Though the language as a whole is generally considered easy to learn, Spanish verbs can be one of the more complicated components of learning the language. This largely synthetic language offers inflection that shows up predominantly in the conjugation of the verbs. Click here to see our Verb Conjugation Chart.
The conjugation and inflection patterns of Spanish verbs are rather complex in terms of the paradigms that govern them. Contemporary Spanish has 14 complete paradigms—that is, the system of construction or conjugation that is dictated by the combination of the verb tense and mood—as well as one incomplete paradigm, and three that are considered non-temporal.
These 14 paradigms are further subdivided into seven simple and seven compound tenses. In order to form the compound tenses, also known as the perfect tense, the past participle of the verb is combined with the auxiliary verb “haber”.
As in all languages, Spanish verbs undergo what are termed “accidents”—that is, the forms that the verbs can adopt according to conjugation. In Spanish there are five such accidents:
Person and Number
In terms of this verb accident with the Spanish language there are three persons, each with a corresponding singular and plural form. Because Spanish is what is termed a “pro-drop language” the sentence structure generally omits the actual pronoun that is being used. The persons of the language include:
• First Person—this person refers directly to the speaker “I”. When in its plural form this person refers to the speaker with another person or group of people, “we”.
• Second Person—this person refers to a person that is being addressed by the speaker or is receiving the verbal communication, “You”. The informal version is used to refer to those with whom the speaker has a familiar relationship, who is younger than the speaker, or who is a subordinate to the speaker. The formal version is used to refer to those with whom the speaker has a formal or professional relationship, who is older than the speaker, or who is a superior to the speaker.
• Third Person—this person refers to a person or group of people who is being spoken about, rather than directly to by the speaker.
There are three moods as can be applied to Spanish verbs. These are:
The tense of verbs in Spanish can be present, past, or future.
These verbs can also have an aspect, meaning the indication of their state of happening as opposed to a directly temporal reference. These aspects are:
There are many variations within the tenses and forms that provide for a variety of contexts and descriptions, such as habitual actions or conditional actions.