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Is Spanish Hard to Learn, and Should You Start Learning?

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There are many reasons why you should learn Spanish, and truth be told, everyone who’s looking to learn has their own special reason. Some learners might want to move to a Spanish-speaking country, while others might have a Spanish-speaking significant other. Some learners might just like the language, while others think that it’s a useful language to learn. And it is! In fact, Spanish is one of the most useful languages to learn in the world. 

But is Spanish hard to learn, as well? 

Well, it has the second-largest number of native speakers (after Mandarin Chinese) and it’s the fourth most-spoken language overall. Anyone who’s able to speak at least two of the most-spoken languages in the world already has a huge advantage compared to millions and millions of people. Have we convinced you yet?

Any reason you have for wanting to learn Spanish, or any other language you might be interested in, are valid. Once you start, we’re all in this together. But before you do, we’re sure you still want us to answer a few more questions about why Spanish is hard for some learners (and what things about it aren’t so bad). 

Here we go!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Learning Spanish Table of Contents
  1. So, is it Hard to Learn Spanish?
  2. What are the Hardest and Easiest Parts of Learning Spanish?
  3. I Want to Learn Spanish. Where Should I Start?
  4. What Advice Would You Give to a New Spanish Learner?
  5. Why is SpanishPod101.com Great for Learning Spanish?

1. So, is it Hard to Learn Spanish?

This is a question you’ve probably asked before while deciding whether to start learning Spanish. Maybe you’ve asked someone you know who’s learned the language, or a native Spanish-speaker, or even the Internet. In fact, that’s probably how you got to this article! It’s not an easy question to answer, because there are some factors you need to consider here. Let’s take a look at the main factor.

If you already speak another Romance language, such as French or Italian, you’ll already be familiar with the structures of the language and a lot of the vocabulary, which will make things much easier for you. This doesn’t mean that someone whose native language is Portuguese, for instance, will be able to learn Spanish immediately. But it will definitely be easier than it would be for someone who has never been around languages that are so close to Spanish.

For example, the word casa (“house”) in Spanish is also casa in both Portuguese and Italian. This is a phenomenon you’ll find going on with many other words, too! However, even though French is also a Romance language, it actually uses a very different word (maison) for “house.” Other words, nevertheless, will be the same or very similar. So there’s a bit of everything, really! 

But if your native language isn’t a Romance language, there’s no need to worry, because Spanish is still not counted among the most difficult languages. Just take a quick look at this article titled “The 20 Most Difficult Languages in the World to Learn.” You’ll notice that Spanish is not on it. That’s good news, isn’t it?

In conclusion, to answer the question we originally asked: No, it’s not hard to learn Spanish. Just like everything else in life, it will have some difficulties. But overall, it’s not that hard and anyone can learn it, no matter their native language, age, or any other factor that you’ve been told might affect your ability to learn a second language. Yay!

Happy Girl Surrounded by Money

2. What are the Hardest and Easiest Parts of Learning Spanish?

The answer to this question depends on who you ask and what your mother tongue is, but we’re pretty sure we can give you the type of answer you’re looking for. Here, we’ll cover what makes Spanish hard to learn as well as things that aren’t so bad for most students! 

A- Verbs

Every language, like it or not, has some hard parts. In this case, we believe that the hardest part of learning Spanish is the verbs, unless your native tongue is another Romance language with a similar number of conjugations. Spanish verbs are more complicated than verbs in English, because English doesn’t have as many conjugations.

The topic of ser and estar, two of the main Spanish verbs, is a particularly tough one. But lucky for you, we have the perfect article for that, as well as articles for many other difficult topics! This isn’t something you’ll have to worry about at the beginning of your Spanish learning, but it’s good to keep in mind for future reference.

Kid Struggling with Homework

B- Pronunciation

There are many easy aspects of learning Spanish, we think. For example, pronunciation, though it might seem tricky at first, is easy once you understand all the sounds. If you follow the rules, you know there aren’t going to be any surprises. We pronounce everything the way it’s spelled, with a couple of rare exceptions, such as not pronouncing the letter u in the combinations que, qui, gue, and gui (like in the English word “guitar”).

Spanish has a total of five vowel sounds, which is heavenly compared to the ridiculous number of vowel sounds in English. In this sense, Spanish likes to keep it simple. 

C- Vocabulary

Even though English isn’t a Romance language, there are thousands of words that sound very similar and that you’ll be able to identify immediately. Here are some examples:

  • Example: elefante
  • Translation: “elephant”
  • Example: invitación
  • Translation: “invitation”
  • Example: memoria 
  • Translation: “memory”

As you can see, despite the slight differences in spelling, you can immediately understand the meaning of these words in Spanish. There are also words that are spelled identically in both languages (idea, hotel, festival…). In most cases, the pronunciation won’t be exactly the same, but it sure does make the learning process a little smoother! 

D- False Friends

Be careful about false friends, though! False friends are words that also sound very similar, but have different meanings. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

  • Example: constipado
  • Translation: “to have a cold”

But you might have thought of a different word:

  • Example: estreñido
  • Translation: “constipated”

And now let’s look at a different pair from the opposite perspective. You might want to be careful whenever you say you’re embarrassed by something:

  • Example: embarazada
  • Translation: “pregnant”

The word you actually want to use is: 

  • Example: avergonzado/a
  • Translation: “embarrassed”

Keep in mind that most false friends won’t be as surprising as these! We selected the most shocking ones, but they’re exceptions. 

3. I Want to Learn Spanish. Where Should I Start?

We know that the first stages of learning a language can be overwhelming. There are many different ways to go about starting your language-learning journey, and it’s important to find the best one for you. We recommend starting with the basics. Before trying to learn too much at once, learn how to say “hello” and a few more basic words and phrases.

Beginning of a Race

Usually, one of the first lessons when you learn a new language is how to introduce yourself and how to ask another person to introduce themselves. You normally don’t start learning complicated grammar rules straight away. Instead, the idea is to build your skills up slowly.

4. What Advice Would You Give to a New Spanish Learner?

If you’ve just decided to start learning Spanish, welcome! You’re in for a treat. 

It won’t always be an easy ride, and some days you might find yourself getting stuck in a particular aspect of the language, but don’t give up! If there’s something you’re struggling with, ask us questions, do more research, or maybe move on to a different aspect for a while. Sometimes, a break is all you need to see things more clearly.

And remember: You won’t get anywhere without practicing! We’re sorry, we also wish we could learn it just like that, but any language requires practice to become fluent! There are many ways you can practice Spanish online, but if you can, we would recommend that you visit Spain and make some local friends.

Group of People Talking

5. Why is SpanishPod101.com Great for Learning Spanish?

At SpanishPod101.com, you’ll find everything you need to learn Spanish, from beginner lessons to more advanced ones. We have tons of free content for you to use, and we have so much more to offer if you upgrade your account to one of our Premium plans

If you upgrade your plan, you’ll have access to hundreds of useful lessons, videos, quizzes, and all of the vocabulary and grammar tools you need to become fluent in Spanish. In our most complete plan, Premium PLUS, you’ll even have access to a teacher who will be there just for you, so your program will be completely personalized. This means that if you ever have doubts or questions, you’ll be able to get help whenever you need it. 

Speaking of questions, feel free to drop us a comment with any questions or concerns you have about learning Spanish. We’ll be glad to help you out!

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The 9 Most Common Mistakes in Spanish for Learners

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We know that learning Spanish can be a bit frustrating, especially for native English-speakers. Trying to understand the language’s structure is intimidating to many—but calm down! No matter how many mistakes in Spanish you make along the way, the most important thing is to enjoy the process and learn step-by-step.

Knowing what to look out for will help you improve your Spanish language skills a lot more quickly. In this article, we’ll introduce you to the nine most common mistakes when learning Spanish. We’ll review a list of common mistakes of English speakers in Spanish, from pronunciation and vocabulary, to gender agreement and false friends. At the end, we’ll also cover some funny errors in Spanish that you should avoid at all costs! This guide will help you recognize many of the most common Spanish mistakes, and give you a better idea of how to correct them. 

In addition to this guide, we have a number of activities on SpanishPod101.com that you can use to practice everything you learn in this lesson.

Let’s get started!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. Pronunciation Mistakes
  2. False Friends and Similar-Sounding Words
  3. Gender and Number
  4. Using Unnecessary Pronouns: You & I
  5. Prepositions
  6. Grammatical Mistakes
  7. Word Order Mistakes
  8. Politeness Level
  9. The Most Common Embarrassing Mistakes
  10. To Sum Up…

Man Studying

1. Pronunciation Mistakes

Spanish pronunciation mistakes are some of the most common errors plaguing foreign learners. There are words and letters that require more forceful vocalization than English speakers are used to, and other words that contain silent letters that Spanish-learners don’t know what to do with.

In this section, we’ll show you some typical Spanish pronunciation mistakes and how to avoid them! 

    → We recommend that you review the Spanish alphabet before jumping into this section.

1 – Use of R, Ñ, J, and H

In Spanish, the sounds for letters like R, Ñ, J, and H have very special characteristics.

For example, a big mistake that many Spanish students make is to not trill the R. When native speakers hear this incorrect pronunciation, it may confuse them. 

Note that we trill the R at the beginning of a word, or the RR when it’s between two vowels. Otherwise, the sound needs to be weak.

Examples:

RROne R at the beginning of a word(Strong sound)One R(Weak sound)
Carro (“Trolley”)Río (“River”)Barato (“Cheap”)
Borrar (“Delete”)Rodilla (“Knee”)Parada (“Stop”)
Perro (“Dog”)Roca (“Rock”)Pera (“Pear”)
Tierra (“Earth”)Remo (“Rowing”)Caricia (“Caress”)

And now a quick note on the other letters:

  • H

    The H in Spanish is usually silent. We’ll talk more about this soon!
  • Ñ

    This letter has a very particular sound that many English-speakers struggle with. It sounds similar to the underlined sound in the words “canyon” and “onion.”
  • J

    The sound of the J is the same as that of the letter G, when the latter is followed by the letters e or i. In Latin American countries, the sound is the same and is very similar to the sound of H in English. But in countries like Spain, there’s a marked difference; for them, the sound of the G tends to occur in the back of the throat.

Teacher Pronunciation

Words with similar sounds:

Words with GWords with J
Geografía (“Geography”)Cerrajería (“Locksmith”)
Religión (“Religion”)Jarra (“Jug”)
Origen (“Origin”)Jirafa (“Giraffe”)
Genio (“Genius”)Caja (“Box”)

2 – How to Pronounce H

You should know that the H in Spanish never makes the English H sound. Here are the basics: 

  • If you see an H accompanied by a C (CH), it will have a sound similar to the CH in “church,” “chocolate,” or “change.”
  • If you see an H without a C, then it’s silent. 

Examples:      

CHH
Cuchillo (“Knife”)Helado (“Ice cream”)
Chino (“Chinese”)Hamburguesa (“Burger”)
Coche (“Car”)Hielo (“Ice”)
Mucho (“A lot”)Cohete (“Rocket”)
Chocolate (“Chocolate”)Cacahuete (“Peanut”)

3 – Pronouncing S and Z in Spain vs. Latin America

The S, C, and  Z

In Spanish from Spain, the C and Z sometimes have the same sound. The rule is simple: when C is accompanied by the letters e or i, and Z with a, o, or u, the pronunciation is done with the tongue in front of the teeth. That is, it emits a slightly more marked sound than that of the S.

Let’s see some examples:

  • Cena (“Dinner”)
  • Zorro (“Fox”)
  • Cielo (“Sky”)

On the other hand, in Latin American Spanish, S, C, and Z have identical pronunciations.

The best way to prevent making a mistake in Spanish here is to familiarize yourself with words that are spelled similarly but have different meanings. In addition, we recommend that you listen to the pronunciation of Spanish from Spain, so that you’ll avoid falling into translation and context errors. 

Similar wordsEnglish translation
Casa / Caza“House” /  “Hunting”
Basar / Bazar“Base on” / “Bazaar”
Abrasar / Abrazar“Burn” / “Hug”

2. False Friends and Similar-Sounding Words

Confused Woman

Several of the common mistakes Spanish-learners make have to do with writing, spelling, and pronunciation. False friends, intonation, and homonymous words frequently trip up new learners, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with these mistakes and their solutions! 

1 – False Friends

The word “Anglicism” may sound familiar to you. This basically refers to the influence that English has had on other languages, including Spanish.

Although this can be a great help to English-speakers, you must be careful! If not, you’ll fall into the trap of false friends.

These are words that look or sound similar to words in English, but have different meanings. Believe it or not, some of the most common mistakes in Spanish are the result of taking false friends at face value.

For example, did you know that the word recordar in Spanish means “remember,” not “record?” Here are some more false friends to look out for:

  • Enviar 
    • “Envy” X
    • “Send” O
  • Éxito 
    • “Exit” X
    • “Success” O 
  • Parada 
    • “Parade” X
    • “Bus stop” O
  • Vaso
    • “Vase” X
    • “Glass” O
  • Suceso 
    • “Success” X
    • “Event” O

2 – Accent and Tones

Accents in Spanish are graphic signs that are written over a letter to indicate the intensity with which that letter should be stressed. During your Spanish studies, you’ll find that several words—even if they’re spelled the same otherwise—take on different meanings depending on whether the accent mark is present or not. 

That said, it’s best to learn how to recognize them in order to avoid embarrassing situations like calling your father “potato” instead of “dad.”

Let’s look at some of the most common Spanish words, with accents and without, with their respective meanings:

SpanishEnglish
Él / El“He” / “The”
Papá / Papa“Father” / “Potato”
¿Por qué? / Porque“Why?” / “Because”
Práctico / Practico“Practical” / “I practice”
Bebé / Bebe“Baby” / “(S)he drinks”
De / Dé“Of” / “Give”
Sí / Si“Yes” / “If”
Esté / Este“Is” / “This”
Está / Esta“I am” (present subjunctive) / “This”
Bañó / Baño“(S)he bathed” / “Bathroom”

3 – Spanish Homonymous Words

More typical Spanish mistakes have to do with homonymous words. The name may sound very technical, but these are simply words that have identical or similar pronunciations, but different meanings. In this case, there are no accent marks to distinguish between them. 

In this category, there are homographs and homophones.

Example:

  • María buscó diferentes citas de autor para su tesis doctoral.
    “María looked for different authors’ quotes for her doctoral thesis.”
  • Tengo una cita romántica esta noche.
    “I have a romantic date tonight.”

Both Spanish sentences use the word cita, but the context is completely different. This can also happen with the following words:

  • Alce
    “Moose”
    OR
    Conjugation of the verb “to pick up”
  • Capital
    The capital of a city
    OR
    Money one has collected over the years

4 – Homophones 

These are words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings. You can usually determine which spelling is appropriate based on the context. 

