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Spanish for Beginners

Spanish can be called the second international language, for it is widely spoken. Even in the southern United States many people speak Spanish, and most countries in South- and Central America use Spanish, such as Mexico, Chile and Argentina. And of course, it is also spoken in Spain, where it originated. It's not very hard to learn Spanish. It has an easy pronunciation and grammar. It's very similar to Portuguese but quite different from French, which is also a romance language.

Part one of this course is only intended for absolute beginners.

Part One - The Basics

Lesson 1: To Be

Welcome to the Spanish course here at UniLang. We want to help you learn foreign languages and we hope this little course can help. Of course, we also have a big grammar reference and a list of vocabulary available for you to study. These courses in part one are intended for absolute beginners who need a little assistance with starting to learn some basics, so this is not a complete course. When we've shown you the most important basics we'll let go you and then you can explore our grammar reference all by yourself.

Before you continue you must do two things. First of all, make sure you are familiar with all the basic grammar terms, do you know what a noun is? What a verb is? What an adverb is? The second thing you should do is learn how to pronounce things in Spanish.

To Be

We'll start by teaching you how to introduce yourself in Spanish. Take a look at the following Spanish sentence and it's English translation. All Spanish text will be written in blue and the English translation in green.

 Yo soy Roberto  I am Roberto

Here we see your very first Spanish sentence where you introduce yourself as Roberto, a fictional person. You should of course replace the name with your own name. Although the sentence consists of only three words we are going to carefully examine each word. The first word "Yo" is the Spanish equivalent of the English word "I", also referred to as 1st person singular. It's a subject pronoun. The second word "soy" is a verb. It's a conjugation of the irregular Spanish verb "ser", which is one of the two Spanish equivalents of "to be". Note that in Spanish, the subject pronoun is optional. It's usually omitted, so you could also say: "Soy Roberto", because the verb "soy" already indicates that it is "I" who's saying it. So remember, only use a subject pronoun such as "Yo" when you really want to imply that it's absolutely that person who's doing something.

Now we've seen how to introduce yourself using "soy" , but we can also introduce other people. Take a look at the following examples. We've put the subject pronouns between brackets because they are usually omitted:

 (Yo) Soy Roberto.  I am Roberto.
 (Tú) Eres Roberto.  You are Roberto.
 (Él) Es Roberto.  He is Roberto.
 (Ella) Es Roberta.  She is Roberta.
 Es Roberto.  It is Roberto.
 (Nosotros) Somos Roberto y Paul.  We are Roberto and Paul.
 (Vosotros) Sois Roberto y Paul.  You are Roberto and Paul.
 (Ellos / Ellas) Son Roberto y Paul.  They are Roberto and Paul.

Those are a lot of new words! But it's all very easy. Now you've seen all subject pronouns in Spanish, which are omitted, and you know how to refer to people. And besides that, you've also learned your first Spanish verb, an irregular verb: "Ser", in English "To be". There is also a small new word that appeared in this lesson, the Spanish words "y", which means "and". Also note that there are two forms for "they" in Spanish. You can say "ellos" or "ellas". "ellas" is used when referring to a group of females. "ellos" is used when referring to a group of men or a mixed group.

It's also a good exercise to try to pronounce every Spanish sentence you see on this page.

In this lesson you've learned two aspects of Spanish grammar, you've learned the subject pronouns and you've learned the full conjugation of the irregular Spanish verb "ser".


We'll ask you to study a number of words in each lesson . This time we'll give you a couple of very easy words to study. Learn them in both directions! English-Spanish and Spanish-English.


 padre  father
 madre  mother
 abuela  grandmother
 abuelo  grandfather
 padres  parents
 abuelos  grandparents


Each lesson will come with some exercises so you can practice the grammar and vocabulary of this lesson. In these exercises we ask you to write the subject pronoun between brackets so you learn those too. In the next lessons you can omit the subject pronoun.

Exercise A: Translate to English:
1) (Él) es Roberto.
2) Es padre.
3) (Ellos) Son Roberto y Raúl.
4) Ella es madre.
5) (Tú) Eres abuela.
6) (Vosotros) Sois Juan y José.
7) (Nosotros) Somos George y William.

