Spanish sentence structure – Is Spanish sentence structure the same as English ?

spanish sentence structure

Spanish sentence structure is one of the initial aspects I assess when working with my university students, particularly with Mexican students who are expected to possess proficiency in both spoken and written Spanish. However, the reality is quite different. Oftentimes, we find ourselves communicating in convoluted and intricate manners, resulting in limited success in conveying our intended message.

The focal point of this article revolves around Spanish sentence structure and its correlation with achieving communicative success. Whether it pertains to my university students or individuals from foreign backgrounds aspiring to learn Spanish, the utmost priority remains being understood. It is crucial that others comprehend the content of our discourse. To attain this goal, we must revisit the fundamental and straightforward rule of Spanish grammar: subject + verb + predicate.

Spanish sentence structure

1. Basic spanish sentence structure

This straightforward guideline for Spanish sentence structure (subject + verb + predicate) is frequently disregarded. Often, we tend to veer away from it in an attempt to add a touch of “interest” or simply due to ignorance, influenced by repetitive patterns observed in TV shows or Netflix series that inadequately adhere to proper Spanish structure.

Spanish, in essence, is simple. Firstly, we state the performer of the action, followed by the action itself, and finally, any necessary details to complete the intended idea. This rule holds true for all scenarios, regardless of one’s proficiency level in Spanish. Even my university students, who engage in producing academic essays and articles at an advanced level, can benefit from its application.

Let’s consider a basic example:

“Mi hermana trabajará mañana en su casa.”

Subject (who) = my sister

Verb (action) = will work in the future

Predicate (complements) = mañana en su casa.

Spanish sentence structure is undeniably uncomplicated, despite the various ways in which the elements of speech can be organized. Nevertheless, I always advise simplicity and ease, as it reduces the likelihood of errors and enhances comprehension. By adopting this approach, you can achieve greater communicative success, ensuring that others understand you more effectively.

2. Subjects that are not in the sentence

In Spanish sentence structure, it is not uncommon to encounter instances where the subject is seemingly absent, leaving us perplexed about the absence of a word preceding the verb, the action. We find ourselves wondering: What is happening here?

The answer, though simple, is a feature heavily utilized in Spanish. Even in such cases, the rule of Spanish sentence structure, subject + verb + predicate, remains intact. The subject is embedded within the verb itself, specifically in its ending. This is likely something you learned at the very basic level of Spanish.

In the simplest conjugations, such as “yo trabajo” (I work) or “tú trabajas” (you work), we observe that the verb ending changes based on the subject. Therefore, if we omit “yo” or “tú,” we can simply say “trabajo mañana” or “trabajas mañana,” and in the first sentence, the subject is “yo” (I), while in the second sentence, it is “tú” (you).

Regardless of the specific case, the subject is indeed embedded within the verb. Taking our previous example, “mi hermana trabajará en casa mañana” (my sister will work at home tomorrow), we can simplify it to “trabajará en casa mañana” (will work at home tomorrow), and we can deduce that the subject is a third person (she or he), which our ongoing conversation will likely reveal to be “ella, mi hermana” (she, my sister).

spanish sentence structure

3. Spanish sentence structure in questions?

One might assume that Spanish sentence structure becomes intricate when forming questions, as we often need to make changes in English. However, it is not the case!

The Spanish sentence structure remains largely similar, with the addition of the WH word—the question word we require—before the sentence. In many instances, we can even achieve the questioning effect by altering our tone of voice and adopting the questioning intonation. For example:

“Mi hermana trabajará mañana?” (Will my sister work tomorrow?)

“¿QUÉ quieres hacer mañana?” (WHAT do you want to do tomorrow?)

“¿QUÉ estás escuchando por la tarde?” (WHAT are you listening to in the afternoon?)

“¿CÓMO vas a la escuela?” (HOW are you going to school?)

In Spanish, by incorporating the appropriate question word or employing a questioning tone, we can easily construct questions while maintaining the fundamental structure of the sentence.

4. Exceptions

Certainly, like in any language, there are exceptions in Spanish. Some sentences are written and spoken differently. However, for now, there’s no need to worry about them. What matters most is that you make an effort to adhere to the simple rule of Spanish sentence structure: subject + verb + predicate. By doing so, you will undoubtedly achieve communicative success and ensure that others understand you.

I strongly recommend practicing sentence construction consistently, even with the most basic elements. In your classes, make it a habit to repeatedly form simple sentences. Moreover, whenever you go out to eat, make a purchase, or order a drink, always apply this concept—strive to be understood by others. It is a simple and effective way to continue advancing in your Spanish learning journey.

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