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English to Spanish Grammatics

A few notes about spanish grammatics

Nouns

Nouns are the naming words in a language; such as man, waiter, hotel, house, girl, flower. The important thing to remember about Spanish nouns is that they are either masculine or feminine (male or female). In other words, each Spanish noun falls into one of these two 'gender' categories.

MASCULINE NOUNS

i.e. el hombre (the man)
i.e. los hombres (the men)

NOTES ON MASCULINE NOUNS

In the singular, 'el' means 'the'
In the plural, 'los' means 'the'
The 's' on the noun (hombres) in the second example makes it plural

FEMININE NOUNS

i.e. la casa (the house)
i.e. las casas (the houses)

NOTES ON FEMININE NOUNS

In the singular, 'la' means 'the'
In the plural, 'las' means 'the'
The 's' on the noun (casas) in the second example makes it plural

NOTES ON ALL NOUNS

If the noun ends in a consonant, add 'es' in the plural.
EXAMPLES:
The hotel/s ... el hotel - los hoteles (masculine)
The flower/s ... la flor - las flores (feminine)

ADJECTIVES

Adjectives are the describing words in a language; such as red, big, attractive, new. The important thing to remember about Spanish adjectives is that they MUST AGREE with the nouns they describe. If the noun is masculine, so must its describing adjective. Similarly, if the noun is singular, so must the adjective be.

MASCULINE NOUNS PLUS ADJECTIVES

i.e. el hombre grande (the big man)
i.e. los hombres grandes (the big men)

i.e. el hospital nuevo (the new hospital)
i.e. los hospitales nuevos (the new hospitals)

FEMININE NOUNS PLUS ADJECTIVES

i.e. la casa roja (the red house)
i.e. las casas rojas (the red houses)

i.e. la tienda nueva (the new shop)
i.e. las tiendas nuevas (the new shops)

NOTES ON ADJECTIVES

put your adjective after the noun (in English we do it the other way round)
add 's' to make your adjective plural
change the 'o' on the end of the adjective to an 'a' to make it feminine

VERBS

Verbs are the 'doing' or 'action' words in a language; such as eat, drink, do, think, jump. Verbs in Spanish fall into the Irregular or Regular categories. Irregular verbs do not 'behave', but regular ones follow a standard formula. It's these we'll have a look at now.

There are 3 Groups of regular verbs, those which end in -ar, -er, and -ir.

Given that -ir verbs are less common in Spanish, we'll focus on -ar and - er.

Here's an example of a common -ar verb: HABLAR (to speak). It goes like this:

hablo - I speak
hablas - You speak
habla - He/She/It speaks
hablamos - We speak
hablaís - You speak (plural)
hablan - They speak

So, the trick is this. Take only the 'stem' of the verb (all except the last two letters) and add the following endings: o, as, a, amos, aís, an

Here's another example. FUMAR (to smoke)

fumo - I smoke
fumas - You smoke
fuma - He/She/It smokes
fumamos - We smoke
fumaís - You smoke (plural)
fuman - They smoke

Check out the endings! Just like the HABLAR example.

-er verbs are almost identical. Just alter the -a after the verb stem to an -e. Like this:

COMER (to eat)

como - I eat
comes - You eat
come - He/She/It eats
comemos - We eat
comeís - You eat (plural)
comen - They eat

We now know that VERBS are the 'doing' or 'action' words in a language; such as eat, drink, do, think, jump. We also know that verbs in Spanish fall into an Irregular or Regular category.

Time now to see what happens to IRREGULAR Verbs.

We'll look at the verb SER as a first example because it's the most important verb in Spanish (so many of the irregular verbs are those most commonly used in a language).

Trouble is, these verbs do not behave as we might hope - hence the tag 'irregular'. Just look what happens to this one:

SER 'To be'
Soy - I am
Eres - You are
Es - He is
Somos - We are
Sois - You are (plural)
Son - They are

You've got to memorise all the forms of these irregulars when you come across them because they contain little or no pattern to help you (unlike the formulaic regular verbs).

