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A short spanish grammar with the essential inflection patterns listed

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SPANISH INFLECTIONS AND OTHER GRAMMAR ESSENTIALS - A very short Spanish grammar

by Knut Holt - Pantera Consulting

This short grammar is intended for those allready understanding some Spanish, but yet are uncertain about the most essetial grammatical constructions.

 

1. Spanish nouns articles and pronouns

1.1 Singular of nouns and noun gender

The singular of nouns has no ending, or an ending indicating gender - masculine or feminine. Masculine nouns have often the ending -o, feminine nouns have often the ending -a.

A noun can often change ending from o to a, and thereby also gender to make som differense in the meaning. Nouns denoting living beings often change the ending to show the sex of the being.

 

1.2 Plural of nouns

The plural of Spanish nouns are formed by adding an -s to singular nouns ending in vowels, ex chico - chicos / boy/boys, chica / chicas - girl/girls.

If the singular ends in consonant, the plural gets the ending -es.



1.4 Indefinite articles

The Spanish indefinite article is used when one only wants to tell what a thing is, without saying anything about the identity of the object, or to indicate that some object is spoken of for the first time.

The singular  indefinite article is "un" for masculine nouns and "una" for fenimine ones. The plural  indefinite article is "unos" for masculine nouns and "unas" for fenimine ones.

The indefinite articles are placed before its noun.

 

1.5 The definite article

The definite article indicates that the thing spoken of has been talked about allready, or is particularly known by the listener allready. It is also often used about things in general.

The singular  definite article is "el" for masculine nouns and "la" for fenimine ones. The plural  definite article is "los" for masculine nouns and "las" for fenimine ones.

There is also a neuter form "lo" used when talking about something of unknown properties or abstract concepts.

The definite articles are placed before its noun.

 

1.6 Personal pronouns

Personal pronouns have different forms when used as subject, direct object, indirect object and also has genitive forms. The object forms are also used after prepositions. When the subject and the object is the same, the reflexive object forms are used.

English subject form Subject Direct object Indirect object Reflexive object Emphatic object and after prepositions
I yo me me me mi
you tu te te te ti
he el, ello lo le se él or ello
she ella la le se ella
you polite singular Usted lo, la le se él / ella
we nosotros nos nos nos nosotros
you vosotros os or vos os or vos os or vos vosotros
they masculine eles los les se ellos
they feminine elas las les se ellas
You polite plural Ustedes los, las les se ellos / ellas

Some special constructions: conmigo = with me, consigo = with you


1.7 The place of the personal pronouns.

In combination with a finite verb, the place of the pronouns ar lik this: subject - indirect object - direct object - verb.  Example: Yo te lo de = I give it to you. (de = I give). Because the verb shows the person and number of the subject, the subject pronoun is usually omitted: The sentence would therefore most often be said more simply: Te lo de.

The indirect pronoun berfor a direct object pronoun is se, not le or les. Example: El se lo da. - He gives it to him/her/them.


1.8 Deictic and indefinite pronouns

Deictic pronouns is used to point out something and to mark identity.  They can both stand alone and be used before nouns. They are listed in this order. masculine sing, feminine sing, masculine plural, femine plural, neuter.

Deictic pronouns - about near objects: Este, esta, estes, estas, esto.

Deictic pronouns - near to the porson you speak with: Ese, esa, esos, esas, eso.

Deictic pronouns - about far objects:  Aquel, aquella, aquellos, aquellas, aquellos.

 

1.9 Interrogative pronouns

 Important interrogative pronouns are:

Qué - what, quién / quiénes - who

 These are placed firts in the sentence.

Què comes? - what do you eat? Quién eres? - who are you?

 

 

1.10 Relative pronouns

The most common relative pronoun is que, that can be used about everything when the relative pronoun comes directly after the word it shows back on.

La pluma que está en la mesa es mia. - The pen that is at the table is mine.

The pronoun quien (singular), quienes (plural) are used when there is as short distance between the pronoun and the word it shows back on,  for example after prepositions.

Other relatieve pronouns are el que, la que, los que, las que. Still others are el qual, la qual, los quales, las quales. These are used when there is a longer distance between the relative pronoun and the word it shows back at.

 

2. Spanish adjectives and numerals

2.1 General and positive degree

Adjectives are generally placed after the moun it is attribut to, but some common afjectives are most often placed before.

Adjectives are inflected in gender and number after the noun  or the object they describe.

