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Spanish Verb Conjugator Book Reviews

"Conjugal Bliss. A trusted friend on the route to Spanish." –Nathalia Madera for Language Magazine, languagemagazine.com

"The Little Spanish Verb Book That Could"
–Steven Roll, t
ravelojos.com

"A 'safe haven' for the panicked student and a resource for teachers." –Jerry Curtis, Helium.com

"A ready instructional reference; thoroughly 'user friendly'" The Midwest Book Review

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Entries in Regular Spanish verbs (1)

Thursday
Jun102010

Spanish Verb Patterns: The 'Secret Formula' to Spanish Verb Mastery

Recently, I was fortunate to receive a book review for The Spanish Verb Conjugator from Jerry Curtis. Jerry is an educational writer with a lot of experience spanning education and serving as a military translator. I came upon one of Jerry’s Articles (under his pen name Curt Smothers) on the web site Bright Hub: The Hub for Bright Minds. His article is an excellent overview of Spanish verbs, specifically how to approach them when you are overwhelmed in the beginning. It is written for Spanish teachers; however, I think it can apply to students as well. Here’s a direct link to that article:

“Learning Spanish Verbs: A Method to the Madness” by Curt Smothers on brighthub.com

As Jerry explains in his article, he encourages his tutoring students to look for patterns in verb stems and verb endings as a way to manage the daunting task of learning how to conjugate Spanish verbs. When you learn a specific Spanish verb pattern you can apply it to any verb of its kind that comes your way. By finding the Spanish verb pattern, you can predict how it will “behave.” It’s similar to formulas in science and math. By the way, there are about 50 common irregular Spanish verb patterns of the verb stem. There are a few extra that are rarely used. 

Although educators like Jerry and I find Spanish verb patterns interesting and compelling to learn, not everyone else does. But the funny thing is, once you achieve a basic level of proficiency, Spanish verb patterns become more obvious and you kind of know naturally how to apply them. It does take some time, though, it doesn’t happen overnight.

Until that natural instinct takes hold, I have felt inspired to provide support to beginners: to bridge the learning gap and provide symbolic “training wheels” for Spanish verb conjugation; to have everything beginners need in one place, in one verb guide, explained in very basic terms. 

The inspiration for my Spanish verb guide came to me in one entire vision (the whole book), so wiithout realizing it until the book was finished, it turned out to be instructional in many ways. It is definitely divided into two distinct reference areas: for regular verbs and for irregular verbs. Here’s an outline:

(Before I go further, I want to review some basics to avoid possible confusion. There are two main groups of Spanish verbs: regular and irregular; and there are two parts to every verb: the stem and the ending.)

3 Ways to Learn Spanish Verb Patterns

1. Regular Spanish Verbs

Identifying the two parts of every verb is the absolute starting point for learning Spanish verb conjugation: to learn how to find the verb stem and one of three possible verb endings: “ar,” “er,” or “ir.”

Instead of providing a long list of common regular Spanish verbs conjugated on verb tables, The Spanish Verb Conjugator provides regular verb endings on what you could call “regular verb endings' reference templates.” There is a regular verb reference template for each verb ending: Regular -AR Verb Endings, Regular -ER Verb Endings, and Regular -IR Verb Endings. Below is an example chart of the Regular -AR Verb Endings' reference template from The Spanish Verb Conjugator:

Any regular verb stem can be applied to the correct verb ending to conjugate a regular Spanish verb, but before you even use a reference template, you have to have made the decision that the verb was in fact regular (not irregular). By the way, if you don’t know, which is expected in the beginning, you can use the indexes to verify if the verb is a regular verb or not. 

So in this way of referencing Spanish verbs, you are training yourself through repetetive usage to learn which verbs are regular or irregular. If the verb you are referencing is irregular, you can then proceed as described under No. 2 below. 

The beginner is literally guided to make one decision that leads to another. With repetive practice, this decision making process will become a little faster each time as Spanish verb conjugation skills develop and become second nature. Just like my analogy of “training wheels” on a bicycle, the beginner needs that support and confidence in the beginning as they work towards independent practice.

An added bonus of using regular verb endings' reference templates is that it eliminates a large number of verb charts, therefore eliminating the bulk of a clumsy text. This makes it easy to carry while you are applying your Spanish skills in the real world where true integration takes place. 

2. Irregular Spanish Verbs

There are actually 3 main groups of Spanish verbs within the irregular verb category: stem-changers, "spell-changers" (the name I use for this group), and a group of around 28 various irregular verbs that are individually unique. There are some verbs that belong to two of the three groups at the same time.

Irregular Spanish verbs are irregular because there is a deviation (of spelling) in the verb stem of most subjects when conjugated. Irregular verb stem patterns occur primarily in the present and preterit tenses. Note that the verb endings stay the same whether a verb is regular or irregular, but there are some Spanish verbs in the group of 28 individually unique irregular verbs where the verb endings also deviate from the norm in the preterit tense only.

Furthermore, a stem-changer will have one of only 3 possible stem changes when conjugated; spell-changers will have a variety of spelling variations when conjugated (more than 3). The group of 28 various irregular verbs doesn’t follow any consistent pattern, they are individually unique in their deviation.

Did I lose you? As I mentioned earlier, teachers and linguists are interested in comparing and observing irregular Spanish verb patterns, but the average beginner is not. That is perfectly fine because irregular verb pattern recognition will naturally evolve as the result of repetitive verb modeling.

Without having to dissect Spanish verb patterns, the beginner, as well as the intermediate level student, can rely on The Spanish Verb Conjugator until irregular verb pattern recognition takes place. It is similar to how we learn our native language. We adapted to the grammatical structures as our family modeled them for us.

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