Prepositions in Spanish

Prepositions in Spanish. Good for a Love Story

Prepositions in Spanish.

Prepositions in SpanishOne of the most used grammatical elements in all Languages are the Prepositions. In English and Spanish Grammars, its definition is very similar and, although in English they have always been more abundant, the number of Prepositions in Spanish has been increasing in time, by the greater Authority of the Spanish Language that is the RAE, Real Academia Española (Royal Spanish Academy).

However, its definition remains unchanged and can be simplified in the following way:Prepositions in Spanish

“The preposition is a word that relates to the elements of a sentence and may indicate a relationship between these that define: origin, destination, address, place, time, starting point, reason, location, etc.”




Although there is no direct correspondence between them, in both Languages there are the so-called Simple Prepositions formed by a single word, and the Composite Prepositions formed by two or more words.

Prepositions in SpanishAnd when we say that there is no direct correspondence, we mean that there are Simple Prepositions in English that can only be expressed by Composite Prepositions in Spanish and vice versa.

The most important difference that the English-speaker must assimilate is that in Spanish there are only 23 Simple Prepositions against the 53 that exist in English.

This means that some Spanish Prepositions are equivalent to several of the English and vice versa, according to the context, which can bePrepositions in Spanish confusing if we try to do literal translations instead of applying the Rules of Use.

The most notable Prepositions and their Rules of Use will be reviewed in the following Publications but, for now, we will see the Complete List and its Equivalences.

Simple Prepositions in English and their most usual Spanish equivalents can be seen in the following Table:

Simple Prepositions in English / Preposiciones Simples en Ingles
English Spanish Equivalents Notes
about sobre, acerca de
above sobre, encima de
across a través de 1
after después de, tras de 1
against contra, en contra de
along a lo largo de 1
among entre
around alrededor de 1
as en calidad de, en condición de 1,2
at en, a
before antes de, antes que, delante de 1
behind tras, detrás de
below debajo de 1
beneath bajo, debajo de
beside junto a, al lado de 1
between entre
beyond mas allá de, fuera de 1
but excepto, salvo, pero 3
by por, a
concerning sobre, acerca de
despite a pesar de 1
down abajo de 1
during durante
except a excepción de 1,3
for para, por 4
from de, desde
in en
into en, a, dentro de
like en calidad de, a modo de 1
near cerca de 1
next al lado de, junto a 1
of de, a
off de
on en, sobre
onto sobre
out fuera de 1
outside fuera de 1
over encima de 1
past mas allá de 1
since desde
through mediante, a través de, por medio de
throughout en todo, a través de todo, a lo largo de 1
to a, para
toward hacia
under bajo, abajo de, conforme a
underneath debajo de 1
unlike diferente a, a diferencia de 1
until hasta
up encima de 1
upon sobre, a, encima de
with con
within entre, dentro de
without sin




Notes:

  1. There is not a single Spanish word to express it.
  2. Literal translation of the word “as” is “como”, and it is not a Preposition in Spanish but a Conjunction.
  3. The words “excepto”, “salvo”  and “pero” are not Prepositions in Spanish but Conjunctions.
  4. Prepositions “por” and “para” have many meanings, and they will be study as an special case due the Prepositions in Spanishoften confusions that cause because both are translated as “for”.

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parts of the speech

Parts of the Speech in Spanish. A fortunate coincidence.


Parts of the Speech.

In order to understand what are the parts of the speech, we must refresh the concept most basic: sentence, which is the same in Spanish and English:




A sentence or speech is a group of words which expresses a complete thought and must contain, at least, a subject and a verb.

According to the English and Spanish Grammars, the parts of the speech can be nine and their basic definitions, which are also the same for both languages, are:

  • Noun: Who executes or receives action.
  • Pronoun: Word that replaces the noun.
  • Verb: Word that describes the action.
  • Adjective: Word that characterizes the noun.
  • Adverb: Word that characterizes the verb, adjective or another adverb.
  • Preposition: Word that helps relate nouns, verbs or phrases.
  • Conjunction: Word that links nouns, sentences or phrases.
  • Interjection: Word expressing some kind of feeling or emotion.
  • Article: Word that in both, English and Spanish, is used to define a noun as determinate or indeterminate. In Spanish, it is additionally used to specify gender and noun number.

