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).
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.
Words ending in…
Words ending in…
Most words ending in…
-r, l, s, n
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.
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
The Spanish subject pronouns are listed below. You can usually find them before the verb in a sentence:
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.
Ella estudia por tres horas cada noche
She studies for three hours every night
Gracias por tu ayuda
Thank you for your help
Expressing going “through” something
Corremos por el parque
We run through the park
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:
If the word ends in a consonant (other than z) add an ES:
If the word ends in Z, you need to change the Z to a CES:
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.
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.