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Spain: European Champion

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Habrá quienes prefieran a la atractiva Brasil de los 70 o los que se decanten por la efectiva Alemania de Beckenbauer. Incluso algunos pensarán que la Francia de Zidane está por encima. Cuestión de gustos. En lo que se refiere a datos, no hay duda: España es la mejor selección de la historia. Nadie logró nunca ganar dos Eurocopas y un Mundial.

The Spanish lesson is... Posted on Thuesday, July 3th

Spanish is a language with some fantastic subtle features, and we have a perfect example in the above quote. Do we use the future tense to refer to actions in the future? No! One of the most frequent functions of the future tense in Spanish is to make an approximation in the present: the two future tenses given in the above quote tell us that “there are probably those who prefer…” and also “maybe some even think that the French team with Zidane…”.

When we ask what time it is, and the person we ask doesn’t have a watch, but does have a good idea of the time, that person will say:  Serán las tres y media (son alrededor de las tres y media) (it’s around three thirty).

In any case, one thing we can say is that la roja (the Spanish National Soccer Team) estará (will be) in the next world cup, and if things continue the way they’ve been going, ganará (it will win) again and continuará (it will continue) breaking records.

Please forgive the triumphalism, but it’s so well deserved…

Spain: European Champion

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Cesc Fabregas Midfielder

Areyns de Mar, Barcelona, (Spain) (May 1987)

Me acuerdo de mucha gente de toda mi familia, me arrepiento de haber dicho que no vinieran.

The Spanish lesson is... Posted on Monday, July 2nd

Cesc’s memories make us think about the interesting case of pronominal verbs. Pronominal verbs are those that, when accompanied by a pronoun, change meaning. It’s important to distinguish between these and reflexive verbs, which use the pronoun to show that the action and the consequence of the verb involve the same person.

An example of a reflexive verb is LAVAR (to wash) compared to LAVARSE (to wash oneself); in the second form, the only difference from the first form is that the subject and the object is the same: “Ana lava al bebé y mientras tanto Antonio se lava las manos” (Ana washes the baby and meanwhile, Antonio washes his hands). There are verbs that have to be reflexive, like for example arrepentirse (to regret), which appears in Cesc’s quote; another dismal but clear example would be the verb suicidarse(to commit suicide), which can only be understood if it’s reflexive.

Acordarse (to remember) is a clear example of a pronominal verb: ACORDAR means “to reach an agreement, to agree on something”, while the presence of the pronoun (ACORDARSE) changes the meaning to remember.

Cesc Fábregas Highlights!

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Andrés Iniesta Midfielder

Fuentealbilla (Albacete), Spain (May 1984)

Alemania e Italia tienen dos estilos muy diferentes. Parecía que nadie contaba con Italia, pero han demostrado que defensivamente están muy fuertes.

The Spanish lesson is... Posted on Sunday, July 1th

The relationship that exists between the subject and the verb is called agreement. Usually, the verb must agree with the subject in number and person, but on some occasions, and due to a logical transposition, a shift is produced, as in the above case. When Iniesta talks about Italy, he’s talking about the collective that is that country’s national team. The idea is that, although this is a singular noun, it has a group meaning (therefore, plural,) which makes the player follow agreement by using plural verb forms.

The most correct way to have said this however would have been: “[…] nadie contaba con Italia, pero ha demostrado que defensivamente está muy fuerte” (nobody was counting on Italy, but it has proven that defensively it’s very strong).

Andres Iniesta, 2011/12

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Iker Casillas Goalkeeper

Madrid, Spain (May 1981)

Sergio ha demostrado sangre fría, valentía y hombría. No era fácil porque venía de fallar en aquella tanda de Champions. Hay que felicitarle.

The Spanish lesson is... Posted on Saturday, June 30th

The goalkeeper for la roja (the Spanish National Soccer Team) has given us a nice sample of some bad habits that are starting to dangerously abound in our language. The globalization of information and life in this global village of ours has caused the increasingly frequent presence of barbarisms (words and/or structures directly copied from different languages, sometimes ignoring correct options that exist in Spanish).