parts of the speech

Examples of each part of the speech:

Each of these parts of the sentence and its rules of use are explained in detail in our corresponding Publications, but as examples to better understand their role in syntax, for both languages, we present the following Table:



Parts of the Speech / Partes de la Oración
Noun/Nombre Peter/Pedro, dog/perro, house/casa, stone/piedra, boy/niño, Mary/María
Pronoun/Pronombre I/Yo, He/El, She/Ella, We/Nosotros, You/Ustedes, They/Ellos(as), You/
Verb/Verbo speak/hablar, read/leer, write/escribir, run/correr, walk/caminar, sing/cantar
Adjective/Adjetivo big/grande, small/pequeño, pretty/linda, tall/largo, strong/fuerte, fast/rápido, well/bien
Adverb/Adverbio almost/casi, far/lejos, really/realmente, rhythmically/rítmicamente, very/muy
Preposition/Preposición since/desde, between/entre, until/hasta, in/en, over/sobre, without/sin
Conjunction/Conjunción because/porque, nor/ni, for/para, but/pero, or/o, so/tan, while/mientras, and/y
Interjection/Interjección yeah!/¡si!, hey!/¡oye!, ouch!/¡ay!, hello!/¡hola!, yummy!/¡ñamm!, wow!/¡guao!
Article/Artículo a(an)/un;una;unos;unas

the/el;la;lo;las;los

Notes:

  • There are countless of interjections in both languages, but by its feature of being an expression associated to emotions, many of themparts of the speech are common to the English, the Spanish and to all the others languages.
  • The articles are a subject that deserves special attention since they represent one of the most notable differences between the English and the Spanish from the point of view of the grammatical syntax.

Building a Sentence.

An example of the concepts seen in the parts of the sentence and its uses is as follows:

Mary has sung

María ha cantado

Basic Sentence

Noun + Verb

Mary and You have sung

María y Tu han cantado

Adding an Conjunction and a Pronoun

and/y, You/Tu

Mary and You have sung a romantic song

María y Tu han cantado una canción romántica

Adding an Article, an Adjective and a Noun

a/una, romantic/romántica, song/canción

Mary and You have sung a romantic song, wonderfully

María y Tu han cantado una canción romántica, maravillosamente

Adding an Adverb

Wonderfully/maravillosamente

Wow!, Mary and You have sung a romantic song, wonderfully, without rehearse

¡Guao!, María y Tu han cantado una canción romántica, maravillosamente, sin ensayar

Adding an Interjection, a Preposition and a Verb

Wow/Guao, without/sin, rehearse/ensayar

parts of the speech

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spanish adverbs

Spanish Adverbs. Something that we need to keep in mind.


Spanish Adverbs.




In the language of Cervantes, the word “mente” can be translated into English directly as “mind“, and has the same meaning. But this use of that word, is less frequent that which is made of it as suffix to form a great amount of Spanish Adverbs.spanish adverbs

Refreshing the concept of adverb.

Both in English and in Spanish, when we want to complement, qualify, quantify, or in general, specify something about a verb, an adjective or another adverb, used grammatical expressions are adverbs. This is the definition that is common to both languages.

However, when we investigate how to make a classification by type, information found for both languages is ambiguous and incomplete, so we decided to “build” a table that includes the consistent information concerning.

Our classification for the English and Spanish adverbs, is the following:

Adverbs Classification/Clasificación de los Adverbios
Classification

/Clasificación

Answer to

/Responde a

Examples Ejemplos
Manner

/Modo

How?

/¿Como?

Well

Fast

Slow

Bien

Rápido

Despacio

Place

/Lugar

Where?

/¿Donde?

Here

Far

Behind

Aquí

Lejos

Detrás

Time

/Tiempo

When?

/¿Cuando?

Today

Already

Late

Hoy

Ya

Tarde

Duration

/Duración

How long?

/¿Cuanto tiempo?

All month

For a while

Since yesterday

Todo el mes

Por un momento

Desde ayer

Frequency

/Frecuencia

How often?

/¿Con que frecuencia?

Once a day

Always

Every month

Una vez al dia

Siempre

Todos los meses

Quantity

/Cantidad

How much/many?

/¿Cuanto/Cuantos?

Few

Enough

Very

Poco

Suficiente

Muy

Affirmation

/Afirmación

Can it be….?