Examples:

  • asta (“stick”) vs. hasta (“still”)
  • grabe (“record”) vs. grave (“serious”)

As we explained previously, Latin Americans and some Spaniards pronounce the letters Z, C, and S exactly the same way. For this reason, the following words are also homophones in those particular regions. In standard Iberian Spanish, however, these words are not homophones.

  • abrasar (“burn”) vs. abrazar (“hug”)
  • Asia (“Asia”) vs. hacia (“towards”)

Question Mark

3. Gender and Number

Other typical Spanish language mistakes that foreign students make involve gender and number. In fact, native Spanish-speakers can easily identify non-native speakers, because these kinds of mistakes are very obvious and Spanish-learners make them all the time.

In Spanish, gender refers to whether a noun is masculine or feminine. For example, una mesa (“a table”) is feminine, while un vaso (“a glass”) is masculine.

Number refers to whether a noun is singular or plural; keep in mind that you must use the appropriate articles based on the number! For example, las mesas (“the tables”) is plural, while la mesa (“the table”) is singular.

How can you know what gender and number a noun is?

In terms of gender, feminine nouns generally end in -a or -e: puerta (“door”) / llave (“key”). On the other hand, masculine nouns generally end with -o: vaso (“glass”) / suelo (“floor”) / baño (“bathroom”). 

A noun’s article will give information on both its gender and number, in most cases. We’ll talk more about this in the following sections. 

1 – Plural vs. Singular (Is vs. Are)

Many students get confused about singular vs. plural nouns and their articles. In particular, the use of es and son (“is” and “are”) trips up new learners. 

To help you avoid Spanish mistakes like this, you should know the difference between a phrase in the plural and another in the singular. 

If a noun has an -S at the end and is also accompanied by son (“are”), it’s plural. On the other hand, if the noun does not carry an -S and is accompanied by es (“is”), it’s singular.

  • Las iglesias son grandes. (“The churches are big.”) O
    Las iglesias es grandes. (“The churches is big.”) X
  • Los edificios son altos. (“The buildings are tall.”) – Plural
  • El edificio es alto. (“The building is tall.”) – Singular

2 – Gender: Masculine vs. Feminine 

Remember: Nouns and their articles are always going to be masculine or feminine. Here’s a chart to help you differentiate between the articles and what they mean:

Singular M.Plural M.Singular F.Plural F.
El / “The”Los / “The”La / “The”Las / “The”
Un / “A”Unos / “Some”Una / “A”Unas / “Some”

Examples: 

  • La chica es muy inteligente. (“The girl is very intelligent.”) O
  • Una chica es muy inteligente. (“A girl is very intelligent.”) X
  •  Mi hermana compró un gran libro. (“My sister bought a great book.”) O
  • Mi hermana compró el gran libro. (“My sister bought the great book.”) X

Now let’s see the difference between singular masculine and feminine articles: 

  • El árbol está floreciendo. NOT La árbol está floreciendo.
    “The tree is flowered.”
  • La puerta está abierta. NOT El puerta está abierto.
    “The door is open.”

Word Exchange

4. Using Unnecessary Pronouns: You & I 

As a general rule, pronouns in English are indispensable. But this is not the case in Spanish. This is largely an advantage for foreign students, as it makes sentences much easier to write and speak.

For example:

  • (Tú) Comes mucho.
    “You eat a lot.”

However, many English-speakers, out of habit, construct their Spanish sentences using pronouns where they’re not needed. 

Of course, this mistake isn’t too serious. The worst that will happen is that native speakers may joke that you speak like a robot or, in more colloquial words, “speak as an Indian.”

Just try to remember that pronouns are generally irrelevant when speaking, since the verbs should already be conjugated to portray who you’re talking about.

  • Yo voy sacar el perro a pasear. (“I’m going to take the dog for a walk.”)
    = Voy a sacar el perro a pasear. (“[I’m] going to take the dog for a walk.”)
  • Tú necesitas descansar más. (“You need to rest more.”)
    = Necesitas descansar más. (“You need to rest more.”)

5. Prepositions 

“I go to your house by dinner with you.” 

Sounds weird, right? 

Maybe you’ve noticed similar mistakes when listening to native Spanish-speakers converse in English. But did you know that the reverse is also true? Many English-speakers use incorrect prepositions when speaking Spanish! 

In this section, we’ll pay special attention to two of the most commonly used prepositions in Spanish: por and para.

When to Use Them

Por is used to explain causation or motivation, while para is used to refer to the purpose of an action.

Many English-speakers struggle to differentiate between these two prepositions, and as a result, create very confusing sentences. 

For example, it’s not correct to say: Voy a tu casa por cenar contigo. Instead, you should say: Voy a tu casa para cenar contigo. (“I go to your house for dinner with you.”) In this case, you’re explaining that you’re going to the house for a specific reason, which is to have dinner.

Examples with por:

  • Vine a Madrid por mi trabajo.
    “I came to Madrid for my work.”
  • Voy de viaje por unos días.
    “I’m going on a trip for a few days.”

Examples with para:

  • Utilizo mi coche para ir a trabajar.
    “I use my car to go to work.”
  • Este regalo es para ti.
    “This gift is for you.”
  • El doctor recetó antibióticos para la infección.
    “The doctor prescribed antibiotics for the infection.”

6. Grammatical Mistakes

Many English-speakers struggle with Spanish grammar. 

To help you avoid making too many grammatical errors, we’re going to leave you some of the most common examples. By internalizing them, you’ll greatly boost your Spanish fluency!

Thinking Girl

Confusing Spanish Verbs: SER vs. ESTAR

If you’ve studied even a little Spanish, you probably know already that there are some aspects of Spanish grammar that are complicated for English-speakers because they don’t exist in English. 

One of them is the difference between ser and estar. In many cases, it can be easy to know which one to use. But there are certain situations where distinguishing between them is more difficult. 

With time and practice, you’ll see yourself making more and more progress, and better understanding these concepts.

Using ser:

Ser is used to describe permanent or long-lasting characteristics/states of being. 

For example:

  • El hombre es alto. (“The man is tall.”)

Using estar:

Estar is used to talk about location or temporary characteristics/states of being. 

For example:

  • Paris está en Francia. (“Paris is in France.”)

More examples:

Incorrect XCorrect OEnglish Sentence
Ella es dormida.                   Ella está dormida.“She is asleep.”        
Mi vecino está amable.  Mi vecino es amable.“My neighbor is kind.”     
La mujer está delgada.   La mujer es delgada. “The woman is thin.”        

“To like” vs. Gustar 

New learners often make mistakes in Spanish when using the verb gustar

Often, when translating the verb gustar into English, we give it the meaning “to like.” However, note that there are marked differences between the English “to like” and the Spanish gustar.

Take this sentence for example: 

  • Me gusta mucho la paella.
    “I like paella very much.”

Here, me gusta really means something along the lines of “it gives me pleasure.” In the example sentence, the paella gives the speaker pleasure, making the speaker the object of the sentence.

The mistake that some learners make is to use the Spanish pronoun yo (“I”) and treat themselves as the subject or doer. So they normally say:

Yo me gusto la paella mucho, which is incorrect. 

If you want to say that you like the paella, you have to omit the pronoun yo and only say: Me gusta la paella.

7. Word Order Mistakes 

English-speakers often make word order mistakes when learning Spanish. This usually happens for two reasons:

1) They directly translate English phrases into Spanish, word for word.

2) They believe that the first noun they hear is always the subject of the sentence.

Let’s see some examples.

  • Adjectives 

By now, you should know that in Spanish, the adjectives usually go after the subject: 

English Sentence       Incorrect Translation         Correct Translation
“That’s a red car.”Ese es un rojo coche.Ese es un coche rojo.
“The white door”La blanca puertaLa puerta blanca
“A large stadium”Un grande estadioUn estadio grande

  • The Effect of Word Order on the Sentence’s Meaning

In Spanish, the meaning of a sentence can be the same even if the word order is changed.

Example: 

  • Sarah le cantó una canción a Marco.
  • A  Marco le cantó una canción Sarah.  

In both sentences, Sarah sang the song. It doesn’t matter that Marco’s name came first in the second sentence.

8. Politeness Level

First things first, let’s talk about what this means in Spain vs. Latin America: In Spain, courtesy is less common than in Latin American countries.

Here’s an example of things you would hear in Spain:

  • ¿Me pone una caña, cuando pueda? (“Can I have a beer when you can?”)
  • ¿Tiene usted la hora? (“Do you have the time?”)

In Latin America, they use more formalities when speaking:

  • Hola, ¿me das una cerveza, por favor? (“Hello, can you give me a beer, please?”)
  • ¿Buenas tardes, me podría indicar esta dirección? (“Good afternoon, could you give me this address?”)

Tú vs. Usted

is used more with family and friends, while usted is used with people who are older than you and strangers. 

  • Speaking to Strangers / Older People

¿Me podría ayudar con esta dirección, please? (“Could you help me with this address, please?”)

  • Speaking to Family / Friends

¿Me dices la dirección? / ¿Dime la dirección? (“Can you tell me this address, please?”)


People Talking

9. The Most Common Embarrassing Mistakes

To end on a lighter note, here are some mistakes often made by Spanish-learners when they mis-speak a phrase. Pay close attention to avoid the potential embarrassment yourself! 

What you think you’re saying:What you’re saying in Spanish (Incorrect form)What you’re really saying:What you should say(Correct form)
“I’m hot.”Estoy caliente.“I have heat.”Tengo calor.
“I’m embarrassed.”Estoy embarazado (a).“I’m pregnant.”Tengo vergüenza.
“I’m excited.”Estoy excitado.“I’m horny.”Estoy emocionado (a).
“I’m 25 years old.”Tengo 25 anos.“I have 25 anuses.”Tengo 25 años.

10. To Sum Up…

In this article, you learned the nine most common Spanish mistakes. There are many others, but this list is a good place to start; by avoiding these issues, you’ll soon be able to speak with confidence. Believe me, you’ll feel great!

On SpanishPod101.com, you can also find lots of video and audio lessons related to this topic. We have everything you need to further your studies and to keep learning Spanish in a fresh and clear manner.

Before you go, let us know in the comments which common Spanish mistakes you’ve made before. Has our article helped clear up any confusion? We look forward to hearing from you!

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A Traditional Christmas Countdown: Las Posadas in Mexico

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Can you believe it’s almost Christmas? It’s the time of year when the cold of winter culminates to a time of warmth, joy, and compassion. 

Did you know that in Mexico, there’s an entire nine-night festival leading up to Christmas? 

In this article, you’ll learn about the Las Posadas holiday, how it got started, and more fun Las Posadas facts.

Are you ready?

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1. What is Las Posadas?

A Silhouette of Mary and Joseph’s Journey

Each year, Mexicans observe the Las Posadas festival from December 16 to December 24. For these nueve noches (“nine nights”), Mexicans commemorate the journey of Mary and Joseph, the parents of Jesus. 

This long holiday, leading up to Navidad (“Christmas”), first came to Mexico in the year 1586. Prior to this, the indigenous people celebrated a pagan holiday for the winter solstice. According to their beliefs, one of their major deities—Huitzilopochtli—was celebrated in the month of December. 

Once Christmas celebrations took root in Mexico, they integrated quite well into the Mexican culture. In fact, Spanish missionaries took advantage of the similarities between the holidays to give the Mexicans a Christian holiday that melded with the traditional Mexican beliefs.  


2. How is Las Posadas Celebrated?

A Procession for Las Posadas

There are several Las Posadas holiday traditions, the most important of which is the procesión (“procession”) depicting Mary and Joseph’s journey. This procession takes place each of the nine nights during the festival, and generally takes one of two forms. 

In one form, two people will act out the roles of Mary and Joseph. They walk around a house or garden, led by a small procession carrying candles. Upon knocking on the door of the house, a song is sung and the two are allowed to enter the home (along with their procession).

In the other form, one half of the group acts as the procession while the other half acts as the innkeepers. Those in the procession, rather than dressing up in costumes, will carry images of Mary and Joseph with them as they walk around the house. The “innkeepers” will be waiting inside the house and let the procession inside once the song is sung. 

Upon entering the posada (“lodging”), the group will first pray and engage in other religious activities. Afterwards, the real party begins! There’s a lot of great food and drinks to be enjoyed, as well as Las Posadas songs to be sung. 

Popular Las Posadas foods include tamales, pambazos, and the favorite holiday drinks atole and a hot punch with a touch of alcohol. Of course, one can expect to find an array of treats, including churros, Christmas cookies, and hot chocolate. Children look forward to each night of Las Posadas just as much as the adults! Every night, they break open a piñata (“piñata”) and get to indulge in lots of caramelo (“candy”) and other sweets. 

People may also sing villancicos (“Christmas carols”) and put on a Christmas obra (“play”), considering the festival’s close proximity to Christmas. 

    → See our vocabulary list of popular Mexican Foods to learn the names of other dishes you might encounter on Las Posadas!

3. Come in, Holy Pilgrims…

Several Christmas Decorations and Sheet Music for Christmas

The singing of the holiday song Pidiendo Posada during the procession is one of the most iconic Las Posadas traditions. Do you know what the lyrics are?

Well, there are many stanzas to the song, but the most important is:

“…I am a carpenter by the name Joseph…my wife is Maria…and of the Divine Word she is going to be a mother.”

Once the door opens, the innkeepers say:

“Come in holy pilgrims, pilgrims, and receive this little corner. For although poor the abode, poor the abode, I give it to you with my heart.”

4. Essential Vocabulary for Las Posadas

Some Mint Candies against a White Background

Let’s review some of the vocabulary words from this article!

  • Caramelo – “Candy” [noun, masculine]
  • Navidad  – “Christmas” [proper noun, feminine]
  • Cantar – “Sing” [verb]
  • Piñata – “Piñata” [noun, feminine]
  • Posada – “Lodging” [noun, feminine]
  • Nueve noches – “Nine nights”
  • Villancico – “Christmas carol” [noun, masculine]
  • Procesión – “Procession” [noun, feminine]
  • Obra – “Play” [noun, feminine]
  • Tradición – “Tradition” [noun, feminine]

Remember that you can hear the pronunciation of each word on our Las Posadas vocabulary list.

Final Thoughts

Las Posadas is a fun traditional holiday that characterizes both the religious nature of many Mexicans and the pagan traditions of times past. Infuse these characteristics with the joys of Christmas, family, and Mexican food, and you have a festive season not to be missed!

If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more about Mexican culture or the Spanish language, SpanishPod101.com has several blog posts we think you’ll like:

Have you been loving our blog? Then you’ll definitely enjoy going through our vast library of Spanish lessons. All you have to do is create your free lifetime account to get started! This will give you access to fun and accessible lessons on a variety of topics, taught by native Spanish speakers. What are you waiting for?

Good luck with your Spanish, and Happy Las Posadas!

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Top 10 Questions in Spanish and How to Answer Them

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Can you ask questions in Spanish yet? 

