Learn Spanish in 5 days - Day 1
How to Learn to Speak Spanish
Mastering the Basics
Learn Spanish pronunciation.The Spanish alphabet is identical to English, but the pronunciation of each letter is significantly different. Some of the sounds are difficult for English speakers because they don't occur in that language. A good way to start learning Spanish is to learn how to pronounce each letter of the alphabet. From there, you can learn how to pronounce words. Phrases and then whole sentences, which come next, will be a lot easier. See below for the phonetic pronunciation of each letter in Spanish:
- A =ah, B =beh, C =seh, D =deh, E =eh, F =eh-feh, G =heh, H =ah-cheh, I =ee
- J =hoh-tah, K =kah, L =eh-leh, M =eh-meh, N =eh-neh, Ñ =eh-nyeh, O =oh
- P =peh, Q =koo, R =eh-reh, S =eh-seh, T =teh, U =oo, V =-beh
- W =doubleh-beh, X =eh-kees, Y =ee gryeh-gahand Z =theh-tah.
- Note that the only letter in the Spanish alphabet that does not exist in English is the letter Ñ, pronouncedeh-nyeh. It is a completely separate letter from the letter N. It's closest approximation in English would be the "ny" sound in the word "canyon."
Learn to pronounce letters of the alphabet in Spanish.Once you learn the pronunciation rules of Spanish, you will be able to pronounce any word in that language.
- ca, co, cu =kah, koh, koo.ce, ci =theh, theeorseh, see
- ch sounds like Englishch
- ga, go, gu =gah, goh, goo.ge, gi =heh, hee
- h does not sound. Hombre is pronouncedohmbreh
- hua, hue, hui, huo =wah, weh, wee, woh
- ll sounds like Englishyor like Englishj. Calle iskah-yehorkah-jeh.
- r at the beginning of a word and rr in the middle of a word are rolled. See How to Roll Your "R"s
- r in the middle of a word is like tt in butter in an American accent. Loro = lohttoh.
- que, qui =keh, kee
- v sounds like b
- y sounds like Englishyor like Englishj. Yo isyohorjoh.
See How to Pronounce Spanish Letters and Certain Sounds.
Learn numbers next.Knowing how to count is an essential skill in any language. Learning to count in Spanish isn't hard, as the names of numbers in Spanish are similar to English. Numbers one through ten are listed below:
- One =Uno, Two =Dos, Three =Tres, Four =Cuatro, Five =Cinco, Six =Seis, Seven =Siete, Eight =Ocho, Nine =Nueve, Ten =Diez.
- Be aware that the number one --"uno"-- changes when it's used in front of either a masculine or feminine noun. For example, the term "one man" is"un hombre", while the term "one girl" is"una chica".
Memorize simple words.The wider the vocabulary you have at your disposal, the easier it is to speak a language fluently. Familiarize yourself with as many simple, everyday Spanish words as possible - you'll be surprised at how quickly they build up!
- One of the easiest ways to do this is to use cognates - words that share a similar meaning, spelling and pronunciation in both languages. Learning Spanish cognates of English words is a great way to rapidly increase your vocabulary, as 30%-40% of English words have a Spanish cognate.
- For words without cognates, try using one of the following memorization methods: When you hear a word in English, think of how you would say it in Spanish. If you don't know what it is, jot it down and look it up later. It's handy to keep a little notebook on you at all times for this purpose. Alternatively, try attaching little Spanish labels to items around your house, such as the mirror, the coffee table and the sugar bowl. You'll see the words so often that you'll learn them without realizing it!
- It is important to learn a word or phrase from ‘Spanish to English’ as well as ‘English to Spanish.’ That way you will remember how to say it, not just recognize it when you hear it.
Learn some basic conversational phrases.By learning the basics of polite conversation, you'll very quickly be able to interact with Spanish speakers on a simple level. Jot down some everyday Spanish phrases in a notebook and make a point of learning between five and ten of them every day. Here's a few to get you started:
- Hello! =¡Hola!
