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Spanish-English Dictionary: More Information

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Houghton MifflinGuide to Using the Dictionary

General Design
The American Heritage Spanish Dictionary, Second Edition has been specially designed for clarity, precision, and ease of use. The aim has been to provide the user with a precise equivalent for a word or phrase without having to turn back and forth between the sides to verify that choice. A combination of features in both English and Spanish is included within the entry in order to achieve this aim, and clear typographic distinctions have been observed in organizing the various elements of an entry into an easily usable form.

As an aid to finding the page on which an entry appears, a pair of guidewords is printed at the top of each page:

edificio · ejemplar 199
Entry Words
Entry words are entered in alphabetical order in boldface type. Entry words are divided into syllables using boldface centered dots. For the criteria followed in syllabicating Spanish words, see the section on Spanish Orthography.

Words which are identical in spelling but which constitute separate entries are entered with superscript numbers (grana1 and grana2).

Inflected entry words.
Nouns and adjectives that inflect for gender are entered under the masculine form. The syllable containing the feminine ending is separated from the masculine form by a comma and is preceded by a dash (harinero, -ra).

Cross-references Variants.
When variant spellings of an entry word fall close to each other in alphabetical order, they are entered together and combined by or:

gra·de·rí·a f. or gra·de·rí·o m. ...
Masculine and feminine nouns.
Feminine noun forms are entered at their own place in the alphabetical order wherever appropriate. Entry words whose masculine and feminine forms are treated in separate entries are fully referenced to each other (gramática and gramático, -ca).

Past participles.
When an entry word functions as a past participle as well as an adjective or noun, this information is noted at the beginning of the entry along with a reference to the infinitive form (harto, -ta). Only the most common adjectival meanings are given for such words, since adjectival usages are easily derived from the various senses listed at the infinitive.

Irregular verbs.
All irregular verbs are referenced to the Spanish Verb Table by means of a boldface section number immediately following the entry word (hastiar). The number corresponds to the appropriate model verb in the Table. Thus the irregular conjugations for hastiar will be found at section 30 in the Table, under the model verb enviar.

Grammar references.
Entry words that are treated at length in the Notes on Grammar and Usage are referenced to the appropriate section by a boldface number following the entry word (Diagram: hasta). Note that references to the numbered sections of the Notes on Grammar and Usage are preceded by a boldface G to distinguish them from irregular verb numbers.

Grammatical Information
Additional information regarding the formation of irregular plurals, contractions, and similar grammatical items is provided in square brackets following the part-of-speech label wherever appropriate (gran and haz2).

Wherever possible, the labels used in the Dictionary have been styled to be intelligible to both English and Spanish speakers. A full list of the labels used in the Spanish-English side is printed on the front endpaper.

Parts of speech.
Part-of-speech labels are given in roman type following the entry word. Nouns are identified by their gender, while verbs are listed as transitive, intransitive, or reflexive. When an entry word functions as more than one part of speech, boldface roman numerals are used to separate the parts of the entry (harto, -ta). An exception is made when two parts of speech yield the same equivalent, in which case the labels are joined by an ampersand without the use of roman numerals (hawaiano, -na).

Field, usage, and region.
Labels used to identify special fields, levels of usage, and geographic regions are given in small capital letters at the beginning of the sense to which they apply (haz1, hartura, hato1). As a general rule, labeled senses will appear after unlabeled ones. When several senses require the same label, they are grouped together in the entry and the label is not repeated. Regional meanings are placed after all other senses for a particular part of speech and are grouped by general region first, then specific countries. Note that field, usage, and regional labels used in the main body of the entry do not apply to the idioms and phrases that follow the bold diamond.

Discrimination of Senses
When a word is defined with more than one sense for a particular part of speech, the various senses are distinguished by means of an identifying word or phrase in Spanish known as a discrimination. Discriminations are in italic type in parentheses immediately preceding the sense to which they apply (hartar). In many cases a discrimination will simply be an approximate synonym of the entry word. However, discriminations may also take the form of a prepositional phrase or, for verbs, a common subject or object which identifies the sense being defined.

As is customary in bilingual dictionaries, words are translated wherever possible by a direct equivalent rather than a lengthy definition (gramática). In many cases two synonymous equivalents, separated by a comma, are provided for a particular sense. Different senses are separated by a semicolon and are distinguished by a combination of italic discriminations or small capital labels. Equivalents are given in the appropriate part of speech and reflect the same level of usage as the sense they define. British variants are labeled in parentheses (gramo). An italic or is used to indicate a variation in the phrasing of an equivalent in which one or more words are not repeated but are assumed to apply to both phrasings (gramilla).

Elaboration of Equivalent
Additional information about an equivalent is provided, when appropriate, in parentheses immediately following the equivalent (hastío, hatear). Elaborations are of three general types:

  • Optional words or phrases that offer a fuller version of the equivalent:
    ma·jal m. shoal, school (of fish).
  • Appropriate objects for transitive verbs or subjects for intransitive verbs:
    de·ci·dir tr. (resolver) to decide, resolve (a matter); ...
    mos·car·de·ar intr. to lay eggs (queen bee); ...
  • Explanations of obscure equivalents:
    gua·ji·ro, -ra ... f. MUS. guajira (peasant song).
Thousands of example sentences and phrases have been included throughout the Dictionary to illustrate the idiomatic use of entry words. Examples and their translations are enclosed within angle brackets following the sense to which they apply (harinero, -ra and hasta).

Idioms and Phrases
Common idioms and phrases containing the entry word are listed as run-on entries at the appropriate part of speech. The first run-on is introduced by a bold diamond () (haz2). Additional items follow in alphabetical order and are separated by bold bullets (•). As with examples, the entry word is abbreviated to its initial letter unless there is any variation in spelling, in which case it is written in full. Two-letter entry words are not abbreviated.

Usage Notes
Brief notes are occasionally provided at the end of an entry to explain a point of grammar or usage. Usage notes follow the entire entry regardless of the part of speech to which they refer.

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