We have been working on the Spanish grammar in 1 Corinthians chapter 14 for a while because it talks about language and there are so many people who read my blog who are interested in language. In the beginning of the chapter, it actually says that preaching is more important than speaking a foreign language because preaching buildings people up. The apostle Paul explains that the most important thing in worship is edification, building the church up. He goes on to explain that when a foreigner comes in who doesn’t speak the language of the group, if there is no one to translate, he should not stand up and speak because no one understands him. He talks about how babbling doesn’t do any good, so don’t do it. He says there are lots of languages in the world, and every one of them has meaning. He gets really eloquent and explains this by talking about music. He says if there are no notes, then how can be know what song is being played? He is comparing playing a harp or a flute to speaking. We need our words and grammar to know what we are saying.
He also encourages people to understand when they pray. He is referring to people who like to just make a lot of noise when they talk to God letting themselves get all emotionally worked up, but not making any sense. He says it does them no good if they don’t know what they are saying means. He says we should pray in the spirit and pray with understanding. He is very diplomatic. Every time he corrects the people of Corinth in this chapter, he definitely corrects them, but he says it diplomatically and doesn’t hit them over the head with the correction. I get the feeling that the “praying in the spirit” is referring to feeling what they say, and it is a good thing, but it does no good if you don’t pray with your mind too. He reminds them that when they speak, it should be to build the others up. When we get to verse 18, we find out the apostle Paul was a polyglot which means someone who speaks several languages. Since he traveled everywhere preaching, teaching about God and starting churches, we shouldn’t be surprised to find out he spoke several languages. This also means that he would be an expert to tell us about how to function in the church with regards to language. Now, we are ready for the grammar in verse 19.
Verse 19: pero en la igleisa, prefiero hablar cinco palabras con mi entendimiento, para ensenar tambien los otros, que diez mil palabras en lengua desconocida.
pero en la iglesia – “but in the church.” This verse begins with a regular letter, not a capital letter. That should give you the clue that this verse is not a complete sentence. Sentences usually shouldn’t begin with “pero” or “but” because it means that this is the second part of the sentence that is going in a different direction than the first part of the church. The apostle Paul can speak lots of languages, but now we are going to get instructions for “en la iglesia” (in the church). “En la iglesia” is a prepositional phrase. “En” means “in” and is a preposition. Every preposition needs an object of the preposition that is either a noun or a pronoun. In this case, that object of the preposition is “iglesia” (church). “La” is the singular feminine definite article that means “the.” It is calls a definite article rather than an indefinite article because “the” means that it is a particular or special “iglesia” (church). Many people don’t realize that in the original language the Bible was written in, “church” actually means a gathering or community of people, and “the” makes it a special gathering or community of people, the people of God. (I learned this from someone I knew once whose job it was to translate the Bible from Greek into English. He said the word “church” was made up especially to use in English by the first Bible translators.) “Iglesia” is a feminine noun because of the “a” on the end, and in Spanish, the article needs to match in number and gender with the noun, and “la” does just that. “A” means “la is feminine.” No “s” means it is singular.
prefiero hablar cinco palabras con mi entendimiento – “I prefer to speak five words with my understanding.” “prefero” comes from “preferir” which means “to prefer.” “Prefiero” is in first person singular simple present tense. Remember, any time there is an “O” on the end of a Spanish verb without an accent mark, it is first person (I) singular and simple present tense which means it happens all the time or everyday. If there is an accent, it is third person singular (he, she, it, or respectful you) past tense. You should know what “hablar” means by now if you have been following these blogs about Spanish grammar because it means “to speak.” When a verb is conjugated in Spanish like “prefiero,” and there is a verb after it like “hablar,” you don’t conjugate the second verb. You leave the second one in the original, infinitive form.
“Cinco” means “five.” “Palabras” means “words. “Palabras” is feminine and plural because of the “as” on the end. “Palabras” is the direct object of “prefiero hablar.” If you ask, “What do you prefer to speak?” (Que prefieres hablar?”) The answer is “five words,” (cinco palabras), so these “five words” is the direct object.
