Spanish - Grammar Time: The Present Tense

¡Hola Todos!

Today, we’re going to finally learn about grammar! Yes, I know we all hate it, but it’s good for you because then you’ll know how to form sentences and what it means to form them. Ok, so, let me explain…In English when you say, read, or write sentences like “I am a human” you’ll automatically know what it is you’re talking about because it’s simple, but if you come across a sentence like…


“It was a cold and gloomy day, and the rain pelted down on all sides of the carriage that sped down the path with the speed of an eagle.”


Do you even know what we’re talking about here? There are adjectives, verbs, conjunctions, and nouns, it’s hard to distinguish them all at once. But you already know exactly what I’m doing here. I’m essentially describing the weather and telling you that a carriage is moving quickly in the rain. In Spanish, that’ll be harder to define, because you don’t know what’s what, and you guys have barely started learning the language to even get a clue about it. No, I don’t mean that in a bad way, I mean it, because I also find it difficult to pick out what’s what in Spanish every time, I hear it.

So, that’s why we’re going to start at the very beginning of their grammar makeup, and today, we’ll be learning all about the Present Tense, since it’s one of the easiest tenses to learn.


What Is The Present Tense?


In English, it’s difficult to determine when we used the present tense, after all, we normally use the past tense to describe something, especially when we’re telling a story. The only time we use the present tense is when we’re talking about facts or when we’re instructing someone to do something right? But, I’m using the present tense right now because I’m telling you the facts, but it isn’t obvious, because I’m also using the “gerund” form or the “continuous form”, meaning words like “telling”, “saying”, “doing” and “using”. Don’t worry, we’ll get into that later, for now, let’s focus on the present tense. So, what do present tense sentences sound like? Well, they sound like this:


I eat food

You drink water

She sleeps on the bed

He works in an office

They go to school


Do you see what I mean? They’re very simple sentences that children will recite, at school, when they first learn English. So, simply put, the Present Tense is used as the very first form of a verb that everyone learns, no matter what language you’re studying. The Present Tense always comes first.


What Is The Present Tense Used For?

Ok, I’ve already mentioned this, but the present tense is simply used to state facts, but there are a few good uses for it, and you use it even if you’re not aware of it. So, let me list out some of the ways the Present Tense is used. Below, you’ll find the verb in the Present Tense in bold and a different colour:


  • To state facts – “The town hall is near or part of the central square of the town.”

  • To express regular or routine actions – “I normally buy my groceries every week.”

  • To describe routine events that will take place in the future – “Every summer, I go to Bali”

  • To ask a question – “Who works in the office now?”

  • To instruct someone – “You need to put the cake in the oven.”


Do you see it? Normally, we don’t pay attention to the tenses we use, and although it’s not obvious, the present tense is used everywhere, but because it’s disguised amongst other forms of different verbs, and in complex sentences, we can’t always see what Present Tense is, and what the past or future tenses are.


The Present Tense In Spanish

As I said, the present tense is the first thing you learn in Spanish, and if you’re at school studying Spanish, you’ll know the “-ar”, “-er” and “-ir” formats. For those of you who don’t, or for those of you who’ve forgotten and want to revise it, let’s cover this slowly.

So, in Spanish, there are three different endings for the infinitive form of a verb. What I mean is, in English, a standard verb, with no context whatsoever, looks like this:


To Speak


The reason why is because we don’t have infinitives in English, but in Spanish, and many other languages, they do, and in Spanish, the equivalent to the verb above is this:


Hablar


Literally, it is those two words “to speak” in one singular word “hablar”. Do you get what I mean?

Now, to make “hablar” Present Tense, you need to conjugate the verb.


What In The World Does Conjugate Mean?

It’s simple. All you have to do is take out the last two letters of the word and replace it with the form it needs for the Present Tense. However, there are more versions of the Present Tense, because it includes the person doing the action.

