Four Dichotomies in Spanish: Adjective Position, Adjectival Clauses, Ser/Estar, and Preterite/Imperfect
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
Adjective position: why having a ‘guapo novio’ does not raise any eyebrows, but having a ‘novio guapo’ might
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 nonrestrictiveness and restrictiveness, there is no need for word twisting, for explanations that do not make sense, or for invoking emphasis, subjectivity, affectedness, value judgments
1.5. Two adjectives modifying a noun
1.6. Is Italian red wine different from red Italian wine?
1.7. Bolinger (1952: 1118) 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
Whole/part matters: nonrestrictive and restrictive adjectival (relative) clauses
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
Estar expresses a change of state; learners already have ser in their native language
(Luis H. González and Michael Davern)
3.2. A change in location is a change of state
3.3. Why an explicit understanding of passive voice (and resultant state) is an efficient use of classroom time
3.4. If the progressive is always with estar, and if estar expresses change, then the progressive expresses an explicit (or implied) change
3.5. Change of state also accounts for putative "idioms" with estar
3.6. Giving some teeth to the proposal in VanPatten (2010) about privileging estar
3.7. Change of state explains apparently challenging (or nuanced) uses
3.8. Some implications for teaching
The preterite is like entering or leaving a room; the imperfect is like staying in it
(Luis H. González and Peter Till)
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 examples from five different textbooks for beginning to advanced levels
4.6. Verbs do not change meaning when used in the preterite
4.7. Some implications for teaching
Luis H. González is 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 languages, Spanish linguistics, and second language learning. He is the co-author of one book and the author of three other books:
- Gramática para la composición. 2016. 3rd ed. Washington: Georgetown University Press. A Spanish advanced grammar and writing textbook, now in its third edition. Co-authored with M. Stanley Whitley.
- Cómo entender y cómo enseñar por y para. 2020. London: Routledge. https://www.routledge.com/9780367688295
- Four Dichotomies in Spanish: Adjective Position, Adjectival Clauses, Ser/Estar, and Preterite/Imperfect. 2021. London: Routledge. https://www.routledge.com/9780367517281
The Fundamentally Simple Logic of Language: Learning a Second Language with the Tools of the Native Speaker. 2021. London: Routledge. https://www.routledge.com/9780367347819