Learning a foreign language is extremely fun and exciting, and becoming more and more popular. However, verb conjugation is one of the not-so-exciting aspects of it.
Spanish verb conjugation is something all learners will have to face at some point in their study time, even from the very beginning stages. Truth is, however, it really isn’t that hard once you have the right techniques and approach to these verbs.
The best way to learn a foreign language is by studying it as a whole. You can’t pick and choose which parts you want to learn and which are too difficult or scary. That will never get you to fluency.
But if you do dedicate your time to learning these important key factors such as verb conjugation, you actually can learn Spanish fast.
So, here are my best study tips on how to conjugate Spanish verbs, as well as what you can do for Spanish verb conjugation practice.
1. Learn Regular and Irregular Verbs Separately.
Especially if you are a beginner in the language, I highly recommend not learning the regular Spanish verbs and the irregular Spanish verbs simultaneously. This can be extremely confusing, and it will hinder your ability to see the pattern in verb conjugation.
Instead, start by learning regular verbs. These include verbs such as aprender (to learn), beber (to drink), comprender (to understand), and comer (to eat). Regular verbs follow the rules of Spanish verb conjugation perfectly, making them much easier to learn and allowing you to grasp the rules of conjugation faster and more comfortably.
After getting comfortable with several regular verbs, you can start adventuring into the world of irregular verbs.
Irregular verbs consist of words such as ser (to be permanently), estar (to be temporarily), haber (there is), and tener (to have). Unlike the regular verbs, these do not follow the normal rules of Spanish verb conjugation, therefore making them a bit harder to learn.
But, nonetheless, you still need to learn them.
2. Master the 6 Core Endings Before Mastering the Verbs.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make that will definitely make the process of learning verb conjugations much, much more tedious is by studying the verbs (in their infinitive forms) individually.
Before beginning to even mess around with the actual verbs, familiarize yourself with and learn first the six core endings that determine the noun and conjugation of the verb.
In Spanish, there are six possible endings to put on the ends of verbs, regular and irregular alike. These endings depend on the noun that the verb follows.
For example, the conjugations for the word comer (to eat) depends on who is eating. The six Spanish nouns that determine endings are yo, tú, él/ella/usted, nosotros, vosotros, and ellos/ellas/ustedes.
Familiarize yourself then with the six changes these nouns can make to the verb. Let’s continue with the verb comer for further practice.
If comer is preceded by yo = it becomes como.
If comer is preceded by tú = it becomes comes.
If comer is preceded by él, ella, or usted = it becomes come.
If comer is preceded by nosotros = it becomes comemos.
If comer is preceded by vosotros = it becomes coméis.
If comer is preced by ellos, ellas, or ustedes = it becomes comen.
Hopefully you began to notice somewhat of a pattern. For regular verbs, you will always remove the infinitive form (er) and add either -o, -es, -e, -emos, -éis, or -en.
If you become familiar with those six endings, you will find yourself easily mastering the Spanish verbs.
3. Draw a Verb Tree.
In my post about how to creatively use your foreign language notebook, I shared that I am an extremely visual learner and I draw pictures to help me learn. I also even specifically gave the suggestion of drawing a tree to help with learning verb conjugations.
For example, draw a basic outline of a tree with roots, a good trunk, and six branches.
Then, where the roots of the tree are, write the infinitive form of the verb (example: comer). The “infinitive form” refers to how the verb originally is before any conjugation is done to it.
Now, on the trunk of the tree label whether this is a regular or irregular verb (I’ll include examples of both).
On the six branches, write each of the six conjugations of the verb.
It’s easy, fun, easy to remember, and especially great for the visual learner. Now anytime you see a verb in infinitive form, you will know that it is the root of the verb and that no conjugation has been done to it.
It will also help you be able to identify whether the verb is irregular or regular by putting the conjugations on the branches and labeling it on the trunk.
4. Make Conjugation Charts out of Color-Coded Index Cards.
I personally did this all the time when learning Spanish verbs. To be honest, basic verb conjugation wasn’t hard at all for me. However, I feel I got the lucky end of the stick on this one: I have a father whose first language was Spanish (a person who I live with), an aunt whose first language was also Spanish and took many Spanish linguistic and literature classes in college, and best friends who are native speakers and were raised bilingually.
However, something I did and still do struggle with was tense. If you don’t already know, conjugating verbs based on tense is different from the normal conjugations you learn in the beginner phase. But we’re not here to talk about those today.
Regardless, I still use these index card conjugation charts for tense conjugated verbs, and I color code them based on which tense is which.
You can do the same for normal verbs, color coding for which noun proceeds which.
5. Use Verbs in Sentences and in Real Life.
Something to consider doing is, after learning a new verb, taking out a sheet of paper and writing 3 or 4 sentences using each conjugation form. Using the verbs will make it stick in your mind more than just reading them or studying them.
Also, have real life conversations where you will have to speak using verbs. Using verbs is absolutely unavoidable in any language. You simply cannot have a conversation without using verbs.
Therefore, they are an extremely vital part of the language and important to learn. And if you’re goal is to speak in your target language, well, you have to speak.
When Learning a Language, You’ve Got to Think Smart and Think Creatively.
In fact, you’re not just learning another language, you’re learning how to learn.
Spanish verbs are the perfect example of a concept that can be either extremely easy or tremendously hard, possibly resulting in obstructing your progress. Don’t let it take over you and your goals.
Tackle these verbs strong and hard, but smart and innovatively. These tips are guaranteed to help you minimize the time you spend learning how to conjugate Spanish verbs, and I serve as their witness!
What do you think? Is verb conjugation something hard for you, and how have you done it or how are you currently doing it? Leave a comment below!
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