It’s the Way You Say It
There are three main types of inflections in Spanish:
1) Nominal inflection – This group is inflected in regard to GENDER and NUMBER.
The endings are -o for the masculine singular and -a and for the feminine singular and -os and -as respectively for plurals.
2) Verbal inflection – This group is inflected in regard to PERSON and NUMBER.
The endings for verbs are first person singular of the present indicative -o, second person singular -s, third person singular -a or -e, first person plural -amos or -emos or -imos, second person plural -áis or -éis or -ís, and third person plural -an or -en.
This group is also inflected in regard to TENSE and MOOD.
The endings are -aba (preterit imperfect indicative, first conjugation); -ía (preterit imperfect indicative, second conjugation); -ra, -se (preterit pluperfect subjunctive); -ría (conditional); -re (future subjunctive); -e (present subjunctive, first conjugation); and -a (present subjunctive, second and third conjugations).
3) Verbal-Nominal inflections – This is made up of the infinitive ending -ar or -er- or -ir, the gerund -ando or -endo, and the past participle -do.
Example of Nominal Inflection
"Somos hermanas." (We are sisters.)
Let's break down the word "hermanas":
herman – a – s
*herman – This conveys the quality of being siblings.
*a – This indicates that the noun is feminine, that we are talking about being a sister.
*s – This tells us that there is more than one sister.
Example of Verbal Inflection
"¿Qué me decías?" (What were you saying to me?)
Let's break down the word "decías":
dec – ía – s
*dec – This conveys the meaning of "speaking" or "telling."
*ía – This indicates that the verbal action took place in the preterit imperfect of the indicative.
*s – This tells us that the second person singular "tú" (you) is the subject of this verb.
Example of Verbal-Nominal Inflection
"Tengo ganas de comer." (I feel like eating.)
Let's break down the word "comer":
come – r
*come – This conveys the meaning of "eating."
*r – This indicates the infinitive form of the verb, which for all intensive purposes operates as a noun.
Los niños siempre toman una siesta. (The kids always take a nap.)
Se levantaron temprano. (They got up early.)
Prefiero levantarme tarde. (I prefer to get up late.)
- Gender & Number Agreement in Spanish
- Learning Spanish: Demystifying Spanish Verb Forms
- Lesson Plan for Teaching Second-Year Spanish Students to Use Infinitives in Nominal Functions
- Parts of Speech: Adjectives