Verb Tenses in Spanish
When learning Spanish, it’s essential that you know very well the Spanish verb tenses. A solid knowledge of its use will give you an enviable command language proficiency.
Verb forms in Spanish
In addition to the three main verb modes, there are three verb forms in Spanish:
- Infinitive: This is the base form of the verb, e.g., «hablar«, «comer«, «escribir».
- Gerund: It’s formed by adding «-ando» or «-iendo» to the infinitive and it´s used to express ongoing actions, such as «hablando«, «comiendo«, «escribiendo«.
- Participle: Used to form more complex verb tenses and the passive. It’s formed by adding «-ado», «-ido» or «-ito» to the infinitive, such as «hablado«, «comido«, «escrito«.
Verb modes in Spanish
Spanish has in total 23 different verb tenses that allow us to describe the world and construct sentences in space and time. These tenses are divided into three main verb modes:
- Indicative Mode: It comprises 10 verb tenses and is used to express actual actions or affirmations.
- Subjunctive Mode: Includes 8 verb tenses and is used to express hypothetical situations, desires, doubts and emotions.
- Imperative Mode: It consists of only one verb tense and is used to give orders, advice or make requests directly.
With a thorough understanding of these verb modes and forms, you will be able to use Spanish effectively to express your ideas in various situations and contexts.
- Present: It’s used to situate an action at the time it’s spoken or in the very near future. Ex: «Escribo.»
- Past perfect: Expresses actions that have already ended, but that give rise to situations in which they still have present validity. Ex: «He comido.»
- Past simple: It’s used to express actions completed in the past. It´s also appears with actions that interrupted an action in progress. Ex: «Comí.»
- Past imperfect: Expresses past actions that have had an unspecified beginning and end. Ex: «Crecía.»
- Past pluscuamperfect: It refers to the precedence of an action that has already passed with respect to another that has also passed. Ex: «Había subido.»
- Past anterior: Expresses an event immediately prior to another that has also happened. It isn’t used so often in Spanish nowadays. Ex: «Hube mirado.»
- Simple future: It refers to an action that is going to happen soon. Ex: «Cantaré.»
- Complex Future: Expresses hypothetical situations or actions or questions asked with courtesy or desire. Ex: «Cantaría.»
- Simple conditional: It’s used to ask for things or refer to hypothetical situations. Ex: «Importaría.»
- Complex conditional: It works in the same way as the simple conditional but, in this case, the actions have already been completed. Ex: «Habría comido.»
- Present: Expresses a current wish. Ex: «Vengas.»
- Past simple: It refers to a recently past wish. Ex: «Amara o amase.»
- Past perfect: Denotes a desirable recent past. Ex: «Haya cantado.»
- Past pluscuamperfect: It shows a desirable past and it’s also known as the past before the past tense. Ex: «Hubiera o hubiese subido.»
- Future Perfect: Expresses a wish for the near future. However, it is no longer in use. Ex: «Hubiere andado.»
It has only one tense, the present, since no orders can be given in the past or in the future, although the order we give can be done in the future.
Verbs in the imperative mood should be conjugated without the personal pronoun, i.e., we do not say “Tú haz tus deberes”, but “Haz tus deberes”.
There are two types of imperative:
- The affirmative. E.g.: ¡sube!, ¡corre!
- The negative. E.g.: ¡no subas!, ¡no corras!
With these guidelines, you will be able to master the verb tenses in Spanish perfectly.
Mastering these verb tenses may seem like a challenge, but it’s essential to be able express ourselves clearly and coherently in Spanish.
As you go deeper into the study of these tenses and their use, you will be better prepared to successfully communicate in this beautiful language.
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