25 Essential Beginner Spanish Verbs

Spanish Verbs

Skill Level: Beginner Level

So many Spanish verbs to learn, where to begin? You’ve already begun to learn some, but you’re a little overwhelmed.  Verbs, I assure you, are the most important part of any language. They are the action words, the words that give life to your speech. They act as the glue that holds all the other words together in a sentence. Once you identify the verbs in a sentence your ability to understand its meaning jumps up at least 50% in my opinion. I can hear what you’re thinking right now, “But there are so many which ones should I learn first?” Yes, there are a lot, but there certainly is a list that you should focus on to drop in your toolbox in order to increase your ability to understand and communicate.

***DOWNLOAD FREE 25 ESSENTIAL SPANISH VERBS FOR BEGINNERS PUZZLES and receive my free newsletter.

When I started learning Spanish I focused on the basic verbs that were the most useful for everyday situations. We’re not going to look at conjugations right now.  So let’s go through the list below.

I. Learn and II. Repeat

Again the first step in learning is to get acquainted with the material being presented. So let’s go over the list below and they are in no particular order. Please understand that there are other essential verbs besides the ones on this list, but you must start somewhere. While you review the list you should repeat them out loud several times to become comfortable with their pronunciation. This will alo the start the process of memorizing them.

25 Essential Spanish Verbs to Learn for a Beginner

English Verb Spanish Verb Reason to learn it.
To speak, to talk Hablar One of the main communication verbs and most used in the language. You can use it to ask if someone speaks English too, “¿Usted habla inglés?”
To listen (to),to hear Escuchar Another communication verb and way to confirm a message was received.
To understand Entender Great confirmation verb to check if you are communicating effectively.
To write Escribir Again another communication verb and great tool to use when you need something written to help you understand something.
To read Leer Another communication verb. Can be used to ask someone to say something out loud or simply to follow along. Written language is allows easier to understand.
To eat Comer One of the most important bodily functions.
To sleep Dormir Another vital bodily function.
To do,
to make
Hacer One of the most versatile verbs in the language.
To like Gustar Express what pleases you or you don’t approve of.
To open Abrir Necessary action to complete multiple tasks.
To close Cerrar Another necessary action to complete tasks.
To need Necesitar You always express things that you lack.
To say Decir Perhaps the most important communication verbs and maybe one of the top three verbs overall. You need to learn new words; therefore, you need to ask how to “say” them.
To clean Limpiar A normal everyday task.
To leave, to go out Salir Necessary to talk about when people depart in past, present and future.
To go Ir Another one of the top used, most versatile verbs.
To go in, to enter Entrar How else would you ask someone to come inside?
To buy Comprar You need to purchase things, right?
To stop Parar Sometimes it’s necessary to end an action.
To start Empezar Everything has a beginning.
To happen Pasar You must communicate an occurrence.
To end, to finish Terminar All good things must come to an end and you should be able to say it.
To see Ver One of the 5 senses, a verb you will use quite often.
*to be Ser *Without a doubt, the MOST IMPORTANT VERBS in Spanish.
*to be Estar Estar and Ser both mean “to be” but are used in different circumstances. (More on this in a future post.)

III. Practice

You must see them over and over again to truly memorize them. That’s where flashcards will come in handy. Please download and print off the ones I created. If you can recite the verbs without much effort then you have done a fabulous job memorizing them. You will have to practice them several times. There are other ways to practice.

Other Ways to Practice with Spanish Verbs for Beginners

  • Read Spanish children’s books. You will see many essential verbs appear often while reading something that you can handle.
  • Write to Online Friends. Chatting or just emails are some of the best ways to increase vocabulary since you typically use many of the same verbs multiple times.
  • Write to Me. Use the contact information below.

IV. Use

Conversation, conversation, conversation. There’s no real secret here. You want to learn to speak Spanish, then speak Spanish. All the other practice drills are just that- drills to prepare you for the real thing. They help you memorize vocabulary and correct any mistakes. Use these verbs as often as you can.

Please feel free to write to me with questions.

