Explaining Spanish Grammar in 1 Corinthians 1:11

We have completed the introduction and the thesis sentence to 1 Corinthians at this point. We know that the apostle Paul and Sosthenes, the leader of the Jewish temple in Corinth, were the ones who wrote this book. We know that it is written to the church in Corinth, but also to Christians everywhere. There are several definitions given for Christians here like saints, the called, the enriched, etc. Paul and Sosthenes have given thanks for the church in Corinth and for us. They have praised God and sent the reader the peace of God, etc. finally, they got to the thesis for 1 Corinthians, the sentence that tells you what this letter is all about. They are pleading with every Christian to have unity, unity of thought, unity in what they say, and unity in their opinions. As we go through this letter, you will see that everything here is trying to correct problems the church in Corinth was having so the church in Corinth could have this unity. As we go, you will get a workout on the Spanish and be reviewing things I have pointed out before about Spanish as well as learn new Spanish grammatical concepts.

“Verdad? Lo siento que hay contiendas.” (Really? I am sorry that there are contentions.) Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com

1 Corintios 1:11: Porque he sido informada acerca de vosotros, hermanos mios, por los de Cloe’, que hay entre vosotros contiendas.

Porque he sido informada = “Because I have been informed.” “Porque” means “because.” If this were two words, “por que,” it would mean “why,” but because it is one word, it is “because.” It is pronounced “por kay.” “He sido inormada” is a passive voice verb. If a verb is passive voice, that means the subject of the verb didn’t do the action. If there is a prepositional phrase with “by” or in Spanish, “por,” then the object of the preposition is who does the action in these kinds of sentences. In Active voice sentences, the subject always does the action of the verb. “He sido” means “I have been.” To have a passive voice verb, you must have a state of being verb and a past participle of the verb. “He sido” by itself is the state of being verb the subject, which in the case of a passive voice verb, receives the action of the verb, which is normally what a direct object does, but not in this kind of sentence.

The pronoun “I” is embedded in “He,” and “sido” is the past participle of the state of being verb which makes this verb present perfect tense. To make present perfect tense in English, you need “has” or “have” and the past participle. To make present perfect tense in Spanish, you need “He, has, ha, hemos, or han” and the past participle. Here another example that is not passive voice:

“to speak” = hablar

he hablado = I have spoken

has hablado = he has spoken

ha hablado = he, she, it has spoken or a respectful “you” has spoken

hemos hablado = we have spoken

han hablado = they have spoken or a plural respectful “you” has spoken

Here are some examples of passive voice sentences and their active voice counterparts:

Passive Active

The cake was eaten by him. = He ate the cake.

(El pastel ha sido comido por ‘el.= Se comio’ el pastel.)

The book is read by the class. = The class reads the book.

(El libro esta liedo por la clasa. = La clasa lee el libro.)

The bed was slept in by her. = She slept in the bed.

(La cama estaba dormida por ella. = Ella durmio’ en la cama.)

The language was learnt by many people. = Many people learned the language.

(La lengua estaba apredido por mucha gente. – Mucha gente aprendido’ la lengua.)

I have been told that you are happy by your mother. = Your mother told me that you are happy.

(He sido dicho que eres feliz por tu’ madre. = Tu’ madre me dijo que eres feliz.)

He has been hurt by her. = She hurt him.

(Ha sido herido por ella. =Le hizo dano.)

Since I hope you know what passive and active voice verbs are as well as what the present perfect tense is, we can complete “he sido informado.” “He sido” means “have been,” and “informado” is “informed,” the past participle. “He sido informado = have been informed.”

acerca de vosotros = “about you guys.” This is a prepositional phrase. “Acerca de” (about) is the preposition. “Vosotros” (you guys or you all) is the object pronoun of the preposition.

hermanos mios = “my brothers.” In Spanish, this could also be said, “Mis hermanos.” I learned something from studying Romanian that seems to ring true also in Spanish. Which ever word the writer or the speaker of the sentence deems to be most important will be put first. In English, we have a definite word order, but other languages don’t always. In fact, I was told by a Chinese teacher that Chinese had no word order until they encountered English speakers, and they took our word order. Spanish is not that out of order, but something, it is up to the speaker or writer which word they want to come first. This means the translator thought the fact that they were brothers was more important than the fact that they were the brothers of the apostle Paul and Sosthenes. This actually goes along with the means of the next few verses.

The “s” on the end of “hermanos” and “mios” tells you that they are both plural. In Spanish, everything has to match in number and gender with the noun. “Hermanos” (brothers) is the noun. The “o” before the “s” in both words tells you these words are both masculine. If a word is masculine in Spanish, it may be talking only about men, but it also may also be talking about men and women.

Tenemos que informado a Pablo y Sosthenes que la gente hacen. Dios quiere nos amemos unos a los otros y la gente esta destruyendo la iglesia. (We have to inform Paul and sosthenes what the people are doing. God wants us to love one another, and the people re destroying the church.) Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

por los de Cloe’ = “by those of Cloe.” This is the prepositional phrase that goes along with the passive voice verb above to tell us who did the informing. You have to look for “por” in Spanish and “by” in English to know who actually did the action in a passive voice sentence. If this prepositional phrase is not in the sentence, then you have to guess at who did the action. People use this passive voice for several reasons. Sometimes, they try to soften what they have to say by using the passive voice, and probably that is what Paul and Sosthenes were doing. They didn’t want to come out and say, “Chloe and those in her house told what you guys have been doing.” By using the passive voice, Paul and Sosthenes are not putting any blame on Chloe and the ones with her, but they are also not lying about who did it because they included Chloe’s name. English teachers discourage students from using the passive voice in their essays because you can leave the actual person who did it out, and make the writing more vague. There are times it may be better to be more vague, but if you are in a habit of using this form and leaving the person out who did it, Americans have a tendency not trust you. Americans believe in being straight forward. It is part of our culture. Not all cultures think this way, but Americans do. For example, if a creek has become polluted, and it is the result of some bad government policies, and the government doesn’t want to own up to what they did, they will use this passive voice and say things like, “The creek was polluted,” but they will never tell you who did it because they want your votes. However, in Japan, using this form would be considered only polite because you are not hitting the person over the head with the information.

que hay = “that there are.” “Que” (that) means you are beginning a relative clause because “que” (that) is a relative pronoun. In this case, this relative clause is used for reported speech. Paul and Sosthenes are reporting what was said to them. They aren’t saying it word by word, so they don’t need quotation marks, but they are telling the essence of what was said by Chloe and the ones with her. “Hay” is pronounced “ay.” In Spanish, you don’t pronounce the “h.” “Hay” means “there is” or “there are.”

Hay contiendas. (There are contentions.)Photo by Vera Arsic on Pexels.com

entre vosotros contiendas = “contentions among you guys.” “Entre” means “among,” and is a preposition. The object pronoun of the preposition here is “vosotros” (you guys or you all), so “entre vosotros” (among you guys) is a prepositional phrase. “Contiendas” (contentions) is the direct object noun. They way we know this is because we ask “what?” (que?) “What are there?” (?Que hay?) There are contentions. (Hay contiendas.) You may wonder why I changed the word order between Spanish and English. It is because in English, the direct object must come after the verb, and then the prepositional phrase is next. The verb here is “hay” (there are), so in English, “contentions” must come after “are,” but not necessarily in Spanish. They put whatever word the speaker or write deems as post important first, and this time, the translator thought it was most important that the contentions were among the people of the church in Corinth. What happens among Christians is very important.

Let’s put this verse all together: “Because I have been informed about you guys, my brothers, by those of Chloe that there are contentions among you guys.”

Dios quiere que nos amemos unos a lost otros. (God wants us to love one another.)Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

God doesn’t want Christians to fight among themselves. Churches who split are not doing what God made them to do. We have already studied in the series of Spanish grammar blogs from 1 Corinthians 13, and it was all about teaching the people in Corinth and us how to get along with one another. At the end of the chapter, it said, we have these three: “faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love.” Love is the basics of Christianity.

Jesus nos dio’ un ejemplo de amor cuando ‘el murio’ encima del cruz. (Jesus gave us an example of love when he died on the cross.)Podria haber llamado a diez mi angeles para estruir el mundoy liverarlo. (He could have called ten thousand angels to destroy the world and set him free.) Pero no escogio’ hacer lo porque ‘el quiso’ nos a intender como no ser egoista. (But he didn’t do it because he wanted us to understand how not to be selfish.) ‘El quiso nos a saber como a amor a los otros. (He wanted us to understand how to love the others.) Photo by Alem Su00e1nchez on Pexels.com

Christ came from Heaven and gave of himself to the point that he let them kill him on the cross to show us how much we are loved. “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).Christianity is built on love, faith, purity, and unity. If we have the Holy Spirit, e have, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control” (Galatians 5: 22&23). The apostle John wrote so much about love! “Anyone who claims to be in the light, but hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble” (1 John 2:9&10). John also says, “This is how we know what love is Jesus Christ laid down his live for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:16). Christ showed us the example of what he wants us to do. In this time of crisis, will we go to the store and fight over “toilet paper”? What is more important? God is love, and if we follow God, we will love others. The apostle Paul here is speaking to the people in Corinth, but it is a good lesson for all of us. Let’s not be selfish and make others do without.

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