3.3 Inversion of Subject in Declarative Sentences

Spanish very often inverts the order of subject (+ adj.) and verb for emphasis or style. Although in simple sentences, as those below, the subject should be apparent, in longer sentences, you may have to stop and study the sentence in order to be sure you have found it. This inversion does not typically cause any change in translation except, perhaps, emphasis.

Es muy rápida la vida en la ciudad.

Es la vida en la ciudad muy rápida

Life in the city is very fast.
Es muy difícil el griego.

Es el griego muy difícil.

Greek is very difficult.

Both of these examples would be more frequently expressed as:

La vida es muy rápida en la ciudad. Life in the city is very fast.
El griego es muy difícil. Greek is very difficult

As in English, there is a great variety of placement for prepositional phrases. The first sentence could also be expressed as:

En la ciudad la vida es muy rápida.

La vida en la ciudad es muy rápida.

Es la vida muy rápida en la ciudad.

Life in the city is very fast.

Vocabulario básico

Sustantivos:

el año- year
el día- day
la mañana- morning*
el mes- month
la noche- evening, night
la semana- week
la tarde- afternoon

Adjetivos: Los colores:

amarillo- yellow
anaranjado- orange
azul- blue (cognate: azure)
blanco- white (cognate: to blanch)
castaño- brown, chestnut, hazel
color de café- brown
gris- gray
marrón- brown
morado- purple
naranja- orange
negro- black
pardo- brown
púrpura- purple
rojo- red
rosado- pink
verde- green (cognate: verdant)

Nacionalidades**

alemán- German
austríaco- Austrian
brasileño- Brazilian***
canadiense- Canadian***
español- Spaniard
francés- French
griego- Greek
inglés- British
noruego- Norwegian
portugués- Portuguese
sueco- Swedish
suizo- Swiss

Otros adjetivos:

alguno- some
difícil- difficult, hard
fácil- easy
nuevo- new
otro- other, another
todo- all, every
viejo- old

Adverbios temporales (Adverbs of Time):

ante- before
después- after, afterwards
esta mañana- this morning
esta tarde- this afternoon
esta noche- tonight
tarde- late
temprano- early
todos los días- everyday

¡Ojo! When todo or one of its forms precedes a noun (used as an adjective), no comprehension problem is presented. When todo is used a pronoun, however, you must distinguish between singular and plural meaning:

  • Todos están aquí.
  • Everyone is here.
  • Todo es fácil.
  • Everything is easy.

 

*When mañana is preceded by an article, its meaning is “morning.” When not, it is an adverb of time and means “tomorrow.”

**As appropriate, the masculine form of nationalities also serves as nouns for the language of the country. Both forms function as nouns referring to natives of these countries.

***These endings (-eño and –ense) are very common adjective endings referring to the natives or inhabitants of countries and cities:

madrileño native of Madrid
limeño native of Lima
costarricense Costa Rican/ native of Costa Rica
estadounidense American/ native of the United States

All such words can also carry meaning of “pertaining to” without indicating a person:

Es (una) costumbre madrileña cenar muy tarde. It’s a Madrid custom (custom of Madrid) to eat dinner very late.

 

Last revised on June 16, 2021.