Why Study Spanish Grammar?

It is true that one of the best ways to learn Spanish is to dive right in and immerse yourself in the language. Throwing off your inhibitions and chatting away to Spanish speakers helps to develop good pronunciation, fluency and a grasp of juicy slang words. This is the way that you and I learned to speak our native languages after all.

But oh, if only it were that simple. As adults we are no longer programmed to absorb new languages the way that infants and young children can. Learning through absorption is fantastic and it will work to turn you into a fluent Spanish speaker, but only accompanied by a solid grammatical foundation.

Developing a solid base understanding of Spanish grammar is essential in order to learn to speak español in a way that native speakers are going to understand. Having an understanding of Spanish grammar acts as the platform from which you can dive into effective communication.

The grammar of any language is a set of norms through which the language acts as a communicative tool. Thousands of years of communicating have brought languages to the point where they have become systemized and formed what we term “grammar”. Without these norms in place it would be very difficult for us to understand clearly what our companions were trying to share with us.

Languages were not created in a vacuum. With the exception of Esperanto, languages were not made by scholars sitting around thinking up grammar rules and writing them down. For this reason very few of the world’s languages can claim to be orderly and always logical. Despite this there are ascertainable grammar rules, which can be learned and applied resulting in effective communication

Imagine you had a good Spanish vocabulary, but did not have an understanding of its grammar structures. You might be able to put together some words, but the time (tense), feeling, person to whom you are referring and many other parts of your intended meaning would be missing. You would probably have to resort to sign language to fill in some of the gaps in your meaning.

In some respects Spanish grammar is more complicated that English grammar, although English grammar can be a minefield for language learners. Try explaining to a non native English speaker why teacher is spelled with an “er”, but doctor ends with “or”. If jumped is the past tense of jump, then why is the past tense of eat not eated?

Spanish conjugates its verbs like crazy, whereas a lot of that was left behind with Middle English. Spanish, like other Romance languages also has gender attached to nouns. For an English speaker, it can be a headache remembering whether the word you want to say is feminine or masculine – la casa or el casa, el problema or la problema? Spanish is also much more of a fan of reflexive verbs than English.

There are many differences between English and Spanish grammar systems, but on the plus side, Spanish grammar tends to be more regular than English. Most of the verbs are regular in the past tense, the same for which cannot be said for English. Prepositions are much easier to master than English prepositions, which prove a major stumbling block for many English language learners.

Once you have grasped some basic Spanish grammar concepts you can begin to experiment and extend your speaking ability by conversing with Spanish speakers. Asking your Spanish speaking friends to help correct you when you say something grammatically incorrect can also be very helpful.

With a good understanding of the norms of Spanish grammar and practice speaking with native Spanish speakers you can become fluent. Without speaking practice you will never become fluent and without an understanding of Spanish grammar you will never make any sense. Go out and grab a Spanish grammar book now!

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