5 Rules to Build Basic Sentences in Spanish


Following on the topic of Spanish (as many of you don’t know, I am also a Spanish teacher), I would like to teach you how to build basic sentences in Spanish.

Let me present you with a common situation: you really like that Spanish hit song that everyone in the UK are talking about (yes, there are Spanish songs that make it that far away, even from Latin America), you are perfectly able to sing the chorus and even the verse, but when it comes to speaking, you can’t string a single sentence together.

The most likely explanation is that you didn’t learn how to properly build basic sentences in Spanish. Although it is a language that has its complexities, with a little help, everyone can learn this if the proper foundation is given to them. Don’t despair, this is something all language learners have to go through and a part of the process any language.

Before diving into basic grammar, let’s look at why should you dedicate some time to learn this properly, as it will motivate you for the next part of this article

Why Learn How to Build Basic Sentences in Spanish?

Learning a language is quite similar to building a building. It’s all in the foundations. If a building is built over weak foundations, it will collapse. The same is true with you Spanish If you don’t have a proper foundation in the language.

Mastery of the basics is required to move forward, and the people how do not follow this advice end up making the mistakes that inspired this article. Ready to see some basic rules, let’s start:

7 Rules to Build Sentences in Spanish

1. All nouns have a gender

A noun is the part of speech that refers to a person, place, thing, quality, idea or action. E.g. Carla, casa, libro, amistad, mariposa) You use these structures in different forms, being the most simple, as the subject of the verb. We will focus on this one for now.

What you need to always remember is that, unlike English nouns, all Spanish nouns have a gender: masculine or feminine. All words you use to qualify or describe a noun MUST agree with the noun with respect to gender. If you pay close attention to this rule, you won’t find yourself saying “la casa es bonito” anytime soon.

2. You need a subject and a verb on every sentence

In order to start making a sentence in Spanish, you need a subject and a verb. Let’s imagine Marcos. Marcos has been awake since 5 a.m and didn’t have any breakfast whatsoever. At lunchtime, what do you think it happens? Marcos come. That’s it. As long as you know the basic verb conjugations in Spanish, you will be able to build the beginning of a sentence effortlessly. From here we could make him eat pizza (it’s the same in English and Spanish) and we would have our sentence: Marcos come pizza.

To make things even easier, it’s often possible to omit the subject once we know who we are talking about. If, for example, we say “Marcos come”, we could continue on the next line with “come demasiado”, and it would be allowed.

3. Adverbs have the same function in Spanish and English

In both languages, adjectives are used to describe verbs.

Many English verbs end in -ly, and the equivalent Spanish ending is -mente. To form an adverb in Spanish, you only need to add -mente to the feminine singular form of an adjective.

If we follow on the example of our good friend Marcos, he hasn’t eaten during 7 hours so right now Marcos come ràpidamente. We could also say that ràpidamente come Marcos, and we would not be wrong. That’s the beauty of Spanish, you have lots of flexibility when building sentences together.

Unlike adjectives, which require agreement in both gender and number with the noun they describe, adverbs require no agreement because they modify a verb and not a noun or pronoun.

4. Adjectives come after nouns in Spanish sentences

An adjective is a part of speech that describes a noun: My friend Marcos’s house is quite colorful as he grew up in Puerto Rico. We say that La casa de Marcos es amarilla.

In this point alone, I see many Spanish students fail over and over again. In Spanish, you must put the adjective AFTER the noun, not the other way around. You can’t say la amarilla casa de Marcos, you must say la casa amarilla de Marcos.

There are some cases where this rule turns around, as some adjectives change their meaning depending on whether they are placed before or after the noun. We will worry about the exceptions later. For now, just stick to this rule.

5.To make a Spanish sentence negative, add “No” before the verb

Simple, right? So far I taught you how to speak affirmatively in Spanish and made a big emphasis on it. Why? Because talking in a negative way is rather easy.  Just add “no” before the verb. That’s it.

If we remember the example of our friend Marcos, let’s say he’d rather take his time with his lunch. In that case, we would say Marcos no come rápidamente.

Unlike in English, it is possible in Spanish to use double negatives. For example, we could say “no me gusta nada”, which literally means “I don’t like anything”, but it is completely possible to say in Spanish.

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