Basic Spanish Grammar Guide
Learn the basics of Spanish grammer and sentence structure by studying the parts of speech, their rules, and their placements.
Learning a new language is always a challenge, but you can make the process much easier by knowing the basic parts of its structure. Many people start by memorizing large chunks of vocabulary, but can easily become lost without a clear grammatical framework. For the most part, the Spanish language uses the same parts of speech as English, but they may have different rules or placement.
The article ('the' or 'a/an') precedes the noun and indicates its gender and number. Singular articles are 'el' and 'un' for masculine and 'la' and 'una' for feminine. Plural articles are 'los' and 'unos' and 'las' and 'unas'.
Nouns are masculine or feminine. Most masculine nouns end in -o (the most common), -e, -y, -u, or the consonants -l, -n, or -r. Most feminine nouns end in -a (the most common for feminine) or -ian, -tad, -dad, or -umbre.
To create the feminine form of a noun that ends in -o, change the -o to an -a. If the noun ends in a consonant, add -a to the end. To make nouns plural, add -s if it ends in an unaccented vowel or -es if it ends in an accented vowel or a consonant.
Nouns and articles must agree in gender and number.
Pronouns are subject to the same rules of number and gender as nouns.
The subject pronouns are:
tú (you, informal)
usted (you, formal)
nosotros/nosotras (we, mas and fem)
ustedes (you all)
ellos/ellas (they, mas and fem)
Subject pronouns are placed before the verb. Example: Yo tengo. I have.
The direct object pronouns are:
te (you, inf)
lo/la (him, her, it)
los/las (you all, them)
Direct object pronouns are placed directly in front of the verb. Example: Yo lo tengo. I have it.
Spanish verbs written in infinitive form have an ending of -ar, -er, or -ir. These endings determine the conjugation pattern of the verb. Each verb tense has its own endings for each person: first, second, or third; singular and plural. The conjugated endings for an -ar verb in the present tense would look like:
Some verbs are irregular. Their conjugations must be memorized separately.
Adjectives are placed after the noun or pronoun or on the opposite side of the verb. The gender and number of an adjective must agree with that of the noun or pronoun it describes. For example, 'el carro bonito' (the pretty car) is correct, as is 'los carros son bonitos' (the cars are pretty).
Adverbs are made by taking the feminine form of an adjective and adding -mente. So by taking 'lento' (slow), changing it to the feminine 'lenta', and adding -mente, you get 'lentamente' (slowly).
Now that you know the basics of Spanish grammar you can move on to more advanced areas. Work on building your vocabulary and improving your pronunciation. Your next step is learning the conjugation of verbs. This may seem intimidating at first, but once you know the patterns you will be well on your way to your goal of speaking and understanding the Spanish language.