Start Learning Spanish With Basic Lessons

A Beginner's Guide to the Spanish Language

Young Afro-american man studying language
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Spanish is one of the most-used languages in the world. It's also one that is relatively easy for English speakers to master.

There are many reasons why you might want to learn Spanish. Maybe you're studying the language at school or planning a trip to a Spanish-speaking country. Whatever it may be, there are a number of basics that will help you get started.

The Spanish Alphabet

Words are made up of letters, so it's only logical that you begin by learning the Spanish alphabet.

It's very similar to English, with a few exceptions, and there are some special pronunciations you'll need to know.

Many languages—Spanish included—use stress and accent marks to guide pronunciation. Since English is one of the few that doesn't, this can be one of the more challenging aspects of learning Spanish.

Words and Phrases for Beginners

Rather than dive right into the finer points of Spanish grammar, let's start with some basic vocabulary lessons. By learning simple things like the words for various colors and family members, you can feel a little sense of achievement right from the start.

Greetings are among the first lessons in any Spanish class. When you can say hola, gracias, and buenos dias, you have a great start to any conversation.

Likewise, if your ultimate goal is simple conversations to use on vacation, you may need a few common phrases. Asking for directions, for instance, can be very important for your travels.

You might also need to read or ask for the time to keep your itinerary on track. It's not a bad idea to give the four seasons a quick study, either.

Working With Nouns in Spanish

Two rules stand out when using Spanish nouns. The most unique to English speakers are the masculine and feminine forms. Every Spanish noun has an inherent gender assigned to it, even if the subject is of the other gender.

Quite often, the feminine will end with an -a and will use the articles una, la, or las rather than the masculine un, el, or los.

The other rule of Spanish nouns comes into play when we are using the plural form. This tells you when to add an -es and when you can simply attach as -s to the noun. Further, the adjectives attached to the nouns must agree with either the singular or plural form.

Spanish Pronouns Are Important

Subject pronouns include words like I, you, and we, which we use all the time to form sentences. In Spanish, subject pronouns are yo, tú, él, ella, etc. They're used quite often to replace the subject of the sentence, but there are a few things you need to remember.

For instance, Spanish has both a formal and informal version of you. With someone you're familiar with, you can use tú, but formally it's proper to use usted. In addition, there are certain times when it's okay to omit the pronoun.

Essential Spanish Grammar

Other basic parts of Spanish grammar have their own rules that you'll want to study. Verbs, for example, need to be conjugated to match the past, present, or future tense of the sentence. This can be difficult for students, but it is similar to adding the -ed and -ing endings in English.

Muy means very and nunca means never in Spanish. These are just two of the many adverbs you can use to explain what something is like and add emphasis.

Adjectives in Spanish can be a little tricky. Many times, these descriptive words are placed before a noun, but there are other circumstances when they come after it. For example, the red car is el coche rojo, with rojo being the adjective that describes the noun.

One other very important part of speech is the preposition. These are short connective words like in, to, and under. In Spanish, they are used much like they are in English, so learning prepositions is often a simple matter of studying the new words.