Spanish

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Spanish is a Romance language, native to Spain but spoken throughout Central and South America, and the United States. The dialect known as Castilian is from Spain only and has grammatical and phonological differences from southern Spain and all other dialects of Spanish.

Spanish
Español
Spoken in: Spain (among many others) (España)
Conworld: Real world
Total speakers: 400 million native.
Genealogical classification: Indo-European
Italic
Romance
     Latin
     Ibero
Spanish
Basic word order: SVO,
Morphological type: Inflecting
Morphosyntactic alignment: nominative-accusative
Created by:
unknown 15th century C.E.

Phonology and Orthography

Consonants

Consonants
Bilabial Labiod. Inter-dental Alveolar Post-alv. Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Plosive p b k g
Fricative β f (θ) (ð) s (ʃ) (ʒ) ç x ɣ (h)
Affricate ʧ (ʤ)
Approximants & glides j
Trill r
Flap ɾ
Lateral Approximant l/ɫ

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  • Many of the orthographic sounds in Spanish are similar to their IPA equivalents: p, k, t, n, m, l and f.
  • The three voiced stops often become their fricative equivalents when they are in a inter-vocallic case, or between vowels. This means /d̪/ becomes /ð/, /g/ becomes /ɣ/, and /b/ becomes /β/.
  • Most of the time orthographic v becomes /b/ or /β/ according to the rule above.
  • The digraph ch is used for ʧ, but in some dialects it is pronounced /ʃ/ instead.
  • Spanish distinguishes the full trill /r/ from the flap /ɾ/. The full trill starts a word, is after a d, or is more generally spelt rr. This can be important in phrases and names, for example Costa Rica /costa rika/ is turned into an adjective as costarricense where the spelling has changed to include a rr. The flap is only spelt r inside a word. There are minimal pairs such as pero (but) versus perro (dog).
  • The letter ñ is pronounced /ɲ/.
  • The letter c is pronounced /k/ when before a back vowel (a, o, u) or any consonant. In Castilian Spanish, when the c is in front of a front vowel (i, e) it becomes /θ/. In most other variations it becomes /s/.
  • The letter z is pronounced /s/ in most Spanish dialects but is pronounced /θ/ in Castilian.
  • The letter y or the digraph ll represents /j/, but in some dialects it is pronounced /ʤ/ or /ʒ/ instead.
  • The letter j is pronounced /x/ after back vowels (a, o, u) and /ç/ after or before front vowels and consonants. Some variations have it as /h/ but not commonly.
  • The letter g is pronounced /g/ after back vowels and consonants, but when before i or e it becomes /ç/. Some variations have it is /h/ but not commonly. When the g has a u after it, and then a i or e, the /u/ is not pronounced and the combination gui is pronounced /gi/ and gue is pronounced /ge/. If it spelt güe or güi then it is pronounced /gwe/ or /gwi/ respectively.

Vowels

Vowels
Front Central Back
Unround Unrounded Rounded
High i u
Mid e o
Low a

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  • All vowels are equivalent to the IPA forms. So i /i/, e /e/, a /a/, o /o/, u /u/.
  • All vowels are either stressed or not stressed. Spanish, like most Romance Languages, has penultimate stress (stress on the last syllable). When the stress falls on a syllable other than the last, an accent is used. This leads to í, é, á, ó, and ú. The ü is used in Spanish to indicate when a /u/ would be pronounced after a g.
  • Accents on vowels are also used to show a difference in meaning. This is important in question words, which have an accent when they are used as a question, and no accent when they are used in other ways, dónde vs. donde. It's also used to show more specific meaning differences, such as el (the) vs. él (he), or tu (your) vs. (you).

Diphthongs

This is the list of diphthongs:

  • ei, ey, ell /ej/
  • ai, all, ay /aj/
  • oi, oy, oll /oj/
  • eu /ew/
  • au /aw/
  • ou /ow/
  • ie, lle /je/
  • ia, lla /ja/
  • io, llo /jo/
  • iu /ju/
  • ui /wi/
  • ue /we/
  • ua /wa/
  • uo /wo/.

Grammar

Nouns

Gender

There are two genders in Spanish, Masculine and Feminine. One sources uses the mnemonic L-O-N-E-R-S, to show which noun endings are masculine, and D-IÓN-Z-A for feminine nouns.

  • This would mean that words which ending in the first set of letters are almost always masculine, such as el baúl (trunk), el vino (wine), el pan (bread), el padre (father), el licor (liquor), and el dios (god). The major exception in this group is the use of -e which is common for both genders.
  • This would also mean that words ending in the second set of letters would be feminine, such as la verdad (truth), la mansión (mansion), la vejez (old age), and la pierna (leg).

