Unit 2.1

Proper nouns

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Introduction

Nouns [sustantivos] are words used to name people, things, and animals with gender and number.

Proper nouns [nombres propios] are nouns that are used to name people or animals (anthroponyms) and places (toponyms) uniquely and concretely.

Form

Proper names are always capitalized and, with some exceptions, have no articles. They must not have any meaning of their own, as they are unique.

They are classified as anthroponyms, like surnames and toponyms – like names of countries, or cities.

Anthroponyms:

Anthroponyms are names of persons and are classified into:

  • given names: María, José;
  • surnames: Álvarez, Jiménez;
  • hypocoristic (affectionate names, familiar names) and diminutives (terms that indicate small size or affection): Lola (Dolores), Pepe (José), Pablito (Pablo)

There are polite forms of address that precede the surname or are used on their own:

  • for a man: señor (abbreviation Sr.), eventually don (D.);
  • for a woman: señora (Sra. o Sr.ª) o señorita (Srta.), eventually doña (Dña. o D.ª).

NOTE: Señor y señora always takes articles, except when speaking directly to a person (vocative).

Toponyms:

Toponyms are names of places and are classified as follows:

  • country names: España, Francia (exceptions with article: El Salvador, (los) Estados Unidos);
  • names of cities, towns, and villages: Valencia, Alcalá de Henares.

Example

Anthroponyms:

  • José estará fuera todo el fin de semana;
  • Mi apellido de soltera es Jiménez;
  • Lola se levanta temprano para ensayar;
  • El señor Ruiz le atenderá por la mañana;

Toponyms:

  • En España cenamos tarde;
  • A mediodía hace calor en Valencia.

Use

Proper names are used to name, in a unique and unrepeatable way: animals, surnames, streets, cities and towns, continents, things with a singular name, events, countries, people, and villages.

Summary

In Spanish, proper nouns are words that serve to name people or things, they have a unique form and are used to name people, countries, cities, animals…

They are written with the first letter capitalised.

For example:
— «Jorge vive en la Coruña» = Coruña is a name of a city;
— «Jorge vive en la Coruña»= Jorge is a person’s name;
— «La Coruña está en España» = España is the name of a country.

Check the contents of the {Form} section. Then move on to the {Example} section, which shows you the usage in context.

Exercises


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