Learning Spanish conjugation can be hard but without it you won’t be able to communicate! Don’t know where to start? We’ve broken it down for you into manageable chunks so you can start learning verb conjugations with confidence. Here are our tips for mastering the Spanish verb.
Getting Past the Difficulties of Spanish Conjugation
Knowing the irregularities of certain verbs, which tense to use and mastering the use of the subjunctive are the most difficult things about learning any language, and Spanish is no different. Spanish grammar is littered with irregularities, but by taking them on one by one you’ll soon master them all! When starting out learning Spanish, everything begins with sorting the verbs into groups:
- First group (verbs ending in -AR) : hablar (to talk), cocinar (to cook), quedar (to stay), aconsejar (to advise), levantar (to lift) , mejorar (to improve), empezar (to begin), almorzar (to have lunch), etc.,
- Second group (verbs ending in -ER) : conocer (to know), apartenecer (to belong to sb), hacer (to do), etc.,
- Third group (verbs ending in -IR) : ir (to do), conducir (to drive), dirigir (to lead), morir (to die), decidir (to decide) etc.
The first major difficulty in grammar learning lies in the learning of the different tenses and the different conjugations (present, future simple, imperfect, imperfect subjunctive, preterite, pluperfect, perfect). We then go on to differentiate between the verbs "ser" and "estar" (to be): Note that "ser" is used in front of a pronoun, an infinitive, a name or number, or a complement of an object. Whereas, "estar" is used in front of a gerund to describe an action in the process of being completed or to describe a temporary situation. You then must learn the irregular verbs as well as the common ones, notably: ir, haber, hacer, salir, oir, venir, decir, dar, pensar, poner, pedir, poder, etc. Try reading some Spanish literature to brush up on your vocabulary and conjugations in between your Spanish revision. But of course, the best way to perfect your Spanish is to take lessons in a language school or with a private tutor.
Revision is Key for Progression
Taking Spanish lessons can be expensive and after paying for rent, bills and other expenses, they might not be in your budget. But there are ways to make it work. Online courses are cheaper and there are plenty to be found on Google. Or if you can afford lessons try group Spanish classes London or private sessions with a native Spanish student who might charge less. Your teacher will expect you to revise in your own time. We would suggest learning ten new verbs every other day and then revising them the next day. This way, the time in lessons can be spent on better understanding grammar rules and doing exercises rather than just memorising words. For example, you will learn how to conjugate the subjunctive from the present indicative (yo hablo becomes yo hable, como becomes coma, etc.). Or the different endings for irregular verbs like caer, decir, estar, hacer, ir, poner, saber, tener which in the first person singular change from an "o" ending to an "a" in the subjunctive :
- Caigo becomes caiga in the subjunctive (caer),
- Digo becomes diga, (decir),
- Soy becomes sea (ser), etc.
The subjunctive is used a lot in Spanish. Reminder: We use the subjunctive in Spanish to:
- Express an hypothesis (quizá,quizás, tal vez et acaso = "maybe"),
- Express purpose "so that" : para que + subjunctive : "ustedes leen la prensa espanola para que mejoren el nivel de lingua espanola" ( "you read Spanish newspapers so that you improve your level of Spanish"),
- Express regret : que pena que no puedas quedar mas tiempo (What a shame that you can’t stay longer),
- Wish something : Que descanses bien (Rest well),
- Evoke possibility : Es posible que aprendas rápido (It’s possible that you learn quickly).
Want to know all the tenses by heart? Contact one our tutors on Superprof for help!
Take Private Lessons to Boost Your Learning
Learning Spanish with native speakers is the holy grail of language learning. With them, you will learn all of the most commonly used verbs, how to write them and pronounce them, and they can explain the irregularities of trickier verbs. With a personal tutor, you can learn at your own pace. You can start by doing a free Spanish test online to determine your level. This will tell you where you are on the European Framework for languages, (ranging from beginner at A1 to fluent at C2 level) and will help your teacher adapt the lessons for your level. A tutor can help you review every verb and conjugate in all its variations. Take the verb haber, for example, which is irregular and also acts as an auxiliary verb in the perfect tense. Learning this common verb in every tense will be useful: • Present: he, has, ha, hemos, habited, han, • Perfect: he habido, has habido, he habido, habido hemos, habido habido, han habido, • Preterite: hube, hub, hubo, hubimos, hubisteis, hubieron, • Simple future: habré, habrás, habrá, habremos, habréis, habrán, • Present subjunctive: haya, hayas, haya, hayamos, hayáis, hayan, • Imperfect subjunctive: hubiera, hubieras, hubiera, hubiéramos, hubierais, hubieran. A tutor will also be able to show you all the Spanish verbs that have changes to each person singular or plural, in the form of revision sheets. We recommend hanging them on the wall and revising them daily. In this way, a simple glance at a verb between two weekly classes allows for a revision without having to sit for hours memorising.
Immerse Yourself in the Language
Taking a trip abroad is the perfect opportunity not only to relax but to also work on your language skills. Being completely immersed in a different language is the best way to learn quickly because you have no choice but to communicate in Spanish. Why not look for Spanish classes in Spain in Seville, Tenerife, Alicante, Valencia, Barcelona, Madrid, or in South America: Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, etc. While courses can be expensive it is a worthwhile investment because you will learn a lot quicker than if you were to take a course at home. And of course, you get to experience the culture of the country too!