We’re sure you’re aware that to master any language, you can’t rely solely on affirmative sentences. You need to know how to ask questions, though some questions are more important than others. This is especially true for non-native speakers who are just starting out. Knowing the right questions can help you survive self-introductions, and others can get you out of sticky situations.  

The first thing you need to learn, if you haven’t yet, are Spanish question words. Knowing these words, as well as the most common questions in Spanish, you can start asking your own questions! You can find a list of Spanish question words in our article about pronouns.

Now, onto our list of Spanish questions and answers for beginners!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. ¿Cómo te llamas? – “What’s your name?”
  2. ¿De dónde eres? – “Where are you from?”
  3. ¿Hablas español? – “Do you speak Spanish?”
  4. ¿Cuánto tiempo llevas estudiando español? – “How long have you been studying Spanish?”
  5. ¿Alguna vez has estado en España? – “Have you ever been in Spain?”
  6. ¿Cómo es…? – “How is…?”
  7. ¿Te gusta la comida española? – “Do you like Spanish food?”
  8. ¿Qué estás haciendo? – “What are you doing?”
  9. ¿Qué te pasa? – “What’s wrong?”
  10. ¿Cuánto cuesta? – “How much is it?”
  11. How SpanishPod101.com Can Help You Master Spanish

1. ¿Cómo te llamas? – “What’s your name?”

Our first question is one that you’ve probably heard before. The literal translation of this question would be something like “How are you called?” But while that might sound weird, you probably realize that this is just the classic question we ask to learn someone’s name. This question is very important, and usually one of the first ones you learn when you start studying Spanish.

First Encounter

Other Ways of Asking this Question

There’s another way to ask the same question, though it’s not as popular as the one above:

¿Cuál es tu nombre? 

This one doesn’t have a strange literal translation. Instead, it just means “Which is your name?” which makes it easier to explain, doesn’t it? Because it’s a near-literal translation of the English question, you might be tempted to use this one instead of ¿Cómo te llamas? But remember that the first one we showed you is more common, so you’ll sound more natural if you use that one.

How to Answer this Question

There are a few different ways of answering this question, and even though some are longer than others, they’re all equally valid. In this case, there’s no one answer that’s most common, except for maybe the last one, which is also the easiest. It’s your lucky day!

Example: Me llamo Francisco. 
Translation: “My name is Francisco.”

Example: Soy Ana.
Translation: “I’m Ana.”

Example: Juan.
Translation: “Juan.”

Something else you might find useful is how to follow your answer after someone has asked you your name. You can add ¿Y tú? (“And you?”) at the end if you would also like to know their name. 

If you’re curious about Spanish names, here’s an article from late 2018 that lists some common names in Spain

2. ¿De dónde eres? – “Where are you from?”

Here’s another one of the most basic Spanish questions that we commonly use when meeting someone for the first time.

Other Ways of Asking this Question

There’s another common way of asking this question, which we use in English as well.

Example: ¿De dónde vienes?
Translation: “Where do you come from?”

How to Answer this Question
Once again, there are different, equally valid answers we can give to a question like this. You can refer to your nationality or to your home country.

Example: Soy húngaro. 
Translation: “I am Hungarian.”

Example: Soy de Hungría.
Translation: “I am from Hungary.”

Example: Vengo de Hungría.
Translation: “I come from Hungary.”

3. ¿Hablas español? – “Do you speak Spanish?”

This is a question that you might be asked, or that you might ask, someday. Of course, you can change it to ask about any other language. For example, if you’re in Spain and you’re talking to someone in Spanish, but you’re not feeling too comfortable yet, you could ask them: ¿Hablas inglés? (“Do you speak English?”) and hope they say yes!

How to Answer this Question

There are a few different answers you could give someone who asks you this question.

There are the simple answers, which you probably already know:

Example: Sí.
Translation: “Yes.”

Example: No.
Translation: “No.”

There’s another simple alternative to “yes” or “no” in case you didn’t understand the question in the first place (which we could say is really another way of telling them you’re not too fluent yet):

Example: ¿Qué?
Translation: “What?”

And a few more elaborate answers:

Example: Un poco. / Un poquito.
Translation: “A bit.” / “A little bit.”

Example: Hablo [un poco] de español.
Translation: “I speak [a bit of] Spanish.”

4. ¿Cuánto tiempo llevas estudiando español? – “How long have you been studying Spanish?”

When you meet someone from Spain and tell them you study Spanish, they might ask how long you’ve been doing that for. 

How to Answer this Question

The answer you give (or that you’re given) will obviously vary, but you have two simple options. One is to just say the short answer:

Example: Un año.
Translation: “One year.”

While this will work just fine, we do have a slightly longer (no panicking, it’s just one extra word!) reply:

Example: Llevo tres meses.
Translation: “[I have been] for three months.”

Girl Studying

Notice that both the question and the “long” answer use the verb llevar. This verb usually means “to bring,” but it’s also used to talk about the amount of time you’ve been doing something for. Another example using this verb would be: Llevo dos años viviendo en Barcelona. (“I’ve been living in Barcelona for two years.”)

5. ¿Alguna vez has estado en España? – “Have you ever been in Spain?”

Following are some useful questions and answers for Spanish-learners who are traveling to a Spanish-speaking country or chatting with someone who’s familiar with Spain.

Other Ways of Asking this Question

Example: ¿Has ido alguna vez a España?
Translation: “Have you ever gone to Spain?”

Example: ¿Has estado en España?
Translation: “Have you been in Spain?”

Example: ¿Alguna vez has visitado España?
Translation: “Have you ever visited Spain?”

Or, a slight variation:

Example: ¿Es la primera vez que vienes a España?
Translation: “Is this the first time you’ve come to Spain?”

How to Answer this Question

This is another yes-or-no question, so we have a couple of obvious answers. However, there are a few more options, including longer answers, that you might like to use if you’re feeling confident enough.

Example: No, nunca he estado.
Translation: “No, I’ve never been there.”

Example: He estado en España dos veces.
Translation: “I’ve been in Spain twice.”

Introducing Yourself

6. ¿Cómo es…? – “How is…?”

This is a more open-ended question that you can alter based on your inquiry; it’s used to ask someone to describe something. In English, the translation will sometimes be something more like: “What’s ___ like?” Here are some examples:

Example: ¿Cómo es Granada en invierno?
Translation: “How is Granada in the winter?”

Example: ¿Cómo es el interior de una pelota?
Translation: “What is the inside of a ball like?”

How to Answer this Question

Because there are so many different questions one could ask, there are even more answers one could give. An example would be to use an adjective, but other times, the question might require a longer explanation.

Example: ¡Es maravilloso!
Translation: “It’s wonderful!”

7. ¿Te gusta la comida española? – “Do you like Spanish food?”

Spaniards are very, very proud of their cuisine. That means that if you’re visiting Spain (or have visited in the past), and you meet someone Spanish, it’s quite likely that they’ll ask you this. In case you’re wondering, they’re expecting you to tell them you love it.

Other Ways of Asking this Question

Here’s another common way to ask this question:

Example: ¿Qué te parece la comida española?
Translation: “What do you think about Spanish food?”

Spanish Omelette

How to Answer this Question

Example: ¡Me encanta! 
Translation: “I love it!”

Example: Me gusta mucho.
Translation: “I like it very much.”

We hope you never use it to answer this question, but we thought we should probably teach you how to say you don’t like it.

Example: No me gusta [nada].
Translation: “I don’t like it [at all].”

8. ¿Qué estás haciendo? – “What are you doing?”

This question is pretty clear, we think! It can be asked in different contexts and with different intentions, but in any case, we understand it.

Other Ways of Asking this Question

We have another similar way of asking this question:

Example: ¿Qué haces?
Translation: “What do you do?”

This is the literal translation, but it may also refer to what one is doing at the moment of asking the question.

How to Answer this Question

Obviously, there are many ways of answering this question, because there are many things you could be doing.

Example: Estoy limpiando mi habitación.
Translation: “I’m cleaning up my room.”

We don’t want to say anything, but in case you ever need it, we thought we’d give you the following example:

Example: No es lo que parece.
Translation: “It’s not what it looks like.”

9. ¿Qué te pasa? – “What’s wrong?”

Sometimes you might feel like someone is down or struggling. You need to know the right question to ask in order to help them out.

Other Ways of Asking this Question

While this version of the question doesn’t have exactly the same meaning, you could still ask it in a similar situation:

Example: ¿Estás bien?
Translation: “Are you okay?”

How to Answer this Question

You never know what reply you’re going to get, but there are a few answers you’re likely to hear. It’s also possible that the person you ask won’t want to give you a direct answer:

Example: Nada
Translation: “Nothing.”

Or maybe they’ll reply with an adjective, by telling you an emotion they’re feeling.

Example: Estoy enfadado/a. 
Translation: “I’m angry.”

Example: Estoy triste.
Translation: “I’m sad.”

Sad Girl with Friend

Perhaps they’ll really explain the reason something’s wrong:

Example: Mi hermana está muy enferma.
Translation: “My sister is very sick.”

10. ¿Cuánto cuesta? – “How much is it?”

If you want to go shopping in a Spanish-speaking country, but you can’t find the price tag, it will be useful to know these simple Spanish questions and answers.

Other Ways of Asking this Question

Example: ¿Cuánto es? 
Translation: “How much is it?”

How to Answer this Question

Example: Cuesta 400 €.
Translation: “It costs 400 €.”

Example: Son 3 €. 
Translation: “It’s 3 €.”

Paying on Card

11. How SpanishPod101.com Can Help You Master Spanish

We hope you found these common Spanish questions and answers useful, and that they inspire you to ask more questions and learn more in order to become fluent in Spanish. 

Are there any questions we missed? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll do our best to help you out! 

Remember there’s a lot more that you can learn at SpanishPod101.com. Check out our great variety of lessons, our free vocabulary lists, and much more.

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How to Pass the DELE Spanish Proficiency Test

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At some point in your Spanish-learning journey, you’ll probably want to test your mettle and see how far you’ve come. Few things are as motivating as tangible progress, after all! And depending on your reasons for learning Spanish, becoming certified in your Spanish proficiency may be necessary to achieve your goals.

That’s where the DELE Spanish test comes in. 

In this article, we’ll explain everything about the DELE, one of the official Spanish language exams: what it is, how to sign up, and why you should care. You’ll also learn all the details about the six possible DELE Spanish exam levels and how to identify yours. 

Women Doubting

For those of you who don’t know much about DELE, this article will inform you about everything you need to know. For those of you who have decided to take the exam, this article is also designed to help you prepare for the big day. In particular, we’ll give you an in-depth look at each of the four sections of the exam and offer you some tips and techniques to succeed!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Study Strategies in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. What is the Spanish DELE Exam?
  2. Introduction to the DELE Exam
  3. DELE A1
  4. DELE A2
  5. DELE B1
  6. DELE B2
  7. DELE C1
  8. DELE C2
  9. Tips on Preparing for DELE
  10. Conclusion

1. What is the Spanish DELE Exam?

DELE stands for Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera, or in English, “Spanish as a Foreign Language Diploma.”

This is an official diploma that certifies various levels of proficiency in Spanish.

This certificate is issued by the Instituto Cervantes, the official representative of the Ministerio de Educación y Formación Profesional de España. El Instituto Cervantes is an official Spanish institution recognized worldwide, which makes the DELE the best choice for validating your Spanish proficiency. 

This exam is designed by following the Common European Framework of References for Languages. So, it’s made and designed by the standards of the European Union.

Flag of Europen Union

1- Why Should You Take the DELE Exam?

There are many possible reasons why you would want to pass a DELE:

  • If you’re considering entering into a Spanish university
  • If you’re planning to apply for a Spanish permit
  • If you want to find a job in Spain or any other Spanish-speaking country
  • If you want to request a Spanish citizenship

Whatever your reasons, it’s good to know that the DELE is:

  • Valid for a lifetime (it does not have an expiration date)
  • Internationally recognized 
  • In accordance with the CEFR Common European Framework, for levels A1 through C2 

Yes! The Spanish DELE certificates cover all the levels, from A1 to C2. It’s a highly recommended certificate if you want to access the professional and academic world of a Spanish-speaking country.

In Spain, DELE certificates are recognized by institutions and national organizations such as the Ministry of Justice of Spain, Ministry of Health of Spain, and some general State Administration and public bodies.

Generally, it’s recommended that a Spanish student aims to pass the DELE Spanish exam at the B2 level. This shows that the student can interact with natives, have a clear argument, and understand the gist of what they read and hear. Further, many universities and official institutions in Spanish-speaking countries ask that candidates attain the B2 certification. 

With the basics out of the way, let’s move on to our section on DELE preparation and what to expect.

A Man Taking a Spanish Exam

2- What Do the DELE Exams Look Like?

The DELE exam consists of four distinct sections

1. Reading (Compresión de lectura)

2. Writing (Expresión e interacción escrita)

3. Listening (Comprensión auditiva)

4. Speaking (Expresión e interacción oral)

Depending on which level you’re testing for, you may be allotted a different amount of time per section. 

Keep reading to learn more about each section! 

3- Additional DELE Information

Before we move forward, we’re going to cover a few key points that you should know before you start preparing! 

A- Subjects

The DELE exams tend to cover four key subjects:

  • Personal
  • Public
  • Education
  • Professional

Thus, many of the questions, texts, and listening materials will have something to do with one of those key areas. The idea is to test your Spanish proficiency in a variety of contexts, depending on your goals and which level you’re testing for.

B- Who Can Take DELE?

You may be glad to hear that there are no restrictions concerning who can take the exam! All of the age and nationality restrictions that were previously in place have been taken down. 

On a side note, if you’re younger than sixteen years old, you’ll need to have a parent or guardian help you register.

You can find some more information about who can take the test on this official web page.

C- Where Can You Sign Up & Take the Exam?

There are testing centers for the DELE exam all over the globe. To find your nearest testing center, you can check on the official web page and reach out to the location to register.

If you’re in Spain, you can register from the Instituto Cervantes web page directly. But if you’re testing elsewhere, you must register with your nearest location. 

2. Introduction to the DELE Exam

In order to prepare for the DELE, you need to know which level you’re at and what level you’re aiming for. 

Why?

Well, the level you decide to test for will determine a number of factors concerning how you should prepare. For example, different DELE levels may give test-takers different amounts of time per section or cover specific topics not included in other levels.

Be reasonable with your goals, though. It would be very difficult to push yourself from the A1 level (beginner) to the C1 level (advanced), unless you give yourself six months or more to study. Anything can be achieved if you study hard, though we do recommend you keep your goals doable for you and your lifestyle! 

Now we’ll provide all the information and details you need to pass the Spanish DELE exam.

