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Keys for Writers, Second Edition
Ann Raimes
ESL Tip Sheet 8: Spanish

Spoken in Spain, Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama), South America (Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela), Mexico, the Caribbean (Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba), and many parts of the United States.

The written language
  • Close correspondence between pronunciation and spelling, unlike English. 58.
  • Quotation marks are not used. 49.
Sentence structure and word order
  • Freer word order than in English: *Last night arrived early her father. 34b; 62b.
  • Indirect object occurs with a preposition: *He gave to me some flowers. 62c.
  • Uses that clauses and subjunctive after certain verbs: *I want that they leave now. 61c.
  • It and there can be omitted as filler subjects: *Is a tree on the corner. 30b; 64f.
Nouns and pronouns
  • Nouns have gender. This may cause problems with pronoun reference: *They saw a sign and peered at her closely. 44a.
  • Pronouns do not differentiate subject and object forms: *I told they. 44a.
  • No distinction of human and nonhuman relative pronouns: *The student which sat next to me . . . 44a.
  • Pronoun subject often omitted: * . . . because was raining. *Caused a lot of trouble. 38d; 62a.
  • Some uncountable nouns in English are countable and plural in Spanish: *furnitures, luggages. 60c.
Verbs and verbals
  • No auxiliaries in questions: *What they found? Or overcompensation: *Who did find it? 41c.
  • No modal verbs: *Does he should go? *I will can help you. 41c.
  • Endings corresponding to -ing and -ed do not have active and passive meaning: *She is interesting in stamps. 61f.
  • No -ing nouns (gerunds): *I enjoy to play tennis. 61d; 63e.
Adjectives and adverbs
  • Equivalent of not is no: *They no argue. 64a.
  • Double negative is routinely used: * He doesn't know nothing. 45g.
  • Adjectives show number: *helpfuls friends.
  • All comparatives and superlatives are formed with the equivalents of more and most: *the most rich man. 45h.
  • Definite article (equivalent of the) used with plural noun to state a generalization: *The books are more expensive than the disks. 60.

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