Spanish past particle construction

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Re: Spanish past particle construction

Postby Cainntear » Sun Apr 02, 2017 11:28 pm

s_allard wrote:I may be a bit late to this discussion but there is a small but major detail here that I want to dispute. Although I agree with smallwhite's and cainntear's explanation in general here, I strongly disagree with the statement "There's practically no difference between how this works in Spanish and in English."

While this shows a small difference in our approaches to language, it shows a far bigger difference in our approaches to teaching.

Some teachers hate saying anything without giving a complete and explicit rule, but I'm of the school that says to work with the individual and give the information that is needed.

The OP knows the technical distinction between ser and estar in abstract terms, and it had already been discussed as deep as was needed by the time I posted, so I saw no need to repeat that. He had reformulated the rule for himself in a way that wasn't quite right, and I didn't personally feel that further discussing the abstract difference between ser and estar clarified his confusion at all.

Instead of dealing with abstracts, I thought it better to deal with concrete language, and language he understands: L1. The difference between these two constructions maps perfectly well onto English: ser ??ado = passive, estar ??ado = normal adjectives (just with a past participle).

Now that is something that maps perfectly well and perfectly logically to English, and I chose to say that "there's practically no difference" because I believe that's a better way to help someone trust what their brain already knows and use their existing procedural knowledge of the structure. I personally believe that your approach encourages declarative processing of language that is unnecessary for someone with mjfleck2000's current level of Spanish (which is clearly fairly advanced).

Now I may be wrong about that, but I really object to teachers framing things as "problems", as I think it conditions students to be afraid of language when very often there is really strictly no need to be.

And I do genuinely on a linguistic level believe that the ser/estar distinction is less alien to English speakers than is often claimed. Consider
Como es = what is he like
Como está = how is he
The distinction isn't in the verb, but on a deep level, the English speaker's brain makes a very similar categorisation.

There's another thing I disagree with in your approach here, which again I think becomes a barrier to comprehension, and only serves to encourage abstract declarative thinking rather than deep procedural thinking. It is this:
1. In 2010 we were married.

This is somewhat ambiguous. Depending on the context, this sentence could mean two things:
2. We got married in 2010.
3. At the time of certain events in 2010, we were a married couple.

Actually, no, it's not ambiguous. If it's a sentence, and we assume it's not a mistake by the speaker, it can only mean (2), it cannot mean (3).

If you want to discuss why I say that, feel free to start another thread and we'll discuss it there, but this isn't the appropriate place (as the goal of this thread is to help a Spanish learner with a particular concept in Spanish, not deep discussion of linguistics. But in short, because "at the time of certain events in 2010" makes a reference to something else in the context, and "in 2010" doesn't, so trying to interpret 1 as 3 doesn't work because it doesn't actually convey any meaningful message. Notice that I deliberately didn't use a sentence in my post in order to avoid something like this.

The problem here is that you've built an example using the Chomskyian idea of grammaticality, but it has been clearly proven that Chomsky's grammaticality only works for people who've been taught grammar in a particular tradition.

To anyone who isn't looking at the sentence intellectually and just engages with the meaning, "In 2010 we were married" sounds at best like an archaic way of saying "we got married in 2010" (in my head it's the voice of an English screen actor doing a voiceover for a black-and-white film with a very crackly soundtrack) -- at worst the year 2010 and the archaism result in cognitive dissonance and processing fails.

As an example, it fails on two grounds then: it is not natural English, so is difficult to process; and it is not actually that ambiguous, and saying it is is potentially very confusing.

In Spanish, things are much more complicated. If you google ser/estar casado, you'll find a plethora of articles pointing out that the two verbs are basically interchangeable but that Spain tends to use ser whereas Latin America favours estar.

Again, my teaching style is never to tell a student that something is chaotic and that there is no rule, because it's bloody confusing and rarely true.

And in this case it is very much not true. While there are some uses of ser and estar that are dialect dependent, I have never heard any claim that of any confusion in the particular case discussed here. I have never heard Latin Americans say passives with estar, and I've never heard a Spanish person say "soy cansado" -- these things just don't happen.

What I'm saying about this case that makes it so close to English is that we happily categorise I was married (at the time) with I was single (normal adjective) and in our heads it is very distinct from the passive construction I was married (to her by Fr Tony).

