Some finer points of the language, but one which are sometimes overlooked – Have you ever seen phrases such as padre e hijo, espaÃ±ol e inglÃ©s? Did you think that was a typo, that really what should have been written or said was “y”, as the meaning is “and”?
There’s a really good reason for this, and it’s a quite practical one. When you have a word which starts with the I sound or Y sound (in Spanish), or you have a word with the silent H before an I sound, if you use “y” to say “and” before such a word, it slides into the sound of the second word and is indistinguishable. For that reason the substitute “e” is correct. In other words, if you want to say padre Y hijo, you must correctly say padre e hijo.
Another common combination is the term for research and development, commonly said in English as R & D. In Spanish the phrase has the development word coming first (who knows why!), and the term is desarrollo e investigaciÃ³n. Another variation of this role is to substitute “u” when meaning “or” when the word coming after it starts with the sound of O (and also applies with the silent H). A common phrase utilizing this concept is “siete u ocho”.You might be tempted to use it in saying “one or the other”, but you avoid it in this case by saying correctly “el uno o el otro”.
Another similar area deals with nouns which are actually feminine, but sometimes use the masculine word for “the” in front of them. It’s the same idea. If a word starts with a stressed “a” (silent H applies also), if you said “la” in front of it, the sounds slide together. So to avoid this, the masculine “el” is substituted.? The noun still stays feminine, however, and adjectives will be feminine, as well as the plural form, because in that case, the added “s” solves the problem. Examples:The word agua is a feminine word. However, you say el agua, el agua clara, el agua purificada, las aguas. Some common words which follow this pattern are: el alma – soul, el Ã¡guila – eagle, el ala – wing, el alba – dawn (“at dawn” would be said “al alba”), el aula – classroom