Basic Spanish for the Virtual Student- Section 1
SHORT ACHIEVABLE GOALS:
This page has been checked by a native speaker
This does not mean the page is 'mistake-free.'
It means a lower probability of problems.
We advise that for everything you learn here,
find it somewhere else too!
This list teaches the 95%.
ability to pronounce the words
ability to put the emphasis
on the correct syllable
knowledge of the subject pronouns
I, you, he, she, it, we, you people, they
ability to conjugate the present tense
of the three types of regular verbs
ability to write a pronoun verb sentence. (
ability to use nouns to make
an article/noun/verb sentence
The vowels are easy; each
vowel has just one sound
Many consonants are similar.
A few consonant rules will be included, but this list will not be comprehensive.
One-on-one tutoring with an expert is highly recommended; this list will
get you started
knowledge of which adjectives
agree with noun gender, and which agree with singular/plural status of
knowledge of possessive adjectives:
my car, your house, his ring, etc.
knowledge of possessive pronouns:
you are wearing my t-shirt, and I'm wearing yours
The gender of a noun
is masculine or feminine
You have to know it. General rules exist, and there are
Basic Rules of Accentuation
Words ending in a vowel, or n or s, the next
to last syllable is stressed.
For words ending in a consonant other than n or s
stress falls on the last syllable.
If the word has an accent mark, then that syllable is stressed,
ignoring the rules above.
Syllable division involving two vowels
The vowels a, e, and o are "strong"
vowels, and i and u are "weak". Where two vowels fall together,
the following rules affect syllable division and accentuation:
A weak + strong combination belongs to one syllable with
the stress falling on the strong vowel. aceite, cierra,
A weak + weak combination belongs to one syllable with the
stress falling on the second vowel. viuda, fuimos,
A strong + strong combination is divided into two syllables.
If the word has an accent mark, then that syllable is stressed.
a -- like the a in father
e -- for a syllable ending in a vowel, like the
they; for a syllable ending in a consonant, like
the e in get
i -- like the i in machine
o -- for a syllable ending in a vowel, like the
vote; for a syllable ending in a consonant, like
the o in pot
u -- like the u in rule;
silent after q and in the groups gue and gui
y -- When used as a vowel, such as in the words
voy, it is pronounced like the Spanish i.
ai, ay -- like the i in side
au -- like the ou in found
ei, ey -- like the ey in they
eu -- like the vowel sounds in may-you
oi, oy -- like the oy in boy
i, y -- like the y in yes. Examples:
u -- like with w in well.
Examples: huevo, fuente, agua
b, v -- When found at the beginning of a word or following
a consonant, these are pronounced like a b. Otherwise, they have
a sound which falls somewhere inbetween the English b and v
c -- before a consonant or a, o,
or u, like the c in cat; before e or
i like an
ch -- like the ch in church.
Historically, the Spanish ch has been treated as a separate letter
although this has recently been changed. Therefore, many dictionaries list
words beginning with ch after the c's and before the d's.
d -- like the English d except between
vowels and following
l or n where pronounced like the th
f -- like the f in for
g -- before e or i, like the Spanish
j; otherwise like the g in get
h -- silent
j -- like an h but stronger; silent when
at the end of a word
k -- like a k
l -- like an l
ll -- like the y in you
m -- like an m
n -- like an n; except where it appears
before a v, like an m
ñ -- like the n in onion
p -- like a p
q -- like a k; always followed by a silent
r -- pronounced with a strong trill at the beginning
of a word and following an l, n, or s; very little
trill when at the end of a word; and medium trill in other positions
rr -- strongly trilled
s -- before consonants b, d, g,
n, like a z; otherwise like an s
t -- like a t
v -- see b, v
w -- usually like a v
x -- when between vowels, like the x in
box; before a consonant, like an s
y -- like the y in yes
z -- like an s
SYLLABLE OF EMPHASIS
If the last letter is a vowel, stress
the second to last syllable.
If the last letter is a consonant,
stress the last syllable,
Unless the last letter is an 'n' or
If the word carries an accent
mark, stress the syllable with the accent mark.
PRESENT TENSE VERBS
First person singular- I
Second person singular- you
Third person singular- he, she, it,
or the formal (you) "Madame President!"
