El hombre, uno, cualquiera… Making generalizations in Spanish

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El hombre, uno, cualquiera… Making generalizations

These are some of the structures we use to make generalizations or statements that are not about a specific person:

  • El hombre (man) + verb in the 3rd person singular to refer to human beings in general.

El hombre descubrió el fuego hace más de un millón de años.

Man discovered fire over a million years ago.

  • Cualquiera (anyone) + verb in the 3rd person singular to generically refer to a single random person, without specifying who.

Hoy en día, cualquiera puede tener una página web. 

Today, anyone can have a website.

  • Uno (one) + verb in the 3rd person singular to make a generalization or express a neutral opinion.

En esta ciudad, uno puede perderse fácilmente.

In this city, one can easily get lost.

Notes

  • To express a neutral opinion, women may say uno (masculine) or una (feminine).

Uno/Una ya no puede decir lo que piensa.

One can no longer say what he/she thinks.

  • To make generalizations, we may use other structures with no specific subject:

Se habla portugués en ese país.

Portuguese is spoken in that country.

Hablan portugués en ese país.

They speak Portuguese in that country.


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