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Grammar rules with clothes



One of the differences between spanish and english is how we refer to clothes and body parts - in english it's common to say "my hand", "my shirt", etc. whereas in spanish it is "la mano", "la camisa", etc.

I'm wondering about this though...what about times when clothing is not being worn, but rather spoken of as any other thing. For instance, "The man took my clothes" or "I gave him the shirt". I seems like if you say "El hombre tomó la ropa" it leaves the listener slightly confused - whose clothes did the man take? Is this just one of those things that I'll just have to accept, or is it acceptable to say "mi ropa" in this instance? The same question applies to body parts: if I say "El hombre tomó la mano" it's unclear whose hand he is taking.


updated JUL 6, 2010
posted by luke77

3 Answers


In spanish we always use context, for example: "Yo tengo un pantalón y una camisa. Ese hombre tomó la camisa" = "I have one pants and a shirt. That man took the shirt", look how I didn't say "mi camisa" because I was talking about whay I do have, but you understand that this mean man took my shirt, it's the same in spanish. I hope I made myself clear, if I don't, please ask me again because I'm not english speaker.

updated JUL 6, 2010
posted by Sargento-Chinicuil
You did very well , and you have my vote. - ray76, JUL 6, 2010
Voting :) - Kiwi-Girl, JUL 6, 2010

In English as in Spanish we can be specific as to the subject matter...unless, of course, it is obvious from the context.

updated JUL 6, 2010
posted by 00813f2a

Thanks, that makes sense, but in the example you gave you provided the context. You first said, "I have a shirt and pants", so when you say "The man took the shirt" it is clear that the shirt you are talking about is YOUR shirt. But what if you hadn't provided the context? For example, what if you only said "I was on the bus when the man took my shirt"? In english we say "took my shirt" because otherwise who knows what shirt we are talking about. But in spanish, would we say "Estaba en el autobús cuando el hombre tomó LA camisa" or "Estaba en el autobús cuando el hombre tomó MI camisa"?

I hope the question makes more sense this way. Thanks.

updated JUL 6, 2010
posted by luke77
The right way to say it without context is "mi", in the last sentence must be "Estaba en el autobús cuando el hombre tomó MI camisa". You can use "LA, EL, LOS, LAS" when you have a context, otherwise it will be confusing. Hope this helps. - Sargento-Chinicuil, JUL 6, 2010
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