Contents of Lesson 8

Lesson 8 - More on Articles

Article used with general or abstract nouns. In contrast with English, the article is required with nouns used in a general or abstract sense. Omit the article in translating.

Article used with countries. The article is also often, but not always, used with countries. Usually it is not translated.


No article with classes of people in predicate. Spanish often omits the indefinite article with predicate nouns indicating a class of people. The article is then supplied when translating into English.

Articles and days of the week.

Turning adjectives into nouns with articles. An article turns an adjective into a noun.

Neuter article lo turns adjectives into abstract nouns. A neuter article lo is only used with adjectives to form abstract nouns: lo importante, that which is important; lo bueno; the good; lo posible, that which is possible, the possible. It is similar to the neuter demonstrative pronouns esto, eso, and aquello, which similarly refer to abstractions: this or that topic or idea.

Turning verbs into adjectives with endings. Spanish makes many transformations of parts of speech using endings.

A verb is changed into an adjective by the endings -ado (-ar verbs) and -ido (-er/-ir verbs). See note for more information.

Like other adjectives, an article turns these adjectives into a noun:

Sometimes there is a slight change in meaning. These cases should all be in the dictionary:

There are, then, two different kinds of nouns formed from verbs. The difference between nouns formed with article + infinitive and those formed with article plus -ado/-ido form: the infinitive plus article forms an abstraction: el vencer, "conquering." The -ado/-ido form forms a specific noun: el vencido," "the conquered person."

Lectura 3: Lo importante de la vida, en Hispanoamérica y en los Estados Unidos.

Remember that the subject is frequently found after the verb, even after a predicate noun or adjective. Since English does not ordinarily permit the subject to follow the verb, the sentence must be rearranged to understand its meaning. Once one gains proficiency, this is done at a subconscious level.

This reading contains examples of adjectives made into nouns and infinitives used as nouns.

En las costumbres y en la manera de vivir, hay importantes diferencias entre el mundo hispano y el anglosajón.(1) En nuestro país, los Estados Unidos, la importancia de lo familiar(2) es mucho menor. Los jóvenes tratan de ser independientes de sus padres. Abandonan la casa familiar y alquilan pisos propios. El ser rico, o el llegar a ser rico, no es(3) importante para todos, pero sí(4) cuenta más que en México, el Perú, la Argentina, Chile u otros países(5) hispanohablantes.

En México, los hijos van a vivir con sus padres hasta su casamiento. No es por razones económicas.(6) El ahorrar dinero no importa mucho. Quieren vivir con ellos. Para tener casa propia, es necesario tener familia propia, mediante(7) el casamiento.

En el mundo hispano la familia es extendida. Abuelos, tíos, sobrinos, primos, parientes políticos forman un grupo de apoyo mutuo. Contribuye(8) al concepto de familia extendida otra diferencia importante entre los dos mundos. En EE.UU.(9) es frecuente mudarse(10) varias veces durante la vida.(11) En Hispanoamérica esto es mucho menos frecuente. Uno(12) puede vivir en el mismo pueblo, con los mismos amigos, cerca de(13) todos sus parientes, durante toda la vida.

Note on -ado and -ido endings. these are actually nonconjugated verb forms, the past participle. The past participle is discussed in a future lesson. For the present, these forms are adjectives.

Notes on the Reading

1.The word "mundo" is implied by the article and the adjective anglosajón. In this sentence, el anglosajón can be translated as "the Anglosaxon (= English-speaking) world" or, given that "world" has just been used, "the Anglosaxon one."

Wrong translation: "The Hispanic world and the Anglosaxon" (doesn't make sense).

Correct translation: "The Hispanic world and the Anglosaxon one."

2. It is not unusual for there to be no precise, one-word translation for a Spanish word. (The same is true when translating from English to Spanish.) Here, "familiar" is identical with an English word. But the meaning of the words in the two languages is quite different. In English, something "familiar" is something one knows, something with which one is acquainted. In Spanish, it is more literal: something "familiar" deals with the "familia," the "family." "Family values," for example, would be "valores familiares."

3. The subject of es is ser.

4. as used here is an intensifier: they do count more.

5. Remember that u is the word o (or) before a word beginning with the o sound.

6. The subject is the situation described in the previous sentence.

7. This is a preposition: "by means of," "through."

8. The subject cannot be in the previous sentence, since everything in it is plural. It must be in this sentence. Eliminate all the nouns which are object of a preposition; only "diferencia" is left, and it is the subject. "Otra" and "importante" are both adjectives modifying "diferencia."

9. A common abbreviation: Estados Unidos, the United States. In Spanish the abbreviation for a plural item doubles the letter of the abbreviation. HH. could be the abbreviation for hermanos (brothers).

10. "To move" [to change residence]. The pronoun "se" on the end of the infinitive will be discussed later.

11. "One's life."

12. This is the number un, una, "one." Any number can be used as a noun, just as in English. "One" in Spanish is really uno, una. The final o is lost before a masculine singular noun, so it becomes un when used as an article (un hombre).

13. Another preposition: "near."

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