And while most people will say it is difficult, I motivated myself by saying “Complicado pero no dificil”. Learning Spanish, I have come to internalise and unpack some of the “complications” when one has to learn Spanish. Optimism is everything in this case.
What makes Spanish complicated is that it has different words for, say, going, go, went, will go. Like English, they have present tense, present continuous tense, past tense and future tense, basics off course, learning English can be complicated too.
Number One – Verb Conjugation
There’s the number one verb conjugation rule. Every verb has to be conjugated depending on who you talk to or referring to. There are regular verbs and irregular verbs. Regular verbs are quite easy to learn and conjugate. For example, comer is the verb to eat and is a regular verb. To conjugate (all in present tense);
(We) Nosotros/Nosotras comemos
(They) Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes comen
*Ellos/Ellas plural for El/Ella
Though irregular verbs follow the same conjugation rule, it is much more complicated to conjugate because the entire words changes. For example, ir is the verb to go and it’s irregular. To conjugate (again in present tense only);
Who would have thought that though ir is the very to go, it changes to voy, vas, va etc…? That’s the complication. When we start thinking of the present continuous, past tense and future tense, its way way more complicated. But the good news is, even if the words changes, it follows the same pattern of conjugation. For example;
Present Tense Past Tense Future Tense
Yo voy fui ire
Tú vas fuiste iras
El/Ella va fue ira
Nosotros vamos fuimos iremos
Vosotros vaís fuisteís ireís
Ellos/Ellas van fueron iran
I hope you can spot the pattern.
Number Two – Feminine & Masculine
Then there’s, the feminine and masculine nouns which are used with the articles ‘la’ and ‘el’ respectively. Words ending with an ‘a’ are feminine and therefore automatically uses with ‘la’. Those ending with ‘o’ are masculine and used with ‘el’. But (There are so many ‘buts’ when learning Spanish), there are exceptions. What about words ending with ‘e’ or other letters? Well, it depends. Dias is the word for day and seeing that there is an ‘a’ at the end, one would assume it’s used with ‘la’. Noche (night) ends with an ‘e’. Day is considered masculine and night feminine and therefore, El Dias and La Noches, instead of the opposite. On such “exceptions”, it is important to note, that what is considered feminine uses the feminine noun and vice versa.
But then there is the rule, when you refer to a male, you use the masculine nouns, everything masculine. And to yourself, you use which suits your sex. Are female? Are you male?
Number Three – Verbs Ser & Estar
The verbs ‘ser’ and ‘estar’ are the most important verbs you should know. They both mean ‘I am…’ but used differently. ‘Ser’ is the verb you use when you are explaining a fact about yourself. Something you cannot change, like your country, your personality or where you are born. But remember verb conjugation? Yeah. You have to conjugate.
Yo Soy Estoy
Tu Eres Estas
El Ere Está
Nosotros/as somos estamos
Vosotros/as saís estaís
Ellos son estan
I am from Solomon Islands = Soy de Islas Salomon
I am sad = Estoy triste
‘Estar’ is the verb for details that can be changed. It’s to say the ‘now’. Like, feelings. You can feel happy now. But you can’t be happy for the rest of the day, or until tomorrow. So you use ‘Estar’. I am from Solomon Islands and I cannot change my origin so I use ‘Ser’. Ser is for the constant and Estar is for moments.
Number Four – Pronunciation
When you see an accented mark, you have to emphasize the letter. For example, policía (police) is pronounced po-li-CI- ah. But as always, there are exceptions and ‘false friends’ as they like to say when explaining exceptional cases, sometimes a ‘v’ is pronounced as a ‘b’ and vice versa. Or it is simply a ‘v’. And the ‘d’ is pronounced like ‘th’.
That is why I say it is complicated… but to be optimistic, not difficult.
The GOOD NEW IS NUMBER FIVE – Patterns
To improve your vocabulary and to remember, you have to learn the patterns;
Community = Communidad (Singular) or Communidades (Plural)
Activity = Actividad or Actividades
Notice the pattern. Congratulations, you have improved your vocabulary list in Spanish.
Exactly = Exactamente
Perfectly = Perfectamente
Actually = Actualimente
National = Nacional * the t changes to a c
If you can spot patterns, you can improve your vocabulary fast. And there are a lot of patterns in Spanish, but don’t forget the false friends as they like to say instead of ‘exceptions.
Happy learning Spanish!