Today, we will embark on a brief journey that encompasses all the Spanish verb tenses. However, rather than focusing on how to conjugate the verb tenses in Spanish, which you may or may not have already learned, we'll take a closer look at when to use each one, using the extremely common verb hablar ("to talk" or "to speak") to illustrate them whenever possible, as well as plenty of examples from the Yabla Spanish video library.
How many different tenses in Spanish are there in total? According to the Real Academia Española, there are sixteen Spanish verb tenses. There are also some "bonus tenses," which aren't officially included in their classification, which we will also cover in this lesson. Let's get started.
To make matters just a bit more complicated, Spanish verb tenses fall into three categories called "moods," which are the indicative, the subjunctive, and the imperative. Generally speaking, the indicative verb tenses in Spanish are the first Spanish verb tenses learned, and, in contrast to the Spanish verb tenses in the other moods (subjunctive and imperative), they tend to deal with facts and objective reality. Let's take a look:
Let's start with the present tense in Spanish, also known as the "simple present." This tense is primarily used in two ways, the first being to talk about a present action that is habitual, repeated, or ongoing. Let's take a look:
Aunque soy extranjero, yo hablo español muy bien.
Although I'm a foreigner, I speak Spanish very well.Play Caption
Since it is an ongoing fact that the speaker speaks Spanish very well, it is appropriate to use the present tense. We can also use this tense to talk about an action that is actually in progress at the moment:
¿Hablo con la Señora Pepa Flores, la manager de Amalia Durango?
Am I speaking with Mrs. Pepa Flores, Amalia Durango's manager?
Captions 37-38, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 1 - Part 5Play Caption
Notice that the second example of the present tense was translated to the English present progressive tense. This is the tense with a form of the word "to be" and the gerund, or -ing form of a verb ("I'm eating," "He's swimming," etc.). The present progressive tense in Spanish, which is similarly formed with a present conjugation of the verb estar (to be) and a verb's gerundio (gerund, which usually ends in -ando or -iendo in Spanish), is always translated in this fashion and really emphasizes that an action is in progress at this very moment. Let's take a look:
OK. Xavi, ahora que estamos hablando de... de comida, de alimentos, quisiera hacerte una pregunta.
OK. Xavi, now that we're talking about... about food, about foods, I'd like to ask you a question.Play Caption
For more information about and examples of the present progressive tense in Spanish, check out this lesson as well as this video that contrasts the use of the simple present with the present progressive. Now that we've seen a couple of the present verb tenses in Spanish, let's check out some of the Spanish past tenses.
The imperfect is one of the Spanish past tenses and talks about an action that was ongoing or habitual in the past or that was in progress and/or interrupted in the moment described. Translations for the imperfect in Spanish for the verb hablar could thus include "used to talk," "would talk," or "was talking." Let's take a look at couple of examples:
Bueno, cuando yo era pequeña hablaba con la ficha de Einstein.
Well, when I was little, I used to talk to the Einstein card.
Caption 36, La Familia Cheveroni Capítulo 1 - Part 3Play Caption
Ya que estás, contanos a los dos... ¿De qué hablaban?
Now that you're here, tell us both... What were you talking about?
Caption 2, Muñeca Brava 45 El secreto - Part 6Play Caption
To learn more about the imperfect tense in Spanish, check out this lesson entitled: The Imperfect Tense in Spanish: The Past That Just Won't Quit.
The past equivalent of the present progressive tense is the past progressive tense, which emphasizes that an action in the past was in progress. As with the present and present progressive tenses, while the imperfect tense in Spanish can sometimes be translated with the past progressive in English ("I was eating," "You were running," etc.), the past progressive tense in Spanish is always translated in this fashion, with "was" or "were" plus a verb's gerund. It is formed in the same way as the present progressive except that the verb estar is conjugated in the imperfect tense:
Le hemos despistado. -Porque estaba hablando.
We've confused her. -Because she was talking.
