Spanish Grammar and Translation Analysis – 1

Today we’re going to analyze a few paragraphs in Spanish from an article published on BBC Mundo about the invention of the radio.

“En efecto, entusiastas de la nueva tecnología pusieron presión y el 14 de noviembre de 1921 se inauguró el primer servicio diario de radio en Inglaterra.

La radio capturó la imaginación del público y se convirtió en un fenómeno social y cultural.

El rey Jorge V fue uno de los primeros en hacer uso de ella, el 23 de abril de 1924, con ocasión de la apertura de la primera exhibición en el estadio Wembley Empire.”

First, let’s point out some useful vocabulary:

En efecto means “In fact, indeed, really.”
La entusiasta means “fan, lover”
La tecnología means “technology.”
Poner is a verb that means “to put, place.”
Inaugurar is a verb that means “to inaugurate.”
Diario means “daily.”
Inglaterra means “England” in Spanish.
Capturar means “to capture.”
La imaginación means “imagination.”
Convertir means to convert, and when it’s reflexive like convertirse it means to convert itself or to become.
El rey means “king.”
La apertura means “the opening.”
El estadio means “stadium.”

Let’s now translate the first sentence from Spanish to English: “En efecto, entusiastas de la nueva tecnología pusieron presión y el 14 de noviembre de 1921 se inauguró el primer servicio diario de radio en Inglaterra.”

In fact, fans of the new technology placed pressure, and on November 14, 1921, the first daily radio service in England was inaugurated.

Notice that the verb Poner was conjugated in the preterit and not in the imperfect tense because the action of putting pressure was completed in a specific time frame. Here’s another Spanish grammar lesson we can come away with here. In Spanish, the most common way of writing in the passive form is to place “se” in front of the verb. Now remember “sé” with an accent mark is the first person conjugation for the Spanish verb Saber, and “se” can also be the reflexive direct object pronoun or even the conversion of “le/les” into “se” when “le/les” is placed in front of the direct object prounouns “lo/la/los/las.” But here, in this example, “se inauguró,” (also conjugated in the preterit) was written in the passive form to mean – was inaugurated. And it was writteen passively because the author doesn’t define who inaugurated the first daily radio service in England.

Let’s translate the next sentence from Spanish to English. “La radio capturó la imaginación del público y se convirtió en un fenómeno social y cultural.”

Radio captured the imagination of the public and became a social and cultural phenomenon.

Again, the Spanish verb Capturar was conjugated in the preterit. Also note that you can translate “se convirtió” (also in the preterit) as “converted itself” or “became.” Also let’s note how the two adjectives describing “fenómeno” followed this noun rather than preceded it.

Finally, the last translation from Spanish to English: “El rey Jorge V fue uno de los primeros en hacer uso de ella, el 23 de abril de 1924, con ocasión de la apertura de la primera exhibición en el estadio Wembley Empire.”

King George V was one of the firsts to make use of it, the 23rd of April, 1924, with the opportunity of the opening of the first exhibition in the Wembley Empire stadium.

Okay, maybe you’re wondering why “fue” was used (the preterit) instead of “era” (the imperfect), right? Well, take this into account – the purpose of this sentence was not to give a description of something in the past, but rather, to express an action that occurred at a specific point in time in the past.

If you have any Spanish grammar questions related to this post, please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to explain, otherwise, review Spanish grammar rules here.

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One Response to “Spanish Grammar and Translation Analysis – 1”

  1. Llegué a tu blog de casualidad y vi que todo lo que escribes es bastante interesante. Hace varios minutos que estoy viendo tus artículos. Ya mismo te agrego al RSS. Si tienes ganas, pasa por mi blog. Seguiré comentando!

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