Sunday, 16 March 2014

Using the right 'Whatever', whatever the occasion

One of the things to remember, when you're searching for help and guidance with your Spanish, is that nobody knows Spanish, like the Spanish.
So, rather than just searching in English, try searching in Spanish.

I recently came across this excellent Blog posting, by Alberto Bustos on the subject of 'Cualquiera' , and its plural, which is NOT 'Cualquieras' but 'Cualesquiera'
View Alberto's Blog

I won't try and pass his work off as my own, but I appreciate that not everyone will be able to read and understand his blog in Spanish, so I'll translate the important parts into English here.

Firstly, let's translate the word. It equates with 'any', or 'whatever/whichever' in English.
For instance,
'Puedes practicar tu Español en cualquier bar en España'
'You can practice your Spanish in any bar in Spain'

It looks simple enough but, as Alberto explains, people become confused as there are three versions of the word, 'cualquiera', 'cualquier' and 'cualesquiera' and knowing which one to use when is important.

Alberto begins by saying that the first thing to do, to determine the correct form, is to decide whether it is accompanied by a noun, or not.
Secondly, if there is a noun, we need to identify whether 'Cualquier(a)' goes before, or after the noun, and whether it is singular or plural.

If it goes before the noun, and the noun is singular, then we will always use 'cualquier' whether the noun be masculine or feminine (Hey! look at that. I just used the Subjunctive, in English 'whether it be . . . ')
The example Alberto uses is
(1) [...] el [teléfono] móvil es el mejor disfraz, el que te permite disimular cualquier cosa, camuflar cualquier sitio, el que hace que el enemigo no sepa dónde mirar cuando te está buscando [¿Quién es Juan? / e-life, acceso: 26-4-2008]

(The mobile phone is the best disguise, which permits you to hide any thing, camouflage any place, which means that the enemy doesn't know where to look when he's searching for you)

If it goes after the noun, then we would always use 'Cualquiera', again irrespective of the gender of the noun.
(2) Trabaja en una oficina cualquiera, en un polígono cualquiera [Ideario Personal sin Censuras, acceso: 26-4-2008]

(Works in any office, in any area)

'Cualesquiera' is the plural form, used after a noun. The gender, again, is irrelevant.
(3) Una mañana cualquiera, en un tren cualquiera, unos ojos cualesquiera [Más de Cien Mentiras, acceso: 27-4-2008]

(Any morning, on any train, any eyes)

This example also shows a contrast with the singular version.

There's also the form 'Cualesquier', which can be used before the noun but, in practice, it's rarely seen as, rather than saying, for example 'Cualesquier problemas', we'd just use the singular 'Cualquier problema'

Finally, if there is no noun in your construction, you can only use 'Cualquiera' or 'Cualesquiera', depending on whether you are talking in the singular or the plural.
(4) Como sabe cualquiera, en un principio todos los elfos eran blancos: formas blancuzcas de niebla, espíritus claros [Escritos e ideas, acceso: 27-4-2008]

(As anyone knows, in the beginning, all elves were white: misty white shapes, bright spirits)

(5) Cualesquiera que sean su cuna o ascendencia común, lo cierto es que en la época del profeta Mahoma [...] existían varios dialectos entre las tribus de la Península Arábiga [Silvia Peralta Morillo, acceso: 27-4-2008 (texto eliminado de la web a 8-12-2009)]
(Whatever may be their origin, or common ancestry, it is certain that, in the time of the prophet Mohammed, there existed various dialects among the tribes of the Arab Peninsula)

Alberto finishes his brilliant post with an example of how 'Cualquier' is used.
'Con esto debería quedar resuelta cualquier duda que pudiera surgir sobre el uso de cualquiera, pero, de todas formas, lo mejor que puedes hacer para afianzar estos conocimientos es resolver unos ejercicios.'
Which translates as
'With this you can resolve any doubts which might arise over the use of 'cualquiera' but, in any case, the best you can do to reinforce this knowledge is to solve some exercises.'

The link takes you to a page if exercises which, if you've read the explanations carefully, you should be able to solve with ease.
There's also a link to the solutions, so you can see how you did.

I'd also recommend following Alberto on Google+, for some reading practice, and some excellent Grammar tips.

¡Que esto les sirva!

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