Introduction to Spanish verbs

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A lot of people, when they decide to study Spanish, take a big grammar book and start studying verbs like crazy...but is this effective? Well, it may be, but for sure it will be useless if you don't understand first the essential about Spanish verbs. This is a broad introduction about how verbs work in Spanish. Hope it helps! Any doubt, use the comments!

What is a verb?

A verb is a word that describes an action ( eg: to run) , condition (eg: to keep) or experience ( eg: to feel).

All the Spanish verbs have a main form, that is called “Infinitivo”. In English that main form is the “to” form ( to sing, to eat, to live...).

When I´ll teach you a new verb I will always give you the Infinitivo, but...

In Spanish the Infinitivo must be changed in order to fit the subject of the sentence.

Do you know what is a subject?

Examples of subjects are:

Yo ( I) → First Person singular (the person who talks)

( you) → Second Person singular (the person you talk to)

Él ( he) → Third Person singular ( any person that is not you, nor me)

Ella ( she) → Third Person singular ( any person that is not you, nor me)/singular objects

María (María) → Third Person singular ( any person that is not you, nor me) / singular objects

Obama (Obama) → Third Person singular ( any person that is not you, nor me) / singular objects

Mi madre ( My mother) → Third Person singular ( any person that is not you, nor me)

---

Nosotros ( we) → First Person plural ( the person who talks and more people in his group)

Vosotros ( you all, you as a group...) → Second Person Plural (the person who listen and more people in his group)

Ellos ( they) → Third person plural (Any group where neither you nor me are included) / plural objects

  

So, depending on the subject, the verb get a different form. In English for example, the verb “to be” has the form “am” for the first person singular, the form “is” for the third person singular, and the form “are” for the rest of the subjects.

In Spanish we are worse...because we have single different form for each subject (I´m sorry my dear friend!).

Let me give you an example in the present tense with the verb SER ( to be) on how the verb changes depending on the subject.

 

Infinitivo

TO BE 

SER

First Person singular (the person who talks)

I → am

Yo → soy

Second Person singular ( the person you talk to)

You → are

Tú → eres

Third Person singular (any person that is not you, nor me)/ singular objects

He → is

Él → es

First Person plural ( the person who talks and more people in his group)

We → are

Nosotros → somos

Second Person plural (the person who listen and more people in his group)

You → are

Vosotros → sois

Third Person plural (Any group where neither you nor me are included) / plural objects

They → are

Ellos → son

So... Take some time to read and fully understand each part of the next sentences. And when you finish...re-read the sentences again until you really get it!.

I am Spanish

(Yo) soy español

You are French

(Tú) eres francés

My mother is French

Mi madre es francesa

The car is good

El coche es bueno

The house is good

La casa es buena

My father is French

Mi padre es francés

Obama is American

Obama es americano

We are Spanish

(Nosotros) somos españoles

My father and I are big

Mi padre y yo somos grandes

You-all are french

(Vosotros) sois franceses

You and your father are big

Tú y tu padre sois grandes

They are american

(Ellos) son americanos

My friends are Spanish

Mis amigos son españoles

My cars are expensive

Mis coches son caros

Take the chance, and re-check the adjetives. Can you see how they change male/female and singular/plural?

 

IMPORTANT NOTE

You can say “Yo soy español” or “Soy español”. Both are valid, and grammatically correct, but native people normally don´t say “yo”.

We just say the verb (and because it´s written in the “first person/singular form”, you can understand I´m talking about “I”.
That´s why I wrote (yo) in brackets. As we´ll advance in the course, I´ll stop writing the (yo) and will present you just with the verb form.
Same happens with “Tú”, “Nosotros” and “Vosotros”. And if the subject is clearn in the context you can also avoid “él”, “ella” or “ellos”

(student note) Uff, that was hard, man! I need a rest!

 

If this is your first exposure to grammar and Spanish verbs, that is normal! Just take your time, ask any doubt, and get ready to the real deal. This is only starting!

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