by gender (i.e. whether or not the noun is masculine or feminine) and number (whether the noun is singular or plural).  It is important to understand that when we’re referring to “gender”, we’re referring to a grammatical classification of a noun, not whether or not the noun has masculine or feminine qualities. 
There are four possible configurations of noun phrases in Spanish: singular masculine, singular feminine, plural masculine, or plural feminine. 
To understand the nature of an article, let’s look at the following chart:

Singular
Plural
Masculine


Feminine



Like our verb charts we memorized from earlier, we should memorize the noun charts as well since they will come in handy later on in advanced lessons when we talk about pronouns, or rather, grammar parts that take the place of nouns. 
This may seem like a lot of information to take in, but if you give it time and start looking at each noun and a specific noun phrase, then you will have laid down a solid foundation for learning more advanced grammar concepts later, like the use of pronouns. 
The Definite Articles
A definite article is an article in a noun phrase that defines or clarifies a specific noun entity.  It is “definite” or “known” as to what noun we are referring.  The only definite article in English is “the”.  This definite article can be used in English regardless of whether or not the noun is singular or plural.  For clarification, we can refer to “the girl” as well as “the girls”.  As you can see, we are using the same definite article, singular or plural notwithstanding.  We also don’t have a gender to worry about; each noun receives the exact same article.  Let’s use the noun chart from the previous section to show how our article is not dependent on the noun’s gender or number:

Singular
Plural
Masculine (n/a)
the dog
the dogs
Feminine (n/a)
the pen
the pens

English is a gender-neutral language, meaning that nouns are not classified by gender.  Since nouns are categorized by gender and number in Spanish, there is a different article for each gender and whether each gender is singular or plural.  

Singular
Plural
Masculine
el
los
Feminine
la
las

Here is the same noun chart for the masculine noun “verbo (verb)” and feminine “bandera (flag)”, with the definite article underlined:   

Singular
Plural
Masculine
el verbo
los verbos
Feminine
la bandera
las banderas

The Indefinite Articles
The indefinite articles are those that identify nouns in a general, usually non-tangible manner.  There are three indefinite articles in English: a, an, and some.  Remember that Spanish is a gender-specific language, so the indefinite articles depend on what noun they are associated with in the noun phrase. 

Singular
Plural
Masculine
un teléfono
unos teléfonos
Feminine
una broma
unas bromas

Search my Blog: