Locuciones verbales y combinaciones frecuentes

3,000 locuciones verbales y combinaciones frecuentes. By Adela Robles Sáez. Washington DC: Georgetown University Press, 2011. Pp. 351. ISBN 9781589017306. $59.95.

Reviewed by Louisa Buckingham, University of Nizwa

This monograph is a reference work for 4500 common verb-noun combinations in Spanish of varying degrees of idiomaticity, 3000 of which are explained in detail. The book is organized alphabetically according to the verb, and the list of verb-noun combinations is supplemented by additional boxes appearing at intervals throughout the work that contain expressions typical for a particular theme (e.g. sewing, making telephone calls) or combinations synonymous for a particular expression (e.g. expressions meaning the result of an action synonymous for quedarse ‘to become’).

The work begins with an introduction, in which the author discusses the terms locuciones verbales y combinaciones frecuentes (‘idiomatic verb phrases and frequent combinations’) and their importance to foreign language learning. The author provides an account of the criteria guiding the selection of expressions included in this book and the organization of each lexicographic entry. With respect to the selection of expressions, combinations were included that appear relatively frequently in the electronic corpus of the Real Academia Española, Corpus de Referencia del Español Actual (CREA) (‘Reference Corpus for Contemporary Spanish’). The Callfriend Corpus of Linguistic Data Consortium from the University of Pennsylvania was also used. Expressions that exhibited a high or medium-high level of frequency of combination (such as izar bandera ‘hoist a flag’) and high frequency of occurrence (e.g. tener esperanzas ‘to hope’) were included. No attempt was made to identify diatopic differences, however. Each entry appears under the verb (e.g. four entries appear under the verb caber ‘to fit’). A definition of the entry is given first, in which possible minor variations in form are provided, as well as synonymous and antonymous expressions. This is followed by an indication of formality and an analysis of the grammatical structure. Examples of the expression in context are provided (at least two) and, in some cases, also an example of incorrect usage. The entry closes with a list of related expressions and examples of their use.

The book concludes with an extensive appendix that contains additional lists of expressions arranged in tables (seventeen in total), such as expressions with the verb hacer ‘do’, which have a homologous simple verb (e.g. hacer comentarios, comentar; ‘make comments’, ‘to comment’), or lists of causative expressions with the verbs dar, causar, ocasionar, and provocar (all synonymous for ‘give’ or ‘cause’ in these contexts). An index is provided at the end.

The book is extremely easy to navigate and the entries are easily comprehensible for intermediate to advanced learners of Spanish. The work is intended to assist in the learning of idiomatic expressions and in the production and comprehension of texts. It is an outstanding reference book; while other such material comprising lists of idiomatic expressions is available on the market, none provides this degree of didactic support to the learner. Each brief entry provides precisely the information needed to comprehend the meaning of the expression, to understand how it differs from similar expressions, and to ensure that the learner is able to use it correctly.