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Spanish Grammar for Beginners – 5 Must-Know Rules

As you realise when you learn Spanish, grammar is an essential component of every language, and Spanish is no different. Numerous parallels exist between Spanish grammar and those of other Romance languages, including many characteristics that are akin to English.

In this post, we’ll cover the best way to learn Spanish and the fundamentals of Spanish grammar. In addition, we’ll discuss some of the contrasts and parallels between Spanish and English grammatical rules.

1. General Guidelines

To begin, we’ll examine some of the parallels between Spanish and English.

a) Active verbs

Tenses and conjugations are used with Spanish verbs. While English has a few conjugations, Spanish, like any Romance language, has a plethora.

Having said that, the tenses are quite close to those in English. Nevertheless, there are tenses that exist in Spanish but are not stated in English.

In the next part, we’ll go over verbs in further detail.

b) Word sequence

Spanish follows the same fundamental word order paradigm as English: S + V + O (Subject + Verb + Object). There are some changes in adverb and adjective placement, but to construct a basic phrase, just follow the same sequence as in English.

Here’s an example of a short statement that is the word for word translated:

Example: Mi padre canta una canción.

Translation: “My father sings a song.”

Isn’t it simple?

c) Words and phrases

While vocabulary isn’t a grammatical component, we thought we’d cover it briefly since it has many parallels to English.

It’s fascinating to note that many words in both English and Spanish have the same origin. While English is not a Romance language, but rather a Germanic language, it has historically been heavily impacted by French and Latin.

Numerous terms appear similar in both English and Spanish, but we’ll just include a few:

Example: nación

Translation: “nation”

We picked this term because there are hundreds of Spanish nouns that finish in the suffix -ación, which is equal to “-ation” in English. We could go on and on about información (“information”) and decoloración (“discolouration”).

This suffix is derived from Latin, which is why it is used in Spanish, English, and other languages. That explains why they are all so identical.

Example: animal

Translation: “animal”

This second example has the same spelling as the first, but it’s pronounced differently. This is another example of a Latin term, which explains its resemblance to its Spanish version.

2. Verbs

As previously stated, Spanish verbs have many more conjugations than English verbs. While English verb conjugations can be counted on one hand, Spanish verbs have a separate conjugation for each person in the single and plural forms, in all tenses and moods. Every individual in all verb conjugations has the same stem but a distinct finish. Consider how the word comer (“to eat”) might be conjugated:

Yo como → “I eat”

Tú comes → “You eat”

Él/ella come → “He/she eats”

Nosotros/as comemos → “We eat”

Vosotros/as coméis → “You eat” (plural)

Ellos/as comen → “They (masculine / feminine) eat”

Spanish, like English, contains regular and irregular verbs. English verb irregularities, on the other hand, are most visible in the past and participle forms.

Because verbs must be conjugated for each person in Spanish, these inconsistencies become much more noticeable.

Speaking about irregular verbs, there are two in Spanish that we must not overlook: ser and estar. If you’re fluent in Spanish, you may understand what we’re saying. In case you don’t know, ser and estar both mean “to be,” and you must use the appropriate one depending on the situation.

Example: Soy español.

Translation: “I’m Spanish.”

Example: Estoy triste.

Translation: “I’m sad.”

In the first example (with ser), we establish a permanent reality, which is that I am Spanish. In the second case (with estar), we are referring to something transient. Usually, when we say we’re sad, like in the example, we imply that we’re unhappy at the moment or for a short period, but not forever.

3. Nouns

The fundamental distinction between Spanish nouns and English nouns is that Spanish nouns have grammatical gender, which is divided into masculine and feminine (we will dedicate another entry to the gender of nouns as there is a lot to say about this). We call this heteronimia.

We’ll give you an example of each gender’s noun:

el horno (“the oven”) is masculine

la nevera (“the fridge”) is feminine

You may be asking what distinguishes an oven from a refrigerator. Nothing. Everything is based on etymology and the development of the language.

Most words need you to remember their gender as well as their meaning. There are certain nouns, though, that have apparent genders. Una mujer (“a lady”), for example, is a feminine term, but un hombre (“a man”) is unmistakably masculine.

We do have a quick trick to assist you to decide whether a word is masculine or feminine: Masculine words nearly always finish in a -o, whereas feminine terms almost always end in a -a. This advice isn’t perfect, but it will assist you in the great majority of cases.

4. Adjectives

There are a few fundamental things you should know about adjectives in Spanish. To begin with, adjectives must always coincide in gender and number with the noun they follow. We’ll use the adjective negro (“black”) as an example:

Masculine Singular – Coche negro (“Black car”)

Masculine Plural – Coches negros (“Black cars”)

Feminine Singular – Casa negra (“Black house”)

Feminine PluralCasas negras (“Black houses”)

You may have noticed that the noun was put before the adjective in these cases. Most adjectives in Spanish are put after the noun in this manner, with a few exceptions.

5. Negation

Today, we’ll go over the basics of Spanish negation. What you need to know is that basic negative sentences in Spanish are formed by inserting the word no before the verb. Here are only a few examples:

Example: No tengo coche.

Translation: “I don’t have a car.”

