Thursday, 11 December 2014

What Is The Name Of The Boy Whose Aunts Are English?

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 relative adjectives.





SCENARIO



Imagine you talking to a friend or a work colleague about a group of people you have met recently. Referring to a boy from that group, the other person says: "what is the name of the boy whose aunts are English?".

In Spanish, the other person could choose to say:
¿Cómo se llama el chico cuyas tías son inglesas?


OUR TIP

A simple answer would be just to name the boy. 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:
  • El chico cuyas* tías son inglesas se llama David (the boy whose aunts are English is called David);
  • El chico cuyas* tías son inglesas se llama Luis (the boy whose aunts are English is called Luis);
  • El chico cuyas* tías son inglesas se llama Antonio (the boy whose aunts are English is called Antonio);


Now you should practise answering the question:
¿Cómo se llama el chico cuyas tías son inglesas?

*NB See Grammar below

*Grammar-Adjectives


Gender
Number
Adjective
tío
masculine
singular
cuyo
tíos
masculine/
mixed
plural
cuyos
tía
feminine
singular
cuya
tías
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 more than one person, tías (aunts -feminine). Consequently, they require the feminine/ plural form of a describing word/ adjective, for example, cuyas.

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