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When visiting a country I always try to learn the basic words of the language. I tend to spend so much time in Spain though, that I decided to take it more seriously and tried to get to a decent level. 300 hours of Spanish classes later I’m ready to share the basics of this great language with you.
Spanish is one of the five Romance languages, among Italian, French, Portugese and Romanian. For native speakers of those languages it will probably be quite simple to learn Spanish. For me as a Dutch native, which is a Germanic language, it was lot more difficult to learn because the grammar and vocabulary differs a lot.
The language is actually called Castellano (Castilian) because that’s the region where the language arose. Later when the Spanish empire conquered half the world (read Sapiens if you want to know more about that), it became one of the world’s biggest languages, with lot of variants, just after Chinese and before English.
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Let’s start with the conjugation of verbs in present tense, which is actually quite easy. All verbs end with -er, -ir or -ar and are conjugated based on this.
- Yo -o (bebo)
- Tú -es (bebes)
- Él/ella -e (bebe)
- Nosotros -emos (bebemos)
- Vosotros – éis (bebéis)
- Ellos -en (beben)
- Gerundive: -iendo (bebiendo)
- Yo (me) -o (sufrir)
- Tú (te) -es (sufres)
- Él/ella (se) -e (sufre)
- Nosotros (nos) -imos (sufrimos)
- Vosotros (os) – ís (sufrís)
- Ellos (se) -en (sufren)
- Gerundive: -iendo (sufriendo)
- Yo (me) -o (camino)
- Tú (te) -as (caminas)
- Él/ella (se) -a (camina)
- Nosotros (nos) -amos (caminamos)
- Vosotros (os) – áis (camináis)
- Ellos (se) -an (caminan)
- Gerundive: -ando (caminando)
But of course there are also irregular verbs that don’t follow these rules completely. Examples you will hear often are ser (to be, yo soy/tú eres/nosotros somos), tener (to have, yo tengo) and ir (to go, yo voy/tú vas/nosotros vamos). You will learn them by doing.
Also note that verbs can’t always be translated one on one from English. To tell your age they use to have (tengo 35 años) and to be can be translated in both ser and estar. Ser is broadly used for permanent things (soy un hombre, I’m a man) and estar for temporary ones (estoy enfermo, I’m sick).
3 past tenses