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Is "501 Spanish Verbs" a Valuable Resource?

written by: lwitkop • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 3/2/2012

Read about the content, presentation and verb exercises of a useful Spanish language reference book.

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    "501 Spanish Verbs" by Christopher Kendris, Ph.D., and Theodore Kendris, Ph.D. is an essential reference book for students of the Spanish language.However, with features like themed vocabulary lists and written exercises, it can also be a useful learning tool.

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    Content

    Introduction

    "501 Spanish Verbs" begins with an explanation of each verb tense.These explanations provide a concise summary of the tenses' uses and conjugations.They're great as a review, but if they were a student's first exposure to conjugating verbs, I'm not sure if they provide quite enough information.However, there's an entire book filled with verbs to help develop mastery.

    Verb Listings

    The meat of "501 Spanish Verbs" comes in its individual listings.Each page contains a verb, its translation and a note on how it behaves (e.g., reflexive regular –ar verb or irregular verb).Each verb is conjugated in the following tenses and moods:

    • Gerundio
    • Participio pasado
    • Presente de indicativo
    • Imperfecto de indicativo
    • Pretérito
    • Futuro
    • Potencial simple
    • Presente de subjuntivo
    • Imperfecto de subjuntivo
    • Perfecto de indicativo
    • Pluscuamperfecto de indicativo
    • Pretérito anterior
    • Futuro perfecto
    • Potencial compuesto
    • Perfecto de subjuntivo
    • Pluscuamperfecto de subjuntivo
    • Imperativo

    A few related words and expressions also appear at the bottom of each page.

    Verbs are organized in alphabetical order. However, defective and impersonal verbs are listed in a separate section.

    Essential 55 Verbs

    These verbs, including dar, ir and ver, were aptly chosen as high-frequency verbs that are important for students to master.In addition to drawing attention to them with this designation, the book gives each of the 55 verbs an additional page with example sentences, extra words and expressions related to the verb, and Spanish sayings when available.The presentation is a good way to stress the importance of these verbs while also expanding readers' vocabulary related to them.

    Additional Information

    The back of the book includes a guide to Spanish pronunciation, weather expressions, and a guide to using prepositions with verbs.

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    Presentation

    Pros

    Each verb listing is packed with information, but well-organized for easy use. Columns make the designation between singular and plural and simple and compound tenses clear.

    The use of blue ink alongside traditional black printing helps readers separate content. For instance, in a vocabulary section, the Spanish word is in blue and the English translation is in black.

    Blue thumb tabs, like those used in dictionaries, can help readers find the verbs they want quickly and easily.

    Multiple indices at the back of the book offer a great tool for users in navigating the book. They can peruse an index of common irregular verb forms to find the infinitive. They can look up a word in English to find its Spanish equivalent. Finally, they can search by Spanish infinitive.

    Cons

    As mentioned previously, defective and impersonal verbs appear in a separate section, and are not included in the alphabetical verb listings. Although this treatment marks them as unique, it also seems like a potential point of confusion for students looking for one of these verbs. This is especially true given that gustar, one of the Essential 55 Verbs, is an impersonal verb.

    Small blue-shaded boxes at the bottom of many pages provide additional tips to readers, directing them to specific content, such as, "Use the guide to Spanish pronunciation on pages 665-667." In a book that contains so much more information than you might realize at first glance, it can be helpful to lead students to additional help. However, it also seems to clutter the page without adding to the specific verb conjugation the student is seeking. In the example given, there was no particular relation between ducharse (to take a shower, to shower oneself), the verb on the page, and the suggestion to check out Spanish pronunciation.

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    Verb Exercises in "501 Spanish Verbs"

    Book Exercises

    The book's 26 Verb Tests provide a variety of written activities to help readers practice their verb conjugations. Activities include multiple choice sentence completion, responding to questions, changing from one tense to another or from one verb to another, writing verb endings, conjugation of a single verb, word searches, and more. The answers appear at the end of the entire test section, rather than immediately after each test, which is a good choice. It can be too easy to let your gaze slip to the answers when they appear at the bottom of the next page.

    One difficulty written exercises pose in a general reference book such as this is incorporating vocabulary that most students will be able to comprehend. However, the vocabulary seems generic enough, using words and phrases like la escuela, cerca de and a las diez, that students should be able to focus on the verbs without puzzling over the meaning of a sentence.

    CD Rom Content

    The CD Rom included with the book contains:

    • 2 Sentence Completion Exercises
    • 4 Dialogue Exercises
    • 4 Word Completion Exercises
    • 4 Word Seek Exercises
    • 4 Matching With English Exercises

    Sentence Completion and Dialogue Exercises provide an explanation for each answer, cross-referencing the book.

    The CD Rom exercises do have a few minor problems. For instance, oyendo and yendo both appear in a word search asking for present participle forms, causing confusion when I selected yendo before noticing that it was part of oyendo and yendo was called incorrect. In this same word search, dando appears diagonally, but you cannot select diagonal words and must find it in another location.

    All of the exercises, both those in the book and on the CD Rom, ably fulfill their duty of providing useful practice with verb conjugations. The wide variety of activities adds interest and helps learners work with the verbs in diverse ways. I only wish there could have been more exercises on the CD Rom, taking advantage of the additional space the format allows. Perhaps it's an area "501 Spanish Verbs" can develop in future editions.

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    Final Thoughts

    Overall, "501 Spanish Verbs" is a useful resource that should be on every Spanish student's reference shelf.