sábado, 25 de febrero de 2012

El nombre: ¿Qué es un nombre?

The Spanish word "nombre" looks a lot like the English word "number", but it means something totally different! It has two meanings: "name" and "noun".

So, be careful:
El nombre = the name / the noun
El número = the number

The fact that we use the same word for "name" and "noun" makes a lot of sense, because "nouns" are nothing else but the names we give to things. And we give names to absolutely everything:

- To people: Pablo (Paul), José (Joseph), Pedro (Peter), María (Mary), Isabel (Elizabeth), Ana (Anne)...

- To places: Nueva York (New York), España (Spain), Aconcagua (the highest peek in South America, located in Argentina)...

The above examples are what we call proper nouns or "nombres propios". They are always initialized with a capital letter.

We also give names:

- To animals: el gato (the cat), el perro (the dog), la jirafa (the giraffe), el ratón (the mouse)...

- To things: la cama (the bed), el bolígrafo (the pen), el colegio / la escuela (the school)...

- To feelings, ideas, concepts: el amor (the love), la guerra (the war), la ciencia (the science)...

In Spanish, these nouns are called "nombres" or "sustantivos". They may be preceded by articles.

In Spanish, we even give names to actions: el comer (the action of eating), el dormir (the action of sleeping), el hablar (the action of speaking)... Are these words familiar to you? They are verbs in infinitive! In other words, the infinitive is just the name of the verb.

One rather tricky thing that you must learn in Spanish is that all nouns have a gender: either masculine or feminine. When we talk about people or animals, genders are usually quite obvious: el niño (the boy), la niña (the girl); el perro (the dog), la perra (the bitch)... However, when we talk about things, the choice of gender is quite arbitrary. There are a few rules that will help you identify the gender of a noun, but there is also a number of exceptions.

Therefore, when you learn a new noun it is very important that you learn it together with its article ("el" for masculine and "la" for feminine). 

In the next lessons, I will teach you some gender rules. I will break this huge topic down in very small chunks of information, to make it easily digestible for you.

No hay comentarios:

Publicar un comentario