Exercise B: Translate to Spanish:
1) We are James and Jane.
2) You are parents.
3) I am mother.
4) She is grandmother.
5) They are Roberto and Raúl.
6) You are George and William.
7) You are grandfather.


After you've done the exercises you can check whether your answer is correct using the following solutions:

Solution of Exercise A:
1) He is Roberto.
2) He is father OR It is father.
3) They are Roberto and Raúl.
4) She is mother.
5) You are grandmother.
6) You are Juán and José.
7) We are George and William.

Solution of Exercise B:
1) (Nosotros) somos James y Jane.
2) (Vosotros) sois padres.
3) (Yo) Soy madre.
4) (Ella) Es abuela.
5) (Ellos) Son Roberto y Raúl.
6) (Vosotros) Sois George y William.
7) (Tú) Eres abuelo.

Lesson 2: Articles and Gender


Apparently you've successfully finished lesson one, so now we can continue with the second lesson. In this lesson you'll learn how to describe certain objects. First of all we are going to teach you articles. In the previous lesson you learned how to say "He is father" but that sounds a little bit tarzan-like. Wouldn't it sound better if you could say "He is a father" or "He is the father" ? That's what you'll learn now.

Take a look at these Spanish sentences:

 Él es un padre.  He is a father.
 Él es el padre.  He is the father.
 Él es el abuelo.  He is the grandfather.
 Ella es la madre.  She is the mother.
 Es la silla.  It is the chair.
 Es una silla.  It is a chair.
 Es una casa.  It is a house.
 Es la casa.  It is the house.

Here we see a whole mix of words, we see "el" and "la" as a translation of "the" and "un" and "una" as a translation of "a" and "an". But how come there are two translations? Of course they both are right, otherwise we wouldn't show them to you. But how can it be possible that the word "the" and "a and an" have two translations in Spanish? This has to do with the difficult concept of noun gender, a concept not known in English but is in almost every other language. In most other languages a noun has a certain gender. So you're telling me a noun can be a boy or a girl? Indeed...that's what we're saying. A noun has a certain gender. In Spanish (and many other Latin languages) there are two genders: masculine and feminine. Every noun (note that this gender concept only applies to nouns) has one of these two genders. How to determine what gender it has isn't very hard. And can be explained using a number of guidelines:

  • Nouns ending in O are usually masculine.
  • Nouns ending in A are usually feminine
  • Nouns ending in MA are masculine
  • Nouns ending in DAD, TAD, TUD, IÓN, EZ and UMBRE are feminine
  • Others ending on a consonant are usually masculine


Most grammar rules are dependent of the gender of the noun, so you'll have to learn the gender of each noun. One grammar rule that is gender-dependent is the translation of the articles "the, a and an". When the noun to which the article applies is a masculine noun then "the" is translated as "el". If the article applies to a feminine noun then the article that has to be used is "la". Note that "el" and "la" are only used with singular nouns. When the noun is plural you use "los" for masculine nouns and "las" for feminine nouns. This also applies to the indefinite article ("a and an"). In Spanish you use "un" when the noun is masculine and singular and "una" when it's feminine and singular. In Spanish there also exists a plural indefinite article. While we in English can't say ("a houses and a tables"), in Spanish this is possible. You can use "unos" for masculine nouns and "unas" for feminine nouns. This could translate as "some" or "a couple of" in English.

Well, this noun gender concept might have confused you a bit. For English speaking people it can be a weird concept. But if English is not your native language then it's most likely that you are already familiar with noun gender. From now on we will also mention the article of a noun in our vocabulary lists.

In this lesson we'll also introduce another irregular Spanish verb, the verb "tener", which means "to have". Take a look at the full conjugation and translation of this verb:

 Tengo  I have
 Tienes  You have
 Tiene  He/she/it has
 Tenemos  We have
 Tenéis  You have
 Tienen  They have

Now that you've learned a new verb, memorize it. Note that this verb is not used as a helper verb like in English, In Spanish there is another verb which is used as helper verb.


In this lesson you've learned the concept of noun gender, what articles to use and you've learned another irregular verb.