When Iker said Sergio venía de fallar en aquella tanda (de penaltis) de Champions (came from missing [in penalty shots] in that Champions League series), what he really should have said is that Sergio acababa de fallar (just missed). Venid de + infinitive is a fantastic French structure which, in the language of Moliére works very well, but in our language is sounds bad.

A similar case is the use of EN to refer to the future: Te llamo en 20 minutos (I’ll call you in 20 minutes), instead of saying DENTRO DE, which is the right way. EN here is an English thing.

Iker Casillas Top 10

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Cesc Fabregas Midfielder

Areyns de Mar, Barcelona, (Spain) (May 1987)

Tenía esta intuición. Esta tarde lo estaba pensando. Toni (Grande) me dijo que tirara el segundo y le he dicho que no. Tenía este presentimiento. La vida me da otra oportunidad como esta y es increíble.

The Spanish lesson is... Posted on Friday, June 29th

In Spanish, when we talk about the past, we are given a few interesting things to think about: the system of verb tenses offers us the option of using the Present Perfect tense, as in le he dicho (I’ve said to him) when we’re referring to a completed action that has some relation to the present (this morning, until now, a little while ago…) and it also offers us the option of using the Pretérito Perfecto Simple tense (simple past), as in me dijo (he said to me), when we refer to an action completed in the past that does NOT have any relation to the present (yesterday, last year, March 12th…).

Maintaining the correct relation between the different forms is fundamental for the agreement of tenses in speech (known in Latin as CONSECUTIO TEMPORUM).

But our language has spoken varieties with clear differences: In Latin America and in some regions of Spain (the Canary Islands for example) the spoken use of the simple past is preferred in practically all cases, while in continental Spain the past perfect is frequently abused.

As for Fabregas, he offers us here an example of non-agreeing tenses, since he should have said “Toni (Grande) me dijo que tirara el segundo y le dije que no” (Toni [Grande] told me to shoot second and I told him “no”), pointing out the fact that what happened, from his point of view, is something that doesn’t have any relation to the present; or he also could have said “Toni (Grande) me ha dicho que tire el segundo y le he dicho que no” (Toni [Grande] has told me to shoot second and I have told him “no”), emphasizing the continued existence of the excitement of the moment, still present in the mind of the speaker.

Cesc Fábregas Highlights!

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David Silva Midfielder

Arguineguín (Gran Canaria), (Spain) (Jan 1986)

Intento aportar mi granito de arena, intentar trabajar para el equipo y las cosas van saliendo bien y ojalá podamos llegar a la final.

The Spanish lesson is... Posted on Thursday, June 28th

Within the Romance Language group, Spanish has some unique features: the fact that the Iberian Peninsula has received influences from practically all the cultures that have existed on the Mediterranean makes our language something of an eclectic mix of elements from multiple origins. The Arabic language has left us with a few gems such as OJALÁ (from the Hispanic Arabic law šá lláh, God willing). This interjection is a unique element among Romance languages and is probably the most intense expression of desire that exists in Spanish. It is always accompanied by a verb in the subjunctive tense (when it doesn’t appear by itself), and without que, which is usually used with the Spanish subjunctive.

It’s becoming more and more common to hear expressions such as “ojalá que llueva café en el campo”, where the interjection que does appear, probably because in the linguistic subconscious of Spanish speakers, que is universally used to introduce the subjunctive. It would not be surprising to find at some time in the future that the form OJALÁ QUE has over time become a normal part of the language.

David Silva

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Xabi Alonso Midfielder

Tolosa (Guipúzcoa), (Spain) (Nov 1981)

Nosotros mismos nos autoexigimos y asumimos esa responsabilidad y el reto de ganar otra vez.

The Spanish lesson is... Posted on Wednesday, June 27th

In this comment from Xabi Alonso, we come across an element that is very often difficult to define: emphasis.