Example: Hoy Martín no quiere ir al colegio.

Translation: “Martín doesn’t want to go to school today.”

While the adverb in the previous example was in a different position than in English, the negative word stayed in the same place in both versions: between the subject (unless removed in Spanish) and the verb.

So this is all about Spanish grammar for beginners. 

Tell us in the comments which component of the Spanish language is the most challenging for you. We look forward to hearing from you and will do all we can to assist you.

Meanwhile, you can practise your Spanish grammar on iScribo, the best way to learn Spanish.

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Improving language

Common Mistakes by Beginners when Learning Spanish

What has brought you to this article? You may be an aspiring Spanish instructor or simply a smart person looking for typical blunders in learning Spanish before attempting to learn it, right?

I expect you to be the latter.

So, if you’re an English native speaker, Spanish is a very difficult language to learn and master, and it’s not unusual to make frequent grammar errors in Spanish.

Why?

English and Spanish are read and spoken in quite distinct styles and manners. That alone may influence how you read and pronounce the language.

So, without any further ado, let’s get this party started.

Pronunciation

Pronunciation is the most critical component of learning a language, whether it’s Spanish or learning to talk like a Native American. Because many languages are derived from Latin, most words are the same or nearly so.

But that doesn’t imply they’re pronounced the same way.

The Spanish letter “R” and the English letter “R”

One of the most frequent errors in learning Spanish is pronouncing the letter “R.” The Spanish “R” is correctly pronounced by putting your tongue behind your front teeth and making a vibrating “R” sound.

The English “R” is the polar opposite; you want your tongue away from your teeth to prevent generating the vibrating sound you create when pronouncing, right?

This is a typical error while learning Spanish; you should practise vibrating your tongue behind your teeth; it will help you pronounce the Spanish “R.”

Adjective placement before a noun

This is one of the most typical grammar errors made by new Spanish students. Forget about English sentence structure guidelines, we’re studying Spanish here.

The most common errors with this are noted below.

“Hot water” is how we phrase it in English.

In Spanish, the reverse is true! you say “Agua caliente.”

Another example is:

“Wash in hot water” is an English phrase; if you want to express that in Spanish, you don’t say it “Lavar con caliente agua“. The right way to phrase it is “Lavar con agua caliente“.

Do you notice how English and Spanish are reversed? Try not to screw this up, and you may be able to advance from the “Beginner” level a little bit.

Correct word usage

The most foolish thing to do while learning a new language is to expect that any given term has the same meaning as an English one. You wouldn’t want to make your Spanish audience laugh all day, would you?

Purchase a Spanish dictionary to educate yourself on these often-misunderstood Spanish terms. But, to make things easier for you, here’s a list of commonly misunderstood terms.

This is one of many typical blunders in Spanish learning. For this reason, Spanish students all around the globe misuse these terms.

  • Mejor – Often confused with the English term Major, which is ludicrous. In Spanish, this term means “better.”
  • Alegre – You may believe that this is the Spanish term for alligator! You, my friend, are incorrect. This word means “joyful.”
  • Cerrar – often misunderstood as carrier or career; certainly, if you used it in your speech, it would end your career. In Spanish, the term means “cerrar.”
  • Nubes – Maybe you assume this is where the term “Noobies” comes from. Wrong! In Spanish, this term signifies “clouds.”
  • Universidad – Probably clear to others, you’d believe this term implies Universe, right? My dear reader, it means “college” and “university”.
  • Tallar – Doesn’t it sound like “teller” or “tailor”? Wrong! In Spanish, this term means “carve.”

It’s not a large list of often misunderstood Spanish terms, but it could help you out a little.

Practice!

Last but not least, the most crucial consideration in learning a new language. This may be clear at this point for you guys who are learning a new language.

Practice is essential while learning a new language, whether it be Spanish, English, or even Latin. As they say, practice makes perfect.

Yes, absolutely.

Just keep in mind that the pronunciation of the Spanish “R” differs significantly from that of the English “R.”

Another consideration is correct word use. You should practise it as well since you could utilise your Spanish one day and talk to a Spanish audience, and you don’t want to be laughed at, do you?

Also, of course! The ideal approach to practise Spanish is to locate a Spanish friend, much better if they are a natural Spanish speaker, so you can have a great time studying Spanish together.

Speaking in front of a mirror may be beneficial, but it would be worthless if you were speaking to yourself, right?

You wouldn’t know whether you were saying or pronouncing it properly, would you? This is the most crucial aspect of all. P.R.A.C.T.I.C.E.! Alternatively, you can use iScribo to practise your Spanish online. It will hold you by hand and make your Spanish learning curve exponential.

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Improving language

What pleonasms does Spanish grammar allow?

If we look at the RAE, redundancy in Spanish is “the repetition or excessive use of a word or concept”. If we want to be more technical, we will use the term pleonasm, which is “the use in a sentence of one or more words that are unnecessary for it to make complete sense”.

The Spanish language uses redundancies regularly, especially in those regions or countries where they like to resort to exaggeration in speech, such as in Andalusia or Venezuela, where you will hear “que valga la redundancia” (excuse the repetition) often. The Spanish Academy allows the use of some redundancies that enrich the language and have been included in the daily life of Spanish speakers.

