duties and obligations

Duties and Obligations. The subtle difference between Deber y Tener que.

Deber y Tener que. The subtle difference between duties and obligations.

Regardless of the language in which we are expressing, the issue of being able to differentiate what “must be done” and what “has to be done” has always been a cause for questioning between the different viewpoints from which the duties and obligations of the people are analyzed.

But as we are trying to learn a language and not philosophy, we will try to simplify the concepts and leave for everyone the decision to comply, in one way or another, with the provisions, laws, regulations, inspirations, motivations, duties and obligations.

The term “Deber” and its meanings.

In Spanish, the word “deber” has two fundamental uses. As a noun, it is equivalent to the words “duty“, “task“, “job“, etc. and represents, as in English, the obligations or responsibilities that a person requires to do to comply with a collection.duties and obligations

It can be expressed as singular: “deber“, and as plural: “deberes” and its gender is always masculine.

No jugarás hasta que hagas tus deberes / You won’t play until you do your homeworks

duties and obligationsAlso used as a noun but almost always in singular, the word “deber” expresses the commitment fulfilled or to comply before itself or to third parties.

Ingresé al Ejercito a cumplir con mi deber / I entered the Army to fulfill my duty

Deber” as a verb relating to debts.

The current use of the verb “deber” and its conjugations is that which is associated with acquired debts of any kind:

Yo debo dinero al Banco / I owe money to the Bankduties and obligations

Ella me debe un favor / She owes me a favor

Deber” as auxiliary modal verb.

The verb “deber” and its conjugations in all verbal tenses, is used preceding the infinitive of other verbs to perform the same function as the modal auxiliary verb “should“. In this use is associated with the duties and obligations:

Yo debería estudiar / I should study

Ellos deberían asistir a la boda / They should attend the wedding

A nice example of the use of the verb in both functions would be:

Yo debería disculparme con usted pues le debo una disculpa /

I should apologize with you because I owe you an apology

The verb “Tener” as possession.

The most common use of the verb “tener” is the equivalent of “to have” and denotes possession of something:

duties and obligationsYo tengo un automóvil / I have a car

Ellos tienen una familia muy grande / They have a very big family

And unlike English, where the holding of some needs or sensations is generally expressed using the verb “to be“, in Spanish it is more common “tener” those feelings:

Yo tengo sed / I’m thirsty

Ellos tenían sueño / They were sleepy

Tener” as auxiliary modal verb.

The use of the verb “tener” and its conjugations, accompanied by the conjunction “que” preceding another verb in infinitive, it equates interchangeably with the modal expression “must” and the expression “have to” and its use is also associated with the fulfillment of duties and obligations.

It is used to express obligatory in executing the action expressed in the second verb:duties and obligations

Tener que Jugar / Have to play

Al ver una señal de STOP, tienes que detener totalmente el vehículo /

When you see a STOP signal you have to stop the vehicle completely

Yo tengo que trabajar esta noche / I must work tonight

It is important to point out once more that, because it is about duties and obligations, the criterion for the use of one or another expression: “deber” or “tener que“, it cannot be regulated, grammatically speaking, in a rigid way because it is associated with the interpretation of the level of commitment or obligatory of the people.

For example:

duties and obligationsMuchos estudiantes piensan que ellos deberían estudiar para los exámenes. Sus Padres les dicen que deben hacerlo y sus Profesores les demuestran que tienen que hacerlo.

Many students think they should study for the exams. Their parents tell them that they must to do it and their teachers show them that they have to do it.

Subscribe to our page not to miss the details. If you prefer not to subscribe, watch as we will be constantly including new Posts and soon we will include our section of free translation services, more downloadable sheets with conjugations of all verbs, more Tables with grammar concepts and many other things.

Not forget to share our page by the Social Networks and give us a Like. Where and how do it? At the end of the page you will find the corresponding icons. Best regards!







The Complexity of Auxiliary Verbs in Spanish.

Auxiliary Verbs in Spanish:

Although the auxiliary verbs are used in a similar way in both languages, in order to understand better the auxiliary verbs in Spanish Let’s refresh some definitions.

