A sheer pleasure to have YOU as a reader of my blog. At present my main teaching area is English so you will find that most of my posts are in English -my second language of communication. I promise to publish posts related to Spanish eventually; in the meantime, those of you interested in Spanish will find some interesting links regarding my native language. Truly hope you will visit my blog now and then; will try not to disappoint you!


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GÄVLE, Sweden
I am an English/Spanish language trainer who thinks communication is a key issue in human interaction. Good sensible communication is needed whatever the language. On the personal side I strive for happiness by keeping love, respect and honesty as main ingredients. Last but not least, my smile is my trademark :O)

19 de septiembre de 2009

APRENDIENDO ESPAÑOL (1): Artículos (Articles)

Artículos indefinidos (indefinite articles)

un (masculine, singular) a/an unos (masculine, plural) some as equivalent
una (femenine, singular) a/an unas (feminine, plural) some as equivalent

We use the indefinite article to refer to a person or an object for the first time:

Es una casa. It’s a house.
Son unos libros de inglés. They’re some English books.
Un hombre vino a verte ayer. A man came to see you yesterday.

In English the indefinite article has only a singular form a (an when the next word starts with a vowel sound –note: vowel sound not vowel letter). We use either zero article or the determiner some (if we want to express indefinite quantity) when referring to either uncountable nouns or plural countable nouns. In Spanish we have a plural form of the indefinite article: unos/unas, which is used with plural countable nouns but we do not have an equivalent to some for uncountable nouns.

Son (unos) libros para el colegio. They’re some books for the school.
Hay leche en el frigorífico. There’s (some) milk in the fridge.
Hay (unos) huevos en el armario. There are some eggs in the cupboard.

Artículos definidos (definite articles)

el (masculine, singular) the los (masculine, plural) the
la (feminine, singular) the las (feminine, plural) the

We use the definite article to refer to someone or something that has been previously mentioned or it refers to a defined one:

Es un libro de español. Es el libro del alumno. It's a book of Spanish. It's the pupil's book.
El profesor no está en la clase. The teacher is not in the classroom.

The use of los, las when referring to things or people in general has the equivalent of zero article in English. Thus,

Me gustan las manzanas. I like apples.
Los elefantes son animales muy grandes.
Elephants are very big animals.


Contracciones: A + EL = AL

The preposition A (to as its equivalent) and the article EL are contracted as AL:

Vayamos al supermercado. Let's go to the supermarket.
Vayamos a la playa. Let's go to the beach.

The preposition DE (of/from as its equivalent) and the article EL are contracted as DEL:

Es del norte. He's from the north.
Es el perro del vecino. It's the neighbour's dog.

APRENDIENDO ESPAÑOL (1): Sustantivos o nombres (nouns)

Nouns in Spanish can be masculine or feminine and there is no fixed rule to know whether they are one or the other; unlike English in which nouns referring to male are he, nouns referring to female are she, and things and animals are considered neuter, it.

Therefore, un libro (a book) is masculine and una mesa (a table) is feminine.

In principle, all nouns ending in –o are masculine and all nouns ending in –a are feminine:

el libro (the book)
la casa (the house)
un abogado (a lawyer)

una abogada (a lawyer)

Unfortunately, the rule does not always apply, so:

un sofa (a sofa)

una mano (a hand)

Uncountable nouns starting with a- are made masculine, mainly because of pronunciation reasons:

el arroz (rice)
el aceite (oil)
el agua (water)

Nouns ending in –e and in consonant can be either masculine or feminine, or even both:

el coche (the car)

la leche (the milk)
el camión (the lorry)
la pared (the wall)
el/la cantante (the singer)

Nouns ending in –ista are both masculine and feminine:

el/la artista (the artist)
el/la periodista (the journalist)

So the student needs to learn this by heart and it is advisable to check the gender when we learn new nouns.

13 de septiembre de 2009

APRENDIENDO ESPAÑOL (1): Presente simple del verbo SER. Preguntar y negar.

