Spanish/Lesson 5

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Grammar - Questions

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Unlike English, yes/no questions in Spanish are not usually formed by switching the position of subject and verb (if the subject is explicit). To recognize a sentence as affirmative or as a question one must pay attention to the intonation pattern. Unlike English, Spanish uses a reversed question mark (¿) at the beginning of a question:

Tú eres de México. You are from Mexico.
Eres de México. You are from Mexico.


¿Tú eres de México? Are you from Mexico?
¿Eres de México? Are you from Mexico?

For other type of questions Spanish uses the following question words (note that all of them have an accent in the word):

¿Cómo...? or ¿Qué...? How...? or What...?
¿Cuándo...? When...?
¿Cuánto...? How much...?
¿Cuántos...? How many...?
¿Dónde...? Where...?
¿Por qué...? Why...?
¿Quién...? Who...? (singular)
¿Quiénes...? Who...? (plural)

Here are some Spanish sentences where specific question words are used:

¿Cómo te llamas? What is your name? (Literally: How do you call yourself?)
¿Cuántos años tienes? How old are you? (Literally: How many years do you have?)
¿Dónde está el aeropuerto? Where is the airport?

Questions can also be posed within a sentence:

Y tú, ¿cuántos años tienes? How old are you? (Literally: And you, how many years do you have?)
Entonces, ¿por qué no puedo jugar con él? So, why can't I play with him?

Exercise: Questions

Grammar - Possessive Adjectives

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Like English, the Spanish possessive adjectives differ depending on the person they are referring to. Unlike English, the possessive article also changes depending on the number of items that one possesses (for example: mi libro = my book, mis libros = my books). It can also change depending on the gender of the item (for example: nuestro perro = our dog, nuestra casa = our house). The following table summarizes all Spanish possessive adjectives:

Person Singular Plural English


yo mi mis my

mi lápiz

tu tus your

tu lápiz

él su, de él sus his

su lápiz, el lápiz de él

ella su, de ella sus, de ella her

su lápiz, el lápiz de ella

usted su, de usted sus, de usted your

su lápiz, el lápiz de usted

nosotros/nosotras nuestro, nuestra, de nosotros

nuestros, nuestras

our nuestro lápiz, el lápiz de


vosotros/vosotras vuestro, vuestra vuestros, vuestras your

vuestro lápiz

ellos su, de ellos sus, de ellos their

su lápiz, el lápiz de ellos

ellas su, de ellas sus, de ellas their

su lápiz, el lápiz de ellas

ustedes su, de ustedes sus, de ustedes your

su lápiz, el lápiz de ustedes

  • Possessive Pronouns are not used when talking about body parts:
mi nariz (la nariz de él) my nose (his nose)
mi dedo (el dedo de él) my finger (his finger)
mis manos (las manos de él) my hands (his hands)
mis ojos (los ojos de él) my eyes (his eyes)

Exercise: Possessive Adjectives

Grammar - Comparisons

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Spanish uses three slightly different constructions for comparisons of equality. One for comparing verbs, one for comparing nouns and one for comparing adjectives/adverbs. The following examples show the three different possibilities:

Alberto estudia tanto como Felicitas. Alberto studies as much as Felicitas.
Yo tengo tanto dinero como mi hermano. I have as much money as my brother.
La estudiante es tan inteligente como el profesor. The student is as intelligent as the teacher.

When comparing nouns, the ending of tanto will be modified to tanta, tantos, or tantas in order to match gender and quantity of the noun. The general pattern for comparisons of equality is the following:

{verb} tanto como {verb} as much as
tanto/a/os/as {noun} como as much/as many {noun} as
tan {adjective/adverb} como as {adjective/adverb} as


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For comparisons of inequality, Spanish uses the same form for both nouns and adjectives/adverbs. There are two types of inequalities: más ... que (more than) and menos ... que (less than):

Trabajo más horas que tú. I work more hours than you.
Trabajo menos horas que tú. I work less hours than you.
Tom Hanks es más famoso que Patrick Stewart. Tom Hanks is more famous than Patrick Stewart.
Patrick Stewart es menos famoso que Tom Hanks. Patrick Stewart is less famous than Tom Hanks.

In general:

más/menos {noun/adjective/adverb} que more/less {noun/adjective/adverb} than


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Superlatives in Spanish are similar to comparisons of inequality: They use más for the most, menos for the least. Then follows the adjective and finally there is a preposition (de):

Ricardo es el estudiante más alto de la universidad. Ricardo is the tallest student in the university.
Plutón es el planeta más pequeño del sistema solar. Pluto is the smallest planet in the solar system.
Los diamantes son las gemas más caras del mundo. Diamonds are the most expensive gems in the world.
María es la más inteligente de la clase. Maria is the most intelligent one in the class.
El libro de Jorge es el menos interesante de la clase. Jorge's book is the least interesting book in the class.

Note that in some cases (la más inteligente) you can just write the article and omit the noun. The general pattern for Spanish superlatives is:

el/la/los/las ({noun}) más/menos {adjective} de the (most/least){adjective} {noun} in/of

Exercise: Comparisons

Vocabulario (Vocabulary) - La escuela (School)

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La escuela The school
el profesor, la profesora the teacher, the professor
el maestro, la maestra the primary school teacher
el rector, la rectora the university president, the school principal
el colegio the primary school (Spain), the K-12 school (Chile)
la escuela the school (all senses), the primary School (Chile)
el instituto the secondary school (Spain)
el liceo the secondary school (Chile)
la preparatoria the secondary school (Mexico)
la universidad the university, the college
la biblioteca the library
la librería the book store
el libro de texto the text book
el curso, la clase the course, the class
el examen the exam
los deberes, las tareas escolares, la tarea the homework
la actividad extracuricular the extracurricular activity
el club the club
la ajedrez chess
la banda the band
el equipo the team
el coro the choir
la fotografía photography
el teatro theater
aprender to learn
estudiar to study
leer to read
calcular to compute, to calculate
hacer un proyecto to do a project
preguntar to ask
contestar to answer
discutir to argue
fácil easy
difícil difficult
interesante interesting
aburrido, pesado boring
inteligente intelligent
estúpido, tonto stupid, dumb, silly

Lessons: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11