Definition of Auxiliary Verb:

Auxiliary Verbs are those who, in some verbal expressions, lose their original meaning to join another verb that keep it, and which is called Main Verb.


These auxiliary verbs have several uses, and the most important are the verb “ser“, which is part of the passive forms. The verb “haber“, widely used in composed forms, and the verb “estar” widely used in continuous forms.

“To be”.

    • Ser → It works as auxiliary verb in passive forms, and in that usage, is always accompanied by the past participle of the main verb:

Spanish English
Es manejado Is driven
Era manejado Was driven
Fue manejado Was driven
Será manejado Will be driven
Sería manejado Would be driven


Is driven

“To have”.

  • Haber →It functions as a verb auxiliary in composed tenses. At this point we want to remember the following: the Spanish language has a number of tenses that are kept “alive” due to excessive use of “figurative” tenses. The best proof of this is that many of these verbal variants can be, and in fact it are, replaced by many native Spanish-speaking by other less complex expressions. These expressions have the same idea expressed. Once again English imposes its practicality as it uses the context interpretation to say “the same”, using simpler grammatical resources.

We illustrate this with a few examples in which we will post the names of the tenses in Spanish only to indicate them. But, we want to ask the reader that don’t dive in this learning by now. This is because our TIP more important today, is to try help you to ‘simplify’ the complexities of the Spanish. And this, without that this means that you may not be fluent in your dialogue. I.e., we will try to help you to use the practical sense and context of the English to avoid “complexities” from the Spanish. And all this while expressing the same idea.

The verb “haber” is used in Spanish as an Auxiliary Verb, in the same way that in English is used the verb “to have“:

Nombre del Tiempo Español Name of the Tense English
Presente Perfecto Indicativo He comido una manzana Perfect Present I have eaten an apple
Pasado Perfecto Indicativo Habia comido una manzana Perfect Past I had eaten an apple
Futuro Perfecto Indicativo Habre comido una manzana Perfect Future I will have eaten an apple
Condicional Perfecto Habria comido una manzana Perfect Conditional I would have eaten an apple

eating apple auxiliary verbs

“To be” again.

  • Estar → Before explaining the use of the verb “estar” as auxiliary, we want to remind you something very important. Remember, in Spanish the verb “to be” correspond two verbs, which are “ser” and “estar“. If you have not read our Post on the subject, we suggest you do it so you will understand better this one.

The verb “estar” is used as auxiliary, in Spanish, in continuous forms of all tenses. Is always used to accompanying the main verbs in present participle tense (verbs with completion “ando” and “iendo“), like ending  “ing” in English:

Nombre del Tiempo Español Name of the Tense English
Presente Continuo Yo estoy comiendo una manzana Present Continuous I am eating an apple
Pasado Continuo Yo estaba comiendo una manzana Past Continuous I was eating an apple
Futuro Continuo Yo estaré comiendo una manzana Future Continuous I will be eating an apple
Condicional Continuo Yo estaría comiendo una manzana Conditional Continuous I would be eating an apple


And combining them.

And in the case of continuous perfect tenses, where it is used, as in English, combined with the verb “to have “:

Nombre del Tiempo Español Name of the Tense English
Presente Perfecto Continuo Yo he estado comiendo una manzana Present Perfect Continuous I have been eating an apple
Pasado Perfecto Continuo Yo había estado comiendo una manzana Past Perfect Continuous I had been eating an apple
Futuro Perfecto Continuo Yo habré estado comiendo una manzana Future Perfect Continuous I will have been eating an apple
Condicional Perfecto Continuo Yo habría estado comiendo una manzana Conditional Perfect Continuous I would have been eating an apple


In addition to verbs already indicated, there are some other verbs which sometimes have functions of auxiliary verbs and that we will see in another Post.

And remember, we want to improve our website: leave us your comments!



Custom Search






Non-Personal Forms of Verbs in Spanish.

Non-Personal Forms of Verbs.

In the Post about tenses and verbal forms in both languages, we saw the definitions of some types of these which are similar in both languages. Such is the case of the infinitive, the past participle and the present participle. At that time, we don’t mention their classification as non-personal forms of verbs.