First person plural- we
Second person plural- you people
Third person plural- formal you people
|you (formal) Our example: "Madame
||nosotros (guys or guys + girls)
||vosotros (guys or guys + girls)
The vosotros form is not used in Latin America
||ellos (guys or guys + girls)
Often the subject pronoun isn't used
because the conjugation of the verb (the next topic) tells who did the
NOUNS- SINGULAR VS. PLURAL
Verbs can be separated into three groups,
depending on the last two letters of the infinitive of the verb. The categories
are -ar, -er, and -ir verbs.
amar- to love
correr- to run
vivir- to live
You can strip off the last two letters
to determine the stem
The table below shows the conjugation
for the first person present for the above three verbs: amar (to love),
correr (to run), and vivir (to live)
for -ar verbs you see the endings -o,
-as, -a, -amos, -áis, -an
for -er verbs you see the endings -o,
-es, -e, -emos, -éis, -en
for -ir verbs you see the endings -o,
-es, -e, -imos, -ís, -en
you will notice an overall similarity
for all three verbs
you will notice even more similarity
between -er and -ir verbs
for the remainder of your verb conjugation,
you will be looking for as many generalizations as you can find to simplify
The verb 'beber' means to drink. From
the above conjugation for -er verbs, we strip off the (er), giving us 'beb'
and then we add 'o' for 'bebo.'
When refering to a verb, we refer to
the infinite form, which makes it easy to see if it is an -ar verb, an
-er verb, or an -ir verb.
Have your verbs conjugated with Comp-jugador.
Just enter a verb and it will do the work for you.
Our compliments to Daniel M. Germán, and whoever else
may have helped to build this tool which conjugates 10,000 verbs!
If the noun ends in a vowel, add
If the noun ends in a consonant,
Masculine nouns take the article 'el'
for singular and 'los' for plural
Feminine nouns take the article 'la'
for singular and 'las' for plural
Many nouns that end in -o are masculine
Many nouns that end in -a are feminine
Some nouns are exceptional (Noun verb
La chica nada.
The girl swims.
nadar means to swim, and to float
A Spanish word may apply to several similar (but not
identical) English words
Both swim and float put us in the water but one has arm
and leg motions, and the other doesn't. All nadar tells us is that person
is in the water. Of course, you can argue that most of the time swimming
takes place when a person is in the water, so there is a probability aspect
to consider. Can you think of English expressions that don't really explain
what is happening, so we make assumptions?
So far my favorite is 'lanzar', the multipurpose war verb
that can be used to throw stones and launch intercontinental ballistic
missles. In your dictionary you may find as many as ten entries for this
Sometimes the Spanish conjugation of a verb may be identical
to a different word or words in Spanish:
The word 'nada' may also be 'la nada', the nothingness,
the void; a pronoun meaning 'nothing'; an adverb meaning 'not very' or
'not at all', or it could be part of the expression 'de nada' which means
"you're welcome, don't mention it."
Don't panic though. My computer translater program has
problems with this but I don't, and I think that is because you and
I can develope a feel of if the next word we read should be a noun or a
Many adjectives agree with the gender
of the noun
If the dictionary lists an adjective
with an -o ending (rojo, bajo, alto, corto, rubio, moreno, etc.) it probably
fits the catergory
adjectives can go in front of or
after the noun; usually they go after
la casa blanca
the white house
el perro rojo
the red dog
If the noun is plural, the adjective
will agree with it
las cervezas morenas
A native speaker once asked someone
on the web "Do you like your beer blonde (rubio) or brunette (moreno) referring
to light or dark." I thought it was funny. Anyhow.
The guy was making a joke. Dark beer
is translated 'las cervezas negras'
los perros rojos
For an adjective that is not a/o,
like grande (large/huge), the noun agrees with the singular/plural status
of the noun
la casa grande
las casas grandes
mi hombre (my man)
tu hombre (your man)
su hombre (her man, his man, Madame
nuestro hombre (our man)
nuestra mujer (our woman)
nuestros hombres (our men)
nuestras mujeres (our women)
Tú tienes mi lápiz y
yo tengo el tuyo.
You have my pencil and I have (the)
el vuestro (only in Spain)
la vuestra (only in Spain)
los vuestros (only in Spain)
las vuestras (only in Spain)
Special thanks to JOHNNY
(Johnny Nahui-Ortiz), PEPE (José Humberto Pinzon Peraza) and OZZIE
(Osvaldo Suarez) for their assistance!