|Unit 1 Review
Unit 1A: ¿Qué te gusta hacer?
In Spanish, verbs are learnt in the infinitive. The infinitive is a neutral tense that does not specify who is performing the action nor when the action is being performed. In English, the infinitive is expressed with the prefix “to” before the verb, for example “to read” or “to be.” In Spanish, all infinitives end in either –ar, –er, or –ir: bailar (to dance), correr (to run) and escribir (to write) are all examples of Spanish infinitives.
Using the Infinitive
The infinitive is used in sentences to state activities a person may or may not enjoy doing. The phrase Me gusta is used to state pleasure:
Me gusta nadar. I like to swim.
Me gusta leer y escribir. I like to read and write.
You can add the word mucho to show you really enjoy something:
Me gusta mucho dibujar. I really like to draw.
There are a few ways to state dislike, the simplest of which is to place the word no at the beginning of the sentence:
No me gusta cantar. I don’t like to sing.
To strengthen the dislike, the word nada can also be used to mean “at all.”
No me gusta nada esquiar. I don’t like to ski at all.
Sometimes, you will have to say that there are two things that you do not like to do. For this sentence, use the word ni before each infinitive. Do not forget to start your sentence with no.
No me gusta ni hacer deporte ni usar Internet. I neither like to play sports nor go online.
Sometimes in conversation you will agree with someone else and want to respond saying, “So do I.” In Spanish, this phrase is a mí también. Do not forget to include the a in this phrase.
A: Me gusta pasar tiempo con amigos. A: I like to spend time with friends.
B: A mí también. B: So do I.
The phrase a mí también is only used when the initial sentence is in the affirmative. In other words, you can only use a mí también if you are saying you like something as well. If the initial sentence is in the negative and states that the speaker does not like to do a certain activity, then the response to that sentence is a mí tampoco.
A: No me gusta montar en bicicleta. A: I don’t like to read a bike.
B: A mí tampoco. B: Neither do I.
You can also use the word también on its own when connecting to sentences to mean “also.”
Me gusta estudiar. Y también me gusta trabajar. I like to study. And I also like to work.
Asking and Answering Questions
So far you have learned how to state things you like to do using me gusta, which means “I like.” When asking a question, you have to use the word “you” in your phrase just as you would do in English. In Spanish, this word is te. You can respond with sí, me gusta… if you want to say yes, or use no, no me gusta… to state no.
A: ¿Te gusta escribir cuentos? A: Do you like to write stories?
B: + Sí, me gusta escribir cuentos. B: + Yes, I like to write stories.
- No, no me gusta escribir cuentos. - No, I don’t like to write stories.
It’s important to know the distinction of when to use one no and when to use two.
Use one no when making a general statement about disliking something.
No me gusta patinar. I don’t like to skate.
Use two nos when responding to a question. The first no responds to the question, and the second no equates to the English word “not.”
A: ¿Te gusta tocar la guitarra? A: Do you like to play the guitar?
B: No, no me gusta tocar la guitarra. B: No, I don’t like to play the guitar.
The question ¿Qué te gusta hacer? means “What do you like to do?” To respond, state any activity after me gusta.
A: ¿Qué te gusta hacer? A: What do you like to do?
B: Me gusta escuchar música. B: I like to listen to music.
To make a comparison between two activities, you may see the word más in a sentence, which means “more.”
A: ¿Qué te gusta más, leer o cantar? A: What do you like more, to read or to sing?
B: Me gusta más leer. B: I like to read more.
Unit 1B: Y tú, ¿cómo eres?
Adjectives are words used to describe nouns. For example, in the sentence “The boy is studious,” the adjective is ‘studious’ since it is describing the boy. In Spanish, adjectives are used in the same way except that Spanish adjectives have male and female endings. You will learn adjectives in the masculine form, which in most cases ends in the letter –o.
El chico es estudioso. The boy is studious.
When talking about a girl, however, you must change the –o to an –a.
La chica es estudiosa. The girl is studious.
