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Learning Spanish grammar for beginners: 3 key punctuation and gender points

learning spanish grammar

In learning Spanish grammar, have you noticed the different signs in Spanish such as questions marks, (¿?) and exclamation marks, (¡!), which appear at the beginning and end of questions or exclamations. These are used to either ask a question or express a concern.

How are question and exclamation marks used in Spanish grammar?

Let’s see how we use them:

Can you please pass the salt?
¿Me puedes pasar la sal por favor?

Where is the bathroom please?
¿Dónde está el baño por favor?

Would you like another book?
¿Quieres otro libro?

Would you like more color paper?
¿Quieres más papel de color?

Oh, this is so beautiful!
¡Oh, esto es tan bonito!

Happy Birthday!
¡Feliz Cumpleaños!

In all these phrases, notice the difference in context. In Spanish, you’ll see nouns are preceded by the following articles: the, a, an.

Also, notice the ‘can you’ is translated as ‘me puedes’ or ‘would you like’ is translated to ‘quieres’. These are ways to express wants and needs in Spanish. So next time you need to ask a question or request an item, you can use imperative verbs like ‘quieres’ or ‘puedes’.

How are gender and nouns related to learning Spanish grammar?

One of the basic grammar rules in Spanish is the usage of gender with nouns. Certain nouns are considered feminine and masculine. Most of the time, nouns are part of the sentence, which can give a clue of the gender. Articles are the specific part that can tell you whether a noun is feminine or masculine.

Feminine articles:
la las (definite)
una unas (indifinite)

Masculine articles:
el los (definite)
un unos (indefinite)

learning spanish grammar

Examples when learning Spanish grammar of gender:

el vaso (the glass)
el sombrero (the hat)
los escritorios (the desks)

la casa (the house)
la silla (the chair)
las niñas (the girls)

un libro (a book)
unos platos (some plates)

una mesa (a table)
unas cucharas (some spoons)

In general, nouns that end in -o, -e require -el and nouns that end in -a require -la. But this may not always be the case.

Notice the gender is dependent on the nouns. But in some cases, the neutral form –lo needs to be use, when the noun in neither feminine or masculine.

Beginners in Spanish can find many differences compared to English grammar. One important difference is the use of gender with nouns, and use of double question and exclamation marks.

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Learning Spanish diphthongs: Strong and weak vowel formation

When learning Spanish as a second language, it is often unanticipated how to pronounce certain vowel combinations. Spanish grammatical rules indicate that diphthongs are essential in pronunciation and reading. But what are diphthongs in understanding Spanish?

Diphthongs are combinations of two vowels that can sounds almost as one.

It is best defined as …known as a gliding vowel, refers to two adjacent vowel sounds occurring within the same syllable. Technically, a diphthong is a vowel with two different targets. That is, the tongue moves during the pronunciation of the vowel.

And for this reason, it is always recommended to learn Spanish in an immersion way, to be completely thinking and speaking the language.

In Spanish diphthongs, there are two vowels, either one strong and weak or both weak, in the same syllable. There are 14 total diphthongs in Spanish.

The weak vowels are i, (y), and u.

The strong vowels are a, e, and o.

In each syllable, you might encounter weak-strong or weak-weak diphthongs. In each case, it will tell you whether the syllables can be split or not. As a general rule, diphthongs in Spanish are not split unless the syllables have an accent or tilde on a weak vowel.

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Here are some examples of Spanish diphthongs:

Weak combinations

ciudad = city

buitre = vulture

muy = much

Weak-Strong combinations

paisaje = landscape

baile = dance

peine = comb

miedo = scare

cielo = sky

puerta = door

puente = bridge

agua =water

lengua = tongue

Accent combinations

do = ear

día = day

tía = aunt

When practicing pronunciation of Spanish diphthongs, try to sound out the syllable combination. Although it may not be easy to distinguish the break between syllables, it is always best to use either clapping of your hands to clearly sound them out. For young children, the use of maracas or tambourines is an excellent way to demonstrate syllable combinations.