Learning Spanish - Part 6 - What?s The Best Way to Learn Spanish Verb Formations?
Posted by Nick Niesen on October 30th, 2010
In my last article I started to talk about a Spanish textbook called ?Pasos?. This was the textbook I used when I first started learning Spanish. When I started studying from it I didn?t use it to its full potential. This was really down to time constraints and the fact I was about to embark on a long trip to central and South America. I wanted to finish the book before I set off.
The point of the article was really to warn others against falling into the same trap if possible. This particular Spanish textbook and others like it are full of quizzes and exercises that are designed to test the reader?s ability to retain and understand the information that is being taught. I didn?t spend enough time working through the various chapters or attempting all of the exercises. In hindsight I know it would have been better to spend as much time as I needed in order to cover everything that the book had to offer.
In this article I want to talk some more about the same Spanish textbook, in particular about how it dealt with teaching Spanish verb formations. Learning how to form Spanish verbs can be very frustrating for native speakers of English. This is because they are formed very differently. In Spanish it is often not necessary to use subject personal pronouns (I, you, he, she etc) with verbs like it is in English. Look at this simple example:-
I live in England. = Vivo en Inglaterra.
Notice in Spanish no word for ?I? is used. This is because much of the time the way that a Spanish verb is formed will automatically indicate what subject personal pronoun is being referred to (I, you, he, she etc). At first this can seem very confusing and then later on it can still seem very confusing! The difficulty is that there are so many different ways that one single verb might be formed. Not only does the verb change depending on which subject personal pronoun it is used with but it also changes depending on what verb tense is being used (present, past, future etc).
Unfortunately, you will have to learn how Spanish verbs are formed even to have a very basic conversation. There is no escaping it!
Spanish verbs can be split into those that are regular and those that are irregular. The benefit of learning how to form Spanish regular verbs is that once you know how to form one verb in one particular tense you can apply the same formation rules to all regular verbs. You only need to know how to form the verb once!
So, what are the best ways to go about learning how to form Spanish verbs? There are without doubt a lot more regular verbs in Spanish than there are irregular ones so learning the formation rules that apply to regular verbs is probably a good start. Some of the most very common verbs in Spanish are irregular however, so sooner or later you will have to study these too!
The Spanish textbook I was using started to introduce verb formations right from the very beginning but didn?t include any detailed explanations about them until perhaps half way through the book. I was putting sentences together using different verb formations without really knowing why. Of course a sentence without a verb is not much of a sentence so being subjected to them right away was unavoidable.
To begin with it is probably a good idea to start making sentences with verbs by concentrating on remembering what the verb in it?s infinitive form means rather than trying to learn how it is formed in different tenses.
Infinitive verb examples ? (to live = vivir / to eat = comer / to talk = hablar)
You are still learning, simply by remembering what lots of different verbs means. Later on at a point, which best suites, you, you can begin to look at different verb tenses and formations. For me, the Spanish textbook I was using didn?t explain in sufficient logical detail how verbs were formed. I was keen to understand this quite early on in my studies. My textbook approached the subject on a piecemeal basis, which seemed a little too disjointed for me. I would have preferred to learn about verbs as a separate topic rather than having them introduced them bit by bit!
Whichever way you decide to learn about verbs, one thing you will almost certainly want in your possession is a verb conjugation (formation) book. This is a book that will tell you how every conceivable verb in the Spanish language should be formed in all tenses. (Some books are more in depth than others!)
Verb conjugation books and more about what my basic level Spanish text book taught me is what I intend to continue talking about in my next article.
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About the AuthorNick Niesen
Joined: April 29th, 2015
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