7

I'm using the textbook Fuentes: Conversación y gramática, and in it it states:

"To talk about indefinite quantity in affirmitive sentences and questions, use the following adjectives and pronouns."

The book then goes on to list the following adjectives:

  • Algún
  • Alguna
  • Algunos
  • Algunas

If the word alguno can be pluralized, why -- or how -- would you use the word algún to represent an indefinite quantity of objects? It looks like a singular adjective to me. The book only gives examples of algunos and algunas.

Is it similar to the way that the words less and fewer are used in English?

6

The words alguno/s and alguna/s (which usually mean "some") can be:

  • an adjective. E.g. Fueron algunas personas a la fiesta.
  • a pronoun. E.g. ¿Fueron tus amigos a la fiesta? No todos, solo algunos. ("algunos" replaces "algunos amigos")

But when they are used as an adjective sometimes you have to use the short form algún instead of alguno/alguna. These are the rules:

  • when it is before a masculine name you have to use "algún". ("alguno" can't be used in this case)

    E.g. Algún hombre

    E.g. *Alguno hombre (incorrect)

    E.g. Algún buen hombre

    E.g. *Alguno buen hombre (incorrect)

  • when preceding a femenine noun which starts with a stressed "a" (starting with the sound "a", such as "agua", "águila" or "hacha"), "algún" is often used (though it's also valid using "alguna" in this case). But if there is another word between "algún/alguna" and the noun, then you have to use "alguna"

    E.g. Algún águila

    E.g. Alguna águila

    E.g. Alguna extraordinaria águila

    E.g. *Algún extraordinaria águila (incorrect)

    E.g. Algún águila extraordinaria

    E.g. Alguna águila extraordinaria

  • algún and alguna can also go after some nouns with a negative meaning (as if it were "any" in English)

    E.g. No negociaremos de modo alguno (= No negociaremos de ningún modo)[we won't negotiate in any way]

  • While alguno/alguna are used for singular nouns and algunos/algunas for plural nouns you can use "alguno/alguna" for plural if you use the preposition "de"

    Alguno de mis amigos no fue a la fiesta. (singular + plural)

    Alguno de mis amigos no fue a la fiesta. / Algunos de mis amigos no fueron a la fiesta.

Here RAE explains all the possibilities.

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  • So, if I understand correctly, algún would only ever be used when describing something of a quantity of one--or am I mistaken? – Ian Hunter Apr 7 '12 at 23:59
  • @beanland yeah "algún" can only be used before a noun (in the cases shown in the answer) to describe that there is some amount of it. – Javi Apr 9 '12 at 8:27
1

Meaning 3 of alguno, na in the DLE makes explicit that the singular can mean a restricted and nonspecific number of the thing in question.

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Therefore you can use algún to mean an unknown number, provided that you guess/know the actual number is not too different from one (hence the singular, maybe?,) but maybe two, or three (or zero.)

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Algún and alguna are singular, but they imply one out of many, e.g.

¿Hay alguna canica quebrada en la bolsa? | Is there a broken marble in the bag?

But if you translate it this way you don't know if there are one or several in the bag. A more precise translation would be

Is there a broken one in the bag [of marbles]?

The plural expresses several out of many:

¿Hay algunas canicas quebradas en la bolsa? | Are there any broken marbles in the bag?

Notice that the word broken/cracked pluralizes along with algunos(as).

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  • 2
    I suggest you re-read your post, there are several grammatical and spelling errors: "meany", "bolasa", "Ay" (should be Hay). Also, "Hay alguna canica quebrada en la bolsa" translates best to "Are there any broken marbles in the bag" not "Is there any broken marble in the bag". – Raul Marengo Jan 6 '12 at 11:50
  • besides the fact that I cant spell and that is the truth. if you translate literary it "is the A broken marble in the bag". If you read the accepted answer you will see that besides my misspellings I am correct. – Fortunato Jan 7 '12 at 8:27
  • I stand by what I said and I was merely pointing out your misspellings so you could correct your post, not to make a point of it or anything. If you would like to edit your post I will be more than happy to delete my comment. – Raul Marengo Jan 7 '12 at 18:39
  • Thank you for pointing this out. I'm severely disleksic so the problem is I cant see the misspellings and when the spellchecker gives me options I cant tell what is the correct one. Es muy frustrante saver la respuesta y no poder escrbilo apropiadamente. – Fortunato Jan 7 '12 at 23:04
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    No worries. I understand now. I know this might sound silly but, have you considered typing your sentences in Google and seeing: How it auto-completes and when it says "Did you mean?" that might help you test your sentences. – Raul Marengo Jan 8 '12 at 0:13

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