I do not believe that the similarity in form is particularly important because every English speaker immediately understands the meaning in about 99% of cases. This means we have the mental machinery to deal with it, and I believe that spending time discussing the technical linguistic meaning of ser vs estar distracts from the simple point that we make all the same distinctions in meaning in English as in Spanish.

That said: I did lie, and it is more complicated than that. Not because of ser and estar (a mere trifle), but because Spanish is more likely to use past participles as adjectives than in English. In English, we have a relatively small set of them "closed"/"shut" (but "open"), "tired" (but "asleep" and "awake"), impressed, amazed, astounded, disappointed etc. In Spanish, it's more of a rule that applies to lots of verbs. But I personally think that's unnecessary and distracting, and that the basic rule is best explained by comparison to the closest English equivalent.
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Re: Spanish past particle construction

Postby s_allard » Mon Apr 03, 2017 12:32 am

Cainntear wrote:...

And in this case it is very much not true. While there are some uses of ser and estar that are dialect dependent, I have never heard any claim that of any confusion in the particular case discussed here. I have never heard Latin Americans say passives with estar, and I've never heard a Spanish person say "soy cansado" -- these things just don't happen.
...
That said: I did lie, and it is more complicated than that. Not because of ser and estar (a mere trifle), but because Spanish is more likely to use past participles as adjectives than in English. In English, we have a relatively small set of them "closed"/"shut" (but "open"), "tired" (but "asleep" and "awake"), impressed, amazed, astounded, disappointed etc. In Spanish, it's more of a rule that applies to lots of verbs. But I personally think that's unnecessary and distracting, and that the basic rule is best explained by comparison to the closest English equivalent.


Without going into more detailed discussion - and I think serafin has covered a lot of ground here - to call the ser/estar a mere trifle is, in my opinion, to not really understand how the distinction works. It is a lot more than just use of ser for the passive voice.

I should point out that ser + cansado is live and well, as a little googling will attest. Many sites talking about mistakes of learners of Spanish will say that estar + cansado is the correct translation of "to be tired". This is true. But the more advanced sites will point out that "soy cansado" is perfectly good Spanish and means "I'm a tired person". Also "es cansado" can mean "is tiring". In fact, there's a whole list of adjective forms like aburrido, callado, listo, enfermo, where ser and estar can be used to produce different meanings.
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Re: Spanish past particle construction

Postby tarvos » Mon Apr 03, 2017 2:56 am

s_allard, I think you missed Cainntear's point.

Soy cansado is a perfectly legitimate Spanish sentence from a grammatical point of view. But not everything is about what is grammatically legitimate, but also what is generally used - and in eight months of living in Spain I haven't heard a single person say this! Ever! Because it's not a meaning anyone needs to convey.

Now "es cansado" as in "is tiring" is already a bit more natural, but in most cases most Spanish speakers would prefer something like "xxx me cansa".

Of course ser + participle and estar + participle produce different meanings. Cainntear hasn't disputed that! What he is saying is that the distinction those two verbs make in combining with a participle produce a difference in meaning that is also captured in English, just not in exactly the same way morphologically speaking. Just because English doesn't have an equivalent of ser/estar doesn't mean that the distinction in meaning can't be expressed in English - and it can, just through another method.

This is wholly different from some languages where such distinctions cannot be expressed and you have to rely on context to glean the meaning from the sentence - Mandarin would be a prime example.
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Re: Spanish past particle construction

Postby s_allard » Mon Apr 03, 2017 4:22 am

tarvos wrote:s_allard, I think you missed Cainntear's point.

Soy cansado is a perfectly legitimate Spanish sentence from a grammatical point of view. But not everything is about what is grammatically legitimate, but also what is generally used - and in eight months of living in Spain I haven't heard a single person say this! Ever! Because it's not a meaning anyone needs to convey.

Now "es cansado" as in "is tiring" is already a bit more natural, but in most cases most Spanish speakers would prefer something like "xxx me cansa".