Caption 59, Jugando a la Brisca En la callePlay Caption
The preterite is another one of the Spanish past tenses. In contrast to the imperfect tense, the preterite tense in Spanish describes past actions that have been completed. It could be compared with verbs ending in -ed in English (e.g. "He fished," "We traveled," etc.). Let's see an example:
Pero claro, en Televisión Española me hablaron de Gastón Almanza
But of course, at Spanish Television they talked to me about Gaston AlmanzaPlay Caption
The preterite is also used for past actions that interrupted other actions in progress, which would often be conjugated in the imperfect, as in the following example:
Yo hablaba por teléfono cuando mi novio me habló con una voz muy alta.
I was talking on the phone when my boyfriend talked to me in a very loud voice.
To find out more about the preterite tense, we recommend this lesson from our Yabla lesson archives.
The future tense in Spanish is pretty straightforward; it talks about something we "will" do in the future. Let's take a look:
Hoy hablaremos de las preposiciones de lugar.
Today, we will talk about prepositions of place.
Caption 9, Ana Carolina Preposiciones de lugarPlay Caption
Interestingly, sometimes the Spanish future tense is used in situations where English speakers would employ "would" to imply disbelief:
¿Y tú me hablarás de esta manera?
And you'd talk to me like that?
So, what about the Spanish conditional tenses? The simple conditional tense is the typical Spanish equivalent of saying one "would" do something in English, often in a hypothetical situation:
Bueno, si yo fuera tú, hablaría con él.
Well, if I were you, I would speak with him.Play Caption
This tense is often, but not always, seen in conjunction with the imperfect subjunctive tense (fuera, or "I were" in the example above), which we will cover in part two of this lesson, to specify that if some hypothetical situation "were" in place, something else "would" happen.
Although this tense is called the present perfect in English, its Spanish name is préterito perfecto ("preterite perfect" or "past perfect"), and it is the Spanish past tense used to say that one "has done" something within a specific time period, which could be anything from that day to one's life. It is formed with the verb haber, which is translated as "has" or "have" in English, along with the participle form of the verb (which will typically have the suffix -ado or -ido in Spanish and -ed or -en in English). Let's take a look:
El día de hoy, hemos hablado de artículos que utilizamos al día a día
Today, we've talked about items we use every day
Caption 41, Ana Carolina Artículos de aseo personalPlay Caption
Interestingly, in Spain, the present perfect is often used to describe things that happened in the recent past in situations in which English speakers would use the simple past and Latin Americans would more likely use the preterite. This usage can be seen quite clearly throughout this video from El Aula Azul. Let's take a look at an excerpt:
Pero cuando ha salido de clase, cuando hemos terminado la clase, ha ido a coger el coche, y resulta que la ventanilla estaba rota.
But when she's left class, when we've finished the class, she's gone to get her car, and it turns out that the window was broken.
Captions 12-14, El Aula Azul Conversación: Un día de mala suertePlay Caption
Although the translators at Yabla chose to translate this tense literally in this video to facilitate the learning of the present perfect tense, this sounds quite awkward in English, where a native speaker would probably say: "But when she left class, when we finished the class, she went to get her car, and it turns out that the window was broken."
In this video, Carlos provides an even more thorough explanation about when to use this tense as part of a useful four-part series on the different past tenses in Spanish.
The pluperfect is the past equivalent of the present perfect tense. It is formed with the imperfect conjugation of the verb haber and the participle form of the infinitive. It is often used to describe things we "had" already done when something else occurred.
que no era tan escandalosa como... como la gente había hab'... había hablado al principio.
That it wasn't as scandalous as... as the people had sa'... had said in the beginning.
Captions 41-42, Los Juegos Olímpicos Pablo HerreraPlay Caption
Also known as the preterite perfect, the past anterior tense is extremely similar to the pluperfect tense but employs the preterite conjugation of the verb haber plus the participle. It is used more commonly in literature and less in everyday speech. While we couldn't find an example of this tense with the verb hablar, we did find one with the verb coger (to grab):
Apenas lo hubo cogido, el niño se despertó.