Spanish RAE, what is going on?

Sube para arriba (‘go up upwards’) or baja para abajo (‘go down downwards’). Can you imagine yourself subiendo para abajo (going up downwards) o bajando para arriba (going down upward)? We can always defy the laws of physics to try it! The RAE allows us to use pleonasms in the oral and colloquial speech of the Spanish language if we use these resources with expressive or emphatic value but advises us to avoid them in written texts.

Lo vi con mis propios ojos (I saw it with my own eyes) and lo escuché con mis propias orejas (I heard it with my own ears)

Here we have two examples of expressive pleonasm, so they are correct. How strange it is to use these expressions when in theory you cannot see through someone else’s eyes or hear with their ears. But… Is this true? Well… let’s ask people who are blind or deaf, they will tell you that they do see through their guide dogs or are able to hear when someone interprets sign language for them!

What’s more, have you ever travelled through the eyes of a friend? Many of our friends send us photos of their journeys and share them with us.

You cannot go in without cita previa (a prior appointment)

There is nothing wrong with this “presumed pleonasm” as it may provide new nuances. All appointments are prior appointments, but by prior appointment, we mean appointments made in advance and through a non-direct channel, such as the telephone or the Internet. If you meet your colleague, you have an appointment, but it obviously does not have the nuance of a prior appointment.

How do you know if you are using a pleonasm, or you are just emphasising?

The use of pleonasms depends on the ironic character of the speaker, but we should not take for granted what does not belong to us, as in the incorrect pleonasm casualidad imprevista (unforeseen chance), which has no emphatic or stylistic value. We all know that “chance” is a circumstance that cannot be foreseen. In iScribo we advise you to follow the logic of your brain and then, little by little, you will learn all the details that will allow you to master Spanish grammar. With the help of our grammar checker, you will learn how to use the pleonasms that are allowed. Try it today!

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Improving language

The ultimate team to write better in Spanish

iScribo is an innovative project which seeks to fill the language gap between English and Spanish.

Technology has the power to improve our lives, that is why iScribo uses AI to offer a strong, easy to use and accurate Spanish text editor. Keep reading to learn how these professionals from different fields came together to deliver a user-friendly text editor driven by Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing. 

Who is behind iScribo?

Claudia Gerhartz is co-founder and the CEO of iScribo, she is British Colombian. This may give you a clue as to why Claudia decided to embark on the project! Not only as a lawyer, but as a bilingual speaker, she knows better than anyone the problems behind having to write texts or even emails in different languages. She has worked in her profession with British clients doing business in Spain and Latin America. Due to her profession and the interaction with people from different backgrounds, she has witnessed first-hand the difficulties experienced by those doing business in countries where they are not in their first language and having to compose letters or perform presentations. 

Claudia advised companies wishing to open new markets in Latin America but lacking the necessary language skills, and also seen British families having a second home in Spain or Latin America, struggling with the Spanish language.

Timothy Straker is Non-Executive Director of iScribo. Timothy is also conscious that writing clearly, with good grammar, increases the chance of communicating better. His impressive experience counts as well when advising on elections and related matters in multiple jurisdictions around the world. He graduated from Cambridge University and has worked across many different countries and cultures.

William Shacklock, Business Development for iScribo, is the third member of the core and heart of our project. With a BA in Economics from Manchester University and decades of experience in business development and finance for international companies, William works as a corporate finance consultant in the UK and abroad. Through his own experiences, he understands the importance of smooth communication, no matter whether you are native or working in your second language.

But, who else believes in this ambitious project?

The process of creation of iScribo involved a group of computer engineering and IT experts, a team of linguists, a journalist, a UX experience adviser, a graphic designer, and marketing professionals.

As you can see, we rely on the best experts in each field in order to develop a competent tool that meets the demands of users who need to improve their Spanish grammar. One of the main values shared by all the professionals who are part of this team is that we believe that better communication is possible if we combine all the human skills with artificial intelligence, and that is how we created the magic of this text editor!

Related: [We would add the link to another article of the blog]

What an adventure!

It took a year and a half to create our platform! We’d love to say it was all plain sailing, but we all know that the best things in life take time to work out and perfect. We dealt with many ups and downs and changes to create the product we have today. 

Imagine that in order to make iScribo work, all our experts had to give their opinion and thus bring together all the advice and experience to make the platform work perfectly. We have exposed the product to the comments of professionals with the aim of improving the user experience and, we have introduced it to our family and friends. We now introduce it to you in the hope that with your comments we can make corrections and enhancements to create a better product.

iScribo is proud to be the first choice of Spanish writers and students that want to improve their Spanish language skills. Our commitment to innovation gives you the confidence that your writing won’t let you down. A good Spanish text editor will be a valuable piece of your equipment to work and study, allowing you to deal with the challenges that writing presents. Whatever the text you have in mind, iScribo is here to meet your needs.

Free Trial until 30 September 2021: Our subscription programme does not start until 1 October 2021. So, as long as you provide us with a feedback you can use our site for free until noon 30 September 2021 (GMT)