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Sentence Structure - "de"

taza de cafe = cup of coffee

zumo de naranja = orange juice

Can someone explain why the "de" operates differently in the two instances above por favor?


May 29, 2018



taza de café = cup (full of) coffee
zumo de naranja = juice (made of) orange

English and Spanish just phrase things differently.


Gracias por tu ayuda! Is there a rule to follow or do I just have to learn the different versions?


I would also say that de means from. So: “zumo de naranja” would more literally translate to: “juice from orange(s)”. Also, when describing the substance from which something is made requires a different thought pattern. For instance, “a wooden table” (for English speakers) means “a table that is made from wood.” Typically in English, we tend to make nouns abjectives when describing substance, but in other languages they remain nouns and a helper word (in this case it is de) is inserted to create a new way of describing objects. Also, with Romance Languages, the word for of (ie: de) is also used for familial/historical relations. Instead of saying, “John is Rob’s son,” translating it in Spanish would be something more akin to, “John is the son of Rob.”


It is English, not Spanish :) "de" means "of" and it is used for a lot of different functions, some of them don't use "of" in English.


Unlike English, Spanish does not use a noun as an adjective to modify a noun. Examples: Coffee cup,
bank robber,
Tennis team, Band leader; watermelon rind;
bus stop; railroad station In these examples above, all the words are nouns: E.g., both "railroad" and "station" are nouns. Both "coffee" and "cup" are nouns, and so forth.

Instead, Spanish uses "de" to connect a noun to another noun as an adjective.

Thus, in Spanish: "Taza de café;
adrón de bancos;
equipo de tenis, líder de la banda; corteza de sandía;
parada de bús (autobús); estacion de tren.

How how do we know whether "Taza de café" is "cup of coffee" or "coffee cup"? I presume through context. In English, we rely on context a lot to understand meaning.

Given context, for an example in Spanish, we know to translate "jugo de naranja" as "orange juice."

I would ask for a cup of coffee by saying "quiesiera un café." And they will bring me a cup of coffee (and not a mere "coffee cup",and not coffee beans, and not ground coffee). (Although, in Mexico, at places I go, they likely will bring instant coffee (Nescafe) and a cup of hot water, and a spoon.)

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