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Tackling Spanish Conjugations from Scratch

Spanish verb conjugations are challenging for many Spanish learners. It can seem overwhelming with the up to 14 different forms that Spanish has. To start, you shouldn’t tackle all conjugations in all the tenses at once. Focus on the conjugations in the tenses you will run into the most.

The four most common tenses in Spanish are: presente (e.g. yo hablo), pretérito (e.g. yo hablé), imperfecto (e.g. yo hablaba) and futuro (e.g. yo hablaré or yo voy a hablar). Of these four tenses, only the present and the preterite have a large number of irregular verbs, and therefore are more of a challenge. Luckily, the past imperfect tense has almost no irregular verbs, and the simple future tense using the structure of ir a + infinitive (similar to “going to” in English) makes it easy to say almost anything in the future.

A good way to help you learn the different tenses is to divide the verbs into groups of ten. Begin by memorizing the infinitives and their meanings, once you’re comfortable with that move on to the conjugation of those verbs in the present tense. When you have those memorized, practice using them in sentences. Repeat this process with the other 3 tenses. Using whichever tools you like best (online Quizlet, or paper flashcards) set a goal for yourself of learning 10 new verbs a week. In a month you could increase your vocabulary 40 verbs easily.

Remember to keep practicing older verbs you have already learned with the more recently acquired ones. Include them in sentences, either by writing or just in your head along with the new verbs you are continuing to learn. Be brave and use these verbs when speaking to other people as much as you can. In this way you can learn up to 120 verbs in just three months. Considering that 750 words constitutes the majority of every day language use by most language speakers, you are already on track to being able to communicate seamlessly.

To sum up, this method is effective because it helps the learner in setting realistic goals. When you’re starting off, don’t try to learn eight tenses at once, you’ll most definitely feel overwhelmed. Ten words a week in four tenses will keep you learning and won’t overwhelm you leading you to quit studying. For more tips and Spanish learning advice, check out my other blog posts!

If you enjoyed this article please share it with friends and give my page a like on Facebook! I’m a Spanish teacher based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since 2007 I have been exclusively teaching Spanish to people from all over the world. Whether looking for an online Spanish tutor, or in person while visiting Buenos Aires, please reach out to me with any questions you might have!
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