Someone left me a comment the other day, and a teeny-tiny mistake she made gave me the inspiration for this post. I’ve already made it known that I need requests and ideas from all of you (when you’ve written over 200 posts about the nooks and crannies of the Spanish language, the inkwell gets a little dry at times), and mistakes definitely count. Almost all of the posts are born of my own various and sundry mistakes, so I hope no one takes it personally if their own error can serve as a teaching moment for all of us.
This person greeted me by saying “¡Bienvenido!” and then went on to leave a kind and interesting comment. Now, it was fabulous to receive her warm welcome, and I don’t want to quibble . . . but that greeting needed a little tweaking. If I were Bob, “Bienvenido” would have been appropriate. If I were Bob and Jerry, “Bienvenidos” would have been correct. Were I Katie and Sally, “Bienvenidas” would have to be used. However, as I am just Katie (Katia/Vocabat), you have to greet me with “Bienvenida.” I have a feeling you’ve probably already cottoned on to the reason, but let’s go over it quickly.
Bienvenido is an adjective (and an interjection in this particular case- Welcome!), so you have to make the ending (feminine v. masculine, singular v. plural) agree with the noun/person it modifies, as you are really saying “(you are) welcome!” That’s why she should have said “¡Bienvenida!” when greeting me. When used in general, like on a sign, you’re going to see “Bienvenidos,” as the welcome is extended to everyone, i.e., both men and women.
To my surprise, bienvenir as a verb doesn’t exist in Spanish. There’s only the noun bienvenida (dar la bienvenida means to welcome someone) and the adjective bienvenido with all its gender and number derivations. Also to my surprise, I had never before realized that bienvenido is the exact same structure as in English: bien + venido = well + come.
Bienvenido isn’t solely for people; just like in English, you can welcome anything with the meaning of happily received.
Cinco hoteles en los que tu perro será bienvenido – Five hotels where your dog will be welcome
¡Cualquier sugerencia será bienvenida! – Any and all suggestions would be most welcome!
I vaguely remember picking up on this rule through observation after long assuming that “bienvenidos” is just how you say welcome. So, if you too thought welcome was bienvenidos in all cases, you’re not the only one. Thankfully, it’s a very easy mistake to fix.
Wearing out the welcome? We could always take a cue from Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web and say “Salutations!” A hale and hearty salute to all of you.