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A fish sandwich = Un sandwich de pescado
A Spanish restaurant = Un restaurante español

The first of the two examples given is the pattern I'm used to, then I ran into the second example & was thrown off by the lack of 'de'. Can anyone help explain when to omit the 'de'? Are there rules for this situation or do I have to rely on rote memorization?

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    Welcome to the site! Note that "pescado" is a noun, whereas "español" is an adjective. Hence the constructions are different. If you substitute "español" with its meaning "de España" you get the same construction for both cases.
    – Charlie
    Commented Jun 1, 2019 at 9:06
  • This is not a bad question, although it would be even more interesting to know why it's página Web and not página Web despite Web being a noun (which breaks the general rule that @Charlie points out). Commented Jun 1, 2019 at 17:27
  • @Guifa I think this happens because web as both adjective and noun synonim of "multimedia" if we used it's spanish translation "red" instead, i think we would be using the normal construction.
    – Mike
    Commented Jun 1, 2019 at 17:42
  • Just wanted to link the question about "café bar" here, because it deals with the apposition of two nouns that "breaks the rule" (like "reloj pulsera").
    – pablodf76
    Commented Jun 1, 2019 at 21:58

2 Answers 2

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This happens because in Spanish there's no adjetivization of nouns.

So constructions like

"Adjective Noun" "subject" won't work without a "de"

while

"Adjective" "subject" will work

Example:

Shrimp pizza (a pizza made of or made with shrimp)

Pizza de camarones

But the worst part for English speakers is that this gets nested in inverse order.

Now imagine this

Shrimp Pizza Taco (a Taco made of pizza made of shrimps)

Taco de pizza de camarones

So, if we are using normal adjectives and not noun adjectives we can remove the "de" and just add the adjectives AFTER the subject:

Big cat

Gato grande

Mean evil and ugly rat

Rata fea mala y grosera

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  • Mind you, there are some cases of noun + noun like café bar, reloj pulsera, pollera pantalón and the like, where one modifies the other, but those are exceptions.
    – pablodf76
    Commented Jun 1, 2019 at 21:59
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A fish sandwich is a sandwich made with fish as the filling between the pieces of bread. In English we can make things very compact, to get "fish sandwich." However, in Spanish, this trick is not available to us, so we need to say "sandwich de pescado" (literally, sandwich of fish). Here are some more examples:

  • corte de luz (power outage -- more literally: outage of power)

  • tablas de multiplicación (multiplication tables -- more literally: tables of multiplication facts)

  • cepillo de dientes (tooth brush -- more literally: brush of teeth)

The other construction might be confusing you because español can be an adjective, but also a noun. In your restaurant example, it is being used as an adjective. This is similar to:

  • luz roja (red light)

  • casa azul (blue house)

  • teléfono celular (cellular phone)

Now, here are some phrases that include español as an adjective:

  • Mi mamá tiene un abanico español (My mother has a Spanish fan)

  • No entiendo la política española (I don't understand Spanish politics)

and as a noun:

  • Hay que escribir esta carta en español (This letter must be written in Spanish)

  • Aquí se habla español (Spanish is spoken here)

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