Whether you’re a student learning Spanish for the first time or an adult brushing up on the language before a business trip, Spanish grammar rules can be tricky. Finding a quick and easy reference website to look up tricky Spanish grammar rules helps students, teachers, business people and all who seek to speak and write fluent Spanish.
Spanish vs. English Grammar
Each language has its own set of rules, both stated and understood, that govern the pattern of a language from how a sentence is structured, the parts of speech and word choice such as verb tense and pronoun use.
Andalusian linguist Antonio di Nebrija wrote the first Spanish language grammar rules in 1492, giving Spanish the distinction as one of the first romance languages to have a written grammar.
Basic Spanish grammar rules include:
- Spanish language is a two-gender language - Nouns are assigned a gender, regardless of whether the object in question can actually be considered male or female. Noun classifications occur in many romance languages, including Spanish and French.
English does not use noun classifications.
- There are six unique spellings for each verb tense in Spanish.
English usually alters the suffix of the verb to alter the tense.
- Spanish adjectives are added after the noun.
English adjectives are usually added before the noun.
- Spanish adjectives must agree in gender and number with the noun, meaning that a plural noun must take a plural adjective.
- Spanish adjectives can sometimes stand in for nouns.
- Spanish determiners must agree with their subject in both gender and number. Definite articles, for example, are both singular and plural. Possessives also follow a similar rule.
- Spanish prepositions and prepositional phrases are used more precisely than English prepositions and phrases. Completely different verbs would be used if the meaning of the verb is different.
In English, different verbs would not be used. Instead, a preposition would be used to change a verb’s meaning. For example, we might say in English, “He ran up a flight of stairs” or “He ran out of gas on the highway.” In these examples, the verb ran is used both times, but the meaning of the prepositional phrase changes our understanding of the verb ran.
A simple introductory article can’t begin to explain all the nuances and beauty of the Spanish language, nor can it provide adequate help to all interested in learning the Spanish language.
The resources below run the gamut from help sites for students to sites aimed at adults learning Spanish for the first time.
- Before you begin to tackle Spanish grammar, you’ll need a strong foundation in English grammar. After all, you must know the grammatical terms in order to understand how to apply the concept in Spanish. The University of Texas system includes Spanish grammar rules and a link at the bottom of the page to a helpful refresher in grammar terms and definitions.
- For middle and senior high school Spanish language teachers, Casa de Joanna gives lesson plans, ideas, and student activity ideas. It’s a real treasure for new teachers struggling for creative concepts to teach Spanish grammar.
- Study Spanish also includes a very comprehensive guide to Spanish grammar on the Internet.
- The Learn Plus Guide contains free online lessons in Spanish grammar, with handy look-ups by part of speech.
- Spanish Kit contains 431 links to topics on Spanish grammar, ranging from nouns and verbs to the art of composing a letter in Spanish.
- Indiana University professor Juan Manual Soto Arrivi posted an excellent Spanish grammar resource on the university's website. Although it’s intended for his students, Professor Arrivi’s work is accessible by anyone interested in learning Spanish grammar.
- Another professor, Enrique Yepes at Bowdoin University, provides a free online Spanish grammar textbook. The topics are geared towards advanced students.
- If you enjoy interactive exercises and have Java Script and Microsoft Internet Explorer 3 and above, then try Trinity’s free Spanish grammar exercises.
Once you are comfortable with the basic Spanish grammar rules, test your knowledge using a Spanish grammar worksheet or exercise.