Spanish grammar isn’t more difficult than any other language.
But it does have a few rules that may seem strange if your first language is English. The good news is these rules can be learned quickly using Spanish grammar hacking.
In an earlier article, I wrote about two approaches you can take to learning a new language: that of hacking and that of mastery.
My worry is that sometimes students are sitting right in between, not really using the hacking process to improve quickly or using the mastery approach to achieve very high levels.
In this post, you’ll learn specifically about the hacking process for Spanish grammar.
The ideas in this post are inspired by Tim Ferriss’ latest book, “The Four Hour Chef”. Tim introduces a unique approach to language learning that inspires and aligns with a lot of what we teach here at Real Fast Spanish.
The hacking approach says that although there are hundreds of grammar rules and tricks you need to know to speak with perfect fluency, they aren’t all created equal.
Some rules are far more common than others.
Using the 80/20 approach, we can discover that 20% of the rules get used 80% of the time.
Even this morning as I was writing this post, I had a question from a student about the imperative (command) tense.
The student was stressed about having to remember to use an accent on top of a letter in the imperative conjugation. Yet, we won’t find an accent in any other conjugation for this verb.
The example was the command form of dormirse (to fall asleep):
In addition, the student also wanted to know why we put the te after the verb when it goes before the verb in the normal form:
This is just one example of the complexity you need to know in order to have perfect Spanish grammar.
My advice was not to worry about this unique situation because it doesn’t come up that often. And, if you are only interested in being conversational, you won’t need it and you won’t be tested on it, so don’t let it stress you out.
If you are intending to write a Ph.D. thesis in Spanish or become a Spanish author then yeah you are going to have to learn everything eventually (and have a really good spell checker!).
But for students that want to take the hacking approach, here’s what you need to know to make the most efficient use of your time with learning Spanish grammar.
The 13 Spanish grammar hacking sentences you need to know are:
The apple is red
It is John’s apple
I give John the apple
We give him the apple
La manzana es roja
Es la manzana de John
Le doy la manzana a John
Le damos la manzana
He gives it to John
She gives it to him
Él se la da a John
Ella se la da
I must give it to him
I want to give it to her
I’m going to buy it tomorrow
I can’t eat the apple
I have bought the apple
Debo dársela a él
Quiero dársela (a ella)
Voy a comprarla mañana
No puedo comer la manzana
He comprado la manzana
Is the apple red?
The apples are red
¿La manzana es roja?
Las manzanas son rojas
Commit these sentences to memory and then practice using them.
Once you have them locked in, you can apply these sentences to almost any situation by substituting other nouns and verbs.
In addition, you can also read about direct and indirect object pronouns, where we typically get the most number of questions about these sentences.
These 13 sentences don’t cover absolutely everything that you need to know. But that is that point! They focus on the most important components of grammar first to save you valuable time and brainpower. They will help you progress down a path to a conversational level of Spanish quickly. And that’s ultimately what you should be aiming for first.
Language hacking principles are extremely useful but they are not only strictly limited to grammar.
Once you get to a conversational level, not only will you feel satisfied with what you have achieved but you will have built a solid foundation for going on to higher levels of mastery in Spanish.
But for now, knowing the rules of Spanish grammar hacking will be one important step towards conversing with ease and moving away from being labeled a ‘gringo’ in South America or a ‘guiri’ in Spain.
How else can you improve your Spanish grammar?