Spanish Grammar Rules (2022)

Grammar might not have been your favorite subject in high school, but when learning Spanish, grammar is most definitely your friend! Grasping some of these basic grammar rules will give you a better, overall understanding of the Spanish language and a leg up on your road to mastering it.

Spanish Grammar Rules (1)

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Spanish Word Order

You’re in luck because word order in Spanish is much more flexible than in English. The word order of a Spanish sentence is as basic as:

subject + verb + rest of sentence

Example:
Juan corre en el parque. → Juan runs in the park.

However, whereas in English, “Juan runs in the park” is the only grammatically acceptable sentence, in Spanish, all of the following sentences are acceptable:

Corre Juan en el parque. (verb + subject + rest of sentence)
En el parque Juan corre. (rest of sentence + subject + verb)
Corre en el parque Juan. (verb + rest of sentence + subject)

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Word Order when Forming Questions in Spanish
Similarly, when forming questions in Spanish, the structure can be very flexible. In all of the examples below, the meaning of the sentences is the same, “Is Carlos a lawyer?”

¿Carlos es abogado?
¿Es Carlos abogado?
¿Es abogado Carlos?

Note: Spanish questions always begin with an inverted question mark.

When we add question words like, dónde (where), cuándo (when), qué (what) and por qué (why), they always stay next to the verb in the sentence. However, the rest of the sentence structure, including where the subject goes, remains flexible. Look at the examples below:

¿Dónde están mis llaves? → Where are my keys.
Mis llaves, ¿dónde están? → My keys, where are they?

Regular Verbs in Spanish

Verbs might be the single most important focus of the Spanish language as there are so many ways to express one idea just through verb usage and conjugation. This makes the Spanish the language both eloquent and beautiful, but also tricky for the Spanish beginner. Not to worry though! Below you will find a basic breakdown of how verbs work.

Infinitives
All regular verbs have an infinitive form that ends in either -ar, -er or -ir.

Example:
hablar → to talk
comer → to eat
escribir → to write

Conjugations
These verbs are then conjugated based on the subject and tense of the sentence. The -ar, -er and -ir ending is dropped and you are left with the base form of the verb, to which you then add the corresponding ending.

Example:
hablar (infinitive form) = habl (base form) = Yo hablo (I talk)

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Now, brace yourself - there are 32 tenses (including both indicative and subjunctive) in Spanish, while English has only 13. But not to worry, you will only use about half of these tenses on a regular basis.

Reflexive Verbs in Spanish

Reflexive verbs are used when the object and subject are the same person. In other words, the person doing the action is the same person receiving it. Although reflexive verbs do not exist in English, the concept does, as we have the expressions myself, yourself, himself herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves and themselves. Reflexive infinitive forms always have “se” tacked onto the end of them to express that the reflexive pronoun must be used when conjugating.

Infinitive Forms of Reflexive Verbs

bañarse → to bathe oneself
ponerse → to put on oneself
cepillarse → to brush

Reflexive Pronouns

me → myself
te → yourself
se → himself/herself
nos → ourselves
os → yourselves (Spain)
se → themselves/yourselves (Latin America)

Examples of Conjugated Reflexive Verbs

Me baño. → I bathe myself.
Me pongo los zapatos. → I put on my shoes (on myself).
Me cepillo los dientes. → I brush my teeth (on myself).

Most reflexive verbs can also be used in their non-reflexive form which can change the meaning.

Example:
cuidar a alguien - to take care of someone
cuidarse - to take care of oneself

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Me cuido bien. → I take good care of myself.
Cuido a mis hijos. → I take care of my children.

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Gender in Spanish

In Spanish, all nouns have a gender - either masculine or feminine. For English speakers, who have never dealt with the gender of nouns in their mother language, it can be a little tricky to answer the question, is that thing feminine or masculine? To help make the process easier, there are some basic rules to follow.

Remember that all nouns are expressed using the definite article that matches in gender and number.

el → singular masculine article
la → singular feminine article
los → plural masculine article
las → plural feminine article

Examples:

el perro → the male dogs
los perros → the male dogs
la gata → the female cat
las gatas → the female cats

General rules to follow when trying to figure out the gender of a noun:

  1. Most nouns that end in “o” are masculine and nouns that end in “a” are feminine.
    1. la mesa → the table
    2. el vaso → the glass
  2. For people and animals, you must change the ending of the noun to match the gender of the person or animal you are talking about.
    1. el gato/la gata → male/female cat
    2. el abuelo/la abuela → grandfather/grandmother
  3. Letters of the alphabet are feminine while numbers and dates are masculine
    1. la (letra) “b” → the (letter) “b”
    2. el 24 de abril → the 24th of april
  4. Days of the week are masculine while months are normally expressed without a definite article (note: neither days of the week or months are capitalized in Spanish)
    1. el lunes, el martes, el miercoles → Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
    2. enero, febrero, marzo → January, February, March

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Adjectives in Spanish

Spanish speakers are very descriptive and thus, it is important to be familiar with the correct use of adjectives in Spanish. There are two key rules that you must remember:

  1. Adjectives come after the noun that they modify. This is different from English where the adjective comes before.

    Example:
    La casa antigua tiene 100 años. → The old house is 100 years old.