“Con mi entendimiento” is a prepositional phrase meaning “with my understanding.” “Con” (with) is the preposition. “Mi” (my) is a possessive pronoun connected to “entendimiento.” “Entendimiento” (understanding) is the object of the preposition, a noun. “Entendimiento” comes from “entender” (to understand.) “Entendimiento” is the gerund. A gerund looks like a verb, but it is a noun.
para ensenar tambien los otros – “in order to teach also the others.” This is a prepositional phrase because “para” is a preposition. “Para” usually means “for” or before the verb, it can mean” in order to,” and that is what it means here. “Ensenar” means “to teach.” “Tambien” means “aslo” and tells about “ensenar” (to teach), so is an adverb. “Los otros” (the others) the object of this preposition which makes this a prepositional phrase. It is longer than most prepositional phrases, but it is not a prepositional clause because it doesn’t have a subject, only a preposition(para), a verb infinitive (ensenar), an adverb (tambien), and the object of the preposition (los otros). “Otros”(others) is a masculine, plural noun because it ends with “os.” This means that the article attached to it must also be masculine and plural, and it is. “Los” is the masculine plural definite article. It means he is talking about specific “others” (otros). He is talking about the others in the church or in the gathering of believers.
que diez mil palabras en lengua desconocida – “than ten thousand words in unknown language.” “Que” (than) is a relative pronoun and begins this relative clause. This means there is a comparison because he is comparing speaking five words that can be understood to ten thousand words that can’t be understood. “Diez” means “ten.” “Mil” means “thousand.” If you are following these blogs, you probably already know that “palabras” means “words.” “Palabras” is feminine and plural because of “as” on the end. Again, you probably know that “en” means “in,” and “lengua” means “language.” “Desconocida” means “unknown.” The “des” part means “un,” and the “conocida” means “known,” the past participle of the verb “conocer.” If you have read other blogs like this, you know that the past participle can be used as an adjective, and “desconocida” is used as an adjective connected to “lengua” (language). In Spanish, the adjective comes after the noun, but in English, it comes before the noun. “Lengua” is a feminine singular noun, and needs a feminine singular adjective, and “desconocida” is feminine because it ends in “a.”
Let’s put this verse all together: “but in the church, I prefer to speak in five words with my understanding, in order to teach others also, than ten thousand words in unknown language.”
That is a pretty steep comparison five to ten thousand means it is pretty important to make sure everyone understands.
Verse 20: “Hermanos, no seas ninos en el modo de pensar, sino sed ninos en la malicia, pero maduras en el modo de pensar.”
Hermanos – “brothers.” The apostle Paul addresses the people in the church as “brothers.”
No seas ninos – “don’t be children.” “No” is a negative in Spanish just like it is in English, but it means more than just “no.” It also means “don’t” or “doesn’t.” “Seas” comes from “ser.” It is the second person singular simple present tense form. That means that “you” is embedded into it. It is used here like the English “understood you.” We know it is there, but you can’t see it in English. “Ser” is the form of the “to be” verb that is used to identify things (nouns) and to carry adjectives. The noun that is identified is “ninos” (children). The second “n” in “ninos” should have a mark that looks like a sideways “s” over it called an “enyay” so “ninos” should be pronounced “neenyos.” The “os” on the end tells you it is a masculine plural noun. In Spanish, if they want to talk about both boys and girls, they say “ninos.”
en el modo de pensar – “in the way of thinking.” Again, “en” means “in.” “El modo” means “the mode” or “the way.” “El” is singular and masculine like “modo.” “De” means “of.” “Pensar” actually means “to think.” However, at times, Spanish uses the infinitive form as the gerund form which would be “pensando” (thinking). However, here, the translator used “pensar” as a gerund in Spanish, but it is an infinitive. With “de” (of) in English, we need a noun as the object of the preposition “de” or “of,” and we must translate it into English as “thinking” rather than “to think.”
sino sed ninos en la malicia – “but be children in malice.” There is more than one way in Spanish to say “but.” One way is “pero” and the other way is “sino.” “Sed” if it is a noun, means “thirst,” but it is a verb here and means “be.” “Sed” comes from “ser.” “Ser” is the Spanish “be” that identifies and gives adjectives about the subject. When it identifies, it gives a noun after the verb that is called a predicate nominative. Again, “en” means “in” and is a preposition. Every preposition needs an object of the preposition, a noun or a pronoun. The object of “en” is “la malicia” (the malice). If you have been following the Spanish grammar blogs long enough, you should remember that in chapter 13, the love chapter, he told them all to grow up and stop fighting and learn to love one another. When he tells them to grow up in their thinking, he is not telling them to treat one another bad, and he is making it clear that he still wants them to treat one another well. He just wants them to understand that jabbering is jabbering, and it doesn’t do anyone any good. He wants them to understand that when they speak, people need to understand what they are saying.