In Spanish, we have different methods available to emphasize an idea; one of them is the use of the reflexive pronoun in verbs which it’s generally not used with. The verb exigir (Lit. to require) is not reflexive, but in his quote, it’s clear that Alonso’s intention is to emphasize that the requirement, or the “push”, comes from the players themselves, that it’s not imposed on them from some outside source. (The prefix auto- adds even more emphasis, and although it is incorrect according to the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy, its function here is clear, which fully justifies its use).

A similar example could be the construction: “Ayer me comí una paella excepcional” (yesterday, I ate exceptional paella), where the reflexive pronoun clearly does not refer to auto-cannibalism, but instead refers to pure emotional emphasis that adds to the positive value of the comment.

Xabi Alonso

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Gerard Piqué Defender

Barcelona, (Spain) (Feb 1987)

Si tenemos el balón, haremos que participe menos

The Spanish lesson is... Posted on Tuesday, June 26th

Conditional expressions in Spanish, when used to refer to the future, present an interesting circumstance: the simple present tense is used in the protasis (condition) and the future tense is used in the apodosis (consequence). This produces an uncomfortable ambiguity, since in Spanish, important information appears at the beginning of speech (in other languages, like German or Japanese, it appears at the end). In this structure, we have to wait until the second verb to know that it refers to the future… This is uncomfortable for a Spanish speaker. That is why Spanish has produced an alternative, which uses different conditional particles besides SI (if) and which is constructed with the present subjunctive and the future tenses. This identifies for us, from the beginning of speech, the notion of the immediate future.

En caso de que tengamos el balón, haremos que participe menos”

(In the case of us having the ball, we’ll make it so they participate less)

Gerard Piqué Highlights!

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Juanfran Torres Defender

Crevillent (Valencia), Spain (January 1985)

El seleccionador tiene confianza en él y eso es lo que le tiene que importar

The Spanish lesson is... Posted on Monday, June 25th

Diacritical accent in Spanish Language

The accent, or la tilde, is an essential and fundamental element in Spanish. It helps us read texts correctly, even when we don’t completely understand its meaning.

Words that only have one syllable don’t usually use the accent, given that they can only be pronounced one way. But when it does appear in one syllable words (diacritical accent), its purpose is to indicate a difference in function. So, el is an article, while él is the subject of a verb: él es Antonio, el chico del que te hablé (he’s Antonio, the boy that I told you about)

Recently, the Royal Spanish Academy has dictated new rules on certain uses of the diacritical accent. Sólo and solo will no longer be marked as different forms. The demonstrative pronouns este, ese, aquel will never be used with an accent anymore. With the exception of these cases, we will continue marking a difference between for example: tu hermano no me escucha y tú, hermano, no me escuchas. (your brother doesn’t listen to me, and you, brother, you don’t listen to me).

Juanfran Torres

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Pedro Rodríguez Forward

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain (July 1987)

Lo más importante es tener las ideas claras y él las tiene.

The Spanish lesson is... Posted on Sunday, June 24th

Personal Object Pronoun

In this sentence from el Canario (person from the Canary Islands), we can see how Spanish applies the principle of economizing on language, avoiding unnecessary repetition. The pronoun LAS allows us to refer to “las ideas claras” (the clear ideas), which functions as the Direct Object (DO) of the transitive verb TENER, and avoids the repetition of information.

It’s important to remember that in Spanish, third person pronouns that function as direct objects are LO(S) and LA(S); although phenomenon known as Leísmo, Laísmo and Loísmo also exist, that implicate the –incorrect- use of the pronouns LE, LA and LO, respectively, in functions they are not supposed to be used for. While Leísmo is accepted and tolerated, Laísmo and Loísmo are considered incorrect.

Lo más importante es tener las ideas claras y él las tiene.”