This rule applies to all adjectives that end in –o. While it may seem strange to English speakers who are not used to changing words based on gender, think of the following examples: a man who works in a restaurant is called a “waiter” but a female who works in a restaurant is called a “waitress;” a man in a movie is called an “actor” but a female in a movie is called an “actress.” While only a few English words change endings for gender, in Spanish it is important to change the endings of adjectives to agree with the subject of the sentence.
Some adjectives in Spanish do not end in an –o, in which case it is necessary to learn the specific rules that apply to each possible ending. For example, nouns that end in –e do not change based on gender.
El chico es paciente. The boy is patient.
La chica es paciente. The girl is patient.
Other adjectives may end in –or such as trabajador. To make these adjectives feminine, add an –a after the –or.
El chico es trabajador. The boy is hardworking.
La chica es trabajadora. The girl is hardworking.
In even rarer cases, you will find an adjective that already ends in an –a. While you’re taught adjectives in the masculine form that ends in –o, there are very few adjectives that end in –a for both men and women and do not change.
El chico es deportista. The boy is athletic.
La chica es deportista. The girl is athletic.
Just as adjectives in Spanish can be either masculine or feminine, nouns are also assigned an unchangeable gender. As a general rule, if a noun ends in –o it is masculine; if a noun ends in –a it is usually feminine. You can also identify the gender of a noun based on the prefix, or word that comes before it. The prefix el signifies a masculine noun and the prefix la signifies a feminine noun. These words el and la are called definite articles since they refer to a specific thing.
El chico The boy
La chica The girl
There are also indefinite articles in Spanish that are used to refer to a general object. In English the indefinite articles are either a or an (used when the following word begins with a vowel. In Spanish, the articles are un used before masculine nouns and una used before feminine nouns.
Un chico A boy
Una chica A girl
Noun Adjective Agreement
When writing sentences, it is important to make sure that every adjective, no matter its location, agrees with the gender of the subject.
Mario es un chico muy artístico. Mario is a very artistic boy.
María es una chica muy artística. Maria is a very artistic girl.
Notice that in Spanish the noun (chico – boy) comes before the adjective (artístico – artistic). A literal translation into English would be “is a boy artistic” but in Spanish the noun and adjectives switch places compared to those in English.
You can also use the word pero (but) or y (and) to list more than one adjective.
A veces es perezoso pero no es desordenado. Sometimes he’s lazy but he’s not messy.
La chica es paciente y talentosa. The girl is patient and talented.
When making a sentence negative, remember to place the word no before the verb.
No soy atrevido. I am not daring .
To state two qualities that you are not, remember to use ni after the verb.
El chico no es ni deportista ni trabajador. The boy is neither athletic nor hardworking.
Asking and Answering Questions
In the examples so far, you have seen descriptions of people in the third-person; you are talking about someone instead of talking to them. To speak to someone directly and ask them what they are like, use the question ¿Cómo eres? which means “What are you like?” To respond, use the word soy followed by the adjective.
A: ¿Cómo eres? A: What are you like?
B: Soy simpático. B: I am nice.
To talk about someone else, use the phrase ¿Cómo es..? followed by the name of the person whom you are asking about. Answer the question with the name of that person, the word es and then the adjective.
A: ¿Cómo es tu mejor amiga? A: What’s your best friend like?
B: Mi mejor amiga es seria. B: My best friend is serious.
When asking how other people see you, use the word según, which means “according to.”
A: Según tus padres, ¿cómo eres? A: According to your parents, what’re you like?
B: Según mis padres, soy gracioso. B: According to my parents, I am funny.
To state things that another man or woman likes to do, use the phrase le gusta. When specifying the individual, you must always put the word a before his name:
A: A tu padre, ¿qué le gusta hacer? A: What does your dad like to do?
B: Le gusta ver la tele. B: He likes to watch TV.
To ask what someone’s name is, use the phrase se llama to ask and answer the question. Do not use the word es.
A: ¿Cómo se llama tu madre? A: What is your mom’s name?
B: Mi madre se llama Rosa. B: My mom’s name is Rose.
To ask someone his or her name directly and in order to respond:
A: ¿Cómo te llamas? A: What’s your name?
B: Me llamo Carlos. B: My name is Charles.