Office of Multilingual Learning
360 Colborne St.
Saint Paul, MN 55102
* Condensed from the University of Chicago Spanish/English dictionary
Today Spanish (Castellano or español) is the most extensivemanifestation of the spoken Latin. There are more than 300,000,000speakers of the language who live in more than 20 countries. Spanishis also a rapidly growing language in the United States. It isimportant to briefly understand the history of the language to havean understanding of what we are studying.
The speech of Roman soldiers, merchants and colonists, the spokenLatin of another day, was taken bodily into Iberia (Spain) and manyother areas of the Roman Empire. The Latin spoken by these personsdiffered from the Classical written Latin, and was also changed byits daily contact with speakers of Iberian languages. These Latin ofthese spoken dialects developed into the Romance Languages - Spanish,Portuguese, Catalan Provençal, French, Rhaeto-Romansch,Italian, Romanian, Ladino, etc. The Latin of north central Spain cameto be called Castillian (castellano), since its speakers were fromthe region of Castilla. (Both English and Spanish are part of theIndo-European Language Family, the largest language family in theworld. English derived from the Germanic branch of this family, hencethe many similarities between the two.)
Although the language is often called Spanish, its correct name isCastillian. This is a very important distinction in Spain, whereCastillian is never referred to as Spanish as it would be an insultto the many native speakers of Basque, Gallician and Catalan, theother official languages of Spain. These areas have struggled longand hard to have their languages and customs officially recognized.It is important that any student of Spanish recognize this fact asmany native speakers refer to the language as castellano.
Castillian became prominent among the other Latin dialects (thedialects of León, Aragon, Galicia and Catalunya known asleónes, aragonés, gallego and catalan respectively) inSpain because of the role that the Christians of north central Spainplayed in the reconquista (reconquest) of the peninsula from theArabs, Moors, and Muslims who had conquered almost all of thepeninsula between 711 and 718. (These Arab groups peacefullyco-existed for the most part with the Christians and Jews of Spainduring the 800 years that they occupied Spain. As a result of thisoccupation, Spanish has a distinctly Arabic flavor to it that is notfound in other Romance languages. Many of the words that are used inSpanish are Arabic or derived from Arabic.)
However, the Christians were uncomfortable with the Moors thatoccupied Spain and spent 800 years slowly driving them southwardtoward Africa. After finally taking their last stronghold, Granada,in 1492, the Christians, who were culturally Castillian, were able toconcentrate on matters outside their peninsula. With the reconquistaover, the Christians of Spain turned their expansionist fervor inother directions.
The growth of the political expansion that resulted from thereconquista was expanded in many directions. The Spainsh set sail bythe thousands on voyages of discovery, trade and settlement of thenew world and old worlds. The predominance of Castillian/Spanish overthe other dialects/languages of Spain continued to grow and was notdue to any linguistic factors, but rather political and militaryorganization, church/state relations and literary ascendancy.
The Spanish of the New World developed in many respects in thesame way that Spanish developed in Spain. The Spanish that firstarrived in the Americas was the Spanish of soldiers. These soldierswere often poorly educated and their Spanish reflected that. TheSpanish of Latin America, like most "colonial" speech, tends to beconservative in its structural changes compared with that of themother country. In addition, it reflects regional traits of thesouthwestern part of Spain, notably Andalucia and Extremadura, fromwhere a large part of the sailors, conquistadores and colonists came.(If they did not originally come from these areas, the long time theyspent in waiting for ships in Sevilla and in transit tended to affecttheir speech with southernisms.). In other words, the Spanish of theAmericas would seem to be Andalusian Castillian of the 16th and 17thcenturies, as far as pronunciation and grammar are concerned. Thevocabulary, however, has expanded rapidly. Since 1492, the languagehas encountered new items: plants, peoples, animals, etc. for whichthey had no names. Spanish often adopted new words from foreignlanguages in the new world such as Náhuatel (Aztec) andQuechua (Andean region of South America). In modern times, French andEnglish have also supplied important contributions to Spanish.Spanish is a very international language used in many parts of theworld. Hopefully, your initial exposure to the language will lead toa life-long love for castellano.