We saw only the definition of the infinitive form, and only mention past and present Participles without defining them and see the way they are grouped from the point of view of the Spanish grammar.

This group they belong to these three verbal forms which is called: forms non-personal of the verbs is, by definition, which includes verbal forms which do not express the person who performs the action. Non-personal forms are:

  • Infinitive → indicates the action abstraction. Ends in “ar”, “er”, “ir”:

Cantar → to sing

Yo no quiero cantar → I don’t want to sing

Comer → to eat

Yo no quiero comer → I don’t want to eat

Sacudir → to shake

Yo prefiero sacudir mi cuerpo con esa música → I prefer to shake my body with that music

  • Present participle or gerund → indicates an action in development.

The present participle in Spanish is the verb ending with “ing” in English.  It combines pulling out the endings “ar”, “er”, “ir” verbs in the infinitive and adding:

“ando” → for verbs that end in “AR”


cantar → cantando → Ese niño sabe cantar. El está cantando como un artista.

to sing → singing → That boy know to sing. He is singing like an artist.

“iendo” → for verbs that end in “ER” or “IR”


comer → comiendo

to eat → eating

sacudir → sacudiendo

to shake → shaking

For verbs whose root ends in a vowel, the “i” of “iendo” ending changes to ‘Y’ when is preceded by a vowel.


Leer → leyendo

to read → reading

Oír → oyendo

to hear → hearing

One of the most important differences with respect to the definitions of the verb forms in English is that in Spanish, the gerund means the same as the present participle.

In English, although both are written with “ing” ending, the gerund functions as noun or substantive, and can have functions of subject, complement of the subject, direct object, indirect object, and object of prepositions.

  • Past participle → indicates completed action. It ends in “ado” or “ido”:

cantado → sung

comido → eaten

sacudido → shaken

In Spanish, as in English, it is always used together with an auxiliary verb and this is the tense that defines the tense of the combination, which will always be one of the variants of the past, as we shall see in the next Post.

We want to improve our website: leave us your comments!

Custom Search







How can we say: “to be” in Spanish?

“To be”, the “magic” Verb.

One of the verbs that are first learned in any language, are those who correspond with the verb “to be”. The Spanish is no exception, only that, in Spanish, two verbs are needed in order to achieve to express what is accomplished with the verb “to be”.

Reviewing the use of “to be” in English we can see that is used for two conditions:

  • The condition that express permanent characteristics of persons, animals or things:
    • I am fat
    • The dog is white
    • They are smart
  • The condition of express conditions that are (or may be) transitory, of persons, animals or things:
    • I am fat since the holidays
    • The dog is dirty
    • They are silent

to be

In Spanish, to express permanent characteristics is used the Irregular verb: Ser.

    • Yo soy gordo
    • El perro es blanco
    • Ellos son inteligentes

And to express transitory features is used the Regular verb: Estar.

  • Yo estoy gordo
  • El perro está sucio
  • Ellos están en silencio

The verb conjugations both, at all times, are as numerous as all the verbs in Spanish, and there is not other solution which learn them with lots of practice, study and the right tools.

Our today’s Tips, for verbs which are equivalent to “to be” are:

  • The verb “Ser” is used for expressing professions and nationalities:
    • Yo soy Americano. También soy Ingeniero → I am American. Also I am Engineer
    • El es Médico y nació en Venezuela. Eso significa que es un Médico Venezolano
  • When we talk about the presence in places, the Verb “Estar” is still used as the condition is not transitory:
    • Ella está en su casa → She is at home
    • Ustedes estaban en la Playa. → You were on the beach
    • La casa está en la montaña → The house is on the mountain
    • La Universidad donde estudio está en Orlando → The university where I study is in Orlando
  • In many cases, both verbs may be used to express something that may be permanent or transitory:
    • Tu eres muy linda. Hoy estás muy linda. → You are very pretty. Today you are very pretty
    • El está en Florida. El es de Florida. → He is in Florida. He is from Florida

We would like to know your opinion on this. We hope your comments.

Custom Search







Talking about Regular and Irregular Verbs in Spanish

Regular and Irregular Verbs.

