Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Possessive Adjectives
Possessive adjectives (“my”, “your”, “his”, etc.) are encountered in lieu of the article (that is, they appear before the noun).  Each possessive adjective is associated with its corresponding subject pronoun.  With the exception of the nosotros and vosotros forms (1st and 2nd person plural, respectively), each possessive adjective only has two forms (singular and plural) and are not dependent on the noun’s gender:

1st Person
mi, mis
nuestro/-a, nuestros/-as
2nd Person
tu, tus
vuestro/-a, vuestros/-as
3rd Person
su, sus
su, sus

Mi gato es negro.  My cat is black.
Tus perros son amables.  Your dogs are friendly.
Su suéter es de lana.  His sweater is wool (made of wool).
Nuestra hija tiene quince años.  Our daughter is 15 years old.
Nuestros hijos son gemelos.  Our sons are twins.
¿Vuestro carro es rojo?  Is your car red?
Su mamá mezcla los ingredientes.  His/her/your/their mother mixes the ingredients.
Sus ejércitos cruzan el río.  Their armies cross the river.

An important concept to remember here is the ambiguity of the third persons singular and plural.  In these cases, it is important to remember that we could be referring to either “his”, “her”, “their”, “its”, or “your” (plural). 
Also, the possessive adjectives are not dependent on the number of the subject.  What this means is that if we for example are referring to several people as the subject, and we wanted to describe possession of a single object, we would still only use the singular possessive adjective (not the plural)! 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Introduction to the Subject Pronouns
There are several subject pronouns in the Spanish language.  A subject pronoun is a part of speech that takes the place of a noun while acting as the subject of a sentence.  Subject pronouns (and all pronouns, for that matter) can be categorized in a chart based on whether they are 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person singular or 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person plural pronouns. 

The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person categorizations will make more sense in the next Unit, but you should memorize the configuration of this chart now, as this will be the cornerstone of verb conjugations in the lessons to come. 

1st Person
yo (I)
nosotros, nosotras (we)
2nd Person
*tú (you (familiar))
vosotros, vosotras (you (familiar plural))
3rd Person
él (he, it (masc.)), ella (she, it (fem.)), *Ud. (you (formal))
ellos (they, masc.), ellas (they, fem.), Uds.  (you (formal plural))

Recall the differences from Chapter 1 between * and *Ud.  Both are actually 2nd person references, but notice that the subject pronoun Ud. is located in the third person singular category.  So, when referring to someone formally as Ud., we are actually using the third person singular grammatical person. 

The 1st and 2nd persons plural also contain a feminine form (nosotras and vosotras, respectively).  They are used when referring to a group of females.  The 3rd person singular as well as the 3rd person plural also contains a feminine form.  When referring to a mixture of males and females, the masculine form is defaulted to. 

The subject pronouns vosotros and vosotras are seldom used in the Americas.  The formal 3rd person plural subject pronoun Uds. is used instead, for referring to a group of people in the second person.  However, we can still practice using the vosotros/vosotras form:
¿Cómo estáis vosotros?  How are you all doing?

In Spain, the vosotros and vosotras subject pronouns (and their subsequent conjugations) are used in regular conversational Spanish, so it is recommended that you at least know that these pronouns exist in daily usage. 
Here are all of the subject pronouns you must know, in the bullet list below: 
·         yo (I)
·         (you, familiar)
·         Ud. (you formal)
·         él (he, masculine)
·         ella (she, feminine)
·         nosotros (we, masculine)
·         nosotras (we, feminine)
·         vosotros (you, plural, familiar, masculine)
·         vosotras (you, plural, familiar, feminine)
·         ellos (they, masculine)
·         ellas (they, feminine)
·         Uds. (you, plural)*
*Recall that Uds. is used as the regular plural form in México and other Central and South American countries. 

Check out the following sentences and phrases using different subject pronouns:
Tú necesitas aprender español.  You (familiar) need to learn Spanish.
Ella quiere ir de compras.  She wants to go shopping.
Ellas miran.  They look.
Ellos llaman.  They call.
Yo pago.  I pay. 
Nosotros vamos a celebrar la Navidad en Madrid.  We are going to celebrate Christmas in Madrid.
Nosotras celebramos.  We celebrate.
Yo voy a estudiar.  I am going to study.
Y vosotras, ¿cómo estáis?  And how are you all?
Uds. no van a sacar buenas notas si no estudian.  You (all) aren’t going to get good grades if you don’t study.
Él saca el cuaderno.  He takes out the notebook.
Eva escribe con el lápiz.  Eva writes with the pencil. 
Ud. practica.  You practice.
Cuernavaca y Oaxaca están en México.  Cuernavaca and Oaxaca are in Mexico.
Los hermanos estudian.  The brothers are studying.

Omitting Subject Pronouns
The subject pronouns are actually not needed a lot of the times.  If there is no confusion as to the subject of the sentence, then the pronoun can be omitted.  For example, I can simply say:
Voy a estudiar.  I am going to study.

Notice the subject pronoun “yo” was taken away.  We can do this because the conjugation of the verb (voy) is in the 1st person singular category.  According to our chart above, “yo” is the 1st person singular subject pronoun.  Since they match, we don’t need the subject pronoun.  In English, we always MUST use a subject pronoun. 
Here are some other sentences in Spanish with the subject pronoun removed:
Necesitas llamar.  You need to call.
Necesitas hielo.  You need ice.
Necesitamos ir.  We need to go.
¿Dónde estudiáis?  Where do you study?
Estudian en la biblioteca.  They are studying in the library.

Using Subject Pronouns to Avoid Ambiguity
We MUST use the subject pronoun in sentences when there is a possibility of confusion.  This occurs in the third persons singular as well as plural.  For example, if we were to say

Necesita mirar.
This can either mean,
He needs to watch.
She needs to watch.
It needs to watch.
You need to watch.  (Ud.formal singular “you”)

So, to clarify to the listener, you the speaker must include a subject pronoun unless the subject of the sentence (which can also be a proper name) is otherwise understood:

Adán necesita estudiar.  Adam needs to study.
Ella necesita estudiar.  She needs to study.
¿Necesita ayuda Ud.?  Do you need help?

The Placement of Subject Pronouns
Subject pronouns, when used, are usually placed before the verb that they modify.  However, they can be understood in an interrogatory fashion when they follow the verb.  This is done to emphasize the subject of the sentence, the way we do in English.  Note the following:

¿Necesitas la computadora?  Do YOU need the computer?
¿Cambias un cheque?  Are YOU cashing a check?
No comprendes .  YOU don’t understand.

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