A great group of ajectives have these endings: M.sg - o, f.sg - a, m.pl - os, f.pl - as.

Anothet group of adjectives have no ending in the singular and -es in plural.

 

2.2 Comparative degree

The comparative degree is made by placing the word - mas (more) before the adjective, example forte - mas forte = strong - stronger.

 

2.3 Superlative degree

The superlative  degree is made by placing the definite article before the comparative degree, example: forte - el mas forte = stronger - the strongest.

There is also a form denoting a very strong degree of a property, called absolute supperlative. This form has the ending -ísimo/a/os/as. Example fortísimo - very strong

 

2.4 Irregular adjectives

Some common adjectives have irregular comparative degrees:

good = bueno  -  better = mejor
bad = malo  -  worse = peor
big = grande  -  bigger = mayor (about age)
old = viejo  -  older = mayor
young = joven  - younger = menor
little = pequeño -  littler = menor (about age)

 

2.5 Adjectives used as nouns

The difference between adjectives and nouns are not very great in Spanish, and any adjective can be used as a noun with articles in fromt of them, and of cource declined in the right number and gender.

 

2.6 Cardinal numbers

Cardinal numbers are used in counting and measuring items.

The first twenty cardinals are: uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diez, unce, doce, trece, quatorce, quince, diciseis, dicisiete, diciocho, dicinueve, veinte

The tennumbers are: 10 - diez, 20 - veinte, 30 - treinta, 40 - cuarenta, 50 - cincuenta, 60 - sesenta, 70 - setenta, 80 - ochenta, 90 - noventa, 100 - cien

The big numbers are: 100 - cien, 200 - doscientos, 300 - trescientos, 400 - cuatrocientos, 500 - quinientos, 600 - seiscientos, 700 - setecientos, 800 - ochocientos, 900 - novecientos, 1000 - mil.

When composing more complex numbers, use the following pattern, but omit what you do not need in the formula: number1-9 mil(es) - number1-9cinentos - tennumber y number1-9

Examples: 58 - cincuenta y ocho, 761 - setecientos sesenta y uno, 1233 - mil doscientos trainta y tres

 

2.7 Ordinal numbers

The ordinal numbers from 1 to 10 are: First - primero, second - segundo, third - tercero, forth - cuarto, fifth -quinto, seventh - séptimo or sétimo, eighth - octavo, ninth - noveno, tenth - décimo.


3. Spanish verbs

3.1 Infinitive and general consepts

Spanish has thre verb classes or conjugations: first, secund and third, and also many irregular verbs. Verbs of the first conjugation often have "a" as the first part of the ending, those of the secund usually have "e" and those of the third have endings beginneing with "i".

The infinitive of first conjugation end in -ar, that of the sexond have -er, and that of the thir -ir.

Examples:  amar - to love, comer - to eat, finir - to finish.

When the infinitive endings are taken away, one gets the root of the verb: am-, com-, fin-.

Some verb forms are made by adding more endiongs to the root, others are made by adding more ednings to the full infinitive.

Verbs are conjugated in time/aspect, modi, persons and number for the subject.

There are also passive and reflexive constructions.

 

3.2 Present (prs)

The inflection is indicated by means of example verbs and their endings. The roots and endings are here separated with a hyphen. Such a hyphen is not used in real use.

Indicative

  Verb 1. pers.sg 2.pers.sg 3.pers.sg 1.pers.pl 2.pers.pl 3.pers.pl
1. Konjugation am-ar (love) am-o am-as am-a am-amos am-ais am-an
2. konjugation tem-er (fright) tem-o tem-es tem-e tem-emos tem-eis tem-en
3. konjugation part-ir (depart) part-o part-es part-e part-imos part-ís part-en
To be - ser   soy eres es somos esteis son
To be - estar   estoy estás está estámos estáis están
To have - aber   hás hemos habéis han
To go - Ir   voy vas va vamos vais van

Conjunctive

  Verb 1. pers.sg 2.pers.sg 3.pers.sg 1.pers.pl 2.pers.pl 3.pers.pl
1. Konjugation am-ar (love) am-e am-es am-e am-emos am-éis am-en
2. konjugation tem-er (fright) tem-a tem-as tem-a tem-amos tem-áis tem-an
3. konjugation part-ir (depart) part-a part-as part-a part-amos part-as part-an
To be - ser   sea seas sea seamos seáis sean
To be - estar   esté estés esté estémos estéis estén
To have - aber   haya hayas haya hayamos hayáis hayan
To go - Ir   vaya vayas vaya vayamos vayais vayan

 

3.3 The gerund and contious forms

The basic mening of the gerund is telleing that sometings is goeing on.

