Basic strategies for verbs

Remember that verbs are very important. They tell us three things (who? what? and when?) from the W5 sequence (who? what? when? where? and why?) But how do verbs <<function>>?

Let us look first at Latin verbs:

amo (I love) amas (you love / thou lovest) amat (she / he loves) amamus (we love) amatis (you [plural] love) amant (they love).

In this sequence, the verb endings (-o, -as, -at, -amus, -atis, -ant) tell us who loves and when they love (right now) while the stem am- tells us what the subjects do (love).

In French verbs, the sequence is very similar, but there are slight differences:

j'aime (I love), tu aimes (thou lovest / you [singular] love), il/elle aime (he / she loves), nous aimons (we love), vous aimez (you [plural] love), ils/elles aiment (they [masculine or feminine] love).

Here, the verb endings --e, -es, -e, -ons, -ez and -ent peform the same function as the Latin endings: they tell you who is doing the loving and when. However, where the Latin verbs do not need subject pronouns, the French verbs do. Why? Four of the endings, specifically -e, -es, -e and -ent all sound the same. Therefore, we need subject pronouns (je / j', tu, il / elle, ils / elles) to accompany the verb endings, which will not stand on their own, to tell who is doing the loving.

English verbs present us with a very different scenario.

love, love, loves, love, love, love -- the traditional six person verb paradigm, will just not function and is practically meaningless. Therefore it is essential to use the subject pronouns all the time in English and the verb form is just not complete without them. Thus, to conjugate an English verb, we must use pronouns: I love, you love, he / she loves, we love, you love, they love.

In Spanish, the verb endings are derived almost directly from Latin and they are so similar to the Latin endings that we do not need a subject pronoun in Spanish except in very special cases when we wish to avoid confusion or to emphasize the subject.

Let us compare a Latin verb with a Spanish verb. The Latin form will be presented first and then the Spanish, [with the subject pronouns in square brackets].

-- thus amo / [yo] amo, amas / [tú] amas, amat / [él, ella, usted, Ud] ama, amamus / (nosotros /nosotras] amamos, amatis / [vosotros / vosotras] amáis, amant / [ellos, ellas, ustedes, Uds.] aman.

The Spanish endings -o, -as, -a, -amos, -áis, -an are used for all regular first conjugation verbs that end in -ar: hablar > habl-o, habl-as, habla, hablamos etc. lleg-ar> lleg-o, lleg-as, lleg-, llegamos, llegáis, llegan.

Remember, too, that there are irregular verbs that do not conform exactly to these patterns. We will examine these in more detail as we continue. Such an irregular verb is ser. We have met three forms in the introductory chapter to the current book: soy, eres, es. The full conjugationj is soy, eres, es, somos, sois, son.

We will meet more irregular verbs later. Meanwhile, just remember that there are patterns to verbs: learn the pattern and the verbs will eventually become much, much clearer!

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