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TIP #130 - This tip was sent on the week: 1st - 7th Apr, 2007


English-Spanish Differences That Can Be Generalized - Part II


This tip applies to the following programs:

• ESI Professional

  • The verb gustar, which in Spanish is constructed in such a way that what is liked is the subject (Me gustan los perros) vs. the English construction like, in which the direct object is what is liked (I like dogs, y no “Dogs like me” –unless the latter is true and is actually what you mean to say).
  • The future or present plus subjunctive future in Spanish (Lo voy a hacer/hago cuando lleguemos) vs. the future with will plus present in English (I’ll do it when we arrive).
  • The use of the present and ‘desde hace’ in Spanish (Vivo aquí desde hace dos años) vs. present perfect and for in English (I’ve lived here for two years). Regarding the verb form ‘hace’, its equivalent in English is the adverb: ‘ago’.
  • The use of ser or estar with the past participle in Spanish (Soy aburrido is very different from Estoy aburrido). Its equivalent in English is the alternation between the gerund and the past participle: I’m boring/ interesting/ etc. vs. I’m bored/ interested/ etc.
  • The use of the definite article with plural generic nouns in Spanish (Los pingüinos no vuelan) vs. omission of the article in English (Penguins don’t fly, not “The penguins don’t fly”).
  • The use of lo + adjective in Spanish (Lo importante es...) vs.the + adjective + noun‘thing’ in English (The important thing is…).
  • The adjectives and possessive pronouns coincide in Spanish with what is possessed and with the possessor (¿Usted  fue su esposo? / esposo suyo?/ esposo de ella?, where the possessive coincides in the singular and the masculine with ‘esposo’). In contrast, the agreement in English has only to do with the possessor (Were you her husband? and not “Were you his husband?” --which would perhaps be possible in a different situation nowadays).

It gets more complicated with the multiple uses in Spanish of su/sus, which correspond in English to your/ his/ her/ its/ their.

  • The use of the infinitive as a noun in Spanish (Fumar es peligroso) vs. the use of the gerund as noun in English (Smoking is dangerous).
  • The use of más as the only comparative adverb of superiority and the superlative in Spanish (más consciente/ más sabio) vs. the forms more/-er/most/-est in English: more conscious/ wiser; most conscious/ wisest).

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