Of course ser + participle and estar + participle produce different meanings. Cainntear hasn't disputed that! What he is saying is that the distinction those two verbs make in combining with a participle produce a difference in meaning that is also captured in English, just not in exactly the same way morphologically speaking. Just because English doesn't have an equivalent of ser/estar doesn't mean that the distinction in meaning can't be expressed in English - and it can, just through another method.

This is wholly different from some languages where such distinctions cannot be expressed and you have to rely on context to glean the meaning from the sentence - Mandarin would be a prime example.


Nobody is saying that English cannot produce the difference in meaning that one can convey with ser and estar in Spanish. That's not the point. I'm taking issue with the statement "There's practically no difference between how this works in Spanish and in English." As I pointed out, the difference isn't in the meanings; it's how this is done grammatically. As I wrote, if there was only one verb in Spanish, I wouldn't have much of an objection. Sure, English has a passive construction and it also can use past participle forms as adjectives. But it has one verb "to be" whereas Spanish has two. And these two are not interchangeable.

In English, one doesn't have to worry about the verb. In Spanish, you have to choose the right verb and the right form. In that way it differs from English. If it were so simple, why are there entire chapters of books devoted to choosing the right form?

There may not be any difference in the end result between English and Spanish but how this works is very different in the two languages.

As for whether certain forms, like "soy cansado" are actually used, that is besides the point. The real issue is whether they are grammatical and could be used if necessary. I certainly agree that certain forms are more common than others, especially in the spoken language, but that doesn't mean that other rarer or more exotic forms are not valid.
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Re: Spanish past particle construction

Postby tarvos » Mon Apr 03, 2017 6:17 am

s_allard wrote:Nobody is saying that English cannot produce the difference in meaning that one can convey with ser and estar in Spanish. That's not the point. I'm taking issue with the statement "There's practically no difference between how this works in Spanish and in English." As I pointed out, the difference isn't in the meanings; it's how this is done grammatically. As I wrote, if there was only one verb in Spanish, I wouldn't have much of an objection. Sure, English has a passive construction and it also can use past participle forms as adjectives. But it has one verb "to be" whereas Spanish has two. And these two are not interchangeable.


The difference is meaningless if you are a linguist or a grammarian. If you are a language learner, the difference in meaning is actually of the highest importance, because language learners have to worry about meaning and choosing the best form to express a certain meaning.

In English, one doesn't have to worry about the verb. In Spanish, you have to choose the right verb and the right form. In that way it differs from English. If it were so simple, why are there entire chapters of books devoted to choosing the right form?


Because not everybody finds the confusing aspect of having different verbs to indicate meaning whereas English has just one easy to learn. You drawing attention to how problematic that is results in less, not more confidence. If I were to teach Spanish I'd say "this is a slightly tricky bit, but eventually you can discern the meaning between the two in a similar way in English. This type of English sentence is represented by sentences with ser in Spanish, and this other type with sentences with estar and the past participle in Spanish".

There may not be any difference in the end result between English and Spanish but how this works is very different in the two languages.


Different shit, same result. As language learners we're more concerned with what we actually say than how we get there. The output matters, and by what mental process we get there is entirely irrelevant, as long as the stuff we blab out is correct. If the mental processes lead to mistakes - that's where we correct people.

As for whether certain forms, like "soy cansado" are actually used, that is besides the point. The real issue is whether they are grammatical and could be used if necessary. I certainly agree that certain forms are more common than others, especially in the spoken language, but that doesn't mean that other rarer or more exotic forms are not valid.


No it's not. Many things are grammatical but that doesn't make them correct. Language use isn't just determined by what you could say, but by what is actually said. Rare or exotic forms may be valid but they are only valid in certain very limited circumstances - ones you are very unlikely to need as a language learner. I'd rather people forget all about soy cansado because it's just not a useful phrase. Do you need to know the distinction? When you get to intermediate and above, sure. As a beginner? I wouldn't worry and just remember that estoy cansado is the right way to say "I'm tired."
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Re: Spanish past particle construction

Postby s_allard » Mon Apr 03, 2017 11:36 am

Since I have to rush out the door I'll just address two points here and maybe return to the others later.
tarvos wrote:
s_allard wrote:In English, one doesn't have to worry about the verb. In Spanish, you have to choose the right verb and the right form. In that way it differs from English. If it were so simple, why are there entire chapters of books devoted to choosing the right form?


