This post is about the use of describing words/ adjectives in general, and more specifically about the use of the masculine/ singular form of a describing word/ adjective.
Imagine you and a male friend and are talking to someone else who doesn't know your friend. At some point the other person asks you: "where is your friend from?".
¿De dónde es tu amigo?
Alternatively, he/ she could choose to be a little bit more formal and say:
¿De dónde es su amigo?
This is a straightforward question about your your friend (a third person). When saying something about a third person (that is, neither you nor the person asking the question) you DO NOT need be concerned about the degree of formality in the original question. You can just concentrate on answering the question.
Questions like this one are usually answered by indicating:
- The nationality of your friend
- The country your friend comes from
- The city/ town your friend comes from
Here are some sample replies:
- Mi amigo es inglés* (my friend is English).
- Mi amigo es italiano* (my friend is Italian).
- Mi amigo es estadounidense* (my friend is American).
- Mi amigo es vietnamita* (my friend is vietnamese).
- Mi amigo es de Inglaterra (my friend is from England).
- Mi amigo es de Londres (my friend is from London).
- Mi amigo es inglés*, de Londres (my friend is English, he is from London).
Now you should practise answering the question:
¿De dónde es tu amigo?
*NB See Grammar below
See notes below on Noun-Adjective agreement
As you can see above, in Spanish you can also use a describing word/ adjective to indicate where someone comes from. Below follow some notes on how to choose the correct form of the adjective for a given noun.
When you use Spanish describing words/ adjectives, you need to bear in mind that for each describing word in English, there are often two related but different describing words/ adjectives in Spanish. The reason being that Spanish describing words/ adjectives have to 'agree' with the gender (masculine or feminine) of the noun they describe. Most Spanish describing words have similar but separate words for each of the two genders (for example, americano/ americana). A few, however have one single form (for example, canadiense).
Thus when you come to use a describing word to indicate where someone comes from, you need to check whether the corresponding Spanish describing word/ adjective has:
- One single form (for example , estadounidense)
- Two separate forms (for example, inglés/ inglesa).- If the describing word/ adjective has two separate forms, then you need to choose the form which matches the gender (masculine/ feminine) of the noun it describes.
When you use Spanish describing words/ adjectives, you also need to bear in mind that Spanish describing words/ adjectives have singular and plural* forms the same as nouns. A Spanish describing word/ adjective must also to 'agree' with the number (singular/ plural) of the noun it describes. For example, amigo inglés (English friend -male) or amigos ingleses (English friends -males).
Thus when you come to use a describing word/ adjective to indicate where someone comes from, you need to choose the form of the Spanish describing word/ adjective which matches the noun's number (singular/ plural).
*NB View posts with details about the plural of Spanish words here.
All the practical examples in this post refer to a male friend, amigo. Consequently, they require the masculine/ singular form of a describing word/ adjective, for example, inglés.
Please note that in Spanish, the names of countries, towns, cities, etc. (for example, “Inglaterra” or “Londres”) are capitalised. However, the nationality describing words/ adjectives (for example “italiana”) are not.
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