Saturday, 1 November 2014

Is The Boy Here Whose Sister Is Your Friend?

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 relative adjectives.




SCENARIO


Imagine you talking to a friend or a work colleague. You are looking at a picture and talking about the people in that picture. Pointing to the picture, the other person says: "is the boy here whose sister is your friend?".

In Spanish, the other person could choose to be less formal and say:
¿Está aquí el chico cuya hermana es tu amiga?

Alternatively, he/ she could choose to be a little bit more formal and say:
¿Está aquí el chico cuya hermana es su amiga?


OUR TIP

A "yes" or a "no" would be the easiest answer. In many cases, that would be sufficient.

However, there are some answers which will require you to pay particular attention to noun-adjective agreement -see grammar notes below*.


Examples of such answers are:
  • Sí, el chico cuya* hermana es mi amiga está aquí (yes, the boy whose sister is my friend is here);
  • Sí, el chico cuya* hermana es mi amiga está en la foto (yes, the boy whose sister is my friend is in the photo);
  • No, el chico cuya* hermana es mi amiga no está aquí (no, the boy whose sister is my friend is not here);


Now you should practise answering the question:
¿Está aquí el chico cuya hermana es tu amiga?

*NB See Grammar below

*Grammar-Adjectives


Gender
Number
Adjective
hermano
masculine
singular
cuyo
hermanos
masculine/
mixed
plural
cuyos
hermana
feminine
singular
cuya
hermanas
feminine
plural
cuyas

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, hermana (sister). Consequently, they require the feminine/ singular form of a describing word/ adjective, for example, cuya.

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