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Creating flashcards for Spanish was a real pain, so I started trying to automate it. What I have now is something can take a list of verbs in the infinitive form and generate flashcards with different conjugations (past-tense, present tense, etc). It scrapes the conjugations from online dictionaries.

Its limited though in that the phrases aren’t long enough to really distinguish which conjugation is needed (to fix this I might try adding time expressions to differentiate past/present tense). It also does not add an object to the phrase, so there are only intransitive usages.

I’d like to make the card generation smarter, but the code needs to know more about the verbs it is using. I particular I’d like to know things like:

  • Is the verb reflexive, transitive and/or intransitive?
  • Does the verb change meanings when used in the past tense? (like cononcer)
  • Is the noun a location? Does it have a plural form?

From a linguistics perspective, I suppose I'm trying to put together a generative grammar. Given the number of people who've tried this, it might sound overly ambitious. I think in my case it might be feasible because:

  • I only care about generating phrases, not interpreting (I use google translate to produce the other side of the flashcard)
  • I don't care about generating all possible expressions, just enough to exercise new verbs/nouns (practicing irregular conjugations and whatnot)
  • So is your question "where do I find a database with that information for many/most verbs and nouns in Spanish"? – user6726 Apr 4 '15 at 17:43
  • yeah something like that. A dictionary works, but not programmatically, so I'm hoping for something more like a database. – Frank Schwieterman Apr 4 '15 at 19:43
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Regarding verbs, what about the Real Academia Española's dictionary (DRAE)?

Every entry provides grammatical information. For instance, if you look for "comer", you find out that it has transitive (tr.) and intransitive (intr.) senses.

"Arrepentir" can only be pronominal (prnl.), whereas the second sense of "arrodillar" is usually used as pronominal. (U. m. c. prnl. means usado más como pronominal).

"Llover" is intr. impers. (intransitivo impersonal), so it doesn't take a subject.

Most Spanish nouns have a plural form. It is sometimes said that some --like "sed"-- don't, but the truth is you can use any noun as a plural. Probably that's why the DRAE doesn't mark nouns that don't have plural.

Maybe you meant nouns that have a plural form that is identical to the the singular form, like "paraguas"? Unfortunately, that is also not marked in the RAE.

But there's another online dictionary, Diccionario Salamanca. It's a learner's dictionary, and it gives the plural form of nouns when it's irregular. Try paraguas" or "limpiabotas".

There are also nouns that are only used in plural. That is marked with pl. in the DRAE and with (plural) in the Diccionario Salamanca. Try "víveres".

When you say "location", does that mean a proper noun?

And, can I ask how does "conocer" change meanings in the past?

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  • Its my understanding that conocer would mean a different english verb in certain tenses. "Conozco ella" -> "I know her" vs "Conocí ella" -> "I met her". (in one case "to know" is used, in the other "to meet") I suppose such considerations would only be present in a translating dictionary. – Frank Schwieterman May 5 '15 at 17:38
  • Thanks for the other information. Still processing but yes interesting. – Frank Schwieterman May 5 '15 at 17:41

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