And another thing: when I took spanish in high school, our teacher told us the masculine of "this" is "este" and the feminine is "esta" and that's as far as we got. But I was listening to a podcast the other day, and they said that the masculine is "esto" and the general 'this' is "esto" as well. Cual profesor es verdad? No sé...
Both are correct.
The demonstratives are used in accordance with what follows them.
este / esta / esto / estos / estas - “this/these”
With the demonstratives este/esta you’re talking about “this” which is the closest. But este needs a masculine noun to come after it (in general). There are other times when you might see este used as “this one”
este libro = this book
esta playa = this beach
estos libros = these books
estas playas = these beaches
An esto is using neutral gender, which exists in Spanish but is typically considered masculine-ish. But really it means the absence of gender, so you use it for an implied subject that isn’t stated, it can be a subject or a concept or an abstract statement… while este if used alone is a stand-in for a specific noun you’re thinking of.
por esto = because of this
esto no es cierto = that’s not true
este es mi favorito = this one is my favorite
este es mi deseo = this is my desire/wish
ese / esa / eso / esos / esas - “that/those”
Implies more distance, like mid-range but the same rules generally apply.
ese libro = that book
esa playa = that beach
esos libros = those books
esas playas = those beaches
por eso = because of that
And ese can in some countries can mean “dude”. Also ese can mean “the letter S”
aquel / aquella / aquello / aquellos / aquellas - “that one over there / those over there”
Even more distance here. And aquello shows up more in formal things. Like in an essay, if I were referencing something I already wrote use aquello… you also use it to convey a sense of distance or that time has passed like there’s a song aquello que me diste “that thing you gave me”
You sometimes use aquel with an accent (or at least it sometimes happens) aquél “him (over there)”… I don’t know how common that is anymore. Usually you see aquel without one; and in some proverbs you see aquel used like “whosoever”
aquel libro = that book over there
aquella playa = that beach over there
aquellos libros = those books over there
aquellas playas = those books over there
por aquello = because of that [distance]
*Note: You don’t see estes used as “these” …ever? (to the best of my knowledge)… it’s always estos for “these”. Saying estes means “easts”… like more than one “east”. Same how eses really means “multiple S’s” not “those”… or sometimes “dudes”
You also used to see them with accent marks if you were being emphatic, but i think that’s mostly not used anymore. Older works might have it.
I'm sure this has been asked before, but I don't quite know when to use "a" after verbs and when not to. Like, should I say "veo algo" or "veo a algo?" And what about mirar in the same scenario? Miro algo o miro a algo?
It really depends on the verb in question, and the function of a there.
Some verbs simply take a as their preposition: asistir, comenzar, empezar, parecerse a, ir a + infinitivo and so on
With a verb like ver it’s typically ver algo “to watch something” while ver a alguien is “to see someone”
In this kind of sentence, the a is used to show the direct object is a person. And this is very common; ayudar a alguien, decir a alguien, lastimar a alguien, as well as many others.
And mirar is a bit of a special case because it really depends on circumstance since there are times when a is used and some when it isn’t.
mirar algo is “to look at something” or “to watch something”
mirar a algo is “to look towards something”
So you see mirar la tele “to watch TV”, but also mirar al cielo “to look at the sky”, or mirar al suelo “to look at the floor”.
You can say mirar el libro which is “to look at the book”, and then mirar al libro “to look towards the book / to look in the book’s direction”
And even mirar a alguien “to look at someone / to watch someone / to stare at someone / to look towards someone”
Other times a is more adverbial and harder to explain like saying jugar a algo “to play something” like jugar al ajedrez “to play chess” or jugar a la rayuela “to play hopscotch”
Other adverbial ways are more like phrases like a solas “one-on-one / in private” or a escondidas “in secret”… like tenemos que hablar a solas “we need to talk privately” or hablar a espaldas de alguien “to talk behind someone’s back”
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