my question is what order words go in like if i want to say school board i would think to say conseja escuela but really it is del consejo escolar or if i wanted to say fishing pole i would say caña de pescar but if i said light house i would say faro but not casa de la luz please enlighten me

  • Posted Feb 12, 2011
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  • Hola Hugh, Welcome to the Forum. It helps to fill out the languages section, then people know better how to help you. - margaretbl Feb 12, 2011

4 Answers



Here is my restatement of the question.

I would like to know how to name specific items in Spanish. For example, if I want to say "school board", I think the name would be "conseja escuela" but the correct name is "consejo escolar". In another example, if I wanted to say "fishing pole" I would think the name would be "caña de pescar". But if I want to say "light house" in Spanish, the name is "faro" and not "casa de la luz". Please enlighten me.

It sounds as if the member is asking for a standardized rule to determine nomenclature for things.

I can only answer the question by saying that things are usually called different names in different language. I have not found a universal rule for translating nomenclature from English to Spanish. The dictionary is the rule. Common usage is another guideline, but can quickly lead to ambiguity.

I hope to help by restating the question. Perhaps a more advanced member can help answer the question more accurately.

Hugh, please correct my restatement of the question if it is inaccurate.

Welcome to the forum!

  • :) - cogumela Feb 13, 2011
  • Yes thank you my friend I am sorry my English is bad but you got it exactly so I guess question is when is there a specific word for something and when do I combine the nouns - hughjones Feb 13, 2011


I think you've got a couple of good answers here, hughjones. Hope so! Is Spanish the first language you are learning besides the native one you learned growing up? You will learn a lot about learning languages while learning one. It is a real adventure.

By the way, I Iearned something from your question too. I did not know that Spanish generally forbids combining two nouns to form another without "de"!!......hmm...what does one call such a new "word" (In German it probably would be a single word, I know.) Is it a compound noun? a new "concept"? Anyway, it is another name of something different from or more than either of the two combined :--) I will have to go learn the word to describe this in grammar for next time.

To me, by the way, your question really sounds like a question about vocabulary rather than syntax. But I had better go try to learn a little more about what syntax really refers to ....in other words, I am not sure.

If you get a good dictionary, the entries will give more than a one-to-one translation of the word you are looking for. The entry will provide you with sentences to illustrate how the word is used and how it might change in combination with another word.

Here is an example for a simple word such as "cuando" which one always starts out learning to mean "when":

• de cuando en cuando; de vez en cuando from time to time, now and again, every so often

And look here:

• cuando más --- at (the) most

Example: >

tardaremos, cuando más, una semana

which means: >

It will take us a week at (the) most or at the outside

• cuando menos ---- at least


Esperamos llegar, cuando menos, a las semifinales

which means: >

we are hoping to reach the semifinals, at least

• cuando mucho ---- at (the) most

• cuando no --- if not

Docenas, cuando no cientos, de películas

which translates to:

dozens, if not hundreds, of films

See what I mean? it's like working out a puzzle and lots of fun.

  • Feb 13, 2011
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  • Nice answer, Janice. Gets my vote. - Echoline Feb 13, 2011
  • Mine too :) - lorenzo9 Feb 13, 2011
  • Excellent response! :) - 0066c384 Feb 13, 2011


I wish someone could translate your request into proper English, so it is easier to understand. In the meantime, I guess you have problems differentiating words that are morphologically verbs from adjectives, because "consejo escuela" or "caña pescar" are two nouns, a combination that it is generally forbidden in Spanish without "de". The term "light house" happens to be translated as a single word (faro), which makes this a completely different issue. The fact that English says "house of light" does not imply that the entire UNIverse does the same thing. One could always ask how come English does not have a word for "faro" (light house), like many other languages have? The answer is "there is no answer". English is a very illogical language (like most languages), so the question makes no sense.

  • i am sorry for my english but thanks for the help - hughjones Feb 12, 2011


One could always ask how come English does not have a word for "faro" (light house), like many other languages have?

It does: lighthouse.

  • Feb 13, 2011
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  • The point is that "lighthouse" is a compound noun = made from 2 other nouns - in Spanish it is not. There many examples of this. - ian-hill Feb 13, 2011
  • The real point is that English comes from German. - lorenzo9 Feb 13, 2011