Because not everybody finds the confusing aspect of having different verbs to indicate meaning whereas English has just one easy to learn. You drawing attention to how problematic that is results in less, not more confidence. If I were to teach Spanish I'd say "this is a slightly tricky bit, but eventually you can discern the meaning between the two in a similar way in English. This type of English sentence is represented by sentences with ser in Spanish, and this other type with sentences with estar and the past participle in Spanish".


This goes to the heart of the question. Saying that : This type of English sentence is represented by sentences with ser in Spanish, and this other type with sentences with estar and the past participle in Spanish" will ultimately lead to bad results because one is going from the English construction to Spanish instead of the other way around.

If you look at the bigger picture, this is exactly why people end up making so many mistakes when learning a foreign language. One can say that English and French both make plural nouns by adding -s, among other things. So there really isn't much of a difference between French and English in this regard. Superficially, of course, this looks correct but inevitably leads to all kinds of mistakes.

To come back to Spanish and English, let's look at some specific examples. In the novel 98 segundos sin sombra by the Bolivian author Giovanna Rivero, on page 10 the speaker is encouraging her mother to get a divorce and says:

Si caminas por la calle es imposible que alguien diga: «Esa mujer es divorciada».

If the English translation is: "This woman is divorced.", why is the Spanish "es divorciada" and not "está divorciada"? Actually the sentence that follows the one above gives a good clue of why ser and not estar is used.

La propia tía Lu es una mujer divorciada y todo el mundo le sigue diciendo «señora».

I briefly mentioned in an earlier post the very common pseudo-passive construction in English as in the following:

The victim was given a large sum of money by the court.

If you try to translate that into Spanish with "La víctima fue dada ..." you are heading for disaster.

For another example, let's look at two common Spanish sentences:

No me gusta la clase, el profesor es muy aburrido.
No me gusta la clase, estoy muy aburrido.


No translation is necessary. We see here that despite all appearances, the first sentence is not a passive at all.

tarvos wrote: Many things are grammatical but that doesn't make them correct. Language use isn't just determined by what you could say, but by what is actually said. Rare or exotic forms may be valid but they are only valid in certain very limited circumstances - ones you are very unlikely to need as a language learner. I'd rather people forget all about soy cansado because it's just not a useful phrase. Do you need to know the distinction? When you get to intermediate and above, sure. As a beginner? I wouldn't worry and just remember that estoy cansado is the right way to say "I'm tired."


There is some confusion here. If something is grammatical or well-formed, then it is correct. That is part of the definition of correct. It may not be in common use for various reasons. The reason I pointed out the existence of "soy cansado", which I did not invent, was to point out its existence with a specific meaning distinct from "estoy cansado". I wholeheartedly agree that no-one, especially beginners, should worry about it. It is certainly not the right way to say "I'm tired".
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Re: Spanish past particle construction

Postby tarvos » Mon Apr 03, 2017 12:59 pm

s_allard wrote:
This goes to the heart of the question. Saying that : This type of English sentence is represented by sentences with ser in Spanish, and this other type with sentences with estar and the past participle in Spanish" will ultimately lead to bad results because one is going from the English construction to Spanish instead of the other way around.


Of course there are nuances, but that's exactly what they are - nuances and shades of meaning.

If you look at the bigger picture, this is exactly why people end up making so many mistakes when learning a foreign language. One can say that English and French both make plural nouns by adding -s, among other things. So there really isn't much of a difference between French and English in this regard. Superficially, of course, this looks correct but inevitably leads to all kinds of mistakes.


Sure does, but I'd rather make mistakes and have them corrected than not say a word. I don't find mistakes such a big issue. First you learn the rule, and then you learn the exceptions? What's the problem

If the English translation is: "This woman is divorced.", why is the Spanish "es divorciada" and not "está divorciada"? Actually the sentence that follows the one above gives a good clue of why ser and not estar is used.

La propia tía Lu es una mujer divorciada y todo el mundo le sigue diciendo «señora».



Oh, but here the issue is a completely different thing. Divorciada isn't an adjective - it's a NOUN! The implication is that she is an older, divorced woman and in Spanish you can leave out the noun being implied, suddenly turning divorciada into a noun itself... which requires ser. It's not actually functioning as an adjective here. And that is ALSO covered by English is: "This woman is a divorcee".

:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D

I briefly mentioned in an earlier post the very common pseudo-passive construction in English as in the following:

The victim was given a large sum of money by the court.

If you try to translate that into Spanish with "La víctima fue dada ..." you are heading for disaster.

[/quote]

We were talking about actual passive constructions. Such constructions as you mentioned here would in Spanish be rendered with a "Los juicios le han asignado una gran suma a la víctima" or something of the sort. Or you could say "La víctima fue financialmente recompensada por el tribunal".

For another example, let's look at two common Spanish sentences:

No me gusta la clase, el profesor es muy aburrido.
No me gusta la clase, estoy muy aburrido.


No translation is necessary. We see here that despite all appearances, the first sentence is not a passive at all.


Ser is also used for copulas. Passive sentences are also copulas, but copulas in the present tense don't generally have a passive connotation.

tarvos wrote: Many things are grammatical but that doesn't make them correct. Language use isn't just determined by what you could say, but by what is actually said. Rare or exotic forms may be valid but they are only valid in certain very limited circumstances - ones you are very unlikely to need as a language learner. I'd rather people forget all about soy cansado because it's just not a useful phrase. Do you need to know the distinction? When you get to intermediate and above, sure. As a beginner? I wouldn't worry and just remember that estoy cansado is the right way to say "I'm tired."


There is some confusion here. If something is grammatical or well-formed, then it is correct. That is part of the definition of correct. It may not be in common use for various reasons. The reason I pointed out the existence of "soy cansado", which I did not invent, was to point out its existence with a specific meaning distinct from "estoy cansado". I wholeheartedly agree that no-one, especially beginners, should worry about it. It is certainly not the right way to say "I'm tired".


No, it isn't. I have seen very many students write grammatically correct sentences that weren't correct Dutch. Language use doesn't only correspond to correct grammatical usage of the language but also to actual usage frequency, context and so on. The fact that soy cansado exists and that you didn't invent it only means that there is a very specific meaning attached to the sentence, one which you don't need to know or use exactly ever. And so it is here. Something is NOT correct if people DON'T SAY IT THAT WAY. Why? Because language correctness isn't determined by a grammar book, but by the interlocutor's ability to understand you - and if no person in a community would say or do a certain thing, then you doing it will be incomprehensible to them - even if the grammar book says you can.
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Re: Spanish past particle construction

Postby s_allard » Mon Apr 03, 2017 2:27 pm

What I like about this debate over this ser/estar + past participle is how we are slowly seeing how complex the issue is in Spanish. And this is my whole point. There are indeed major differences between the way English and Spanish work. That's all I'm saying. You can't simply say SER means one thing and ESTAR means another.

tarvos wrote:
s_allard wrote:
This goes to the heart of the question. Saying that : This type of English sentence is represented by sentences with ser in Spanish, and this other type with sentences with estar and the past participle in Spanish" will ultimately lead to bad results because one is going from the English construction to Spanish instead of the other way around.


Of course there are nuances, but that's exactly what they are - nuances and shades of meaning.

If you look at the bigger picture, this is exactly why people end up making so many mistakes when learning a foreign language. One can say that English and French both make plural nouns by adding -s, among other things. So there really isn't much of a difference between French and English in this regard. Superficially, of course, this looks correct but inevitably leads to all kinds of mistakes.


Sure does, but I'd rather make mistakes and have them corrected than not say a word. I don't find mistakes such a big issue. First you learn the rule, and then you learn the exceptions? What's the problem

If the English translation is: "This woman is divorced.", why is the Spanish "es divorciada" and not "está divorciada"? Actually the sentence that follows the one above gives a good clue of why ser and not estar is used.

La propia tía Lu es una mujer divorciada y todo el mundo le sigue diciendo «señora».



Oh, but here the issue is a completely different thing. Divorciada isn't an adjective - it's a NOUN! The implication is that she is an older, divorced woman and in Spanish you can leave out the noun being implied, suddenly turning divorciada into a noun itself... which requires ser. It's not actually functioning as an adjective here. And that is ALSO covered by English is: "This woman is a divorcee".

:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D


There is an interesting point of Spanish grammar here. We are told that in "Esa mujer es divorciada." the word "divorciada" is actually a noun not an adjective. So, this is not a passive construction after all despite all appearances of ser + past participle. I tend to agree but the point here is that it still looks like a past participle, albeit a past participle functioning as a noun. Let's say that it was "mujer divorciada" and the author dropped the "mujer" and made "divorciada" a noun. This would have been much clearer if the author had written:

Es una divorciada.
Esa mujer es una divorciada.

But in "Esa mujer es divorciada", it seems to me that "divorciada" looks just like an adjective such as "grande, rica", etc.
So the translation "This woman is divorced" may be perfectly valid.

Then there is also the question of the verb tense. If the phrase had been "Esa mujer fue divorciada", then this would more likely be a passive construction. All of this to say that looks can be deceiving.

tavros wrote:
s_allard wrote:I briefly mentioned in an earlier post the very common pseudo-passive construction in English as in the following:

The victim was given a large sum of money by the court.

If you try to translate that into Spanish with "La víctima fue dada ..." you are heading for disaster.


We were talking about actual passive constructions. Such constructions as you mentioned here would in Spanish be rendered with a "Los juicios le han asignado una gran suma a la víctima" or something of the sort. Or you could say "La víctima fue financialmente recompensada por el tribunal".

s_allard wrote:For another example, let's look at two common Spanish sentences:

No me gusta la clase, el profesor es muy aburrido.
No me gusta la clase, estoy muy aburrido.


No translation is necessary. We see here that despite all appearances, the first sentence is not a passive at all.

tavros wrote:Ser is also used for copulas. Passive sentences are also copulas, but copulas in the present tense don't generally have a passive connotation.


Again we see that this ser + past participle in Spanish is more complicated than meets the eye. That's exactly what I have been saying: Spanish does not always function like English.

tarvos wrote: Many things are grammatical but that doesn't make them correct. Language use isn't just determined by what you could say, but by what is actually said. Rare or exotic forms may be valid but they are only valid in certain very limited circumstances - ones you are very unlikely to need as a language learner. I'd rather people forget all about soy cansado because it's just not a useful phrase. Do you need to know the distinction? When you get to intermediate and above, sure. As a beginner? I wouldn't worry and just remember that estoy cansado is the right way to say "I'm tired."

s_allard wrote:There is some confusion here. If something is grammatical or well-formed, then it is correct. That is part of the definition of correct. It may not be in common use for various reasons. The reason I pointed out the existence of "soy cansado", which I did not invent, was to point out its existence with a specific meaning distinct from "estoy cansado". I wholeheartedly agree that no-one, especially beginners, should worry about it. It is certainly not the right way to say "I'm tired".


No, it isn't. I have seen very many students write grammatically correct sentences that weren't correct Dutch. Language use doesn't only correspond to correct grammatical usage of the language but also to actual usage frequency, context and so on. The fact that soy cansado exists and that you didn't invent it only means that there is a very specific meaning attached to the sentence, one which you don't need to know or use exactly ever. And so it is here. Something is NOT correct if people DON'T SAY IT THAT WAY. Why? Because language correctness isn't determined by a grammar book, but by the interlocutor's ability to understand you - and if no person in a community would say or do a certain thing, then you doing it will be incomprehensible to them - even if the grammar book says you can.


This is a very interesting argument. If something is in a grammar book and a dictionary, it seems to me to be part of the language. Whether many people use it or not whether an observer says that he has never heard it doesn't mean a) it cannot be used if one desires and b) it may actually be used by other users in different areas or at different times.

There are many words and constructions in English or French that I never use or have never heard in my life. Does that mean that they are not correct? Of course not. Were they used in the past or could they be used sometime in the future? Certainly.

Like tavros, I see students write sentences that are grammatically correct in French but not used where I live today. Notice that unlike tavros speaking about Dutch, I did not say that these sentences are not correct French. They are perfectly good French but not right for a given context. For example, someone may attempt to use a passé simple verb form when speaking. It's correct French but should be confined to a certain kind of writing.

So, soy cansado is perfectly correct Spanish with a meaning different from estoy cansado 'I'm tired'. Sure, estoy cansado is many times more common than soy cansado, for pretty obvious reasons. That doesn't mean that soy cansado isn't correct and can never be used.

