3 basics of Spanish grammar you should know if you want to learn Spanish

Learning Spanish grammar is not the easiest but it’s also not as complicated as some may think and it’s definitely worth it (says the Spanish teacher…).

Even though I really like to emphazise on the communicative aspect of the language, it is vital to explore and learn some grammar in order to have a basis that supports us in the process of developing the Spanish communication skills we are looking for.

This is the reason why I’m writing this posts with 3 basics of grammar you should know if you want to learn Spanish. Let’s see:

BASICS OF SPANISH GRAMMAR #1. Ser vs Estar en español

A lot has been said about these two verbs and I still find that it’s one of the hardest topics in the Spanish lessons I teach. What makes them complicated, mostly, is that the equivalent in English is one single verb: To Be; and also all the rules of use.

Let’s make it simple:

  • SER: related to more permanent things.
    Ejemplo: Yo soy Gaby.
    I can’t stop being myself. It’s always me.
  • ESTAR: related to temporary things.
    Ejemplo: Yo estoy contenta.
    I can be happy now but my mood may change in a while or tomorrow (most likely in a while, I’m emotionally unstable :P).

Get the basic? Now, a few more rules.

USOS de SER:

  • Profession: Él es médico.
  • Place of origin: Nosotros somos españoles. 
  • Permanent traits or qualities of things or people: Lucía es rubia. La mesa es de madera. 
  • Relationships with other people: Juan y yo somos hermanos. Ellos son pareja. 

USOS de ESTAR:

  • Location: Estoy en mi casa, ¿dónde estás tú?
  • Current state of things: La impresora está rota.
  • Non permanent states or physical descriptions of people: Hoy estoy triste. Luis está muy flaco. 

Can you think of some more example for each use of these verbs? Write them in the comment area and I’ll check them ;).

BASICS OF SPANISH GRAMMAR #2. Pretérico Indefinido vs Pretérito Perfecto en español

It’s still very fun to see my student’s faces when I start talking about the verb tenses in Spanish. It’s like they’re confused before I even start. I’d like to say it’s simpler than it seems, it’s just the name of the tenses sound a bit weird.

Pretérito indefinido o PASADO SIMPLE:

When I say it like this – pasado simple – everyone relaxes a little. Similar to English, in Spanish we have the simple past which we use to talk about events that happened in the past and are already finished and not related to the present.

EJEMPLOS:

  1. Ayer hice deporte. (verbo hacer)
  2. Gaby nació en Argentina. (verbo nacer)
  3. Fuimos a Praga de vacaciones. (verbo ir)

Pretérito perfecto o PASADO COMPUESTO

This is the one we need the verb HABER in present tense to build it + the participle form of the main verb we are using: Yo HE IDO a la playa.

Yo HE + participle
HAS + participle
Él/Ella/Eso HA + participle
Nosotros HEMOS + participle
Vosotros HABÉIS + participle
Ellos HAN + participle

*the participle is one of the three impersonal forms of each verb: infinitivo (hablar, comer, vivir), gerundio (hablando, comiendo, viviendo) y participio (hablado, comido, vivido).

We use this form to talk about events that started in the past but are somehow related to the present. It works the same way as the Present Perfect in English, if that helps to understand.

EJEMPLOS:

  1. Hoy hemos comido paella. 
  2. He viajado mucho en los últimos años. 
  3. ¿Has visto la última película de Almodóvar?

BASICS OF SPANISH GRAMMAR #3. El verbo HABER en español

Well, sorry, but our language is a lot about verbs 🙂 El verbo HABER is a non personal verb we use to talk about the existence of things. That’s all. Not bad, huh?

But how… to use it?

El verbo en HABER en presente

Its form in the simple present tense looks like this: HAY o NO HAY. Which in English is easily translated as There is/are or There isn’t aren’t.

USOS con HAY:

  • Hay + nombres contables (vaso, perros, chicas): Hay tres chicas en clase. Hay un coche rojo en mi calle. Hay muchos perros abandonados. 
  • Hay + nombres no contables (agua, leche, gente): No Hay agua para la cena. Hay mucha gente en la calle hoy. ¿Hay leche en la nevera?

Now you should do something with that you just learnt. Go write down a few things you’d like to remember and find your own examples, this way it is more likely the knowledge stays in your head.

And tell me, did you know these basics of grammar already?

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