Learning Spanish & Etymology Pattern-Matching for Nerds

Caer – Case, Cadaver, Cadence

The Spanish caer, “to fall”, sounds weird to English ears. But it is closer than it sounds to many English words.

Caer comes from the Latin cadere — meaning “to fall, sink, die” — and the middle -d- was lost as Latin grew into Spanish.

From this same Latin root cadere, we get a bunch of English words — mostly that came from the Latin to English via French — including:

  • Cadaver – The most obvious connection is Cadaver, a dead body.
  • Cadence – The cadence of your voice does go up and down!
  • Cadenza – The cadenza is the dramatic falling off of the music at the end!
  • Case (in the sense of, something that happens: a detective’s case or “in case of”; not in the “box” sense) – Case is the least obvious connection. Cadere turned into the Latin casus, meaning “an event, an accident” which then turned into the more standard, “something that happens.” So, falling/death turned into an accident which turned into something that just happens — talk about words becoming euphemistic over time!

what is the etymological way to learn spanish?

Nerds love to pattern-match, to find commonalities among everything. Our approach to learning languages revolves (the same -volve- that is in “volver”, to “return”) around connecting the Spanish words to the related English words via their common etymologies – to find the linguistic patterns, because these patterns become easy triggers to remember what words mean. Want to know more? Email us and ask:

patterns to help us learn spanish:

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For Nerds Learning Spanish via Etymologies