Spanish grammar

Marianopolita

Moderator Spanish Forum
Dec 26, 2003
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This thread is to discus Spanish grammar. There should be no shortage of conversation since grammar in general is a broad topic. I know for some people grammar in any language is a nightmare and for others it is a very interesting topic.





Specific to Spanish:

1) What do you find easy?
2) What do find difficult?
3) Is grammar important to you when you speak Spanish?
4) If you live in the DR how would you compare the grammar of Dominicans vs. the grammar of speakers from other countries?



-MP.
 

Derfish

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Jan 7, 2016
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One construct I have never figured out is the conditional in Spanish. If I had known you were coming I would have baked a cake. If I had believed he would be elected I would have killed myself before hand. That type of sentences.
Der Fish
 

Chirimoya

Moderator - East Coast & Headline News
Dec 9, 2002
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When I translate into Spanish I have to work with an editor because it is not my first language.
I struggle with the conditional too (e.g. should it be "hubiera" or "hubiese"?), but my main issues are with the subjunctive, gender agreement (sometimes) and some things that still don't come automatically as they would do for a native speaker, like when to use "fue" or "era".
 
Aug 6, 2006
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One construct I have never figured out is the conditional in Spanish. If I had known you were coming I would have baked a cake. If I had believed he would be elected I would have killed myself before hand.
If I had believed he would be elected I would have killed myself before hand.
Si hubiera cre?do que saldr?a electo, me habr?a matado de antemano.
These are called conditional sentences. they consist of two parts: the condition and the result.
the verb in the condition part (after the word si) is in the past subjunctive tense.
The verb in the result clause is in the conditional tense.

Si hubiera sabido que venias, (te) habr?a horneado un pastel.
No har?a eso si fuera Ud. I wouldn't do that if I were you.

Luckily the FUTURE SUBJUNCTIVE is rarely used by anyone, except in the set phrase 'Fuere lo que fuere.' (Be that as it may.)

If the action of the verb in the conditional part has not happened, then you use the past subjunctive tense of the verb closest to the word si. (Si without an accent n[means if; with an accent, it means yes)
The result clause used the conditional tense that has ?a un it.
Whether you use the -ra form of the past subjunctive or the ese form, the meaning is the same.
Most Latin Americans do not use the -ese form (fuese, hubiese, estuviese) form.
In Spanish you will sometimes hear people use the -ese form in the -ese form in the condition part and the -ra form in the result clause.
If the action is really happening, then you use the present tense.
If he comes, I always bake him a cake.
Si viene, le hago un pastel siempre.
I have noticed that "to bake" is more often hacer or preparar than hornear.
Ovens in much of Latin America in my experience, are not used very often, except for storing pots and pans.

The phrase If I knew you were coming I would have baked a cake. is from an old song that I have never heard anyone sing in Spanish.

The present subjunctive (sea, haya, est?) is NEVER used in conditional sentences.
 
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Marianopolita

Moderator Spanish Forum
Dec 26, 2003
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One construct I have never figured out is the conditional in Spanish. If I had known you were coming I would have baked a cake. If I had believed he would be elected I would have killed myself before hand. That type of sentences.
Der Fish
Look up if clauses in Spanish. It is a grammatical construction that is studied that involves the subjunctive. For example, si me hubieras dicho no te habr?a llamado. This construction has a grammatical pattern and the rule of the sequence of tenses applies too.


When I translate into Spanish I have to work with an editor because it is not my first language.
I struggle with the conditional too (e.g. should it be "hubiera" or "hubiese"?), but my main issues are with the subjunctive, gender agreement (sometimes) and some things that still don't come automatically as they would do for a native speaker, like when to use "fue" or "era".

The –iera, and -iese endings of imperfect subjunctive mean the same. Both forms are used although the –iera form is much more common. In my experience, I see the –iese form used quite a bit in literature and writing but very selectively in the spoken language.

