Top Spanish Grammar Tips: Avoid going insane

Rob Ashby

Rob Ashby

The Spanish Obsessive

Learning grammar seems like the necessary evil to learning a language; we treat it as though it’s a time consuming process we just have to get through. It’s also seen as boring and difficult, and tends to be what people struggle with the most. However, this shouldn’t be the case! Try the tips below to see if you can look at Spanish grammar in a different light, and maybe even make it easier and more enjoyable.

Grammar is just a description of a system

I think it’s always useful to remember that grammar is essentially just a description that people have made about a language. It wasn’t designed to be difficult for you! It can be detailed, and is never fixed in stone. Remembering this makes it less scary – always remember that grammar is just the glue that lets people make sense out of words and communicate with each other.

Learn the phrase, then the grammar

I think it’s much more useful to start with the communicative sense, and then deconstruct it to look for the grammar. Essentially, this means it’s more important to build up your stock of “pre-written” phrases, and this later gives your unconscious mind a resource to draw upon when you learn the grammar.

Exercises are useful, communicating is better

t’s tempting to study a language by doing page after page of exercises. That might help you, but I can only do so much. It’s better, when practising a grammar point, to make it relevant to yourself. Think of times when you will use it, and then try to use it in those situations!

Nothing is harder than anything else

Course books always seem to run from easy to advanced, and we assume that grammar must be the same. However, I don’t think that any one area of grammar is necessarily harder than another, so don’t be afraid to learn things “out of turn”. There’s no special order you have to learn the language – in fact it’s a far messier process than that, and you’ll find yourself making simple grammar mistakes long into your learning process.

Don’t treat grammar as a separate thing

Grammar is part and parcel of any language – every time you string a sentence together you use it. So integrate it into the rest of your learning!

You’re never finished…

When do you feel that you really know something? Don’t get in the habit of feeling that you’ve “done” a certain area of grammar, and can then ignore it!

Vary how you learn it

It’s very tempting to do lots of grammar exercises, but that only proves that you can do grammar exercises! Try to take your new-found grammar skills out into the “real world”! Vary your learning – try teaching it to someone else, or draw a mind map to represent the grammar point.

Make mistakes, and carry on

I guarantee that you will get it wrong. You’ll butcher it, and the worst part is, you’ll see and hear yourself doing it, and will only realise straight after! Don’t worry about that – you’ll be surprised how little native speakers actually notice these grammar errors. The important part is to realise when you’ve gone wrong, and not to beat yourself up about it. You’ll get it next time!

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