Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Papa Vs. Papa- An intro into learning Spanish

Spanish is a hard language to master. Think about the following...

In English, there are six different tenses of a verb like “to eat” for example. There is the present, past, the future, the present perfect, past perfect, and future perfect. The last three are based on the first three and are compound verbs, which means they require a helping verb. Stay with me, it will be worth it.

Six. A challenge to be sure, but let’s look at what the Spanish language throws at us.

Instead of six tenses, we have 14 (grant it not all are commonly used but you still have to at least be able to recognize em’ when they come up). In addition, Spanish verbs change, depending on who we refer to. In English, I ate, you ate, they ate, etc... The verb does not change with the subject. Memorize the simple forms of the verb, and you’re good… But in Spanish, think of it this way: I ate, you ates, he or she or “the other you” (we’ll get to that soon) ato, we atemos, they aten... are you still with me?

Now about that “other you”... Spanish has two forms of the word you- (sometimes three but that is beyond today’s lesson today) an impersonal form and personal (wud up) form. Figuring out when to use which you can be a social etiquette nightmare in itself Not to beat a dead horse, but to say the word “for”, you use por or para, but each have their own laws of usage and are not interchangeable. Damn.

Perhaps at this point you are confused. First, bienvenido a mi vida (welcome to my life) for the last year. Second, let me break it down in numbers...

English= 6 ways to use any given verb.
Spanish= 70… mas o menos.

And so, say I want to learn all 501 verbs in my book of “commonly used verbs” appropriately titled 501 Spanish Verbs.

In English, it would be 3,006 forms. DRUMROLL PLEASE…
In Spanish, we are looking at learning 35,070 forms.
There are no typos here... so please, just sit with the difference between those numbers for a moment.

And, once you master the verbs, such fun things such as gender assignment to nouns and adjectives await. La cabeza and el cabeza, spelled the same and all but yet two different things because one is a feminine word and the other, masculine (la is feminine and el masculine). El papa is the pope. La papa, the Irish pope- that is to say, nothing more than a potato.

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