LevelDescriptionYou should:
A1

DELE A1
A1 – for young learners (candidates eleven to seventeen years old)
BeginnerUnderstand and use familiar everyday Spanish expressions as well as simple statements about practical needs
Introduce yourself to someone in Spanish
Ask someone questions in Spanish
Answer similar types of questions
Have very basic conversations if the other person is talking slowly and deliberately articulating
A2

DELE A2
Lower-intermediateUnderstand and be able to use daily Spanish  expressions relevant to your surroundings, like personal information, shopping phrases, or interesting locations
Address questions about your immediate needs
You should be able to communicate about usual or known aspects of your past or your environment
B1

DELE B1

A2/B1 for young learners (candidates eleven to seventeen years old) The candidates who pass will receive one of the two certificates, depending on their results.
IntermediateUnderstand main topics like studies, work, or daily life when you’re listening to or reading texts
Be prepared to handle situations that take place in these familiar contexts
Write simple but coherent texts on familiar topics like experiences, plans, wishes, or opinions
B2

DELE B2
Upper-intermediateUnderstand abstract or technical situations, whether written or spoken, as well as accents and variations of the Spanish language 
Speak in Spanish fluently and naturally without hesitation 
Debate when you write about several topics and be capable of defending your opinion
C1

DELE C1
AdvancedUnderstand variations of the Spanish language, and recognize variations, intentions, and meanings
Express yourself fluently, spontaneously, and without any apparent effort
Always find the adequate expression for every situation and context
Write very difficult texts effortlessly and be able to build high-quality texts with a coherent structure
C2

DELE C2
ProficientHandle any situation and understand everything, written or spoken, regardless of how complex, abstract, or unfamiliar it is, or what variety of Spanish is used
Express yourself spontaneously, fluently, and with exceptional semantic and grammatical precision in every context 

The content of your DELE exam depends on your level, so it’s important that you become familiar with each of the four exam sections based on level. They all follow the structure given above, but the time allotments and exercises may change. 

Head Full of Questions

Tip: Remember to do the sections you’re good at first, and focus on the more difficult ones last so you can spend more time on those sections. That way, you don’t lose your score!

3. DELE A1

Reading test

For your reading test, you should be able to understand common Spanish words and names, as well as easy phrases such as those on street signs or in catalogues.

  • Duration: 45 min
  • Sections: 4
  • Exercises: 25

Listening test

You should be able to recognize basic Spanish words and expressions that are used in everyday interactions and in contexts that are familiar to you.

  • Duration: 20 min
  • Sections: 4
  • Exercises: 25

Speaking test

You should be able to use easy Spanish expressions and sentences to describe where you live and the people you know.

  • Duration: 15 min
  • Sections: 4

Writing test

For the writing portion, you should be able to write simple phrases and sentences, such as birthday wishes or a postcard.

  • Duration: 25 min
  • Sections: 2
  • This reading part of the DELE exams takes the 25 %

4. DELE A2

Reading test

If you’re planning to take the DELE A2, you should be capable of reading and understanding short and easy Spanish texts. 

  • Duration: 60 min
  • Sections: 5
  • Exercises: 30

Listening test

For the listening test, you should understand Spanish sentences and Spanish vocabulary about everyday topics. 

  • Duration: 35 min
  • Sections: 5
  • Exercises: 30

Speaking test

You should be able to communicate in a simple fashion about daily things and activities. You should be able to have short social conversations in Spanish.

  • Duration: 15 min
  • Sections: 4

Writing test

You should be able to write basic Spanish notes and messages that relate to your immediate needs.

  • Duration: 50 min
  • Exercises: 30
Language Skills

5. DELE B1

Reading test

You should be able to understand ideas and concepts used in everyday life, such as words and phrases in Spanish TV shows. 

  • Duration: 40 min
  • Sections: 5
  • Exercises: 30

Listening test

If you’re taking the DELE B2, you should understand texts written in everyday Spanish language. You should also be able to grasp the description of events, feelings, and wishes in personal letters.

  • Duration: 70 min
  • Sections: 5
  • Exercises: 30

Speaking test

You should be able to handle almost all situations when traveling to a Spanish-speaking country. In addition, you should be able to spontaneously take part in conversations about familiar and daily topics. 

  • Duration: 15 min
  • Sections: 4

Writing test

You should be able to write easy and well-connected Spanish texts about familiar topics and personal interests. You should also be able to write personal letters describing any of your experiences and impressions.

  • Duration: 60 min
  • Sections: 2

6. DELE B2

Reading test

For the DELE B2 reading test, you should be capable of understanding articles on current issues as well as contemporary literature in Spanish.

  • Duration: 70 min
  • Sections: 4
  • Exercises: 36

Listening test

You should be able to understand speeches or conferences, including complex chains of thought. In addition, you should be able to follow TV news and understand most movies in standard Spanish.

  • Duration: 40 min
  • Sections: 5
  • Exercises: 30

Writing test

For the writing test, you should be able to write clear Spanish texts about a variety of topics and elaborate on a specific point of view. 

  • Duration: 80 min
  • Sections: 2

Speaking test

For the speaking test in Spanish, you should be fluent and spontaneous when having a conversation with natives. 

Oh, yes! This level is quite a lot harder! 

You should also be able to elaborate and defend your point of view in debates. 

  • Duration: 80 min
  • Sections: 2

7. DELE C1

Reading test

For the DELE C1 reading test, you should be able to read long and complex Spanish texts with different literary styles, as well as technical instructions. 

  • Duration: 90 min
  • Sections: 5
  • Exercises: 40

Listening test

For the listening portion, you should be able to understand speech, including dialogue in TV shows and movies, without effort. So, try some Netflix in Spanish and see if this DELE exam is for you.

  • Duration: 50 min
  • Sections: 4
  • Exercises: 30

Writing test

For the writing test, you should be able to write clear Spanish, especially for things such as informative reports or essays for a Spanish university.

  • Duration: 80 min
  • Sections: 2

Speaking test

If you know how to write an essay in Spanish, the speaking test should be pretty easy for you.

You should be able to express yourself fluently and without looking for the right expression. We recommend that if you’re at this level, you visit a Spanish-speaking country to practice before taking your DELE exam!

  • Duration: 20 min
  • Sections: 3

8. DELE C2

This test is for masters, but if your Spanish is great and you need to take the DELE, this is the level for you.

Combined Skills: Reading + Listening Test

You should be able to read all forms of written Spanish with ease, even when the topics are abstract and complex (such as manuals or Spanish literature).

  • Duration: 105 min
  • Sections: 6
  • Exercises: 52

Combined Skills: Listening + Writing + Reading Test

You should be able to read all forms of written Spanish, including literature.

  • Duration: 150 min
  • Sections: 3

Combined Skills: Speaking + Reading Test

For this section of the test, you should be able to read all forms of written Spanish. In addition, you should be able to introduce yourself, have a conversation about any subject,and talk about things like newspaper headlines.

  • Duration: 20 min
  • Sections: 3

Good luck!

9. Tips on Preparing for DELE

Here, we’ll share some useful tips on how to prepare for and pass your Spanish exam.

1- Book the exams first.

We recommend that you book the exam first and give yourself enough time to prepare. That way, you don’t procrastinate; you know you have to study, so you’ll set yourself to it.

If you just study for the sake of it and leave the rest for when you feel prepared, believe me, you will never feel prepared. 

To prepare, do as many practice tests as you can. Time yourself, do the parts you’re good at first, and do them fast so you can spend more time on the parts you’re not as good at. You can find mock exams on the Instituto Cervantes web page.

2- Work on your weaker areas.

Let’s say that while you’re preparing for your exam, you discover that your reading skills aren’t that good, but your listening skills are great. Well, work more on your reading. By spending more time on your weaker areas to begin with, you’re allowing yourself to study and improve while you still have the focus and motivation to do so! You can always brush up on your stronger areas afterward. 

Writing in a Notebook

3- Practice managing your time.

Have you ever done poorly on a test that you studied hard for? You knew the information and had the skills, but you failed to complete the test on time… 

You can avoid this situation by learning how to manage your test-taking time now. A great way to do this is by timing yourself while taking mock tests, and figuring out how to improve your times. 

10. Conclusion

You were lucky enough to have found SpanishPod101.com, the best place online to learn Spanish vocabulary and grammar, get expert tips, and practice everything you’re learning.

If you’re a beginner, there are a few blog posts you may want to check out: How to Say Hello in Spanish, How to Say Thank You in Spanish, and How to Say I Love You in Spanish.These articles will provide you with basic phrases for some of life’s most common interactions and situations! 

Is your Spanish a bit more advanced? Then see our article about Spanish Travel Phrases to prepare for your trip to a Spanish-speaking country. It can also help you get a great score on your DELE Spanish exam.

Of course, if you’re a master of the Spanish language, then you should check out this post and share it now on social media in perfect Spanish. (And while you’re at it, share how much you’re going to kill it on your DELE exam!)

Before you go, let us know in the comments if you have any more questions about the DELE exam that we didn’t cover here. We’ll do our best to help you out! 

Happy Spanish learning!

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Learn the Top 10 Spanish Sentence Patterns

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Often, when you start learning a new language, you’re not really sure how to begin. Random words? Grammar? Basic sentences, maybe? While perhaps memorizing sentences isn’t what you’re looking for when you decide to begin studying, the truth is that these basic Spanish sentence patterns will actually prove very useful. When you’re completely lost at the beginning of your language-learning journey, knowing them will help you have a precise idea of how to have a basic yet meaningful conversation.

If you memorize these ten most basic and useful Spanish sentence structures, you’ll be able to generate hundreds of natural sentences and converse with ease and confidence. We promise that you’ll use most of these sentence patterns every time you have a conversation in Spanish!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. Linking Nouns
  2. Using Adjectives to Describe Things
  3. Expressing “Want”
  4. Expressing “Need”
  5. Expressing “Like”
  6. Politely Asking Someone to Do Something
  7. Asking for Permission
  8. Asking for Information About Something
  9. Asking About Time
  10. Asking About Location or Position
  11. How SpanishPod101.com Can Help You Master Spanish

1. Linking Nouns

We thought that showing you how to link nouns would be a good way to start. This is a really basic pattern that we use all the time. In Spanish, we always use the verb ser (“to be”) for this pattern:

Example: Juan es mi hermano.
Translation: “Juan is my brother.”

Example: Mi hermano es taxista.
Translation: “My brother is a taxi driver.”

Example: Ese reloj fue un regalo de mi mujer.
Translation: “That watch was a present from my wife.”

Man Pointing at Watch

2. Using Adjectives to Describe Things

In English, to create a basic sentence using adjectives, you only need one verb: the verb “to be.” Of course, there are other verbs you could use to make complex sentences, but because we’re only looking at easy patterns, we’ll ignore them for now. 

Just like we’ve mentioned in other articles and lessons at SpanishPod101.com, in Spanish, there are two different verbs that are equivalent to the verb “to be” in English. These are ser and estar. When using adjectives, it’s really important to know the difference between these two, so we’ll quickly remind you of their specific meanings. Let’s look at the following examples:

Example: Eres preciosa.
Translation: “You’re gorgeous.”

Example: Estás preciosa.
Translation: “You look gorgeous.”

The sentences look very similar in Spanish, but look at the English translations! Ser and estar are both irregular verbs, so you might be a little bit confused about which verb is which. But we’re sure you can already start to see the difference between them. 

In the first example, Eres preciosa, we use the verb ser, which refers to something permanent or something that’s true for a very long period of time. Whoever uses this sentence is telling a girl that she is gorgeous, but not just in that moment. It doesn’t mean she’s wearing, for example, a nice dress (even though she might be)! It means that she is always gorgeous. 

However, you might have noticed that we translated the second example, Estás preciosa, as “You look gorgeous.” Even though estar, which is the verb we used, also means “to be,” it takes away the sense of permanence that we saw in the previous example. So when someone uses this sentence in Spanish, they’re implying that the girl looks good in the clothes or makeup she’s wearing. This doesn’t necessarily mean that she doesn’t look good at other times; in this case, it might just mean that she’s exceptionally beautiful in that moment. 

Example: Está buenísimo.
Translation: “It’s amazing.”

Example: La película que vimos anoche era divertidísima.
Translation: “The movie we watched last night was hilarious.”

Couple Watching a Comedy

3. Expressing “Want”

Another important Spanish sentence for beginners is that which lets you tell someone you want something (or want to do something). The verb we use in Spanish is querer, which means both “to want” and “to love.” 

The structure is quite simple, and it’s similar to English. Let’s look at a few examples:

Example: Quiero esto.
Translation: “I want this.”

In this first example, the object of the sentence—the thing that is wanted—is the pronoun “this,” so it’s a noun phrase. This sentence doesn’t specify what we’re talking about, but we assume that whoever uses this sentence is pointing at something. In any case, neither Spanish nor English require a preposition, or any other kind of particle, before the thing that is wanted.

The following examples, however, use a verb phrase instead:

Example: Quiero preguntarte algo.
Translation: “I want to ask you something.”

Example: Quiero ser una buena persona.
Translation: “I want to be a good person.”

As you might have noticed in these sentences, while English does need the preposition “to,” Spanish doesn’t require anything between the verb querer and the next verb. Something you must always remember, however, is that the second verb always needs to be in its infinitive form, which, as you might remember from our previous article on conjugations, is the one we find in a dictionary.

Sentence Patterns

4. Expressing “Need”

There are two basic ways of expressing “need” in Spanish, and they both have equivalents in English, so they are pretty easy to translate. The verb necesitar means “to need (to)” and the verb phrase tener que is equivalent to “to have to” in English. 

In Spanish, just like in English, we can use necesitar (“to need [to]”) whenever we need something, or need to do something. But in the case of tener que (“to have to”) it only works when we need to do something; in other words, there has to be a verb right after. This verb, just like we explained happens when expressing “want,” needs to be in its infinitive form.

First of all, we’ll look at a simple example:

Example: Necesito un bolígrafo.
Translation: “I need a pen.”

That’s simple, right? It’s the same structure as in English: “I need” + article + noun. Let’s keep going.

Example: Necesito comprar pan.
Translation: “I need to buy bread.”

Example: Tengo que practicar.
Translation: “I have to practice.”

Example: Me tengo que ir.
Translation: “I have to go.”

Example: Tengo que ir al baño.
Translation: “I have to go to the bathroom.”

There are only a few things you need to remember. We’ve already mentioned a couple of them: when we can use each of these verbs and that the next verb always needs to be in its infinitive form. 

Something else you need to remember is that when we use the verb necesitar, we can simply add the next verb afterwards. But when using the other verb, tener que, always use the conjunction que before the next verb. 

Sentence Components

5. Expressing “Like”

We’re sure you saw this coming. Expressing whether you like something or not is quite common in basic conversations, so it’s a pattern that you should definitely learn. It’s not hard to learn at all, but compared to other Spanish sentence patterns, it is a bit strange. You’ll need to remember that it always requires a personal pronoun in front of the verb. Our article about pronouns might help you refresh your memory.

This pronoun isn’t the subject of the sentence, but when translated into English, it does become the subject. That sounds weird, right? Well, this is because this structure can be considered an equivalent of a passive sentence. Gustar doesn’t exactly mean “to like.” It actually means something along the lines of “to be liked.”

