Thursday, 13 December 2012

Tell Me, Is This Book Yours?


SCENARIO
Imagine you are with a relative, a friend or a colleague. Maybe you are studying Spanish in a group and sharing a table. There are several books and other objects on the table. At some point, the other person points to a book and says to you something like: "tell me, is this book yours?".

In Spanish, he/ she could choose to be less formal and say to you:
Dime, ¿este libro es tuyo?

On the other hand, he/ she could choose to be more formal and say to you:
Dígame, ¿este libro es suyo?


OUR TIP
The question is an invitation for you to say whether the book in question is yours. When saying that something belongs or does not belong to you, you DO NOT need to be concerned about the level of formality in the other person's question. Your main concern should be about identifying the book in question and saying something about who that book belongs to.

  • Here are some examples of how you could reply:
    • Sí, ese* libro es mio (yes, that book is mine);
    • No, ese* libro no es mio (no, that book is not mine);
    • No, ese* libro no es mio, es de Pedro (no, that book is not mine it is Pedro's);
    • No sé por de quien es ese* libro (I don't know who that book belongs to);

Now you should practise replying to someone who says to you:
Dime, ¿este libro es tuyo?

*Please see grammar below

Grammar-Demonstratives
Basically, Spanish demonstratives are equivalent to the English demonstratives “this” and “that”. Spanish demonstratives can be either adjectives or pronouns.

Demonstrative adjectives in Spanish behave and are used in much the same way as in English. The main difference between Spanish and English demonstratives is that in Spanish, demonstrative adjectives must agree in gender (masculine/ feminine) and number (singular/ plural) with the noun they describe. Spanish demonstrative pronouns must also generally agree in gender (masculine/ feminine) and number (singular/ plural) with the noun they stand for. An exception to this rule this is neuter form of Spanish demonstrative pronouns (see details below).

The following are some important considerations when using demonstratives in Spanish.

    1. Near You
In Spanish, you may use the demonstrative “este” to refer to or stand for something which you consider close to you/ the speaker. This demonstrative corresponds to the English this. To allow the usual agreement with the noun it refers to/ stands for, this Spanish demonstrative adjective and pronoun have four forms each, as follows:

Demonstrative adjective
Singular
Masculine
este
this
Feminine
esta
this
Plural
Masculine
estos
these
Feminine
estas
these
  • Some examples of the use of this demonstrative adjective are:
    • Este libro me lo regalaron (this book was given to me as a present);
    • Esta camisa está sucia (this shirt is dirty);
    • Estos libros los compré ayer (I bought these books yesterday);
    • Estas camisas están limpias (these shirts are clean);


Demonstrative pronoun*
Singular
Masculine
éste
this one
Feminine
ésta
this one
Plural
Masculine
éstos
these ones
Feminine
éstas
these ones
  • Some examples of the use of this demostrative pronoun are:
    • Ese lápiz está roto ¿quieres éste? (that pencil is broken, do you want this one?);
    • Esa camisa está sucia ¿quieres ésta? (that shirt is dirty, do you want this one?);
    • Esos pantalones están rotos ¿quieres éstos? (those trousers are torn, do you want these ones?);
    • Esas zapatillas están mojadas, ¿quieres éstas? (those slippers are wet, do you want these ones?);
*NB Please note the spelling of these demonstrative pronouns (with accents) differentiates them from adjectives.

    2. Near The Person(s) You Are Talking To
In Spanish, you may use the demonstrative “ese” to refer to or stand for something which you consider close to the person you are talking to. This demonstrative corresponds to the English that. To allow the usual agreement with the noun it refers to/ stands for, this Spanish demonstrative adjective and pronoun have four forms each, as follows:

Demonstrative adjective
Singular
Masculine
ese
that
Feminine
esa
that
Plural
Masculine
esos
those
Feminine
esas
those
  • Some examples of the use of this demonstrative adjective are:
    • Ese libro me lo regalaron (that book was given to me as a present);
    • Esa camisa está sucia (that shirt is dirty);
    • Esos libros los compré ayer (I bought those books yesterday);
    • Esas camisas están limpias (those shirts are clean);


Demonstrative pronoun*
Singular
Masculine
ése
that one
Feminine
ésa
that one
Plural
Masculine
ésos
those ones
Feminine
ésas
those ones
  • Some examples of the use of this demostrative pronoun are:
    • Este lápiz está roto ¿me das ése? (this pencil is broken, will you pass me that one?);
    • Tengo la camisa sucia ¿me das ésa? (my shirt is dirty, will you pass me that one?);
    • Tengo los pantalones rotos ¿me das ésos? (my trousers are torn, will you pass me those ones?);
    • Estas zapatillas están mojadas, ¿me das ésas? (these slippers are wet, will you pass me those ones?);
*NB Please note the spelling of these demonstrative pronouns (with accents) differentiates them from adjectives.

