8.1 Introduction to Verbs
Verbs in Spanish are not as easy as they are in English (at least in the present tense). In English you would conjugate the verb ‘to wash’ very easily as in ‘I wash, you wash, he washes, she washes, we wash, they wash’. Look at the example below of the same verb conjugated in Spanish.
Lavar – to wash
Yo lavo – I wash
Tú lavas – You wash (singular, informal)
Él lava – He washes
Ella lava – She washes
Usted lava – You wash (singular, formal)
Nosotros lavamos – We wash
Nosotras lavamos – We wash (feminine)
Ellos lavan – They wash
Ellas lavan – They wash (feminine)
Ustedes lavan – You wash (plural)
Did you notice how the endings change with each conjugation? In the beginning, unfortunately, you will have to memorize the conjugations of the different verbs but the good news is that once you get a feeling for the pattern of how the endings of the verbs change, you will not have to memorize the conjugations anymore. When you learn a new verb, you will easily be able to figure out the conjugations.
The verb above (lavar) ended in ‘ar’. There are 3 kinds of verbs in Spanish. They end in ‘ar’, ‘er’ and ‘ir’. Each type has a similar pattern except for a few that are irregular and unfortunately have to be memorized. More on verbs in later chapters.
‘Tú’ (you) is used to address people you know very well (good friends, relatives, children…)
‘Usted’ (you) is used to address people you meet for the first time or are not very familiar with.
‘Ustedes’ is the plural form of both ‘Tú’ and ‘Usted’.
This is the way it works in Latin America. In Spain, the rules are a bit different. Since this course focuses on Latin American Spanish, we won’t confuse you with too much extra material.