He'd barely grabbed it, the little boy woke up.
Captions 46-47, Chus recita poemas Antonio MachadoPlay Caption
Just in case you were wondering, an example sentence with the verb hablar might be: Yo ya hube hablado con mi maestra antes del examen (I had already spoken to my teacher before the test), and there would be no difference in translation between this sentence and the same sentence with the verb conjugated in its pluperfect form (Yo ya había hablado con mi maestra antes del examen).
If one said, Yo ya habré hablado con el chico por teléfono antes de conocerlo cara a cara (I will have already spoken to the guy on the phone before meeting him face to face), he or she would be employing the future perfect tense, which includes the future tense conjugation of the verb haber plus the participle. This conveys the English construction "will have." Let's take a look at an example of this tense from the Yabla Spanish library:
Ay, ¿por qué se me habrá ocurrido comer bandeja paisa antes de que me encerraran, ah?
Oh, why would it have occurred to me to eat "bandeja paisa" [a Colombian dish] before they locked me up, huh?
Captions 27-28, La Familia Cheveroni Capítulo 1 - Part 3Play Caption
In this example, we see that, similarly to the future tense, the future perfect tense can also be used to express disbelief, and it is translated with the English word "would" (rather than "will") in such cases.
The conditional perfect tense in Spanish is the equivalent of saying "would have" in English. It utilizes the conditional form of the verb haber plus the participle to talk about what one "would have" done or what "would have" happened in a hypothetical situation:
Seguro que a él sí le habrían aceptado las invitaciones.
Surely they would have accepted his invitations.
Caption 24, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 6 - Part 5Play Caption
An example with the verb hablar would be: Si lo pudiera hacer otra vez, habría hablado con el chico que me gustaba (If I could do it again, I'd have spoken to the guy I liked). Yabla's lesson, "Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda," expands upon the conditional perfect tense and more.
Once you know all Spanish tenses in the indicative mood, you could also conjugate the verb estar in its many tenses to come up with additional progressive tenses, as follows:
Preterite Progressive (Pretérito continuo): Yo estuve hablando (I was talking)
Conditional Progressive (Condicional continuo): Yo estaría hablando (I would be talking)
Future Progressive (Futuro continuo): Yo estaré hablando (I will be talking)
We could even apply this to the compound tenses we learned:
Present Perfect Progressive (Pretérito perfecto continuo): Yo he estado hablando (I have been talking)
Pluperfect Progressive (Pretérito pluscuamperfecto continuo): Yo había estado hablando (I had been talking)
Conditional Perfect Progressive (Condicional compuesto continuo): Yo habría estado hablando (I would have been talking)
Future Perfect Progressive (Futuro compuesto continuo): Yo habré estado hablando (I will have been talking)
That was a lot of Spanish verb tenses!!! And that was just the first ten verb tenses in Spanish! Part two of this lesson will deal with the verb tenses in Spanish in the other two "moods," subjunctive and imperative. In the meantime, we hope you enjoyed part one of this lesson on Spanish verb tenses... and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments.
How many question words in Spanish are you familiar with? Do you know how to write a question in Spanish? Asking questions is one of the most important skills you need to master in the language you are learning. In this lesson, we will learn the most important interrogative words in Spanish. However, before we explore those words, let's discuss a couple of things about asking questions in Spanish.
'Pregunta' is how you say the word 'question' in Spanish. 'Pregunta' is a feminine noun and its plural form is 'preguntas'. Let's practice the pronunciation of this term:
Kevin, la pregunta es:
Kevin, the question is:
Caption 13, Los Años Maravillosos - Capítulo 1Play Caption
Los voy a dejar con cuatro preguntas.
I am going to leave you with four questions.Play Caption
Do you know how to write a question in Spanish? Let's take a look at the basic structure of a question in Spanish.