Fue and era can be a bit tricky to determine which one to use over the other. However, there is a distinction. If you are describing something in the past or referring to a repeated action in the past then it would be era. If you are referring to a completed action in the past or a specific moment in time and a completed action then it would be fue. The context is key with these two past tenses and sometimes one over the other changes the nuance completely.

I think the subjunctive intimidates people more than it should but the usage makes a lot of sense if you really study it in Spanish. If you start to study and listen to how it is used in the spoken language and how often, it is amazing how many don’t master this grammar point. However, don’t give up in addition to studying it, observing the usage when listening to the spoken language daily will help. Also if you hear it used and you don’t know why question it because it will help you to understand it better.


-MP.
 

Chirimoya

Moderator - East Coast & Headline News
Dec 9, 2002
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Thanks for the clarification about -iera/-iese.
For fue/era and the subjunctive I definitely need to keep revisiting the rules because these are some of the things that still don't come to me intuitively.
 

Blueceo

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Nov 1, 2015
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Being a Gringo who can speak spanish (very rare in the U.S.) I only worry if the spanish speaker can understand me and I can understand them. As far as all the complexities of the Spanish language I don't have enough time or patience to learn them. I'm just thrilled I can communicate and leave it at that.
 

Lucifer

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Jun 26, 2012
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I'm such a grouchy grammarian: I once judged a book by its cover.

Well, not by its cover, but by the its preface: over 30 grammatical errors, and written by a college professor to boot!

Too bad, as the book is about Hig?ey, and I've met--or have heard of--most of the folks covered in it.
 

Marianopolita

Moderator Spanish Forum
Dec 26, 2003
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Thanks for the clarification about -iera/-iese.
For fue/era and the subjunctive I definitely need to keep revisiting the rules because these are some of the things that still don't come to me intuitively.
No problem Chiri. My pleasure.

Studying will definitely make a difference and ask questions if you don't understand. Grammar in any language can be complex depending on the topic. As well, many forget to use the newspaper as a free language learning resource. Read a paragraph a day with the purpose of analyzing the grammar. Highlight the verbs and look at the tenses. Ask yourself if you understand why the imperfect was used vs the preterit tense, why the subjunctive mood and not the indicative. Look at the subject/ verb agreement, observe the concordance of nouns and adjectives etc. You will only gain and not lose and of course the best papers are the ones recommended for this type of exercise.

I found a nice example for you today:


Caracas, Venezuela | AFP -El exjefe de gobierno espa?ol Jos? Luis Rodr?guez Zapatero celebr? este lunes que las multitudinarias marchas del pasado jueves en Venezuela fuesen pac?ficas, en una nueva visita al pa?s petrolero para mediar en busca de un di?logo entre gobierno y oposici?n sobre la crisis pol?tica.

Eran movilizaciones muy importantes y no hubo pr?cticamente ning?n incidente serio, lo cual es muy, muy importante”, declar? Rodr?guez Zapatero al canal Telesur a su llegada al aeropuerto internacional de Maiquet?a, que sirve a Caracas
http://psn.si/2016/09/rodriguez-zapatero-llega-a-venezuela-celebra-tranquilidad-marchas/


Being a Gringo who can speak spanish (very rare in the U.S.) I only worry if the spanish speaker can understand me and I can understand them. As far as all the complexities of the Spanish language I don't have enough time or patience to learn them. I'm just thrilled I can communicate and leave it at that.
Fair enough and if works for you even better. I have heard many say this. They are just looking to communicate.

I'm such a grouchy grammarian: I once judged a book by its cover.

Well, not by its cover, but by the its preface: over 30 grammatical errors, and written by a college professor to boot!

Too bad, as the book is about Hig?ey, and I've met--or have heard of--most of the folks covered in it.

