This is a guest blog post from Charlie Courtis, who works with Latinos in a Georgia prison ministry:
A short story about learning a language:
Around 1941-42 (when I was 6 years old) the Normandie, the French Line steamship, burned and capsized in Pier 88 on the Hudson River. The chef of the ship came to live with us in Greenwich Village for about a year, and I was introduced to the French language by virtue of the fact that the chef, Balistra, spoke no English. I call it table French, but the accent and the most basic words were linked in my brain. In 1950 mom and dad took me and my sister to southern France for the summer. I played with the kids in the neighborhood around the hotel where we stayed for most of that time. I can still read the newspaper and get what I need in France.
No books, no vocabulary, and voilà, I could communicate at my level. Read More...
One of the Spanish gender rules you're likely to learn early on is that nouns ending in -a are feminine while those ending in -o are masculine. That's a good rule to follow — most of the time. But as explained in our lesson on gender exceptions, not every word fits the pattern: A handful of feminine words end in -o, while dozens of words, many of them referring to people's occupations or roles, are or can be masculine even though they end in -a.
If you want to say in Spanish that you have something, the verb you're most likely to use is tener. But that's not the only way you can express the concept, as explained in our newest lesson, on words of possession. Poseer and pertenecer are often used, as is de.
If you're new to Spanish, you've probably been told that descriptive adjectives
are placed after the nouns they modify. That's often true — but not always. Placing a descriptive adjective before a noun can subtly (sometimes not so subtly) change the way the adjective is understood. For example, both una noche oscura
and una oscura noche
refer to a dark night. But they don't mean exactly the same thing, as explained in our lesson on objective and subjective meanings