Whether you’ve just started studying Spanish or you’re packing your suitcases to visit a Spanish-speaking country, learning how to build simple Spanish sentences will come in handy.
Therefore, here are some rules that will help you form basic phrases and confidently speak Spanish in any situation. Also, this practice will make an excellent base for more complex structures later on.
For starters, build simple Spanish sentences composed of subject and verb. Forget about complicated structures for some time and stick to the basics. Once you master basics, you’ll be more confident to acquire and apply complex phrases. Besides, starting with ground rules will build a solid foundation for everything that comes next.
Therefore, make sentences with a subject and a verb. For example, use María as a subject and the verb “cantar” to make simple clause María canta. And that’s it. Also, it’s possible to leave out the person once he or she is familiar to the audience or use pronoun instead of the name. For instance, “Canta bien” (She sings well) or “Ella canta” (She sings).
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A common rule in most languages is that adjectives come before nouns; however, this doesn’t apply to Spanish. It’s crucial to distinguish this difference and not to make mistakes caused by native languages. So, you would say “orejas grandes” (big ears) not “grandes orejas.”
In the beginning, it can be difficult to adopt this rule, but you’ll get used to it in time, and it will become natural to put adjectives after nouns. Still, there are some exceptions when adjectives come before nouns, but at the moment, stick to the basic rule. Likewise, don’t forget that adjectives have the same gender and number as nouns.
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Luckily, adverbs behave the same way in Spanish as in English. They are another component to build simple sentences by describing a verb. For instance, “María canta bien” (Maria sings well). How does Maria sing? She sings well, which specifies the verb “sing.”
As in English, adverbs in Spanish can have different places in a phrase. For example:
María escribe rápidamente.
Rápidamente escribe María.
As you can see, adverbs are usually built by adding “-mente” to the feminine form of an adjective, meaning that it needs to end in -a. Naturally, there are exceptions and irregular adverbs, but the good news is that modifiers always have the same form, no matter the gender.
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Every language is composed of positive and negative sentences. Therefore, to express all your thoughts, sometimes you need to use negation. Fortunately, it’s a piece of cake to form negative phrases in Spanish, even less complicated than in English. Simply put “no” in front of the verb, and that would be all. For instance:
“María no canta” (Maria doesn’t sing).
The reason why María doesn’t sing isn’t clear, but the basics don’t cover additional explanations. As previously said, keep things and sentences simple when you start learning Spanish.
Also, it’s possible to use double negation in Spanish a difference from English. For example:
“No dijo nada” (He said nothing).
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Speaking a language is all about exchanging information, so at some point, you’ll need to ask some questions. Again good news, it’s a child’s play to ask questions in Spanish. There are no complicated rules as in English.
– Switch places of subject and verb
The affirmation “María canta” (Maria sings) becomes “¿Canta María?” (Does Maria sing?). Don’t forget to start a question with an upside down question mark.
– Raise intonation
This method is super easy; you just need to raise a little bit your voice at the end of the clause, and that will make a distinction from the regular sentence.
– Use question tags
This construction is similar to English. Simply, finish a sentence with a question tag.
The phrase “María canta” (Maria sings) becomes “Canta María ¿no?” (Maria sings, doesn’t she?).
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Keep these rules in mind and make sure you apply them next time you speak Spanish. Practice will make your Spanish perfect, and once you master the basics, you can move on to more challenging stuff.
Lilian Chifley is an IT specialist, teacher, and blogger from Sydney. She loves to talk about artificial intelligence and modern education. You can find Lilian on Facebook and Twitter.