Basic Spanish Lessons
Basic Spanish Lessons
Our Spanish for Beginners course is a step-by-step introduction to Spanish. These basic Spanish lessons will teach you how to speak in the present about the present. To learn how to speak about events which occurred in the past, go to Spanish 101 - Preterite. The lessons in this Spanish for Beginners course assume you have NEVER studied Spanish.
The way of meaning the verbs must follow the time; and as in nature there are only three times, which are: present, past, and to come; Grammar knows these same verbs, and calls them: present, preterite, and future.
The present indicative denotes what is, is being done, or is currently happening, such as: I am, I write, it rains.
The past tense shows that something was, was fulfilled, or happened, such as: I went, I wrote, it rained.
The future manifests what is to be, what is to be done, or what is to happen in the future, such as: it will be, it will write, it will rain.
The past tense is divided into three types.
1. When that thing in question is considered as present with respect to another already past, it is called the imperfect past tense: e.g. My brother arrived at the same time that I wrote to him.
2. If it is considered absolutely and perfectly past, it is called the past perfect, like: I was, I wrote. This past perfect is divided into next and remote. Next is the one that denotes greater proximity of that action or event that the verb means with respect to the time in which it refers; and remote, the one that denotes it lesser: v. g. I have seen the King, it is present perfect next, because it denotes that since I saw him until when I say it, a little time has passed: I saw the King is past perfect remote, because it denotes that since I saw him until when I say it, a long time may have passed , or mediated other actions or events, and thus it will be properly said: last year, or four years ago, I saw the King; but it will not be said with the same: last year I have seen the King. It will also be properly said: this morning I saw my friend well, and now I have seen him ill; and it would be an intolerable impropriety to change the two past tenses by saying: I saw him this morning, and now I saw him.
Although this is the most common, this does not mean that it sometimes ceases to be used of the present perfect next to denote remote time without determining which one, and thus it is said: I have traveled a lot: I have seen the Emperor, the Pope: I have been in the indies.
The past perfect remote is usually also expressed with that of the auxiliary verb haber, and the participle of the verb of which it is used, such as: I had seen, and thus it is worth saying: after I saw the King, I retired, such as: after I had seeing the King I retired.
3. When such a thing is considered past with respect to another also past, it is called preterite more than perfect, and among grammarians past plusquaperfect: v. g. Your letter arrived just in time for I had written you.
The tenses of the subjunctive, with the exception of the imperfect preterite, have no particularity to note, but to attend to the precise variations of the conjugation; but the imperfect preterite has them that are very worth noting, as will be done in the following article.
Spanish Lessons for Beginners
The imperfect subjunctive
The three endings that each of the singular and plural persons of this tense have are usually considered to be by equivalents; but they are not always so, because many times different values are found for them, and they form different meanings.
The first person singular of the noun verb to be has these three endings: outside, would be, was; but for that reason it will not be right to use them promiscuously, because he will speak well who says: if I were, or were happy at the game, I would play; and he will be wrong who says: if I would be happy with the game, I would play.
The same first person of the auxiliary verb to have, has the three endings would have, would have, and would have. With the first and third one can say: if I had, or had foreseen, I would never have tried it: and the second ending cannot be used instead of one of the other two without incurring in impropriety, because it would make bad sense to say : If I had foreseen it, I would not have tried it.
The same person of this tense of an active verb of the first conjugation: v. g. from the verb to love, it has the three endings: amára, would love, love. The first and third can sometimes be used indistinctly saying: if I loved or amassed riches, I would never be rich; but it will not be possible to use the second love instead of the first or third, because it would not make good sense to say: if I loved riches, I would never be rich.
These examples show that the first and third endings are equivalent to each other, and it cannot be doubted that they are sometimes so; but others cease to be according to the context of the clause, or the different placement of their words. Any of the aforementioned examples will be able to demonstrate it, because only by changing the place of the conditional conjunction si, passing it from the first member of the sentence to the second, the first and second endings become equivalent: v. g. I would love, or would love riches, if they could satisfy my desires: -p. 69- In which example the third ending ceases to be equivalent to the first and second, since putting amase instead of amára or amaría, we would say improperly: I loved riches, if they could satisfy my desires.
The first ending ra is easily accommodated to serve for one of the other two ria and se, since it is the same to say: the time could be better, that: the time could be better; and with equal propriety it is said: I caused it to come, or I caused it to come.
But the two second and third endings, ria and se, are so opposed to each other that one cannot substitute for the other, and thus instead of: I would like to go to Seville, one cannot say: I would like to go to Seville.
To fix the use of these three endings, it could be pretended that each one suits a different way and time; but the variety with which they are used, conforming or not, one with the value of the others, does not allow their limits to be set, and nothing else would be achieved by trying it but multiplying embarrassing denominations with the names that were invented for these modes and times, and need at every step to save by means of many exceptions the repeated inconsistencies in which it would be necessary to stumble.
This difficulty having been attended to, and agreeing, on the other hand, to give some light, which in the possible way will direct us to the correct use of the three terminations, it has seemed that the following rules may be opportune to this end.