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Learn How To Write Spanish

How To Make Spanish Nouns Plural

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The plural form of nouns in Spanish is relatively easy to learn. There are really only three rules to follow.

1. Nouns ending in a vowel; add s:

mano — hand
manos — hands
señora — lady
señoras — ladies

2. Nouns ending in a consonant; add es:

lección — lesson
lecciones — lessons
profesor — professor
profesores — professors

3. Nouns ending in z; change z to c and add es:

luz — light
luces — lights
nariz — nose
narices — noses

Notice that under rule 2 above, the example also showed a change in written (and spoken) accentuation:

lección becomes lecciones

That is because adding es actually adds another syllable to the word and so a different accent rule applies. You may want to review the lesson on accents in Spanish.

In a nutshell, when words ending in n, s, or a vowel have a spoken stress, the accent mark is used. The word lecciones keeps its spoken stress on the -on syllable, but in the plural form of the word, with -es added, -on is no longer the final syllable and the word conforms to the unmarked configuration.

Okay, that was la parte más fácil. Now you have to know how to add “the” definite article. You see, in Spanish the article, noun and adjective must agree in number and gender. Think of it as a homogeneous noun phrase.

For example, if “the lady” is la señora, then “the ladies” is:

las señoras

That is, la becomes las, for the feminine gender. The masculine el becomes los in the plural form:

el hombre fuerte — the strong man

becomes,

los hombres fuertes — the strong men

Do you see that the article, the noun, and the adjective all become plural?

To anticipate your next question, and offer some help with it, visit: When are Spanish Nouns Feminine or Masculine?

Espero que encuentre las lecciones en este sitio informativos y divertidos.

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How to Say “What Time Is It?” in Spanish

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Never mind the stereotype about countries with Spanish speakers being “mañana” land! Urban people all over the globe need to keep track of the time, and Spanish speakers are no exception. People need to keep appointments, watch games, meet people, have office-hours and store-hours and say how long an event is scheduled or expected to last. Now we are going to sort out some ways of conversing about tiempo ‘time’ in Spanish.

The basic question you might need to ask, if you don’t have access to your watch or cell phone is:

¿Qué hora es? — What time is it?

It’s not a a bad conversation opener, either, in which case you would want to be more polite and considerate:

¿Qué hora es, por favor? — What time is it, please?
¿Tiene usted la hora? — Do you have the time?
Hágame el favor de decirme qué hora es. — Do me the favor of telling me what time it is.

As in English, the “be” verb is used in time expressions. Remember, there are two “be” verbs in Spanish—ser and estar. Even though we all know time is fleeting, the verb used in Spanish time expressions is ser, not estar. If it is one o’clock, or one plus any number of minutes up to two o’clock, the verb is singular es. For all other times the verb is plural son.

Es la una. — It's one o'clock.
Es la una y veinte. — It's 1:20.

(Notice the feminine article la, which agrees with the understood hora.)

Son las dos. — It's two o'clock.
Son las dos en punto. — It's exactly two o'clock.
Son las dos y media. — It's half past two.
Son las dos y cuarto. — It's two-fifteen.
Son las dos menos cuarto. — It's a quarter to two.
Son las dos y cuarenta. — It's 2:40.
Son las tres menos veinte. — It's twenty of three.

If it is necessary to specify A.M. or P.M.:

Son las cuatro de la tarde. — It's four in the afternoon.
Son las cuatro de la mañana. — It's four in the morning.
Son las diez de la noche. — It's ten at night.

[review the numbers in article How To Learn Spanish: Numbers 1-100]

But note that official times in Spanish-speaking countries are normally given on a twenty-four hour basis:

a las trece horas — at thirteen zero zero (or, incorrectly: thirteen hundred hours) (one o'clock)
a las trece horas con diez minutos — at thirteen ten (1:10)
La película empieza a las veinte horas. — The movie begins at eight o'clock.

If your bus leaves for Michoacán

a las ocho horas

…you can be sure that it will be at 8 o’clock in the morning.

Some benchmark but non-numerical time expressions are:

a mediodía — at noon
a medianoche — at midnight
al amanecer — at dawn
al anochecer — at sunset

Notice the first two do not require an article, but the last two have the masculine article el contracted with the preposition a ‘at’. a + el becomes al.