/¿Podrá ser…?

Also

Sure

By all means

Tambien

Seguro

Claro

Negation

/Negación

Can it be….?

/¿Podrá ser…?

Never

Neither

Ever

Jamás

Tampoco

Nunca

Doubt

/Duda

How sure?

/¿Con que certeza?

Indeed

Of course

Perhaps

En efecto

Por supuesto

Tal vez

Order

/Orden

In what order?

/¿En que lugar?

At first

At last

Second

Inicialmente

Por ultimo

Segundo

Degree

/Grado

To what degree?

/¿En que grado?

Too much

So little

Almost

Demasiado

Tan pequeño

Casi

The use of the suffix “mente“.





For almost all the types of adverbs, an of the forms more used in Spanish is formed by the composition of adjectives to which we add the suffix “mente“.

spanish adverbs

The use is similar to the way in which are built in English adverbs ending in “ly“, and due to the compact and simple grammatical construction, constitute one of the most popular Spanish adverbs types. Here are a few examples:

Adjective/Adjetivo Adverb/Adverbio
Happy/Feliz Happily/Felizmente
True/Cierto Truly/Ciertamente
Joyful/Alegre Joyfully/Alegremente
Real/Real Really/Realmente
Easy/Fácil Easilly/Fácilmente
Sad/Triste Sadly/Tristemente
Strong/Fuerte Strongly/Fuertemente
Soft/Suave Softly/Suavemente
First/Primero Firstly/Primeramente
Careful/Cuidadoso Carefully/Cuidadosamente
Rare/Raro Rarely/Raramente

 

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homonymous words

Similar but not equal. Spanish Homonymous words.



Similar but not equal. Homonymous words.



In Spanish, as in English, there is the homonymous words. These are words with similarity of sound or write, but with different meaning.

To differentiate both types of homonymous, in Spanish will make the following definitions:

Homographs words: are those which are written identically but which, according to the context of use, have different meanings.

Homophones: they are those who sound identically but are written differently, and have different meaning.

In the case of these latter, in Spanish is acute and increases the amount, due to several special circumstances:

  • Except when it is preceded by the letter “c”, the letter “h” in Spanish is silent or phonetically transparent.
  • The letters “b” and “v”, although not should, are pronounced virtually equal in all the countries that speak Spanish.homonymous words
  • The letter “y”, when precedes vowels, sounds the same as the digraph “LL”.
  • With rare exceptions, most Spanish speakers, pronounce “z” like “s” letters and, in the cases that precedes the vowel “e” or “i”, the letter “c”.
  • There is a fourth case is much less frequent, but that should be mentioned for the purpose of learning the language. It is the use of the letter “k”, which when it precedes vowels sounds the same to:
    • the letter “c” preceding the “a”, “o” and “u”.
    • the combination “qu” preceding the “e” and the “i”.

As the reader must guess, these circumstances not only hinder the learning of a new language, but also constitute a “headache” for many native speakers, which tend to have lots of spelling mistakes when writing, for confusing ones with others throughout his life.

How to learn these homonymous words?

Though very dispersed, there are rules that allow “to find the correct word” in many cases. In others, simply there are that adjust is to the context of the phrase or sentence, as in the English.

In the case of the Homographs, let’s look at the example of the English word “pole”.

pole: to support the power line

pole: for practicing the high jump pole vault

pole: a young tree of right trunk and no branches at the base

pole: for to skiing

pole: for to fish

Another examples would be: “bank”, “crane”, “bow”, “bat”, “fine”  and many others.




But that experience only can be acquired “living” with the language. For now, we only mention a few examples of notable and often used in Spanish:

Homonymous Words – Homographs
Word Meaning 1 Meaning 2
vino wine 3rd person sing. verb to come (comes)
arco segment of a circumference weapon that shoot the arrow
justa person that does actions with justice medieval tournament
pienso 1st person sing. verb to think (think) dry concentrated food for animals
vela wax candle sail
bote boat canister
aro ring 1st person sing. verb to plow (plow)
banco place to save money furniture used for seating
rio 1st person sing. verb to laugh (laugh) river

Homophonous Words.homonymous words

In the case of the homophonous, can give as an example the following words in English: “new” and “knew”, “here” and “hear” and “two” and “too.

