Some adjectives change to a shortened version when they precede a masculine singular noun to aid in pronunciation and flow. These are called apócopes.
So, generally speaking, adjectives follow nouns and agree in quantity and gender, except some, like "grande," can change their meaning when they go before the noun.
So "gran" before a noun means great, except before a masculine singular noun it means large, except for sometimes it's also for feminine nouns, and oh, it all really depends on context anyway.
Spanish is sounding more like English all the time, with it's rules that aren't really rules at all.
So just remember this: i before e, except after c, unless you're running a feisty heist on a weird beige foreign neighbor.
Have you tried listening to a native speaker while applying rules to translate? It doesn't work. The same goes if we want to speak fluently. I'm starting to think that the best thing to do is to expose ourselves over and over, without really analysing the grammar too much. It seems then that our brains begin to work more on a instinctual level which is necessary for fluency. This is something I have come to appreciate through listening to Spanish audio books, which at first almost seem like a blur. The more I expose myself to them though, it is as if time is slowing down and magically I am able to make more sense of them. I also think it is part of the genius of duolingo, in that it is constantly drilling and exposing us to the language without teaching us over-reliance on rules. I'm not saying that rules don't have any value, just that they won't help to become fluent. To become fluent we need to stop translating and really think in the language.
I agree entirely with all of what you've written. That is, in fact, how we learn our native languages. Nobody sits down with an infant and explains the parts of speech. You teach them how to say "mama" and "dada" and go from there.
Of course, none of this will stop me from complaining about it all now and again.
Infants learn via brute force. They have to, but it isn't necessarily efficient. By the time you're a young adult, you understand the parts of grammar. You understand nouns, verbs, conjugation, etc. Why wouldn't you want to take advantage of that? Sure, there will be exceptions to every rule, but the rules are valid for the most part. Why limit yourself to doing things the hard way? If you want to learn via brute force, try Rosetta Stone. It doesn't seem to get very good reviews, for some reason.
I agree with you. I think learning rules helps, as long as you understand that some rules are hard and fast, others are usually strict but occasionally exceptions are made, and then there are 'rules' which are mere suggestions. I guess the point is that rules can help in some circumstances, but learning a language requires abstract thinking. Memorizing a limited amount of phrases and rules feels easier to some people, but they aren't the least bit fluent. They can't actually hold a real conversation.
@ tabithadas & The Duo Comment Community - re: apócopes and adjective placement
Hola tabithadas and everybody. This is a ready great exercise sentence.
There are a lot of comments that seem to suggest that the rules of Spanish grammar are becoming to burdensome to even attempt to understand because this exercise sentence seems to break some rules.
In particular, many of us are starting to catch on that "grande" is an adjective that means "big" or "large" when it comes after the noun that it modifies.
And we've also come to realize that "gran" seem like a completely different adjective with its own meaning "great" and its own spelling "gran" when it comes in front of the niun it's modifying.
Then the whole thing breaks down in front of elefante. The hyperlink to spanishdict points to a list of short form adjective that can be used with masculine singular nouns.
The list is composed of several kinds of adjectives.
Adjectives that express subjective opinions like; "buen" and "mal"
Adjectives of quantity like; "algún", "ningún", "un", "primer" and "trecer"
These are all adjective that are meant to come before the noun that they modify.
This is a pretty simple grammar rule. In Spanish, opinion and count adjectives come before the noun they modify. See the adjective section of "Spanish Grammar for Dummies".
I have not read anything about the adjective title for "saint". But it sounds reasonably like the syntactic style of Spanish grammar to have a short form of the word "Saint" to put in front of a name.
Now, that addresses ever adjective on the Spanishdict apócopes hyperlink list except one word, "gran".
I have already said that for all intents and purposes, "grande" is its own word meaning "big" or "large".
The word "gran" has its own spelling and a completely different meaning, "great".
Therefore, it's terrible idea to think of "gran" as a short form of "grande". That doesn't make any sense.
Now think of "gran" meaning "great" and its homonym "gran" meaning "big" or "large". Two different words, spelled exactly the same.
Now recalled that "Spanish Grammar for Dummies" has already said that you can use an adjective in front of a noun if it merely states an obvious, innate quality of the noun it's referring to.
Well, what's the first thing that pops into mind when you think of an elephant. Exactly! BIG.
Therefore the context is obvious that the word "gran" in this situation is the homonym that means "big" (just like ichilingo's mexican friend said).
Trying reading that Spanishdict page next to a more meaningful source and you'll see. It's just not that accurate.
Spanish grammar all still works and there's no need to abandon it over this. Everything is still cool, so just R E L A X.
A helpful article, thank you. Minor note: they call an accent a tilde. The enye (ñ) uses the tilde to signify an alveopalatal nasal phoneme. Written Spanish uses accents for a variety of reasons, including showing irregular stress patterns but primarily for disambiguation. Por ejemplo, the word "donde" is the relative pronoun "where," but "dónde" is the wh-word "where?" So, "...the place where we met..." uses the relative pronoun (sin acento), whereas "Where shall we meet?" uses the wh-question word (con acento). ¿Me entienden?
That's what I thought at first, too, but apparently in Spanish it can be either way and usually depends on which is more important.
This is how Caiser explained it to me.
"If you are in a store and you see a new recently received sofa, the seller will say you "Es el nuevo sofa". If you are at house and You have bought a sofa, You will say "Es un sofa nuevo". In the first sentence you are saying that it is a recent received, created, made... one in the secont that it is new (not old)"
I don't know about gran vs. grande, though. Maybe a Spanish speaker can explain that one.
There are adjectives who change the meaning if they're before or after the nouns, but this is not general rule.In general, in Spanish, the adjectives are after the nouns, often we can put the adjectives before the nouns, and the adjective does not change the meaning.... ............... ............... Sorry, my english is bad...................................bye.
you are correct.
Si está situado delante del nombre: Se usa "gran"-(singular), "grandes"-(plural)
Cuando lo situamos detrás del nombre: Se usa "grande" -(singular), "grandes"-(plural)
Nota: En este caso es igual para masculino y femenino.
Nosotros elegimos poner en primer lugar la palabra ("big" or "elephant") que es más importante (ourselves).
"Gran elefante". De esta manera damos a entender que "para nosotros" (ourselves), es más relevante (más énfasis) el tamaño que el propio elefante.
Exemples : un buen libro but una buena idea. un mal momento but una mala idea. una gran casa, un gran jardín. grande is masc uline and feminine. Otras exemples : there are adjectives who change the meaning if they're before or after the nouns. EX : un pobre hombre= a poor man (pity) and un hombre pobre= a man who has no money. su nueva casa= his new house,( he just bought it) and una casa nueva= means that the house is real new. That's from my grammar.
I thought adjectives go after nouns? Can someone please shed some light on me? I've been speaking Spanish since I was 10. I am 14 now. This is the first time i've ever come across an adjective before a noun... does anyone want to clear up my confusion? That would be much appreciated! Thank you guys!!