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Our 20 Favorite Tips for Learning Spanish Fast

Did you know there are 572 million Spanish speakers worldwide? And this number is expected to grow to over 750 million by the year 2060. There are 21 countries around the world where Spanish is an official language.

What I am trying to say here is that learning Spanish is pretty important, and a really good idea.

If you’ve been on the fence about learning Spanish, don’t hesitate—you will be tapping into a tremendously influential and beautiful language. 

In this post, we’ll show you the 20 most essential tips for learning Spanish fast.

The tips below are listed in the suggested order you should tackle each task. While you can follow the sections in any order you like, remember that the list has been carefully planned for maximum efficiency so that you progress faster!

Contents

1. Master the Spanish Alphabet

It may seem obvious, but the first thing you have to do when starting to learn a new language is to study its alphabet, plus learn the letters’ different sounds

You will realize that there are letters in Spanish that English does not have (like ñ or ll). Likewise, there are letters that English uses like there is no tomorrow but Spanish tends to avoid (k and w are the best examples).

You can use this first step as a starting point to learn the correct pronunciation of single words, which will certainly help you later in your journey.

Here’s a simple video that goes over each letter and sound:

2. Learn High-frequency Spanish Vocabulary and Phrases

By building vocabulary before you begin studying tenses and learning grammar concepts, you are ensuring that you will have enough words to work with when you are ready to begin building sentences. 

Whether you use an app to learn new daily words or you learn them in chunks, it is a good idea to learn new words by themes. You can even try children’s dictionaries or Spanish apps for kids!

Keep it simple, focusing initially on commonly used words and simple phrases, and work your way up to more complicated topics.

Here are a few vocabulary lists to get you started, which include more in-depth vocabulary for later on in your Spanish learning journey:

Every learner has to go through a beginning phase where there are quite a lot of topics that need to be learned in order to start taking their first steps by themselves.

The words you learn should be useful to you. There is no point in learning Spanish words if you would never use them in your life!

Check out this great video to learn some excellent beginner phrases:

3. Get Down the Spanish Cognates 

A cognate is a word that sounds and means the same in two languages. And there are a lot of cognates in Spanish and English.

You already know much more Spanish vocabulary than you could have ever imagined! Once you know what cognates are, you will start seeing them everywhere! 

Here’s a few of the most common Spanish/English cognates to get you started:

  • Actor — Actor
  • Animal — Animal
  • Café — Coffee
  • Capital — Capital
  • Doctor — Doctor
  • Elefante — Elephant
  • Familia — Family
  • Hotel — Hotel
  • Idea — Idea
  • Información — Information
  • Música — Music
  • Nacional — National
  • Opción — Option
  • Problema — Problem
  • Televisión — Television
  • Universidad — University

After seeing all the words you already know, it starts to seem less scary, right? Check out this video if you want to learn even more cognates:

4. Learn Key Spanish Verbs

You can now start learning the most important Spanish verbs. This is the point at which you are no longer learning isolated words—with the help of a few verbs, you will be able to start forming sentences.

Ser, estar (both meaning “to be”) are the best way to break the ice. By learning these three grammar monsters, you will be able to talk about yourself and what surrounds you.

Here’s an informative video on ser versus estar:

4. Figure Out Spanish Articles, Gender Rules and Plurals

English has three articles (“a,” “an,” “the”), but Spanish has eight!

Every new noun you study should have a corresponding article. They tend to give learners a headache in later phases if they have not studied them at the beginning. So learn them now! For example, learn it as el coche (the car), not just coche.

Spanish articles go hand-in-hand with gender and number (whether something is singular or plural), two of the easiest but also most important topics you need to cover while warming up.

By learning these two concepts, you will understand that each Spanish noun and adjective has a specific gender and number and you will begin to get a sense of how important these are to constructing sentences.

Dive deeper into Spanish gender rules here:

5. Pay Attention to Accentuation Rules and Accent Marks

If you have ever seen written Spanish, you probably noticed that some of the letters have little accent marks above them. These are crucial if you want to read Spanish words properly.

By learning a couple of accentuation rules, you will know how to read and spell Spanish words correctly!

To learn more about Spanish accents, check out this post:

7. Learn Personal Pronouns

Pronouns are an important component to every language. You are already able to say “a car” in Spanish, but what if you want to talk about “this” or “that” car, or maybe “your” car?

Personal pronouns (“I,” “you,” “he,” etc.) are a good place to start. 

Plus, pronouns are always perfect for those occasions when you cannot remember the noun!

For more on Spanish pronouns, see this post:

8. Get Into Spanish Culture and Language Varieties

Now is a good time to learn a bit more about the culture of the language you are studying.

If you want to know more about dialects, music or other interesting topics just to spice up your Spanish, feel free to have a look at the last three links or search for the topics you are interested in.

Here’s a good post to check out to learn more about the different varieties of Spanish:

9. Get to Know Word Order and Sentence Building

At this stage, you still do not have an idea of what Spanish looks like as a whole. This is the best moment to learn about word order and sentence building!

Don’t worry if you find words you do not understand or tenses that baffle you. In time, it’ll come together and you’ll understand whole sentences.