“The most important thing is to have a clear idea, and he does”

Secondly, the use of LO here could be explained as being neutral; which doesn’t seem too correct to us, given that the genders that exist in Spanish are masculine and feminine , with no neutral gender like German has for example. It would be more correct to refer to the abstract nature of this pronoun, la cosa más importante…(the most important thing)

Pedro Rodriguez Skills

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Javi Martínez Midfielder

Ayegui (Navarra), Spain (September 1988)

El hecho de ganar el Mundial y la Eurocopa no nos iba a facilitar el camino sino todo lo contrario.

The Spanish lesson is... Posted on Saturday, June 23th

How to use 'Sino'

Here we have a subject that may be small, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. In speech, when we want to make a consideration, we usually use PERO (but):

Ana es muy guapa y trabajadora pero no es demasiado simpática.

Ana is pretty and a hard worker, but she’s not too friendly.

BUT… when the first sentence is negative, we don’t use PERO (but), instead we use SINO.

Javi Martínez 2011-2012 compilation

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Álvaro Arbeloa Defender

Salamanca, Spain (January 1983)

Nunca me ha gustado poner etiquetas de titular o suplente

The Spanish lesson is... Posted on Friday, June 22nd

Pronominal Verbs

In this Spanish soccer player’s comment, we can observe two interesting matters:

Firstly, the use of the verb GUSTAR as a pronominal verb, expressing something that appeals to us. When we use this verb, it may look like a reflexive verb because of the way it’s used with pronouns, but we mustn’t forget that it is NOT reflexive, since one of the characteristics of reflexive verbs is that the pronoun and the verb are IN THE SAME PERSON. With the verb GUSTAR, we express an attraction produced by an outside source: Las patatas me gustan (I like potatoes). Here, the pronoun refers to the person that receives the action of the verb, not to the subject (that causes the action). It’s dangerous to try, for example, to directly translate from the English “I like apples”, given that in English, the verb “to like” functions as a verb of projection, not of seduction, which is the case in Spanish.

Secondly, although we know that in the oral language of many Spanish speaking areas, the present perfect tense (ha gustado) is not used, it’s important to remember that this tense refers to an action that started in the past and continues to the present. The use of NUNCA (never) in a past context (which implicates the implicit notion that never means until now) obligates us to use this form, and it’s interesting to observe how in linguistic territories where the past perfect is not usually used, it does appear in this type of contexts, which clearly have an emphatic meaning because of their use of the adverb of time.

Álvaro Arbeloa 2012 Highlights!

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Iker Casillas Goalkeeper

Madrid, Spain (May 1981)

Contentos y disfrutando de un lugar fantástico

The Spanish lesson is... Posted on Thursday, June 21st

Adverbs

Spanish is a fundamentally contextual language. You can’t understand (or grasp) the final meaning of a text without paying special attention to the context. It’s common to find polysemous words, verbs with multiple functions that only differ by context. So the goalkeeper for la roja (The Spanish National Soccer Team) doesn’t need to verbalize the verb estamos (we are) to make what he’s saying perfectly understood.

The importance of context is a priority in Spanish, and we have to learn to see in a more general way, without worrying too much about details…(sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees)

Iker Casillas best saves

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Andrés Iniesta Midfielder

Fuentealbilla (Albacete), Spain (May 1984)

Quizá sí se notó el cansancio. Además, no es fácil jugar cuando sabes que el empate te vale, cuando un gol de ellos te puede echar. Quizás el equipo lo notó

The Spanish lesson is... Posted on Wednesday, June 20th

Adverbs

In Spanish, the adverb QUIZÁ (maybe) can be written with or without the final S, which creates a certain ambiguity that allows the speaker to choose the form that he or she prefers.

Quizá.

(From the Latin qui sapit, who knows).

1.adv. Uncertainty, denotes the possibility that that which is expressed will happen or be certain.

Quizá llueva mañana. Quizá sea verdad lo que dice. Quizá trataron de engañarme.

(Maybe it will rain tomorrow. Maybe what you’re saying is true. Maybe they tried to trick me).

