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There are two kinds of nouns, proper, and appellative or common.
A proper noun is a particular name exclusively applied to a particular individual; as Londres, Pedro, luna, London, Peter, moon.
An appellative is a name descriptive of a class, and applicable to every individual of it; as ciudad, hombre, planeta, city, man, planet.
Of Augmentative and Diminutive Nouns.
There are in Spanish some derivative nouns, called as above from their expressing a large or a small one of the kind denoted by their primitive; as hombron, which signifies a large man; and hombrecito, a little man. They are formed by adding various terminations to the primitive noun, dropping generally the vowel if it end with one. The terminations which are used are very numerous; but those which are most frequently adopted are, azo, on, and ote, to express increase; and ico, illo, ito, and uelo, to denote decrease. The manner of applying these terminations admits of so much variety that practice seems the only means of acquiring the proper use of them: for some nouns will admit one termi · nation without undergoing any alteration, and will require perhaps additional letters when another termination is applied to them; as caxon, a drawer; caxonazo, a large drawer; caxoncito, a small drawer; and others will have sometimes two terminations joined to them; as hombre, a man; hombrazo, or hombron, or hombronazo, a large man; muger, a woman; mugeraza, mugerona, mugeronaza, a large woman, &c.
The terminations azo, on, or ote, are indiscriminately used to denote increase; but although decrease may be equally expressed by ico, illo, ito, or uelo, it is to be observed, that ico and ito are endearing expressions; but that illo sometimes, and uelo always, denote contempt and disgust.
The foregoing terminations do not always denote increase or decrease; thus abanico, though ending in ico, signifies a fan only; and the termination azo is not unfrequently added to a weapon in order to express the injury which it is capable of inflicting; as pistoletazo, a pistol-shot; zapatazo, a blow with a shoe; martillazo, a knock with a hammer, &c.
I shall conclude this article with observing, in regard to the gender of nouns ending in any of the terminations which have been mentioned, that augmentative or diminutive nouns are of the gender of their primitives; and that the nouns ending in azo in the last-mentioned signification follow the rule of their termination: therefore porrazo, a blow with a club, is masculine, although its primitive porra, a club, is feminine.
Of Collective Nouns.
Nouns which in the singular signify many are called collectives. They are divided into definite and indefinite.
Definite collective nouns are those which define the individuals of which they are composed; as regimiento, many soldiers; arboleda, many trees.
Indefinite ones denote a multitude of indeterminate individuals; as turba, a crowd; infinidad, infinity; muchedumbre, multitude.
Of Gender, Number, and Case.
Gender is that accident or property of a noun by which we are enabled to distinguish the sex. There are two genders, the masculine and the feminine; as rey, reyna, hombre, muger, king, queen, man, woman.
In Spanish, all nouns are deemed either male or female, and consequently belong to one of these gen
ders thus tintero is masculine and pluma feminine, although they denote an inkstand and a pen only; whilst in English they are both neuter.
N. B. This last-mentioned term is applied in Spanish to those things only which are so indefinitely used, that their gender cannot possibly be discovered.
Number is that property of a noun by which we point out one or more of the same class.
There are two numbers: the singular which signifies only one; as ciudad, rio, city, river; and the plural, which denotes more than one; as ciudades, rios, cities, rivers.
Case is that property of nouns by means of which they can be exhibited in different relations.
In Spanish, nouns have two cases; the nominative or subject, and the accusative or objective case of the verb.
The nominative is the case wherein nouns are used when we simply name them, and when we affirm any thing concerning them; as O hijo! O child! el rey escribió, the king wrote.
The objective is the case in which nouns are placed when they have a preposition prefixed, or when nothing concerning them is affirmed; as con la pluma escribió el rey la carta, with the pen did the king write the letter. In this last sentence the nouns pluma and carta are both in the objective case; pluma, because it has the preposition con prefixed; and carta, because it is not the subject of the affirmation, but the object, to which passes the energy of the verb. It may be nevertheless changed to the nominative, and become the subject by varying the mode of the affirmation; as la carta fué escrita por el rey con la pluma, the letter was written by the king with the pen; and here both rey and pluma are in the objective case, account of the prepositions con and por.
Examples of proper Names declined.
Sing. Nom. Pedro, Peter.
á Pedro, Peter.
Observations on the Cases.
In allotting here but two cases to Spanish nouns I have deviated from the arrangement of the Academy, which has given them six cases; and, in conformity to the Latin language, has declined the nouns as follows:
Dat. á or para Pedro, to or for Peter.
O Pedro ! O Peter!
Abl. de, por, &c. Pedro, from, by, &c. Peter.
The Spanish Academicians have no doubt considered this arrangement the best calculated to instruct Spaniards, for whom only their grammar is intended but as these cases are not affected by any variation in the termination, as in Latin, but formed, as in English, by the prefixing of certain prepositions, I have thought it expedient to follow the example of late writers on English grammar; conscious that the more the Spanish language can, without altering any essential arrangement, be
made to resemble the English in structure, the greater will be the facility with which Englishmen will acquire it. Were we to consider inflection an indispensable requisite in the formation of a case, it would be difficult to prove that the Spanish substantives have more than one case; but as the very language which the Academy has imitated, proves that there may be a difference of case without any change of termination, it cannot be deemed inconsistent to say, that our nouns have two cases, called a nominative and an objective case; the former to denote when the noun is the subject of a verb, and the latter when it is not. The personal pronouns, however, are an exception, their objective case being formed by inflection. See Pro
OF THE ARTICLE.
An Article is a word prefixed to nouns to determine the extent of their signification.
Articles have, like nouns, the variation of gender, number, and case.
The masculine article in the singular is el, and in the plural los; the feminine is la in the singular, and las in the plural; and the neuter article is lo, and has not a plural.
To account for the omission of the e belonging to the article, see note b to Rule 1, in Part II.