This was a Spanish book right? That many errors in the preface is alarming. I would not want read the book because it makes reading it challenging. However, I resolve that problem by looking at the publishing company. They are responsible or should be for doing a good job at editing a novel before it's published. Not only do I try to learn about authors before deciding to read their novels, I also look at the publisher. Ones like Alfaguara (top notch), Planeta (top notch), Santillana (top notch), and Anagrama (excellent) are recommended. If the author is good so is the publishing company in most cases.


-MP.
 
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Aug 6, 2006
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Part of the difficulty that English speakers have is that English grammar has not really been taught in US schools for many years. Spanish Grammar is a lot less complicated than English Grammar, because Spanish is a true Romance language and English is a mishmash of two Romance languages, Latin and French with several Germanic languages (Saxon, Old English and Danish)
If you have any affection for language at all, this excellent book will help. It does not matter the edition, so buy it used and save a few bucks.

https://www.amazon.com/English-Grammar-Students-Spanish-Spinelli/dp/0934034222

I guarantee you will have many "Aha" moments as you read through it and say So THAT is how it works!
That is what I said, after I bought this, and at the time, I had completed my PhD in Spanish. Spinelli is a GREAT teacher.
 

Fulano2

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Jun 5, 2011
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Part of the difficulty that English speakers have is that English grammar has not really been taught in US schools for many years. Spanish Grammar is a lot less complicated than English Grammar, because Spanish is a true Romance language and English is a mishmash of two Romance languages, Latin and French with several Germanic languages (Saxon, Old English and Danish)
If you have any affection for language at all, this excellent book will help. It does not matter the edition, so buy it used and save a few bucks.

https://www.amazon.com/English-Grammar-Students-Spanish-Spinelli/dp/0934034222

I guarantee you will have many "Aha" moments as you read through it and say So THAT is how it works!
That is what I said, after I bought this, and at the time, I had completed my PhD in Spanish. Spinelli is a GREAT teacher.
Another problem imho for americans and other englishspeakers is not being used to hear nor speak other languages, which is easy to explain, english is a universal language.
Anyway in addition to that great book Xavier mentioned I would suggest this one as well:

https://www.amazon.com/Spanish-Verb...=1473233812&sr=1-2&keywords=500+spanish+verbs
 

Fulano2

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Jun 5, 2011
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I speak Spanish for 30+ years now and even teached it but still have it on the shelf, with hongo...a bit.
 

drstock

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Oct 29, 2010
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Spanish Grammar is a lot less complicated than English Grammar, because Spanish is a true Romance language and English is a mishmash of two Romance languages, Latin and French with several Germanic languages (Saxon, Old English and Danish)
It always seems to me that English grammar is easier than Spanish because you hardly have to decline verbs, the tenses are easier, most words are neutral gender, there is only one "to be" verb and the subjunctive is hardly used. English does have a lot of irregular verbs, but so does Spanish. To me, it seems that where English is more difficult is in spelling, where there are few rules. Just take the example of the many ways OUGH can be pronounced.
 

Africaida

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Jun 19, 2009
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Probably late to the party

This thread is to discus Spanish grammar. There should be no shortage of conversation since grammar in general is a broad topic. I know for some people grammar in any language is a nightmare and for others it is a very interesting topic.





Specific to Spanish:

1) What do you find easy?
2) What do find difficult?
3) Is grammar important to you when you speak Spanish?
4) If you live in the DR how would you compare the grammar of Dominicans vs. the grammar of speakers from other countries?



-MP.
1) I am not sure what I find easy. I know I have it easier than speaker coming from non-latin languages.

2) My pet peeve is EL SUBJONTIVO.....but, but, I think i am getting there. I had to study it (again !), and it is starting to come more naturally.

3) Grammar is important to me, because it is the back bone of a language. I am not trying to be just understood, it is always nice to be able to convey some substility in the conversation or even joke around. It is especially important to me as many Spanish speakers are from countries that are very social which I am.

4) I dont really compare, but I assume that they would be comparable accross for similar levels of education.
 

