Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Tell Me, Does Madrid Have Three Million Inhabitants?


SCENARIO
Imagine you are talking to a relative, a friend or a colleague. Maybe you are talking about cities in the Spanish-speaking world. The other person says to you something like: "tell me, does Madrid have three million inhabitants?".

In Spanish, he/ she could choose to be less formal and say to you:
Dime, ¿Madrid tiene tres millones de habitantes?

On the other hand, he/ she could choose to be more formal and say to you:
Dígame, ¿Madrid tiene tres millones de habitantes?


OUR TIP
The question is an invitation for you to state the population of a city. When you state the population of a city, you DO NOT need to be concerned about the level of formality in the other person's question. Your main concern should be about communicating the population of the city in question. Perhaps you want to say that the population of the city in question is:
  • The population indicated in the question;
  • A population greater than that given in the question;
  • A population smaller than that given in the question;

Here are some examples of what you could say about the population of the city in question:
  • Sí, Madrid tiene tres millones de habitantes (yes, Madrid has three million inhabitants);
  • No, Madrid tiene más de tres millones de habitantes (no, Madrid has more than three million inhabitants);
  • No, Madrid tiene menos de tres millones de habitantes (no, Madrid has more than three million inhabitants);
Now you should practice replying to someone who says to you:
Dime, ¿Madrid tiene tres millones de habitantes?

*Please see grammar below → Millions

Grammar-Hundreds/ Thousands/ Millions
When dealing with numbers in Spanish, please be aware of the following:

    1. Hundreds
The Spanish term “ciento” corresponds to the English hundred. Please note the following peculiarities of the term “ciento”:

  • The term “ciento” is used in all “hundreds” numbers, with the exception of “one hundred” (see below). Some examples of these are:
    • Ciento uno (one hundred and one);
    • Ciento* veinte kilómetros por hora (120 kilometres per hour);
    • Ciento* veinte personas (120 persons/ people);
    • Trescientos** (three hundred);
    • Doscientos** kilómetros (200 kilometres);
    • Tres mil setecientas*** personas (3700 people);

*NB The masculine singular form “ciento” is used for numbers in the range 101 → 199, regardless of the gender of the noun they refer to.
**NB The plural form “cientos” must be used for numbers in the range 200 → 900.
***NB The feminine plural form ending in -as must be used for numbers in the range 200 → 900 when used with feminine nouns (see example above).


  • The term “ciento” is changed to “cien” when meaning the literally “one hundred”. The term “cien” is also used in all the numbers which include the term “one hundred” in them. Some examples of these are:
  • Cien (one hundred);
  • Cien kilómetros (100 kilometres);
  • Tres mil cien personas (3100 persons/ people);


    2. Thousands
The Spanish “mil” corresponds to the English thousand. Please note the following about the term “mil”:
  • The term “mil” means “one thousand”* and is used as such in all expressions which include “one thousand”. The term “mil” is used with both masculine and feminine nouns. Some examples of these are:
    • Mil (one thousand);
    • Mil novecientos veinte (1920**)
    • Mil kilómetros (1000 kilometres);
    • Tres mil cien personas (3100** persons/ people);

*NB The “one” is omitted in Spanish (see example above).
**NB The English expressions “eleven hundred”, twelve hundred”, etc. should not be translated into Spanish, where the standard “mil cien”, “mil doscientos”, etc. should be used instead.


    3. Millions.
The Spanish term “millón” corresponds to the English million. Please note the following about the term “millón”:
  • The plural form “millones” must be used for more than one million. The term/ preposition de must be placed between “millon”/ “millones” and the noun it refers to. See examples below:
    • Un millón (one/ a million);
    • Un millón de habitantes (one/ a million inhabitants);
    • Dos millones de kilómetros (2,000,000 kilometres);
    • Tres millones de personas (3,000,000 people);

Now you should practise using “hundreds”, “thousands” and “millions” with some examples of your own.


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