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Episode #3

Nouns are more fun with adjectives

Nouns & Adjectives

Rylan: Ceci, what’s going on? ... ¿Qué es esta música extraña?
Ceci: ¿Qué pasa, Rylan? ¿No te gusta? ... Don’t you like it?
Rylan: Sure! It’s jazzy but… how does it relate to our show? Are we still talking about adjectives today?
Ceci: Well, I was thinking about that Haiku you wrote for us and I decided that today is my turn to bring the poetry,… ¡Es mi turno! And I needed some appropriate music for that. Let me know if you can guess what this little poem is about:
Elixir oscuro, aromático, sagrado
Agua negra que despierta la mañana
Eres hija de tierra rica y del fuego
Mente alerta, cuerpo listo, alma sana.
Rylan: Hmmm… “Elixir oscuro”, “Agua negra”... Honestly, I have no idea. It sounds like you are casting a spell! … Ceci, ¿tu poema es místico? ¿Es un poema mágico?
Ceci: I’m no witch, Rylan, but you aren’t far off. The answer to this riddle is indeed magical... ¡Es una bebida mágica! Mi bebida preferida.
Rylan: ¡Es una bebida! … Of course! Now I know for sure what you’re talking about. How could I have missed it before?
Ceci: So, what is my poem about?
Rylan: I can do better than that. I can give your poem a title: Oda al caféAn ode to coffee!
Ceci: ¡Perfecto, Rylan! And now the “bonus round”! Why use “an ode to coffee” to introduce today’s episode about adjectives?
Rylan: Well, it would be impossible to describe and pay tribute to this “nectar of the gods” without adjectives.
Ceci: Go on…
Rylan: A language without adjectives is like me without my coffee… boring!
Ceci: ¡Bravo, Rylan, una introducción… elegante!
Rylan: Here you go, Ceci … Tu café está listo. By the way, please note that I am saying “Tu café está listo”, your coffee is ready, and not “Tu café es listo”, which would mean “Your coffee is smart.”
Ceci: We already discussed “ser” and “estar” in the last episode, Rylan, but... gracias por el repaso y por el café. Yo tomo mi café dulce, caliente y con mucha leche... I am surprised you knew exactly how I take my coffee!
Rylan: Well, they say a person’s coffee order is a window into their soul.
Ceci: I don’t think I’ve ever heard that.
Rylan: OK, maybe only I say that.
Ceci: So what does your coffee say about you? … Rylan toma su café negro, amargo y fríoThat doesn’t sound like the Rylan we all know and love.
Rylan: On the contrary! I drink iced coffeecafé heladobecause it reminds me of summer, the season of fun in the sun!
Ceci: That’s more like it… Un café frío -- A cold coffee, Un verano divertido -- A fun summer, Un hombre feliz -- A happy man.
Rylan: I think it’s pretty evident to our listeners what adjectives do. They describe! They provide the details that make things more specific and interesting.
Ceci: That might be a little too broad of a definition. It couldn’t hurt to do a brief review before we go on.
Rylan: Alright, alright...
Ceci: Adjectives are words that describe nouns. They reveal information such as color, size, shape, taste, nationality, origin… Adjectives can assign concrete or abstract properties to a noun…
Rylan: Hold on! Leave that stuff for the supplemental materials on the website. When in doubt, simply ask yourself: Does it modify a noun? If the answer is “yes” then you are looking at an adjective. It’s that simple!
Ceci: It’s NOT that simple. Many of my students struggle with adjectives because they often can’t remember where to place them in a sentence… De vez en cuando – from time to time – en español... the order of words in a sentence is different than in English.
Rylan:Bueno, no es tan difícil... There are really only 2 places it can come in a sentence. Sometimes the adjective comes after the noun it describes. For example: el café fríoAnd other times it comes before the noun, just like in English – think of things like cinco cafés, o muchos cafés.
Ceci: But Rylan, there are many types of...
Rylan: TWO. PLACES.
Ceci: Bueno, te doy la palabra.
Rylan: ¡Gracias! Ok, so, we’re going to talk about 2 groups of adjectives. One group that comes after the noun, and one group that comes before the noun.
Ceci: Let’s start with descriptive adjectives, which come after the noun they describe. These are more difficult for students.
Rylan: No they’re not! Pero chévere, sí, comenzamos con los descriptivos. These types of adjectives tell us about color, size, shape, taste, nationality, origin, etc. and they usually go after the noun. Por ejemplo:
Ceci: Un café grande.
Rylan: A big coffee.
Ceci: Con leche descremada.
