Spanish Syntax – General Word Order

How do you form Spanish sentences? Are they the same as in English? Well, almost, but with a few distinct differences. Spanish syntax is actually quite similar to English syntax in terms of placement of words and intonation, but there are differences. In this lesson, you will learn the basic rules for Spanish syntax and word order, and start to see the main differences between English and Spanish sentences. As is the case with most of the lessons, the more Spanish you learn, the better you will understand the nuances of Spanish syntax.

In general, you will be understood when speaking Spanish if you follow an English word order pattern with your sentences. For example, John runs would be Juan corre. Another example would be: I want to buy an apple, which in Spanish is the same order: Yo quiero comprar una manzana.

One notable difference in Spanish syntax is the omission of the subject, especially when the verb form indicates who the subject is. Therefore, the last sentence would more commonly be heard: Quiero comprar una manzana. The verb quiero can only be used with the subject yo. In the first sentence, the verb corre can be used with a few different subjects, but Juan would be omitted if the speaker and listener already knew that the sentence would be about Juan. Because of this difference, native English speakers tend to over-use the subjects when speaking Spanish, but there is no lack of communication. One must remember this fact, however, when listening and reading to be aware of who the subject is.

Another difference to be aware of early on relates to the use of adjectives in Spanish sentences. Typically, an adjective in a Spanish phrase comes after the noun it describes. This is the opposite of English. Let’s look at a few examples: the blue sky would be el cielo azul and The tall boy runs would be El chico alto corre.

Although you will probably be understood using English syntax, the goal is to sound more sophisticated and as close to native as possible. We want to Learn Spanish Better!

There are many, many more differences between English and Spanish syntax. As you move ahead in the study of other grammatical concepts, you will learn about these differences.



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