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.

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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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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.