Types of Nouns


There are two words for ‘the’ in Spanish, el and la; and there are two kinds of nouns, nouns that occur with el and nouns that occur with la. In Spanish, ‘the day’ is el día, but ‘the night’ is la noche. Those who speak Spanish must learn which nouns occur with el and which ones occur with la.

Chinantec also has two kinds of nouns, nouns that name people or animals, and nouns that name everything else. In Chinantec, dsøi2 ‘dog’ is in the first class and jmøi2 ‘water’ is in the second class.

Chinantec does not have a word for ‘the’, like Spanish, but the verbs and adjectives are different for each kind of noun. Notice the difference in the words for ‘falls’ and ‘is wet’ when they occur with ‘dog’ and ‘water’.

‘The dog falls’ is tianh12 dsøi2
‘The water falls’ is tieh12 jmøi2

‘The dog is wet’ is jlënh3 dsøi2
‘The water is wet’ is jløh3 jmøi2