Is it used with the Subjunctive or the Indicative tense? It is usually used with the Subjunctive, because it expresses a possibility. The presence of the indicative, like in our players’ example, is used as an element of emphasis to point out the great possibility that “the team noticed it”. So it’s very probable that the team noticed the fatigue.

Andres Iniesta, Pure Magic!

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Álvaro Negredo Forward

Madrid, Spain (August 1985)

Ya llevo unos cuantos goles marcados en la habitación

The Spanish lesson is... Posted on Tuesday, June 19th

Periphrasis

The Spanish player’s sentence allows us to consider a very important element in the Spanish language: Periphrasis.

Periphrasis is a structural verb formed by a conjugated verb, a connector (sometimes) and a verb in non-personal form. Periphrasis exist in the infinitive, in the gerund and in the participle.

A periphrasis expresses more than the sum of the meaning of its elements. So in this case, the structure LLEVAR + PARTICIPLE makes us think of a completed action which, continues from the past up to the present, adding the notion that it has not completely concluded.

So we understand that Negredo thinks/expects to keep scoring (another periphrasis) goals in his dreams and that he doesn’t expect this hope to end, but expects it to turn into a reality.

Álvaro Negredo 2012 Highlights!

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Fernando Torres Forward

Fuenlabrada (Madrid), Spain (March 1984)

Hay que tener en cuenta que el campo estaba mucho más rápido.

The Spanish lesson is... Posted on Monday, June 18th

The superior comparative (mas…que…) or inferior comparative (menos…que…) can be intensified by using the adverb MUCH, as in the above example. It’s important to remember that they can NOT be used with absolutes like óptimo, pésimo (optimal, terrible) etc. We can’t say “este restaurante es mucho más óptimo que el de ayer” (this restaurant is much more optimal than yesterday’s). We also can’t say “mas major” (more better), since better and worse already contain the notion of MORE. Mejor = más bueno; Peor = más malo.

We still need the second element to make a comparison:

“… el campo estaba mucho más rápido…” que ¿qué?, ¿Que Fernando Alonso con un seiscientos?...

(“…the field was much faster…” Than what? Than Fernando Alonso in a Dodge Dart?)

Fernando Torres. Spain vs. Ireland (june 14 2012) Highlights!

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Gerard Piqué Defender

Barcelona, (Spain) (Feb 1987)

Lo bueno es que España tiene muchos jugadores para muchas posiciones. Yo vengo a disfrutar cada momento y cada partido.

The Spanish lesson is... Posted on Sunday, June 17th

In Spanish, the neutral gender does NOT exist, as it does in other languages. We use LO as a way to refer to the abstract, a general idea (the unknown), which would be incorrect to classify as masculine or feminine. The same thing happens with the forms ESTO (this), ESO (that) and AQUELLO (that).

In this sentence, we could substitute LO for LA COSA (the thing): LA COSA buena es que España tiene…”(“The good thing is that…”)

A clear example of this is when we ask the name of an unknown object: ¿Qué es esto? (what is this?) and we say “No LO sé” (I don’t know).

Gerard Piqué Highlights!

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Cesc Fabregas Midfielder

Areyns de Mar, Barcelona, (Spain) (May 1987)

Estoy en un momento idóneo para tomar responsabilidades en la Roja.

The Spanish lesson is... Posted on Saturday, June 16th

In Spanish, we have two prepositions available that complement each other: POR and PARA. We use POR when we refer to the cause, the origin, and the past:

Imagine that Cesc had said: ““Estoy en un momento idóneo por tomar decisiones en la Roja”; here, it’s clear that the decisions he’s made have lead him to a positive situation.

But what Cesc means is that, because it’s the right time for him, in the future he will be able to accept responsibilities on the Spanish National Soccer team.

To simplify: POR refers to the past and PARA tells us about the future (generally speaking)

Cesc Fábregas Highlights!

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Sergio Ramos Defender

Camas, Sevilla, (Spain) (March 1986)

Todos mantenemos la ilusión. Por supuesto que se puede hacer el triplete. España tiene un abanico de jugadores que no tienen otras selecciones.