Hablamos pronto,

Rick

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Spanish Opposites: Video, Vocabulary List and Game

DOWNLOAD: FREE SPANISH OPPOSITES PUZZLES HERE

Do you like games? How about learning Spanish with games? Well, we are going to play one to learn one of the most useful lists of vocabulary to help improve your fluency- Spanish opposites. Opposites will allow you to describe situations and details more easily. Again we will go through the 4 steps of the learning process. During the “practice” step  we will play a game to help improve our retention of the words from the list. The game is part of the slide show I made which will also take you through all the learning steps. Don’t forget to pick up your FREE GIFT above this paragraph. I have personally created three downloadable and printable Spanish Opposites Puzzles and to receive future updates and more free gifts from my newsletter which I send out periodically.

Play close attention to the pronunciation and repeat the words aloud. Our goal is not only to pronounce the words correctly but also to do so with as little accent as possible, if at all.

Continue reading

Speak Spanish Today: At the Restaurant/En el Restaurante, Part 2

Now let’s take what you learned from the previous post to the next level. We’re going to make complete sentences, then create flashcards to “repeat” them out loud and “practice” them in order to retain what we’ve learned.

Review the following sentence patterns and pay special attention to the sample sentences. Keep the vocabulary flashcards from the previous post. You will need them to complete this exercise.

Learn

Read over the sentence patterns, then review the sample sentences.

Sentence order

1. querer = to want
Quiero + el/la/los/las  (entremés, plato principal o postre) por favor. = I want + (appetizer, main dish, drink or dessert).
Quiere + el/la/los/las  (entremés, plato principal o postre) por favor. = (He, he, she or you) wants/want (appetizer, main dish, drink or dessert).
Quisiera + el/la/los/las   (entremés, plato principal o postre) por favor. = (I, he, she or you) would like + (appetizer, main dish, drink or dessert).

Sample sentences:

  • Quiero la sopa de vegetales por favor. = I want the vegetable soup please.
  • Quiere los plátanos maduros por favor. = He wants the sweet plantains. *Note. Also means she or you…
  • Quisiera el tres leches por favor. I would like the tres leches. *Note. Tres leches is the name of the dessert so it remains in singular form. Also note that this sentence could also mean He wants, she wants or you want. Using “quisiera” is a much more polite way to ask for something.

2. comer = to eat
Hoy quiero comer + el/la/los/las (entremés, plato principal o postre). = I want to eat +the  (appetizer, main dishor dessert).
Hoy quiere comer + el/la/los/las  (entremés, plato principal  o postre). = I want to eat + the (appetizer, main dish or dessert).
Hoy quisiera comer + el/la/los/las (entremés, plato principal o postre). = Today (I, he, she or you) would like to eat the (appetizer, main dish, or dessert)

Sample sentences

  • Hoy quiero comer el pescado. = Today I want to eat the fish.
  • Hoy quiere comer el pollo. = Today she wants to eat the chicken.
  • Hoy quisiera comer la ensalada. = Today I would like to eat the salad. *Note. You couldn’t say “comer la sope” in Spanish  instead “tomar la sopa”.

3. tomar/beber= to drink
Hoy quiero tomar + un/una (bebida). = I want to drink + a/an (drink).
Hoy quiere tomar + un/una (bebida). = I want to drink + a/an  (drink).
Hoy quisiera tomar + un/una  (bebida). = Today (I, he, she or you) would like to drink + a/an (drink).

Sample sentences

  • Hoy quiero tomar una cerveza. = Today I want to have a beer.
  • Hoy quiere tomar un jugo de naranja. = Today she wants to have an orange juice.
  • Hoy quisiera tomar un agua. = Today I would like a water. *Note. Agua is a femine word, but it is preceded by “un” and not “una” due to a grammar rule that states if a word begins with a stressed “a” sound then you precede it with the indefinite article “un”.

4. dar = to give, traer = to bring, to come with

The verb “dar” is not used as a command here so it is not pushy. This is a question and ,therefore, it is polite.

¿Me da + un/una/el/la/los/las (entremés, plato principal, bebida o postre) para mi (entremés, plato principal, bebida o postre)? = Can you give me + (appetizer, main dish, drink or dessert) for my (appetizer, main dish, drink or dessert)?
¿Me trae + un/una/el/la (bebida) por favor? = Can you bring me + a (drink) please?
¿Qué trae el/la (plato principal)? = What comes with the (main dish)?

