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Nombre, tipo, historia, and other Spanish abstract nouns

Let’s practice some common Spanish abstract nouns, including nombre, tipo, historia, and poco.

Full Podcast Episode


No es ese tipo de historia.

Intro: Join us on a rigorous, step-by-step journey to fluency. I’m Timothy and this is LearnCraft Spanish.

Today we’re going to learn some handy nouns that are abstract but that can help you talk about the various aspects of things in Spanish. In any given conversation, you might be talking about all kinds of things, from physical objects to places to people. But no matter what you’re talking about, there are nouns that you’re likely to use very frequently to talk about various aspects of those things, people, or places: For example, something’s “name”, someone’s “story”, the “type” of thing you’re talking about, or which “part” is your favorite. The words “name”, “story”, “type”, and “part” are all very frequently used nouns, so let’s learn them.

We’ll begin with the word for “name”, which is nombre. This is a masculine noun. So for example:

The name of the boy is Juan.

El nombre del chico es Juan.

The word for “story” is feminine, and it’s historia, spelled h-i-s-t-o-r-i-a. This is very similar to the word “history” in English, and actually this word can mean “history” in Spanish, but it also simply means “story”, which is a bit more frequent. For example:

They told me their story.

Me they told su historia.

Me contaron su historia.

The word for “type” is tipo. This can also be translated as “kind”, when “kind” means the same thing as “type”. For example:

It’s not that kind of story.

No es ese tipo de historia.

So most things have a name, a story, and a type. They might also have a “form”, which is an abstract way of talking about something’s shape or format. For example:

The house had a very good shape.

La casa tenía una forma muy buena.

Something interesting about all of these nouns is that if you’re asking about them, you tend to use cuál rather than qué. You don’t ask “what is your story?”; you actually ask “which is your story?” Let’s practice this with a few examples.

What’s the shape of the cake(m)?

¿Cuál es la forma del cake?

¿Cuál es la forma del pastel?

Yes, it’s that kind of dessert.

Sí, es ese tipo de dessert.

Sí, es ese tipo de postre.

They don’t say his name in the story.

No they say su nombre en la historia.

No dicen su nombre en la historia.

Next, let’s learn some words you might use to talk about the parts of something. The word parte is a feminine noun that means “part”, and lado is a masculine noun meaning “side”, which you’ll use to talk about which side of something you’re on. For example:

He’s at this side of the house.

Está en este lado de la casa.

This part of the story is very good.

Esta parte de la historia es muy buena.

I don’t want to be on this side.

No quiero estar en este lado.

Now there’s something unexpected about these words: To ask about “which part” or “which side”, you actually use qué rather than cuál! This is backwards from what you’d expect in English, and it takes a bit of practice. So let’s use a mini-quiz to practice these words.

In this first one, “he’s on that side”, the Spanish uses the preposition de rather than en. This is frequently used with lado, especially when you’re referring to being on a particular team, or on a particular side of an argument, rather than in a literal physical location.

He’s on that side?

¿Está de ese lado?

What part do you want most?

¿Qué parte quieres más?

We didn’t mean to go to that part.

No quisimos ir a esa parte.

I hope they want to be on our side.

I hope que quieran estar de nuestro lado.

Espero que quieran estar de nuestro lado.

Another word you might use to describe a part or amount of something is poco, which means “little bit” or “small amount”. For example:

I would want a little bit of that.

Quisiera un poco de eso.

This can also be used as an adverb that works kind of like muy. For example, you can say that something is “very big” by saying that it’s muy grande. But you can also say that it’s “a little bit big” by saying that it’s un poco grande.

Let’s practice using poco.

I want a little bit of that.

Quiero un poco de eso.

He is a little bit unique.

Es un poco único.

I’m not sure(m) that he wants only a little bit.

No estoy seguro de que quiera solo un poco.

Let’s learn one more extremely important noun, the word for “person” which is persona. The weird thing about this word is that it’s always feminine, no matter whether the person you’re talking about is masculine or feminine. So for example:

The boy was a very nice person.

El chico era una persona muy buena.