If you’re familiar with Spanish conjugations, you might notice that the verb in the first example below, gustas, isn’t in the first person, but in the second person. This is because the person that is liked is “you,” so “you” is the real subject in this sentence. 

Example: Me gustas.
Translation: “I like you.”

In the second example, however, we changed the person who is liked to a third-person subject: Carla. Even though, in English, both the subject and the verb stay the same as in the first example (“I like”), the verb in Spanish changes to me gusta, because now the subject is Carla.

Example: Me gusta Carla.
Translation: “I like Carla.”

Example: Me gusta cocinar.
Translation: “I like cooking.”

In the third example we just saw, the verb is in the third person, and in this case, the subject is not a person, but an action. The literal translation would be “Cooking is liked by me.”

Example: Me gusta ver el atardecer en la playa.
Translation: “I like watching the sunset at the beach.”

Sunset at the Beach

Example: No me gustan los plátanos.
Translation: “I don’t like bananas.”

Finally, the last two examples were mostly for you to see a couple more sentences that use the same structure. The last one is just another example of how los plátanos is the actual subject in the sentence, because, just like the verb, it’s in the plural.

6. Politely Asking Someone to Do Something

It might be useful to learn how to ask people to do things politely. To begin with, you might like to know the word for “please” in Spanish. We actually use two words for this: por favor. Just like in English, por favor can be either at the beginning or at the end of the sentence.

Example: Por favor, siéntate.
Translation: “Please, sit down.”

Example: Escúchame, por favor.
Translation: “Listen to me, please.”

Example: Por favor, ponte en la cola.
Translation: “Please, get in line.”

People Standing in Line

You must know that being polite isn’t all about using the word “please.” “Thank you” is another expression that might come in handy, so why not take a look at our article on how to say “thank you” in Spanish

7. Asking for Permission

The last few patterns we’re going to see today are all going to be different kinds of questions in Spanish. The first question pattern is how to ask for permission. In Spanish, the verb you need to know to ask for permission is poder (“can”), which we learned in our previous article about verbs. You might be glad to know that we don’t have different verbs for “can” and “may,” so you don’t need to worry about using the right verb.

All you need to know is that, whenever you need to start a question with “Can I…?” or “May I…?” you can start it with ¿Puedo…? followed by a verb in its infinitive form, and anything else you might need. And if you need to ask someone if they can do something for you, you can ask them: ¿Me puedes…? Once again, this will always be followed by a verb in its infinitive form.

Example: ¿Puedo pasar?
Translation: “May I come in?”

Example: ¿Me puedes dar tu número de móvil?
Translation: “Can you give me your phone number?”

Example: Por favor, ¿me puedes pasar la sal?
Translation: “Please, can you pass me the salt?”

Example: ¿Le puedes dar esto a tu hermana?
Translation: “Can you give this to your sister?”

We decided to include the last question, which is actually asking for a favor for someone else. Instead of using the pronoun me, like in the previous two sentences, we use the pronoun le, which in this case means “to her,” because it’s referring to this person’s sister.

8. Asking for Information About Something

We’re sure you agree with us about the importance of being able to ask for information about things. There are so many things we could ask about, but we chose to give you only three examples. 

The first example is something that we all have to ask sometimes. You’ll probably need it when you visit a Spanish-speaking country for the first time, encounter something new (such as food, or even objects), or don’t understand what someone said during a conversation in Spanish. This is a question with many uses that we’re sure you’ll appreciate.

Example: ¿Qué es eso?
Translation: “What is that?”

There’s no doubt that you’ll also find the following question very useful.

Example: ¿Cómo te llamas?
Translation: “What is your name?”

And finally, we’ve included a more complicated question so that you see how a longer sentence is built. Because we’re only learning basic patterns, don’t worry too much about it for now! All you need to know for now is the structure of the sentence, which is actually the exact same structure as the sentence in English.

Example: ¿Cuál es el plato que comimos la última vez?
Translation: “Which is the dish we ate the last time?”

9. Asking About Time

Don’t give up yet, we’re almost done here! The next question patterns we’ll learn are those related to time. Here, there’s one interrogative pronoun you should always remember, which is cuándo, and it means “when.”

Example: ¿Cuándo es tu cumpleaños?
Translation: “When is your birthday?”

Example: ¿Cuándo es la reunión?
Translation: “When is the meeting?”

Example: ¿A qué hora llega tu vuelo?
Translation: “What time does your flight arrive?”

Flight Arrivals Board

Cuándo will always be helpful when you need to know when something is. However, sometimes you might need to be a little bit more specific, like in the last example we just saw. When you need to know what time something is, use the expression ¿A qué hora…? Notice that we always need the preposition a in this expression, but when we want to ask what year or what day something is, we don’t need any preposition. Instead, it will be something like this:

Example: ¿Qué día es el examen?
Translation: “What day is the exam?”

10. Asking About Location or Position

Finally, our last question pattern is for asking about location. There’s one word you must remember, which is dónde, the word for “where.”

Whenever you need to ask where something or someone is, you can just ask ¿Dónde está…? (“Where is…?”). Let’s see a couple of examples:

Example: ¿Dónde está el baño?
Translation: “Where is the bathroom?”

Example: ¿Dónde está el ascensor?
Translation: “Where is the elevator?”

That’s pretty easy to remember, isn’t it? Well, it does get a little bit harder when we want to ask something else, because we might need to add prepositions to this word, just like what happened in the previous section.

Example: ¿De dónde eres?
Translation: “Where are you from?”

11. How SpanishPod101.com Can Help You Master Spanish

With these basic Spanish sentence patterns, you’ll be able to have all sorts of basic conversations about different topics. Of course, this won’t magically make you fluent in Spanish, but it will help you get there. Luckily, at SpanishPod101.com, we have everything you’ll ever need to learn Spanish. For example, our lesson on how to greet people correctly

Learn a new word every day with our Free Word of the Day, or all the vocabulary you might need in our vocabulary lists.

In the meantime, let us know in the comments if you learned anything new today. Are there any sentence patterns we didn’t cover that you need to know? We look forward to hearing from you!

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Getting in the Spirit of Things: Day of the Dead in Mexico


The way you think about and react to death has a lot to do with how you were raised. Your cultural background, religious beliefs, life experiences, and many other factors can all play a role in your perception of death. 

The Día de Muertos (“Day of the Dead”) in Mexico is a festival steeped in the beliefs of many cultures, and it focuses on the joyous occasion of the living and dead reuniting. In this article, you’ll learn all about the Day of the Dead, from its history to how it’s celebrated today. 

Let’s get started!

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1. What is the Day of the Dead?


Skull Decorations for Day of the Dead

The Day of the Dead festival is an annual three-day celebration in Mexico, beginning on October 31 and ending on November 2. Each of these three days has its own meaning and traditions, though the overarching theme is that of reuniting with loved ones who have passed. 

Day of the Dead History

Day of the Dead originated from the beliefs and traditions of the Aztecs and other nearby cultural groups of the time. The Aztecs believed that death was a natural part of one’s existence and should not be viewed solely as a sad event. Rather, death was the beginning of another journey, consisting of nine levels that would lead the deceased person to The Land of the Dead (Chicunamictlán) upon completion. The Aztecs celebrated a month-long holiday each year, dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl, during which they offered necessities like food and beverages to their deceased loved ones.

Interestingly, ancient European and Spanish cultures held similar pagan celebrations. Today, the Day of the Dead festival is a colorful culmination of celebrations from the Aztecs, Europeans, and Spaniards, combining pagan traditions with a more religious mindset (influenced by the introduction of Católico [“Catholic”] beliefs in the country). 

    →Check out our Religion vocabulary list to learn the names of different religions in Spanish. 

2. Day of the Dead Traditions & Celebrations


A Day of the Dead Offering

As mentioned, each of the three days of the Day of the Dead festival has its own meaning and traditions. These are as follows:

  • October 31 – It’s thought that at midnight, the real world and the spirit world become one, allowing the dead to visit the living.
  • November 1 – This day is called Día de los Inocentes, which means Day of the Innocents. This is when children who have passed are able to visit their families for twenty-four hours. 
  • November 2 – This is what most people think of when they hear “Day of the Dead.” This is when adults who have passed may visit their family, friends, and loved ones. 

October 31 is also Halloween in some countries, and people often confuse Day of the Dead with Halloween. But they’re really two separate holidays! If you’re looking forward to this spooky holiday in your own country, check out our vocabulary list of The Scariest Must-Know Words for Halloween

Traditions for the Festival

The Day of the Dead in Mexico is a colorful and joyous occasion. 

Beginning on or around October 31, children and their families begin celebrations by making and decorating an altar (“altar”) for their deceased loved one. Common Day of the Dead decorations include orange marigolds and painted skulls. The marigolds are believed to help the deceased person’s espíritu (“spirit”) find their way to the celebration, due to their bright color and strong scent. The skulls are lovingly crafted to reflect the personality of the deceased person.

They may also prepare an ofrenda (“offering”) of the person’s favorite foods. Popular Day of the Dead foods include tamales, mole, pulque, and a traditional Mexican drink called atole. There’s also a special bread made for the festival, called pan de muerto (“bread of the dead”), which is normally a round piece of bread that’s covered in sugar. On Day of the Innocents, the families of deceased children offer gifts of candies, chocolate, honey, and even toys, on the child’s altar and tumba (“grave”).

Many Mexicans travel to their hometowns for the festival, which allows them to reconnect with their living family and join them in reuniting with their deceased. Family members may partake in many of the same foods they’re offering to the deceased, and it’s not uncommon for friends of the family or other people of the community to gather together in celebration and feast. Further, Mexicans will visit the gravesites of their deceased and present offerings and prayers there, as well.

You’re probably familiar with Day of the Dead costumes. In light of the celebrations and festivities, many Mexicans dress up in colorful skeleton costumes, often based on La Calavera Catrina (“Dapper Skeleton”). This is a character created by José Guadalupe Posada to depict the average upper-class women of the time, many of whom had chosen to follow European traditions over those of the indigenous people. Many people also wear masks or makeup to give their face a dark and skeletal appearance. 


3. Catholic Influence on Day of the Dead


A Woman Holding Rosary Beads

Earlier, we mentioned that Day of the Dead consists of traditions and beliefs from different cultures. This is reflected in how the three festival days correspond with three Christian holidays. Do you know which ones?

  • October 31 corresponds to Noche de Todos los Santos (“All Saints’ Eve”)
  • November 1 corresponds to Día de Todos los Santos (“All Saints’ Day”)
  • November 2 corresponds to Día de Todas las Almas (“All Souls’ Day”)

You can also see Catholic influence in the prayers offered for the deceased, as well as the use of rosary beads and other religious symbols in the observations.

4. Essential Day of the Dead Vocabulary 


La Calavera Catrina

Let’s review some of the vocabulary words from this article so you can start talking about the Day of the Dead in Spanish!

  • Noviembre (“November”)
  • Católico (“Catholic”)
  • Espíritu (“Spirit”)
  • Santo (“Saint”)
  • Ofrenda (“Offering”)
  • Altar (“Altar”)
  • Tumba (“Grave”)
  • Día de Todos los Santos (“All Saints’ Day”)
  • Día de Muertos (“Day of the Dead”)
  • La Calavera Catrina (“Dapper Skeleton”)

Remember that you can find each of these words and their pronunciation on our Day of the Dead vocabulary list.

Final Thoughts 

The Day of the Dead is a fascinating culmination of different cultural perspectives, yet maintains its status as a defining Mexican tradition. We hope you learned something new about this popular holiday, and that you’re inspired to keep learning about Mexican culture and the Spanish language.

For more useful information, see the following pages on SpanishPod101.com:

And there’s a lot more where that came from! If you’re serious about becoming fluent in Spanish, sign up for your free lifetime account today. You’ll be speaking Spanish in minutes and fluent before you know it! 

Before you go, let us know in the comments how your culture perceives death. How do you perceive it as an individual? We look forward to hearing what you have to say.

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Move to the Next Level with 100 Spanish Adverbs

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Can you spot adverbs in a novel? If your answer is no, don’t be embarrassed. We sometimes forget what adverbs do in a sentence—you may not even remember what “adverb” actually means.  

When learning a second language, it’s normal to forget this type of information. 

Spanish adverbs aren’t that different from those in English, but there are a few tricks about how to identify them and where to put them in a sentence. In this article, we’ll teach you all about Spanish adverbs, and we’ll also provide an excellent list of 100 Spanish adverbs and their meanings.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. What are Spanish Adverbs?
  2. How Do You Form an Adverb in Spanish?
  3. The 100 Most Useful Spanish Adverbs
  4. Conclusion

1. What are Spanish Adverbs?

Top Verbs

Spanish adverbs are a very important part of your Spanish learning. They help you make a point clear, explain when something happened, and show how something was done, which are crucial elements when communicating in any language. 

Unlike Spanish nouns, Spanish adverbs have no gender, number, or person. But, occasionally, you can add a diminutive with a suffix.

  • Pronto >> Prontito >> “Very soon”
  • Poco >> Poquito >> “A little bit”
  • Cerca >> Cerquita >> “Very close”
  • Despacio >> Despacito  >> “Very slowly”

You can also add augmentative suffixes, such as:

  • Lejos >> Lejísimos  >> “Extremely far”
  • Despacio >> Despacísimo >> “Extremely slowly”

The main characteristic of Spanish adverbs is that they complement the point you’re trying to make. They represent the circumstances of time, place, and mode in which an action occurs. Let’s see how.

2. How Do You Form an Adverb in Spanish?

Spanish adverbs modify or go with:

  • Verbs: Corre rápidamente. (“Run quickly.”)
  • Adjectives: Más lento. (“Slower.”) You can spot these easily because they go before the adjective.
  • Other adverbs: Bastante lejos. (“Pretty far.”)

You can get a Spanish adverb from an adjective by adding the ending -mente. Here are a few examples of Spanish adverbs ending in -mente, and how they’re formed:

  • General (“General”) >> Generalmente (“Generally”)
  • Ocasional (“Occasional”) >> Ocasionalmente (“Occasionally”)
  • Frecuente (“Frequent”) >> Frecuentemente (“Frequently”)
  • Suave (“Soft”) >> Suavemente (“Softly”)
  • Rápido (“Quick”) >> Rápidamente (“Quickly”)

This is very common, and it’s very easy to understand Spanish adverbs. There’s a general rule attached to this kind of adverb, and you can see that the same rule applies to the English language, where you just add the suffix “-ly” to the adjectives. 

One more thing you need to keep in mind is that if you want to use two adverbs with the suffix -mente in the same sentence, the first one will be used as an adjective and the second one will have the -mente suffix. 

For example:

  • Hice el Camino de Santiago lenta y tranquilamente.
    “I did the Camino de Santiago slowly and calmly.”
  • Me dijo que me callara dulce y suavemente.
    “She told me to shut up sweetly and softly.”