There are certain endings which are usually one or the other. An example would be that most nouns ending with -ma are masculine, such as el problema, el programma, el diploma, el drama, and more.

Number

Number in Spanish is fairly simple and straight forward. The plural is usually formed by adding -s to a noun ending in a vowel, and -es to a noun ending in a consonant. There are a few exceptions, but that's the basic system.

Articles

There are 2 kinds of articles in Spanish, definite and indefinite. They also change by number and gender. For the definite article (the in English), we have the following chart:

Singular Plural
Masculine el los
Feminine la las

The masculine article can also contract with the preposition á and de to make al and del.

The indefinite article in Spanish is derived from the word for one, uno (this also occurs in High German and English amongst many others). There is a plural form, which is similar to the word some in English. The chart is as follows:

Singular Plural
Masculine un unos
Feminine una unas

Pronouns

Subject Pronouns

Subject pronouns in Spanish are as follows:

Singular Plural
First yo nosotros/nosotras
Second informal vosotros/vosotras
Second Formal Usted Ustedes
Third Masculine él ellos
'Third Feminine ella ellas

Because of the extensive verb endings, in most cases the subject pronoun may be dropped. When it is included in speech it is usually an indicator of stress or emphasis, or otherwise it would differentiate endings, such as that between the verb endings which are the same, such as between the Usted form form the él/ella forms and likewise in the plural. Notes: is used on in cases of familiarity, so that includes friends, children, family, and others. The plural form, vosotros is being used less and less in places other than Spain. A new pronoun vos has been forming in Central and South America and has been replacing . Usted is used in formal cases, or cases where Sir/Ma'am/Miss would be used in English. nosotras or vosotras are only when the group mentioned (either we or you) is entirely female. Otherwise, the masculine forms are used.

Direct Object Pronouns

Indirect Object Pronouns

Reflexive Pronouns

Adjectives

Adjectives have 4 forms, masculine singular, feminine singular, masculine (and feminine combined) plural, and feminine plural. With adjectives ending with masc. sing. -o, the fem. sing. -a, masc. pl. -os, and fem. pl. -as. With adjectives ending in an consonant or ending with -e, the form is the same for both singular cases, and the plural is -es for endings of consonants and -s in the case of ending with -e. There are other rules which have endings of -a after a consonant (such as masc. español vs fem. española)

Adverbs

The most common way for an adverb to end is -mente, which is added to the feminine singular form of the Adjective.

Prepositions

Conjunctions

Verbs

There are three major types of verbs, also called the three conjugations. These depend on the ending of the infinitive, leaving with the three categories being called -ar verbs, -er verbs, and -ir verbs.

Present

The present tense in Spanish is equivalent to the Present, Present Progressive, and Emphatic tenses in English. Remember that the Third person also includes "Usted/Ustedes" which are technically the Second Person. The -ar verb amar (to love), the -er verb comer, and the -ir verb vivir are conjugated in the Present tense as follows:

Present tense
Infinitive Amar To love Comer to eat Vivir to live
sing. pl. sing. pl. sing. pl.
1st person amo amamos como comemos vivo vivimos
2nd person amas amáis comes coméis vives vivís
3rd person ama aman come comen vive viven

Progressive

The progressive in Spanish, which is similar to the English progressive, is formed with a form of the verb estar and an ending of -ndo (-ando for -ar, and -iendo for -er and -ir). The present tense is usually used where the progressive might be used in English. In Spanish, the progressive is often used as an adjective, although the verbal form is used as well.

Preterite

Preterite tense
Infinitive Amar To love Comer to eat Vivir to live
sing. pl. sing. pl. sing. pl.
1st person amé amamos comí comimos viví vivimos
2nd person amaste amastéis comiste comisteis viviste vivisteis
3rd person amó amaron comió comieron vivió vivieron

Imperfect

The imperfect past tense is used for things that happened habitually in the past. Sometimes these things are continuing to the present, most this refers to the past really.

Imperfect tense
Infinitive Amar To love Comer to eat Vivir to live
sing. pl. sing. pl. sing. pl.
1st person amaba amábamos comía comíamos vivía vivíamos
2nd person amabas amabais comías comíais vivías vivíais
3rd person amaba amaban comía comían vivía vivían

Future

There are two ways of forming the future tense in Spanish. The first is the standard form, which is mentioned below. It is used for describing things that will happen.

Future tense
Infinitive Amar To love Comer to eat Vivir to live
sing. pl. sing. pl. sing. pl.
1st person amaré amaremos comeré comeremos viviré viviremos
2nd person amarás amaréis comeréis comeréis vivirás viviréis
3rd person amará amarán comerá comerán vivirá vivirán


The second form involves a version of the verb ir (to go) + a. This is equivalent to English to be going to.