Presente simple del verbo SER (verb to be, present simple tense)

Yo soy = I am
eres = You are
Él es =
He is
Ella es = She is
*Ello es =
It is
Usted es = You are (formal, addressing one person)

Nosotros, nosotras somos = We are
Vosotros, vosotras sois = You are
Ellos, ellas son = They are
Ustedes son = You are (formal, addressing more than one person)

Pronombres sujeto (Subject pronouns):

>> Subject pronouns are not obligatory when using a verb form. The ending of the verb form tells us what person we are talking about.

>> The subject pronoun forms of the second person are different as singular and vosotros, vosotras as plural.

>> When we address someone formally we use usted (singular) and ustedes (plural) but the verb form is that of the third person singular (es) or plural (son), respectively.

>> The subject pronoun ello corresponds to a neuter form but we hardly use it in Spanish together with the verb form.

>> The subject pronouns and él are written with a graphic accent (acento) so that we distinguish them from tu casa (possessive adjective) and el libro (definite article).

Usos del verbo SER (uses of the verb to be).

The verb BE has two different meanings in Spanish: ser o estar, which consequently complicates its learning by any Anglo-Saxon student. It is an irregular verb and as the verb ser it is used:

-> To identify yourself or other people:

Soy Begoña. I’m Begoña.
Él es Juan. He’s Juan.
Ustedes son los nuevos inquilinos.
You are the new tenants.

-> To say your occupation (no use of “a/an” in Spanish):

Soy profesora de inglés. I’m an English teacher.
Juan es mecánico.
John is a mechanic.

-> To say what it is or to talk about something or someone for the first time; we use the indefinite article –un, una, (a/an) unos, unas (which corresponds to the indefinite form some in English):

Es un libro. It is a book.
Son unos estudiantes muy buenos.
They are very good students.
Son unos zapatos para María.
They are some shoes for María.
Es una carta para Juan.
It is a letter for John.

-> To describe something or someone by using adjectives to give information about the subject:

Es blanco y muy grande. It’s white and very big.
Somos grandes amigos. We are great friends.
Son holandeses.
They are Dutch.
Es de madera.
It’s made of wood.
Es tarde. It’s late.
Estos estudiantes son muy altos.
These students are very tall.

-> To give more specific information about a subject, which or who has already been mentioned:

Es el libro de matemáticas. It’s the maths book.
Son unos zapatos; son los zapatos de María. They're some shoes; they're María’s shoes.
¿Qué es esto? Es el vestido para la boda. ¿Qué es esto? It’s the wedding dress.
Somos los padres de David.
We are David’s parents.
¿Es usted el nuevo profesor? Are you the new teacher?

→ Hacer preguntas en español (making questions in Spanish).

In Spanish we must write an opening question mark (¿) at the beginning of the question so as to indicate that we are making a question. This is mainly because there are no markers to show that what comes next is a question as we do in English by using auxiliaries –do, does, did-, or inverting subject and verb when using auxiliaries be and have.

¿Eres español? Are you Spanish?
¿Vienes conmigo? Are you coming with me?
¿Qué hora es? What time is it?
¿Cómo estás? ¿Qué tal? How are you?
¿Cuánto cuesta? How much does it cost?

The intonation of questions is the same as in English. We make a rising intonation for questions in which we want to confirm information, i.e. the answer will be or No; but we make a falling intonation for questions in which we are requesting information, i.e. starting with a wh-pronoun.

The wh-pronouns
(los pronombres interrogativos) in Spanish are:

¿Qué? What?
¿Quién? ¿Quiénes? Who? (singular and plural)
¿Dónde? Where?
¿Cuándo? When?
¿Cómo? How?
¿Por qué? Why? (*no interrogative Because… Porque…)
¿Cuánto, cuánta?
How much?
¿Cuántos, cuántas? How many?
¿De quién? Whose?

Notice that as interrogative pronouns they have a graphic accent; this is done to distinguish them from functioning as relative pronouns.

→ Hacer respuestas negativas o negar el verbo (making negative answers).

In Spanish we make the negative form of verbs by simply placing the negation no before the verb:

Él no es español. He isn’t Spanish.
No vamos a trabajar en coche. We don’t go to work by car.
No tienen coche. They don’t have a car.