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Case of possession vs origin

 

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  #1  
Old July 11, 2019, 06:33 AM
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Case of possession vs origin

Hola amigos.

I'm having trouble with the following sentence:

El gato es de Maria.

Am I correct in thinking that this can be translated both as:

The cat is Maria's (i.e the cat belongs to Maria)
OR
The cat is from Maria. (i.e cat is a present from Maria)

How would one know which one of the above is the speaker referring to? Or is this a case where the statement is uncommonly used.

I understand that adding a specifying verb to the original sentence can clear this confusion. But I'm wondering is this something that can be heard in normal conversation and would it cause the same confusion for a native speaker as well?

Muchas gracias!
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  #2  
Old July 11, 2019, 06:41 AM
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Context should make it clear.
In the absence of clarifying context, use other wording.
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Old July 11, 2019, 11:52 AM
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As Rusty stated, context is important. Spanish, like English can be ambiguous, and I think it is even more so. You can say el gato pertenece a Maria if you want to be very precise about ownership.
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Old July 11, 2019, 01:58 PM
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Almost without exception, every Spanish speaker would think the cat belongs to María, unless the context is someone opening presents at their birthday party and there's a cat with a colourful satin bow in the lot.
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Old July 11, 2019, 06:41 PM
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I agree with Alec. In the example, without any context, we do not think of the cat as a present from someone. However, if you say: "el regalo es de María", then the ambiguity screams for context.
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