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Explaining Spanish Grammar Using the Language Chapter, Part 3

I have been doing Spanish a long, long time. I happen to love language. You could probably tell that from the kinds of blogs I put out. I also love God, reading books, and studying the Bible. I learned a long time ago that studying the Bible in foreign language makes your language grow while giving you Bible knowledge at the same time. In fact, I only had two years of high school Spanish, but when I lived in Texas, one of the things I did was attend Bible classes taught in Spanish, and it made my Spanish grow. I also watched Telenovela on TV and listened to the radio in Spanish. (I ended up as a university Spanish professor with only two years of high school Spanish.) There are so many way to make your Spanish grow available to Americans now a days because even in Oklahoma, I can listen to Spanish radio now. In S. Korea, sometimes, I could find telenovela on TV. However, it has really helped me that I had a Spanish Bible to take with me and could take it out and start reading any time I wanted. We are using 1 Corinthians 14 because I know many of my readers are interested in language as I am, and I feel like it has a lot to say about language.

Estudie’ la Biblia en espanol, y aprendi tan mucho que me converti en profesora de espanol. (I studied the bible in Spanish, and I learned so much that I became a Spanish professor.) Estudiando la Biblia en espanol es bueno. (Studying the Bible in Spanish is good.)Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

So far, when we studied the love chapter (1 Corinthians 13), we realized that the people were arguing in chapter 12 about who had the best gift from God, and the Apostle Paul tried to teach them to love one another and how to love one another in 1 Corinthians 13. He told them the miraculous gifts of the holy spirit were going to stop because they wouldn’t need them once they learned to love one another and actually formed into a church, and told them to grow up. In the beginning of chapter 14, we learn that God considers preaching as more important than speaking in a foreign language. At the end of verse 6, the Apostle Paul says, “Que os a proverchara’, si no hablare’ con revelacion, o con ciencia, o con profecia o con doctrina?” (What will it prove to you if I will not speak with revelation, or with Science, or with prophecy or with teaching?) He is talking about speaking about those things without speaking in a language that people understand. It just doesn’t help to jabber on in a language that people don’t understand because nadie no pueden recibir edificacion (no one can receive edification). And, we speak in churches for edification. This takes us to verse 7.

Las flautas tienen notas. (Flutes have notes.) Conocemos la melodia de las notas. (We know the tune by the notes.)Photo by Teddy on Pexels.com

Verse 7: Ciertamente las cosas inanimadas que producen sonidos, como la flauta o la citara, si no dieron distincion de voces, ?Como se sabra’ lo que toca con la flauta o con la citara?”

Ciertamente -” certainly.” Any time you see “mente” in Spanish, it is “ly” in English. When you see an “ly” in English or “mente” in Spanish, it means it is an adverb. An adverb describes verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. This adverb is connected to “producen” (they produce), the verb.

las cosas inanimadas – “the inanimate things.” Here, “cosas” is the noun that means “things.” It is kind of the ruler in grammar of the phrase. It is feminine because it as an “a” toward the end, and plural because it has an “s” at the end. That means the adjective that comes after it, inanimadoas, and the article before it, las, must both be feminine and plural. “Inanimadas” has an “a” toward the end, so it is feminine, and an “s” on the end, so it is plural. “Las” has an “a” in the middle, so it is feminine. To say “the” in Spanish, there are several ways, and “las” is feminine and plural. If it were simple feminine, you would use “la.” If it were masculine plural, you would use “los.”

que producen sonidos -“That produce sounds.” This is a relative clause. “Que,” among other things, is a relative pronoun that means “that.” “Que” can be used in several ways in Spanish, and doesn’t always mean “that,” but here it does. “Producen” comes from “producer” which means “to produce.” “Producen” is in simple present tense, third person plural. Simple present tense means it happens all the time, everyday. The third person plural pronoun that is embedded in “producen” is “they.” “Sonidos” (sounds) is a plural noun. The “s” on the end tells you it is plural. What do they produce? They produce “sounds.” That means that “sonidos” is the direct object of “producen.” This relative clause is used as an adjective clause. Adjective clauses tell about a noun. This adjective clause is explaining “las cosas inanimadas,” the inanimate things. It makes sense, we know that inanimate things don’t make sounds.