Sample sentences

  • ¿Me da los tostones para el entremés y el pollo para el plato principal? = Could you give me the the fried green plantains as my appetizer and the chicken as my main dish.
  • ¿Me trae una cervez⌠a por favor? = Could you bring me a beer please?
  • ¿Qúe trae el pescado? = What comes with the fish?

Bonus:

Here are some Spanish verbs that replace an entire phrase in English “to have (breakfast, lunch or dinner)”. It is not correct to say “tener desayuno, tener almuerzo or tener cena” nor “comer desayuno, comer almuerzo or comer cena”.

-desayunar = to have breakfast
-almorzar = to have lunch
-cenar = to have dinner

Sample sentences

  • ¿Quisieras desayunar conmigo el lunes? = Would you like to have breakfast with me on Monday?
  • Almuerza todos los días con su mamá. = He has lunch with his mom everyday.
  • Cena a las ocho una vez la semana. = She has dinner at 8 once a week.

Repeat + Practice

Create flashcards for the verbs, indirect objects (un/una) and direct objects (el/la/los/las) out of index cards and combine these new cards with the ones you made for the post from Part 1. Create the flashcards the same way you did in Part 1. Then read the following instructions.

Flashcard Drill Instructions

  1. Make separate piles for each type of word facing up in Spanish. Then spread the piles loosely in order to see many of the cards.
  2. Make sentences following the sentence patterns above by choosing a card from each pile.
  3. Create as many sentences as possible while saying them out loud. This time realize you will not be able to check your answers on the back of the cards because the sentence order can be different between the two languages.

Use

This is where it all comes together. Unless you use what you have just “uploaded” into your brain you will lose it. So I challenge you to do one of the following.

  1. Go to the Latin/Spanish section closest to where you live and find a eatery where the majority of the staff speaks Spanish.
  2. Search online for reviews of the most authentic Latin American restaurants closest to you. They can be Mexican, Peruvian, Venezuelan, Colombian, etc. Have fun go eat there, but order in Spanish!
  3. Invite a Spanish-speaking friend out to lunch or dinner. Ask what their favorite place to eat is, but you must speak in Spanish! It will be a much more successful exercise if you invite a friend that does NOT speak much English.

Speak Spanish Today: At the Restaurant/En el Restaurante, Part 1

Skill Level: Basic

¿Tienes hambre? Are you hungry? Well, maybe for knowledge you are at least. One thing I find very important about learning Spanish is not getting bored. So let’s try our best to learn things you can use. And what better thing  is there to learn than to know how to actually speak in sentences? Anyone? That’s right! How to speak in full sentences about food.  🙂

As you may have seen in another one of my posts about advancing Spanish fluency we talk about the learning process. Just glancing over some random grammar point is not enough to retain what you’ve learned. You have to repeat, practice then use the material before it sticks in your brain. Imagine talking about playing the piano, perhaps even tapping on a few keys then expecting yourself to play a whole song in front of an audience. Not gonna happen! It’s also why just taking classes alone isn’t going to make you fluent or even hold much of even a basic conversation.

The same thing goes for languages except in you also have to think on the run too.  Until you are forced to think about what you want to say you will have a tough time memorizing words, sentence order and so on. So briefly here is the learning system again:

Learn (be introduced to new grammar, vocabulary,etc)-Repeat (write or speak out loud sample sentences)-Practice (at home, classroom)-Use (in real world situations)

Dining is a fun atmosphere in which to use your Spanish and no matter where you live there seems to be at least some restaurants where the whole staff speaks Spanish.

So first step…

I. Learn

Here are some phrases we will start with. We are not going to recreate a whole skit of being at a restaurant rather the parts you speak. So take a peek at the list below.

Phrases:

-Tengo hambre. = I’m hungry.
-Tengo sed. = I’m thirsty.