Learn the following words, the words of the previous lesson are mentioned again, but this time we also show what definite article to use.


 el padre  the father
 la madre  the mother
 la abuela  the grandmother
 el abuelo  the grandfather
 la silla  the chair
 la casa  the house
 la mesa  the table
 el gato  the cat
 el perro  the dog
 el hueso  the bone
 el animal  the animal
 el edificio  the building


Exercise A: Translate to English:
1) Un gato es un animal
2) La casa es un edificio
3) El perro tiene un hueso.
4) Tengo un gato.
5) El padre tiene una casa.
6) El padre y la madre tienen un perro.
7) Tienen una casa.

Exercise B: Translate to Spanish:
1) The grandmother has a cat
2) A cat is an animal.
3) The table has a chair.
4) The grandmother and the grandfather have a dog.
5) The mother has a dog and the father has a cat.
6) We have a table.
7) They have the house.


Solution of Exercise A:
1) A cat is an animal.
2) The house is a building.
3) The dog has a bone.
4) I have a cat.
5) The father has a house.
6) The father and the mother have a dog.
7) They have a house.

Solution of Exercise B:
1) La abuela tiene un gato.
2) Un gato es un animal.
3) La mesa tiene una silla.
4) La abuela y el abuelo tienen un perro.
5) La madre tiene un perro y el padre tiene un gato.
6) Tenemos una mesa.
7) Tienen la casa.

Lesson 3: Formal Pronouns, Possessive Adjectives, and Plural Nouns

Formal Pronouns

Before we teach you how to tell that something belongs to a certain person we first have to teach you how to be polite in Spanish. In Spanish and most other languages, but not in English, there exists a certain polite form of "you". In Spanish they say "Usted" instead of "tú" in formal speech, "tú" is only used among friends and for children. Verbs after "Usted" are also conjugated differently, like after 3rd person singular ("Él"). Take a look at the following sample sentences, and note that the subject pronoun is usually omitted, but for this example we haven't omitted it:

 Tú eres abuela.  You are grandmother.
 Usted es abuela.  You are grandmother.
 Tú tienes un perro.  You have a dog.
 Usted tiene un perro.  You have a dog.

And this same construction also applies to the plural form of "you". Instead of "vosotros" they use "ustedes" in formal speech. Also note that in Latin America, "tu" and "vosotros" are almost never used.


Now you know how to be polite we'll continue with indicating possession. We're gonna teach you the so-called "possessive pronouns" or "possessive adjectives". At the same time you'll learn how translate "this" and "that" (demonstrative pronouns). Here are a couple of new sentences:

 Ésa es mi silla  That is my chair
 Ésta es tu silla  This is your chair
 Ésa es su silla  That is your chair (This is the polite/formal form, singular and plural)
 Ésa es su silla (su de él)  That is his chair
 Ésta es su silla (su de ella)  This is her chair
 Ésa es nuestra silla  That is our chair
 Ése es nuestro perro  That is our dog
 Ésta es vuestra silla  This is your chair
 Éste es vuestro perro  This is your dog
 Ésa es su silla  That is their chair
 Esta silla  This chair
 Esta casa  This house
 Este perro  This dog
 Este gato  This cat
 Esa silla  That chair
 Esa casa  That house
 Ese perro  That dog
 Ese gato  That cat

You've learned a couple of things now. You can use "this" and "that" independently (separated by the verb "to be") and "éso". You can use them adjectively. The forms are "éste" ("this") and "ése" ("that") with masculine nouns, and "ésta" ("this") and "ésa" ("that") with feminine nouns.

Note that those who are used independently receive an accent on the first é. Those used adjectively don't get an accent.

You've also seen the possessive adjectives and you probably noticed that possessive adjectives also have a formal form for both the singular and the plural "you". Note that the both the possessive adjectives ("mi, tu, su, nuestro") AND the demonstrative pronouns ("eso, ese, esta, etc..") get an extra S when the noun they apply to is a plural noun. And you probably also noticed that there is a masculine and a feminine form of "our" and "your (plural)". With masculine nouns you use "nuestro" and "vuestro" and with feminine nouns you use "nuestra" and "vuestra".

Plural Nouns

Now it's time to learn plural nouns. Until now you've only seen singular nouns such as "house" and "chair", but now we'll teach you how to form a plural noun ("houses", "chairs") in Spanish.

