Being able to tell someone you’re going somewhere, or that you will do something is an incredibly useful part of conversation, and strangely is ignored in many entry level Spanish courses that I’ve looked at.
Just this morning I had to email a colleague and tell him that I’ll send more information next week, and like in English, the verb ir in the future tense is similar to saying shall or will.
Let me give a couple of examples, “voy a supermercado” translated as I’m going to the supermarket. Or “yo iré enviar” translated as I will [go] send. Note in the second example we don’t use go in the English example, but in Spanish the future tense of the verb is used.
The verb Ir is irregular, and can take a lot of getting used to, not least because all of the tenses look so completely different from each other. Eventually it starts to make sense, so persevere.
Here is a breakdown of the verb ir;
Yo voy – I go
Tu vas – you go
el/ella va – he/she goes
nosotros vamos – we go
vosotros vais – you (pl) go
ellos van – they go
Simple past tense
Yo fui – I went
Tu fuiste – you went
el/ella fue – he/she went
nosotros fuimos – we went
vosotros fuisteis – you (pl) went
ells fueron – they went
Imperfect past tense
Yo iba – I used to go
tu ibas – you used to go
el/ella iba – he/she used to go
nosotros íbamos – we used to go
vosotros ibais – you (pl) used to go
ellos iban – they used to go
Yo iré – I will go
tu irás – you will go
el/ella irá – he/she will go
nosotros iremos – we will go
vosotros iréis – you (pl) will go
ellos irán – they will go
There are so many different ways to learn Spanish these days, that almost every learning type is supported, from joining a class, to reading books, watching videos, or downloading podcasts, and learning spanish online for free is becoming easier by the day as academies rush to provide sampler lessons to encourage students to join their programs.
I’m lucky to be living in Spain, and to organize intercambio sessions with Spaniards who are also learning English, but I know a lot of people I’ve met in Spanish forums who don’t live in a Spanish speaking country, and online intercambio just doesn’t have the same appeal for them.
The first step to learning Spanish has got to be coming to grips with some simple Spanish grammar exercises, knowing that each verb had multiple varieties depending on the context and who is being addressed.
Here’s a simple example, I have a cellphone; Yo tengo un movil. You have a cellphone; Tu tienes un movil. Notice how the verb changes, and it gets worse, the verb to have, is ‘tener’ in Spanish. Not only does the verb change for the person being addressed, it also changes for tense. If I wanted to say that I used to have a cellphone, I’d say Yo tenía un movil.
What I’m getting at is that English grammar is usually pretty straight forward. Our verbs only change slightly, perhaps we add an s to the end, lets forget about English irregular verbs for now, and we’ll conveniently ignore the fact that tener is a Spanish irregular verb, it doesn’t really affect this example, yet knowing how to use tener properly is incredibly useful.
Here is a breakdown of the verb tener;
Yo tengo – I have
Tu tienes – you have
el/ella tiene – he/she has
nosotros tenemos – we have
vosotros tenéis – you (pl) have
ellos tienen – they have
Simple past tense
Yo tuve – I had
Tu tuviste – you had
el/ella tuvo – he/she had
nosotros tuvimos – we had
vosotros tuvisteis – you (pl) had
ells tuvieron – they had
Imperfect past tense
Yo tenía – I used to have
tu tenías – you used to have
el/ella tenía – he/she used to have
nosotros teníamos – we used to have
vosotros teníais – you (pl) used to have
ellos tenían – they used to have
Yo tendré – I will have
tu Tendrás – you will have
el/ella tendrá – he/she will have
nosotros tendremos – we will have
vosotros tendréis – you (pl) will have
ellos tendrán – they will have
Living in Spain I have a vested interest in learning Spanish, and you’d think the need would override the desire, after all, most Spaniards only speak a little English. In fact I want to learn Spanish, because I love living here, and I love spanish culture, and I love Spanish music, I’m even getting used to flamenco and copla.
Of course living in Spain there are still some things I don’t like, bullfighting doesn’t thrill me, copla doesn’t excite me, and some traditional Spanish foods don’t agree with me. Yet despite these dislikes, Spain remains one of the most exciting countries I’ve ever lived in.
Learning Spanish is difficult, especially for those of us who come from the English speaking world where very few of us ever learn anything more than the most basic grammar. Unfortunately Spanish grammar is very different from English, which makes Spanish a difficult language for an adult second language learner to grasp.
I’m lucky that living in Ronda exposes me to a city full of Spanish natives, and luckier still to know a few people who are polyglots and can communicate with me in my own language when I struggle to use Spanish. I keep telling them I want to learn Spanish, and now I have a regular meeting with some native Spaniard friends where we talk only Spanish. I is really helping a lot.
Apart from grammar, my vocabulary isn’t strong, so today I’m going to buy a pad of post it notes, then write the Spanish word for everything in the house, well, at least for the most common things that come up in conversation, and then I’ll attach these to the items. Hopefully this will give me a visual cue every time I look at things, perhaps that will be enough to build some basic vocabulary.
There is a very important lesson here though, despite the difficulty, if you want to learn Spanish it can be done, I just wish more foreigners living in Spain would make an effort. My Spanish friends are all great people, so genuine, so down to earth, and so welcoming.