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Masculine and Feminine Nouns

In Spanish all nouns are masculine or feminine. Usually, nouns that end with an "o"
are masculine, and nouns that end with an "a" are feminine. For example,
"manzana" (apple) is feminine and "diario" (newspaper) is masculine.
The articles "el" and "un" are used with masculine nouns, and the articles "la" and
"una" are used with feminine nouns. "The apple" is "la manzana" and "a newspaper"
is "un diario."

Accent Marks
Vowels in Spanish can have an accent mark, such as the "u" in "menú" (menu). One
use of the accent mark is to indicate which syllable should be stressed in the
pronunciation. For example, in "teléfono" (telephone), the second "e" has the most
stress.
Accent marks are also used to distinguish homophones. For example, "él" and "el"
are homophones because they have the same pronunciation. However, "él" is a
masculine pronoun (meaning "he" or "him") and "el" is a masculine article (meaning
"the").

The Second Person Singular


"Tú," "usted" and "vos" are different ways of referring to the second person singular
(you). "Usted" is the formal way of saying "you," and "vos" is used in informal
speech in certain countries instead of "tú."
The three pronouns are synonyms, but they change the way verbs are conjugated.
For instance, for the verb "comer" (to eat), it is "tú comes," "usted come," and "vos
comés."
The decision of which form of "you" to use is regional and cultural, but you can
typically use "usted" when referring to strangers.

Verb Conjugation
Verb conjugation in Spanish is more complicated than in English. In Spanish, the
verb endings change in order to describe who is doing the action and when. For
example, for "comer," "I eat" is "yo como" and "you eat" is "tú comes."
Because the conjugations indicate who is doing the action, it is usually possible to
omit the pronoun. For instance instead of saying "yo como arroz" (I eat rice), you
can say "como arroz."
The Second Person Plural
In Latin America the pronoun for the second person plural is "ustedes,” and in
Spain it is "vosotros."
The two pronouns are synonyms, but they change the way of conjugating verbs.
For example, to say “you guys eat,” in Latin America you would say "ustedes
comen," and in Spain "vosotros coméis."

Tardes and Noches


In English, "afternoon" comes before "evening," which in turn comes before "night." In
Spanish there are only two words that cover these times of the day: "tarde" which
means "afternoon," but overlaps with "evening," and "noche," which means "night" but
also overlaps with "evening." Therefore, at 6:30pm it is ok to say either "buenas tardes"
or "buenas noches."

Buenos Días
Even though "buenos días" literally means "good days," it is used in the mornings to
mean "good morning."

Conjugation of 'Hablar'
Present indicative (presente del indicativo):
 yo hablo
 tú hablas
 usted habla
 él habla
 ella habla
 nosotros/as hablamos
 ustedes hablan
 ellos/ellas hablan

In Spanish, the most common negative word is "no". As an adverb negating a sentence,
it always comes immediately before the verb.
I speak - [Yo] hablo.
I do not speak - [Yo] no hablo.
He is - [Él] es / está.
He is not - [Él] no es / está.
For eating breakfast you can use the verb desayunar
I eat breakfast - [Yo] desayuno.
For eating lunch you can use the verb almorzar
I eat lunch - [Yo] almuerzo.
Cenar is the rough equivalent of "to dine" or "to eat dinner" and refers specifically to
eating the final meal of the day.
She eats dinner - [Ella] cena.
He eats dinner - [Él] cena.
Azúcar is an ambiguously gendered word. It can be both feminine and masculine.

Double negatives are common in Spanish!


When nada is the object of a verb, it is normal for the verb itself to be negated.
Therefore, when translating such sentences, you usually have to translate nada as
"anything".
I do not eat anything - [Yo] no como nada

Adjectives
As a general rule, in Spanish adjectives come after the noun they describe, e.g.
An English dog / Un perro inglés
A Spanish horse / Un caballo español

Possessive Determiners
Possessive determiners are adjectives that are used to show ownership, such as "my" in
"my dog." There are five possessive determiners in Spanish:

Spanish English

mi my

tu your (familiar singular)

su his, her, your (formal), their

nuestro our
Spanish English

vuestro your (familiar plural, used in Spain)

The first three of these have only two forms, singular and plural:

Singular Plural

mi mis

tu tus

su sus

For example, "my dog" is "mi perro" and "my dogs" is "mis perros."
"Mi", "tu" and "su" do not have masculine and feminine forms, so for example you say
"mi gato" and also "mi gata."