Forming a plural noun in Spanish is a piece of cake, just like in English. When the singular noun ends in a vowel then you can just add an S to form the plural form. When it ends in a consonant then you should add ES. When it ends on IÓN you can drop the accent on the O and add ES. When it ends on EZ you replace EZ with ECES. That's all there's to it!

Some examples:

Libro - Libros, Universidad - Universidades, Vez - Veces

Now we'll teach you one last thing in this lesson. You have to know that in Spanish the word order is very flexible and it often occurs that the subject of the sentence appears at the end of the sentence. An example of two sentences that are exactly the same, except for the word order:

 Tu madre tiene las llaves  Your mother has the keys
 Tiene las llaves tu madre  Your mother has the keys

You see the flexible word other. Get used to it because it frequently occurs that the subject appears at the end of a sentence.

The demonstrative pronouns, demonstrative adjectives and possessive adjectives we've just discussed also have plural forms. When a plural noun is involved, you need to make them plural. This is simply done by adding an S to the singular form. The only two exceptions are ESTE and ESE, which become ESTOS and ESOS in plural.

I think this has been enough material for this third lesson.


 el libro  the book
 el caballo  the horse
 el río  the river
 el ojo  the eye
 el mono  the monkey
 el ratón  the mouse
 la llave  the key
 el dedo  the finger
 la torre  the tower
 el círculo  the circle
 la fotografía  the photo
 la cámara  the camera
 aquí  here
 allá  there
 mucho  much *used with singular masculine nouns
 muchos  many *used with plural masculine nouns
 mucha  much *used with singular feminine nouns
 muchas  many *used with plural feminine nouns


Exercise A: Translate to English:
1) Éstas son mis fotografias.
2) Un mono tiene dedos.
3) Éstas son vuestras llaves.
4) Ésto es un ratón.
5) Tengo muchos caballos.
6) Tienes nuestra camára.
7) Ella tiene su llave.
8) Éstas son vuestras torres.
9) Tiene estes libros ella.
10) Tenemos esas camáras.

Exercise B: Translate to Spanish:
1) We have many fingers.
2) These are my eyes.
3) That is his key.
4) This is your book and these are your dogs. (spoken to a stranger)
5) I have those photos.
6) Her books have photos.
7) They have the house.
8) This house is your house.(spoken to a dear friend)
9) You are their grandmother.(use formal speech)
10) He has this camara.
11) The houses have many keys.


Solution of Exercise A:
1) Those are my photos.
2) A monkey has fingers.
3) These are their keys.
4) This is a mouse.
5) I have many horses.
6) You have our camara.
7) She has your key.
8) These are your towers.
9) She has these books.
10) We have those camaras.

Solution of Exercise B:
(Note that the subject may also be placed at the end of the sentence)
1) Tenemos muchos dedos.
2) Éstos son mis ojos.
3) Ésta es su llave.
4) Éste es su libro y estos son sus perros.
5) Tengo estas fotografias.
6) Su libros tienen fotografias.
7) Tienen la casa.
8) Esta casa es tu casa.
9) Es vuestra abuela.
10) Tiene esta cámara.
11) Las casas tienen muchas llavas.

Lesson 4: Regular Verbs and Negation

You've already worked your way through three chapters. Make sure you understood everything that appeared in those chapters. Make sure you understand the grammar and vocabulary and do the exercises to practice. Also make sure you try to pronounce every Spanish sentence so you can practice your pronunciation.

Regular Verbs

Let's start now by learning a regular Spanish verb: "hablar" ("to speak" in English). In Spanish a regular verb in the present tense always has the same ending. That ending is underlined in the following example. There are three groups of regular verbs in Spanish. "hablar", and all other infinitive verbs that end in AR, belong to the first group.

The part of the verb that's not underlined is called the stem, and is the part of the verb that always remains the same. The stem can be obtained by removing the last two characters of the infinitive verb (AR, ER or IR).

 Hablo  I speak
 Hablas  You speak
 Habla  He/She/It speaks *also applies to the formal form of "you": "usted"
 Hablamos  We speak
 Habláis  You speak
 Hablan  They speak *also applies to the formal form "you": "ustedes"

It's pretty easy to understand. Each person has it's own ending. The endings you just saw are valid for all regular verbs that end in AR.

