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https://www.duolingo.com/BarbaraMorris

The books and the apples are red. Los libros y las manzanas son (rojos? rojas?)

BarbaraMorris
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I am taking Spanish->English (a reverse course for me) and I have been following this discussion: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/1615410.

RAE http://lema.rae.es/dpd/?key=concordancia, point 3.2 says this (the following three paragraphs are my translation, so please read the original too):

"3.2. Adjective following several nouns. When an adjective qualifies two or more coordinated nouns and comes after them, the most recommended is that the adjective be plural and masculine, if the nouns have different gender: "Tiene el pelo y la barba enmarañados" ...

If it agrees only with the last of the nouns, it could generate ambiguity, since it could be interpreted that the adjective only refers to the closest: "vestida con traje y mantilla blanca" (the coat and the mantilla are white? or only the mantilla is white?)

However, when the coordinated nouns are conceived as a unit, of which one of them denotes a partial aspect, the adjective may agree in gender and number with the closest: "La gente de origen y habla francesa predomina en la provincia de Quebec" (End of RAE 3.2)

In the subject sentence, "Los libros y las manzanas", I'm pretty sure that RAE says that it should be "rojos". Duolingo says that it should be "rojos". But there seems to be a very strong consensus among the native Spanish speakers in the Spanish->English course that it should be "rojas", agreeing with the last noun in the list.

Does this reflect a regional difference where, say, Latin American Spanish has a different rule from, say, Spanish from Spain? ( I am assuming that RAE only officially applies to Spain.)

Or does this reflect the case where standard usage everywhere is different from what RAE prescribes?

4 years ago

8 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/GregHullender
GregHullender
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Butt and Benjamin say that native speakers do indeed say "rojas," weird though that seems. The even offer some quotes of it occuring in literature. Not everyone does (they give examples similar to the one above and call them "good Spanish") but apparently plenty of people do. (Note that people who didn't have a problem will not join the discussion, so it's apt to be slanted toward those who say "rojas.")

The "error" (if you can call it that) seems to be that, given a mixed-gender list, the last item in the list must be masculine. If you want anything to modify it, that is, and if you want to make everyone happy. Apparently this is an actual rule in French, taught in schools. Yes, the mixed list takes a masculine, plural adjective, but the last item in the list must be masculine.

B&B hypothesize that it just really grates on people to hear a masculine adjective right after a feminine noun. Linguistically, it probably says something about the limits to the brain's ability to handle coordination.

"A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish: Fifth Edition" (Butt and Benjamin, 2011, section 4.7.1)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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Thank you for the research!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/raans
raans
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Great, thanks! So in the sentence above the apples should go first (and the books last). Now, I just have to try to get this into a real-life conversation (not this example). ;)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/NickM98
NickM98
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It should be rojos, but in colloquial speech this isn't always like that. I, as a native speaker, would say rojas though it is grammatically wrong.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PERCE_NEIGE
PERCE_NEIGE
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It should be rojos in my opinion, in Spanish and in French, it's the same system, if you have a mixed group of feminine nouns and masculine nouns, you have to put their common adjective to the masculine.

Some native speakers will reply to you better than I could.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CattleRustler

since the over arching rule for mixed genders (nouns) is to default to the masculine, had I been presented with this sentence, I would have answered with rojos.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jorma1998b

I agree with all of you that it is rojos. Further, in the example of "traje y mantilla", you would say "traje y mantilla rojos" (masculine plural). However, new trends emerge in language and the debate tends to become sexist. I already mentioned in a similar thread the article about "colombianos y colombianas ridiculos y ridiculas": http://www.semana.com/opinion/articulo/colombianos-colombianas-ridiculos-ridiculas/80502-3

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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If I was writing a letter to a friend, I would write Los libros and las manzanas son roj@s. But I wouldn't submit that for a classroom or on Duolingo :P

4 years ago