When learning a new language, it is always useful to be familiar with its main grammatical units.
This constitutes the first necessary step in order to understand and create meaningful speech.
Here are the main grammatical elements in Spanish and some useful information about them:
A noun is a word which is mostly used to refer to a person or thing. All nouns in Spanish have a gender, meaning that they are either masculine or feminine. For example, niño (boy) is masculine and niña (girl) is feminine. The best way to identify gender is undoubtedly through experience, although here are some general guidelines, which may be useful at the beginning: usually, nouns ending in ‘o’ are masculine and nouns ending in ‘a’ are feminine. As with most rules, there are always exceptions.
For example, mano (hand) and radio (radio) are feminine. On the other hand, words of Greek origin ending in ‘ma’, such as dilema (dilemma) or problema (problem) are masculine. When you are learning new vocabulary, it is recommendable that you learn nouns with their corresponding article. This will help beginner learners to remember their gender. For example, la niña, la mano or el problema and el niño.
Adjectives are used to qualify a particular noun or to say something about the noun. It is important to remember that in Spanish they are usually placed after the noun. Since adjectives are always related to a noun, they have to agree with them in gender and number.
This means that if you want to say something about the noun nio, which is masculine and singular, the adjective that you use will also have to be masculine and singular. Thus, you can say niño alto (tall boy) or niño pequeo (small boy). If, on the other hand, if you were talking about a girl, you would have to say niña alta (tall girl) and niña pequea (small girl).
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and similarly, you can’t learn Spanish overnight. Prepare yourself for the challenges ahead. Learning a new language should be fun and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be as long as you realise your limitations.
At Agape School of Education, we teach two types of Spanish, the form taught in Spain and that in Latin America. Our courses also cover Spanish for business purposes and preparation courses for all levels of the Spanish language certification, Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera (Diplomas of Spanish as a Foreign Language; DELE). We have tailored our course materials to follow the standard set by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
Part 2 of our Se habla Español series can be found here.