To begin with, you need to stick to the rules of Spanish punctuation. Because of that, when you write a question in Spanish you need to remember that question marks are always double-sided. In other words, you need to start the question with an opening question mark (¿) and end it with a closing one (?):
¿Cómo es Japón?
What's Japan like?
¿Qué te gusta de Japón?
What do you like about Japan?
Captions 69-70, Clase Aula Azul - Pedir deseosPlay Caption
Let's start with simple questions. Believe it or not, for these kinds of questions your intonation is what matters the most. You basically make Yes/No questions by transforming a statement into a question. The Spanish question structure for these kinds of questions is the following:
¿ + (subject) + conjugated verb + (additional information) + ?
Please note that the terms in parenthesis are optional. Let's see a couple of examples:
A Pedro le gusta comer pizza. (Pedro likes to eat pizza.)
¿A Pedro le gusta comer pizza? (Does Pedro like to eat pizza?)
For negative questions, you just need to place a "no" before the conjugated verb.
No quieres estudiar. (You don't want to study.)
¿No quieres estudiar? (Don't you want to study?)
Go ahead and play the following clips so you can hear the intonation of the following Yes/No questions. Notice how the pitch of the speaker's voice gets higher at the end of the sentence when asking questions in Spanish:
Mmm... ¿Quieres ir al cine?
Mmm... Do you want to go to the movies?
-Sí, ¡buena idea!
-Yes, good idea!Play Caption
Do you need help?
Captions 9-10, Español para principiantes - La horaPlay Caption
¿No conoces Manhattan?
You don't know Manhattan?
Caption 37, Yago - 2 El pumaPlay Caption
As you can see, it is very common to start Yes/No questions with a conjugated verb.
The following is the Spanish question structure you need to keep mind when your question is aimed at getting some sort of information:
¿ + (preposition) + question word + conjugated verb + (additional information) + ?
Please note that the terms in parenthesis are optional. Let's see a couple of examples:
¡Oh! ¿Dónde está el cajero automático?
Oh! Where's the ATM?
Caption 36, Natalia de Ecuador - Palabras de uso básicoPlay Caption
In the example above, we have the following structure:
¿ + question word (dónde) + conjugated verb (está) + additional information (el cajero automático) + ?
Let's listen to another clip:
¿Desde cuándo tienes este piso?
Since when have you had this apartment?
Caption 35, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricosPlay Caption
In this last example, the Spanish question structure is the following:
¿ + preposition (desde) + question word (cuándo) + conjugated verb (tienes) + additional information (este piso) + ?
Now that we have seen the structure of a question, let's take a look at some Spanish question words in sentences.
It's time to review the most important interrogative words in Spanish. If you are thinking about WH questions, you are right. Let's find out what the Spanish question words are for 'what', 'which', 'when', 'where', 'who', 'why' and 'how'.
For your reference, here's a list of the top question words in Spanish.
What / Which (Qué / Cuál)
Why (Por qué)
Now, let's see each one of these question words in action with a list of some of the most basic Spanish questions you can ask.
And now, let's dive into our list.
What / Which (Qué / Cuál)
Diremos, "¿Qué hora es?"
We'll say, "What time is it?"
Caption 49, Español para principiantes - La horaPlay Caption
O, ¿A qué te dedicas?
Or, What do you do? [with "tú"].
Caption 17, Karla e Isabel - Tú y UstedPlay Caption
Oye, y ¿en qué trabajas?
Hey, and what do you do [for a living]?
Caption 82, Ricardo - La compañera de casaPlay Caption
Por supuesto; ¿cuál es su dirección de correo?
Of course; what is your e-mail address?
Caption 69, Negocios - Empezar en un nuevo trabajoPlay Caption
¿Recuerdas cuál era la copa para servir vino?
Do you remember which cup was the one for serving wine?
Caption 36, Ana Carolina - El comedorPlay Caption
¿Y cuándo hizo el "check-in"?
And when did he check-in?