And just for fun, here is a quote from the recent novel El cartero de Neruda by Antonio Skármetta:

Oyose y gozose nueve veces la canción hasta que a los veraneantes les resultó tan familiar, que ...

Most Spanish-speakers have never heard nor seen "oyose y gozose" and never will. Does that mean that these two verb forms are not correct? No, they are simply archaic poetic forms of "se oyó y se gozó".
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Re: Spanish past particle construction

Postby Cainntear » Mon Apr 03, 2017 2:42 pm

s_allard wrote:This goes to the heart of the question. Saying that : This type of English sentence is represented by sentences with ser in Spanish, and this other type with sentences with estar and the past participle in Spanish" will ultimately lead to bad results because one is going from the English construction to Spanish instead of the other way around.

The problem is the term "past participle". There is no "estar + past participle" in Spanish really -- the past participle is an inflected form of the verb. The "estar" construction uses the adjective that is derived from the participle. Yes, they have the same form; but no, they are not the same thing. Our internal understanding of "tired" in English makes a very solid distinction between participle and adjective -- when we say "I am tired", we automatically process the form "tired" as an adjective, not a participle.

Spanish makes the same hard distinction between participle and adjective, otherwise it would be impossible for "aburrido" to be both "bored" and "boring" -- as an inflected form it makes no sense, it can only be processed as a derived form.

If you look at the bigger picture, this is exactly why people end up making so many mistakes when learning a foreign language. One can say that English and French both make plural nouns by adding -s, among other things. So there really isn't much of a difference between French and English in this regard. Superficially, of course, this looks correct but inevitably leads to all kinds of mistakes.

Your argument here is exactly the opposite of what I'm saying. The similarity in pluralisation in French and English is superficially similar, but the underlying rules are different.

The rules of Spanish passive vs adjectival constructions are superficially different, but the underlying logic and categorisation of language is the same.

Now the existence of the ser + adjective construction is a minor complicating factor, but my personal belief is that talking about it at this stage is an irrelevant distraction that unnecessarily complicates the explanation.

Why?
Because my goal is simply to assist the OP in recognising the distinction between participle and adjective on a more intuitive level. Once he is comfortable with that distinction, the existence of the "ser + adjective" construction is a simple logical entailment of the rules about adjectives in Spanish. But at this stage, the superficial similarity of that construction to the passive may interfere with uptake.
There is some confusion here. If something is grammatical or well-formed, then it is correct. That is part of the definition of correct.

Then we get into circular definitions, because I'm a descriptivist. If a rule is not derived from observation, it is not a correct rule. If a rule results in defining language that a native speaker would not naturally say, it is not correct.

If your rules are correct, anything which conforms to those rules is by definition correct. But if your rules are wrong, then we can't accept anything that conforms to those rules without additional data.
I wholeheartedly agree that no-one, especially beginners, should worry about it. It is certainly not the right way to say "I'm tired".
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You jumped in to a thread for someone at a very early level, effectively told him to worry about it because the two words are interchangeable (they aren't), then introduced a bunch of fiddly advanced-level quirks in the rule (which were nothing to do with the words being interchangeable, and now, after making a rather simple distinction look like the Gordian Knot, now you say not to worry about it. Great.
Last edited by Cainntear on Mon Apr 03, 2017 2:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Spanish past particle construction

Postby outcast » Mon Apr 03, 2017 2:47 pm

May I just point out that, while I am not totally sure about this, I don't think "es cansado" is valid in Spanish. At least to me it does not sound correct at all, but I know what sounds right and what is permissible is not the same. I am saying that perhaps it is not permissible, because "ser" is a copula here and thus acts as a equational/equative sentence, which in almost any language I know require two nouns (and cannot have an adjective like "cansado")... but again I am not totally sure.

You can say things like "Es cansador!". I am actually not sure what the form "cansador" is. Probably a noun? Like "cazador", "matador", "vividor", "detractor" etc. But it would seem not all verbs are amenable to conversion into nouns by tacking on "-dor": mentidor?* ocupador?* echador?* comedor? (this is a noun, but not a person, rather a place where you eat!).
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