  2. Adjectives must agree in gender and in number with the noun they are modifying.

    Example:
    Los platos blancos. → The white plates.
    La nina alta. → The tall girl.

Demonstrative Adjectives in Spanish

When learning a new language, new vocabulary is acquired over time. Therefore, knowing some basic demonstrative adjectives in Spanish can help you get through a situation where you don’t know or have forgotten a word.

este/esta/estos/estas → this, these
ese/esa/esos/esas → that, those (things that are close in distance or time to you)
aquel/aquella/aquellos/aquellas → that, those (things that are far in distance or time to you)

Examples:
¿Cuánto cuesta estos? → How much do these cost?
Estos son mios. → These are mine.
¿Puedo ver esa camisa? → Can I see that shirt?
Aquel día, estaba muy feliz. → That day I was really happy.

Prepositions in Spanish

There are far fewer prepositions in Spanish than there are in English so you’re in luck! Here are some of the most basic and common prepositions in Spanish (although, there are a total of 26):

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a → to, at
en → in, into, by
con → with, to
de → from, of

There are no prepositional phrases in Spanish. For example, to get out of the car, to get into the car, and to get onto the car, each have specific verbs in Spanish (bajarse del coche, subirse al coche, ponerse encima del coche).

Although this is a just a brief introduction to some of the major grammar rules in Spanish, it is a great starting point for your Spanish learning! If you want to learn about breaking Spanish grammar rules, check out some popular Spanglish words.

FAQs

Is Spanish grammar easy? ›

Easy Grammar

Contrary to some beliefs, Spanish grammar is easy. It's a language with many regularities and very few exceptions. Spanish nouns have only two genders and the rules to distinguish them are very straightforward. If a word finishes with an -o, it is masculine, if with an -a, it's feminine.

What are the 4 types of sentences in Spanish? ›

Sentence Types
  • Statements & declarations (oraciones enunciativas) ...
  • Questions & Interrogatives (oraciones interrogativas) ...
  • Commands, Orders, Imperatives, Directives (oraciones imperativas) ...
  • Exclamations (oraciones exclamativas) ...
  • Wish (oraciones desiderativas)

How do I learn proper Spanish grammar? ›

The Best Way to Learn Spanish Grammar On Your Own
  1. Learning Spanish with a Teacher vs Learning Spanish on Your Own. ...
  2. Benefits of Focusing on Grammar. ...
  3. Read Spanish-Related Blogs. ...
  4. Watch Spanish-Related Videos. ...
  5. Download Apps. ...
  6. Use a Textbook. ...
  7. Rely on Worksheets. ...
  8. Read Spanish Books and Newspapers.
5 Nov 2020

Can I learn Spanish in 3 months? ›

It is possible to learn Spanish in 3 months, but it is true that to fully master the language to a native level, you will need more time. An intensive Spanish course covering all levels (from A1 to C2) consists of 62 weeks (about 15 months in total).

What is harder English or Spanish? ›

But back to English vs. Spanish. Social media informalIy tells me there's an overwhelming consensus: English is WAY harder for Spanish-speakers to learn.

Is Spanish SVO or SOV? ›

Syntax and One-Verb Sentence Constructions

Spanish word order follows a Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) pattern. Spanish word order is very similar to English word order, as English also follows SVO pattern.

How long does it take to learn basic Spanish? ›

According to an FSI study, i.e. the Foreign Service Institute, it should take a new learner approximately 600 classroom hours to achieve conversational fluency in Spanish. They also suggest an approximate 1:1 ratio between the time spent independently studying Spanish and the time spent in a classroom.

What are the 4 types of syntax? ›

Syntax is the set of rules that helps readers and writers make sense of sentences.
...
At the same time, all sentences in English fall into four distinct types:
  • Simple sentences. ...
  • Compound sentences. ...
  • Complex sentences. ...
  • Compound-complex sentences.
10 Sept 2021

How long does it take to master Spanish grammar? ›

Based on US Foreign Service Institute (FSI) research, if you start out as a beginner and spend an average of one hour per day working actively on Spanish—such as with a teacher or conversation partner, as well as doing homework—then it can take 480 hours to reach conversational fluency.