Let’s see how some of these expressions work. Raúl and Elena are discussing their plans for the day.

Elena:
Voy de compras con mamá a mediodía. — I'm going shopping with mother at noon.

Raúl:
Bueno, ya son las doce y media. Ya estás en atraso. — Well, it's already twelve-thirty. You are already late.

Elena:
¡Ay! — Oh-oh!

Raúl:
Ay, no. Me equivoqué. Mi reloj está adelantado. — No, I was mistaken. My watch is fast (advanced).

El reloj de la cocina da las doce y cuarto. — The clock in the kitchen says (gives) twelve-fifteen.

Elena:
En todo caso, es hora de irme. ¡Chao! — Anyway, it is time for me to leave. Chow!

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The next discussion of time will continue, with parts of the day, durations of time and other time expressions–all enhorabuena ‘well and good’.

How to Say “What Day Is It?” in Spanish

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Anyone who plans to speak Spanish will need to refer to the day and date of some event. You may want to see if a memo or a newspaper edition is current. You may want to issue an invitation or specify the day and date of a meeting. Possibly you may even wake up some morning and say to no one in particular…

¿Hoy qué día es? — (Today) What day is it?

Los días de la semana son: The days of the week are:
lunes Monday
martes Tuesday
miércoles Wednesday
jueves Thursday
viernes Friday
sábado Saturday
domingo Sunday

Hoy es lunes. — Today is Monday.
Hoy es martes. — Today is Tuesday
Hoy es miércoles. — Today is Wednesday
Hoy es jueves. — Today is Thursday
Hoy es viernes. — Today is Friday
Hoy es sábado. — Today is Saturday
Hoy es domingo. — Today is Sunday

Notice that in Spanish the days are not written with a capital letter as they are in English. This is also true for the months.

Los meses del año son: The months of the year are:
enero January
febrero February
marzo March
abril April
mayo May
junio June
julio July
agosto August
septiembre, setiembre September
octubre Octubre
noviembre November
diciembre December

Both days and months take the masculine article el or un when an article is required. But you could say:

Estamos en enero. — We're in January (this is January).
Estamos en febrero. — This is February.

…and so on. These are non-specific utterances, treating months as though they were like seasons, or temporadas:

Estamos en verano. — We're in summer (this is summertime).
Estamos en invierno. — This is winter.
Estamos en primavera. — This is springtime.
Estamos en otoño. — This is fall.

If you mean to be specific about the date, you would ask:

¿En cuál fecha estamos? — On what date are we?

or…

¿Cuál es la fecha de hoy? — What is the date today?

The response requires additional grammatical particles.

Estamos a dos de abril. — We're on the second of April.

Unlike in English, all the days of the month except the first use cardinal or counting numbers. Only the first of the month is said in Spanish with the ordinal form.

el primero de abril — the first of April (April 1st)
el dos de abril — the second of April (April 2nd)
el tres de abril — the third of April (April 3rd)
.
.
.
el treinta de abril — April thirtieth (30th)

This is true for all the months.

Suppose the question is about a recurring event:

¿Cuándo vas a la lección de piano? — When do you go to your piano lesson?
Voy los lunes a las tres. — I go Mondays at three.

A one-time event:

Tengo una cita médica el cuatro de octubre. — I have a medical appointment on the 4th of October.
Tengo una cita médica el cuatro. — I have a medical appointment on the fourth.

Note—in the Spanish sentence above—that where English time expression may use the preposition “on”, no preposition is used in Spanish.

If you want to specify the year, use de:

Gabriel García Márquez nació en Colombia el seis de marzo de 1928. — Gabriel García Márquez was born in Colombia on March 6, 1928.

When you say a year in Spanish, you read out all the place values, so 1928 is:

mil novecientos veintiocho — one thousand nine hundred twenty-eight (we'd say: nineteen twenty-eight).

In other words, in Spanish—years—there is no grouping of digits into tens, as in English.

Finally, for today:

El siglo XXI (veintiuno) es el siglo actual. — The twenty-first century is the present century.

La inauguración de la administración actual tomó lugar el veinte de enero de dos mil nueve. — The inauguration of the present administration took place on January 20, 2009.

Next time we’ll talk about other aspects of time: seasons, the time of day, parts of the day…

Aprovéchense del tiempo.Don’t waste time!

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