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Essential Spanish Grammar


essential spanish verbsTo learn. To laugh. To live. To love.

Most of the things that make life worthwhile depend on actions.

And you can’t do (or discuss) any actions without one simple thing: verbs.

For any sentence to be complete, it needs one. These little action words are essential to language.

Here, we’ll list them in their infinitive forms. This is the “to” form of a verb. For example, the infinitive form of “makes” is “to make.” In Spanish, the infinitive form is when verbs end in -ar, -er and -ir.

It’s usually considered the most basic, purest form of the verb. When you’re learning new Spanish vocabulary in any context, verbs will most often be listed in their infinitive forms. Consider the infinitive the raw ingredient that you use to make more complex recipes (or in this case, more complex verb forms).

As you move forward you’ll learn present tense and preterite and imperfect tenses as well to get the recipe just right. To really polish your verbs, you might also need to try some unconventional approaches.

Why you need to know these essential verbs

Remember how we said infinitive verbs are like the raw ingredients you use to make more complex recipes? Well, without that ingredient, you would not be able to make the recipe at all.

Sure, you can flail around, trying to find a way around the missing ingredient, but your dish (and your language skills) will tend to fall flat.

Go ahead: Try communicating an idea clearly (either in English or Spanish) with no verbs at all. It isn’t easy, is it? In any language, skipping the verbs will make you sound (and feel) like a toddler minus the adorable chubby cheeks.

Spend just a few minutes in a Spanish-speaking country, and you’ll hear most (if not all) of these 50 essential Spanish verbs. Learning them now will help prevent a lot of misunderstanding and confusion down the road.

How to practice your Spanish verbs

  • Have conversations. Simply having a conversation in Spanish is an excellent way to practice your verbs. After all, each sentence you utter will use at least one verb—sometimes several. In just one conversation, you’ll probably find yourself using many of the essential verbs listed below. This will help reinforce your understanding of them. Additionally, since you won’t always use the infinitive form of the verb, you’ll have to conjugate which brings us to our next point…
  • Conjugate, conjugate, conjugate. In normal conversations you’ll be conjugating all the time, so it helps to practice outside of conversation as well. Not only will this help ensure you have a strong functional knowledge of the word, it will also help reinforce the word’s meaning. You can practice conjugating by having a conversation, making tables of conjugations or you could just…
  • Play games. Games are certainly the most fun way to learn verbs—from fun timed quizzes on Sporcle to conjugation quizzes for all sorts of verb tenses on Conjuguemos, Digital Dialects and Learn Spanish Today. You could even go onto FluentU and start watching authentic videos clips from the real, live Spanish-speaking world. You’ll see all your essential verbs in action, being used by native speakers, and you’ll have cool interactive subtitles and dynamic learning activities to help you truly learn them all. When you have a little downtime, why not fill it with a fun game that will improve your knowledge of Spanish verbs?

1. Ser

Meaning: To be

Used to describe essential characteristics, such as physical descriptions.

La fresa es roja. (The strawberry is red.)

2. Estar

Used to describe places, conditions or feelings. See a full explanation of the usage of ser and estar here.

Estoy cansada. (I am tired.)

3. Deber

Meaning: To have to

This is similar to “should” or “must.”

Debo hacer mi tarea. (I should do my homework.)

4. Poder

Meaning: To be able to

Puedo ir a la fiesta. (I am able to go to the party.)

5. Haber

Meaning: To be, have

When haber can be translated as “to be, ” it’s being used to describe if an object exists or if it’s actually present. When it can be translated more as “have, ” it’s generally being used in combination with other verbs to describe things that have or haven’t happened.

You’ll notice from the examples below that the conjugation of haber can be a bit weird. Its conjugations are irregular, so you’ll need to pay special attention to this one.

He trabajado en la biblioteca. (I have worked in the library.)

Hay tres libros en la mesa. (There are three books on the table.)

6. Necesitar

Meaning: To need

Necesito descansar. (I need to rest.)

7. Gustar

Meaning: To like, to please

Me gusta dormir. (I like to sleep.)

8. Esperar

Meaning: To hope, to expect, to wait

Espero que sea verdad. (I hope it is true.)

9. Creer

Meaning: To believe

Creo que la escuela es importante. (I believe school is important.)

10. Sentirse

Meaning: To feel

Me siento triste. (I feel sad.)

11. Querer

Meaning: To love, to want

Quiero comer. (I want to eat.)

Yo te quiero mucho. (I love you a lot.)

12. Pensar

Meaning: To think

Pienso que debemos ir. (I think we should go.)

13. Saber

Meaning: To know

This is used when talking about knowledge of facts or skills.

¿Sabes la respuesta? (Do you know the answer?)

14. Conocer

Meaning: To know, to meet

This one is used with people, places and things—not with solid facts, knowledge or skills.

¿Conoces a la profesora? (Have you met the professor? / Do you know the professor?)

15. Comprender

Meaning: To comprehend, to understand

No comprendo la tarea. (I don’t understand the homework.)

16. Decidir

Meaning: To decide.

Tienes que decidir qué quieres. (You have to decide what you want.)

17. Ver

Meaning: To see, to watch

Voy a ver la televisión. (I’m going to watch the television.)

18. Mirar

Meaning: To look

Mira, ¡qué linda! (Look, how pretty!)

19. Oír

Meaning: To hear

Oigo la música. (I hear the music.)

20. Escuchar

Meaning: To listen

Escucho música. (I listen to music.)

21. Ir

Meaning: To go

Voy a mi casa. (I go to my house.)

22. Salir

Meaning: To leave

Salgo de mi casa. (I leave my house.)

23. Volver

Meaning: To return

Vuelvo a mi casa. (I return to my house.)

24. Venir

Meaning: To arrive, to come

Vengo a mi casa. (I arrive at my house.)

25. Tener

Meaning: To have

Tengo la tarea. (I have the homework.)

26. Hacer

Meaning: To do, to make

Haz tu tarea. (Do your homework.)

27. Comer

Meaning: To eat

Me gusta comer fresas. (I like to eat strawberries.)

28. Dar

Meaning: To give

Dame la tarea. (Give me the homework.)

29. Recibir

Meaning: To receive

Recibo la tarea. (I receive the homework.)

30. Dormir

Meaning: To sleep

Duermo bien. (I sleep well.)

31. Descansar

Meaning: To rest

En la tarde, necesito descansar. (In the afternoon, I need to rest.)

See also:

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What are the best video games to play in Spanish? - Quora

Alright so I'm not sure what gaming systems you have, but here are a few of my recommendations, which I got from me trying to learn French through gaming:




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