Practice Makes Perfect: Spanish Pronouns and Prepositions, Premium 3rd Edition (2016)

Introduction

In order to work with any system—a software program, a car, an organization, or a language—one must know its constituent parts, how to use them, and what each part means and contributes to the whole. This book deals primarily with Spanish pronouns and prepositions, which are crucial to the Spanish language system.

What is a pronoun?

A pronoun replaces an understood noun. Therefore, in order to use a pronoun, the speaker/writer and listener/reader must already be in agreement on what or whom the noun refers to. If you breeze into a room and announce, “I saw him last night,” you will be greeted by blank stares and the question “Whom did you see?” On the other hand, if you made this same announcement after you and your friends had been talking about the ghost of Elvis, you still might get some stares, but everyone would understand whom you meant. And being understood—putting what is going on in your mind into someone else’s mind—is the essence and aim of all communication.

Pronouns allow us to streamline our conversations: They make our conversations less wordy, but more interesting. As you begin to work with Spanish pronouns, you may at times find them frustrating, even overwhelming. Keep going. They take time to learn, and other books currently on the market do not give them enough attention; nor do these texts offer students sufficient explanations, examples, and exercises.

Part I of Practice Makes Perfect: Spanish Pronouns and Prepositions offers you 14 chapters about pronouns in Spanish, from the everyday subject pronoun to the specialized reciprocal pronoun. Each chapter contains an abundance of explanations, examples, and exercises. (You’ll find answers to all the exercises at the back of the book.)

What is a preposition?

A preposition reveals a relationship, typically between two nouns or pronouns. This relationship may be one of place, time, direction, manner, or connection.

It is difficult to say or write much of importance or clarity without using prepositions. It is even harder to “fake it,” when you don’t know the correct preposition to use. Nouns and verbs often have synonyms, or you can describe them in other terms or even just point to or demonstrate “à la charades.” Prepositions, however, usually have no substitutes, and it is crucial to know prepositions in order to get your point across.

Imagine trying to say “Jake lives with Matthew” in Spanish if you don’t know the word for “with.” Or “I have gifts for Daisy and Lily” if you don’t know how to say “for.” “To the right of,” “to the left of,” “in front of,” and so on—all these prepositions need to be learned and mastered in order to be a confident, comfortable speaker of Spanish.

Prepositions are brought out in all their glory and forms in the three chapters of Part II of Practice Makes Perfect: Spanish Pronouns and Prepositions. In the first chapter, you are presented with the basic vocabulary and multiple uses of prepositions, as well as the sometimes subtle differences among certain prepositions that may appear to be interchangeable at first. The second chapter is devoted to para and por, two prepositions with frequently similar meanings, but distinct uses. In the third chapter, you will learn about the special relationship that many prepositions have with verbs.

Each chapter in Part II contains detailed explanations of the material, followed by examples and exercises. (Answers to these exercises, too, can be found at the end of the text.)

The appendices contain concise explanations and summaries, along with valuable charts, that provide the basis for your study of Spanish pronouns and prepositions. For example, Appendix A, “The eight parts of speech,” arms you with the grammatical terms you need and gives you the ability to identify all eight parts of speech when working with the language. Appendixes B and C provide comprehensive summaries that can serve as reference tools.

I sincerely hope that this text will help those who study Spanish, at any level, to achieve (and maybe surpass?) their goals of speaking, writing, and reading this incredibly rich language with greater competence and confidence. Enjoy the language. Play with it. Work with it. Make it a part of you. ¡Buena suerte!

Preface

Pronouns and prepositions are two aspects of language study that often fall through the cracks. It is not unusual to encounter individuals who have studied Spanish for years and whose vocabulary and ability to conjugate verbs are impressive, yet who trip over pronouns, unable to distinguish between direct and indirect object pronouns, and who don’t really “get” para and por.

To say that Spanish pronouns and prepositions are undertaught and underlearned is an understatement. Mastery of them is essential for all students who desire to communicate with native speakers of Spanish or who simply wish to absorb the wealth of literature—from the classics to the latest fan magazines—in Spanish. Though vastly different on the surface, mastery of both requires meticulous attention to detail, careful study of both vocabulary and theory, and almost endless repetitive practice and use, until that magic moment when one simply uses pronouns and prepositions without thought, without effort, without regret for the time and energy spent learning them.

Current books on the market invariably fall short of providing sufficient discussion, examples, and exercises that allow the student to properly learn how to work with Spanish pronouns and prepositions. Practice Makes Perfect: Spanish Pronouns and Prepositions meets the need for explaining and practicing these two vital parts of speech.

The challenge of this text, for both the author and the student, is to take on these two very important, yet often ignored, aspects of the Spanish language. For every student who takes this challenge, I offer you congratulations and wish you great academic fortune.