In Spanish, we can take the following examples:

Homonymous words – Homophones
Word 1 Meaning 1 Word 2 Meaning 2
savia sap sabia wise
botar to throw votar to vote
herrar put the horseshoe errar err
cien one hundred sien temple
cocer to boil coser to sew
bello beatiful vello fuzz
baron baron varon male
hojear leaf through ojear to glimpse
halla find aya governess
rayo ray rallo grater

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exclamation and question marks

Exclamation and Question Marks . Two instead one.


Exclamation and Question Marks .

One of the questions that appear repeatedly among Spanish speakers who are learning to speak English and among English speakers who are learning to speak Spanish is the difference that have both languages on exclamation and question marks .



In both cases, the Spanish language makes use of signs at the beginning of the expressions, as well as the final signs that are the ones that are used in language English.

In fact, computer keyboards used to Spanish and English, are different, which is necessary because both types of initial signs that are used in Spanish, are signs with “upside down” with respect to the final signs. I.e., in Spanish we have “¿” and “?” for interrogation and “¡” and “!” for admiration.

In general, most of the time we accept these rules as a fact without asking us why, but as in most of the grammatical rules, there are explanations justifying why or not of use in both languages.

Signs of admiration or exclamation.

In the case of signs of admiration, the difference exists basically because the type of intonation used in both languages.exclamation and question marks

According to RAE, sentences that express emotions such as surprise, joy, enthusiasm, pleasure, sadness, outrage, regret, chagrin, disgust, rage, etc., should be enclosed from the beginning to the end between exclamation, requiring thus, for every phrase that expresses an emotion with different qualifiers.

¡Que linda es esa Muchacha!

How cute is that girl!

Ese olor es muy fuerte, ¡que desagradable!

That smell is very strong, how unpleasant!

¡Tramposo! ¡Deshonesto! ¡No jugare mas contigo!

Cheat! Dishonest! I won’t play with you anymore!

The other use in which the RAE specifies the use of them signs of admiration, is for the interjections or words exclamatory such as:

¡Hola!, Mi nombre es Alan.

Hello!, My name is Alan

¡Adiós! Nos vemos mañana.

Goodbye! See you tomorrow

¡Ay!, Me golpeaste en la cabeza.

Ouch! You hit me on the head

¡Oh! Disculpa, no me di cuenta.

Oh! Sorry, I didn’t realize



Question marks.

In the case of the question marks, the RAE also specifies the use to open and close the interrogative sentence, and although it does not refer exclamation and question marksto the comparison with the English language, clarifies that the intonation to ask begins since you first start to pronounce the sentence.

It is important to note, that unlike the English, syntax or form of construction of sentences in Spanish, allows the use of a same word order in sentences expressing assertion, question mark and exclamation, differing only by the intonation of the person talking.

Let’s see the use of exclamation and question marks with an example:

Tipo de Oración / Sentence Type
Afirmativa / Affirmative Interrogativa / Interrogative Exclamativa / Exclamatory
Tu tienes hambre

You are hungry

¿Tu tienes hambre?

Are you hungry?

¡Tu tienes hambre!

You are hungry!

Tu perro es negro

Your Dog is Black

¿Tu perro es negro?

Is your dog black?

¡Tu perro es negro!

Your dog is black!

Tu juegas beisbol

You play baseball

¿Tu juegas beisbol?

Do you play baseball?

¡Tu juegas beisbol!

You play baseball!

Important Tip:

In the case of both languages, speaking, intonation is enough to determine the type of sentence, but in the case of writing and reading, Spanish language requires the first exclamation and question marks to properly interpret the type of sentence.

In this latter case, English Speakers detected the sense questioning starting to read without initial signs, since according to the syntax of exclamation and question marksEnglish, question forms are:

  • Starting the sentence with the verb to be.
  • Starting the sentence with the words: Who, Whom, Whose, Why, What, Where, etc.
  • Starting the sentence with the auxiliary verbs: to do, to have, would, may, can, etc.

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Genders and Articles in Spanish Language


Genders and Articles

English is also simpler than the Spanish when referring to grammatical management of definite and indefinite Articles. However, in the case of Gender, it is the Spanish who, in some cases, simplifies things. Both concepts, genders and articles, will be explained below.