1. Conjugation: am-ando

2. Conjugation: tem-iendo

3. Conjugation: part-iendo

The continous forms is used to tell about actions taking place, but without indicating the beginning and end of te action. It is used by combining a tense of the verb estar with the gerund

Estamos partiendo de Madrid = we are departing from Madrid.

 

3.4 Imperfect form

Indicative

  Verb 1. pers.sg 2.pers.sg 3.pers.sg 1.pers.pl 2.pers.pl 3.pers.pl
1. Konjugation am-ar (love) am-aba am-abas am-aba am-ábamos am-abais am-aban
2. konjugation tem-er (fright) tem-ia tem-ias tem-ia tem-iamos tem-iais tem-ian
3. konjugation part-ir (depart) part-ia part-ias part-ia part-iamos part-íais part-ian
To be - ser   era eras era éramos erais eran
To be - estar   estaba estabas estaba estábamos estabais estaban
To have - aber había habías había habíamos habíais habían
To go - Ir   iba ibas iba ibamos ibais iban

Conjunctive

Verb 1. pers.sg 2.pers.sg 3.pers.sg 1.pers.pl 2.pers.pl 3.pers.pl
1. Konjugation am-ar (love) am-ara am-aras am-ara am-áramos am-arais am-aran
2. konjugation tem-er (fright) tem-era tem-eras tem-era tem-éramos tem-erais tem-eran
3. konjugation part-ir (depart) part-iera part-ieras part-iera part-iéramos part-ierais part-ieran
To be - ser   fuera fueras fuera fuéramos fuerais fueran
To be - estar   estubiera estubieras estubiera estubiéramos estubierais estubiaran
To have - aber   hubiera hubieras hubiera hubiéramos hubierais hubieran
To go - Ir   fuera fueras fuera fuéramos fuerais fueran

In adition to the imperfect subjunctive form containing an "-ra-", there are alternative forms containing an "-se" :  am-ase, amases, amase, etc

The imperfect forms is used about something taking long time in the past, when you speak about something going on the past but not about the action finishing,  or about someting repeating itself in the past.

Ex: Partíamos de Madrid. = We were departing from Madrid.

Instead of a plain imperfect form, one can sometimes use a past continous form:

 Estíamos partiendo de Madrid. = We were departing from Madrid.

The indicative forms are used to express something certain. The conjunctive is used to express somethingthat is not quite certain or some event that was dependent of some other event and therefore would not occur without that other event.

 

3.5 The preterite form

  Verb 1. pers.sg 2.pers.sg 3.pers.sg 1.pers.pl 2.pers.pl 3.pers.pl
1. Konjugation am-ar (love) am-é am-aste am-ó am-amos am-asteis am-aron
2. konjugation tem-er (fright) tem-í tem-iste tem-ió tem-imos tem-isteis tem-ieron
3. konjugation part-ir (depart) part-í part-iste part-ió part-imos part-isteis part-ieron
To be - ser   fuí fuiste fué fuimos fuisteis fuiron
To be - estar   estuve estuviste estuvo estuvimos estuvisteis estuvieron
To have - aber hube hubiste hubo hubimos hubisteis hubieron
To go - Ir   fuí fuiste fué fuimos fuisteis fuiron

The preterite is used about an action in the past that happend once, that was finnished and that did not take a long time. It is also used about the beginning of a state or an action in the past.

Partimmos de Madrid. = We departed from Madrid.

 

3.6 The perfect participle and the perfect

The perfect participle denotes  a state after an action has been done to something or someone. When used this way it behaves as an adjective

It is also used to make the composite tense perfect.

1. Conjugation: am-ado/a/os/as

2. Conjugation: tem-ido/a/os/as

3. Conjugation: part-ido/a/os/as

The perfect tense is made by combining the present of haber with the masculine singular form of the perfect participle.

The perfect is used about an action in the near past that happend once, that were finnished and thar still has an importance in the present time, not very different from the way you use the perfect tense in English. However, in many Spanish speaking areas, the perfect tense is little used.

 

3.7 Pluperfect

The pluperfect tense for most transitive verbs is made by combining the preterite of haver with a perfect participle. The participle is declioned in gender and number according to the subject.

