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5 Easy Aspects of Spanish Grammar

By Anthony / November 22, 2016

Learning a new language, any language, can be a difficult task. A lot of adults lean towards learning Spanish because they think it will be easy. They soon realize that Spanish, just like English, comes with a lot of grammar rules, vocabulary, and requires time to develop.

Although Spanish does require practice and some hard work, it is not as difficult as it may seem. By breaking grammar down into manageable chunks, you won’t be overwhelmed. Take your first step with our 5 easy grammar concepts to get you started (or back on track).

1. Gender

Unlike English, Spanish associates every noun with a gender; masculine or feminine. There is no rhyme or reason as why the words are associated with a gender, so don’t stress yourself out trying to figure it out.

The main purpose for gender categorization actually has to do with the adjective (more on that in #2). Both the noun and adjective have to agree, so Spanish assigns either a masculine or feminine association to its nouns to make it easier.

Determining if the Noun is Masculine or Feminine

The best part of this grammar concepts is that it is pretty easy to determine and the rule is pretty consistent:

Nouns that end in O are masculine

Nouns that end in A are feminine

Libro - masculine

Falda - feminine

Chico - masculine

Hija - feminine

If you needed to make any of the above words plural, simply add an S to the end of the word, just like in English.

Libros - masculine

Faldas - feminine

Chicos - masculine

Hijas - feminine

Using the Clues

There are a few clues to help you along to determine if the noun is masculine or feminine. By using the nouns article, you can determine the gender of a word. The article is located right before the noun in the form of el, la, los, or las.

You Guessed it…There are Exceptions

Like every good grammar rule, there are exceptions. Not every noun in the Spanish language ends in O or A. Listed below are some common exceptions that are not hard to remember with a little practice.

Masculine

Feminine

Words ending in…

Words ending in…

-ambre

-tad

-aje

-dad

-án

-tud

Most words ending in…

-ción

-r, l, s, n

-sión

Words ending in -e just have to be memorized with the correct article.

Tips For Learning

First step is to just learn the basic rule of thumb. Nouns that end in O are masculine and those that end in A are feminine. Once you have mastered that, you can move on to learning the most common exceptions (review the chart above).

Don’t try and learn every exception, it will just frustrate you. Stick with the words that you use the most and build from there. Over time, you will be able to correct yourself. The best way to practice (and learn from your mistakes) is read, write, and speak in Spanish every chance you get.

2. Adjective Agreement

Anytime you use an adjective in Spanish, it must agree with the noun it is describing. All this means is that if the noun is masculine, then the adjective must be masculine as well (same goes for feminine nouns and adjectives).

El muchacho alto

La falda roja

This is also applies to nouns that are plural. If the noun is plural, the adjective needs to be plural as well.

Los muchachos altos

Las faldas rojas

If your noun ends in an E, use the article in front of it to determine how to proceed with your adjective.

El presidente guapo

Las mujeres inteligentes

Why This Grammar Rule is Super Easy

This is by far my favorite grammar rule because there are NO EXCEPTIONS! Every time you use an adjective, it MUST agree with the noun, no ifs, ands, or buts.

Some Tips for You

The best way to master this skill is to practice. Write down a sentence using a noun and adjective and make sure they agree. Listed below are a few nouns and adjectives to get you started.

Nouns

Adjectives

Los hombres

alto

La chica

inteligente

Los animales

grande

Las mujeres

bajo

3. Subject Pronouns

Every sentence has a subject, it helps you determine how to conjugate the verb in Spanish. To avoid sounding repetitious, you can replace the subject with a pronoun.

Juan loves to dance

He loves to dance

Subject: Juan

Subject: Juan

Pronoun: He

The Spanish subject pronouns are listed below. You can usually find them before the verb in a sentence:

Yo

I

Nosotros

We

You

Vosotros

Y'all

Usted

You (formal)

Ustedes

You guys

Él

He

Ellos

They (boys)

Ella

She

Ellas

They (girls)

Why This Concept is Easy

Learning the subject pronouns is pretty easy because they are used constantly in Spanish and easy to memorize. Once you learn these, you are able to determine the subject of the sentence as well as conjugate the verb correctly.

This also helps you in your writing and speaking so you don’t sound repetitious by using the subject's name over and over. By replacing it with a pronoun, your writing and speaking sounds more fluid.

A Few Tips

Since learning the subject pronouns require memorization, make flashcards to help you remember them. Review the cards every day until you have committed the pronouns to memory. Once you have mastered them, practice using the pronouns to conjugate verbs.

As always, the more you read, write and speak, the better you will get at Spanish. Find another Spanish learner or native speaker and spark up a conversation. Subject pronouns are used constantly in Spanish so you will get lots of practice.

4. Por y Para

Both por and para translate to the word “for,” but are used very differently in the Spanish language.

Por - refers to time, expressing gratitude, indicating going “through” or “along” something, and using multiplication and division.

Para - refers to a destination, to show the use or purpose of something, and to express a contrast to something that is expected.

POR

Expressing time

Ella estudia por tres horas cada noche

She studies for three hours every night

Expressing gratitude

Gracias por tu ayuda

Thank you for your help

Expressing going “through” something

Corremos por el parque

We run through the park

PARA

Going to a destination                               

Maria sale para México en la mañana

Maria leaves for Mexico in the morning

Showing a purpose

El regalo es para Juan

The gift is for Juan

Expressing a contrast

Para una chica lucha muy bien

For a girl she fights well

Tips and How to Practice

Once you memorize the rules that follow por and para, this grammar concept is a breeze. Over time, and the more you practice, you will know when to use each one because it just sounds correct.

A great way to practice is to look through a story or article in Spanish and highlight when you see “por” or “para.” After you finish highlighting, go back and determine why each one was used. Attach a rule to it and check your answers with the chart above.

5. Making Words Plural

Anytime you want to express that something is more than one, you need to change the singular word to a plural one. Most words in Spanish can become plural by simply adding an S, but of course there are some exceptions.

If the word ends in a vowel (o, a, or e), simply add an S:

Libro

Camisa

Clase

Libros

Camisas

Clases

If the word ends in a consonant (other than z) add an ES:

Azul

Matador

Azules

Matadores

If the word ends in Z, you need to change the Z to a CES:

Luz

Lápiz

Luces

Lápices

This is one of the easier grammar concepts to remember because it is pretty similar to English. All you have to remember is to add an -es to words that end in a consonant and change the z to a -ces.

Practicing Tips

The best way to practice this grammar rule to write in Spanish. You could translate a short story from English to Spanish, applying the rule to correctly make the words plural. You should have this rule mastered in no time!

Although Spanish may seem difficult at times, starting off with the easier grammar concepts can ease you into things. This will eliminate a lot of frustration, and set you up for success in the future with more difficult concepts.

Do not hesitate to ask questions below. We are here to help you! And remember, take one step at a time. Strive for mastery before you move on to the next concept. You got this! Spanish is a lot easier than you think.

About the author

Anthony

Coffee drinker, Spanish speaker, habitual traveler, taking life one beautiful day at a time.

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