The Spanish lesson is... Posted on Friday, June 15th

In Spanish, we use an impersonal construction (se puede/one can) instead of a personal construction when we wish to remove personal responsibility, by making reference to the notion of involuntariness in the context of the action.

So the player that made today’s statement could have said “Por supuesto que podemos hacer el triplete” (of course we can win a treble), but by using an impersonal construction it seems that, if it doesn’t happen, he would be less responsible for the matter.

If I forget to call a friend that I planned to meet with and I say “se me olvidó llamarte” (I forgot to call you/calling you slipped my mind) instead of “olvidé llamarte” (I forgot to call you), it seems like it was an accident and not offensive conduct.

Sergio Ramos Highlights!

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Pepe Reina Goalkeeper

Madrid (Spain) (August 1982)

Italia me da mucho respeto.

The Spanish lesson is... Posted on Thursday, June 14th

Literally, can mean “Italy gives me a lot of respect”

Here, Pepe Reina seems to mean “Italy gets a lot of my respect”

Don Pepe Reina, who’s no fool, offers us an example of what we can call “multi-use” verbs: verbs which are used correctly, but which are very general and ambiguous, and in a certain way makes speech poorer.

In this case it would be better to say:

Italia me produce/merece mucho respeto.

(Italy produces/deserves a lot of respect).

Pepe Reina Highlights!

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Victor Valdés Goalkeeper

Hospitalet de Llobregat (Barcelona), (Spain) (January 1982)

Hay que vigilar a Pirlo, todo el juego pasa por él.

The Spanish lesson is... Posted on Wednesday, June 13th

The direct object in Spanish, when referring to a person, needs to be introduced by a preposition. If not, we make the mistake of turning the person referred to into a “thing”, which although would be an involuntary insult, would after all be an insult.

Ex: Hay que vigilar la casa durante las vacaciones para evitar los robos.

(The house needs to be watched over vacation, to prevent burglaries).

Tienes que vigilar A los niños mientras juegan en la playa.

(You have to watch the kids while they play on the beach).

Victor Valdés Highlights!

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Fernando Torres Forward

Fuenlabrada (Madrid), (Spain) (March 1984)

Buffon me adivinó la intención, me ganó la partida.

The Spanish lesson is... Posted on Monday, June 11th

The use of the indirect object pronoun in Spanish, instead of the possesive.

Torres’ sentence could have been: “Buffon adivinó mi intención…” But that doesn’t sound Spanish , it sounds more like a literal translation, from English for example. In the same way we don’t say, “duele mi cabeza” (my head hurts), or “se perdieron mis llaves”, (my keys got lost), the natural tendency in Spanish is to use the indirect object pronoun for these functions, such as: “ME duele la cabeza” or “se ME perdieron las llaves”.

So, we can say, nice work Fernando Torres! Even though “Buffon LE adivinara la intención y LE ganase la partida”. (Buffon anticipated his intention and he won the play).

Fernando Torres Highlights!

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Álvaro Arbeloa Defender

Salamanca, (Spain) (January 1983)

No hace mucho que vino a Valdebebas y pudimos saludarle y charlar con él.

The Spanish lesson is... Posted on Friday, June 8th

Leismo, laismo and loismo

Leismo is a phenomenon that consists of using the pronoun LE in place of LO when referring to a person of male gender.

Anoche vi a Andrés y le saludé afectuosamente

(Last night, I saw Andres and I greeted him warmly).

Leismo is tolerated by the R.A.E. and is used quite extensively in the peninsula. Laismo (used almost exclusively in Madrid) and loismo are considered vulgar.

How can the problem be solved?

If we substitute the masculine reference with a feminine one, we see that the use of LE sounds bad, and we will use LA.

Anoche vi a Andrea y la saludé afectuosamente

We can conclude that, if in feminine cases we use LA for a person as a Direct Object, in the masculine we should use LO.

Álvaro Arbeloa 2012 Highlights!

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