The Grammatical Gender:

It is called Gender to a grammatical feature they have, in Spanish language, nouns, articles, adjectives, participles and pronouns, which classifies them into two groups: masculine and feminine.

Lack of gender adverbs and verbs (except for participles) and certain number of particles have neuter gender.




Masculine and Feminine words:

Are masculine words in Spanish:

  • Most words that end in “o”, but also have masculine gender other words ending in other letters, such as “a” and “e”.
  •  Rivers, mountains, volcanoes, isthmuses, channels: el Nile, el Amazonas, los Himalayas.
  •  The cyclones, including hurricanes, typhoons and tropical storms: el Gustav, el Hanna.
  •  The months and days of the week.
  • Most of the winds (except for “la brisa“, the Breeze).
  • Musical notes: el la (la), el fa bemol (flat fa).
  • The augmentative finished in ‘on’ applied to things, even if they result from feminine word: el mesón  “the big table” (la mesa “table”), el notición “the big news” (la noticia “news”).
  • The names of the cardinal points: el Norte (North), el Sur (South), el Este (East) and el Oeste (West).
  • The numbers: el tres (three), el cinco (five), el 93.

Genders and Articles

Are Feminine words:

  • Most of the words that end in “a”. Also have feminine genre other words ending in other letters, such as “o” and “e”.
  • The letters: la hache (h), la “o”.

There are names ending in “a” which are sometimes masculine, sometimes feminine, according to the sense in which they are used: el Cura (priest), is masculine and feminine in the other meanings: la cura (cure), el cometa (comet) is masculine as celestial body, and feminine: la cometa (kite) as a toy for children.




Article Definition:

In Spanish, as in English, the Article is a type of grammatical element that identifies a substantive and accurate if it is determined or undetermined.

In the case of Determined Articles, which makes a very important difference is the magic word: “the“.

When we say that ‘the’ is a magic word, we refer, for example, because that is the only article of the English language, and is used for expressions of both genders and for the singular and the plural. Is required to use the following specific items in Spanish:

    • El: masculine singular → el perro esta ladrando → the dog is barking
    • La: feminine singular → la mañana está muy fría → the morning is very cold
    • Los: masculine plural → debo alimentar a los perros → I should feed the dogs
    • Las: feminine plural → Yo camino en las mañanas → I walk in the mornings

articles

Something similar happens with indeterminate or indefinite articles. As in English, used to refer to something not determined or undefined. Are used in English: “a” and “an” based on the first letter of the next word, to avoid phonetic difficulties, but its use is not dependent on gender or of number.

In Spanish, the indeterminate or indefinite articles are:

    • Un (masculine singular) → un hombre → a man
    • Una (feminine singular) → una mujer → a woman
    • Unos (masculine plural) → unos hombres → some men
    • Unas (feminine plural) → unas mujeres → some women

Spanish Verbs Software

Let us give you some examples for to illustrate about genders and Articles, making a comparison between Spanish and English substantives:

English

Spanish

The elephant

El elefante

The female elephant

La elefanta

The elephants

Los elefantes

The female elephants

Las elefantas

A female elephant

Una elefanta

An elephant

Un elefante

Some elephants

Unos elefantes

Some female elephants

Unas elefantas

  • Neutral Article: It has no gender and is used to nominalize adjectives or subordinate sentences that beginning with “que” and before adjectives that characterize a noun. In Spanish there is a neutral article “lo“, and in English appears again the magic word “the” and the word “what” to play the role of neutral Articles:
    • Quédate con lo bueno. → Stay with the good.
    • Llévate lo mejor. → Take the best.
    • Escoge lo que tú quieras. → Choose what you want.
    • Dime lo que piensas. → Tell me what you think.
  • Contract Article: is formed when the article “el” go together with the prepositions “a” (to) and “de” (from) when speaking of places or locations. In Spanish there are two items which contracts in both cases have an equivalent of the English expression formed by two words: “to the” and “from the“:
    • Al (a + el): Yo voy al cine a ver una película → I go to the cinema to see a movie

Nosotros vamos juntos al bosque → We go together to the forest

    • Del (de + el): Nosotros somos del Norte → We are from the North

Yo vengo del segundo piso → I come from the second floor

If you have any questions regarding Genders and Articles, contact us via e-mail or through the comments of the corresponding Post, and with great pleasure we will help you to clarify it.