Marianopolita

Moderator Spanish Forum
Dec 26, 2003
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398
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501 verbs book in post #12

I think verbs books like 501 Spanish Verbs are good but ones that require that students to do verb drills are even better. It is easy to look at verb conjugations and get the answer you need. However, you need to understand and know how those conjugations are formed. In the middle of a conversation one is not going to be able to look at a verb book thus having it as a reference is a good compliment to knowledge already gained.

Verbs drills help students learn the tenses and conjugations. Some practice exercises look like this:

Indicative mood


Present tense
*


Caminar (yo) ___camino______
*
Hablar (t?) _____hablas___________
*
Decir (nosotros) ____decimos_______
*
Venir (ellos) ____vienen _________
*
Tener (?l) _____tiene________
*
*
Imperfect tense
*


Pensar (t?) _____pensabas__________
*
Caminar (ella) ___caminaba_________
*
Ir (yo) _____iba___________
*
Mandar (ellos) _____mandaban______
*
Dar (ella) _____daba_________
*
*
I just typed these as I responded in the thread but of course there are many more examples. It is recommended to learn how the verb conjugations are formed.
*
Regarding the English grammar vs. Spanish grammar difficulty debate I think Spanish grammar in general is harder but much more systematic. Whereas, English has its share of difficulty the grammar has less complexities but the phonetics and rules of accentuation (stress) don’t follow a pattern and therefore makes it challenging to learn.
*
Some common grammar challenges for those learning Spanish are:
*
Ser and Estar
Por and Para
The Subjunctive
Verb tenses and correct conjugation
Command forms- for example- habla, hable, hablemos, hablen (even more difficult for those who are in a country trying to learn and the s is dropped. Then the t? form makes no sense to those learning unless they study the grammar of the language)


-MP.
 
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Marianopolita

Moderator Spanish Forum
Dec 26, 2003
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1) I am not sure what I find easy. I know I have it easier than speaker coming from non-latin languages.
Yes, I agree. The grammatical patterns are very similar and even identical in some cases. You definitely have an advantage. You just have to transfer your knowledge from language to another.


2) My pet peeve is EL SUBJONTIVO.....but, but, I think i am getting there. I had to study it (again !), and it is starting to come more naturally.
I know the subjunctive challenges you but it's alive and well in French too. However, in Spanish it's very widely used and very much part of the grammar of the language. If you want to speak well it includes learning the subjunctive. Languages evolve but in my opinion the subjunctive in Spanish is not going away anytime soon.

3) Grammar is important to me, because it is the back bone of a language. I am not trying to be just understood, it is always nice to be able to convey some substility in the conversation or even joke around. It is especially important to me as many Spanish speakers are from countries that are very social which I am.
Yes, I agree totally. Your first statement is right on. Grammar is key and to have improper grammar limits your ability not only to speak but as you said to convey certain ideas or nuances via subtlety and jokes. I think it's possible to speak well and equally in more than one language. People who believe this usually achieve it.


4)
I dont really compare, but I assume that they would be comparable accross for similar levels of education.
I understand your point and it's valid. Education plays a huge role in proper speech. I have heard some really interesting levels of speech in the Spanish-speaking world. Makes me all the more curious as to why it varies so much but interesting to observe and this includes accents as well.


-MP.
 

Marianopolita

Moderator Spanish Forum
Dec 26, 2003
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398
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Here is a good online resource for grammar, reading and other language related topics. There's something for each level- beginner, intermediate and advanced.

This link came up when I was looking for more resources to post about the subjunctive for anyone who is interested in tackling a grammar topic that challenges many who are learning Spanish regardless of the level. Once again the newspaper is a great way to observe the usage of the subjunctive in Spanish. If you read an article or a paragraph a day highlight every verb in the subjunctive and then go back analyze why it was used. It may seem tedious at first but as your understanding becomes better it gets easier.


http://www.livingspanish.com/spanish-grammar



-MP.