Archive for the Spanish Grammar Category

Spanish Noun: Magnate, milmillonario

Saturday, March 13th, 2010 | Permalink

Spanish Noun: Magnate, milmillonario

Pronunciation: Mahg-nahn-tay, meel-mee-yoh-nah-reeoh

Translation: Magnate, billionaire

Function: Nouns

There are gradations is Spanish too for the very rich, so magnate doesn’t change: ‘magnate’, a billionaire is a ‘milmillonario’ (still to be widely accepted), a multi-millionaire is a ‘multimillonario’ and a millionaire a ‘millonario’

‘Milenario’ has nothing to do with money, but with time: it means “millennial”.

Example:

Ahora es un millonaria… antes de 2007 era multimillonaria

Translation:

She is now a millionaire… before 2007 she was a multimillionaire

Spanish Nouns: Los dedos

Thursday, March 11th, 2010 | Permalink

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Spanish Nouns: Los dedos

Pronunciation: Lohs day-dohs

Translation: The fingers

Function: Nouns

Fingers in Spanish have special names too: the thumb is ‘el pulgar’, the index is ‘el índice´, the middle is ‘el cordial’ [related to the heart], the ring is the ‘anular’ [for the 'anillo'] the little finger is the ‘meñique’ or ‘auricular’ [because some people use it for ear (áurícula’) cleaning]

There are informal names too, as ‘el dedo gordo’ [the fat finger] for the thumb, and ‘el dedo chiquito’ [the little finger] for the little one.

Example:

Se fracturó su meñique

Translation:

He fractured his little finger

Spanish Adverb: Antaño

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010 | Permalink

Spanish Adverb: Antaño

Pronunciation: Ahn-tah-nyoh

Translation: Times gone

Function: Adverb

‘Antaño’ is a very old word about very old times, and gives Spanish sentences the flavor of times gone past: ‘Ya no hacen vinos como los de antaño’ [they don´t make wines as in the old times] If you find it resembles the word ‘año’ [year], you are right, they are related: ‘antaño’ comes from ‘ante-’ [before -] and ‘año’ [year]

‘Como en antaño’ is very much in use, but the ‘en’ is out of place: ‘como antaño’ (‘como antes’) is the right way to use this word.

Example:

Las mujeres de antaño no podían estudiar en las universidades.

Translation:

In the old times, women couldn´t study in universities.

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Spanish Adjective: Bien

Sunday, March 7th, 2010 | Permalink

Spanish Adjective: Bien

Pronunciation: Bee-ayn

Translation: Very

Function: Adjective

‘Bien’ [good] has a second meaning: [very] and it is very much alive in the Spanish language. You can find in food praising ‘está bien rico’ [it is very tasty] or -for example- in the time of day: ‘ya es bien tarde’ [it is very late already]

This adjective works very much like the word “well”, but it has to appear before the adjective to function as “very” -and praising something too-

Example:

Es un muchacho bien malo

Translation:

He is a very bad boy

Spanish Noun: Sabio

Friday, March 5th, 2010 | Permalink

Spanish Noun: Sabio

Translation: Wise and educated

Function: Noun

One who has both talent and knowledge, and also gets to produce new ideas is known in Spanish as ‘sabio’. Sometimes the word is mistakenly used as ‘erudito’ [erudite], but this last word means knowing many things about many topics, not necessarily related with one another.

Also, if you get to know about somebody who knows a great deal about one subject, but doesn´t produce that many new ideas, you can call him/her ‘docto’ [taught]

Example:

No solo era erudita sino sabia también

Translation:

Not only did she was an erudite, but a wise woman as well

Spanish Noun: Dolencia

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010 | Permalink

Spanish Noun: Dolencia

Pronunciation: Doh-layn-ceeah

Translation: Ailment

Function: Noun

‘Dolencia’ comes from Spanish ‘dolor’ [pain] and it is used frequently instead of ‘enfermedad’ [sickness]. In case it comes across, you should find out whether or not a pain is involved.

