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3 March 2009
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Language Focus

Verbs are the action words in a sentence, saying what happens or describing a state of being. Spanish infinitives, the dictionary form of verbs, end in -ar, -er or -ir. These endings change to indicate the person (who's doing something) and the tense (when it's being done):

  • Pagar to pay - Tú pagarás la cuenta - You'll pay the bill.
  • Preferir to prefer - Prefiero no hablar de eso - (I) prefer not to talk about it.

  • The endings of most Spanish verbs follow a similar pattern. Unfortunately, some of the most common verbs, such as ser to be or ir to go, are "irregular", and you have to learn the different forms by heart.

    To look up a verb in a specific person or tense, visit the external website Spaleon.

    Practise with a story from below

    Present continuous
    Guerra contra los cocales
    "Anti-drug" chemicals kill all crops

    With vocabulary and related audio
    Past or present?
    El problema: la explotación petrolera
    Amazon's oil pollution fears

    With quiz
    Infinitive or subjunctive?
    Latinos EEUU: "Queremos acciones"
    The needs of the Hispanic community in the US

    With quiz and matching audio
    Past perfect - past participle
    Fox: Los excluidos son mi prioridad
    Exclusive interview: Mexican president

    With vocabulary and related audio
    Subjunctive - present
    Que uno, que otro, que ninguno
    Chavez inspires passions in divided Venezuela

    With quiz
    Select the tense
    Paco de Lucía: "No hago más giras"
    Paco de Lucía vows to quit touring

    With quiz and matching audio
    Ser or estar?
    Pasión por televisión
    Latin America's famous soap operas

    With quiz and matching audio
    Infinitive, gerund or participle?
    Harry Potter a la mexicana
    Mexican director directs Harry Potter

    With quiz
    Momias incas
    Ancient Inca mummies discovered in Lima

    With vocabulary and related audio
    Preterite, i.e. simple past
    Un mundo más allá de Plutón
    Astronomers discover new planet

    With quiz
    Infinitive, gerund or participle?
    Inauguran mezquita en Granada
    First new mosque in Granada after 500 years

    With quiz
    Past tenses
    Latinoamericanos en España
    Latin American immigrants struggle in Spain

    With quiz
    Pekín, sede olímpica de 2008
    China starts Olympics countdown

    With vocabulary
    Preterite or imperfect?
    Al Everest, con el corazón
    Four Chilean girls make it to the highest peak

    With quiz
    Pluperfect tense
    EEUU en busca de respuestas
    US on September 12th, 2001

    With vocabulary and related audio
    Ser or estar?
    Marcos: la hora de la verdad
    Marcos and the Zapatistas conquer Mexico City

    With vocabulary and related audio
    Preterite or imperfect?
    Moncada: testimonios desde Cuba
    Cubans mark 50th anniversary of the revolution

    With quiz
    Cargamento de alimentos a Cuba
    First US food delivery arrives in Cuba

    With quiz
    El secreto para cumplir un sueño
    Candelaria y Herman travelled from Argentina to Alaska in a 1928 Graham-Paige

    With quiz
    Preterite or imperfect?
    Me honra correr la suerte de la Revolución
    Cuban songwriter Silvio Rodríguez talks about music and the spirit of the revolution

    With quiz
    Subjunctive - present
    Padres y estudiantes
    What do Hispanic parents hope for their children?

    With quiz
    Ser or Estar?
    Denuncian impunidad en Guatemala
    Interview: Award-winning journalist Marielos Monzón talks to the BBC about Guatemala
    With quiz
    Simple present: regular and irregular verbs
    ¿Le pega a su hijo?
    A survey about Spanish attitudes towards smacking children
    With quiz
    Passive ‘Se’
    Fortalecer la familia latinoamericana
    Interview: Ollanta Humala, the Peruvian nationalist candidate, talks to the BBC
    With quiz

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