The pluperfect tense of most intransitive and reflexive verbs are made by combining the preterite tense of ser with a perfect participle.

The pluperfect is used about an action in the past that occured befor another action.

Quando havíamos comido, somos partidos a Madrid = When we had eaten, we departed to Madrid.

 

3.8 Future

The future is made by adding endings marking person and number to the infinitive.

These endings are:

Singular: 1p é, 2p -ás, 3p -á  Plural: 1p -emos, 2p -éis, 3p -án

For some verbs the infinitive is contracted or otherwise changed before adding the endings. The most common are:

caber - cabr-, haber - habr-, hacer - har-, poner - pondr-, poder - podr-, salir - saldr-, tener - tendr-, valer - valdr, venir - vendr

The future is used to express something that will happen in the future. It is also often used to express somefing one believes happen either in the present or the future.

Comeremos muy tarde esta noche - we will eat very late this evening.

 

3.9 Future perfect (sf)

The future perfect is made by combining the first future of haber with the perfect participle of the main verb.

It is used to express something in the future that will happen before a specific time or another event in the futire. It can also express something one supposes has allready happened before a certain time or event, either in the future, the past or the present.

Habré comido antes partiro a Madrid - I will have eaten before I (shall) depart to Madrid.

 

3.11 Present conditional (fc)

The present conditional is made by adding endings marking person and number to the infinitive.

These endings are:

Singular: 1p ía, 2p -ías, 3p -ía  Plural: 1p -íamos, 2p -íais, 3p -ían

For some verbs the infinitive is contracted or otherwise changed before adding the endings. The most common are:

caber - cabr-, haber - habr-, hacer - har-, poner - pondr-, poder - podr-, salir - saldr-, tener - tendr-, valer - valdr, venir - vendr

The conditional is used to express something that ought to happen, or is intended to happen, but not necessarily will happen.

Comeríamos aora - we should actually have eaten now.

 

3.12 Conditional perfect 

The conditional perfect is made by combining the presaent conditional of haber with the perfect participle of the main verb.

It is used to express something that should allready have happended, but has not necessarily happened.

Habríamos comido aora - Whe should have eaten (allready) by now.

 

 

4. Spanish adverbs (adv)

4.1 Adverbial forms

One often make adverbs from adjectives by adding the ending -mente to the feminine form of the adjective.

 

4.2 Comparison of adverbs

The comparative degree of adverbs is made by placing mas before the adverb and the superlative degree is made by placing the definite article before mas: el mas, la mas, los mas, les mas


4.3 Irregular spanish adverbs

Some adverbs are not derived from adjectives, but has a root with adverbial meaning: Además - additionally / besides, Algo - somewhat / slightly, Apenas - barely / hardly, Bastante - enough / quite a bit, Demasiado - too much, Mas - more, Medio - halfly, Menos - less

The adverb muy - much has the comparative mas - more.

 

4.4 numeric adverbs

 

5. Spanish word order

The most common word order is subject - predicate - object - other complements. The subject is however often placed after the verb or last in the sentence.

Adjectives are usually placed after the noun, but the most common adjectives are often placed before the noun.

Unstressed spanish personal pronouns are not actually independent words, they are rather affixes to the verb that are placed in special positions. About these see above under pronouns.

 

6. Negation

The most common spanish negation word is "no". It means no, and also not. It is placed before the verb to negate a sentence.

No hé comido. - I have not eaten.

 

7. Questions

In spanish questions are made by rizing the voice towardss the end of a sentence. In interogartive sentences, the subject is often placed right after the verb, but this placement do not necessarily denote a question. An inverted question mark is placed before the sentence and a normal question mark after the sentence.  Important question words that are placed frirst in a sentence are:

Que cosa - what, qui - who

Que cosa comes? - what do you eat? Qui eres? - who are you?


8. Vowel alternations in spanish inflections and derviations

When the stem of Spanish words go from an untressed to a stressed state during inflection, the stem vowel will often alternate in spesific ways. This alternation is so common in the present tense of verbs that it may nearly be regarded as regular.

The most common alternations are as follows in the 1. and 2. conjugations, with the unstressed versions written first: o-ue and e-ie

The following alternation is most common in the 3. conjugation: e-i


Examples: encontrar - encuentro (to meet), poder- puedo (be able to), pedir - pido (order, ask for)


The verb "jugar (play) has the alternation: u-ue, jugar - juego