Rylan: With skim milk.
Ceci: Y azúcar morena.
Rylan: And brown sugar.
Ceci: Un café delicioso.
Rylan: A delicious coffee.
Ceci: You know, In Venezuela, when you ask for coffee, they ask you: Negrito, con leche o marrón?
Rylan: Black, with milk, or brown?
Ceci: Exactly! But you also have the option to order a “Guayoyo.”
Rylan: A what?
Ceci: Un “Guayoyo”, that means a black coffee with a bit of water.
Rylan: Oh!
Ceci: And, of course, do not expect to find “los cafés enormes,” the enormous coffees you find in the United States. There, even the “café grandeis pretty small… es pequeño.
Rylan: Oh, this reminds me of the most expensive cup of coffee I’ve had in my life!... Un café carísimo!... It was in Perú, but it’s not only coffee, it’s “poop coffee”, made from the feces of an animal called “coati” after eating coffee beans! Can you believe it?
Ceci: Oh, I believe it! The most expensive coffee in the world is called “Kopi Luwak”. It is produced the same way you are describing, but instead of using a “Coati” like in Perú, they use an Asian cat called the Civet. Do you know how much a cup costs?
Rylan: I don’t know, 20 dollars?
Ceci: How much did you pay for your expensive café peruano?
Rylan: Nothing! It was a free tasting. Una degustación gratuita.
Ceci: Well, a cup of the Kopi Luwak costs between 35 and 50 dollars!
Rylan: Un precio increíble! An unbelievable price!
Ceci: Now, back to our lesson: Adjectives are not only about assigning characteristics to a person, place, or thing. El café costoso -- The expensive coffee, El café delicioso -- The delicious coffee.
Rylan: The poop coffee was not that delicious, by the way…
Ceci: Adjectives can also modify a noun by indicating quantity:
Algunos granos de café -- Some coffee beans, Muchos granos de café -- Many coffee beans, Cinco tazas de café -- Five cups of coffee.
And, of course, possession:
Mi - tu - su cafetera -- My - your - his/her coffeemaker, Nuestra leche -- Our milk, Su taza sucia -- Their dirty cup.
Unlike in English, in Spanish adjectives can be placed before or after the noun.
Rylan: You may have already noticed that Possessive and Quantifier adjectives have consistent placement; they always come before the noun!
Ceci: Mi cámara, Tu hotel, Nuestras vacaciones.
Rylan: Diez turistas, La primera parada, La mitad del dinero.
Rylan: I can’t help but notice that you suddenly changed the subject from coffee to… tourism?
Ceci: Es verdad. Yo estoy distraídaI’ve been trying to plan a vacation with my cousins and I’m drowning in logistics and, worst of all, the endless online reviews!
Rylan: I know exactly what you mean. It’s part of the reason I often backpack alone when I travel. It’s so much simpler! El primer hotel es barato... ¡pero está sucio! El segundo hotel es conveniente… ¡pero es caro! El tercer hotel es bonito… ¡pero está lejos!
Ceci: Like my aunt Carmen always said: Bueno, bonito y barato… ¡imposible!
Rylan:¿Bueno, bonito, y barato?... Nice, pretty, and cheap?
Ceci: Yes, it’s sort of the gold standard for quality, appeal, and affordability.
Rylan: I’ll say it’s difficult, but it’s not impossible...
Ceci: Why are you looking around?
Rylan: I am trying to find something bueno, bonito y barato in our studio.
Ceci: Let’s see...
Rylan:Este micrófono es bueno, y bonito, pero no es barato. Es muy caro.
Ceci: Esta camisa es bonita y barata, pero no es muy buena. La calidad es mala.
Rylan:Tus gafas de sol son buenas y baratas, pero no son bonitas.
Ceci: ¿No te gustan mis gafas? ¿Qué dices? ¡Son bellísmas!
Rylan:Just kidding! See what I did there?
Ceci: ¿Cómo? ¿Estás insultando mis gafas?
Rylan:No, tus gafas son muy chic, Ceci... I was just reviewing the adjectives that come before the noun, just like they do in English: The possessives and quantifiers.
Ceci: Oh, ok. Mi, tu, su, nuestro, y su?
Rylan: Sí, y también los plurales - mis tus, sus, nuestros, y sus.
Ceci: Mi casa es su casa.
Rylan: Tu casa es su casa? ¿De quién? His? Hers? The dogs?
Ceci: I guess you have a point. “Su” has many meanings - it can mean his, hers, or yours in a formal setting. It can also mean “their” - as in their house, or plural “your” - as in “your house” meaning the house that belongs to all of you.
Rylan: So, we did not find anything bueno, bonito y barato around us in the studio.
Ceci: Well, I can think of something…
Rylan: Here?
Ceci: Yes!... Mi café!
Rylan: You are right! As long as you are not a crazy woman, una mujer loca, who drinks coffee made from the poop of an exotic cat, I guess you can find good and cheap coffee!