Foundations of Spanish/Basics Part 2
- (ellos) beben: (they) drink
- (la) carta: letter
- (el) diario: newspaper
- ellos: they or them (masculine)
- ellas: they or them (feminine)
- (el/ella) escribe: (he/she) writes
- (ellos/ellas) escriben: (they) write
- (tú) escribes: (you) write
- (nosotros) escribimos: (we) write
- (yo) escribo: (I) write
- hombres: men
- las: the (feminine plural)
- (yo) leo: (I) read
- (el/ella) lee: (he/she) reads
- (nosotros) leemos: (we) read
- (ellos/ellas) leen: (they) read
- (tú) lees: (you) read
- (el) libro: (the) book
- los: the (masculine plural)
- mujeres: women
- niñas: girls
- niños: boys or children
- nosotros: we (masculine)
- nosotras: we (feminine)
- persona: person
- (nosotros) somos: (we) are
- son: (they) are
- ustedes: you (plural, respectful)
- (el) vino: wine
The word diario looks like it should mean diary, but really means newspaper. This is called a false cognate (cognates are words like no where the meaning is easy to guess). You can remember diario by thinking about how a newspaper comes out daily, and día means day. (In fact, this is how a diary, which is theoretically written in every day, got its name.)
Gender of a Group
Groups are masculine, referred to using los and ellos, or feminine, referred to using las and ellas, depending on whether the members of the group are masculine or feminine. When a group is all masculine or all feminine, the gender of the group is what you would probably think, the same as the gender of its members.
Groups that are "mixed company" are also easy to classify, but the reason for the rule is not as obvious. The rule is that a mixed group is considered masculine. One way to look at it is that one masculine member of the group contaminates the group, causing the whole group to be considered masculine. Another way to look at it is that we often, in English, say "hey guys" to a mixed group, but not "hey girls."
Similarly, niños may refer to a group of boys, or to a group of children in general.
Groups and Verbs
In the previous chapter, we talked about subject-verb agreement. You might have noticed, though, that we only covered about half of it. We described how subjects and verbs can be in the first, second, or third person. They also can be singular or plural.
Here is how it works in English:
|First Person||I read||We read|
|Second Person||You read||You all read|
|Third Person||He/she reads||They read|
One reason this can be confusing for English speakers is English often uses the same word for many different forms of the verb.
In Spanish, we have:
|First Person||(Yo) leo||(Nosotros) leemos|
|Second Person||(Tú) lees||(Vosotros) leeís*|
|Third Person||(Él/ella) lee||(Ellos/ellas) leen|
- In some countries, this form is not used, and groups are referred to using Ustedes, which goes with third-person plural verbs, even if they are your close friends.
For a different verb, we have:
|First Person||(Yo) bebo||(Nosotros) bebemos|
|Second Person||(Tú) bebes||(Vosotros) bebeís|
|Third Person||(Él/ella) bebe||(Ellos/ellas) beben|
You can examine these two verb conjugation tables and form a guess about how verbs are conjugated—but, be aware that there is more than one pattern, so you don't have the whole story yet.
The lesson on plural nouns is still a few lessons away, but you can start thinking about how a plural noun is formed by studying this list. One pattern you may notice is not hard to guess.
- hombre, hombres
- mujer, mujeres
- niña, niñas
- niño, niños
Gender of a Plural Noun
Like other groups, plural nouns inherit their gender, from their singular form (which acts as a member of a group). So, hombres is masculine because hombre is masculine, and mujeres is feminine because mujer is feminine.
Suggested Writing Practice
- Try to guess what the plurals of carta, diario, libro, manzana, Usted, and persona will be, and look your guesses up in a dictionary to check. Then, write sentences using these plurals.