Spanish Verbs Conjugation Conundrum
Spanish Verbs Conjugation: One of the biggest differences between English and Spanish is the need to conjugate verbs in Spanish, which means to manipulate and change a verb to show subject and time. In English, for example, we add “s” to verbs in the present tense (with a third-person singular subject): “I walk, you walk, he walks” and “ed” in the past tense: “I walked, you walked, he walked.” In the gerund form, “ing” is added: “walking.” Otherwise, English verbs generally need context and a subject to work properly.
Recognizing Spanish Verb Conjugation
patterns is the key to language fluency.
Spanish verbs can tell you much more besides the subject (who/what is doing the action) and tense (when) it’s being done. A Spanish verb can even stand alone and create its own sentence. For instance, “Démelo” means “Give it to me.” The downside of Spanish verbs having greater power is the greater confusion. It’s hard to keep track of a verb as the tenses change. A verbal anatomy lesson can help.
All Spanish verbs end in “ar”, “ir” or “er.” These endings indicate the verb is in the infinitive — meaning “to do something” — before being conjugated in relation to subject and tense.
Figuring out what a verb is doing takes some detective work. In most Spanish verb conjugations we drop the ending from the verb infinitive — “ar”, “ir” or “er” — and tack on a new ending according to the subject and tense. For example, conjugations of the infinitive “caminar” (to walk) include: “camino” (I walk), “caminé” (I walked), and “estoy caminando” (I am walking).
Learning the right Spanish verb endings and getting the hang of when to use them may sound like quite a chore … or let’s be real, like hell on a stick. Fortunately, it’s not the kind of learning challenge you need to get hung up on in a way that holds you back.
The early stage of learning Spanish is not as much about conjugating as it is about interacting with the language through reading and listening. You will, however, detect distinct patterns in Spanish verb conjugation, and recognizing these patterns is the key to language fluency.
I suggest that when speaking Spanish, DON’T TRY to conjugate unless it comes naturally. And chances are, it will! All of a sudden, the right word will pop into your head. In the meantime, just focus on learning the infinitives of verbs and their meanings. Learn subject pronouns, including “yo” (I) and “tú” (you), as well as time markers such as “hoy” (today) and “ayer” (yesterday). This can be enough for you to start putting together rudimentary sentences. It’s the first step in speaking a second or third language. Worrying about conjugation prematurely can get in the way. Have faith that you will learn it gradually, trusting the database in your brain to make the right words accessible at the right time.
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