The -se imperfect subjunctive is alive and kicking

My friend Sue and I didn’t visit any language-related destinations today, making it an exception in our linguistic tour of northern Spain. I’d like to take advantage of this “day off” to share with you some uses of the -se imperfect subjunctive that I unexpectedly observed yesterday. The -se imperfect subjunctive is one of my favorite phenomena in […]

Using the two imperfect subjunctives

I always keep an eye out for nice examples of Spanish prose that exploit the two versions of the imperfect subjunctive. (Previous posts on this topic are here and here.) I came across one recently in Cuatro días de enero, a police procedural by Jordi Sierra I Fabra set in Barcelona just before Franco’s forces take the city on […]

Irregular irregulars

Note: this post is intended for Spanish verb fiends only! Others read at your peril! The Spanish verb system is riddled with irregular verbs, but at least they fall into discernible patterns. For example, verbs that end in -ir and have a stem change in the present tense are also irregular in the preterite, imperfect subjunctive, […]

Hubiera, pudiera, tuviera

Can one be obsessed with a verb tense? My particular flame is the imperfect subjunctive. I’ve already written eleven blog posts that at least mention it, mostly because of its grammatical interest. But the imperfect subjunctive can also be poetic. I practically started jumping up and down when I read the following passage, full of regrets, toward the […]

Linguistic gems from recent reading (2017 edition)

The title of this post is a shout-out to one I wrote back in 2014. That “linguistic gems” post described a nice stylistic use of the imperfect subjunctive in the Spanish novel La carta esférica, and a reminiscence about the trilled r from the Puerto Rican novel Felices días tío Sergio. Today’s gems come from the Spanish-language […]

Trabajar por vs. trabajar para

My airplane reading for my flight home from Spain was the third book in Jordi Sierra i Fabra’s “Inspector Mascarell” series, Cinco días de octubre. I love these books! The plots are gripping, the Spanish is lively, the links to modern Spanish history are illuminating, the Barcelona setting is vivid (Sierra’s events unfold on actual streets, parks, […]

Linguistic gems from recent reading

Ages ago I discovered the joys of reading Spanish novels for fun. It helps to keep up my fluency and build my vocabulary, while adding bits of cultural knowledge. Of course, I always keep my linguistics hat on in case I find anything particularly interesting. This post describes two such findings. The first is from La carta esférica, […]

What makes Spanish unique

[Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. ¡Scroll down for English translation!] ¿Cómo es único el español? He ido pensando recientemente en los pocos aspectos únicos que conozco del español, los aspectos que diferencian el español de los otros idiomas del mundo. Si algún lector puede sugerir otros aspectos únicos, o eliminar alguno de los […]

Summer summary for spanishlinguist.us

While I’m not much of a “beach person” — I don’t like the heat! — the last few weeks I’ve been craving a beach day. It really wouldn’t feel like summer without going at least once. So on Saturday, a girlfriend and I visited lovely, peaceful Hammonasset State Park in Madison, CT. It hit the spot. […]

Latin versus Spanish verb tenses

Believe it or not, after my last post about the subjunctive I had resolved to take a long break from writing about verbs. But as part of my research I just performed the following summary analysis, which I found so useful that I couldn’t resist sharing it. The series of tables below summarizes the fate […]