If you want to dive deeper into Spanish sentence structure, check out this post:

10. Get Down the Spanish Present Tense

The first tenses most Spanish students learn are the simple present and future tenses, in that order.

The present simple is used to talk about your daily routines, primarily. Spanish also loves using this tense for different purposes (including the future!), so it is a good idea to start with it.

It will probably take you some time to master the endings of the present tense but once you do, the future simple tense will come very easily.

To read more details about the Spanish present tense, read this post:

11. Then Master the Spanish Present Progressive Tense

To make present progressive sentences, your new favorite word is going to be the gerundio (gerund).

Once you learn how to form it in Spanish and pair it with one of the verbs you already know (estar), you will be ready to talk about what you are doing right now using the present progressive!

Here’s a good place to learn the basics of the Spanish progressive tense:

12. Learn Relative Spanish Relative Pronouns 

Relative pronouns are words that help us make longer, more specific sentences just by adding a few things here and there.

The most used relative pronouns are:

  • Que (that, which, who)
  • Quien(es) (who, whom)

Here’s an example:

El libro que estoy leyendo es muy interesante. (The book that I am reading is very interesting.)

Here’s a post about the seven relative pronouns you need to advance your Spanish:

13. Get Down Spanish Verb Negation

Learning how to say “no” and how to negate verbs is one of the most useful things you can learn in a new language.

Every single sentence containing a verb can be converted into a negative! You can literally double the number of sentences you can say just by adding a few words.

If you want to learn more about negation in Spanish, see this post:

14. Move On to Irregular Spanish Verbs

The verb gustar (to like) is a bit special. Get to know it and its siblings and discover a new dimension of the Spanish language!

But gustar is not the only verb that can behave in a weird way. Spanish has tons of irregular verbs that can make anyone go crazy.

Did you think you were done with verbs? Honey, the party has just gotten started! Irregular verbs are here to stay, so get used to them.

15. Learn the Spanish Imperfect and Preterite Tenses

These two tenses let us talk about the past, adding a new layer to the topics we can now discuss.

The Spanish imperfect and preterite tenses are very often studied together so that the learner can clearly see the differences between them.

In general, the preterite refers to discrete actions completed at one point in the past, while the imperfect is used to talk about an action that was performed repeatedly over a period of time in the past.

16. Master the Spanish Conditional Tense

After surviving the imperfect vs. preterite, the conditional tense and conditional sentences will seem like a true piece of cake for you.

The conditional is used for a lot of purposes, from being polite to expressing things that you “would” do or like to do.

To get into the Spanish conditional tense more, check out this post:

17. Start Doing Spanish Commands

Finally, learn how to give commands with the imperative. Do not forget about the negative commands! (See what I did there?).

You can even practice the imperative with your puppy!

If you want to read more about imperatives, read this post:

18. Understand Por Versus Para

Por and para are both prepositions in Spanish, and while they are often translated to the English word “for,” they have distinct uses and meanings. Understanding the differences between them is crucial for accurate communication in Spanish. 

Here’s the basics:

Use por for general cause, duration, movement and exchanges.
Use para for destinations, goals, recipients, deadlines and purposes.

Here’s a much more in-depth post about por and para:

19. Know How to Use Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns

Direct and indirect object pronouns are essential components of Spanish grammar, helping to replace and clarify the relationships between verbs and the objects they affect in a sentence.

Direct Object Pronouns replace the direct object of a verb, which is the person or thing directly affected by the action of the verb. They are:

  • Me (me): me
  • Te (you): you (informal singular)
  • Lo (him/it, masculine): him/it
  • La (her/it, feminine): her/it
  • Nos (us): us
  • Os (you all): you all (informal plural)
  • Los (them, masculine): them
  • Las (them, feminine): them

Indirect Object Pronouns replace the indirect object of a verb, which indicates to or for whom or what the action of the verb is done. They are:

  • Me (to/for me): to/for me
  • Te (to/for you): to/for you (informal singular)
  • Le (to/for him, her, it): to/for him, her, it
  • Nos (to/for us): to/for us
  • Os (to/for you all): to/for you all (informal plural)
  • Les (to/for them): to/for them

To get more into the Spanish direct object pronouns, check out this post:

20. Work on the Spanish Subjunctive

This is the final frontier of Spanish, and keep in mind that even native speakers get the subjunctive mood wrong, so no worries if this one takes you a while to get down. That’s why it’s last on the list!

The subjunctive mood is a verb form used to express various attitudes, including doubt, uncertainty, desires, emotions and hypothetical situations. 

To form the subjunctive mood, the conjugation of the verb often changes compared to its indicative form. For example, the first person present subjunctive of hablar (to speak) is hable (I speak).

To get on the road to mastering this final frontier of Spanish, see this post:

 

If you’ve followed this post step-by-step carefully, then you are absolutely on the road to fluency.

To hear how native speakers actually use all of these points, try watching videos in Spanish, listening to Spanish podcasts or looking into a language learning program like FluentU.

Remember that if you put the work into it, you’ll improve your Spanish by leaps and bounds.

Happy learning!

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