- Yes =Sí
- No =No
- Thank you! =¡Gracias!-- pronounced "grah-thyahs" or "grah-syas"
- Please =Por favor
- What is your name? =¿Cómo se llama usted?
- My name is... =Me llamo...
- Nice to meet you =Mucho gusto
- See you later! =¡Hasta luego!-- pronounced "ahs-tah lweh-goh"
- Goodbye =¡Adiós!-- pronounced "ah-dyohs"
Studying Basic Grammar
Learn how to conjugate regular verbs.Learning how to conjugate verbs is a major part of learning how to speak Spanish correctly. Conjugation means taking the infinitive form of a verb (to talk, to eat) and changing its form to indicatewhois performing an action andwhenthat action is being performed. When learning how to conjugate verbs in Spanish, the best place to start is with regular verbs in the present tense. Regular verbs in Spanish all end in either "-ar", "-er" or "-ir", and how each verb is conjugated will depend on its ending.An explanation of how each type of regular verb is conjugated in the present tense follow below:
Verbs ending in "-ar".Hablar is the infinitive form of the Spanish verb "to speak." To change the verb into the present tense, all you need to do is drop the "-ar" and add a different ending, which varies depending on the subject pronoun.For example:
- "I speak" becomesyo hablo
- "You speak (informal)" becomestú hablas
- "You speak (formal)" becomesusted habla
- "He/she speaks" becomesél/ella habla
- "We speak" becomesnosotros/as hablamos
- "You all speak (informal)" becomesvosotros/as habláis
- "You all speak (formal)" becomesustedes hablan
- "They speak" becomesellos/ellas hablan
- As you can see, the six different endings used are-o,-as,-a,-amos,-áisand-an. These endings will be the same for every single regular verb that ends in "-ar", such as bailar (to dance), buscar (to look for), comprar (to buy) and trabajar (to work).
Verbs ending in "-er".Comer is the infinitive form of the Spanish verb "to eat." To change the verb into the present tense, drop the "-er" and add the endings-o,-es,-e,-emos,-éisor-en, depending on the subject pronoun.For example:
- "I eat" becomesyo como
- "You eat (informal)" becomestú comes
- "You eat (formal)" becomesusted come
- "He/she eats" becomesél/ella come
- "We eat" becomesnosotros/as comemos
- "You all eat (informal)" becomesvosotros/as coméis
- "You all eat (formal)" becomesustedes comen
- "They eat" becomesellos/ellas comen
- These six endings will be the same for every regular "-er" verb, such as aprender (to learn), beber (to drink), leer (to read) and vender (to sell).
Verbs ending in "-ir".Vivir is the infinitive form of the Spanish verb "to live". To change the verb into the present tense, drop the "-ir" and add the endings-o,-es,-e,-imos,-ísor-en, depending on the subject pronoun.For example:
- "I live" becomesyo vivo
- "You live (informal)" becomestú vives
- "You live (formal)" becomesusted vive
- "He/she live" becomesél/ella vive
- "We live" becomesnosotros/as vivimos
- "You all live (informal)" becomesvosotros/as vivís
- "You all live (formal)" becomesustedes viven
- "They live" becomesellos/ellas viven
- These six verb endings will be the same for every regular "-ir" verb, such as abrir (to open), escribir (to write), insistir (to insist) and recibir (to receive).
- Once you have mastered the present tense, you can move on to conjugating verbs in other tenses, such as the future tense, the preterite and imperfect past tenses and the conditional tense. The same basic method used to conjugate the present tense is also used for each of these tenses - you simply take the stem of the infinitive verb and add a particular set of endings, which vary depending on the subject pronoun.