Anyway, SER is used to talk about origin and characteristics:

Soy de Londres (I am from London)
Soy inglés (I am English)

Have a look at this:

Eres inglés - You are English
Eres inglés? - Are you English?
No eres ingles - You are not English
No eres ingles? - Aren't you English?
Eres ingles, no? - You are English, aren't you?

Future Tense

Now to an irregular verb which is not only common; it is also used in a nice grammatical formula to express the future.

IR (to go) Voy - I go Vas - You go Va - He/She/It goes Vamos - We go Vais - You go (plural) Van - They go

It's an unusual looking verb alright, but try to get used to it because it'll enable you to talk about future events in Spanish, not just things happening in what's called the Present Simple tense (that's the one we've seen so far).

Before we see the Future in action, you might recognise 'Vamos!' ('Let's go!) They often use that one in the Western movies.

Look at this: Voy a hablar español - I am going to to speak Spanish. NOW WE ARE INTO THE FUTURE!!

It's all about following this formula: IR + A + INFINITIVE OF VERB (in the above example 'to speak')

Here's another example: Vas a comer patatas fritas? - Are you going to eat chips?

Returning to Vamos for a moment, check this one out: Vamos a tomar una cerveza! - We are going to drink a beer, or Let's drink a beer!

Questions - Communicating in a foreign language is often about Question and Answer, so let's check out how to form some common questions. We've already seen how easy it is to form basic questions in Spanish - just add a question mark and speak your sentence in the style of a question. For example: Estás bien - you are well ... ¿Estás bien? - are you well?

Here now are some of the common 'question words' (and how to pronounce them) used to start sentences in Spanish:

¿Cómo? komo how
¿Qué? kay what
¿Por qué? pour kay why
¿Cuál? kwal which
¿Cuándo? kwando when
¿Cuánto? kwanto how much
¿Cuántos? kwantoss how many
¿Quién? key-en who ¿Dónde? donday where

Here are a few in action:

¿Dónde estás? where are you?
¿Quién es? who is it?
¿Cuánto es? how much is it?
¿Cómo están? how are they?
By the way, do you like the upside-down ¿question mark? The Spanish language uses ¿ to denote where the question begins and ? to show where it ends. For example, "Buenós días, ¿Cómo estás?" Hello, how are you?

To do the upside-down question mark press ALT 168 on your keyboard.

Past Tense

We'll now look at the 'preterite' or 'past simple' tense. It's enough to call this more strightforwardly the Past Tense if you prefer. If you have been following the lessons carefully (and I know some of you have!) you should now be able to express yourself in the present and future tenses. So it's time to learn how to speak Spanish in the Past.

Is that difficult? Not really, but once again you have to learn the formula to apply to the verbs.

Here we go with a regular -ar verb, our old friend 'HABLAR', 'to speak':

Hablé - I spoke
Hablaste - You spoke
Habló - He/She/It spoke
Hablamos - We spoke
Hablasteís - You spoke (plural)
Hablaron - They spoke

NB Yes, the 1st person plural 'we' form looks exactly like the present 'we speak' Now an -er verb in the preterite: Comer - to eat

Comí - I ate
Comiste - You ate
Comió - He/She/It ate
Comimos - We ate
Comisteís - You ate (plural)
Comieron - They ate

Although the verb 'to eat' is irregular in English (we do not say 'eated') it is regular in Spanish. BUT - there's always a 'but' isn't there! - once again there are the irregular verbs in Spanish with forms all of their own in the preterite. Interestingly both SER and IR, two verbs we've explored previously, have exactly the same form in the preterite; one worth learning:

Fuí - I went/ I was
Fuiste - You went / You were
Fue - He/She/It went / was
Fuimos - We went / were
Fuisteís - You went / were (plural)
Fueron - They went / were