Should pain be out of the picture, you must take it as ‘ sickness’, not as a suffering pain.

Example:

Esa dolencia tiene más de un mes con él

Translation:

He has had that ailment for more than a month

Spanish Noun: Moral

Monday, March 1st, 2010 | Permalink

Spanish Noun: Moral

Pronunciation: Moh-rahl

Translation: Moral

Function: Noun

In Spanish, this word has a clear different meaning than ‘ética’ [ethics], as ´moral’ refers to a way to achieve the ethical principles. The first is about practice and the second about theory.

Furthermore; ‘Moral’ is taken in Spanish as a series of ‘modos’ [ways] and ´etica’ as a series of principles.

Example:

Ética

Translation:

Ethics

Spanish Noun: Lengua

Saturday, February 27th, 2010 | Permalink

Spanish Noun: Lengua

Pronunciation: Layn-gooah

Translation: Tongue

Function: Noun

‘Lengua’ is frequently translated as “tongue”, “language” or “idiom”, but it should be used just for the first two, as “language” is related to ‘Lenguaje’, and the Spanish signification is associated with an individual practice: each person has his or her own language.

A nation has a ‘lengua’ and each one of its citizens, has a version of her own: her ‘lenguaje’. In English that is not the case. Both tongue and language refer to the same set of symbols.

Example:

Es una lengua muy rica en adjetivos

Translation:

It is a tongue very rich in adjectives.

Spanish Noun: Disculpas

Thursday, February 25th, 2010 | Permalink

Spanish Noun: Disculpas

Pronunciation: Dees-cool-pahs

Translation: Apologies

Function: Noun

When it comes the time to apologize in Spanish don’t use ‘me disculpo’ [I apologize myself] or ‘Doy una disculpa’ [I give an apology], because apologies are, like in English, offered… and they could even be rejected.

‘Ofrezco una disculpa’ [I offer an apology] is the right way to do apologize in Spanish, although you might find some countries in America where the wrong-way form ‘pido una disculpa’ is used the most.

Example:

Por favor acepte mis disculpas

Translation:

Please accept my apologies

Spanish Noun: Cometa

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010 | Permalink

Spanish Noun: Cometa

Pronunciation: Koh-may-tah

Translation: Comet

Function: Noun

‘Cometa’ can be translated straightforwardly as “ comet”, but it could also mean “kite” in both Spain and America. The context will tell you what people are talking about.

There are still more terms for ‘Cometa’ as a kite too, at least in some Latin-America countries: ‘papalote’ and ‘papagayo’ are the words used in Mexico and some Central American nations. In America you will find them as ‘barriletes’

Example:

Papalote

Translation:

Kite

Spanish Noun: Software

Sunday, February 21st, 2010 | Permalink

Spanish Noun: Software

Pronunciation: Sohft-wah-ray

Translation: Software

Function: Noun

Words with no Spanish counterpart are rare, but “Software” is one of them. ´Programa´ [program] is not the right translation, as software means also the data of those programs. To makes things harder, there is also software in other areas different from computer science, as in the musical field.

It is an intangible and it relates only to the information: the ordered elements of code or musical notes existing in a hard disk or CD. That is the reason you will find the word in Spanish untranslated. Don’t try to find a translation. And then… there is yet one neighbor: “Hardware”.

Example:

Hardware

Translation:

Hardware

Spanish Word: Comidas

Friday, February 19th, 2010 | Permalink

Spanish Word: Comidas

Pronunciation: Coh-mee-dahs

Translation: foods

Function: Usage

Beware when asking for fruits and some vegetables in Latin-America or Spain. They may look the same, but their local names can vary: USA’s zucchini is known as ‘calabacin’ is Spain, ‘calabacita’ in Mexico, ‘zuquini’ in Bolivia, and many more instances -almost one different per country-

The same goes for beans of Latin-American: ‘frijoles, frijoles, frejoles y porotos’, they all are ‘judías’ in Spain. The same goes for some fruits, like South-American ‘damascos’, a.k.a. ‘chabacano’ in Mexico and ‘albaricoque’ in cuba or Peru.