La citara’ tiene notas. (The harp has notes.)Photo by Danila Giancipoli on Pexels.com

como la flauta o la citara’ – “Like the flute or the harp.” Any time you see “like” or “as” in English, it is a simile. “Como,” in this case, translates to be “like.” A simile signals a kind of figurative language. The writer of the sentence is giving a little more life or a picture to their sentence to help us understand better. Here, we are getting an example of the “cosas inanimadas” that produce sounds. The flute or the harp (la flauta o la citara’) are inanimate objects that produce sounds.

si no dieron distincion de voces – “if they didn’t give distinction of voices.” “Si” means “if.” Many people know that “si’ ” means “yes,” but “si’ ” has an accent mark, and “si” doesn’t. Without the accident mark, “si” is “if.” “Dieron” comes from “dar” which means “to give.” “Dieron” is third person plural, simple past tense. Simple past tense in Spanish always uses the same patterns. If you see “ieron” or “aron” as the ending, just remember they are always third person plural, simple past tense. Third person plural means that the pronoun is “they.” “Dieron” also has “no” before it, and that “no” means “not,” so “no dieron” = they didn’t give. Usually, in English and Spanish both, conditional phrases and clauses have a simple past tense verb, and this is a conditional clause. “Distincion” is easy to understand because it is almost like the English word “distinction.” In fact, when I type it, I have to watch the auto correct on my computer because it thinks I have made a mistake and the computer tries to change it to “distinction.” “De” means either “from” or “of,” and in this case, it means “of.” “Voces” is plural of “voz.” “Voz” means “voice,” and “voces” means “voices.”

Since this is a conditional, there needs to be a conclusion, and the conclusion is in the question. That makes it a rhetorical question. A rhetorical question has an obvious answer, so the speaker doesn’t expect an answer.

Como se sabra‘ – “How will he know,” “How will she know,” or “How will it know,” or “How will you know.” “Sabra’ ” is third person singular future of “saber.” All of these pronouns could be embedded: he, she, it, or respectful you. I had hoped to get some specificity from “se,” the reflexive pronoun, but “se” is also general. When I look in English, it doesn’t help grammatically because the phrasing is different, but it seems to translate “anyone.” When I looked in Romanian, I got “who knows?” In Korean, I got “who.” Perhaps the best translation for this phrase n English would be “How would anyone know?” “Como” can mean “like” or “as,” but at the beginning of a sentence, it means “how.”

lo que toca con la flauta o con la citara’ – “what he play with the flute or the harp?” That “que,” again, signals that you have a relative clause because “que” translates here as the relative pronoun “what.” In English, when we use “what,” the relative clause becomes the direct object clause, and “what you play with the flute or the harp” becomes a direct object clause of “know.” You have to have something that a relative clause refers to, so the Spanish translator put “lo” which means “it” which is a direct object pronoun of “sabra’,” “will know.” However, in English, we are not going to say, “How will you know it what..” We say, “How will you know what…” “Toca” is from “tocar.” “Tocar” means “to touch” or “to play an instrument.” Since we are talking about a flute (flauta) and a harp (citara’), we will take “to play an instrument. “Toca” is the simple present tense, third person singular form. Again, simple present tense means that it could happen everyday or all the time. Third person singular means the pronouns that could be embedded here are: he, she, it, or the respectful you. I put “he” above, but often in English, we might use “you.”

“Con” means “with.” “La flauta” means “the flute.” It is singular and feminine. The “a” on the end of the noun “flauta” rules. It means “the” should be translated as “la” and not as “el.” “O” means “or.” That means you have a choice between “la flauta” and “la citara’.” “La citara’ ” (harp) is an article and a noun. The noun “citara’ ” ends with an “a,” so it needs “la” as “the.” “Citara’ ” also ends with an accent mark. That tells you that when you read this word, the emphasis in your voice should be at the end of the word.