pero maduras en el modo de pensar– “But mature in the way of thinking.” Again, “pero” means “but.” “Maduras” comes from “madurar” which means “to mature.” With the “s” on the end, it means “you mature.” This is like our “understood you” again. In English, we can’t see the “you,” but you can see it in that “s” in Spanish. Again “en” is a preposition meaning “in” which means we have another prepositional phrase. “El modo” (the way) is the object of the preposition, and I explained the grammar above for “el modo.” “De pensar,” again is technically “of to think,” but we don’t use the infinitive “to think” as an object of the preposition “of” (de) in English, so we change it to the noun form “thinking” which is the gerund. Remember, a gerund looks like a verb, but it is a noun.
Let’s put this verse together: “Brothers, don’t be children in the way of thinking, but be children in malice, but mature in the way of thinking.”
It looks like the apostle Paul is having to be very patient with the people in Corinth. They were fighting over who had the best gift from God, and he told them grow up! All the gifts except “faith, hope, and love” are going to stop in chapter 13. Also in chapter 13, he had to teach them how to love one another to stop the fighting. Now, he is saying again, “grow up!” It sounds like people were either wanting to speak in front of the church in foreign languages and no translate, not considering the others or wanted to just get up and jabber in front of the church. Babies jabber, and not considering whether others understand or not is selfish, so these are traits of people who are not mature Christians, and he wants the people in Corinth to grow up and think like adults, but to still be innocent when it comes to being bad.
At times, I have been told that because I don’t like cussing, don’t like drinking, and don’t like dirty movies, that I am like a baby who wants to live in Disney Land. I don’t think that is a bad thing, and I think the apostle Paul would tell me I am doing the right thing. If people try to put themselves up above you because of your innocence, just know that they are wrong. This verse from the apostle Paul confirms that we should be innocent to bad things, and we should be adults in considering others.
There always seems to be so much to explain with Spanish grammar. I don’t find it hard or tedious, so I could continue, but I don’t want my blog to get too long and bore you. I will wait to do another verse in the next Spanish grammar blog. However, perhaps I can leave you with some good concepts of Spanish grammar from these verses.
If you don’t know how to count in Spanish, it isn’t that complicated because after you get past the first numbers, you can see the patterns, and that makes it easier.
cinco – five
seis – six
siete – seven
nueve – nine
diez = ten
once – eleven
trece – thirteen
catorce – fourteen
quince – fifteen
(now it gets easier)
diez y seis – sixteen
diez y siete – seventeen
diez y siete – seventeen
diez y ocho – eighteen
diez y nueve – nineteen
veinte – twenty (one you have to learn)
veinte y uno – twenty one
veinte y dos – twenty two
veinte tres – twenty three (They continue the say way up to veinte y nueve (twenty nine).
treinta – thirty (It makes sense because of “tres” and “veinte.”
treinta y uno – thirty one
treinta y dos -thirty two (They continue the same way until “treinta y nueve,” thirty nine.
cuarenta – forty (similar to “cuatro,” four.
cuarenta y uno – forty one (again, they continue with the same pattern.)
cincuenta – fifty (again, this is similar to “cinco,” five.)
cincuenta y uno – fifty one (continue in the same pattern.)
sestenta – sixty (similar to “seis,” six) Continue as before by adding “y” and the next number.)
setenta – seventy (similar to “siete,” seven.
ochenta – eighty (similar to “ocho,” eight.)
noventa – ninety (similar to “nueve,” nine.)
Cien – one hundred (you have to memorize.)
Ciento un – one hundred and one
Ciento dos – one hundred and two
Ciento quince – one hundred fifteen
ciento veinte – one hundred and twenty
Ciento veinte y dos – one hundred twenty two
Dos ciento veinte y cinco – two hundred twenty five (just continue with the pattern.)
Mil – one thousand
Tres mil cinco ciento treinta y cuatro – three thousand five hundred thirty four. (Just continue with the pattern.)
Million – one million. The only difference between “million” in Spanish and “million” in English is the pronunciation. In Spanish, they pronounce it “meeyon” and put an accent on the last part of the word.
Dos millon tres cien cuarenta y cinco – Two million three hundred forty five. (Follow the pattern.
If you just learn the basics, it is easy just to follow the patterns.