Example:

Maíz, Elote

Translation:

Corn

Spanish Preposition: A

Monday, February 8th, 2010 | Permalink

Spanish Preposition: A

Pronunciation: Ah

Translation: To

Function: Preposition

This preposition is a tricky one, even for locals, because its use is ‘multimodal’ [multiple modes] One of the most important ones is to indicate who is receiving from who, i.e. in ‘el perro persigue al gato’ [the dog is after the cat] if you take it away you’ll get: ‘el perro persigue el gato’, and you can’t tell who is after who.

Sometimes you have to “take the ‘a’ away”, as in: ‘Antonio busca un sastre’ [Anthony is looking for a tailor] because if you add the ‘a’, as in ‘Antonio busca a un sastre’, then it means he is looking for a certain tailor he knows. In these instances ‘a’ gives personification to whatever follows.

Example:

Prefiero un albañil a un plomero

Translation:

I prefer a mason to a plumber.

Spanish Adverb: Abajo, bajo

Saturday, February 6th, 2010 | Permalink

Spanish Adverb: Abajo, bajo

Pronunciation: Ah-bah-joh

Translation: Below, under

Function: Adverb

‘Hacia un lugar inferior’ [toward a place below] is what ‘Abajo’ means -when paired with movement verbs, as in: ‘nadó aguas abajo’ [swam downstream]. If the associated verb doesn’t mean movement, then it has a sense of a place below: “Está allá abajo’ [he is below]

Without the ever important “movement” prefix ‘a’, ‘bajo’ can function as the “down” adverb: ‘a un volumen bajo’ [at a lower volume]. When it appears after a noun, it means in the lowest part: ‘río abajo’ [down river]

Example:

Voy abajo

Translation:

I am going below

Spanish Adverb: Donde, adonde

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010 | Permalink

Spanish Adverb: Donde, adonde

Pronunciation: Dohn-day, Ah-dohn-day

Translation: Where, to where

Function: Adverb

The ‘Donde’ [where] and ‘adonde’ [to where] difference is on movement: the second one is used when the action starts at someplace and ends somewhere else, as in ‘El almacén donde compramos tu traje’ [The store where we bought your suit]

When using these words in the interrogative form, don´t forget an ‘acento’ is in order: ‘¿en dónde vives?’ [where do you live?] ‘¿adónde fuiste?’ [where did you go?]

Example:

El lugar adonde van

Translation:

The place where you are going to

Spanish Adverb: Ahí, allí

Sunday, January 31st, 2010 | Permalink

Spanish Adverb: Ahí, allí

Pronunciation: Aee, a-yee

Translation: There, over there

Function: Adverb

Don’t get confused by ‘ahí’ and ‘allí’, just because they don´t have direct equivalents in English. They form a group with the word ‘aquí’ [here], that is: ‘aquí, ahí, allí’. They refer to something either close to the speaker, closer to the listener or far from both.

Although English doesn´t have the third one, English speakers manage by adding “over” when talking about something far from both speaker and listener, as in “over there”, the ‘ahí’ counterpart.

Example:

Llévalo de aquí a allí

Translation:

Take it from here to over there

Spanish Word: Si

Friday, January 29th, 2010 | Permalink

Spanish Word: Si

Pronunciation: See

Translation: If

Function: Conditional

Even if you think ‘acentos’ [diacritical stress marks] can be spared, you should keep an eye on using at least the most frequent ones, as Spanish speakers are used to exploit this “visual resource” to make reading faster. This is especially true when ‘homónimos’ [homonimous] are present.

‘Homónimos’ are words that sound the same, but have different meanings. The example below has two pairs: ‘si’-'sí’ [if-yes] and ‘tú’-'tu’ [you-your]

Example:

Si tú le dices “sí” a tu padre

Translation:

If you tell “yes” to your father

Spanish Word: Voz activa

Monday, January 25th, 2010 | Permalink

Spanish Word: Voz activa

Pronunciation: Bohs pah-see-bah

Translation: Active voice

Function:
Usage

Your Spanish will sound more Castilian if you try your sentences to go from the active subject to the passive one, as opposed to the English sentence construction, where the subject receiving the verb action goes first more often.