Caption 13, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa - Capítulo 3Play Caption
¿Cuándo terminas de estudiar?
When do you finish studying?Play Caption
¿De dónde eres?
Where are you from?
Caption 36, Curso de español - ¿De dónde eres?Play Caption
Y ¿en dónde vives?
And where do you live?
Caption 8, Cleer - Entrevista a LilaPlay Caption
Let's see a couple of clips from Raquel to see the kind of questions you ask when you want to find out where something is located:
¿Me podrías decir dónde está el baño?
Could you tell me where the bathroom is?Play Caption
¿Sabes dónde hay alguna farmacia?
Do you know where there's a pharmacy?
Caption 24, Raquel - Expresiones para un festival de música.Play Caption
We use 'who' when we want to find out someone's identity. Let's see a couple of examples:
Mi jugador favorito juega en el Real Madrid.
My favorite player plays for Real Madrid.
Who is it?
Captions 19-20, El Aula Azul - Las ProfesionesPlay Caption
¿Usted quién es?
Who are you?
Roberto. Un amigo.
Roberto. A friend.
Captions 24-25, Yago - 9 RecuperaciónPlay Caption
Why (Por qué)
¿Por qué dices eso? -No...
Why are you saying that? -No...
Caption 14, Cortometraje - BetaPlay Caption
Para saludar, podemos decir: "Hola. ¿Cómo estás? ¿Todo bien?"
To greet (people), we can say: "Hello. How are you? (Is) everything good?"
Caption 7, Español en las calles - Varias expresionesPlay Caption
Keep in mind that the word 'cómo' is not always translated as the English word 'how'. In fact, one of the most basic Spanish questions you can ask is a good example of that:
Buenos días, ¿cómo te llamas?
Good morning, what's your name?
Caption 8, La rutina diaria - La mañanaPlay Caption
When we want to find out someone's age or the price of an object, we combine 'how' with other words such as 'old' or 'much'. When we want to get that kind of information, we use other interrogative words in Spanish. Let's take a look:
How much does it cost?
Captions 33-34, Natalia de Ecuador - Palabras de uso básicoPlay Caption
¿Cuántos años tienes?
How old are you?
Caption 6, Cleer - Entrevista a LilaPlay Caption
Ah, vale. ¿Cuántos hijos tienes?
Oh, OK. How many sons do you have?
Caption 39, Clase Aula Azul - El verbo parecerPlay Caption
¿Y cuántas botellas de agua hay aquí?
And how many bottles of water are there here?Play Caption
And that's it for now. We hope you use this review of the most important Spanish question words as the perfect excuse to start asking questions in Spanish. Are you ready? We encourage you to do that and don't forget to send us your questions and comments.
Do you know how to say the names of professions in Spanish? Do you know the Spanish words for professions such as 'lawyer' or 'journalist'? Today, we will talk about job titles and professions in Spanish so get ready to see how to write and pronounce some of the most common occupations out there. However, before we jump into our list of professions in Spanish, let's see how to ask a very basic question when it comes to jobs.
When we want to find out what someone does for a living, we usually use questions like: what do you do for work?, what do you do for a living? or simply, what do you do? There are also different options in Spanish:
¿A qué te dedicas?
What do you do?
Soy profesor de fotografía.
I'm a photography teacher.
Captions 12-13, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricosPlay Caption
Oye, y ¿en qué trabajas?
Hey, and what do you do [for a living]?
Estoy trabajando actualmente en una firma de abogados.
I'm working currently at a law firm.
Captions 82-83, Ricardo - La compañera de casaPlay Caption
Ahora, ¿y qué haces tú?
Now, what do you do?
Bueno, yo soy mecánico.
Well, I'm a mechanic.
Captions 18-19, Encuentro Volkswagen en Adícora - Escarabajos en la playaPlay Caption
You can also use that kind of question even if you are a student:
Bueno, Cristina, ¿tú a qué te dedicas?
