Monday, 30 June 2014

Is That Lady Your Mother?

Introduction


This post is about the use of describing words/ adjectives in general, and more specifically about the use of the feminine/ singular form of demonstrative adjectives -demostrativos.




SCENARIO




Imagine you talking to a friend or a work colleague. You are talking about family/ relatives. Looking at a picture, the other person who doesn't know your parents says: "is that lady your mother?".

In Spanish, the other person could choose to be less formal and say:
¿Esa señora es tu madre?

Alternatively, he/ she could choose to be a little bit more formal and say:
¿Esa señora es su madre?


OUR TIP

The answer to this question is quite straightforward. You should pay particular attention to noun-adjective agreement -see grammar notes below*.



Here are some sample replies:
  • Sí, esa* señora es mi madre (yes, that lady is my mother);
  • No, esa* señora no es mi madre (no, that lady is not my mother);
  • No, esa* señora es mi tía (no, that lady is my aunt);


Now you should practise answering the question:
¿Esa señora es tu madre?

*NB See Grammar below

*Grammar-Adjectives


Gender
Number
Adjective
señor
masculine
singular
ese
señores
masculine/
mixed
plural
esos
señora
feminine
singular
esa
señoras
feminine
plural
esas
Noun-Adjective Agreement

See notes below on Noun-Adjective agreement

Noun-Adjective Agreement
In Spanish describing words/ adjectives have to agree in gender and number with the noun(s) they describe.

Adjectives -Gender
Many Spanish describing words/ adjectives have two forms:
  • A masculine gender form (for example, alto)
  • A similar, but different feminine gender (for example, alta).

A few Spanish describing words/ adjectives have one single form for both masculine and feminine (for example, inteligente).

Every time you use a describing word which has two separate forms (for example, alto/ alta), you need to choose the form which matches the gender (masculine/ feminine) of what you are describing.

Adjectives -Number
In contrast with English, Spanish describing words/ adjectives have also plural* forms. Every time you use a describing word with a plural noun (for example, señoras), you must use the plural form of the corresponding describing word/ adjective (for example, esas).

You should use the masculine/ plural form of a describing word/ adjective when it describes multiple persons/ things of different grammatical genders.

*NB View posts with details about the plural of Spanish words here.

Adjectives -Use
All the practical examples in this post refer to one person, señora (lady). Consequently, they require the feminine/ singular form of a describing word/ adjective, for example, esa.

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