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Lesson Transcript

Fernando: Welcome, listeners, to All About Spanish lesson 3. I’m here with JP.
JP: How’s it going, Fernando?
Fernando: I’m good, thank you. So, lesson three….
JP: This is my favorite topic, ladies and gentlemen.
Fernando: It’s kind of one of my favorite as well.
JP: I knew this about you.
Fernando: Tell us a little about what this lesson entails.
JP: Ok, we’re going to be talking about grammar today; I’m going to give a brief overview. And when I say brief… I’m probably going to talk too much…
Fernando: As usual…
JP: But I’m going to try to keep it simple, try to keep it in a language that everybody understands. Also, it’s just going to be a very general overview. There’s no way I can describe the grammar of the Spanish language in a little podcast, especially if we want to keep it under 20 minutes.
Fernando: We want to get more granular about grammar because it is important.
JP: Ok, and I think you just said ‘granular’
Fernando: Yes I did.
JP: So what do you want to talk about first, Fernando? Do you want to talk about noun grammar or verb grammar, whichever you want to start with.
Fernando: Let’s start with the basic overview, how about that?
JP: When I’m describing Spanish grammar to you, I’m going to talk a little bit about English as well, to give you some perspective. English is a very word-order based language. The subject comes first, and then the verb, and then the object. So if I say “the man bites a dog” you have the subject “the man,” you have the verb “bites,” and you have the object “dog.” Now if I switch the order of the sentence, it would change the meaning of the sentence. So I say “the dog bit the man.” Now, “the man bit the dog” is a different sentence than “the dog bit the man.” The point is that English is very reliant on word order. In fact, word order is so powerful in English, you can take things that don’t make any sense, put them together, and you can get a sentence. And sometimes it comes out like poetry, and sometimes, it’s like… for example, the one I always use is “the tent sleeps five.” Now you speak English, so you know what that means, right? “the tent sleeps five.”
Fernando: yes, it can accommodate five people, the tent.
JP: But if you give this sentence to second language learners of English, a lot of times they have a hard time with it because tents don’t sleep! People sleep! Animals sleep… and you can’t sleep something. You can eat something, like, you can eat a pizza, but you can’t sleep a pizza. Now if I say, “the tent sleeps five…” Five? Five is a number! What does that mean? So in English, we know, because our word order is so powerful we can put that together and go, “five people can sleep in this tent.”
Fernando: so we’re using the verb to address a different type of action.
JP: Right. Sleeping is usually the act of sleeping… but if we say “the tent sleeps five” the tent is not sleeping; it’s people that are sleeping in the tent. That’s English.
Fernando: It’s like using “summer” as a verb. “Where do you summer?”
JP: Right. "Summer" is a noun, but when we stick it in the verb spot, our word order instinct makes it into a verb, so we can say, “I summer in the Hamptons.”
Fernando: Exactly.
JP: Now, Spanish is not like that; if I give my overview of Spanish, I have to say it’s not word-order driven. Instead, when you’re learning Spanish, you’re going to have to learn a different system of telling who does what in a sentence, and what Spanish does… Spanish has conjugations. Now a lot of people turned off the podcast and ran away screaming.
FO: No, come back, come back.
JP: Conjugation is, basically, the way that Spanish speakers assign a subject with a verb. And we’re going to get into this; there are all kinds of conjugations; the conjugations change with every different person, and they change with the different number of people, and they’re gonna change with the tenses, and they’re going to change for time… so it’s a big system. We’re not going to get into it right now; I’m not going to explain conjugation. I just want you to know that when you listen to our lessons, we’re gonna be going through that, and we’re gonna go through it slowly, right?
Fernando: Right. There’s a lot to learn.
JP: Right, but once you learn it, it’s a piece of cake. Ok. Conjugation is the hallmark of Spanish verb grammar; it’s the main thing you’re going to learn in your Spanish class, or as you’re listening to spanishpod101.
Fernando: So what we’re saying is don’t get discouraged; once you learn how to do this, you can do almost anything… you can fly a plane!
JP: You can fly a plane by conjugation?
Fernando: I’m just saying… you can read the Spanish manual, that’s what I’m saying!
JP: Alright, I know what you’re saying, Fernando; I happen to be very pumped up… about conjugation.
Fernando: But it’s basically like math; once you’re able to solve a problem, it’s all downhill from there.
JP: That’s true; once you learn conjugation… you’ve got it.
Fernando: Once you’re over that hurdle, you’re great.
JP: So that’s the main point of Spanish verb grammar. So, noun and adjective grammar. Just like conjugation is the hallmark of verb grammar, gender and agreement is the hallmark of noun grammar. When I say ‘gender’ in English, it usually means male, female, it means ‘sex.’ When we talk about gender, it’s going to be a grammatical gender. So unlike English, nouns in Spanish all have assigned genders; they’re either ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine.’ I don’t know if this is new to anybody; if you speak Italian, French, or German, you know what masculine and feminine are, but a lot of people that haven’t’ studied Spanish, and speak English… we don’t have this. We do in English have a concept of gender, we can say an actor and an actress, and it’s referring to masculine and feminine people… in Spanish regular nouns have gender. Let’s play the gender game…. What’s a piano, is it masculine or feminine?
Fernando: “El piano,” it’s masculine. “La piedra.” That would be feminine.
JP: I could tell because you said “la,” which tells me that it’s feminine. Alright, Fernando, so why is a piano masculine and a rock feminine? What’s going on?:
Fernando: I really would not be able to answer that, it’s just an arbitrary response I have. It’s something I learned from the beginning.
JP: So there’s no psychological theory that pianos are basically male objects…
Fernando: No, it’s just the word; same with the rock.
JP: The word for rock, “la piedra,” is feminine. This is super important because every noun in Spanish is gonna have a gender. And it becomes more important when you put these nouns in a sentence.
Fernando: Let’s say, for example, “perro,” dog. That’s masculine.
JP: What if I want to describe this dog; what if I want to say it’s a crazy dog?
Fernando: You would say, “el perro loco.”
JP: “Loco” is the word for crazy. You used the masculine form of ‘loco.’ Now if I want to talk about a crazy woman…
Fernando: “la mujer loca.”
JP: So here we heard the word “loca,” which is an adjective, and it’s feminine… it sounds kind of like “loco,” but it has a feminine ending. So we have masculine and feminine nouns, and masculine and feminine adjectives. So that is the main feature of noun grammar. Now there are plenty of things to talk about besides gender in noun grammar and conjugation in verb grammar; there are all kinds of different grammars that we can talk about, but that’s the main thing that people that are learning Spanish… Especially if you’re coming from English, like I did… you have to know that in verb grammar, there’s conjugation, and in noun grammar, there’s gender. Those are the main differences between English and Spanish grammar.
Fernando: So I think this is actually one of the shorter lessons; JP, would you agree?
JP: Yeah, I could go on for days….
Fernando: Yeah, we’re going to leave it there then. Listeners, thank you for tuning in. JP, thank you so much. We’ll catch you later at All About Spanish lesson 4.
JP: ¡Hasta luego!