It's "el fútbol" until you add the preposition a. I think the main reason for the confusion might come from the verb jugar. If you talk about "playing a sport", jugar normally uses a:
- jugar a un deporte - to play a sport
- Yo juego al fútbol. - I play football.
- Me gusta el fútbol. - I like football.
I put "Do you have an interest in soccer?" and my answer was incorrect and the correct answer was said to be "Do you have in an interest in soccer?" with the first 'in' underlined as being the error. Is this correct? I understand I should have probably said 'Are you interested in soccer', but the corrected response seems worse than mine.
That sounds right as well, but that would be an active construction. Here the subject is being acted upon rather than doing the acting, so the construction is passive. We can also think of the object (football) as doing the acting. That action being 'to interest' the subject.
this is why this sentence is really closer to "Does football interest you" rather than "Are you interested in football."
That depends less on the sport you're talking about, and more on the grammatical structure you're in. "¿Te interesa el fútbol?" uses fútbol as the subject, so it doesn't get a preposition here. Likewise you'd say "¿Te interesa el tenis?"
The phrase "al [deporte]" is usually used together with the verb jugar. So you'd say things like "Juego al tenis", "I'm playing tennis", and likewise "Jugamos al fútbol."
Thanks, but I'm still not quite certain I understand. If it is a matter of "nominative" vs. "objective" case, then both examples you use above are "objective" (I think). "Te interesa el futbol (tenis)?" has "Tu" as the subject and "futbol" / "tenis" as the object of the preposition. (I could very well be wrong here as the Spanish verb "interesa" seems to have an "understood 'in'" included, so I'm translating as "Are you interested in soccer/tennis?," which is how I came up with the understanding of "futbol" / "tenis" as the object of the preposition. In any case, it still seems to me that "Tu" is the subject rather than "futbol" / "tenis."
I'm basically having a tough time knowing when to use an article ("el" or "la") for what nouns and why. In the "jugar" examples you use, certainly "futbol" / "tenis" is the object of the preposition "a" (used as a contraction of "a el" to "al.") But, I'm still not certain what "a" translates as. Sometimes it seems like it is translated as "to." If that is the case, then "Juego al tenis" is literally translated as "I play (or 'am playing') to the soccer / tennis." I get that all languages have their idioms, so I'm not judging . . . just trying to figure it out, and you gave me some good info to ponder. Thanks!
The closest English equivalent to the Spanish question "¿Te interesa el fútbol?" is "Does football interest you?" "El fútbol" is the subject, and te is the object, indirect in this case (what you'd call "dative" if you want to go for Latin).
The subject of a sentence has two key properties that you can use to determine which word the subject actually is. One, it doesn't have any prepositions going on. And two, it determines the conjugation of the verb. As you'll notice, the verb interesar in that sentence is conjugated for él/ella/usted, so tú cannot be the subject here. Also "el fútbol" doesn't have a preposition, so it's the likely option for a subject. Te is always an object.
You can also rearrange the sentence to look like "¿El fútbol te interesa?" if that word order looks more familiar, but it's more common to go for an object-verb-subject order for these gustar-like verbs.
The article is used in this case because you're making a general statement about the subject. You're interested in all football. Whenever there is football, it interests you. If that's the type of statement you want to make, you use the definite article in Spanish.
As for "jugar al fútbol", the a doesn't really have a meaning. It's just that jugar is normally an intransitive verb, so it can't take direct objects, i.e. objects without prepositions. It's similar to the English "listening to music". You don't say "listening music", even though the "to" doesn't add anything and leaving it out wouldn't change the meaning.
In this case you use the definite article because you refer to the concept of the sport. "Football" becomes kind of an abstract noun here, since you're not referring to any specific instance. (This is related to the "general statement" rule from above, but it's a bit of a different aspect.) Concepts and abstract nouns like this use the article in Spanish:
- La esperanza es todo lo que nos queda. - Hope is all we have left.
OMG!! This helps so much!!! Will still be difficult to remember, but now, so much of the grammatical structure makes so much more sense. I had also wondered why the verbs like gusta, interesa, etc. were not conjugated based on the noun I thought was the subject of the sentence. I now see that pronoun is not the subject of the sentence, so, at least in the DL exercises so far, the actual subject is a third person noun after the verb rather than the pronoun before the verb. DL kept translating as "Are you interested in . . . ?" (which is probably the best translation for meaning, but not for grammatical structure). In any case, this was such a big help! Thanks so much!!!