When I ask people what their biggest problem is with regard to learning and remembering Spanish they almost always mention verb conjugation and it’s easy to understand why.
Open any book on Spanish verb conjugation and the first few chapters are normally dedicated to telling us all about the way in which to construct the verb endings in the Preterit Tense and how to treat reflexive verbs in the Pluperfect Subjunctive. I’ve lost you already, haven’t I? Don’t worry, I have no idea what I just said either. Clever people with doctorates in education and Spanish do indeed know how to write very academic books, but in the end they don’t inspire the likes of you and me to want to learn anything, partly because we don’t understand it and mostly because it’s mind-numbingly boring.
In this post we’re going to cut to the chase and learn how to conjugate verbs SUPER EASILY for the past tense and the future tense and we’re going to keep it nice and simple.
So, let’s get cracking.
Spanish is similar to English in that one can say I walked, I was walking, I would have liked to walk etc, but let’s keep it nice and simple and for now we just use ‘I have walked’. This tense is very easy and we can use it in just about every situation.
But wait, there’s more – this conjugation will work for almost ALL verbs.
We take the verb ‘haber’ (to have), conjugate it in its present tense (he, has, ha etc) and place it in front of the verb we want to use – in this case we’re using ‘caminar’. We then change the verb ending a bit, as shown below and we end up with ‘he caminado’ – I have walked.
|Verbs ending in -ar. Example: caminar (to walk)|
|Yo (me)||he caminado|
|Tú(you, singular)||has caminado|
|él, ella, eso (he, she, it)||ha caminado|
|nosotros (we)||hemos caminado|
|vosotros (you, plural)||habais caminado|
|ellos (they)||han caminado|
|Verbs ending in –er or –ir. Example: comer (to eat)|
|Yo (me)||he comido|
|Tú(you, singular)||has comido|
|él, ella, eso (he, she, it)||ha comido|
|nosotros (we)||hemos comido|
|vosotros (you, plural)||habais comido|
|ellos (they)||han comido|
That’s it. Now we can all use the past tense, there’s been no bloodletting and we’ve all survived the lesson.
FUTURE TENSE (I am going to walk, I am going to run, I am going to eat)
Let’s move on to the future tense and now you’re going to love me because this is the easiest conjugation you’re ever going to learn. In fact, it’s hardly even a conjugation, it’s just a very useful shortcut.
By using the phrase ‘I am going to… (walk, run, eat etc)’ you make life very easy for yourself because all you have to know is how to conjugate the verb IR in the present tense.
The present tense conjugation of ‘ir’ is ‘voy’. This means ‘I am going’.
Now we add ‘a’. This means ‘to’.
Now we have voy +a = voy a… I go to…
All we have to do now is add the infinitive form of the verb we want to use.
Ir + a + Infinitive verb
Let’s explain it by using ‘caminar’
|Yo (me)||voy a||caminar|
|Tú(you, singular)||vas a||caminar|
|él ella eso (he, she, it)||va a||caminar|
|nosotros (we)||vamos a||caminar|
|vosotros (you, plural)||vais a||caminar|
|ellos (they)||van a||caminar|
Mañana voy a caminar en la montaña. Tomorrow I am going to walk in the mountain.
El sábado Rita va a caminar en el parque. On Saturday Rita is going to walk in the park.
The only conjugation we have to do here is the first bit of the phrase!
I am going to walk in the park, he/she is going to walk in the park and we are going to walk in the park becomes:
Voy a caminar en el parque, va a caminar en el parque and vamos a caminar en el parque.
That’s it! Now you can use the past tense and the future tense in Spanish! How does that feel?
All this time we’ve been dreading dipping our toes into the past and the future and now we can fly into them with gusto.
Now go and make a few sentences for yourself using these techniques.
For example: Yesterday I walked on the beach and tomorrow we are going to visit my mother. Ayer he caminado por la playa y mañana vamos a visitar a mi madre.
You really can’t get easier than that, can you?
Please let me know in the comments below if this has been helpful to you and if you have suggestions for how I can improve on this post then don’t be shy to share it with us.
This is Spanish, of course, there are going to be exceptions.
Here we’re only going to talk about the verbs IR, SER, ESTAR, GUSTAR and reflexive verbs and how they look different when used in the past tense. In the future tense, when used with ‘voy a’ they work the same as the other verbs.
We’ll start with the reflexive verbs because we’re going to ignore them for now. These are verbs like enamorarse (to fall in love) and mojarse (to get wet) and these are complicated verbs to use so we’re not going to bother with them at present and at our level of competence. Fortunately there is only a handful of these verbs and life as we know it will go on without them.
Ir, ser, estar and gustar are verbs we use a lot, but their past tense conjugations look a bit different from the others so just memorise them as they are below. It’s only the 4 of them so not too big a job.
|IR (to go)||SER (to be)||ESTAR (to be)||GUSTAR (to like)|
|he ido||he sido||he estado||me ha(n) gustado|
|has ido||has sido||has estado||te ha(n) gustado|
|ha ido||ha sido||ha estado||le ha(n) gustado|
|hemos ido||hemos sido||hemos estado||nos ha(n) gustado|
|habéis ido||habéis sido||habéis estado||os ha(n) gustado|
|han ido||han sido||han estado||les ha(n) gustado|
You’ll have noticed the (n) that can be added in with ‘gustar’.
This is how you would use it:
Me ha gustado el pan = I liked the bread. (I liked one thing).
Me han gustado los chopitos = I liked the chopitos. (I liked more than one thing).
Have you ordered your copy of The Cooking Pot – Spanish / English Reader yet? It’s a brilliant book!
Go to spanishbooksandcourses.com for more information.