Verbs:
-querer = to want
-comer = to eat
-tomar/beber = to drink

-dar = to give
-traer = to bring/to come with (side dish with meal)

Nouns:
-entremés(appetizer): sopa de vegetales (vegetable soup), ensalada (salad)
-plato principal(main dish): carne (meat), pescado (fish), pollo (chicken), arroz (rice), platanos maduros (fried sweet plantains), tostones (fried plantains)
-bebida(drink): cerveza (beer), agua (water), refresco/soda (soda), jugo de naranja (orange juice), leche (milk)
-postre(dessert): tres leches (tres leches), flan (flan), helado (de vainilla, chocolate, fresa)= vanilla, chocolate or strawberry ice cream

Repeat + Practice

Now we are going to combine the next steps in the learning process. We are going to make flashcards out of notebook/index cards. Go back over the list and…

Create Flashcards

1. On one side write the Spanish word in big letters in the middle of the card.  In the bottom right corner write the type of word, for example, “verbo”, “sustantivo”, etc…

2. On the other side of the card write the English word in small letters in the middle of the card and in the lower right corner the type of word, verb, noun and so on.

*Note: The purpose of the Spanish being in big letters and the English in small letters is to make the Spanish stand out in your mind. In fact, you could even use two different colors: Spanish in RED and English in BLACK.

**Note: I would recommend drawing the images on the back or finding some pics online to cut and tape to the back of the cards instead of using the English translations. Image association is more powerful than using the English translations. You will need some help from your first language, but the less the better.

Flashcard Drill Instructions

1. Put all flashcards in one pile Spanish side facing up.
2. Guess word in English by saying it out loud. Turn over to check for answer.
3.  If correct place in “correct pile”. If not, put in “retry pile”.
4.  Go through all flashcards one time. Review “retry pile” cards for correct answers before attempting the answers a second time.
5.  Go through flashcards in “retry pile” again.
6.  The drill is finished when you no longer have anymore “retry pile” cards left.
7.  Restart drill but reversing the language facing up. Now do the same exercise but starting from the other language.

Drill to Perfection

Do the drill enough times to where you can think of the word in either language without any effort.

Complete Sentences/Putting It All Together

At the risk of information overload I decided to place the last step in another post. Please click the link below to finish the exercise.

Speak Spanish Today: at the Restaurant, Part 2

How do you “learn” Spanish?

So “how do you learn Spanish”? Well, the first question should be what do you mean by “learn”? I’m going to assume you mean speak fluently. So to be able to start and hold a conversation, know more than a sufficient amount of words to communicate practically anything you need to say will require you to retain all lot of information, wouldn’t you say? And that’s where the expression, “You need to think in Spanish,” comes from. Ever heard that expression before? I’m sure you have.
Practicing many different exercises like computer games, vocabulary crosswords, flashcard drills, rehearsing Spanish songs, IMing Spanish-speaking friends and so on are all VERY important, but they aren’t enough. They are what they are- practice for the real thing, real conversation.  In a real conversation we rely on our ability to search for the next words in our heads and how to combine them into the correct order to make sentences.
How difficult will that be if we must start in English then translate to Spanish? Not very easy nor efficient that’s how difficult.  And in some cases the translations won’t even make sense.  So the real trick is to make all the Spanish words and the ordering of the sentences to come naturally, or at least as natural as possible. When you speak the Spanish words must come to your mind and only the Spanish words, no English help. When you look at a “table” you must think “mesa”, when you look up at the sky you think “cielo”, when someone asks you where you want to eat you need to describe that juicy steak you envision cutting into, “Quiero una carne asada y muy jugosa.” When someone asks you a question about what you did on your vacation you need to picture the beautiful beach setting in your mind and describe what is was like, “Daba un paseo en la playa y me bañaba todos los días en el agua.”
So how can you think in Spanish? By following a system to retain the knowledge you learn and practice it enough in real settings to allow the words to come to you with little effort.
And here is that process:
Learn-Repeat-Practice-Use
Learn: you are introduced to new information, new knowledge, for example, new vocabulary, verb conjugations, sentence order and the like.
Repeat: repeat what you learned out loud, repeat the vocabulary, repeat the verb conjugations and so on.
Practice: practice new versions of what you learned but still outside of real conversations, Spanish thinking drills if you will. They will prepare you for conversations with people.
Use: use what you have learned, repeated and practiced up to this point in real conversations.
I promise you doing these steps will improve your ability to think and react in Spanish much faster than only doing drills.  It’s what allowed me to “learn” Spanish faster, it’s what allowed me to retain what I learned and think in Spanish.