- Verbs ending in "-ar".Hablar is the infinitive form of the Spanish verb "to speak." To change the verb into the present tense, all you need to do is drop the "-ar" and add a different ending, which varies depending on the subject pronoun.For example:
Learn how to conjugate common, irregular verbs.Once you get the hang of conjugating regular verbs, you are off to a very good start. However be aware that not all verbs can be conjugated using the normal rules - there are many irregular verbs, each with their own unique conjugations which follow no rhyme or reason. Unfortunately, some of the most common, everyday verbs - such as ser (to be), estar (to be), ir (to go) and haber (to have (done)) - are irregular. The best thing to do is simply to learn them by heart:
Ser.The verb "ser" is one of two verbs in Spanish which can be translated as "to be". "Ser" is used to describe the essential characteristics of something - for example, it is used for physical descriptions, for time and dates and for describing characters and personalities, amongst other things. It is used to describewhatsomething is.The present tense of the verb is conjugated as follows:
- "I am" becomesyo soy
- "You are (informal)" becomestú eres
- "You are (formal)" becomesusted es
- "He/she is" becomesél/ella es
- "We are" becomesnosotros/as somos
- "You all are (informal)" becomesvosotros/as sois
- "You all are (formal)" becomesustedes son
- "They are" becomesellos/ellas son
Estar.The verb "estar" also means "to be" but is used in a different context from "ser". "Estar" is used for states of being - for example, it is used to describe conditional states such as feelings, moods and emotions, as well as a person or thing's location, amongst other things. It is used to describehowsomething is.The present tense of the verb is conjugated as follows:
- "I am" becomesyo estoy
- "You are (informal)" becomestú estás
- "You are (formal)" becomesusted está
- "He/she is" becomesél/ella está
- "We are" becomesnosotros/as estamos
- "You all are (informal)" becomesvosotros/as estáis
- "You all are (formal)" becomesustedes están
- "They are" becomesellos/ellas están
Ir.The verb "ir" means "to go". It is conjugated in the present tense as follows:
- "I go" becomesyo voy
- "You go (informal)" becomestú vas
- "You go (formal)" becomesusted va
- "He/she goes" becomesél/ella va
- "We go" becomesnosotros/as vamos
- "You all go (informal)" becomesvosotros/as vais
- "You all go (formal)" becomesustedes van
- "They go" becomesellos/ellas van
Haber.The verb "haber" can be translated as either "I have" or "I have done", depending on context. The present tense of the verb is conjugated as follows:
- "I have (done)" becomesyo he
- "You have (done)(informal)" becomestú has
- "You have (done) (formal)" becomesusted ha
- "He/she has (done)" becomesél/ella ha
- "We have (done)" becomesnosotros/as hemos
- "You all have (done) (informal)" becomesvosotros/as habéis
- "You all have (done) (formal)" becomesustedes han
- "They have (done)" becomesellos/ellas han
- Ser.The verb "ser" is one of two verbs in Spanish which can be translated as "to be". "Ser" is used to describe the essential characteristics of something - for example, it is used for physical descriptions, for time and dates and for describing characters and personalities, amongst other things. It is used to describewhatsomething is.The present tense of the verb is conjugated as follows:
Learn Spanish gender rules.In Spanish, like many other languages, every noun is assigned a gender, either masculine or feminine. There is no surefire way to tell whether a noun is masculine or feminine from sound or spelling, so it's necessary to learn the genders as you learn the words.
- For people it is possible to make an educated guess as to whether a noun is masculine or feminine. For instance, the word for "girl" is feminine,la chica, while the word for "boy" is masculine,el chico. This is callednatural gender.
- Very few words for people have agrammatical gender. For example,el bebé(the baby) is masculine andla visita(the visitor) is feminine. This is also valid for female babies and male visitors.
- In addition, nouns that end in the letter "o", likeel libro(book), are usually masculine and words that end in the letter "a", likela revista(magazine) are usually feminine. However, there are many nouns that do not end in either "a" or "o", so this is not always helpful.
- Any adjectives used to describe nouns must also agree with the gender of the noun, so adjectives will change their form depending on whether a noun is masculine or feminine.
Learn how to use the definite and indefinite articles.In English, there is only one definite article "the", and three indefinite articles "a", "an" or "some". In Spanish, however, there are four of each. Which one a speaker uses depends on whether the noun they are referring to is masculine or feminine, plural or singular.
- For example, to refer to "the male cat" in Spanish, you would need to use the definite article "el" - "el gato". When referring to "the malecats", the definite article changes to "los" - "los gatos".