What should I learn first in Spanish grammar? ›

Learn Only the Present, Subjunctive and Preterite Tenses at First. These three tenses—the present, subjunctive and preterite—are the most useful in Spanish. Everybody uses them hundreds of times every day, so if you have to learn some grammar (and indeed you do have to learn at least the basics), start here!

How do you tell if a sentence is grammatically correct in Spanish? ›

Every proper sentence in Spanish must have a subject and a verb. There is also a proper place for subjects and verbs in a sentence. Begin a sentence with the subject (the person, place, or thing you're talking about). Follow that with the verb, and then the rest of the sentence (where, how, etc).

Is Spanish grammar hard to learn? ›

It is full of peculiarities that can make learning difficult for both native and foreign learners. The grammar and vocabulary make the Spanish language difficult and have some of the most difficult skills to master. If you want to learn Spanish, the best solution is to start with Classgap's online lessons.

What are the 8 parts of speech in Spanish? ›

Parts of Speech
  • 1) Adjetivo | Adjective.
  • 2) Adverbio | Adverb.
  • 3) Artículo | Article.
  • 4) Conjunción | Conjunction.
  • 5) Sustantivo/Nombre | Noun.
  • 6) Preposición | Preposition.
  • 7) Pronombre | Pronoun.
  • 8) Verbo | Verb.

How is Spanish grammar different from English? ›

Word order is less fixed in Spanish than it is in English. Some adjectives can come before or after a noun, verbs more often can become the nouns they apply to, and many subjects can be omitted altogether. Spanish has a much more frequent use of the subjunctive mood than English does.

What is the easiest way to learn Spanish fast? ›

  1. Build A Sizeable Vocabulary In Spanish. Words are the building blocks of a language. ...
  2. Take A Self-Study Spanish Course. ...
  3. Find A Spanish Tutor Online. ...
  4. Don't Obsess Over Spanish Grammar. ...
  5. Read Spanish As Much As Possible. ...
  6. Make Spanish Part Of Your Lifestyle. ...
  7. Don't Travel Abroad To Learn Spanish!

What's the easiest language to learn in the world? ›

5 easy languages to learn
  • English. It's the most widely spoken language in the world, making practice possible. ...
  • French. French has over 100 million native speakers and is – as the official language in 28 countries – spoken on almost every continent. ...
  • Spanish. ...
  • Italian. ...
  • Swahili.
29 Feb 2016

Which language is richest in words? ›

A major uniqueness of Arabic language lies in its richness. While English, French, and Russian languages have around 500,000 words, 150,000 words, and 130,000 words in its vocabulary respectively, Arabic language has 12,3 million words in its own, making it the richest language in vocabulary, by far.

What is the fastest spoken language in the world? ›

1. Japanese:

Japanese is the fastest recorded language. It has a rate of 7.84 syllables per second.

What is the top 10 hardest language to learn? ›

Let's explore the 10 hardest languages for English speakers to learn, and the challenges they deliver:
  1. Mandarin. Mandarin is spoken by 70% of the Chinese population, and is the most spoken language in the world. ...
  2. Arabic. ...
  3. 3. Japanese. ...
  4. Hungarian. ...
  5. Korean. ...
  6. Finnish. ...
  7. Basque. ...
  8. Navajo.
16 Sept 2022

Is China a SOV? ›

Chinese. Generally, Chinese varieties all feature SVO word order. However, especially in Standard Mandarin, SOV is tolerated as well.

Can Spanish be VSO? ›

In modern Spanish, the unmarked constituent order in declarative clauses whose finite verb is a transitive one appears to be SVO (i.e. subject + verb + direct object) but historically the unmarked order was arguably VSO, a pattern which is still possible even in modern Spanish.

What language is VSO? ›

Verb-Subject-Object (VSO)

Languages that use VSO include Arabic, Classic Maya, Egyptian, Filipino, Hawaiian, Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Tongan.

What level of Spanish is considered fluent? ›

C1 and C2. The C1 and C2 levels are for proficient users. If your goal is Spanish fluency, aim for a C1 level in which you can fluently speak and express yourself. A C1 level does not mean you understand every word in the language but that you can handle most conversations and some tricky topics.

How many words do you need to be fluent in Spanish? ›

If you think about native-level fluency, you'll need to master between 20,000 and 40,000 words, and as you can see the margin is quite large. If you want to have a basic conversation, experts say that you'll just need around 3,000 words.