What I mean is every verb, when in the context of a sentence, has a “person” or “thing” attached to it, because SOMETHING or SOMEONE has to DO whatever that verb is. Confusing? Ok, let’s look at an example, and hopefully, you guys will understand.


I speak English


It’s simple enough, I am the person speaking in English.


In English, the verb doesn’t change, but the pronoun does, so it’s not so obvious, but in Spanish and many other languages, the verb itself changes. So, in Spanish, that sentence looks like this:


Yo hablo inglés


Do you see what I mean? In the Present Tense “hablar” becomes “hablo” because I am doing the action. If I were to say:


You speak English


Then the sentence looks like this:


Tú hablas inglés


Can you see the difference? That’s exactly what conjugate means. You change the ending to fit the person and the tense you’re speaking in.


The Different Verbs

Ok, so now you know what conjugating a verb means, let’s move on. In Spanish, you have three regular verb endings. As I mentioned before they are:


-Ar

-Er

-Ir


There’s no real significance to why they’re there, at least not to me since I haven’t studied language theory, but for the sake of simplicity, and because it’s the standard way of learning, these three endings are the standards to remember.


So, each ending conjugates differently, depending on the person who is doing the action, and on the verb itself. To simplify this, I’ve created a table, which you need to memorise if you want to make sentences that people will understand.

Ok, so, as you can see, they all have their different endings, except the verbs that fall under the “-er” and “-ir” endings. Why? Mostly because it retains the integrity of the word and the way they sound aloud. Basically, it’s for when you’re saying the verbs, so it sounds good, and it distinguishes the tense you’re speaking in, from any other tense, because there is a tense when the “í” comes into play, but we will talk about that another time.


So, if we’re taking examples, let’s look at the verbs “hablar” (to speak), “comer” (to eat) and “vivir” (to live). They’re the simples to remember and are usually the go-to in schools.

Simple right? So, now you can create sentences that use these verbs. So, you can say sentences that use the verbs “I speak”, “they speak”, “you eat”, “he eats” and “she lives” because you now know them.


The same goes for every regular verb in Spanish, so you have verbs like “beber” (to drink) or “trabajar” (to work).


A Note On Pronouns

Ok, so in the examples above, I used pronouns to highlight who is doing what, but in Spanish, when a conversation starts flowing, and you already know the subject of your sentence, you don’t always have to use the pronouns, for example:


Me llamo Feather, y hablo español.


Do you see? I don’t use the word “yo” before I use the word “hablo”? It’s because I already know that I’m the subject of the sentence. So, you can sound more like a native, when you’re in a conversation with someone, by leaving out the pronouns. Of course, if the subject of your sentence isn’t clear, then you will have to use it. For example:


Me llamo Feather, y ella es mi hermana.


The “ella” in the sentence above is referring to someone else, not me. If I hadn’t used the word “ella” you wouldn’t know who I was talking about (even though there isn’t anyone else here…you know what I mean right?). So, when you’re making your sentences, be careful about your use of pronouns.


I Am Beat!

Ok, so that was a lot of information, and I know how difficult it is to wrap your head around grammar when you’re not used to it. So, I’ll leave it here, for now. In the meantime, try to make up simple Present Tense sentences, to get a feel for the process of conjugating a verb. Look up other verbs you could use, and practice with them. So, create sentences like “I play a game” or “I work in an office” or “I read a book”.


Of course, there are exceptions, and there are MANY exceptions to the rules, in Spanish, but we will cover them, albeit slowly and not at the pace your teachers teach them because I know how difficult it can be to understand, especially because they can skip pages or ignore them altogether. So, for now, use regular verbs like “hablar”, “comer”, “vivir”, “beber” and “leer”.


Well, that’s it from me today, I’ll see you guys next time. For now, don’t forget to like, subscribe and follow for more updates and the latest posts here on Feather’s Charm and on my social media accounts. Oh, and share these posts with family and friends, those who you’d think might enjoy these topics and tips! I’ll see you later!


With love,


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