- The definite article changes again when referring to the feminine form of cat. "The female cat" uses the definite article "la" - "la gata", while "the femalecats" uses the definite article "las" - "las gatas".
- The four forms of indefinite article are used in the same way - "un" is is used for the masculine singular, "unos" is used for the masculine plural, "una" is used for the feminine singular and "unas" is used for the feminine plural.
Immersing Yourself in the Language
Find a native speaker.One of the best ways to improve your new language skills is to practice speaking with a native speaker. They will easily be able to correct any grammar or pronunciation mistakes you make and can introduce you to more informal or colloquial forms of speech that you won't find in a textbook.
- If you have a Spanish-speaking friend who is willing to help, that's great! Otherwise, you can place an ad in the local paper or online or investigate whether there are any pre-existing Spanish conversation groups in the area.
- If you can't locate any Spanish-speakers nearby, try finding someone on Skype. They might be willing to exchange 15 minutes of Spanish conversation for 15 minutes of English.
Consider signing up for a language course.If you need some extra motivation or feel you would learn better in a more formal setting, try signing up for a Spanish language course.
- Look out for language courses advertised at local colleges, schools or community centers.
- If you're nervous about signing up for a class by yourself, drag a friend along. You'll have more fun and also someone to practice with between classes!
Watch Spanish films and cartoons.Get your hands on some Spanish DVDs (with subtitles) or watch Spanish cartoons online. This is an easy, entertaining way to get a feel for the sound and structure of the Spanish language.
- If you're feeling particularly proactive, try pausing the video after a simple sentence and repeat what has just been said. This will lend your Spanish accent an air of authenticity!
- If you can't find any Spanish films to buy, try renting them from a movie rental store, which often have foreign language sections. Alternatively, see if your local library has any Spanish films or ask if they would be able to source some for you.
Listen to Spanish music and radio.Listening to Spanish music and/or radio is another good way to surround yourself in the language. Even if you can't understand everything, try to pick out keywords to help you get the gist of what's being said.
- Get a Spanish radio app on your phone, so you can listen on the go.
- Try downloading Spanish podcasts to listen to while exercising or doing housework.
- Alejandro Sanz, Shakira and Enrique Iglesias are some good Spanish singers.
Learn about the Spanish cultures.Languages exist in a dialogue with culture, so certain expressions and mentalities are inextricably tied to cultural origins. The study of culture may also help prevent social misunderstandings.
Consider taking a trip to a Spanish speaking country.Once you feel comfortable with the basics of Spanish speech, consider taking a trip a Spanish speaking country. There's no better way to immerse yourself in a language than to hang-out and chat with the locals!
- Be aware that every Spanish-speaking country has a different accent, different slang, and sometimes even different vocabulary. For example, Chilean Spanish is extremely different from Mexican Spanish, from the Spanish of Spain, and even Argentine Spanish.
- In fact, as you advance in your Spanish proficiency, you may find it helpful to focus on one particular flavor of Spanish. It could be confusing if your lessons continually shift among word meanings and pronunciations for each country. However only about 2% of Spanish vocabulary is different in each country. You must concentrate in the remaining 98%.
Don't be discouraged!If you're serious about learning to speak Spanish, keep at it - the satisfaction you'll get from mastering a second language will far outweigh the difficulties you encounter along the way. Learning a new language takes time and practice, it won't happen overnight. If you still need some extra motivation, here are some things that make Spanish easier to learn than other languages:
Printable Phrase Guides
QuestionHow do I say "Good Morning" in Spanish?wikiHow ContributorCommunity Answer"Buenos dias."Thanks!
QuestionHow do I say "I love you "in Spanish?wikiHow ContributorCommunity Answer"Te amo" is a literal translation, and it is most often used in written Spanish. It is very "deep" and poetic. It is reserved for very serious and romantic encounters. "Te quiero," literally: "I want you" is the expression most often used in spoken Spanish to express "I love you".Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the translation of "You are very beautiful" in Spanish?Top AnswererEres hermosa. (There are several words for "beautiful.")Thanks!
