Original blog post: https://ling-app.com/es/spanish-sentence-structure/ (with audio🔊)
Hola! If you are here, it is because you are interested in learning Spanish, right? Well, we can’t blame you! With about 500 million people around the world speaking Spanish, it’s only natural to find a way to connect with these people through their language. And if you want to do just that, mastering the basic Spanish sentence structure is a must! This will help you become one step closer to communicating with millions of people! Today we will learn three essential Spanish sentence structures, so you can start constructing your first sentences like a pro. ¿Estás listo? ¡Vamos a comenzar!
Why Do You Need To Learn Spanish Sentence Structure?
Allow me to let you in on a secret: I like grammar. Many people look at me funny when I say this, but I really do. Grammar is the foundation of our communication; if we focus on functionality instead of rules, we can find beauty in it.
If you are starting to learn Spanish, I am sure you are eager to put into practice the vocabulary and grammar rules you already know. That’s where sentence structures come in handy, as they are the backbone of our conversations. Understanding them allows us to determine the order of the words in the syntax. We could communicate one thing or another entirely differently depending on the word order. Spanish is flexible, so if you change the word order slightly, it would still be grammatically correct.
Lisa come una manzana. (Lisa eats an apple.)
Subject →Lisa Verb →come Object→ una manzana
Let’s say I accidentally change the word order: Una manzana come Lisa. (An apple Lisa eats.)
This sentence is still understandable, it may sound more natural the other way around, but this did not change the meaning. So, don’t be afraid to make mistakes! That’s a necessary part of the process, after all. If you make mistakes, it’s because you’re trying, and THAT is progress.
Spanish Sentence Structure
Formulating sentences in Spanish is easier than you think. Generally, Spanish sentences follow the same word order as English (Subject, Verb, Object). In fact, you could write a simple sentence using only a subject and a verb. But it only takes a little while for the differences to become apparent. For example, depending on the context and verb conjugation, Spanish can omit the subject pronoun — in English, this is impossible.
Let’s take “nosotros corremos” or “we run” as an example. Here, I could remove the word “nosotros” and leave only the verb “corremos” and it will be enough to understand that “we” is performing the action. However, if I remove the word “we” in English, “run” would not be enough to tell who is doing the “run.”
Now we will look at three basic Spanish sentence structures. After mastering them, it will be much easier to move on to more complex sentences.
Affirmative Sentences In Spanish
If you have come this far, you already know how to make an affirmative sentence in Spanish. They’re also called declarative sentences; they give us information about people, events, or situations.
Structure: Subject+ verb + object
- Yo como arroz. → I eat rice.
- Tú lees un libro. → You read a book.
- Lisa ve televisión. → Lisa watches TV.
- Nosotros jugamos golf.→ We play golf.
- Ellos toman café.→ They drink coffee.
Negative Sentences In Spanish
You wouldn’t believe how simple it is to construct a negative sentence in Spanish. Just add “no” before the verb, and you’re done.
- Yo no como arroz. → I don’t eat rice.
- Tú no lees un libro. → You don’t read a book.
- Lisa no ve televisión. → Lisa doesn’t watch TV.
- Nosotros no jugamos golf.→ We don’t play golf.
- Ellos no toman café.→ They don’t drink coffee.
Since only some things can be so simple, we have something called double negatives in Spanish. This type of sentence has two negative words within the same structure.
In the following examples, we will add the literal English translation so that you can see that even though double negation works in Spanish, it doesn’t work in English.
- Yo no como ningún arroz. → I don’t eat no rice.
- Nosotros no jugamos golf nunca. →We never play golf.
- Ellos no toman nada. → They don’t drink nothing.
Questions In Spanish
There are different ways to make questions in Spanish, which are pretty simple. However, you should consider that in Spanish, you use two question marks instead of English, which uses only one question mark.
The easiest way to structure a question in Spanish is to take a declarative sentence, add question marks at the beginning and the end, and then raise the intonation, and that’s it.
- ¿Él come pizza? →Does he eat pizza?
- ¿Ellos juegan ajedrez? → Do they play chess?
- ¿Sofía va a la escuela?→ Does Sofia go to school?
Another way to ask questions is by using interrogative words (qué — what, cuándo — when, por qué — why, quién — who, dónde — where, cómo — how, cuál — which, cuánto — how much, etc.)
- ¿Por qué él come pizza? →Why does he eat pizza?
- ¿Cómo ellos juegan ajedrez? →How do they play chess?
- ¿Cuándo Sofía va a la escuela?→When does Sofia go to school?
A third type of question in Spanish is the indirect question. These are subordinate sentences that are introduced by a verb such as saber, preguntar, decir, exclamar, or responder. They follow the word order of declarative sentences and are written without question marks.
- No sé por qué él come pizza. → I don’t know why he eats pizza.
- Me gustaría saber cuando Sofía va a la escuela.→I’d like to know when Sofia goes to school.
- Me puede decir cuanto cuesta ese carro.→Can you tell me how much that car costs.
Build Spanish Sentences With Ling
Now that you know how to build basic Spanish sentences, it’s time to practice. The Ling App has engaging grammar exercises, which will help you practice what you’ve learned. The app has tons of lessons that will help you expand your knowledge about these critical grammar points. And the best part? You can master these in just 15 minutes (or less!). So the next time you’re stuck in traffic or waiting in line, you can take out your phone and continue learning Spanish.