For the simplest way to describe and understand what a verb is we must venture back to when we first attended elementary school. It was back then that many of us were first told that a verb is simply a ‘doing’ word and that it is a vitally important part of every sentence in every language in every part of the world.
Words like speak, learn, eat, run and read are all verbs, and in Spanish they are very easy to learn whilst in their infinitive forms, but it isn’t until the verb is in its numerous conjugated forms that learning Spanish verbs starts to become much more difficult, and irregular Spanish verbs in particular can prove to be very hard to learn for many people.
The correct use of verb conjugation and tense is the most important factor in making sense out of a sentence, using the wrong conjugation or the wrong tense can completely change the meaning of a sentence and will make it very difficult to figure out who or what is performing the action and when that action is taking place.
In Spanish, all verbs are first learned in their infinitive form. Spanish verbs are divided into three groups : the ‘ar’ verbs, ‘er’ verbs and ‘ir’ verbs. Quite simply, every Spanish verb will have one of these endings. The vast majority of Spanish verbs end in ‘ar‘, followed by ‘er‘ and then ‘ir‘.
Each of these verb groups, the -ar, -er and -ir verbs has a specific pattern of conjugation that is applied to the verbs of each group, although there are exceptions but more on these in a moment. Verbs that follow any of these three patterns of conjugation are called REGULAR verbs. Regular verbs are relatively easy to learn since once the various conjugations for a specific group has been learned it is basically a case of applying those same endings to the stem of any regular verb from that group.
By the way…in Spanish, verbs are made up of two parts; the ‘stem’ and the ending ‘-ar’,'-er’ or ‘-ir’. The stem is basically the verb and the ending is the Spanish equivalent to the English ‘to‘.
However, now we’re going to talk about the exceptions to the rules which are verbs that break from the normal conjugation patterns. These verbs are known as irregular Spanish verbs, and they are not quite as easy to master as their regular counterparts, in fact they can be really difficult at times.
As mentioned, irregular verbs do not follow the common patterns of conjugation followed by regular verbs hence why they are called ‘irregular’. Unfortunately, the most commonly used verbs in Spanish are often irregular, however, this is also the case in most other languages too, including English, and this is why they will be encountered very early on in your studies.
The biggest plus for the student is that even though irregular verbs are undoubtedly more difficult to learn, they will be used a lot more often than regular verbs and because of this they will become etched into a students’ memory much more quickly. This is why there is just one way to learn irregular verbs successfully and that is with constant use and much practice.
It’s a fact that learning Spanish verb conjugation is the main stumbling block that forces many students to settle for speaking ‘pigeon Spanish’ rather than mastering the language properly. This is compounded by the widespread use of Spanish courses that do not devote an adequate amount of time to verb training. What that means is that the time it takes to learn and eventually master Spanish verbs depends a great deal upon the individual effort of the student and the methods he or she uses.
There are two things a student needs in order to successfully train themselves in verb conjugation and they are an effective verb training program which will help to quickly learn those difficult irregular verbs and a good verb conjugation book for fast and accurate reference. A good way to start is to use One Hour Translation: hassle-free translations who use local Spanish people to translate all their Spanish needs and are polished on their grammar and use of the Spanish language.
I have personally compiled an irregular Spanish verb conjugation book, that can be downloaded within seconds and you can have your very own copy for only $2, which will go toward maintaining this site and you can read about it here.
The most important tool for verb training and one that will make the whole task of learning Spanish verbs a lot easier and a much more enjoyable experience is a verb conjugation trainer and you can read my review of one of the most popular training programs here. If you are struggling with Spanish verbs then these two should definitely be checked out.
Also, to help you with any immediate issues, I have provided conjugation sheets along with information for the most commonly used Irregular Spanish Verbs and you can find these by following the links in the sidebar.
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Mucho Gracias y Hasta Luego