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Is Spanish inflected? Are there cases? How many?

Spanish is an inflected language. The verbs are potentially marked for tense, aspect, mood, person and number, resulting in some fifty conjugated forms per verb.

Are there genders?

The nouns form a two-gender system and are marked for number. Pronouns can be inflected for person, number, gender, including a residual neuter, and case, although the Spanish pronominal system represents a simplification of the ancestral Latin system.

How flexible is word order?

Spanish has a more flexible word order than English. In both languages, a typical sentence consists of a subject followed by a verb followed by an object, if the verb has one, i.e. if it is a transitive verb. In English, variations from that norm are used mostly for a literary effect. In Spanish, word order changes are common in everyday conversation or writing such as in newspapers and magazines.

How are questions asked? Does Spanish use auxiliary verbs to form questions? Intonation? Both?

Unlike English, you do not need to use an auxiliary verb to ask a question in Spanish. Questions are signaled by an intonation change.

Are there sounds that are hard to pronounce for English native speakers?

English speakers tend to get confused with the pronunciations of ‘b’, ‘ll’, ‘r, ‘rr’, “g” and ‘y’, but most students succeed in pronouncing them with a little practice.

Are Spanish words longer, shorter or about the same as in English?

Spanish words, on the whole, are longer than their English counterparts.

What similar is Spanish vocabulary to English?

As English borrows many words from Latin there are many Spanish-English cognates. However, English or Spanish speakers have to be very careful with “false friends”.

What language family does Spanish belong to?

Spanish and English are closely related members of the Indo-European family of languages. Their affinity has been enhanced further by the fact that English adopted many words from French, a sister language to Spanish.

Does Spanish use more or fewer words than English?

A typical Spanish text might be 20–25% longer than its English counterpart.

Does Spanish use the imperial (inches, gallons, Fahrenheit) or the metric system?

Metric (kilograms, meters, liters, Celsius degrees, etc.)

What script does Spanish use? Are there special characters? Accents?

The Spanish writing system is based on the 26-letter Latin alphabet with the addition of the letter ñ. The letters k and w are only found in Spanish words imported from other languages. Vowels are marked with acute accents (á, é, í, ó, ú) to indicate a stress pattern that may be out of the ordinary; or, they may be used to set apart two words that are otherwise spelled the same. Spanish sometimes uses the dieresis ü after g to indicate a different word pronunciation.

Are there short and long vowels?

There are only 5 vowel phonemes in Spanish; they are all short and each pronounced only in one way which makes Spanish pronunciation highly predictable and thus rather easy.

On the average, do people in your country speak faster than Americans? On TV news?

Spanish is spoken more rapidly than English. The reason is that the typical Spanish syllable is open (consonant-vowel) while in English the typical syllable is closed (consonant-vowel-consonant). Words with more than one syllable in English tend to have two dissimilar consonants in adjacent positions requiring a slowing of speech to sound both of them. In any case, it is difficult to make comparisons. The rate of speech can vary enormously even for individual speakers.

Is each letter of the alphabet pronounced always in the same way?

Yes, it is. Spanish is quite easy to pronounce since most letters (or phonemes) only correspond to a single sound.

Are all words stressed more or less on the same syllable?

Fortunately, Spanish stress (accent) rules are straightforward. In fact, there are only three basic rules that apply to every word. English speakers should be aware that sometimes accent marks are used only to distinguish two similar words, and, other than stressing the syllable they are on, don’t otherwise affect pronunciation.

Does Spanish Use the So-Called Title Case?

 Compared to English, Spanish capitalization is sparse. Whenever Spanish capitalizes a word, the corresponding English word is also capitalized, but the opposite is far from true. There are numerous instances where English uses capitalization while Spanish does not.

What Spanish does capitalize are proper names for people, places, newspapers and magazines; abbreviations of personal titles such as Dr., the equivalent of the English “Dr.,” and Sr., the equivalent of “Mr.”; and the first word in titles of books, plays, movies and similar works.


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