Nuestro and vuestro have four forms depending on the gender and number of the
noun being referred to:

Singular Masculine Plural Masculine Singular Feminine Plural Feminine

nuestro nuestros nuestra nuestras

vuestro vuestros vuestra vuestras

For example, it is "nuestro gato," "nuestra gata," "nuestros gatos," and "nuestras
gatas."

Long-form Possesive Adjectives and Pronouns


The determiners above are always used before the noun. Spanish has an additional
"long-form" way to describe possession, which usually comes after the noun:

Spanish English

mío, míos, mía, mías mine, my

tuyo, tuyos, tuya, tuyas yours, your (familiar singular)


Spanish English

suyo, suyos, suya, suyas his, hers, yours (formal), your (formal),
theirs, their

nuestro, nuestros, nuestra, ours, our


nuestras

vuestro, vuestros, vuestra, yours, your (familiar plural, used in Spain)


vuestras

"El gato es mío" means "The cat is mine."

Note that the possessive adjectives vary by number and gender. The change is with the
nouns they modify, not with the person(s) who possess the object. For example, for a
male cat you say "El gato es tuyo" (The cat is yours) regardless of whether you are
talking to a man or a woman.

The short form and long forms of nuestro and vuestro and related pronouns are
identical. They differ only as to whether they are used before or after the noun.

Tu Versus Tú
The two words "tu" and "tú" are pronounced the same. "Tú" is the personal pronoun
meaning "you" (informal), and "tu" is the possessive adjective meaning "your"
(informal).

The Upside Down Question Mark


In written Spanish, questions should always start with an upside down question mark
(¿). For example, to ask “What are you eating?” you would write “¿Qué comes?”

Position of Personal Pronouns


When asking a question, it is possible to place the personal pronoun in different places
without affecting the meaning. For example “¿Qué comes tú?” and “¿Tú qué comes?”
mean the same thing (and also the same thing as “¿Qué comes?”).
The position of the personal pronoun is sometimes used for emphasis. For example
“Tú qué comes” places the emphasis on “you” and would mean something like “You,
what are you eating?”

“Por qué” versus “Porque”


Even native speakers sometimes confuse “por qué” and “porque,” because they sound
exactly the same. However, “por qué” means “why” and “porque” means “because.” That
is, “por qué” is typically used when asking a question and “porque” is used when
answering it.
 Q: “¿Por qué no eres un niño?” (Why are you not a boy?)
 A: “Porque soy una niña” (Because I am a girl)

Present Tense Verb Endings


In Spanish, the verb endings change in order to describe who is doing the action and
when. Most verbs are "regular," meaning they change their endings in predictable
ways.

Person Endings Examples

I -o yo como, yo leo

you (familiar) -es, -as tú comes, tú nadas

he, she, it, you -e, -a él come, ella nada, usted lee
(formal)

we -amos, -emos, nosotros comemos, nosotros


-imos nadamos

you (plural Latin -en, -an ustedes comen, ustedes nadan


America)

you (plural Spain) -éis, -áis vosotros coméis, vosotros


nadáis

they -en, -an ellos comen, ellos nadan


Sí Versus Si
Although "sí" and "si" sound the same, "sí" (with an accent mark) means "yes" and "si"
means "if."

Y, E, O, U
The word for "and" in Spanish is "y," and the word for "or" is "o." However, if the word
after "and" starts with an "i" or "hi" (which sounds the same as "i" because the "h" in
Spanish is always silent), then you need to use "e" instead of "y." For example "sons
and daughters" is "hijos e hijas." Similarly, if the word after "or" starts with "o" or "ho,"
then you have to use "u" instead of "o." For example, "dog or bear" is "perro u oso."