Let’s put this all together: “The inanimate things that produce sounds like the flute or the harp, if they didn’t give distinction of voices, how would anyone know what you played with the flute or the harp?

El apostol Pablo era un hombre intelegente con muchos grados. (the apostle Paul was an intelegent man with a lot of degrees.)Photo by Tam Hoang on Pexels.com


It is clear to me that the Apostle Paul didn’t change the subject. He is still talking about languages. He is simple saying that if you jabber on when people don’t understand, how can anyone know what you were saying? He is using a metaphorical comparison of the flute and the harp to language. It is clear that he wants people to understand, and that jabbering on when people don’t understand makes no sense.

Cuando la bandera Americana sube, tocan un cancion para las hombres se lavartaren. (Whent he American flag goes up, they play a song for the men to get up.) Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

Verse 8: Y la trompeta diere sonido incierto, ?quien se preparara’ para la batalla?

Para la armada, la trompeta es muy importante. (For the army, the trumpet is very important.)Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

Y la trompeta – “And the trumpet.” It sounds to me like the Apostle Paul is going to just go on with his metaphor of language as a musical instrument. “Y” as you probably know, means “and.” “Trompeta” is similar to the English word, so it is easy to understand. “Trompeta” ends with an “a.” It means that it is feminine and singular. To give it a feminine singular article, we need “la” to equal “the.”

diere sonido – “will give sound.” “Diere” comes from “dar” which means “to give.” “Diere” is in future tense, first person singular. This means that “I” is embedded in “diere.” “Sonido” (sound) is the direct object of “diere” (I will give).

sonido incierto – “uncertain sound.” As I said, “sonido” means “sound.” “Sonido” is a noun, and everything around the noun takes signals from the noun. “Incierto” is the adjective that describes “sonido.” In Spanish, the adjective comes after the noun unless you are trying to give hard emphasis to the adjective, then they put it before. Many people who have studied Spanish remember that “cierto” means certain because the two words are very similar. However, whereas in English, we put “un” on the front of a word to negate it, they put “in”: “incierto” becomes “uncertain.”

preparara’ – “He will prepare.” This comes from “preparer” which means “to prepare.” “preparara’ ” is in future tense, third person singular. This means that “he, she, it, or respectful you” is embedded in “preparara’.” I chose “he,” but it could be any of the other pronouns there.

Ellos saben a preparer si un hombre toca la trompeta correctamente. (They preapre for battle if a man plays the trumpet correctly.)Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

para la batalla – “for the battle.” This is a prepositional phrase. “Para” means “for,” a preposition. “Batalla” means “battle.” That “ll” is pronounced like an English “y” unless you are from Panama, and then it is pronounced like an English “j.” “Batalla” is singular and feminine. The “a” on the end tells you it is feminine. This means that the article before it should be singular and feminine. The article is “la” which is singular and feminine because of that “a.”

Cuando termine el dia, bajaron la badera. (When the day is finished, they put down the flag.) Cuando termine el dia, ellos tocan un cancion, y las letras son, “el dia termine, el solse a hido, de la tierra, de la tierra, del mar…” (When the day is finished, they play a song, and the lyrics are, “the day is done, gone the sun, from the earth, from the land, from the sea….”) La trompeta no habla, pero se cual cancion de las notas. (The trumpet doesnt speak, but I know which song from the notes.) “Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

The Apostle Paul is still talking about language. He is trying to make a comparison that makes people understand how important it is to be understood. If a trumpet gives off an indistinct sound, then the soldiers won’t know what it means and won’t be ready to go to battle. I grew up with my dad in the military, and when we lived on the military base, the person who played the bugle had certain tunes he played at certain times, and they were a form of communication. In the morning, he played “revelry” to make everyone get out of bed. In the evening, he played “taps,” to tell everyone the sun was going down, and they were taking the flag down. They were two distinct sounds. If they played “taps” in the morning, everyone would think it was still night and they could keep sleeping. Playing the wrong song at the wrong time would have caused confusion. Just as if the bugle had indistinct sounds when it was time to go to battle. If the soldiers didn’t know it was time for battle, it would be disastrous!