Future progressive tense
Infinitive Amar To love Comer to eat Vivir to live
sing. pl. sing. pl. sing. pl.
1st person voy a amar vamos a amar voy a comer vamos a comer voy a vivir vamos a vivir
2nd person vas a amar vais a amar vas a comer vais a comer vas a vivir vais a vivir
3rd person va a amar van a amar va a comer van a comer va a vivir van a vivir

Conditional

Conditional tense
Infinitive Amar To love Comer to eat Vivir to live
sing. pl. sing. pl. sing. pl.
1st person amaría amaríamos comería comeríamos viviría viviríamos
2nd person amaríais amáis comerías comeríais vivirías viviríais
3rd person amaría amarían comería comerían viviría vivirían

Subjunctive

Present

Subjunctive present tense
Infinitive Amar To love Comer to eat Vivir to live
sing. pl. sing. pl. sing. pl.
1st person ame amemos coma comamos viva vivamos
2nd person ames améis comas comáis vivas viváis
3rd person ame amen coma coman viva vivan

Past

Subjunctive past tense
Infinitive Amar To love Comer to eat Vivir to live
sing. pl. sing. pl. sing. pl.
1st person amara/amase amáramos/amásemos comiera/comiese comiéramos/comiésemos viviera/viviese viviéramos/viviésemos
2nd person amaras/amases amarais/amaseis comieras/comieses comierais/comieseis viviera/vivieses vivierais/vivieseis
3rd person amara/amase amaran/amasen comiera/comiese comieran/comiesen viviera/viviese vivieran/viviesen

Imperative

The imperative has two different forms, the affirmative and negative. The forms used for the Imperative are often similar to the Subjunctive forms.

Affirmative

Imperative
Infinitive Amar To love Comer to eat Vivir to live
sing. pl. sing. pl. sing. pl.
1st person - amemos - comamos - vivamos
2nd person ama amad come comed vive vivid
3rd person ame amen coma coman viva vivan

Negative

Negative Imperative
Infinitive Amar To love Comer to eat Vivir to live
sing. pl. sing. pl. sing. pl.
1st person - no amemos - no comamos - no vivamos
2nd person no ames no améis no comas no comáis no vivas no viváis
3rd person no ame no amen no coma no coman no viva no vivan

Compound tenses

Present perfect tense
Infinitive Amar To love Comer to eat Vivir to live
sing. pl. sing. pl. sing. pl.
1st person he amado hemos amado he comido hemos comido he vivido hemos vivido
2nd person has amado habéis amado has comido habéis comido has vivido habéis vivido
3rd person ha amado han amado ha comido han comido ha vivido han vivido

The Verbs ser, estar and ir

Spanish has two standard verbs to be. That with the verb to go are conjugated as follows:

Present tense
Infinitive ser To be estar to be, to stay ir to go
sing. pl. sing. pl. sing. pl.
1st person soy somos estoy estamos voy vamos
2nd person eres sois estás estáis vas vais
3rd person es son está estan va van

The Verb Haber

The auxiliary verb haber is used mostly for compounding for the perfect tenses. It is used for that meaning more constrictively, and other verbs are used for other forms of English to have, such as tener, used for possessing something.

Present tense
Infinitive haber To have
sing. pl.
1st person he hemos
2nd person has habéis
3rd person ha han

Languages based on Spanish

Creoles and natural descendants

Ladino. Spoken by descendants of Sephardi Jews expelled from Spain in the 15th century. It's spoken in certain areas around the world, mainly in Israel.

Portuñol. A mix of Spanish and Portuguese spoken in some southern Brazil areas.

Constructed languages

Montreiano

External links

SAMPA for Spanish
Comment about Spanish vowels.
A good source for Beginners of Spanish, Study Spanish

Sources

The page is by Timothy Patrick Snyder

This article is one of quite a few pages about Natlangs.

Indo-european natlangs:

Balto-Slavic Natlangs: Czech * Russian
Celtic Natlangs: Revived Middle Cornish * Pictish
Germanic Natlangs:
North Germanic Natlangs: Norwegian
West Germanic Natlangs: Anglo-Saxon * Dutch * English (Old English * Middle English * Modern English * Scots) * German (High German * Low German)
Indo-Iranian Natlangs: Pahlavi
Italic Natlangs: French * Italian * Latin * Spanish
Debated: Cimmerian

Uralic Natlangs: Finnish * Khanty * Mansi * Mordvinic * Proto-Uralic
Altaic (controversial): Japanese
Sino-Tibetan Natlangs:
Uto-Aztecan Natlangs: Nahuatl

-

Isolate Natlangs: Basque * *
Hypothetical/debated Natlangs and Natlang families: Danubian * Europic (obsolete)