    3. Not Near You (also far from the person you are talking to)
In Spanish, you may use the demonstrative “aquel” to refer to or stand for something which you consider far away from you/ the speaker and the person you are talking to. This demonstrative also corresponds to the English that. To allow the usual agreement with the noun it refers to/ stands for, this Spanish demonstrative adjective and pronoun have four forms each, as follows:

Demonstrative adjective
Singular
Masculine
aquel
that (over there)
Feminine
aquella
that (over there)
Plural
Masculine
aquellos
those (over there)
Feminine
aquellas
those (over there)
  • Some examples of the use of this demonstrative adjective are:
    • Aquel libro me lo regalaron (that book over there was given to me as a present);
    • Aquella camisa está sucia (that shirt over there is dirty);
    • Aquellos libros los compré ayer (I bought those books over there yesterday);
    • Aquellas camisas están limpias (those shirts over there are clean);


Demonstrative pronoun*
Singular
Masculine
aquél
that one (over there)
Feminine
aquélla
that one (over there)
Plural
Masculine
aquéllos
those ones (over there)
Feminine
aquéllas
those ones (over there)
  • Some examples of the use of this demonstrative pronoun are:
    • Este lápiz está roto ¿me das aquél? (this pencil is broken, will you pass me that one over there?);
    • Tengo la camisa sucia ¿me das aquélla? (my shirt is dirty, will you pass me that one over there?);
    • Tengo los pantalones rotos ¿me das aquéllos? (my trousers are torn, will you pass me those ones over there?);
    • Estas zapatillas están mojadas, ¿me das aquéllas? (these slippers are wet, will you pass me those ones over there?);
*NB Please note the spelling of these demonstrative pronouns (with accents) differentiates them from adjectives.

4. Demonstrative Pronouns-Neuter Form
In Spanish, in addition to the masculine and feminine forms of demonstrative pronouns, we also have a neuter form. The neuter form of demonstrative pronouns stands for and refers to general things rather than a specific nouns. In other words, using the neuter form of a demonstrative pronoun in Spanish is equivalent to using an English expression, such as “this thing” to refer to an item without without naming that item.

It should be noted that the neuter form of demonstrative pronouns has no plural. This form of the demonstrative pronoun is also spelled differently*. The neuter form of demonstrative pronouns is as follows:
  • Esto” - This pronoun corresponds to the English “this”. You may use this pronoun to refer to or stand for something close to you, or something you have just said or done without you specifically naming it;
  • Eso”- This pronoun corresponds to the English “that”. You may use this pronoun to refer to or stand for something close to the person you are talking to, or something that person has just said or done, without you specifically naming it;
  • Aquello” - This pronoun corresponds to the English “that”. You may use this pronoun to refer to or stand for something distant from you and the person you are talking to, or something you or that person have said or done in the past without specifically naming it;
  • Some examples of the use of the neuter form of demonstrative pronouns are:
    • Esto no funciona (this is not working – “this” could refer to an item of hardware, a particular arrangement, etc.);
    • Toma esto (take this - “this” could refer to anything you are handing over but you don't want to name specifically);
    • Eso no me gusta (I don't like that - “that” could refer to anything you don't like, but you don't want to name specifically);
    • ¿Qué quiere decir eso? (what does that mean ?- “that” could refer to something the other person has just said);
    • Quería aquello (I would like that - “that” could refer to something you want but don't want to name specifically, maybe just point to it);
    • No quise decir aquello (I did not mean to say that - “that” refers to something you said in the past);
*NB Please note the spelling of the neuter from of demonstrative pronouns (without accents)differentiates them from masculine form of other demonstrative pronouns.

5. Demonstrative Pronouns-Neuter Form (with 'de')
The combination of a neuter form of demonstrative pronouns followed by the preposition “de” may be used to translate English expressions such as “the business of”, “the matter of”, “the question of” or similar.

  • Some examples of the use of the combination of a neuter demonstrative pronoun followed by the preposition “de” are:
    • Con esto de los deberes aprendo español mucho mejor (with this business of homework, I learn Spanish much better);
    • ¿Que te parece eso de trabajar y estudiar? (what is your opinion on that subject of working and studying?);
    • En qué quedó aquello de trabajar los fines de semana? (how did that business of working weekends end up?);
Now you should practise the uses of demonstratives with some examples of your own.

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