QuestionHow do I say "You are my best friend" in Spanish?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf it's a guy, "Eres mi mejor amigo." If it's a girl, "Eres mi mejor amiga."Thanks!
QuestionHow do I say "I will love you for the rest of my life" in Spanish?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt would be: "Te amaré por el resto de mi vida".Thanks!
QuestionWhat are some websites or books to learn Spanish?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can learn Spanish on a website called Duolingo. It is very good for learning Spanish and you can learn other languages on there as well.Thanks!
QuestionHow long might it take for me to speak Spanish easily if I work for an hour every day?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt takes around 400 hours for a native English speaker to be confident and fluent in the Spanish language.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I memorize what I have revised?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerWrite everything you know in a small notebook to carry around with you.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I say "I love you, dad and cousin" in Spanish?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerFormally: "Le amo padre. Le amo primo." Informally: "Te amo papá. Te amo primo." (The most common way to say "I love you, cousin" in Spanish is to say: "Te quiero primo.")Thanks!
QuestionWhat does "ai caramba" mean?Top Answerer"Ai caramba" is a mild expletive meaning "oh no!" or "wow!"Thanks!
How do you say Youre an amazing friend?
If you want to speak Spanish, start by learning the basics of how to pronounce words and letter sounds, like the letter ñ, which is is pronounced, “eh-nyeh.” Once you know some basic vocabulary, work on learning grammar rules, like how to conjugate verbs or follow gender rules for nouns. Then, find ways to immerse yourself in the Spanish language, such as talking with native speakers or joining a language course.
- To perfect your pronunciation as much as possible, practice mimicking a song in Spanish (preferably one by a native speaker). Don't worry about trying to understand the meaning of the words, just practice pronouncing exactly the way the singer does. One example of such a song is "Amor Del Bueno" by Calibre 50. If you'd like, you can look up the lyrics and the translation later on, but to start off it's best to focus on mimicking the sounds.
- Carrying an instant electronic translator may be quite useful when trying to think in Spanish and verify your accuracy.
- Simple sentence fragments can string together to form complex sentences. For instance, "I want to eat" and "I am hungry" are very simple, but they may combine with little modification to say, "I want to eat something now because I am hungry."
- Read, read, read! Read out loud to practice speaking. This is the best way to become proficient at a language because reading covers many aspects of a language—vocabulary, grammar, popular phrases, and expressions. Reading above your level may be more difficult yet more rewarding than reading at or below your level.
- Many words in one Latin-based language (Italian, Spanish, French, etc.) are quite similar to words in another language. Learn the rules of conversion between languages (e.g., English words ending in "-ible" like "possible" are the same in Spanish with only a change in pronunciation). Just from simple conversions, you may already have a Spanish vocabulary of 2,000 words.
- Practice all four components of language learning. To learn a new language, you need to practice reading, writing, listening and speaking. Make sure you spend time on each one of these aspects of language learning.
- Install the Duolingo app for your Android or iOS phone. It can help you learn any language.
- Give great attention to listening carefully and pronouncing Spanish as it is meant to be pronounced, like the way 'b' and 'd' are pronounced differently in the beginning and middle of a word. If you have a good ear, you can consciously modify your accent to approximate a less butchered accent.
- Try to find a friend or colleague whose first language is Spanish. He or she could guide you through the nuances of the language, which may not be found in any book or study material.
- Practice with someone who speaks the language fluently and is familiar with the pronunciation.
- Try writing the words you learn down in a book, and then see if you can put the words into a sentence afterwards. Repeat this to practice the new words you have learned.
- The ñ is a letter in the alphabet ch ll and rr still are as well there are 5 ways to say the el la los las y lo. Spanish is actually a category one language.
- Learning a new language requires time and dedication. You get what you put into it. Rather than getting frustrated, have fun learning it!
- The only way to learn any new language is by speaking. Talk out loud, even if it’s only to yourself. This will give you a sense of how it sounds.
Sources and Citations
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