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Gerald Erichsen

Spanish Language

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Mastering the Comma

Wednesday April 23, 2014

Commas may be the most challenging of all types of punctuation, and that's true in both English and Spanish. Fortunately, as our lesson on commas explains, the use of the punctuation mark is similar in the two languages. It's easy to think of the comma as merely something used to indicate vocal pauses, but it's much more than that — it's used to clarify and help turn what might be a jumbled mess of words into something understandable.

Here's a Verb Form Playing the Role of a Noun

Monday April 21, 2014

A past participle is a verb form that functions as an adjective. In Spanish, it is very common for an adjective to become a noun simply by putting a word such as el or las in front of it. So can the participle become a noun that way?

Absolutely! Two examples are given in the newest lesson of my Real Spanish Grammar series, on participles as nouns. As with others in the series, you'll get the most out of the lesson if you try translating the sample sentence on your own before proceeding.

¡Feliz Pascua de Resurrección!

Sunday April 20, 2014

"¡Feliz Pascua!," meaning "Happy Easter!" is a phrase you'd probably say today if you were in a Spanish-speaking area. Perhaps surprisingly, though, the word Pascua isn't used only to refer to Easter, as explained in our new feature on the meanings of Pascua.

In much of the Spanish-speaking world, Easter can surpass Christmas as a time of celebration and religious observance. If you're celebrating Easter today, you may want to take a look at these two features:

(Note: Opening comments below are from an earlier version of this post.)

Q.E.P.D., Gabriel García Márquez

Friday April 18, 2014

Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel laureate in literature from Colombia best known as the author of Cien años de soledad, died Thursday. Here are some articles and features in Spanish and English from the About.com network with more about him:

What Are Auxiliary Verbs?

Wednesday April 16, 2014
Verbs that don't stand alone, ones that need another verb to function, are known as auxiliary verbs. For example, the he in "he hablado" is an example of an auxiliary verb. Haber, a verb whose forms include the he in the sentence above, is the most common auxiliary verb in Spanish.

RAE To Publish New Edition of Its Spanish Dictionary

Monday April 14, 2014

The Royal Spanish Academy (la Real Academia Española) will publish the 23rd edition of its authoritative dictionary in October, the RAE announced today.

Known as the DRAE or the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española, the dictionary will fill 2,400 7-by-10-inch pages published in a single volume. A two-volume set also will be published for the Americas.

In its announcement, the RAE said the dictionary will have around 200,000 definitions, about 19,000 of them Americanisms.

The Spanish newspaper El País reported that among the changes coming in the new dictionary are the elimination of some sexist definitions, such as giving "weak" as a definition of "feminine" but "virile" as a definition of "masculine."

Among the new words in the dictionary will be many that have come from English, including dron (drone), precuela (prequel), cameo (cameo appearance), jonrón (home run) and serendipia (serendipitous event).

Presenting Presentar

Monday April 14, 2014
How many words can you think of that would translate the verb presentar? No surprise, "present" is one of them (in other words, presentar isn't a false friend). But our lesson on using presentar also gives nearly a dozen more.

Don't Pass on Pasar

Saturday April 12, 2014

Like the corresponding verb in English, "to pass," the Spanish verb pasar can be used in a variety of ways, usually to refer to some sort of motion in space or time. See our lesson on pasar for examples.

Spanish S Has Two Sounds

Thursday April 10, 2014

As in English, the s of Spanish has two distinct sounds — a hiss (like the first "s" in "sarcasm") and a buzz (kind of like the second "s" in "sarcasm"). A big difference, though, is that in Spanish the s maintains its "hiss" when it is used to make words plural and loses it only when it comes before certain other sounds (as it does before the m in sarcasmo). So while the English word "nachos" and the Spanish nachos from which it is derived are spelled alike, the final sounds of the two are different. You can learn more about the s in our lesson on pronouncing the s, one in our series on Spanish pronunciation.

Get a Charge From Cargar

Tuesday April 8, 2014

Since you know what cargo is, it shouldn't be too hard to remember that cargar is the most common verb for "to load." As explained in our newest lesson, on using cargar and related verbs, it also has other common meanings that help make it a versatile verb.

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