3. The 100 Most Useful Spanish Adverbs

More Essential Verbs

In the following sections, you can find all of the most common Spanish adverbs for describing time, place, manner, degree, and more! 


1- Spanish Adverbs of Time

Woman Checking Her Watch

Spanish adverbs of time will help you provide information about when, how often, or for how long something happens. Here’s a short Spanish adverbs list, with examples of how each one is used.

  • Antes (“Before”)

Antes de comer aceitunas prefiero patatas fritas.
“Before eating olives, I’d prefer chips.”

  • Después (“After”)

Después de las cinco no suelo comer nada.
“After five p.m., I don’t usually eat.”

  • Hoy (“Today”)

Hoy es el día de la madre.
“Today is Mother’s Day.”

  • Mañana (“Tomorrow”)

Mañana tengo clase de ballet.
“I have ballet class tomorrow.”

  • Anoche (“Last night”)

Anoche soñé con mi padre.
“I dreamed about my father last night.”

  • Anteanoche (“The night before yesterday”)

Antenoche no pude dormir.
“I could not sleep the night before yesterday.”

  • Ayer (“Yesterday”)

Ayer fue el cumpleaños de mi hermano.
“It was my brother’s birthday yesterday.”

  • Anteayer (“The day before yesterday”)

Anteayer comí pasta.
“I had pasta the day before yesterday.”

  • Ya (“Already”)

Ya llegaron los pedidos pendientes.
“The pending orders have already arrived.”

  • Siempre (“Always”)

Siempre suelo quedarme dormida viendo la tele.
“I always fall asleep watching TV.”

  • Todavía (“Yet”)

Todavía no me han llegado los pedidos.
“My orders haven’t arrived yet.”

  • Ahora (“Now”)

Ahora voy al gimnasio.
“I am going to the gym now.”

  • Tarde (“Late”)

Maite siempre llega media hora tarde cuando quedamos.
“Maite always arrives half an hour late when we meet.”

  • Luego (“Later”)

¿Nos vemos luego?
“Will I see you later?”

  • Mientras (“While”)

Corrió hacia su coche mientras llovía.
“He ran toward his car while it was raining.”

  • Recién (“Freshly”)

¡No pases! El suelo está recién fregado.
“Do not pass over here! The floor is freshly scrubbed.”

Although in English, adverbs of frequency and adverbs of time are considered separate categories, in Spanish, they fall under the same category. 

The following Spanish adverbs of frequency will help you describe how frequently you do something. Whether you go to the gym very often (Voy a gimnasio a menudo) or everyday (Voy al gimnasio todos los días), you can tell people about it using these adverbs.

Once you’re through with this list, tell us how often you usually check up on our blog! 

A Man and Woman Working Out at the Gym
  • Semanalmente (“Weekly”)

Suelo ir a la piscina semanalmente.
“I usually go to the pool weekly.”

  • Siempre (“Always”)

Siempre voy al gimnasio los lunes.
“I always go to the gym on Mondays.”

  • Mucho (“A lot”)

Yo voy mucho al gimnasio.
“I go to the gym a lot.”

  • Actualmente (“Currently”)

Actualmente vivo del alquiler de mi casa.
“Currently, I live renting my house.”

  • Frecuentemente (“Frequently”)

Mi perro se pierde frecuentemente.
“My dog gets lost frequently.”

  • Recientemente (“Recently”)

He perdido a mi perro recientemente.
“I have lost my dog recently.”

  • Diariamente (“Daily”)

Suelo meditar diariamente.
“I meditate daily.”

  • Nunca (“Never”)

Nunca me llegan las cosas a tiempo.
“I never get my things on time.”

  • Raramente (“Rarely”)

Raramente me cuestiono sobre la vida.
“I rarely ask myself about life.”

  •  Usualmente (“Usually”)

Usualmente no bebo alcohol.
“I do not usually drink alcohol.”

  • Normalmente (“Normally”)

Normalmente mi padre tiene pan en casa.
“Normally, my dad has bread at home.”

  • Todo el tiempo (“All the time”)

Mi pareja suele quejarse todo el tiempo cuando ve la tele.
“My partner complains all the time while he watches TV.”

  • De vez en cuando (“From time to time”)

Suelo ir a jugar baloncesto de vez en cuando con mis amigas.
“I play basketball from time to time with my girlfriends.”

  • Anualmente (“Annually”)

Mi gato tiene sus vacunas anualmente.
“My cat has his vaccines annually.”

  • A veces (“Sometimes”)

A veces salgo a patinar por el paseo marítimo.
“Sometimes I go roller skating along the seaside.”

  • Poco (“A little”)

Salgo muy poco de fiesta.
“I go out very little.”

  • Apenas (“Hardly”)

Apenas puedo ir al teatro.
“I hardly ever go to the theater.”

  • Jamás (“Never”)

Jamás llego tarde a mis clases de ballet.
“I am never late to my ballet lessons.”

2- Spanish Adverbs of Place

A Lovely Scene with Water and Trees

Where is your phone? Is it here? Did you lose your glasses? Are they close or far away? These useful Spanish adverbs will help you answer questions about where things are. You should learn them because they’re very common and are used in everyday Spanish

  • Aquí (“Here”)

Aquí en España hay muchos extranjeros.
“Here in Spain, there are many foreigners.”

  • Allí (“There”)

Allí donde está Luis estudiando hay cursos para ti también.
“There, where Luis is studying, there are courses for you as well.”

  • Cerca (“Near”)

La biblioteca está cerca de mi casa.
“The library is near my place.”

  • Delante (“In front of”)

Hay un banco delante del gimnasio.
“There is a bank in front of my gym.”

  • Acá (“Here”)

Vamos a comer acá en mi casa.
“We are going to eat here at home.”

  • Allá (“There,” “Over there”)

El supermercado está allá.
“The supermarket is over there.”

  • Lejos (“Far”)

Vivo lejos de la estación de bus.
“I live far from the bus station.”

  • Detrás (“Behind”)

Hay una panadería detrás de mi casa.
“There is a bakery behind my place.”

  • Encima (“Above”)

Juan vive encima de la casa de su padre.
“Juan lives above his father’s house.”

  • Dentro (“Inside”)

Dentro del gimnasio hay aparcamiento disponible.
“There is parking available inside the gym.”

  • Arriba (“Upstairs”)

Esta casa es inusual porque la cocina está arriba.
“This house is unusual because the kitchen is upstairs.”

  • Adentro (“Inside”)

Adentro de la nevera están las cervezas.
“There are beers inside the fridge.”

  • Debajo (“Below”)

Debajo de los libros está mi agenda.
“My diary is below the books.”

  • Fuera (“Outside”)

Fuera del centro comercial hay una farmacia.
“Outside the shopping center, there is a pharmacy.”

  • Atrás (“At the back”)

Atrás de la farmacia hay un hotel.
“At the back of the hotel, there is a pharmacy.”

  • Abajo (“Down”)

Abajo tienes a Carmen esperándote.
“You have Carmen waiting for you down there.”

  • Al lado (“Next to”)

Encontrarás las instrucciones al lado de la caja.
“You’ll find the manual next to the box.”

3- Spanish Adverbs of Manner

Here, you’ll learn how to use adverbs in Spanish to answer questions about how something is being done. Check out this Spanish adverbs list:

  • Bien (“Well”)

Juan Luis canta bien.
“Juan Luis sings well.”

  • Mejor (“Better”)

Jose canta mejor que Luisa.
“Jose sings better than Luisa.”

  • Cuidadosamente (“Carefully”)

Susana siempre camina cuidadosamente.
“Susana always walks carefully.”

  • Rápido (“Quickly”)

En avión llegas más rápido.
“By plane, you arrive more quickly.”

  • Claramente (“Clearly”)

Santiago habla claramente.
“Santiago speaks clearly.”

  • Mal (“Bad”)

Esta comida puede oler mal.
“This food may smell bad.”

  • Peor (“Worse”)

Si no estudias para el examen será peor.
“If you don’t study for the exam, it will be worse.”

  • Despacio (“Slowly”)

Trata de conducir despacio.
“Try to drive slowly.”

  • Inteligentemente (“Intelligently”)

Habla con tu jefe inteligentemente.
“You have to speak to your boss intelligently.”

  • Voluntariamente (“Voluntarily”)

Jesús ha dejado la empresa voluntariamente.
“Jesús has left the company voluntarily.”

  • Fácilmente (“Easily”)

Mike ha pasado su examen práctico fácilmente.
“Mike has passed his practice exam easily.”

  • Dulcemente (“Sweetly”)

María cantó dulcemente.
“Maria sang sweetly.”

  • Seriamente (“Seriously”)

Debes tomarte tus estudios seriamente.
“You should take your studies seriously.”

  • Así (“This way”)

Es así como tienes que hacer los ejercicios.
“You should do the exercises this way.”

4- Spanish Adverbs of Degree

These Spanish adverbs of degree (also called Spanish adverbs of quantity), will help you answer questions about how much or to what degree something is done. They also add information to adjectives as well. 

Let’s show you how with this Spanish adverbs list.

  • Muy (“Very”)

La clase de ciclismo es muy temprano para mi.
“Cycling class is very early for me.”

  • Mucho (“Very much”)

Me gusta mucho el cine.
“I like the cinema very much.”

  • Demasiado (“Too much”)

Me gusta demasiado el chocolate.
“I like chocolate too much.”

Woman Biting into a Chocolate Bar
  • Un poco (“A little”)

Me gusta la comida picante un poco.
“I like spicy food a little.”

  • Mucho más (“A lot more”)

Me gusta mucho más la comida tailandesa.
“I like Thai food a lot more.”

  • Bastante (“Quite”)

Mi hermano canta bastante bien.
“My brother sings quite well.”

  • Nada (“At all”)

No me gusta nada la música clásica.
“I don’t like classical music at all.”

  • Menos (“Less”)

Las manzanas cuestan menos en el otro supermercado.
“Apples cost less in the other supermarket.”

  • Tanto (“So long,” “So much”)

No puedo esperar tanto por mi licencia de conducir.
“I can’t wait so much for my driver’s license.”

  • Algo; Un poco (“Some”)

Tatiana sabe un poco de Francés.
“Tatiana knows some French.”

5- Spanish Adverbs of Affirmation

Spanish adverbs of affirmation reinforce a statement. These Spanish adverbs also indicate that the action of the verb is fulfilled, or is intended to be fulfilled.

  • (“Yes”)

Sí, nos vemos a las siete.
“Yes, we’ll meet at seven.”

  • Seguramente (“Probably”)

Seguramente fue Juan el que más corrió.
“Juan was probably the one who ran the most.”

  • Obviamente (“Obviously”)

Obviamente tendrá repercusiones en su vida laboral.
“Obviously, there will be consequences in his working life.”

  • Exacto (“Correct,” “Right”)

Exacto, seremos 20 personas para la reserva.
“Correct, we will be 20 people for the reservation.”

  • Claro (“Right”)

Claro, tienes que estudiar una carrera antes de hacer un máster.
“Right, you have to study for a Bachelor’s Degree before you take a Master’s Degree.”

  • Cierto (“Certainly”)

Ciertamente, los resultados de este mes han sido muy exitosos.
“Certainly, this month’s results have been very successful.”

  • Efectivamente (“Indeed,” “Effectively”)

Efectivamente, fue un gran día.
“It was a great day indeed.”

6- Spanish Adverbs of Negation

We all know the adverbs of negation. It’s said that one of the first words that a baby learns is “no,” because people use it all the time. 

  • No (“No”)

No tengo ya la casa del campo.
“No, I don’t have the country house yet.”

  • En absoluto (“Not at all”)

He aparcado bien, así que no estoy en absoluto preocupada por el coche.
“I parked well, so I’m not at all worried about my car.”

  • Jamás (“Ever”)

Jamás soporté a tu hermano.
“I could never stand your brother.”

  • Nunca (“Never”)

Nunca olvidaré nuestro primer beso.
“I’ll never forget our first kiss.”

  • Tampoco (“Either,” “Neither”)

Nosotros tampoco sabemos la fecha del vuelo.
“We don’t know the flight’s date either.”

7- Spanish Adverbs of Doubt

These basic Spanish adverbs denote insecurity or uncertainty, so you can use them when you’re not sure about something. 

  • A lo mejor (“Perhaps,” “Maybe”)

A lo mejor comemos en casa de mis padres el domingo.
“Maybe we will have lunch at my parents’ house on Sunday.”

  • Quizá (“Perhaps,” “Maybe”)

Quizá se equivocaron al hacer la cuenta.
“Maybe they were wrong when they prepared the bill.”

  • Tal vez (“Perhaps,” “Maybe”)

Espero que tal vez muy pronto podamos cambiar el futuro.
“I hope that maybe soon, we can change the future.”

  • Posiblemente (“Possibly”)

Sobrepasan posiblemente el número de alumnos disponibles.
“They possibly exceed the available number of students.”

8- Spanish Exclamatory and Interrogative Adverbs 

As you likely guessed, Spanish interrogative adverbs are used to ask questions, and exclamatory adverbs are used in exclamatory sentences. These are very special and common, used at the beginning of a sentence. 

Keep in mind that you have to distinguish these from the relative adverbs. How can you do that? If a word has the accent mark, it’s interrogative or exclamatory; if not, it’s a relative adverb. 

  • Cuándo (“When”)

¿Cuándo nació tu hijo?
“When was your son born?”

  • Dónde (“Where?”)

¿Dónde está la cafetera?
“Where is the coffee maker?”

  • Cómo (“How”)

¡Cómo está de rica esta tarta!
“How good is this cake!”

  • Por qué (“Why”)

¿Por qué tienes sueño?
“Why are you sleepy?”

  • Cuánto (“How much,” “How many”)

¿Cuántos coches tienes?
“How many cars do you have?”

  • A dónde (“Where”)

¿A dónde fuiste con Paula?
“Where did you go with Paula?”

9- Spanish Relative Adverbs

Spanish relative adverbs are one of the most important types on our Spanish adverb list. These are almost the same as some of the words in the previous section, but they don’t have the accent marks. They add circumstantial information to the verb, and they can talk about time, manner, or place. 

For example:

  • Donde (“Where”)

Este es el chalet donde vivo.
“This is the house where I live.”

  • Cuando (“When”)

Haré los deberes cuando deje de llover.
“I’ll do my homework when it stops raining.”

  • Como (“As”)

Como tú mandes.
“As you wish.”

4. Conclusion

What do you think about our list? Was it useful? If you liked it, don’t miss our 100 Spanish nouns list! 

This article has provided you with 100 Spanish adverbs and plenty of information on how and when to use them. Do you remember what Spanish adverbs are now? Are you ready to impress your Spanish-speaking friends?

SpanishPod101.com has tons of vocabulary lists, videos, and free resources to help you improve your learning and keep your Spanish fresh. Create your free lifetime account today, and start learning Spanish like never before! We look forward to having you.

