This lesson is a brief overview of the basics of grammar in the Spanish language. We begin with an introduction to Spanish nouns. The present tense of verbs is then covered, including the very common Spanish verbs estar and ser. This lesson also discusses how to ask questions in Spanish, and gives the Spanish words for the numbers from 1 to 20.
The purpose of this lesson is to give you enough of a foundation in Spanish grammar that you can start learning the common Spanish phrases taught in unit 2. As you start getting more familiar with Spanish, you can start looking at the grammar lessons in Unit 3. Don't worry about making mistakes, just focus on getting better at communicating in Spanish.
Nouns are words that describe a person, place or thing. All nouns in Spanish are either masculine or feminine. The plural of nouns is formed by adding an s or es to the end of the noun. The following table shows some examples of nouns in Spanish.
|la mujer||the woman|
|el hombre||the man|
|las mujeres||the women|
|los hombres||the men|
|la taza||the cup|
|los lagos||the lakes|
|un zapato||a shoe|
|una silla||a chair|
For more information on nouns in Spanish, see the lesson on nouns.
Polite and Informal
Spanish has both a polite and informal version of the pronoun you. When you are speaking with someone in Spanish, it is best to use the polite version of you.
There are also two polite versions of the pronoun you. Usted is used when speaking to one person, and ustedes is used when speaking to more than one person. In written Spanish usted is often shortened to Ud. and ustedes is often shortened to Uds.
There are examples of using the polite versions of the pronoun you in the rest of this lesson.
Present Tense of Verbs
The simple present tense of verbs is more common in Spanish than in English. The Spanish sentence Voy a la tienda. can mean I go to the store., I am going to the store., and I do go to the store.
Spanish has three types of verbs, verbs that end in ar, er, and ir. The following tables show the present tense of regular verbs for the three categories of verbs. There are also many irregular Spanish verbs and they are covered in the Grammar unit.
|yo hablo||I speak|
|tú hablas||you speak (to one person, familiar)|
|usted habla||you speak (to one person, polite)|
|él habla||she speaks|
|ella habla||she speaks|
|nosotros hablamos||we speak|
|vosotros habláis||you speak (to more than one person, familiar)|
|ustedes hablan||you have (to more than one person, polite)|
|ellos hablan||they speak|
|ellas hablan||they speak (referring to more than one female)|
|yo como||I eat|
|tú comes||you eat (to one person, familiar)|
|usted come||you eat (to one person, polite)|
|él come||she eats|
|ella come||she eats|
|nosotros comemos||we eat|
|vosotros coméis||you eat (to more than one person, familiar)|
|ustedes comen||you eat (to more than one person, polite)|
|ellos comen||they eat|
|ellas comen||they eat (referring to more than one female)|
|yo vivo||I live|
|tú vives||you live (to one person, familiar)|
|usted vive||you live (to one person, polite)|
|él vive||she lives|
|ella vive||she lives|
|nosotros vivimos||we live|
|vosotros vivís||you live (to more than one person, familiar)|
|ustedes viven||you live (to more than one person, polite)|
|ellos viven||they live|
|ellas viven||they live (referring to more than one female)|
Subject pronouns are not used as often in Spanish. For example, since hablo means I speak, the subject pronoun yo is not required.
|¿Bebe usted café o té?||Do you drink cofee or tea? (polite)|
|¿Bebes café o té?||Do you drink cofee or tea? (informal)|
|Ella abre la puerta.||She opens the door.|
|Corren a la tienda.||They run to the store.|
|Compramos algunos regalos.||We buy some presents.|
|Estudio en la biblioteca.||I study at the library.|
With practice, the various grammatical endings used with Spanish verbs will become very familiar. If you would like more information about Spanish verbs, visit the present tense, past tense, future tense, and irregular verbs lessons.
Spanish has two words for the English verb to be, estar and ser. Both of these verbs are very irregular. Estar is used to indicate the location of people and objects, to indicate a temporary state of being, and to indicate a person's mood. Ser is used for indicating more permanent conditions, times, dates and locations of events.
|tú||eres||estás||you are (familiar)|
|usted||es||está||you are (polite)|
|vosotros||sois||estáis||you are (familiar plural)|
|ustedes||son||están||you are (formal plural)|
Note: ll is pronounced like the y in yes.
|Estoy cansado.||I am tired.|
|Ella está en el jardín.||She is in the garden.|
|Soy de España.||I am from Spain.|
|Estoy en España.||I am in Spain.|
|Soy Carlos.||I am Carlos.|
|Carlos es inteligente.||Carlos is intelligent.|
|Son las tres.||It's three o'clock.|
|Somos estudiantes.||We are students.|
|Están de acuerdo con María.||They agree with Maria.|
In the written language, questions start with a ¿ and end with a ?. In the spoken language, sentences can be turned into questions by emphasizing the end of the sentence. As in English, Spanish also has words that indicate a question.
The following table lists some common Spanish questions words.
|¿Para qué?||What for?|
|¿Quién es usted?||Who are you? (speaking to one person)|
|¿Qué es?||What is it?|
|¿Qué dijiste?||What did you say?|
|¿Por qué están ustedes aquí?||Why are you here? (to more than one person)|
|¿Dónde está ella?||Where is she?|
|¿Lo tiene usted?||Do you have it?|
|¿Van allí?||Are they going there?|
|¿Podemos ir?||Can we go?|
|¿Trabaja Carlos mañana?||Is Carlos working tomorrow?|
Numbers 1 - 20
Here are the numbers from one to twenty in Spanish.
Rewrite each sentence using the Spanish translation of the words in parentheses.
1) ___ café y té. (I drink)
2) ___ la puerta. (We open)
3) ___ en la biblioteca. (They study)
4) ___ con la mujer. (She speaks)
5) Carlos ___. (is tired)