There are two other groups: the ER group (for all regular verbs that end in ER) and the IR group (for all regular verbs that end in IR). An example of the ER group using the verb "comer", meaning "to eat".

 Como  I eat
 Comes  You eat
 Come  He/She/It eats *also applies to the formal form of "you": "usted"
 Comemos  We eat
 Coméis  You eat
 Comen  They eat *also applies to the formal form "you": "ustedes"

An example of the IR group, using the verb "vivir", meaning "to live". This group is very similar to the conjugations of the ER group.

 Vivo  I live
 Vives  You live
 Vive  He/She/It lives *also applies to the formal form of "you": "usted"
 Vivimos  We live
 Vivís  You live
 Viven  They live *also applies to the formal form "you": "ustedes"

This was pretty clear I think. You should memorize the ending of each person for each of the three groups. Also note that when the same vowel ends a stem and starts an ending, the two vowels shoud merge, because two equal vowels never appear next to each other.


Now we're going to talk about negation, because you might want to say: "That is NOT a house", "and that is NO dog". In Spanish "no" is translated as the same, as "no". It appears directly before the main verb.

I think that's enough material for now. Make sure you understand it. It's quite hard, so don't hesitate to reread this lesson a couple of times.


Learn the following words. From now on there will also be regular verbs (or at least verbs that are regular in the present tense) in the list.


 ¿qué?  what?
 hablar  to speak
 comer  to eat
 vivir  to live
 amar  to love
 correr  to run
 ver  to see
 el niño  the child/the boy
 el hombre  the man
 la mujer  the woman
 la manzana  the apple
 el árbol  the tree
 español  spanish
 inglés  english


Exercise A: Translate to English:
1) Veo las fotografias.
2) El hombre corre.
3) El niño come una manzana.
4) Las mujeres no ven el árbol.
5) No veo Árboles.
6) No tiene caballos.
7) El niño come mucho.
8) Comemos muchas manzanas.
9) Estos no son animales.
10) La mujer no ve.
11) Hablas español.
12) Hablan inglés.

Exercise B: Translate to Spanish:
1) I see a tree.
2) You do not see this.
3) We speak Spanish.
4) I have no children.
5) She sees an apple.
6) This isn't her grandfather.
7) You speak Spanish.
8) They see my house.
9) He sees that tree.
10) I am not Spanish.
11) We do not have those keys.


Solution of Exercise A:
1) I see the photos.
2) The man runs.
3) The child eats an apple.
4) The women don't see the tree.
5) I don't see trees.
6) He doesn't have horses OR She doesn't have horses
7) The child/the boy eats a lot.
8) We eat many apples.
9) These are no animals.
10) The woman doesn't see.
11) You speak Spanish.
12) They speak English.

Solution of Exercise B:
1) Veo un árbol.
2) No ve esto OR No ves esto
3) Hablamos español.
4) No tengo niños.
5) (Ella) ve una manzana.
6) Éste no es su abuelo.
7) Habla español OR Hablas español
8) Ven mi casa.
9) Ve ese árbol.
10) No soy español OR No soy española (if the speaker is female)
11) No tenemos esas llaves.

Lesson 5: Adjectives, Adverbs, and Questions


After the difficult lesson you've just done we'll make things a little easier. In this lesson we'll teach you how to use adjectives in Spanish.

An adjective tells something about a noun. It describes a property of a noun. It usually appears next to the noun, although it can also be separated from the noun using the verb "ser" (in English: "to be"). Note that in such a construction the "independent" adjective is never a direct object!

 La casa es grande.  The house is big.
 el niño es joven.  The child is young.
 La mujer es vieja.  The woman is old.
 Las manzanas son rojas.  The apples are red.

This is an easy construction. The Spanish adjective is never conjugated in any way in such a construction. You only have to make sure that the adjective agrees in gender and number with the noun. A specific set of rules is valid:

If the unconjugated form of an adjective ends in O then the following rules apply:

  • When the noun is masculine there won't be a change
  • When the noun is feminine the O becomes an A
  • When the nouns is plural it also gets an extra S

If the unconjugated form of an adjective ends in an E or a consonant then the 2nd rule doesn't apply. And if it ends in a consonant then it will get ES when the noun is plural instead of S.

There are some more exceptions but we won't go through those now. Of course, an adjective usually appears next to the noun (in Spanish usually after the noun) instead of being separated by "ser".