You can say ‘Troya fue sitiada por los griegos’ following English construction: “Troy was besieged by the greeks” or you can say ‘Los griegos sitiaron Troya’ [The Greeks besieged Troy], in the so called “active voice”: the “Castilian way”.

Example:

Todo el auditorio aclamó tu discurso

Translation:

Your speech was acclaimed by the whole auditorium

Spanish Noun: Castellano

Thursday, January 21st, 2010 | Permalink

Spanish Noun: Castellano

Pronunciation: Cahs-tay-llah-noh

Translation: Castilian

Function: Noun

Some people in Spain prefer to use this word instead of “Spanish”, when it comes to talk about their language; and this is because there are in the country some bilingual regions, with a language of their own. As ‘Castilla’ prevailed militarily and politically over the other provinces, its language became the official tongue in the country… but the other ones are not forgotten.

In the rest of the world, you can use ‘Español’ or, with more detail: ‘Español castellano’ [Castilian Spanish]. In linguistics, there is yet another denomination: ‘Español de España’ as opposed to ‘Español de México’ or another Latin-America country. This is important for the foreigner, as some “bad words” are normal words in other countries.

Example:

¿Habla castellano?

Translation:

Do you speak castilian?

Spanish Noun: Gente

Sunday, January 17th, 2010 | Permalink

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Spanish Noun: Gente Pronunciation: Gayn-tay Translation: People Function: Noun Using ‘gente’ (a collective) when talking abou a single person might be wrong, but people in Spain often do, i.e. ‘Ví una gente en el corredor’ [I saw somebody on the hall]. Latin-Americans try not to do it, as the word is defined as a group of persons. You can use ‘gente’ for both “people” and “a person”, but try not to do it in Latin-America, where you should try to use ‘una persona’ [a person] or ‘alguien’ [somebody] instead. Example: – ¿Quién lo dice? – La gente Translation: – Who says? – People

Spanish Interjecciones : ¡Ah!, ¡Eh!, ¡Ojalá!

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009 | Permalink

Spanish Interjecciones (Interjection): ¡Ah!, ¡Eh!, ¡Ojalá!

Pronunciation: Ah, Ayh, Ohhah-lah

Translation: Interjections ¡Ah!, ¡Eh!, ¡God willing!

Function: Interjection

Interjections in Spanish, as in English, are used to show surprise, disagreement, even pain. Generally speaking, you can use ‘Ojalá’ and all the vowels: ah, eh, i, oh, uh (although ‘i’ is not an official one, but is used to show disbelief, just the same as English ‘So?’)

‘Ojalá’ is pretty much used as ‘god willing’ is used in English, but it lacks the religious feeling of its English counterpart. The vowels are followed by an ‘h’ when written: ‘ah’, ‘eh’, ‘oh’ and ‘uh’; they show surprise, estrangement, shock and disbelief, respectively (if you want to sound Caribbean and show an interested surprise, say the one Bart Simpson uses: ¡Caramba!)

Example:

¡Ojalá esté aquí en el verano’

Translation:

God willing, he´ll be here in summer

Spanish Preposition: En

Sunday, September 27th, 2009 | Permalink

Spanish Preposition: En

Pronunciation: Ayn

Translation: On, in, at

Function: Preposition

You can use ‘en’ as a wild card when you are in a hurry or just don’t remember the exact preposition to use when something is «on», «in» or «at» something.

Foreigners can take advantage of ‘en’ being acceptable as a substitute for ‘encima’ [on], ‘dentro’ [in] or even the adverb ‘ubicado’ [at]. English is clearly mucho stricter when it comes to these prepositions.

Example:

En la caja

Translation:

In the box

 

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