Monday, December 1, 2008

Weekly Lesson 001, 12.01.2008 "Debes"

debes - [DE bess] basically means "you should," and is the second person, present of the verb deber "to ought (to), to owe" and sometimes "must." Its a decent word to use if you want to express to someone that they should do something


Debes terminir tu trabajo.
You should finish your work.

Debes ir a casa.
You should go home.

Debes limpiar el piso.
You ought to clean the floor.

Debes seis dollares.
You owe six dollars.

Note on Grammar: Unlike some languages, a pronoun subject "I, you, he, she, we, they" does not always need to expressed verbally, as it is usually implied in the inflected verb. So the examples above could also take the form:

(Tu) debes ir a casa.
(You) should go home.

but does not normally. Verb inflection, or conjugation, is very important in Spanish, and for the most part follows simple rules, but it does take some getting used to and practice outside this study.

Note on Pronunciation: the "e" in Spanish is pronounced somewhere in between the [eh] you think of in words like "bed" or "dead," and the [ay] you hear in "bay" or "day." Neither of those two sounds really approximates it best, its very much in between them. Just to be a tad more phonetic, this vocalic is produced with the tongue slightly farther to the front of the mouth when compared with [eh] and with the tongue slightly higher in the mouth when compared with [ay]. This [e] sound is in both syllables in the above word. I will transcribe the Spanish "e" that way to avoid confusion with slightly rare [ay], but will make sure to remind you about it until your use to it.

Also, the "s" in English sometimes sounds like a [z] ("days," "is," "to use") almost always at the end of the word. In Spanish, the "s" sound is more regular, but within some dialects, can act similar to the English "s" at the end of words . It can be more fricative (more like [z] than [s]), but that would be more based on your dialect. So you can pronounce all s's the same, with a more hissing than buzzing sound. Just don't be surprised if hear words like [DE besz], its just a special pronunciation of the letter and not the word.

Further Notes on the Word: Aside from its use for suggestions, deber has come to mean "assignment," and the plural deberes can be generalized as "homework, assignments."

Suggested Assignments: Use the word debes five times. Make sure to SAY it out loud when you practice. Write them down, and practice! Also, when you make a suggestion to someone in English, see if you can say it in Spanish.

Debes usar la palabra "debes" cinco veces.

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