In this series of articles, you will internalize the usage of the Spanish language by learning to recognize patterns in the structure and the words used in different sentences.
Specifically, while we examine the sentence bellow, you will learn about:
● The structure of sentences
● Possessive adjectives
● The gender of nouns, adjectives, determiners and pronouns
● The form and usage of verbs
● The use of ser and estar
El día de tu boda será inolvidable. (Your wedding day will be unforgettable.)
●EL: the [definite article, masculine-singular]
●DÍA: day [common noun, masculine-singular]
●DE: of, from [preposition, invariable]
●TU: your [possessive adjective, short form of TUYA, feminine-singular]
●BODA: wedding [common noun, feminine-singular]
●SERÁ: he, she, it will be [verb SER, 3rd person-singular, future tense, indicative]
●INOLVIDABLE: unforgettable [descriptive adjective, invariable in gender-singular]
In order to understand the structure of this sentence, the first thing we are going to examine is the verb (or verbs) in our example. Depending on the number of verbs, we will have one simple sentence, or several clauses in which we can divide the sentence.
In this example we only have one verb—será (will be)—so we know it is a simple sentence.
Será is a form of the verb ser (to be), which is a linking verb.
Linking verbs have almost no meaning and are used to connect the subject of the sentence to an attribute that adds information about the subject.
The subject tends to be before the verb. In this sentence, the subject is el día de tu boda (your wedding day), so we use it before será (will be).
The attribute tends to be after the linking verb, so we use inolvidable (unforgettable) after será (will be).
The subject—el día de tu boda (your wedding day)—is formed by four words:
Día (day), a noun, is the main element of the subject.
El (the) is a definite article. Articles always precede nouns. That is why we use el (the) before día (day).
On the other hand, we want to use boda (wedding) to modify día (day), but since it is an adverb, and adverbs don’t normally modify nouns, we use the preposition de (of) to link día and boda. This structure—an adjective phrase—works as a descriptive adjective, so it is used after the noun.
At the same time, we are using the possessive adjective tu (your) to specify which wedding we are talking about.
There are two sets of possessive adjectives: the short-unstressed forms and the long-stressed forms. Tu (your) is one of the short-unstressed forms. The equivalent long-stressed form is tuyo (yours).
Long-stressed forms are used almost as descriptive adjectives: they tell us a quality of the noun (to whom it belongs), but they don’t determine which noun we are talking about.
We use them after the verb ser (to be):
Este libro es tuyo. (This book is yours).
We also use them after nouns:
Ha llamado un amigo tuyo. (A friend of yours has called.)
Short-unstressed forms not only tell us to whom the noun belongs, but also determine the noun in the same way definite articles do. And like definite articles, we use them before nouns. That is why we use tu (your) before boda (wedding).
Learn more about Spanish possessive adjectives here.
THE GENDER AND NUMBER OF NOUNS, ADJECTIVES, DETERMINERS AND PRONOUNS
Spanish nouns possess two qualities — gender (masculine or feminine) and number (singular or plural) — that influence the form of adjectives, determiners and pronouns.
You can read more about the gender of nouns here.
You can read more about how nouns build their plural forms here.
As you have seen, in this sentence we have two nouns: día (day) and boda (wedding).
Día* (day) is a masculine noun in its singular form, so any adjective, determiner or pronoun related to it has to be in its feminine-singular form.
*(Yes, there are masculine nouns that end with -a!)
El (the) is a definite article that modifies día (day). It may appear in one of four different forms:
In this sentence, we use the masculine-singular form, el, because día is a masculine-singular noun.
Inolvidable (unforgettable) is a descriptive adjective that describes boda (wedding). It may appear in one of two different forms, which are invariable in gender:
In this sentence, we use the singular form, inolvidable, because día is a singular noun.
Boda (wedding) is a feminine noun in its singular form, so any adjective, determiner or pronoun related to it has to be in its feminine-singular form.
Tu (your) is a possessive adjective that modifies boda (wedding). It may appear in one of two different forms, which are invariable in gender:
In this sentence, we use the singular form, tu, because boda is a singular noun.
In Spanish, verbs are the most variable among all kinds of words. We can choose among their different forms in order to express mood, tense, person and number.
Será (will be), the verb in our sentence, is a form of the verb ser (to be).
There are different factors that determine the form of the verb.
There are two moods in Spanish: the indicative and the subjunctive. The indicative is a neutral mood, while the subjunctive is triggered by certain words or conditions, particularly in compound sentences. Since there is no word or condition that would trigger the subjunctive in this sentence, we use the indicative.
The tense of the verb is mainly determined by the time we want to express, but also by some characteristics of the verb itself and, especially in compound sentences, by some words and by the sentence structure.
In our sentence we want to express a future characteristic of a day. That is one of the settings where we use the future indicative tense.
There are six forms of the future indicative tense conjugation of ser:
1st person-singular: seré
2nd person-singular: serás
3rd person-singular: será
1st person-plural: seremos
2nd person-plural: seréis
3rd person-plural: serán
The person (1st, 2nd or 3rd) and number (singular or plural) the verb must adopt are determined by the subject of the sentence.
The subject in this sentence is el día de tu boda (your wedding day). Since it is a singular element that doesn’t represent the person speaking (1st person) nor the person listening (2nd person), the form of the verb we use is the 3rd person-singular: será.
SER VS. ESTAR
In Spanish there are two verbs that are translated as “to be” in English: ser and estar. Foreign speakers of Spanish often have problems deciding which verb to use in each case.
When linking a noun to an adjective, we use ser or estar depending on the meaning of the adjective. Generally speaking, we can say that we use ser when we perceive that the adjective expresses an intrinsic quality, and we use estar when we perceive that the adjective expresses a condition resulting from a change or process.
Since being unforgettable is an intrinsic quality, we use the verb ser with inolvidable.
Since the number of adjectives that are normally used with ser is much larger than the number of adjectives normally used with estar, and many of the adjectives used with estar can also be used with ser, I always recommend students to use ser as a general rule, and learn the uses of estar with adjectives as exceptions.
You can find a list of adjectives that are used with estar here.
GO FIND PATTERNS!
There are several technical terms in this post, but remember that, once you know them, you will easily be able to identify different kind of structures and words inside sentences. Then you will start recognizing patterns that you can use when creating your own sentences.
Check other posts with sample sentences; You will become familiar with all these terms very quickly. You will be seeing patterns everywhere!
If you have any questions related to this post, you can leave a comment or send me a message through the contact form.