1st Edition

Four Dichotomies in Spanish: Adjective Position, Adjectival Clauses, Ser/Estar, and Preterite/Imperfect

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after November 29, 2020
ISBN 9780367517281
November 29, 2020 Forthcoming by Routledge
152 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

USD $59.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Examining four dichotomies in Spanish, this book shows how to reduce the six to ten rules common in textbooks for each contrast to a single binary distinction. That distinction is a form of totality vs. part, easier to see in some of the dichotomies, but present in all of them.

Every chapter is example-driven, and many of those examples come from writing by students. Readers can test out for themselves the explanation at work in the examples provided. Then, those examples are explained step by step. In addition to examples from writing by college students, there are examples from RAE (Real Academia Española), from scholars, from writers, from Corpes XXI (RAE), from the Centro Virtual Cervantes, and from the Internet. Many of those examples are presented to the reader as exercises, and answers are provided.

This book was written for teachers of Spanish as a second language (L2) and for minors or majors of Spanish as an L2. It will also benefit teachers and learners of other L2s with some of these dichotomies.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1

Adjective position: why having a ‘guapo novio’ does not raise any eyebrows, but having a ‘novio guapo’ might

1.1. Introduction

1.2. A nonrestrictive adjective expresses totality; a restrictive one expresses partitivity

1.3. Why is la hermosa Penélope Cruz nonrestrictive and los novelistas mexicanos restrictive?

1.4. With (non)restrictiveness and restrictiveness, there is no need for word twisting, for explanations that do not make sense, or for invoking subjectivity, affectedness, value judgements

1.5. Two adjectives modifying a noun

1.6. Is Italian red wine different from red Italian wine?

1.7. Bolinger’s principle of linear modification ... modified

1.8. Allie Neal’s prediction regarding determiners and quantifiers before a noun

1.9. Missed predictions 150 years ago. And now

1.10. Many nonrestrictive adjectives go after their noun as the result of the omission of que + ser or que + estar (copula deletion)

1.11. Bueno/a, malo/a, serio/a, verdadero/a, último/a, final ‘good, bad, serious, true, last, final’

1.12. Do a few adjectives have one meaning when used before a noun and a different one after it? In part. But it is more totality vs. part

1.13. Some implications for teaching

1.14. Conclusions


Chapter 2

Whole/part matters: nonrestrictive and restrictive adjectival (relative) clauses

2.1. Introduction

2.2. Nonrestrictive and restrictive adjectival clauses

2.3. Choosing the best (most informative) relative pronoun

2.4. A few additional observations on the choice of relative pronoun

2.5. Relative pronouns: why settle for the generic que ‘that’ when you can choose a relative pronoun that helps your listener/reader?

2.6. Some implications for teaching

2.7. Conclusions


Chapter 3

Estar expresses a change of state; learners already have ser in their native language

(Luis H. González and Michael Davern)

3.1. Introduction

3.2. A change in location is a change of state

    1. Why an explicit understanding of passive voice (and resultant state) is an efficient use of classroom time
    2. If the progressive is always with estar, and if estar expresses change, then the progressive expresses an explicit (or implied) change
    3. Change of state also accounts for putative "idioms" with estar
    4. Giving some teeth to the proposal in VanPatten (2010) about privileging estar
    5. Change of state explains apparently challenging (or nuanced) uses
    6. Some implications for teaching
    7. Conclusions


Chapter 4

The preterite is like entering or leaving a room; the imperfect is like staying in it

(Luis H. González and Peter Till)

4.1. Introduction

4.2. The preterite

4.3. The imperfect

4.4. Testing this proposal with the famous example ayer tuve una carta ‘yesterday, I had a letter’ and similar sentences

4.5. Testing this proposal with the examples in a textbook for beginners (fifth edition, 2016)

4.6. Verbs do not change meaning when used in the preterite

4.7. Some implications for teaching

4.8. Conclusions



View More



Luis H. González is an associate professor of Spanish and linguistics at Wake Forest University. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of California, Davis. His main areas of research are semantic roles, case, reflexivization, clitic doubling, differential object marking, dichotomies in language, Spanish linguistics, and second language learning. He is the co-author of Gramática para la composición (Georgetown UP), a Spanish advanced grammar and writing textbook, now in its third edition (2016). He is also the author of Cómo entender y cómo enseñar por y para, published by Routledge in 2020.