This is all a comparison to language. If the people don’t understand what is being said, it could be disastrous, and in the least, confusing. If someone is jabbering along and no one understands, it doesn’t help a thing and could even cause trouble. The Apostle Paul is right. Understanding is very important!! If language is that important, can you imagine how important preaching is since it is supposed to be more important than language?

Let’s put this all together: “And if the trumpet will give uncertain sound, who prepares himself for the battle?”

En muchos sentidos, el apostol Pablo fue poeta. (In many ways, the apostle Paul was a poet.)Photo by Elina Krima on Pexels.com

The Apostle Paul was a very educated, eloquent man. In the first part of chapter 13, we felt like we were reading poetry because it is so beautifully written there. Here, he is using a lot of figurative language, metaphors and similes, to get his point across. We understand that if a bugle gives the wrong song, everyone will be confused. We know that musical instruments are played with notes, and we need those notes to make the right music. Without the notes, we don’t know what the tune is. This all translates to “if we jabber when we speak or if we speak in a language the others don’t know, it does us or them no good.” When the church comes together, the Apostle Paul said in verses 4 and 5, it is for edification, to be built up, and if people don’t understand, then no one is built up.

Let’s talk about some grammatical principles here:

Dar = to give

diere = I will give. Whenever you have future tense, usually, the whole verb stays intact, and then you add the ending, and the ending that has “I” is “e.” However, “dar” is irregular, and irregular verbs run rampant in Spanish like in English. Here are some example of regular verbs in future tense first person: “venir” means “to come.” “Venire’ ” means “I will come.” “Comer” means “to eat.” “Comere’ ” means “I will eat.” “Hablar” means “to speak.” “Hablare’ ” means “I will speak.” “Caminar” means “to walk.” “Caminare’ ” means “I will walk.” As you can see, if the verb is not irregular, the pattern is there. In future tense, you usually leave the “ar, ir, or er” on the end and just add the ending after that.

dieron = They gave. Again, this comes from “dar,” and “dar” is irregular. Usually third person singular past tense is pretty easy. Here are some examples: “Hablar” becomes “hablaron.” “Caminar” becomes “caminaron.” “Venir” becomes “venieron.” “Comer” becomes “comieron.” In past tense, the ending of “ar, ir, or er” is taken off, and then you add the ending. If it is an “ar” verb, you add “aron.” If it is an “er” or an “ir” verb, you add “ieron.”

sabra‘ – he, she, it, or respectful you will know. This is another irregular verb, saber (to know). This is how crazy it gets: I know – se, you know – sabes, he, she, and it knows or respectful you know – sabe. we know – sabemos, they know -saben. I knew – supe, you knew = supiste, he, she, and it knew – supo’, we knew – supimos, they knew – supieron. I will know – sabre’, you will know – sabras, he, she, or it will know – sabra’, we will know -sabremos, they will know – sabran.

preparara‘ – “he, she, or it will know or you respectful will know.” This verb is very regular, (preparer) so if you learn the endings for this one, you will know all the regular endings for an “ar” verb. I prepare – preparo, you prepare – prepares, he, she, or it prepares or respectful you prepare – prepara, we prepare – preparamos, they prepare or plural respectful you prepares – preparan. I preapared – prepare‘, you prepared – preparaste, he, she, it prepared (etc.) – preparo’, we prepared – preparamos, they prepared or respectful you prepared – preparon. I will prepare- preparare’, you will prepare – prepararas, he, she, it will prepare – preparara’, we will prepare – prepararemos, they will prepare – prepararan. Remember that in future tense, you don’t take that “ar” off before you conjugate it like you do with the other tenses.

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