Sunday, December 13, 2009

Reviewing the Parts of Speech

A big part of language learning depends on knowing how words are classified according to their general functions. For instance, if a student doesn't know that words that "name" things, people, ideas and so forth are called nouns and that "action words" are called verbs, a lot of time will be wasted in using euphemisms or circumlocutions to explain them.

The same is true for the other ways that words can be classified. These classifications are known as the parts of speech. There really aren't many general classifications -- only nine in all:

1. Articles
2. Adjectives
3. Nouns
4. Pronouns
5. Verbs
6. Adverbs
7. Prepositions
8. Conjunctions
9. Interjections

When studying Spanish, you also have to be aware of what are known in English as phrasal verbs, because English takes verbs and radically changes their meaning by changing a following preposition. Just consider the verb get. Add prepositions to it, such as up, on, over, with... and you'll "get" the idea! These each translate into Spanish with a unique verb.

Another problem that English speakers have is managing Spanish's own prepositional usage. The best way is to memorize the preposition or prepositions that can or must follow each verb as you learn them, just as you should do when you learn nouns by preceeding them with the masculine or feminine articles. Sometimes it is easier to learn Spanish nouns when you understand how Latin became Spanish, even if you haven't studied Latin. Additionally, you might find it enlightening to know how the definite articles in Spanish developed from Latin. This is somewhat related to the often asked question of why we say el agua but las aguas.

If you have questions of any kind about learning Spanish, teaching or using Spanish, please post a comment!

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