A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish
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A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish

John Butt, Carmen Benjamin, Antonia Moreira Rodríguez

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eBook - ePub

A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish

John Butt, Carmen Benjamin, Antonia Moreira Rodríguez

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About This Book

A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish is a comprehensive, cohesive and clear guide to the forms and structures of Spanish as it is written and spoken today in Spain and Latin-America. It includes clear descriptions of all the main grammatical phenomena of Spanish, and their use, illustrated by numerous examples of contemporary Spanish, both Peninsular and Latin-American, formal and informal. Fully revised and updated, the sixth edition is even more relevant to students and teachers of Spanish.

The sixth edition includes:

• new chapters, providing more detail and examples of key areas of Spanish grammar;

• an increased number of Mexican examples to reflect the growing interest in this country's variety of Spanish;

• new information for readers studying Spanish and French together;

• a glossary of grammatical terms including English translations of Spanish terms.

The combination of reference grammar and manual of current usage is invaluable for learners at level B2–C2 of the Common European Framework for Languages, and Intermediate High–Advanced High on the ACTFL proficiency scales.

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1Gender of nouns

The main points discussed in this chapter are
Gender of nouns referring to humans and some animals (Section 1.2)
Gender of nouns referring to lifeless things, plants and other animals (Section 1.3)
The gender of foreign words (Section 1.3.12)
Doubtful genders (Section 1.3.15)
Misleading genders of some French nouns (Section 1.4)
1.1 Gender of nouns: general
Spanish nouns are either masculine or feminine except for a few nouns of undecided gender listed at 1.3.15. The whole question of the gender of Spanish nouns becomes clearer if we divide them into two groups:
(A) Nouns that refer to human beings and to a few well-known animals: Section 1.2.
(B) Nouns that refer to lifeless things, to plants and to the animals not included in group A: Section 1.3.
1.2 Group A: gender of nouns referring to human beings and to a few animals
As one might expect, nouns that denote males are masculine, and nouns referring to females are feminine, so el hombre ‘man’, la mujer ‘woman’, el toro ‘bull’, la vaca ‘cow’. This rule applies to almost all human beings but only to a few animals, many of them listed in 1.2.1. The gender of other animals is discussed at 1.3.1.
The gender of the nouns in group A is more logical in Spanish than in French, where the masculine noun le professeur can refer to a woman. Forms like la recluta ‘recruit’, la centinela ‘sentry’ were applied to men in the past, but we now say el recluta, el centinela for a man and la recluta, la centinela for a woman.
Exceptions: a few nouns of fixed gender like la víctima or la celebridad may refer to males or to females: see 1.2.11 for a list.
(1) Note that usually the plural masculine form of these nouns is used for mixed sex groups: los gatos = ‘cats’ as well as ‘tom cats’, mis tíos = ‘my aunt(s) and uncle(s)’ as well as ‘my uncles’, los padres = ‘parents’ as well as ‘fathers’. See 1.2.8.
1.2.1 Special forms for male and female
As in English, some nouns have special forms for the male and for the female and they must be learned separately. The following list is not exhaustive:
el abad/la abadesa abbot/abbess el barón/la baronesa baron/baroness
el actor/la actriz actor/actress el caballo/la yegua stallion/mare
el león/la leona lion/lioness el marido/la mujer husband/wife (or woman)
el carnero/la oveja* ram/ewe (or sheep) el padre/la madre father/mother
el conde/la condesa count/countess el príncipe/la princesa prince/princess
el duque/la duquesa duke/duchess el rey/la reina king/queen
el elefante/la elefanta elephant el sacerdote/la sacerdotisa priest/priestess
el emperador/la emperatriz emperor/empress el toro/la vaca* bull/cow
el gallo/la gallina* cockerel/hen (or chicken) el varón (human) or el macho (animals)/la
el héroe/la heroína hero/heroine (or heroin) hembra male/female
el hombre/la mujer man (see note 2) el yerno/la nuera son/daughter-in-law (la
el jabalí/ la jabalina wild boar yerna is heard in parts of Lat. America)
(1) Asterisks mark a feminine form which is also used for the species, e.g. las ovejas = ‘sheep’ as well as ‘ewes’. Usually the masculine plural is used for the species. See 1.2.8.
(2) In Latin America ‘wife’ is la esposa and ‘wo...

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