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Grammar Notes Spanish

An official language to 21 countries like Spain, Colombia, Peru, Guatemala, Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world after Chinese Mandarin. And ranks 3rd most commonly used language on the internet after English and Mandarin. Spanish influence in languages is also widespread in Asia-Pacific, Africa and America in which Spanish is a widely spoken language of Latin Americans.

The general structure of the Spanish language is quite close to English, but when learning conjugations, articles and genders could present, like in other languages, a bit of difficulty. For introductions and greetings, the grammar structure is very similar to English as well.

Spanish pronunciation is easier than in English. Each vowel has just one sound and as for the consonants, the most difficult are (g) and (j).

For the sound of (g) followed by (a, u, or o), the closer sound could be found in English words like bag or dog. But if (g) is followed by (i or e) it sounds like (j) in Spanish. And for (j), its sounds is like (h) in English words like hot or hero, but the sound has to be a little bit strong.

Gato = Cat
Jarra = jar

Spanish nouns are classified as either feminine or masculine. The basic rule is that masculine nouns go with masculine adjectives and articles, and feminine nouns go with feminine adjectives and articles. The same thing happens with pronouns when they refer to a masculine or a feminine noun.

To classify a noun as either masculine or feminine, you can follow these rules:

1. Nouns and adjectives that end in -o (or -os for plural adjectives) are usually masculine.

Auto(s) / car(s).

2. Nouns and adjectives that end in –a, (or -as for plural adjectives) -esa, -isa, -ina, -iz are usually feminine.

Casa(s) / house(s)
Duquesa / duchess

3. The indefinite article has the masculine form (un) and the feminine form (una) and (unos) and (unas) for the plural. Take note that it is a mistake to combine the definite with the indefinite article.

Un auto / a car
Unos autos / some cars

Take note that the form of the adjective(s) is determined by the noun's gender.

4. Spanish has no neutral nouns. However, there are a few neutral pronouns (third person singular) such as (lo) to define abstract concepts.

Lo profundo / the deep.

In Spanish, verbs can be one of the most complex parts of grammar. Verbs express an action and also the state of being of a given subject.

To conjugate a verb, we need a pronoun, which can be singular or plural and the right tense depending on the moment of the action.

Details on verb tenses together with conjugation will be discussed further in Chaprter 6.

Spanish adjectives are used to describe or modify nouns. The adjective depends on the number (singular or plural) and the gender of the noun.

The car is small. = El automóvil es pequeño. (Noun singular- masculine)
The cars are small. = Los automóviles son pequeños. (Noun plural – masculine)

Just remember that in Spanish you can increase the intensity of the adjectives just by adding the word [Más] before them.

The pig is the biggest animal in the picture.
El cerdo es el animal más grande en el cuadro.

If the adjective is describing the noun, giving characteristics such as color and size, it is usually placed after the noun.

The blue pants.
Los pantalones azules.

Present Progressive Tense

There are two things that needs to be emphasized when using the auxiliary verb "to be" in Present progressive tense:

1. To build a simple sentence we have to conjugate the auxiliary to be / estar.

2. And the main verb in the progressive form, which means that the verb keeps the root and the termination changes into -ando, -endo, -iendo.


Main verb: CAMINAR / to walk

I'm walking = Yo estoy caminando
You are walking = Tú estás caminando (Informal) / Usted está caminando (formal)
He/She is walking = Él/Ella está caminando
We are walking = Nosotros estamos caminando
You are walking = Vosotros estáis caminando
They are walking = Ellos/Ellas están caminando

Take note of the personal pronouns used here which will be discussed further in Chapter 7:

I = [Yo]
You = [Tú] (informal)
You = [Usted] (formal)
He/She = [Él/Ella]
We = [Nosotros]
You = [Vosotros]
They = [Ellos/Ellas].

Future Tense

To make sentences that will occur in the near future use the verb Ir / to go, in a present conjugation + preposition (a) + verb in infinitive.

The conjugation of verb IR:

I go = Yo voy
You go = Tú vas / Usted va
He/She goes = Él / Ella va
We go = Nosotros vamos
You go = Vosotros vais / Ustedes van
They go = Ellos van

The cat is going to drink.
El gato va a beber.

Past Tense

In Spanish there are two simple past tenses.

1. To refer to an action that occurred just once; or more than once but with a specific end; or to indicate the end of a process, you will use the Preterit Tense.

2. And for past common or repeated actions; or to describe a condition or state of being from the past; or to indicate time or age in the past you will use the Imperfect Tense.


Preterit tense:
The cat drank milk.
EL gato bebió leche.

Imperfect tense:
The cat used to drink milk.
El gato bebía leche.


In Spanish, adverbs of manner are the most common type and they modify the verb, telling how something is done. Most of the adverbs are derived from adjectives and end in –mente just as in English most of them end in –ly. However there are some exceptions:

Rápido (adjective)
Rápidamente (adverb)

Take note that if they are placed before an adjective they will modify it.

He is very tired. = Él está muy cansado. (“muy” is the adverb and, “cansado” is the adjective)

And, if the adverb is placed at the beginning of the sentence, it will modify the entire sentence.

Evidently, she is crazy
Evidentemente, ella está loca.


Prepositions express location, such as on / encima o sobre, in / en and under / bajo.