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Spanish Keyboard: How to Install and Type in Spanish

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You asked, so we provided—easy-to-follow instructions on how to set up your electronic devices to write in Spanish! We’ll also give you a few excellent tips on how to use this keyboard, as well as some online and app alternatives if you prefer not to set up a Spanish keyboard.

Log in to Download Your Free Spanish Alphabet Worksheet Table of Contents
  1. Why it’s Important to Learn to Type in Spanish
  2. Setting up Your Computer and Mobile Devices for Spanish
  3. How to Activate an Onscreen Keyboard on Your Computer
  4. How to Change the Language Settings to Spanish on Your Computer
  5. Activating the Spanish Keyboard on Your Mobile Phone and Tablet
  6. Spanish Keyboard Typing Tips
  7. How to Practice Typing Spanish

1. Why it’s Important to Learn to Type in Spanish

A keyboard

Learning a new language is made so much easier when you’re able to read and write/type it. This way, you will:

  • Get the most out of any dictionary and Spanish language apps on your devices
  • Expand your ability to find Spanish websites and use the various search engines
  • Be able to communicate much better online with your Spanish teachers and friends, and look super cool in the process! 

2. Setting up Your Computer and Mobile Devices for Spanish

A phone charging on a dock

It takes only a few steps to set up any of your devices to read and type in Spanish. It’s super-easy on your mobile phone and tablet, and a simple process on your computer.

On your computer, you’ll first activate the onscreen keyboard to work with. You’ll only be using your mouse or touchpad/pointer for this keyboard. Then, you’ll need to change the language setting to Spanish, so all text will appear in Spanish. You could also opt to use online keyboards instead. Read on for the links!

On your mobile devices, it’s even easier—you only have to change the keyboard. We also provide a few alternatives in the form of online keyboards and downloadable apps.

3. How to Activate an Onscreen Keyboard on Your Computer

1- Mac

1. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard.

2. Check the option “Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in Menu Bar.”

3. You’ll see a new icon on the right side of the main bar; click on it and select “Show Keyboard Viewer.”

A screenshot of the keyboard viewer screen

2- Windows

1. Go to Start > Settings > Easy Access > Keyboard.

2. Turn on the option for “Onscreen Keyboard.”

3- Online Keyboards

If you don’t want to activate your computer’s onscreen keyboard, you also have the option to use online keyboards. Here are some good options:

4- Add-ons of Extensions for Browsers

Instead of an online keyboard, you could also choose to download a Google extension to your browser for a language input tool. The Google Input Tools extension allows users to use input tools in Chrome web pages, for example.

4. How to Change the Language Settings to Spanish on Your Computer

Man looking at his computer

Now that you’re all set to work with an onscreen keyboard on your computer, it’s time to download the Spanish language pack for your operating system of choice:

  • Windows 8 (and higher)
  • Windows 7
  • Mac (OS X and higher)

1- Windows 8 (and higher)

1. Go to Settings > Change PC Settings > Time & Language > Region & Language.

2. Click on “Add a Language” and select “Spanish.” This will add it to your list of languages. It will appear as Spanish with the note “language pack available.”

3. Click on “Spanish” > “Options” > “Download.” It’ll take a few minutes to download and install the language pack.

4. As a keyboard layout, you’ll only need the one marked as “Spanish.” 

2- Windows 7

1. Go to Start > Control Panel > Clock, Language, and Region.

2. On the “Region and Language” option, click on “Change Keyboards or Other Input Methods.”

3. On the “Keyboards and Languages” tab, click on “Change Keyboards” > “Add” > “Spanish.”

4. Expand the option of “Spanish” and then expand the option “Keyboard.” Select the keyboard layout marked as “Spanish.” You can ignore other keyboard layouts. Click “OK” and then “Apply.”

3- Mac (OS X and higher)

If you can’t see the language listed, please make sure to select the right option from System Preferences > Language and Region

1. From the Apple Menu (top left corner of the screen) go to System Preferences > Keyboard.

2. Click the Input Sources tab and a list of available keyboards and input methods will appear.

3. Click on the plus button, select “Spanish,” and add the “Spanish” keyboard.

Adding a system language

5. Activating the Spanish Keyboard on Your Mobile Phone and Tablet

Texting and searching in Spanish will greatly help you master the language! Adding a Spanish keyboard on your mobile phone and/or tablet is super-easy.

You could also opt to download an app instead of adding a keyboard. Read on for our suggestions.

Below are the instructions for both iOS and Android mobile phones and tablets.

1- iOS

1. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard.

2. Tap “Keyboards” and then “Add New Keyboard.”

3. Select “Spanish” from the list.

4. When typing, you can switch between languages by tapping and holding on the icon to reveal the keyboard language menu.

2- Android

1. Go to Settings > General Management > Language and Input > On-screen Keyboard (or “Virtual Keyboard” on some devices) > Samsung Keyboard.

2. Tap “Language and Types” or “ + Select Input Languages” depending on the device and then “MANAGE INPUT LANGUAGES” if available.

3. Select Spanish from the list.

4. When typing, you can switch between languages by swiping the space bar.

3- Applications for Mobile Phones

If you don’t want to add a keyboard on your mobile phone or tablet, these are a few good apps to consider:

6. Spanish Keyboard Typing Tips

Typing in Spanish can be very challenging at first! Therefore, we added here a few useful tips to make it easier to use your Spanish keyboard.

A man typing on a computer

1- Computer

  • To add the accent marks over a vowel (á,é,í,ó,ú), first type the accent then the letter. For example: ´+ a = á. You can find the accent mark by clicking the symbol “:”.
  • To add the mark ¨ over the u (ü), first click “Shift” then type the ¨ then the letter “u.” For example: Shift Key + ¨+ u = ü. You can find the mark ¨ by clicking “Shift” plus the symbol “:”.
  • The ñ is found between the “L” and “:.” You can type the ñ by clicking “;”.
  • 3. To add ¡ click on the symbol ^.
  • To add the ! click the Shift Key then “1” while keeping the Shift Key held down. For example: Shift Key + 1 = !
  • To add ¿ first click the Shift Key then the ^, while keeping the Shift Key held down. For example: Shift Key + ^ = ¿
  • To add ? first click the Shift Key then the / Key while keeping the Shift Key held down. For example: Shift Key+ / Key = ?

2- Mobile Phones

  • With most mobiles, in order to gain access to accented letters, press the selected letter until accented options pop up (Examples: á, é, í, ü). Same goes for the ñ by clicking the letter n for more than one second. Further, you can click the ! key to obtain the option of ¡ and the ? key to obatin the option for ¿.

7. How to Practice Typing Spanish

As you probably know by now, learning Spanish is all about practice, practice, and more practice! Strengthen your Spanish typing skills by writing comments on any of our lesson pages, and our teacher will answer. If you’re a SpanishPod101 Premium PLUS member, you can directly text our teacher via the My Teacher app—use your Spanish keyboard to do this!

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Your Ultimate Guide to Spanish Conjugation

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Conjugation is a fundamental aspect of Spanish. Yes, we wish it was easier than it is, but it’s definitely one of the basic skills you need to gain when learning Spanish. Just so you know, you don’t need to learn all Spanish conjugations at once, so feel free to learn them at your own pace. We’re just going to guide you so that you have an easier time studying the Spanish conjugation basics.

When you start learning a new language, you’ll most likely start by studying the present tense first, right? The basics you need for introducing yourself. It’s all about going through them step-by-step instead of rushing it all at once and trying to memorize them all at the same time. 

To give you an example, we all know what happens when you memorize something only for an exam: you spit it all out in the exam and then forget about it. That’s the opposite of what we’re trying to achieve here! 

Even though we’re going to offer you some very useful tables that show absolutely all the conjugations of a verb, they’re not there for you to learn in one day, but rather to help you organize all of this information. Remember, this is not a competition!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. What are Spanish Conjugations?
  2. Verb Groups
  3. Conjugation Examples
  4. Irregular Verbs and their Conjugations
  5. Spanish Conjugations Quiz
  6. How SpanishPod101.com Can Help You Learn Spanish

1. What are Spanish Conjugations?

Top Verbs

As we explained in our previous article about verbs, conjugation refers to all of the changes a verb goes through depending on a few factors. These factors include the person who does the action of that verb, or when the action happens, among others. One good thing about conjugation in Spanish is that it only affects verbs, so you don’t need to worry about other words changing to accommodate these factors.

In Spanish, conjugation affects mood, tense, the number of the subject, person, and sometimes the politeness level. We’ll look at all of these, one at a time.

1- Mood

If you look at a table with all the conjugations of any Spanish verb, such as the ones we’ve prepared for you below, you’ll find two main groups: indicativo (“indicative”) and subjuntivo (“subjunctive”). These two groups are two of the different moods in Spanish conjugation. The third mood is called imperativo (“imperative”) and it is, by far, not as broad as the other two. In fact, it only includes two different forms, which are singular and plural. 

In summary:

  • The indicative mood in Spanish refers to facts and beliefs. 
    Marta me ha contado un secreto. → “Marta has told me a secret.”
  • The subjunctive mood marks something that isn’t a fact, but something that’s hypothetical or something you wish had or hadn’t happened. 
    Ojalá Marta no me hubiera contado ese secreto. → “I wish Marta hadn’t told me that secret.”
  • The imperative mood indicates command. 
    ¡Cuéntame algo! → “Tell me something!”

When students in school are learning the Spanish subjunctive mood, it often helps them to put the word ojalá in front of the verb to tell if it’s subjunctive or indicative. This word doesn’t have an exact English translation, but we can translate it as “I wish” or “I hope.” 

If you can use it, it means the verb is in the subjunctive mood. To give you an example, the sentence Ojalá llueva means “I hope it rains,” so it’s in the subjunctive mood. But, if it was simply Llueve, which just means “It’s raining,” we know it’s in the indicative mood because it’s a fact.

Rain Falling on a puddle

2- Tense

Inside each of these moods, we’ll find several tenses. In both cases, the Spanish verb tenses are also divided into two more subgroups, but these are only here to help us divide conjugations in a simpler way and make things easier to understand. These are simple tenses and compound tenses. As you might have guessed, simple tenses are formed by a single word and compound tenses are formed by two words.

Tenses in Spanish conjugation might have some weird and long names that you absolutely do not need to remember. As long as you know which ones refer to the present, which ones refer to the past, and which ones refer to the future, you’ll be fine. Trust us.

A. Indicativo

Tiempos simples (“Simple tenses”)
  • Presente (“simple present”): canto → “I sing”
  • Pretérito imperfecto (“imperfect preterite”): cantaba →  “I sang”
  • Pretérito perfecto simple (“simple past”): canté →  “I sang”
  • Futuro simple (“simple future”): cantaré → “I will sing”
  • Condicional simple (“conditional”): cantaría → “I would sing”

As you can see, most of these tenses have a specific equivalent in English and do not need an explanation. However, you might have noticed that two of them translate to “I sang.” The pretérito imperfecto doesn’t exist in English, and instead it only uses the simple past tense. But in Spanish, this is quite important. 

Essentially, the pretérito imperfecto (cantaba) refers to a continuous action in the past, while the pretérito perfecto simple (canté) refers to a specific action in the past. This might sound a bit confusing, so we’re going to look at a couple of examples:

1.

Cuando era pequeño cantaba en un coro. (“When I was little, I sang in a choir.”)

In this example, both verbs are in the pretérito imperfecto and refer to continuous actions, or something that didn’t happen just once. Cuando era pequeño (“When I was little”) refers to a long period of time, because we were all little for years. Cantaba en un coro (“I sang in a choir”) means that I was in that choir for a while, even though I don’t specify for how long.

2.

Una vez, cuando era pequeño, canté una canción delante de mis amigos. (“Once, when I was little, I sang a song in front of my friends.”) 

In this case, the first verb is the same as in the previous example, but the second one, marked in bold, is in the pretérito perfecto simple, so it’s a specific action in the past. Una vez (…) canté una canción… (“Once (…) I sang a song…”) is talking about the one time this action happened. It doesn’t need to have happened only once: it could have happened more times. What’s important is that it wasn’t a continuous action.

Tiempos compuestos (“Compound tenses”)
  • Pretérito perfecto compuesto (“present perfect”): he cantado →  “I have sung”
  • Pretérito pluscuamperfecto (“past perfect”): había cantado → “I had sung”
  • Pretérito anterior (“past preterite”): hube cantado 
  • Futuro compuesto (“future perfect”): habré cantado → “I will have sung”
  • Condicional compuesto (“conditional”): hubiera or hubiese cantado → “I would have sung”

Once again, we find one tense that doesn’t have a direct translation in English: the pretérito anterior. This tense isn’t used very often in Spanish (only in literature), but we’re still going to explain it briefly. The pretérito anterior refers to an action that happens just before another one, which is also in a past tense. For example:

Tan pronto como hubo terminado el libro, lo devolvió a la biblioteca. (“As soon as he finished the book, he returned it to the library.” 

In this example, the man returned the book immediately after finishing it. However, as we explained, this tense isn’t used much anymore, so we would usually say Tan pronto como terminó el libro instead, in the simple past tense.

Returning Book to Library

B. Subjuntivo

Tiempos simples (“Simple tenses”)

The subjunctive tenses aren’t as easy to explain or translate as a single verb, so we’re going to give you examples of each tense.

  • Presente: cante Quiero que me cantes una canción. (“I want you to sing me a song.”)
  • Pretérito imperfecto: cantara or cantase → Ojalá cantase mejor. (“I wish I sang better.”)
  • Futuro simple: cantare
Tiempos compuestos (“Compound tenses”)
  • Pretérito perfecto compuesto: haya cantado → Espero que Carla haya cantado bien. (“I hope Carla has sung well.”)
  • Pretérito pluscuamperfecto: hubiera or hubiese cantado → Ojalá me hubiera cantado una canción. (“I wish she had sung me a song.”)
  • Futuro compuesto: hubiere cantado

Notice that all of these examples require an extra verb: “I want,” “I hope,” “I wish.” A verb in the subjunctive mood is never alone!

People Singing

Something you should also know is that, in the subjunctive mood, there are a couple of tenses that no one ever uses, which are the two future subjunctive tenses without examples in the previous list: futuro simple and futuro compuesto. We’ve included them on the tables anyway because they would have been incomplete if we hadn’t. But we promise that you don’t need to learn them!

C. Imperativo

As we explained before, the imperative mood refers exclusively to commands. There’s only one kind of imperative, but it can be in singular or plural, and it can be formal or informal. Here, the formal conjugation is different from the informal one.

  • Singular, informal: canta
  • Plural, informal: cantad
  • Singular, formal: cante
  • Plural, formal: canten 

D. Non-personal forms

And last but not least, there are a few non-personal forms that don’t belong in any of those moods. They also exist in English, as follows:

  • Infinitivo (“infinitive”): cantar → “to sing” 
  • Participio (“participle”): cantado → “sung”
  • Gerundio (“gerund”): cantando → “singing”

The participle is used exactly the same way in Spanish and English, as you might have noticed when we explained the different Spanish tenses.