Well, Cristina, what do you do for a living?
Estoy estudiando en Sevilla.
I am studying in Seville.
Captions 60-62, Clara y Cristina - SaludarPlay Caption
Now, let's take a look at some of the most common professions in Spanish. Remember to listen to the audioclips so you can hear how to pronounce the word. Also, keep in mind that the names of most professions change with the gender so make sure to take a look at the rules that we will mention about that.
When the masculine noun ends in o, the feminine noun ends in a. There are several professions in Spanish that fall into this group:
1. El abogado | La abogada (The lawyer)
Es un abogado joven que recién se está metiendo en la política.
He's a young lawyer who has recently been getting involved in politics.
Caption 57, Muñeca Brava - 45 El secretoPlay Caption
2. El arquitecto | La arquitecta (The architect)
Bueno, yo soy Leif, eh... soy arquitecto y llevo trabajando en Londres cuatro años.
Well, I am Leif, um... I am an architect and have been working in London for four years.
Captions 2-3, Leif - El Arquitecto Español y su ArtePlay Caption
3. El cajero | La cajera (The cashier)
4. El carpintero | La carpintera (The carpenter)
5. El ingeniero | La ingeniera (The engineer)6
6. El psicólogo | La piscóloga (The psychologist)
When the noun ends in a consonant, you just need to add an a at the end to form the feminine noun.
7. El administrador | La administradora (The administrator)
Pero si quiere, yo con mucho gusto hablo con el administrador para que nos ayude.
But if you want, I'll gladly talk to the administrator so he can help us.
Captions 16-17, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa - Capítulo 3Play Caption
8. El director | La directora (The director)
9. El editor | La editora (The editor)
10. El doctor | La doctora (The doctor)
Consultorio de la doctora Castaño, buenos días.
Doctor Castaño's office, good morning.
Caption 5, Cita médica - La cita médica de CleerPlay Caption
If you take the previous 3 nouns, you can see that there are various nouns ending in 'or' that are identical in English and Spanish.
11. El escritor | La escritora (The writer)
12. El profesor | La profesora (The teacher)
Yo soy profesora de español.
I am a Spanish teacher.
Caption 12, El Aula Azul - Actividades DiariasPlay Caption
There are also some nouns that end in -ista, -ia and -e, that stay them same for both male and female. However, in order to make the distinction, you need to change the article accordingly. Let's see some examples:
13. El estudiante | La estudiante (The student)
14. El dentista | la dentista (The dentist)
Por ejemplo: el estudiante, la estudiante. El dentista, la dentista.
For example: the male student, the female student. The male dentist, the female dentist.
Captions 32-33, Isabel - El Género Gramatical - Masculino y FemeninoPlay Caption
15. El periodista | La periodista (The journalist)
"El periodista escribe el artículo para el periódico".
"The journalist writes the article for the newspaper."
Caption 22, Lecciones con Carolina La voz pasiva - Part 3Play Caption
Before we go, let's take a look at the following list of professions in Spanish so you can have a handy reference for this topic.
1. The administrator: El administrador | La administradora
2. The architect: El arquitecto | La arquitecta
3. The cashier: El cajero | La cajera
4. The carpenter: El carpintero | La carpintera
5. The dentist: El dentista | la dentista
6. The director: El director | La directora
7. The doctor: El doctor | La doctora
8. The editor: El editor | La editora
9. The engineer: El ingeniero | La ingeniera
10. The journalist: El periodista | La periodista
11. The lawyer: El abogado | La abogada
12. The psychologist: El psicólogo | La piscóloga
13. The student: El estudiante | La estudiante
14. The teacher: El profesor | La profesora
15. The writer: El escritor | La escritora
That's it for today. We know there are hundreds of more occupations and job titles out there. However, we hope this lesson will help you to remember the names of some of the most well-known professions in Spanish. That being said, we would like to invite you to find 10 professions more in our library of videos, and don’t forget to send us your feedback and suggestions.