What is the hardest language to learn? ›

1. Mandarin Chinese. Interestingly, the hardest language to learn is also the most widely spoken native language in the world. Mandarin Chinese is challenging for a number of reasons.

What Is syntax vs grammar? ›

Grammar comprises the entire system of rules for a language, including syntax. Syntax deals with the way that words are put together to form phrases, clauses, and sentences.

What is poor syntax? ›

A syntax error is a mistake in using a language that involves organizing words and phrases that don't make sense. In short, syntax tells you how a sentence is worded and structured, which can easily be misconstrued.

Is Spanish grammar hard? ›

As you may have seen, Spanish has many more grammatical difficulties than most other languages. While other languages lack gender in nouns or their irregular verbs have similarities with the infinitive, Spanish has different laws that make it difficult to learn even for native speakers.

How long does it take to master Spanish grammar? ›

Based on US Foreign Service Institute (FSI) research, if you start out as a beginner and spend an average of one hour per day working actively on Spanish—such as with a teacher or conversation partner, as well as doing homework—then it can take 480 hours to reach conversational fluency.

Should I learn Spanish grammar? ›

Although you can learn Spanish without grammar just by listening or reading, you will have trouble expressing yourself when speaking or writing in real life situations. Understanding and practicing the grammar of the language is important because: Grammar forms an indispensable part of the structure of a language.

Is Spanish grammar similar to English? ›

Spanish grammar is similar to English grammar in many ways that make it fairly easy to make connections between the two languages.

What is the top 10 hardest language to learn? ›

Let's explore the 10 hardest languages for English speakers to learn, and the challenges they deliver:
  1. Mandarin. Mandarin is spoken by 70% of the Chinese population, and is the most spoken language in the world. ...
  2. Arabic. ...
  3. 3. Japanese. ...
  4. Hungarian. ...
  5. Korean. ...
  6. Finnish. ...
  7. Basque. ...
  8. Navajo.
16 Sept 2022

What is the hardest Spanish tense? ›

Subjunctive

This might be one of the hardest things to get. After being bombarded with tens of new tenses (in the indicative), you learn there's a whole other dimension of tenses called the subjuntivo.

What is the hardest part of Spanish? ›

The 6 Hardest Things about Learning Spanish
  • Conjugation overload.
  • Knowing where to place the accent.
  • That rolled “R”
  • Ser vs. Estar.
  • Many different dialects.
  • Keeping up with native speakers.
10 Nov 2015

What level of Spanish is considered fluent? ›

C1 and C2. The C1 and C2 levels are for proficient users. If your goal is Spanish fluency, aim for a C1 level in which you can fluently speak and express yourself. A C1 level does not mean you understand every word in the language but that you can handle most conversations and some tricky topics.

How many words do you need to be fluent in Spanish? ›

If you think about native-level fluency, you'll need to master between 20,000 and 40,000 words, and as you can see the margin is quite large. If you want to have a basic conversation, experts say that you'll just need around 3,000 words.

What is the hardest language to learn? ›

1. Mandarin Chinese. Interestingly, the hardest language to learn is also the most widely spoken native language in the world. Mandarin Chinese is challenging for a number of reasons.

What should I learn first in Spanish grammar? ›

Learn Only the Present, Subjunctive and Preterite Tenses at First. These three tenses—the present, subjunctive and preterite—are the most useful in Spanish. Everybody uses them hundreds of times every day, so if you have to learn some grammar (and indeed you do have to learn at least the basics), start here!

What is Spanish syntax? ›

Spanish word order follows a Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) pattern. Spanish word order is very similar to English word order, as English also follows SVO pattern. The sentence's subject is the “doer” of the action; the verb is the action, and the object is the person or thing affected by the action.

Is Spanish the hardest language to learn? ›

Spanish is reputed to be one of the easiest languages for native English speakers to learn, and with over 500 million fluent speakers (50 million of whom live in the US), you'd have to be living in a cave to not bump into one of them fairly often.

What is the easiest language to learn? ›

15 of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers -...
  • Frisian. Frisian is thought to be one of the languages most closely related to English, and therefore also the easiest for English-speakers to pick up. ...
  • Dutch. ...
  • Norwegian. ...
  • Spanish. ...
  • Portuguese. ...
  • Italian. ...
  • French. ...
  • Swedish.
24 Oct 2021

What language is closest to English? ›

The closest language to English is one called Frisian, which is a Germanic language spoken by a small population of about 480,000 people. There are three separate dialects of the language, and it's only spoken at the southern fringes of the North Sea in the Netherlands and Germany.

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