Forum Rocket Spanish Spanish - Grammar The Most Important Verb Tenses

The Most Important Verb Tenses

BZ

BZ

Hi, I just recently purchased 501 Spanish Verbs and although it is a great book I am somewhat overwhelmed. I have been told by a few people to not get too hung up on verbs and after finding out there are 14 different tenses I hope there advice is correct. I would like some more input though and I am curious as to what you think the most important tenses are to learn. My ultimate goal is to to be able to live in South America and converse fluently and can this be done without knowing every tense? Thanks for any help?? B
nailteach

nailteach

Hola B I'll be watching for some answers to your questions as I, too, find the verb tenses/conjugations intimidating. I have a pretty good grasp of the present tense including many of the iregulars. Currently, I'm working on the preterite (aka the great wall of Spanish), which I'm told is used about 40% of the time. Next will be the imperfect. Then what? Hopefully, someone will offer us some guidance here.
nohablo

nohablo

Last night, someone from Mexico who teaches Spanish here in the States told me that the subjunctive is much more important in Spanish than in English (which doesn't surprise me, since it's not very important at all in English), and that more than half of what a native Spanish speaker says involves some form of the subjunctive. I don't know whether he's right about this, but if he's even close, we should be paying a lot of attention to the subjunctive. (As far as which tenses in the subjunctive are most important, I have no idea.)

To be honest, I believe that people underestimate the present tense. You can say SO much if you just master the present! If you can master compound verb tenses (such as a conjugated present tense verb plus an infinitive) you can talk about what you want to do, what you hope to do, what you are going to do. After the present tense, I think that the preterite and imperfect are of equal importance. In many areas of Latin America, people hardly ever use the future tense. Instead, they use "*ir a*..." The most difficult part of Spanish are the subjunctive and conditional tenses. Unless you're already pretty much fluent, I wouldn't recommend investing much time in them. People will understand you even if you don't use them. For example, here's a case where the subjunctive would be used. "I am looking for a house that has three bedrooms." *Busco una casa que tenga tres dormitorios.* The reason you use the subjunctive is because you're looking for something that you're not sure exists. In another example, if you want to hire someone with certain skills, you'd use the subjunctive because you're not sure that that person exists. The other place that I know you've encountered the subjective before is in phrases of well-wishing. *Qué tenga un buen dia.* _Have a nice day._ (formal) *Qué tengas un buen viaje.* _Have a good trip. _ (informal) This is because you're hoping that the person has a nice day or a good trip. The subjunctive is also used when expressing a wish or desire. If you're just learning Spanish, don't clutter your mind with 1001 verb tenses! If you can master the main three--present, preterite past, and imperfect past--then you'll be well on your way to fluency.
Randy1

Randy1

[quote="Amy"]....The most difficult part of Spanish are the subjunctive and conditional tenses. Unless you're already pretty much fluent, I wouldn't recommend investing much time in them. People will understand you even if you don't use them. For example, here's a case where the subjunctive would be used. "I am looking for a house that has three bedrooms." *Busco una casa que tenga tres dormitorios.* Hi Amy, So you're saying that if I were to say "Busco una casa que tiene tres dormitorios", foregoing the subjunctive, that would be passable until my conjugation skills are up to par? Also, how bad would that sound to a Spanish speaking ear? Gracias, Randy

If you said, "Busco una casa que_ tiene _tres dormitorios," absolutely everyone would understand what you meant, and no one would flinch in horror. ;-) As English speakers, I don't think we're as forgiving of people butchering our language as speakers of other languages are of people butchering theirs (the French, perhaps, excepted). If you travel to Latin America, you'll find that most people will warm to you readily once they see that you've put in the effort to learn their language, whether you speak it well or badly! In fact, I had such a hard time getting my Ecuadorian friends to correct my Spanish, because as long as they could understand me they didn't actually think about whether what I said was "grammatically correct" or not. That's because spoken language is not very grammatical, especially if you're talking casually among friends. If you started talking to your friends in BBC English, they'd think something was wrong with you, that you were putting on airs! That's why I think it's much more important to focus on the "big three"-- present, preterite past, and imperfect past--rather than shortcircuiting one's brain with the conjugation of, say, "If I were rich I'd like to live in a big house."
Mauricio

Mauricio

Hello guys, I totally agree with Amy. When I lived in Chile I remember this boy who had just arrived from America and spoke hardly any Spanish. He got to know the present tense very well and used it most of the time and to tell you the truth we understood what he wanted to say straight away. After some time (it wasn't actually too long) all of a sudden he just started using the different tenses, it sort of all just fell into place after spending time listening to us talk in the proper way. So as long as you are able to carry on a conversation no matter in what tense, at the end, you will learn the proper way by practicing and listening to conversations. Mauricio. :mrgreen:
BZ

BZ

Thanks for all the input from everybody... its much appreciated!! I also want to add that I think it's great that both Amy and Mauricio answer posts. Keep up the good work. Ciao
nailteach

nailteach

_"If you're just learning Spanish, don't clutter your mind with 1001 verb tenses! If you can master the main three--present, preterite past, and imperfect past--then you'll be well on your way to fluency."_ Muchas gracias for the much needed encouagement.
Rich--D

Rich--D

Amy...could you expand on this topic... "You can say SO much if you just master the present! If you can master compound verb tenses (such as a conjugated present tense verb plus an infinitive) you can talk about what you want to do, what you hope to do, what you are going to do." Thanks...Rich D
James-R5

James-R5

I also think it's great than Amy and Mauricio are out here answering questions in the forum.
Evan--L

Evan--L

tu es mucho feo
Cristian-Montes-de-Oca

Cristian-Montes-de-Oca

"Tú eres muy feo" @EVAN L

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