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Substantives or Nouns, the Master Words.


Substantives or Nouns.

As in English, in Spanish there are also Substantives or Nouns to identify people, animals, places, things, and ideas. Nouns are grammatically more important element for several reasons which we will now see the two most important:

    • The noun is who runs the actions or verbs
    • In complete sentences, also receives the actions




We will see several sentences to reaffirm these concepts:

Peter sings very well. He is singing at the shower.

Peter loves operaOpera is a music that requires culture.

The dogs bark when Peter sings opera.

Proper Noun Peter

We have identified with the color red, all nouns of those sentences. As the reader can see, nouns were the executors of actions identified and were also used to identify people, animals, places, things and ideas.

Up to this point, we can say that both languages coincide totally in the concept and use of nouns. The revised concepts are basically those of proper noun and common noun and in our examples are identified in the following way:

Peter: Proper Noun. It indicates a person on an individual basis, differentiating it from others. It is written with a capital letter at the beginning.

Shower: Common noun. Indicates a place or location. Only is capitalized at the beginning of a sentence or in a title of a text Common name. Indicates a place or location. Only is capitalized at the beginning of a sentence or in a title of a text.

Opera, music, dogs: Common nouns that refer to things, ideas, and animals. Are only written with a capital letter at the beginning of a sentence or in a title of a text.

To delve into other classifications associated with nouns, let us look at the following table:

Substantives or common nouns. Other classifications.

Classified by

English

Español

Comments

Can or can’t be perceived by the senses

Concrete

Concreto

Same concept. No differences

Abstract

Abstracto

Can or can’t be counted

Count

Contable

Same concept. No differences

Noncount

Incontable

Used for groups

Collective

Colectivo

Same concept. No differences

Number

Singular

Singular

Same concept. Some differences

Plural

Plural

 




Are called concrete, substantives or nouns that identify elements that can be: seen, heard, tasted, smelled or touched. This classification also applies to the Spanish. Examples are:

arroz (rice), perro (dog), música (music), perfume (perfum), casa (house).

Obviously, the abstract are nouns that identify elements that exist, but may not be perceived by any of the five senses:

amor (love), política (politic), fuerza (force), conocimiento (knowledge).

Are called count substantives, nouns that apply to elements that can be physically counted for example:

perro (dog), piedra (rock), hombre (man), automóvil (car), lápiz (pencil).

The noncount, describes elements that can not be counted individually:

leche (milk), aire (air), agua (water), arena (sand).

In the case of collective and numbers, we believe that the best way to illustrate the definitions is with the following table:

Spanish

English

Spanish

English

Spanish

English

Spanish

English

Singular

Vaca

Cow

Jugador

Player

Soldado

Soldier

Alumno

Student

Plural

Vacas

Cows

Jugadores

Players

Soldados

Soldiers

Alumnos

Students

Collective

Rebaño

Herd

Equipo

Team

Ejercito

Army

Escuela

School

 

In this case, the most important rules to consider are the following:

In Spanish, Substantives or nouns that represent collective, are singular nouns and as such must use pronouns and verbs associated. The right thing is to say:

El Equipo juega bien (The Team plays good)

substantives or nouns team

 

and not:

El Equipo juegan bien (The Team play good)

With nouns finishes in vowel (a, e, i, o, u), normally the plural is formed by adding an “s” at the end:

libro (book) –libros (books)     mesa (table) – mesas (tables)

If the last letter of the noun is an “í” or a “ú” with tonic accent, add the “es” ending:

 jabalí (boar)– jabalíes (boars)     bambú (bamboo) – bambúes (bamboos)

With nouns finishes in consonant (d, l, r, z,…), normally the plural is formed by adding the ending “es”:

ordenador (computer) – ordenadores (computers)     animal (animal) – animales (animals)

It is important to note not to change the emphasis on the word, it may be necessary to add or remove a tilde when adding  “es” ending:

examen – exámenes     institución – instituciones

When add “es”, the “z” changes to “c”:

cruz (cross) – cruces (crosses)

With the nouns of nonspanish origin finishes in consonant, the plural is formed by adding “s” or “es”, any of them:

club (club)– clubs/clubes (clubs)

Exceptions

Substantives or Nouns with a final no tonic syllable end in “s” or “x” are unchanged:

el cactus – los cactus     el tórax (thorax)- los tórax (thorax)

But if the final syllable is tonic, the termination “es” shall be added:

autobús (bus) – autobuses (buses)

Most nouns have a singular form and the plural another:

elefante (elephant) – elefantes (elephants)    piscina (pool)– piscinas (pools)

Some are used only in the singular:

el dinero (money), el hambre (hunger)

Some are used only in the plural:

las gafas (lens), las tijeras (scissors), los pantalones (pants)

In these two last examples, the difference makes the grammatical element called Article, which we will see in subsequent Posts.