For more detailed information on the history of the Spanishlanguage, consult the preface of the University of ChicagoSpanish/English dictionary where much of this information wasobtained.
articulo definido/definite article
How are you (informal)
¿Cómo está Usted (señor/a)
How are you? (formal)
I am well
Estoy así así.
I am so so
I am tired
I am phenomenal
I am magnificent
I am bad.
Estoy medio medio
I am fair to middlin'
No estoy bien.
I am not well.
I am sleepy
En esta clase Yo me llamo _____________________ (in this class, I call myself)
Me llamo ____________
My name is _____________ (I call myself __________)
¿Cómo te llamas?
What is your name? (informal form)
¿Cómo se llama Usted?
What is your name? (formal form)
brown (Latin America)
dieciséis (diez y seis)*
*The numbers can alternatively be written in this way.
Estados Unidos (de América)
United States (of America)
La Républica Dominicana
hombre de negocios
mujer de negocios
Hasta la vista
Until we see each other again
Vaya con Diós
Go with God
Vengo de ___________
I come from _____________
¿De dónde vienes?
Where do you come from? (informal form)
¿De dónde viene Usted?
Where do you come from? (formal form)
Soy de ___________
I am from _____________
¿De dónde eres?
Where are you from? (informal form)
¿De dónde es Usted?
Where are you from? (formal form)
I am a _____________
¿Cuál es tu profesión?
What is your profession? (informal form)
¿ Cuál es su profesión (señor/a)?
What is your profession? (formal form)
"from, of, about"
the (masculine singular)
the (feminine singular)
the (masc./mixed group plural)
the (feminine plural)
Masculine Nouns Names of male beings are naturally masculine: el hombre the man; el muchacho the boy; el tío the uncle; el rey the king; el buey the ox.Nouns ending in -o are masculine: el libro the book; el banco the bank.exception: la mano the hand; la radio the radioDays of the week, months, rivers, oceans and mountains are masculine: el martes Tuesday; enero January; el Pacífico the Pacific; el Rin The Rhine; los Andes the Andes.Most nouns in -l or -r, and nouns of Greek origin ending in -ma are masculine: el papel the paper; el azúcar the sugar; el favor the favor; el drama the drama/ Common exceptions: la miel the honey. la sal the salt; la catedral the cathedral; la flor the flower. note that mar (sea) can be wither masculine or feminine. Feminine Nouns Names of female beings are naturally feminine: la mujer the woman; la muchacha the girl; la tía the aunt; la reina the queen; la vaca the cow.Nouns ending in -a are feminine: la pluma the pen; la carta the letter; la casa the house. Common exceptions: el día the day; el mapa the map; nouns of Greek origin ending in -ma: el dogma the dogma; el trauma the trauma, el programa the program.letters of the alphabet are feminine: el e; la s; la t.Nouns ending in -ión, -tad, -dad, -tud, -umbre are feminine: la canción the song; la facultad the faculty; la ciudad the city; la virtud the virture; la muchadumbre the crowd. exceptions: el gorrión the sparrow, el sarampión the measles, el camión the truck; el avión the plane. Formation of the Feminine Nouns ending in -ochange -o to -a: tío uncle, tía aunt; muchacho boy, muchacha girl.Nouns ending in -án and -án add -a: patrón patron, patróna patroness; pastor shepherd, pastora shepherdess; holgazón lazy man, holgazóna lazy woman.Certain nouns have a special form for the feminine: el poeta the poet, la poetisa the poetess; el cantante the singer, la cantatriz the singer; el sacerdote the priest, la sacerdotisa the priest; el emperador the emperor, la emperatriz the empress; el abad the abbot, la abadesa the abbess; el conde the duke, la condesa the duchess; el duque the duke, la duquesa the duchess. Plural of Nouns Nouns ending in unaccented vowels add -s to form the plural: el libro, los libros; la casa, las casas.Nouns ending in a consonant, in -y, or in an accented vowel add -es: el papel, los papeles; la canción, las canciones; la ley, los leyes; el rubí, los rubies. exception: the accpeted plurals of papá papa and mamá mama are papás and mamás respectively. .Nouns ending in unaccented -es and -is do not change in the plural: el lunes Monday , los lunes Mondays; la tesis the thesis, las tesis the theses.
Common exceptions: la miel the honey. la sal the salt; la catedral the cathedral; la flor the flower. note that mar (sea) can be wither masculine or feminine.