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Lesson Transcript

Welcome to Introduction to Spanish.
My name is Alisha and I'm joined by...
Hi everyone! I'm Lia.
In this lesson, you'll learn the basics of Spanish grammar.
Word Order &How to Form Basic Sentences
"Word Order" refers to the order in which words are structured to form a sentence in a given language.
Consider the English sentence "I read books."
If we breakdown the English sentence "I read books," we can see that the subject "I" is presented first, followed by the verb "read," and then finally the object "books" is positioned last.
The basic Word Order for English, then, is subject, verb, object, or SVO for short.
Now let's compare that same sentence, "I read books," in Spanish.
Yo leo libros.
If we break down the Spanish sentence, we get the subject Yo meaning "I," then comes the verb leo meaning "read," and finally we have the object libros meaning "books."
The word order for basic Spanish, then, is subject, verb, object, or SVO for short.
As you can see, the word order for sentences in Spanish is the same as that of English. This means that you can essentially swap out English words for Spanish words in an English sentence, to convert it to Spanish.
So imagine you wanted to say "I ate an apple," but in Spanish. Just swap out the words!
"I" in Spanish is Yo
"ate" in Spanish is comí
"an" is una
and "apple" is manzana
Altogether, it's "Yo comí una manzana."
So "I ate an apple" in Spanish is...
Yo comí una manzana.
You can form nearly all basic sentences in Spanish, just by following the SVO word order.
Omission of the Subject in Spanish
We just saw how easy it was to form basic sentences in Spanish and how similar it was to forming basic English sentences.
Luckily, it's actually even easier to form sentences in Spanish than it is in English!
That's because Spanish is much more flexible when it comes to word order compared to English.
Let's go back to the two examples we used earlier.
More often than not, if we wanted to say "I read books." and "I ate an apple." in Spanish, we would not usually say...
Yo leo libros.
Yo comí una manzana.
but instead, we would just say...
Leo libros.
Comí una manzana.
Notice how the subject, I, is omitted from the sentence. This is how most Spanish sentences are constructed and spoken in real life.
When it's clear who or what the subject is, most Spanish speakers would omit the subject altogether.
"Yo leo libros." and "Yo comí una manzana." would only be used if the subject is unclear OR if you wanted to place a stronger emphasis on subject, as if to say I am the one who reads books or I was the one who ate the apple.
So, most of the time, we can actually express any simple action in Spanish with just two words! The verb and the object in Spanish!
How to Form Negative Sentences in Spanish
So far, we've only looked at affirmative sentences in Spanish.
But what if you wanted to make the sentence negative?
Well that's very easy as well.
All you have to do, is just add "no" before the verb and that's it!
So "I don't read books." would be...
No leo libros.
Same thing for "I didn't eat an apple.", just add "no" before the verb.
No comí una manzana.
And that's all there is to it!
How to Form Questions in Spanish
Once again, it's much simpler to form questions in Spanish than it is in English.
There's actually a variety of different methods of forming a question in Spanish. Let's go through some of them.
We'll seem a little strange if we ask our own selves a question in Spanish, so... let's introduce a new subject.
Let's go with Juan, a very typical Spanish name.
So instead of "I read books.", we now have "Juan reads books."
Juan lee libros.
The simplest way we can turn that statement into a question, is by just raising our intonation at the end of the sentence.
¿Juan lee libros? meaning, "Does Juan read books?"
In conversation, we just need to raise the intonation at the end to express that it's a question. In writing, however, we have to include the question mark at the end, just like in English. But unlike English, questions in Spanish are marked with an inverted question mark at the beginning of the question as well.
¿Juan lee libros?
Another simple way we can turn a statement into a question, is by adding a question tag at the end of a sentence. One question tag in English for example, is "right?". "Something something statement, right?" It works in exactly the same way in Spanish.
Juan lee libros, ¿no? meaning, "Juan reads books, doesn't he?"
The final way to make a sentence in Spanish, is to actually switch the verb and the subject. So statements in Spanish would normally be SVO, but to formulate a question, it'll be VSO. The verb and subject are switched.
¿Lee Juan libros? meaning, "Does Juan read books?"
All of these questions mean the same thing, but they are not completely identical. There are tiny nuances that go along with the method you use to formulate a question.
The first and last examples appear to have exactly the same meaning, but ¿Juan lee libros? places a greater emphasis on Juan because the subject appears first in the sentence. As opposed to ¿Lee Juan libros?, where the emphasis is on the verb.
As you can see, there are many ways to form basic questions in Spanish.
In this lesson, you learned about the word order of Spanish, how to form affirmative and negative sentences, about the omission of the subject, and how to form questions.
We've covered only the very basics of Spanish grammar. If you're interested in learning more, check out our "Spanish in 3 minutes" video series. In that course, we teach you useful phrases while covering the fundamentals of Spanish grammar, and each lesson is only 3 minutes long!
In the next lesson, we'll introduce you to the basics of Spanish Writing.
See you in the next lesson. Bye!