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accent

Accents in Spanish. Rules


In Spanish, as in English, the word accent has more than one interpretation. To not get into too deep grammatical issues, we can include the definition of accent in any of the following classifications:

Types of Accent:

Graphic accent: it is the sign of writing or “tilde” that is placed over the vowel letters for stand out the intonation of the voice over these.

Vowels with accent

Diacritic accent: the “tilde” used in certain vowels in some words it is to differentiate the meanings of the same word, either article, pronoun, preposition, conjunction, etc..

Lexical accent: it is the articulation of the voice to emphasize a syllable from the rest.

These three types of accent in Spanish, are summarized in one only when we seek their equivalence in English, and it is the term, grammatically speaking, stress (also known as emphasis or intonation). In fact, in a simplified manner, we can consider that in English only exists, the lexical accent.




The other interpretation which has the term accent, both in Spanish and English, is associated with sociolinguistics, and it is nothing more than the different intonations characteristic of one or more persons of a same origin, regions or countries, other than our own.

In this Post, we’ll only talk about the three grammatical accents and leave the issue of socio-linguistic accent for the Posts associated with the different ways in which, the Spanish-speaking people of different countries, speak Spanish.

Our Tips associated with the accentuation in Spanish are as follows:

    • In Spanish, as in English, the words can be classified according to syllable in which have the greater phonetic emphasis. The words that carry the intonation on the last syllable, are called “agudas” (oxytones), carrying the phonetic emphasis on the penultimate syllable are called “llanas” (paroxytones) and words which carry the phonetic emphasis in the antepenultimate syllable are called “esdrújulas” (proparoxytones).
    • Unlike in English, in Spanish there are words with phonetic emphasis on the preantepenultimate syllable and they are called “sobreesdrujulas”.




  • In English, it is more important to proper intonation of the stressed syllable in the sentence than in Spanish, where most importance is the emphasis on the syllable within the word. Moreover, the importance is accentuated by the ratio between the number of words of each kind in the Spanish vocabulary. The numbers are: 78% paroxytones (llanas), 18% in oxytones (agudas) and 4% between proparoxytones (esdrújulas and sobreesdrújulas). In English, this proportion is very different because there are very few oxytones and proparoxytones. The percentages are 94% paroxytones, 4% oxytones and 2% proparoxytones.
  • In Spanish, unlike English, there are many words that the meaning changes according to changes in the location of the stressed syllable. This happen at the point that there are numerous words of three syllables that have three different meanings depending on the syllable where they have the phonetic emphasis. Here you can see some examples:

Ánimo (mood)                        Animo (animate)                 Ani (encouraged)

brico (lubricious)               Lubrico (lubricate)             Lubri (lubricates)

Cálculo (calculation)              Calculo (calculate)              Calcu (calculated)

Práctico (practical)                 Practico (practice)               Practi (practiced)

  • To a lesser degree, but equally important, is the case of two-syllable words that change their meaning by varying the stressed syllable, whether or not they have graphic accent. For example:

papa (potato)                         pa (dad)

pelo (hair)                               pe (peeled)

bebe (drink)                            be (baby)

firme (firm)                             fir ( I signed)

  • An excellent summary of the rules of accentuation in Spanish (explained in English) can be found at the following Video:
  • Finally, we want to offer you a listing of the combinations of keys to press on your keyboard in English, to get the letters with accent making use of standard ASCII characters:

ALT + 160 = á

ALT + 130 = é

ALT + 161 = í

ALT + 162 = ó

ALT + 163 = ú

ALT + 164 = ñ

ALT + 165 = Ñ

ALT + 0193 = Á

ALT + 0201 = É

ALT + 0205 = Í

ALT + 0211 = Ó

ALT + 0218 = Ú



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