So in the first half of the sentence, we are using the masculine noun chico, which takes the masculine article el. But in the second half of the sentence, since we’re using the feminine noun persona, we use the feminine article una, along with buena. And that’s despite the fact that we’re describing the same person! The thing is, in Spanish, gender is often simply a grammatical thing. So in cases like this, you can use more than one grammatical gender to describe the same person.

Let’s practice using the feminine noun persona with a mini-quiz.

He would want to be with that person.

Él quisiera estar con esa persona.

There are fewer people here.

Hay menos personas aquí.

My friend(m) is a very nice person.

Mi amigo es una persona muy buena.

Before we go on to today’s final quiz, let’s also learn one new idiom. Let’s say that you want to ask about someone’s day. In English, you might ask them what was the best “thing” about their day or the best “part” of their day, but in Spanish, you’re more likely just to ask about “the best” of their day, with no noun attached. Here’s how you might do that:

What was the best part of your day?

¿Qué fue lo mejor de tu día?

So lo mejor, literally just “the best”, is a very common way to talk about the best part of something or the best thing about something.

Let’s practice this.

The best thing is to go when you can.

Lo mejor es ir cuando puedas.

Remember you can dig into more of any of this at LCSPodcast.com/74. But if you’re ready, let’s go on to today’s final quiz.

If they wanted to go with that person, they would do it.

Si quisieran ir con esa persona, lo harían.

They wanted the best thing when I had it.

Quisieron lo mejor cuando lo tuve.

I have always wanted him to be alive and not dead.

Siempre he querido que esté vivo y no muerto.

You wouldn’t want to go if you were them.

No quisieras ir si fueras ellos.  

We wanted you to want it.

Queríamos que lo quisieras.

If we wanted be there, we would go, but we don’t want to.

Si quisiéramos estar ahí, iríamos, pero no queremos.

I would want to be a pilot.

Quisiera ser pilot.

Quisiera ser piloto.

They wanted me to want to be here.

Querían que yo quisiera estar aquí.

She hopes I want to be part of their group.

Ella hopes que yo quiera ser parte de su group.

Ella espera que yo quiera ser parte de su grupo.

It’s certain that I didn’t want it.

Es cierto que no lo quería.

He meant to give it a new shape.

Le quiso give una nueva forma.

Le quiso dar una nueva forma.

I’m not sure(f) you want to be a serious person.

No estoy segura de que quieras ser una persona seria.

She hopes we want that kind of ice cream.

Ella hopes que queramos ese tipo de ice cream.

Ella espera que queramos ese tipo de helado.

Your story is a little bit better than our story.

Tu historia es un poco mejor que nuestra historia.

The name of the story is very good.

El nombre de la historia es muy bueno.

I’m going to want it when you are on this side. (location)

Lo voy a querer cuando estés en este lado.

The shape of that thing is a little bit strange.

La forma de esa cosa es un poco strange.

La forma de esa cosa es un poco extraña.

(preterite) I’m sure(m) you didn’t want only a little bit.

Estoy seguro de que no quisiste solo un poco.

They don’t want that type of job.

No quieren ese tipo de trabajo.

Do you want a little bit of this?

¿Quieres un poco de esto?

I want a big house, like you wanted it.

Quiero una casa grande, como tú la querías.

He wants to know her name.

Quiere to know su nombre.

Quiere saber su nombre.

If I wanted to go, I would go.

Si quisiera ir, iría.

This part of the place is very lively.

Esta parte del lugar es muy viva.

He didn’t want that part of the project(m).

No quería esa parte del project.

No quería esa parte del proyecto.

This is the best thing about the show(m).

Esto es lo mejor del show.

Esto es lo mejor del show.

For more practice with all of this, go to LCSPodcast.com/74.

In tomorrow’s episode, we’ll learn a few more idioms and then get lots of practice with everything we’ve learned this week.

This show is brought to you by LearnCraftSpanish.com. The Spanish voice in this episode was our coach Ximena Lama-Rondón. Our music was performed by the Seattle Marimba Quartet, and I’m Timothy, encouraging you to do the hard work of learning Spanish. Acquiring a second language is one of the most fulfilling things you can do, so start your fluency journey today at LCSPodcast.com.

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