We haven’t seen the gerund before, but it’s also used similarly to how it is in English. In Spanish, for some reason, this isn’t considered a tense and it’s not usually included in the conjugation tables. However, it’s very commonly used. In English, you have the present continuous and past continuous tenses, and they’re both used in Spanish: 

  • Estoy cantando. (“I am singing.”)
  • Estaba cantando. (“I was singing.”)

While you might sometimes have doubts about the verbs estar and ser, in this case, we always use the verb estar.

3- Number

Spanish verbs, just like Spanish nouns or adjectives, change depending on how many people are performing the action of that verb. While some languages distinguish actions as being done by two people or a larger number of people, Spanish only makes two distinctions: singular and plural. It’s either one person, or it’s more. For example: 

  • Yo como. (“I eat.”)
  • Nosotros comemos. (“We eat.”)

4- Person

Just like verbs change depending on the number of the subject, verbs also conjugate depending on the person who performs the verb. In English, for example, the simple present tense shows that the first and second persons are different than the third person: “I eat,” “you eat,” “he/she eats.”

In Spanish conjugations, endings are different in every single person. To give you an example, we’ll use the same verb we used in English: yo como, tú comes, él/ella come. If you’re not familiar with Spanish subject pronouns, you might find our article about pronouns quite useful!

You might have noticed that the first three letters of the word don’t change, but the ending does. These first letters are called the stem of the verb and they stay the same in every single conjugation of this verb. 

Even though endings in all tenses are different, they follow a pattern.

  • Yo (“I”): –
  • (“you”): –s
  • Él/Ella (“he/she”): –
  • Nosotros (“we”): -mos
  • Vosotros (plural “you”): -is
  • Ellos (“they”): –n

In case you’re wondering, we didn’t leave those two empty for no reason. We consider them not to have a specific ending, because they only use the ending of the tense in particular.

5- Politeness

You might already know that Spanish, unlike English, has a formal “you” pronoun that’s used when talking to someone who is important or above us, and sometimes even to older people. The truth is that it’s not used nowadays as often as it was in the past, but it’s still very important to know. You never know when you might need it. 

There are actually two pronouns, one for the singular (usted) and one for the plural (ustedes), with no distinction for gender. This formal pronoun doesn’t use the normal conjugation for (“you”), but actually uses the one for él or ella (“him” or “her”). For example, if you wanted to say “You’re very kind,” to a friend, you would say: Eres muy amable. But to speak more formally, you would say: Es muy amable.

Waiter Showing Customers a Table

2. Verb Groups

Once again, as you already saw in the article about verbs, Spanish conjugations are divided into three groups (or four, if we think of irregular verbs as another group). These groups are based on the ending of the verbs in their infinitive form. Verbs that end in –ar, such as saltar (“to jump”), form the first conjugation; verbs that end in –er, such as correr (“to run”), form the second conjugation; the third conjugation is formed by verbs that end in –ir, such as mentir (“to lie”).

Now, why is it important to know that there are different groups of verbs? Well, it’s quite useful when learning conjugations because Spanish conjugation rules are specific to a given group. In most cases, conjugations will be the same or similar, but you need to be careful sometimes. 

Spanish conjugations for present tense, for example, are easy to remember. If the verb is from the first conjugation (-ar), all forms will use the vowel a (except for the first person in the singular, but it’s an exception in all three conjugations!). If it’s from the second conjugation (-er), it will use the vowel e. However, the third conjugation (-ir) isn’t as regular as the others, since some forms use the vowel e and some use the vowel i. Let’s look at some examples:

  • Saltar (“To jump”) → yo salto, tú saltas, él salta, nosotros saltamos, vosotros saltáis, ellos saltan
  • Correr (“To run”) → yo corro, tú corres, él corre, nosotros corremos, vosotros corréis, ellos corren
  • Mentir (“To lie”) → yo miento, tú mientes, él miente, nosotros mentimos, vosotros mentís, ellos mienten

Note that the verb of the third conjugation that we’ve chosen is also slightly irregular, since the stem—which would always be ment- if it was a regular verb—changes to mient- in a few of the forms.

Other tenses show most important changes, such as pretérito imperfecto, one of the simple past tenses. In the first conjugation, the endings are –aba, -abas, aba, ábamos… But in the second and third conjugations, the endings are -ía, -ías, -ía, -íamos. They’re completely different.

In the following sections, we’ll take a closer look at each of the Spanish verb conjugation types. Let’s go! 

3. Conjugation Examples

More Essential Verbs

1- First conjugation: cantar (“to sing”)

Indicativo

Simple tenses

SubjectPresentePretérito imperfectoPretérito perfecto simpleFuturo simpleCondicional simple
Yo (“I”)cantocantabacantécantécantaría
(“you”)cantascantabascantastecantaráscantarías
Él/ella (“he”/
she”)
cantacantabacantócantarácantaría
Nosotros/as (“we”)cantamoscantábamoscantamoscantaremoscantaríamos
Vosotros/as (plural “you”)cantáiscantabaiscantasteiscantaréiscantaríais
Ellos/as (“they”)cantancantabancantaroncantaráncantarían

Compound tenses

SubjectPretérito perfecto compuestoPretérito pluscuamperfectoPretérito anteriorFuturo compuestoCondicional compuesto
Yohe cantadohabía cantadohube cantadohabré cantadohabría cantado
has cantadohabías cantadohubiste cantadohabrás cantadohabrías cantado
Él/ellaha cantadohabía cantadohubo cantadohabrá cantadohabría cantado
Nosotros/ashemos cantadohabíamos cantadohubimos cantadohabremos cantadohabríamos cantado
Vosotros/ashabéis cantadohabíais cantadohubisteis cantadohabréis cantadohabríais cantado
Ellos/ashan cantadohabían cantadohubieron cantadohabrán cantadohabrían cantado

Subjuntivo

Simple tenses

SubjectPresentePretérito imperfectoFuturo simple
Yocantecantara or cantasecantare
cantescantaras or cantasescantares
Él/ellacantecantara or cantasecantare
Nosotros/ascantemoscantáramos or cantásemoscantáremos
Vosotros/ascantéiscantarais or cantaseiscantareis
Ellos/ascantencantaran or cantasencantaren

Compound tenses

SubjectPretérito perfecto compuestoPretérito pluscuamperfectoFuturo compuesto
Yohaya cantadohubiera or hubiese cantadohubiere cantado
haya cantadohubieras or hubieses cantadohubieres cantado
Él/ellahaya cantadohubiera or hubiese cantadohubiere cantado
Nosotros/ashayamos cantadohubiéramos or hubiésemos cantadohubiéremos cantado
Vosotros/ashayáis cantadohubierais or hubieseis  cantadohubiereis cantado
Ellos/ashayan cantadohubieran or hubiesen cantadohubieren cantado

Imperative

cantacantad

Non-personal forms

InfinitiveParticipleGerund
cantarcantadocantando

2- Second conjugation: comer (“to eat”)

Indicativo

Simple tenses

SubjectPresentePretérito imperfectoPretérito perfecto simpleFuturo simpleCondicional simple
Yocomocomíacomícomerécomería
comescomíascomistecomeráscomerías
Él/ellacomecomíacomcomerácomería
Nosotros/ascomemoscomíamoscomimoscomeremoscomeríamos
Vosotros/ascoméiscomíaiscomisteiscomeréiscomeríais
Ellos/ascomencomíancomieroncomeráncomerían

Compound tenses

SubjectPretérito perfecto compuestoPretérito pluscuamperfectoPretérito anteriorFuturo compuestoCondicional compuesto
Yohe comidohabía comidohube comidohabré comidohabría comido
has comidohabías comidohubiste comidohabrás comidohabrías comido
Él/ellaha comidohabía comidohubo comidohabrá comidohabría comido
Nosotros/ashemos comidohabíamos comidohubimos comidohabremos comidohabríamos comido
Vosotros/ashabéis comidohabíais comidohubisteis comidohabréis comidohabríais comido
Ellos/ashan comidohabían comidohubieron comidohabrán comidohabrían comido

Subjuntivo

Simple tenses

SubjectPresentePretérito imperfectoFuturo simple
Yocomacomiera or comiesecomiere
comascantaras or cantasescomieres
Él/ellacomacomiera or comiesecomiere
Nosotros/ascomamoscomiéramos or comiésemoscomiéremos
Vosotros/ascomáiscomierais or comieseiscomiereis
Ellos/ascomancomieran or comiesencomieren

Compound tenses

SubjectPretérito perfecto compuestoPretérito pluscuamperfectoFuturo compuesto
Yohaya comidohubiera or hubiese comidohubiere comido
hayas comidohubieras or hubieses comidohubieres comido
Él/ellahaya comidohubiera or hubiese comidohubiere comido
Nosotros/ashayamos comidohubiéramos or hubiésemos comidohubiéremos comido
Vosotros/ashayáis comidohubierais or hubieseis  comidohubiereis comido
Ellos/ashayan comidohubieran or hubiesen comidohubieren comido

Imperative

comecomed

Non-personal forms

InfinitiveParticipleGerund
comercomidocomiendo

3- Third conjugation: vivir (“to live”)

Indicativo

Simple tenses

SubjectPresentePretérito imperfectoPretérito perfecto simpleFuturo simpleCondicional simple
Yovivovivíavivíviviréviviría
vivesvivíasvivistevivirásvivirías
Él/ellavivevivíavivióviviráviviría
Nosotros/asvivimosvivíamosvivimosviviremosviviríamos
Vosotros/asvivísvivíaisvivisteisviviréisviviríais
Ellos/asvivenvivíanvivieronviviránvivirían

Compound tenses

SubjectPretérito perfecto compuestoPretérito pluscuamperfectoPretérito anteriorFuturo compuestoCondicional compuesto
Yohe vividohabía vividohube vividohabré vividohabría vivido
has vividohabías vividohubiste vividohabrás vividohabrías vivido
Él/ellaha vividohabía vividohubo vividohabrá vividohabría vivido
Nosotros/ashemos vividohabíamos vividohubimos vividohabremos vividohabríamos vivido
habríamos vividohabéis vividohabíais vividohubisteis vividohabréis vividohabríais vivido
Ellos/ashan vividohabían vividohubieron vividohabrán vividohabrían vivido

Subjuntivo

Simple tenses

SubjectPresentePretérito imperfectoFuturo simple
Yovivavivieraviviere
vivasvivierasvivieres
Él/ellavivavivieraviviere
Nosotros/asvivamosvivieramosvivieremos
Vosotros/asvivaisvivieraisviviereis
Ellos/asvivanvivieranvivieren

Compound tenses

SubjectPretérito perfecto compuestoPretérito pluscuamperfectoFuturo compuesto
Yohaya vividohubiera or hubiese vividohubiere vivido
hayas vividohubieras or hubieses vividohubieres vivido
Él/ellahaya vividohubiera or hubiese vividohubiere vivido
Nosotros/ashayamos vividohubiéramos or hubiésemos vividohubieremos vivido
Vosotros/ashayais vividohubierais or hubieseis  vividohubiereis vivido
Ellos/ashayan vividohubieran or hubiesen vividohubieren vivido

Imperative

vivevivid

Non-personal forms

InfinitiveParticipleGerund
vivirvividoviviendo

For more examples, you can take a look at the many tables on the Real Academia Española website.

4. Irregular Verbs and their Conjugations

Negative Verbs

When doing Spanish conjugations, irregular verbs can be frustrating. In this section, we’ll show you how to conjugate one of the most common irregular verbs.

Irregular verb: ser (“to be”)

Indicativo

Simple tenses

SubjectPresentePretérito imperfectoPretérito perfecto simpleFuturo simpleCondicional simple
Yosoyerafuiserésería
ereserasfuiesteserásserías
Él/ellaeserafueserásería
Nosotros/assomoseramosfuimosseremosseríamos
Vosotros/assoiseraisfuisteissereisseríais
Ellos/assoneranfueronseranserían

Compound tenses

SubjectPretérito perfecto compuestoPretérito pluscuamperfectoPretérito anteriorFuturo compuestoCondicional compuesto
Yohe sidohabía sidohube sidohabré sidohabría sido
has sidohabías sidohubiste sidohabrás sidohabrías sido
Él/ellaha sidohabía sidohubo sidohabrá sidohabría sido
Nosotros/ashemos sidohabíamos sidohubimos sidohabremos sidohabríamos sido
Vosotros/ashabéis sidohabíais sidohubisteis sidohabréis sidohabríais sido
Ellos/ashan sidohabían sidohubieron sidohabrén sidohabrían sido

Subjuntivo

Simple tenses

SubjectPresentePretérito imperfectoFuturo simple
Yoseafuera or fuesefuere
seasfueras or fuesesfueres
Él/ellaseafuera or fuesefuere
Nosotros/asseamosfuéramos or fuésemosfueremos
Vosotros/asseaisfuérais or fuéseisfuereis
Ellos/asseanfueran or fuesenfueren

Compound tenses

SubjectPretérito perfecto compuestoPretérito pluscuamperfectoFuturo compuesto
Yohaya sidohubiera or hubiese sidohubiere sido
hayas sidohubieras or hubieses sidohubieres sido
Él/ellahaya sidohubiera or hubiese sidohubiere sido
Nosotros/ashayamos sidohubiéramos or hubiésemos sidohubieremos sido
Vosotros/ashayais sidohubierais or hubieseis  sidohubiereis sido
Ellos/ashayan sidohubieran or hubiesen sidohubieren sido

Imperative

sed

Non-personal forms

InfinitiveParticipleParticiple
sersidosiendo

5. Spanish Conjugations Quiz

1- Mañana ________ (nosotros – ir) a la piscina. → “Tomorrow, we ____ ________ to the swimming pool.”

Options: hemos ido, iremos, habremos ido

2- Ya ____ ________ (yo – terminar) los deberes. → “I ____ already ________ my homework.”

Options: terminaré, has terminado, he terminado

3- Mi vecina ________ (ella – ser) muy alta. → “My neighbor ________ very tall.”

Options: soy, es, son

4- Ayer Carlos ________ (él – cantar) una canción en el karaoke. → “Yesterday, Carlos ________ a song at the karaoke.”

Options: cantó, cantaré, cantaría

6. How SpanishPod101.com Can Help You Learn Spanish

We hope you found this Spanish conjugation lesson useful and practical. We’ve said this before, but we want to emphasize again that you really don’t need to learn what all these tenses are called, and you don’t need to learn all of them at once. If you think learning them step-by-step is a good idea, how do you feel about receiving one new word every day? Subscribe to our Free Word of the Day!
Before you started learning Spanish, did you know that verbs had conjugations? In case you didn’t know, would you have changed your mind about starting to learn this language? Or would you have given some excuses to put off starting? We hope that’s not the case, but let us know in the comments!

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