Spanish-English Contrasts: A Course in Spanish Linguistics

By M. Stanley Whitley | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Chapter 6
Verb morphology

6.0 Verb forms and their nomenclature.

For English speakers, the foremost challenge in Spanish morphology is the verb. While the Spanish noun has only two inflectional categories, singular and plural (gender being regarded as derivational for nouns), the verb has forty-eight distinct simple inflectional forms. ("Inflectional" excludes derived forms in -ble, -dor, etc.; "simple" excludes compound forms such as he hecho; and "distinct" precludes counting identical forms such as (yo) hacía = (él) hacía twice.) The PARADIGM (full set of forms) of the Spanish verb thus contrasts starkly with the inflectional options of English verbs, which range from one to eight:

one form: must four forms: walk, walks, walked, walking
two forms: can, could five forms: sing, sings, sang, sung, singing
three forms: put, puts, putting eight forms: be, am, is, are, was, were, been, being

Spanish verbs have more forms because they are conjugated for more tense and mood categories and for more person and number distinctions. The latter seem redundant to English speakers until they understand that Spanish speakers often rely on the verb to indicate the subject; that is, the -s of hablas is not just a sign of agreement as suggested by fillin-the-blanks such as (hablar_____), but the usual marker of an unexpressed tú.

Linguists and teachers in the United States largely agree on what to call tense and mood categories: drank is "past," bebí and bebía are respectively "preterite" and "imperfect." In Hispanic countries, however, there is less consensus: some scholars retain traditional Latin terminology while others have substituted new terms deemed more appropriate for Spanish. Figure 6.1 summarizes the major differences (see Resnick 1984 for fuller discussion). He dicho, for example, has been called "presente perfecto" and "presente compuesto," both of which describe its morphology, the present of haber compounded with the "perfect" participle (v. 6.3.2). But it is also called "pretérito perfecto"


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Spanish-English Contrasts: A Course in Spanish Linguistics


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 388

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?