 La casa grande  The big house
 El niño joven  The young child
 La mujer vieja"  The old woman
 Las manzanas rojas  The red apples


Now we can move onto the matter of adverbs. An adverb can be compared to an adjective but instead it says something about a verb instead of a noun. It's easy to form an adverb in Spanish, just use the feminine form of the adjective and add MENTE.

 El corre rápidamente  He runs fast
 Hablo lentamente  I speak slowly
 Anda lentamente  He/She/It walks slowly

Now you also know how to form adverbs. It's really easy. Of course, there are also irregular adverbs. A good example would be "good" in Spanish: "bien".


We can continue with asking question in Spanish. To tell someone something is nice, but once in a while you might need to ask someone something. We'll teach you.

The word order in a Spanish question is almost the same as in English, although in English we use the helper verb "do". In Spanish there's no such helper verb. Where in English we'd use "do" the Spanish use the real main verb, in the correct conjugation that matches with the subject. Some questions:

 ¿Cúal es tu casa?  What is your house?
 ¿Dónde estamos?  Where are we?
 ¿Cuándo viene?  When does he come?
 ¿Quién es este hombre viejo?  Who is that old man?
 ¿Qué ves?  What do you see?
 ¿Qué vemos?  What do we see?
 ¿Qué ve?  What does he see?

First of all, you probably immediately noticed it, there's an upside down question mark at the beginning of a sentence. Spanish people don't just put one behind the sentence. They also put an upside down question mark at the beginning of the sentence.

Also remember that the Spanish don't use a helper verb such as "do". Instead of it they use their main verb in the correct conjugation. You've also seen some interrogative pronouns now (the words used to ask question: such as: "what?" etc...). One strange thing is that you see two words for "what", there are two variant, you can say either "¿qué?" or "¿cuál?". The first one when asking about facts and such, the second one lies closer to our word "which", it describes an option, a choice, one of more possibilities.

This concludes the fifth lesson.


Learn the following words. From now on there will also appear adjectives and adverbs in the list (as well as interrogative pronouns in this lesson).


 andar  to walk
 nadar  to swim
 rapido  fast
 lento  slow
 viejo  old
 joven  young
 bueno  good
 alto  high
 malo  bad
 agradable  nice
 amable  kind
 nuevo  new
 la bicicleta  the bike
 ¿qué?  what?
 ¿quién?  who?
 ¿cuál?  which?
 ¿por qué?  why?
 ¿cuándo?  when?
 ¿cuánto?  how much
 ¿cuántos?  how many
 muy  very


Exercise A: Translate to English:
1) Este hombre es un hombre amable.
2) ¿Quién es ese niño amable?
3) ¿Cuándo comemos?
4) ¿Qué es eso (=neutral form of ese/esa)?
5) La casa grande es nuestra casa.
6) Ella corre rapidamente.
7) Mi abuela es muy amable.
8) Mi bicicleta es nueva.
9) Estos son animales muy agradables.
10) ¿Qué ves?

Exercise B: Translate to Spanish:
1) I see a new chair.
2) The old woman sees an apple.
3) Who are you?
4) She is not old.
5) They walk fast.
6) Our grandmother is an old woman.
7) These children are young.
8) The young child sees a high table.
9) What does the bad dog see?
10) Why doesn't the kind cat see?


Solutions of Exercise A:
1) This man is a kind man.
2) Who is that kind child.
3) When do we eat?
4) What is that?
5) The big house is our house.
6) She runs fast.
7) My grandmother is very kind.
8) My bike is new.
9) These are very nice animals.
10) What do you see?

Solutions of Exercise B:
1) Veo una silla nueva.
2) La mujer vieja ve una manzana.
3) ¿Quién eres? OR ¿Quién es (usted)?
4) Ella no es vieja.
5) Andan rapidamente.
6) Nuestra abuela es una mujer vieja.
7) Estos niños son jovenes.
8) El niño joven ve una mesa alta.
9) ¿Qué ve el perro malo?
10) ¿Por qué no ve el gato amable? OR ¿por qué el gato amable no ve?)

End Of Part One

This is the end of part one. Now you've learned some of the basics of the Spanish language.

Continue to part II

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