How to write basic Spanish sentences and improve fluency

How to write basic Spanish sentences and improve fluency

by Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Updated November 4, 2022

Basic Spanish sentences go beyond simple phrases. With practice and memorization, you can definitely order a complete meal in Spanish, but is it enough to survive every interaction? What happens when the Spanish waiter goes off script? If a Spanish bartender makes a joke, can you respond or will you go silent? Realistic conversation requires you to invent phrases that are unique in the moment. After learning useful Spanish phrases for beginners, it’s time to move on to full sentences. Today we will go over the basic rules to invent useful easy Spanish sentences.

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How to form basic sentences in Spanish

If you learned Spanish in school, you likely studied by memorizing writing exercises. In real-life interactions, you have to create new sentences from thin air. If you learn Spanish at home or take online Spanish lessons, you are in luck. The face-to-face video interaction allows you to practice basic Spanish sentence structure on the fly, without notes. You need to understand Spanish sentence structure well enough to build a response with a moment’s notice. This skill will move you quickly towards fluency.

Basic Spanish sentence structure

In English, a basic sentence is formed with a subject, a verb, and other descriptive information if necessary. Combine these together to create a unique thought. For example:

English: The restaurant is fancy.

Spanish works the same way: El restaurante es elegante.

The subject of the sentence is el restaurante (the restaurant). The verb es (is) gets followed by an adjective/adverb or other descriptor elegante (fancy) that tells us more. This is the word order for a basic Spanish sentence: subject + verb + adjective/adverb/etc. El restaurante + es + elegante.

Spanish noun and adjective order is reversed from English

After a basic sentence, it’s important to learn Spanish noun-adjective order. When you refer to an object and use a descriptive word in English, we put the adjective before the noun.

For example: The green shirt. Green describes the color of the shirt. In Spanish, the order is reversed: La camisa verde. In Spanish, the adjective follows the noun that it describes. If you translate it directly, it is the reverse of English. “The shirt green” or “the shirt black” may sound odd to native English speakers, but it is correct in Spanish grammar.

Getting creative with basic Spanish sentences

For anything you need to say, especially as a beginner, you can use simple Spanish sentence structure. Imagine you have dinner reservations and your Spanish boyfriend gets dressed in a wild outfit:

Spanish: La camisa es fea. El restaurante es elegante. El código de vestimenta es estricto.

English: The shirt is ugly. The restaurant is fancy. The dress code is strict.

The basic idea comes across. He needs to change his shirt, right? To express more complicated thoughts, you can start to use phrases with noun-adjective descriptions mentioned above. This allows you to get more creative.

Spanish: El restaurante elegante tiene un código de vestimenta muy estricto. La camisa verde es inapropiada. Creo que la camisa negra es mejor para esta noche.

English: The fancy restaurant has a strict dress code. The green shirt is inappropriate, I think the black shirt is better for tonight.

In this case, your words are more descriptive. As you gain confidence in creating Spanish sentences out of thin air, you will have room in your sentences to add detailed information. Add more advanced vocabulary and you can make sure to sound polite as well. It all starts with the basic Spanish sentence structure. The more you build on this skill, the more fluent you will sound.

Build fluency by learning Spanish online

Once you know Spanish grammatical structure and can invent sentences on the fly, you are on your way to fluency. Start with the basic Spanish sentence structure and string together simple thoughts. Then move on to complicated descriptions. Soon you will shock yourself with how fluid and comfortable speaking in Spanish can be! Remember to keep at it. Supplement your learning with online Spanish lessons and study Spanish at home. The best way to learn Spanish is to practice real-life situations that come up in an immersion setting, so be sure to get your face-to-face video sessions in.

Start your journey to reach fluency

Alison Maciejewski Cortez is Chilean-American, born and raised in California. She studied abroad in Spain, has lived in multiple countries, and now calls Mexico home. She believes that learning how to order a beer in a new language reveals a lot about local culture. Alison speaks English, Spanish, and Thai fluently and studies Czech and Turkish. Her consulting business takes her around the world and she is excited to share language tips as part of the Lingoda team. Follow her culinary and cultural experiences on Twitter.

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