Other prepositions are:
A = To, at, by
Antes de = Before
Cerca de = Near
Con = With
Contra = Against
De = Of, from
Delante de = In front of
Dentro de = Inside
Desde = Since
Después = After
Detrás de = Behind

Take note that sentence structure is the same as in English.

A baby (subject) in (preposition) the car (prepositional object).
Un bebé (subject) en (preposition) el automóvil (prepositional object).

Personal Pronoun

Commonly used Personal Pronouns:

Yo = I
Tú = You (informal)
Usted (formal) = You
Él/Ella - He/She
Nosotros = We
Vosotros = You
Ellos/Ellas = They

Pronouns used as Indirect Object

The same as in English, in Spanish verbs can be accompanied by indirect objects, which means that the person is affected by the action but he/she is not acting directly.

He'll give you a gift. = Él te dará un regalo. (You is the indirect object affected by the action of the verb on the direct object gift)

Indirect object pronouns and some examples:
Me = Me
He gives me bread = Él me da pan
You = Te (informal)
He gives you bread = Él te da pan
You (formal), her, him = Le
He gives you/her/him bread = Él le da pan (a usted, a él or a ella)
Us = Nos
He gives us bread = Él nos da pan
You (informal) = Os
He gives you (plural informal) bread = Él os da pan
You (formal), them = Les
He gives you/them bread = Él les da pan

Demonstrative Pronoun

Demonstrative pronouns, they work like “this”, “that”, “these”, “those” in English; but in Spanish they have accent marks and a neuter form to distinguish them from the demonstrative adjectives.

Demonstrative pronouns are:

Singular Masculine:
Éste / this
Ése / that
Aquél / that

This is a stadium. / Éste es un estadio.

Singular Feminine:
Ésta / this
Ésa / that
Aquélla / that

This is a beautiful house. / Ésta es una casa bonita.

Plural masculine:
Éstos / these
Ésos / those
Aquéllos / those

These are good players, not those. = Éstos son buenos jugadores, no aquéllos.

Plural feminine:
Éstas / these
Ésas / those
Aquéllas / those

Those flowers there smell good, no these ones.
Aquéllas flores huelen bien, no éstas.

Esto / this
Eso / that
Aquello / that

What is this? / ¿Qué es esto?

Making a negative sentence is pretty easy in Spanish. You just place the word [No] before the verb. If you are using an auxiliary verb, you must follow this rule too.

Affirmative: The man is walking. = El hombre está caminando.
Negative: The man is not walking. = El hombre no está caminando.

WHAT / Qué

It is important to notice that in Spanish you may begin the question using the inverted punctuation symbol (¿).

Question: What is the woman doing? = ¿Qué está haciendo la mujer?
Answer: The woman is cooking. = La mujer está cocinando

WHO / Quién

To ask for more information about people it will be very helpful to use the question word Quién / who.

If you want to ask: Who is the cook?
You'll say: ¿Quién es el cocinero?

WHERE / Dónde

The interrogative word Where in English, has the same meaning in Spanish Dónde and it will give you information about where a person or an object is located at this moment. You may also use a preposition to indicate the exact place.

Question: Where is the man? = ¿Dónde está el hombre?
Answer: The man is in the house. = El hombre está en la casa.

HOW / Cómo

In Spanish when you want to know about the weather, you will ask about El clima or El Tiempo (time literally in English) and you will introduce your question with the interrogative word Cómo.

How is the weather? = ¿Cómo está el clima? Or ¿Cómo está el tiempo?
It is raining. = Está lloviendo.

When you talk about future weather, you are talking of possibilities so you will need the verb Poder / can in a different way. The conditional form would be the most appropriate in this case.

It could rain tomorrow. = Podría llover mañana.

Comparisons of inequality in Spanish are a lot easier than in English.

To express More-Than, you will always say Más – Que. And, for Less-Than you will always say Menos-Que

The dog is uglier than the cat.
El perro es más feo que el gato.

The cat is less ugly than the dog.
El gato es menos feo que el perro.

Two more concepts to work with are: The verb (Tener) and Comparisons of equality!

The girl has blonde hair.
La muchacha tiene el pelo rubio.

Comparison of Equality

For persons or things that are equal, in Spanish you will build a sentence with the help of the words Tan-Comothat in English could be replaced by As-As.

The man with the beard is as tall as the man with the hat.
El hombre con barba es tan alto como el hombre con el sombrero.

Numbers in Spanish are as follows:

1 = Uno
2 = Dos
3 = Tres
4 = Cuatro
5 = Cinco
6 = Seis
7 = Siete
8 = Ocho
9 = Nueve
10 = Diez
11 = Once
12 = Doce
13 = Trece
14 = Catorce
15 = Quince
16 = Dieciséis
17 = Diecisiete
18 = Dieciocho
19 = Diecinueve
20 = Veinte
21 = Veintiuno (a)
30 = Treinta
31 = Treinta y uno(a)
40 = Cuarenta
41 = Cuarenta y uno(a)
50 = Cincuenta
60 = Sesenta
70 = Setenta
80 = Ochenta
90 = Noventa
100 = Cien
101 = Ciento uno
200 = Doscientos
1.000 = Mil
1.000.000 = Un millón

You can easily memorize numbers in Spanish but you have to keep in mind that some Spanish numbers change according to the gender of the nouns they apply to.

The boy has one car.
El muchacho tiene un automóvil.

The boy has one ball.
El muchacho tiene una pelota.