Thursday, 4 September 2014

Are Those Ladies Your Aunts?

Introduction


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





SCENARIO



Imagine you talking to a relative or a work colleague about family/ relatives. Looking at a picture, the other person who doesn't know your family says: "are those ladies your aunts?".

In Spanish, the other person could choose to be less formal and say:
¿Esas señoras son tus tías?

Alternatively, he/ she could choose to be a little bit more formal and say:
¿Esas señoras son sus tías?


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, esas* señoras son mis tías (yes, those ladies are my aunts);
  • No, esas* señoras no son mis tías (no, those ladies are not my aunts);
  • No, esas* señoras son mis primas (no, those ladies are my cousins);


Now you should practise answering the question:
¿Esas señoras son tus tías?

*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) 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 more than one person, señoras (lady). Consequently, they require the feminine/ plural form of a describing word/ adjective, for example, esas.

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