The Top 5 Spanish Grammar Rules You Can’t Afford to Ignore
Spanish grammar can be confusing and difficult to learn.
However, that’s not the right approach when learning a new language. Of course, there will be some challenges, but conquering them makes the process fun and enjoyable.
Besides, if you want to speak Spanish, at least you have to learn the most basic rules of Spanish grammar.
Keep reading to learn why it’s important to learn Spanish grammar to achieve fluency, and the top 5 Spanish grammar rules you can’t ignore!
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Why Learning Grammar Rules in Spanish Is Essential to Achieve Fluency
Let’s be honest, grammar has a bad reputation.
People around the world want to learn a language, any language, but they don’t want to go through the whole grammar thing.
They just want to speak it, right? You’ve seen ads and courses all over the internet promising to help you to speak a language without having to deal with grammar.
And I get the point. I’m a Spanish teacher, and teaching grammar to my students is complicated.
However, the truth is that you still need the grammar even if you don’t want it.
Trying to speak a language without learning basic grammar rules is like trying to play an instrument without learning musical notes.
You can do it, but you’ll never be a true musician.
Same thing with Spanish. You can speak it to a certain degree. But you’ll never reach fluency if you don’t take the time to learn Spanish grammar.
Learning the rules of Spanish grammar, such as the 9 parts of speech or how prepositions work in this language, makes Spanish easier. This is because grammar helps you understand how the language is constructed.
Top 5 Spanish Grammar Rules
I always tell my students I’m not a big fan of Spanish grammar.
But they need to know at least some basic Spanish grammar tips that will help them navigate the complexities of the language.
For that reason, I’ve put together this list.
1. Gendered Nouns
This one is a basic Spanish grammar rule.
You need to understand it basically from day one, as it affects everything else.
The point is that in Spanish, nouns have a gender.
This means that not only obvious nouns like niño or niña have a gender, but every noun, including not-so-obvious ones like mesa (table) or libro (book).
It’s not like Spanish-speaking people think that a table is female but that the form of the noun is feminine. This doesn’t happen in English.
However, why is this rule so important? Well, because a noun’s gender affects the whole sentence.
You must adapt articles and adjectives according to the noun’s gender.
As a rule of thumb, nouns ending in “o” are usually masculine, and those ending in “a” are feminine. But as you’ll see, there are exceptions.
But don’t worry. You’ll learn the gender of most nouns with practice.
What’s important is that you understand that nouns have a gender, and it’s crucial to figure out which one is to write or speak properly.
What usually helps is to look at the preceding articles, as they hold the key to deciphering the gender of your nouns:
- Singular masculine articles: el (the), un (a, an).
- Singular feminine articles: la (the), una (a, an).
- Plural masculine articles: los (the), unos (a few).
- Plural feminine articles: las (the) unas (a few).
2. Ser & Estar
Every Spanish learner gets surprised and annoyed when they discover that Spanish has two verbs for what in English can be said with just one.
The all-important verb “to be,” which is fundamental and one of the most used in everyday life, has two translations in Spanish, ser, and estar.
This situation generates a whole new set of issues. Spanish learners need to understand the advanced rules of Spanish grammar that define when to use ser or estar.
As with every Spanish grammar rule, there are exceptions.
Here’s a tip.
You must use “ser” when talking about permanent stuff, such as someone’s characteristics.
You must use “estar” when talking about temporary things such as moods, feelings, and locations.
3. Verb Conjugations
Talking about things that drive Spanish learners crazy, verb conjugations are definitely at the top.
Nevertheless, it’s also one of the most crucial Spanish grammar rules. You’ll never reach fluency if you don’t understand how verb conjugations work in Spanish.
In Spanish, infinitive verbs end in -ar, -er, or -ir.
However, when you conjugate them, these endings get substituted depending on the following:
- The subject: I, you, he, she, we, you all, us
- The tense: present, past, future, and many more
- The mood: indicative, subjunctive, imperative
As a result, a single verb can have 50 or more different conjugations.
Yes, to be fluent in Spanish, you must learn them all.
The good thing is that most regular verbs follow the same pattern, and once you understand how it works, it will be easier to figure out the conjugations.
But, there are also many irregular verbs, which don’t follow the same pattern, and you must learn them individually.
Read this Beginner’s Guide to Spanish Conjugation to understand how conjugations work in Spanish.
4. Question and Exclamation Marks!
I must admit that I was oblivious to how weird this Spanish grammar rule was for a long time.
I thought that using two question marks (and two exclamation marks) was a normal feature in different languages but not in English.
Until recently, I discovered that Spanish is the only language in the world that does this.
But what is this unique Spanish grammar rule about?
Well, every time you write a question or an exclamation in Spanish, you must add question or exclamation marks at the beginning and! at the end of the sentence.
This is because questions or exclamations can be too long, and people reading may not notice that it’s a question until it’s too late to make the proper intonation and pronunciation.
Strictly speaking, it makes sense.
However, judging by the lack of need for two question marks in the rest of the world, it’s actually a bit redundant.
5. Subjects Can Be Dropped
An unexpected and sometimes confusing benefit of having so many verb conjugations is that personal pronouns can be dropped in sentences.
Let me explain.
This happens because conjugations are specific to each subject, so they carry the information needed to know who is doing the action.
In other words, the subject is implicit in the conjugation of the verb.
Here’s an example:
I run every Monday.
Yo corro todos los lunes.
In the sentence “I run every Monday,” in English, the “I” is indispensable to know who is running.
However, if we decide in Spanish to drop the “yo” from the sentence, it’s not a problem as the conjugation “corro” only works for the first person yo—“I” in English.
This means that the following sentence is also correct.
Corro todos los lunes.
Learn Some Spanish Grammar and Start Speaking Spanish Today!
Learning basic Spanish grammar rules makes your path to fluency in the language much easier.
Grammar accelerates your learning process, as it helps you to get a full picture of how the language works.
The best way to discover the most important Spanish grammar rules is to learn with a native Spanish speaker.
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