Since there are so many people who read my blog who are trying to learn to speak Spanish, I thought I would talk a bit about Spanish grammar beyond verbs because it seems that most of the focus is usually put on verbs. I can’t diminish the importance of being able to use Spanish verbs and they take a lot of work, but there are other things in Spanish grammar that could make your Spanish better too. I think that perhaps the way to go is to choose a passage of scripture that is familiar to everyone so it is easy for everyone to understand and explain the grammar there, the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20: 1-17. It may take a few blogs to get through all of these verses, but understanding the grammar in them will help.
Verse 1: Y hablo’ Dios todas ‘estas palabras, diciendo,
Y – and (pronounced: ee)
hablo’– third person singular past, spoke or “he spoke.” This verb really needs the mark at the end of it. Without the mark, it becomes first person singular present tense: I speak.
Dios – God. Yes, at times, the subject is put after the verb in Spanish. As far as Latin languages go, my Romanian teacher told me that the word order is decided by which word in the sentence the speaker feels is more important. In English, we have to put subject, then verb, but not necessarily in a Latin language. You can put subject, and then verb, but if you consider the action most important, you can put the verb before the subject. “Dios” is the subject of this sentence.
todas ‘estas palabras – ” All these word.” When I was in Spanish class, like you, I was told that the adjectives come after the nouns in Spanish. Actually, the adjectives can come after the nouns if the noun is more important than the adjectives. ” ‘estas” is a demonstrative adjective which means that it is pointing at “palabras,” or showing us “palabras.” It seems to be important to point at the word “palabras” which means “words.” At times, it is left out, but that mark before ” ‘estas” really needs to be there because if it isn’t, you would have “estas” meaning “you are located, you are feeling, your are from, etc.” The first word of these three is “todas” which is a quantifier of how many words meaning “all.” If you notice, all three words end with an “s.” The noun “palabras” is the main word of the phrase, so the other words need to match “palabras” in both number and gender. ” ‘esta” means “this,” and ” ‘estas” means “these.” Both “toda” and “todas” mean “all.” In English, there is no difference, but it has an “s” here because it is referring to a plural noun, “palabras.” “Palabras” is also a feminine noun. You can tell because of the “a” just before the “s.” This means that any word that goes with it needs to also be feminine. “Todo” is the masculine form, and “toda” is the feminine singular form of “all.” ” ‘este” or ” ‘esto” are both masculine forms of ” ‘esta,” the feminine form of “this.”
diciendo – This word comes from “decir.” “Decir” means “to say.” “Diciendo” is the “-ing” form of “decir.” It can be used either for the gerund or as a progressive verb. If it is the progressive verb, it would need a conjugated form of “estar,” “to be” in front of it, but it is merely “diciendo,” “saying.”
So, the translation of this verse is: ” And, God spoke all these words, saying:”
Verse 2: Yo soy Jehova’ tu Dios, que te saque’ de la tierra de Egipto, de casa de servidumbre.”
Yo – I
soy – I am, coming from “ser,” the “to be” verb that describes and identifies.
Jehova’ – Jehova. In Spanish, they put the mark after it because when you say it, you put the emphasis on the end of the word. Whenever there is a mark like that, that part of the word is where the emphasis is put when you say it.
Tu Dios – your God. If this “tu” has a mark over it, it would mean “you,” but because of its placement and because there is no mark over it, you know it means “your.”
que te saque’ – “que” can mean different things. It often means “what,” but not here. Here, it is a relative pronoun that begins a relative clause meaning “that.” “que te saque’ ” is the relative clause meaning “that took you out.” “Te” is the direct object pronoun. Often, the direct object pronouns are put before the verbs in Spanish. “Te” means “you.” Direct objects receive the action of the verb. The verb is “saque’.” “Saque’ ” is the first person past tense form of “sacar,” “to take out.” Any time you have first person singular of simple past tense, it will end with an “e,” and there will be a mark over that “e.” This means that this relative clause “que te saque’ ” literally means “that I took you out,” but that is strange in English, so just translate it as “that took you out.”
de la tierra de Egipto – “de” can mean “of or from.” In this case, both of these mean “of.” “tierra” means “land,” and it is feminine because it ends with “a.” That is why “la” has an “a.” “la” means “the.” All together, this means “of the land of Egypt.”
de casa de servidumbre – In this case, the first “de” means “from,” and the second one means “of.” Most people who have studied Spanish know that “casa” means “house.” “Servidumbre” means “slavery.” This word is so uncommon that you aren’t going to find it in the average dictionary, but that is why it is good to use a text that we all have in our own language to study with because you can just look in the English Bible, and in that place, it says, “slavery.”
So, Verse 2 says, “I am Jehova, your God, that took you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery.”
This has been two verses from Exodus 20: 1-17. I will continue with subsequent blogs and explain the grammar in those verses. I hope it has helped you.