I have trouble with a, en, de, que, del, al, la, el, los, las?

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I really have trouble with del and al the contractions and also a. I just dont know how to use them or what they really mean. 

Jul 27th, 2015

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Relative pronouns and expressions in Spanish Relative pronouns. Relative expressions typically refer back to another expression or concept which preceded it. The most frequently used type is the relative pronoun, usually expressed in English as that, which, or who(m). We can even omit these pronouns in many cases in English. The noun, pronoun, or phrase to which these relative pronouns refer back to is called the antecedent. For example:



The man



  you met is my uncle.

The man



  you met is my uncle.

The man

    you met is my uncle.

There are several differences between English and Spanish regarding relatives: 1) In Spanish we cannot omit the relative pronoun as occurred in the last example above; 2) Spanish highlights the difference between relative pronouns and similarly spelled question words by not using accent marks on the relatives; 3) There are a wider range of relative pronouns from which to choose in Spanish:

que   that, which, who, whom  
q u e
quien, quienes   who (or whom, after a preposition)  
q u i e n
el que, la que, los que, las que   that, which, who, whom  
e l q u e
el cual, la cual, los cuales, las cuales   that, which, who, whom  
e l c u a l

Notice that the above list is given in the order of length: que (only three characters), quien (five), el que (six), and el cual (seven). In general, these four relative pronouns are used depending on their length and the distance between them and the antecedent. That is, the longer the distance between the antecedent and the relative pronoun, the longer is the relative pronoun to be used.

  • The shortest relative pronoun, que, must be used when the relative pronoun comes immediately after the antecedent, that is, when there is nothing between the two, not even a comma. It is used for both people and objects, and may serve as the subject or object of the clause which follows:
    La pluma que está en la mesa no es mía. The pen that/which is on the table isn't mine.
    Tengo el libro que buscas. I have the book (that/which) you're looing for.
    Conozco a la chica que vive allí. I know the girl that/who lives there.
    El hombre que ves es mi abuelo. The man (whom) you see is my grandfather.

    Que may also be used after short separation from the antecedent, for example a comma or —if it is not a person— a short (one-syllable) preposition, for example a, de, or en . However, que is not used after such prepositions as sin, por, or para because those combinations would be confused with the adverbial conjunctions sin que [without], porque (because) and para que [so that].

    ¿Es ésta la escuela a que asististe? Is that the school (which) you attended?
    Leí la novela de que hablabas. I read the novel you were talking about [about which you  were talking].
    No es el banco en que deposité mi dinero. It's not the bank I deposited my money in [in which I deposited my money].

    Also note in the above examples that in Spanish you cannot leave prepositions dangling at the end of a sentence as is so often done in English.

  • Quien and the plural form quienes (who) are used when the antecedent is a person and there is some distance between the antecedent and the relative pronoun, usually a comma or a short (one- or two-syllable) preposition:
    ¿Donde están las secretarias a quienes hablé esta mañana? Where are the secretaries I spoke to this morning [to whom I spoke this morning]?
    María es la mujer con quien quería casarme. María is the woman I wanted to marry.
    Nadie parece conocer a Miguel, de quien está enamorada Elena. No one seems to know Miguel, whom Elena is in love with [of whom Elena is enamoured].

    Note: Quien is not used when the relative pronoun comes immediately after the antecedent; que is used instead (see section 1 above). [Also see Additional usage below.]

  • El que and the other forms —la que, los que, las que— agree in gender (singular/plural) and number (masculine/feminine) with the antecedent. They are typically used when there is some distance between the relative pronoun and the antecedent, for example after a comma or a one-word preposition . This includes one syllable prepositions often used with que —particularly en— and especially those which might cause confusion if used with que, for example sin, para, and por. No es el banco en el que deposité mi dinero. It's not the bank I deposited my money in [in which I deposited my money]. Ésas son las razones por las que no puedo acompañarte. Those are the reasons why [because of which] I can't go with you. Perdí los documentos sin los que no puedo matricularme. I lost the documents without which I can't register.

    Please let me know if you need any clarification. I'm always happy to answer your questions.
    Jul 27th, 2015

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