Learning Spanish - Part 7 - Essential Elements of Spanish Grammar and Verb Table

Posted by Nick Niesen on October 28th, 2010

In my last article I started to talk about Spanish verb formations. In this article I want to talk specifically about verb conjugation books and a little about learning Spanish grammar in general.

For the most part the Spanish language is highly ordered. You can pretty much dissect any Spanish sentence and understand why it has been constructed in the way that it has, simply by learning some fundamental concepts about Spanish grammar. Once you understand those concepts you can use them to formulate other sentences.

My intention here is not to discuss in any great detail the workings of any particular aspect of Spanish grammar but rather to indicate those elements of Spanish grammar that are pretty much essential if you want to gain a good understanding of how the Spanish language works. Below I have divided these elements into four categories.

Spanish verb formations ? Different tenses.
Gender ? Forming masculine and feminine nouns and adjectives. Verbs and gender.
Types of words ? Using prepositions / conjunctions / adverbs etc.
Sentence formation ? How different words fit together in a sentence.

All of the above elements of Spanish grammar were included in the basic level Spanish textbook that I used when I first started to learn Spanish and in every other textbook that I have seen since.

I mentioned in my last article that you will want to buy a Spanish verb conjugation book in order to learn how Spanish verbs are formed. Not only can you use these books to understand and learn how different verbs should be formed in different tenses but you can also use them to learn which verbs fall into different formation categories. You can instantly tell for example if a new verb you have learnt is regular or irregular.

Verb conjugation books provide a constant reference. Every time you learn a new verb in Spanish how will you know how that verb should be formed in different tenses? You will have to refer to a verb conjugation book. Although you can often guess how a verb should be formed by looking at how it is spelt and whether it ends in AR, ER, or IR you can never really be sure.

Even when you have learnt how different verbs are formed in some of the most commonly used verb tenses you still may have to refer to a verb conjugation book to see how that verb is formed in a tense that is used in speech far less often!

Even when you are highly proficient in Spanish it is still quite likely that you will have to refer to a verb conjugation book from time to time. Even native Spanish speaking people have to use them occasionally! The truth is that there are thousands of different verbs that can be formed in so many different ways that it would be almost impossible to know and memorise how every verb should be formed and used in all types of situations!

A good start for anyone learning Spanish verbs would be to concentrate on commonly used verbs. Look around you and think about different types of everyday situations where you need to use a verb in order to communicate. Very quickly you will have a list of several hundred everyday verbs. Once you have done this you then need to learn which ones are regular and which are irregular. You can use your verb conjugation book to do this.

Before I embarked on my trip to Central and South America I did buy myself a Spanish verb conjugation book. However, after travelling for a while I ended up buying another one. This is because the first one I bought didn?t include all possible verb tenses, probably because some verb tenses in Spanish are rarely used. There is for example two different ways that the past subjunctive tense can be formed in Spanish. Some verb conjugation books might not show both methods of formation and some don?t even show the past subjunctive tense at all!

So, when buying a verb conjugation book be sure to check that it includes everything you need to know. If you don?t know exactly what to check for take a look at the verb tables on Spanishexperto.com. These tables contain all the different verb tenses that you will ever come across when learning Spanish.

So far in this series of articles I have talked about some of the things you might want to think about before starting to learn Spanish, such as mental preparation. I have also touched on different learning techniques and have pointed out some of the areas of study that you will inevitably engage yourself in if you are serious about learning Spanish.

I have also barked on about my basic level Spanish textbook that I studied before my trip to Central and South America. After finishing this basic level textbook and arming myself with a fair selection of different Spanish words I thought I was ready to take on the Spanish language for real. I couldn?t have been more wrong! In my next article I intend to talk about what happened to me when I first tried to communicate with the native Spanish-speaking people of Tijuana in Mexico.

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Nick Niesen

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Nick Niesen
Joined: April 29th, 2015
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