Spanish Lessons


Too Fast? Blame the Sinalefas - Part 2

Let's continue studying examples of sinalefas. If you missed part 1 of this lesson you can read it here

Sinalefas are an important aspect to consider when learning Spanish because they play a fundamental role in the fast-paced speech we hear so frequently in many native speakers and which makes listening comprehension so challenging. We've seen that sinalefas can merge up to five vowels from different contiguous words, like in the infamous example Envidio a Eusebio (I envy Eusebio), but sinalefas that merge two and three vowels are much more common and thus the more frequent culprits of word merges. Since we already covered sinalefas that merge two vowels, let's now focus on the ones that merge three or more. 

For a sinalefa of more than three vowels to occur at least one of the following conditions must be met:
Condition 1. The vowels are combined in a gradual scale from more open to less open, for example aeu, as in La europea (the European), or from less open to more open, for example uea, as in abue Antonia (Granny Antonia).

Here's an example with an oi and an aae sinalefa that allows the speaker to pronounce no iba a entrar as a single word:

decidimos que en nuestras tiendas no iba a entrar un chocolate
we decided that in our stores no chocolate was going to enter
Caption 46, Horno San Onofre - El Chocolate

Here's an iea sinalefa that allows the speaker to pronounce nadie apoyaba as a single word:

nadie apoyaba el movimiento
No one was supporting the movement
Caption 57, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 1

Condition 2. The combination consists in one open vowel surrounded by two less open ones. For example iae, as in limpia estancia (clean place), eau as in muerte auspicia (auspicious death), uoi as in mutuo interés (mutual interest), etc.
Here's an oae sinalefa that allows the speaker to pronounce salto a Europa as a single word:

Ahora preparan su salto a Europa, a Francia y a Alemania.
Now they're preparing their jump into Europe, France and Germany.
Caption 49, Europa abierta - Carne ecológica y segura

Here's an iae sinalefa that allows the speaker to pronounce nadie iba as a single word (also an ahu sinalefa that merges nunca hubo):

Nunca hubo nadie igual a ti
There was never anyone like you
Caption 40, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 14

Here's an example with an iao and an ee sinalefa that allows the speaker to pronounce de aire en as a single word:

y además, controlan el flujo de aire en el interior.
and additionally, it controls the flow of air inside.
Caption 53, Tecnópolis - El Coronil - Part 1

When none of these two conditions are met, merging contiguous vowels from different words to form a sinalefa is theoretically impossible. We will study some interesting cases in the third and last part of our lesson on this topic. In the meantime, we invite you to find more examples of sinalefas that merge two or more vowels by browsing our catalog of videos. We recommend you use the search tool located in the upper right corner of the site to find them.  

Caption 46
Caption 53

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