As in English, in Spanish there is also the definition of regular and irregular verbs. The difference between the two concepts is given in that for English, regular verbs are those in which the variation of time simple past and past participle with respect to the simple present, only is given by the inclusion of the “ed” ending. In the case of irregular verbs simple past and past participle differ markedly from the simple present and there is not a definite rule that can be applied to identify them.

We will illustrate these concepts with the following tables:

Regular Verbs

Infinitive Simple Present Simple Past Past Participle Present Participle

to laugh





to start





to wash





to wink






and for the irregular Verbs:


Irregular Verbs


Simple Present

Simple Past

Past Participle

Present Participle

to drive





to feel





to swim






As we can see, the modifications suffered by the verbs of the simple present to the past simple tense and participle, it makes them totally different and without any rule that will help us to “build” the tenses. In the case of English, we are obliged to learn the long list of irregular verbs and their conjugations in different tenses.

In Spanish, the rule that describes the difference between regular and irregular verbs is also well defined and is associated with the definition of the word Root. Cooling that concept, which we discussed in our previous Post, we can mention that the Root of a verb, is the part of the word that remains after removing the verbal termination (“ar”, “er” or “ir”). And that is precisely the definition of regular verbs:

A Regular verb is that verb that conjugates in a fully uniform manner, without modifying its root, using the endings for each mode and time of conjugation they belong.

To clarify this better, let’s look at an example. Let’s take two verbs, “Caminar” (to walk) y “Decir” (to say).

The conjugation of the verb “Caminar” to the Simple present is as follows:

Simple Present Verb Caminar

Yo camino

Nosotros caminamos

Tu caminas

Ustedes caminan

Él/Ella camina

Ellos/Ellas caminan


The root of verb Caminar (ending “ar”) is “camin” and is indicated in red on the conjugates of the table. As you can see, there are no changes at the root of the displayed verb conjugations. As far as we can see, the verb “Caminar” is Regular.

We are going to conjugate the verb “Decir”, whose root is “dec” and the ending is “ir”:

Simple Present Verb Decir

Yo digo

Nosotros decimos

Tú dices

Ustedes dicen

Él/Ella dice

Ellos/Ellas dicen


As we can see, only a conjugation is the same root, so we can say that the verb “Decir” is irregular.

Both examples are easy to understand, but there are cases that have greater difficulty and in which applied a series of rules that are difficult to manage even for many of the Spanish-speaking natives.

In the following Post we will continue talking about these rules, but we want to remind to the reader that must have some of the basic tools for verbs that exist in Online sales, since our Web site is designed to help you with learning Tips and not to cover content that have those tools or courses that are on the market. Remember, the best way to learn the Regular and Irregular Verbs in Spanish is Listening, Reading and Repeating them.

Now, once at this point, we want to clarify, once again, some criteria which we believe are of interest to visitors to our Web site.

We have seen many sites Online that “preach” teaching Spanish in a fast and easy way. Learning a new language is never an easy task. And when our native language is English, a language practical and simplified, and we want to learn Spanish, which is a language excessively adorned and with a great grammatical complexity, the task is even more difficult.

Although our website is not, nor is intended to be, a Spanish course, our commitment to our readers is to help them to “climb the steep slope” of language learning, so we always insist that the reader learn and measure the difficulty, so thus it does not suffer further disappointments when appear hard tasks to achieve fluency, and comprehension of the Spanish-speaking people.

Custom Search






Definitions of verbs and Verbal Forms in Spanish and English.

Verb and Verbal Forms Definition.

In Spanish, as in English, verbs are words that serve to express some kind of action that affects one or more subjects. Both languages have a verbal structure to refer to events of the present, the past or the future, called Verbal Form. Each of them has its peculiarities in terms of verbal forms and how to use, what we will see here.

Root of a Word.

Before continuing with the verbs, let’s make a parenthesis to explain a concept that founded one of the most important Tips we can give you to increase the speed of understanding and learning of the Spanish language. We refer to the concepts of Primitive Word and Derived Word, and the concept of Root of a Word.

In Spanish, it is defined as lexical family a group of words that come from a word called primitive word. This Word does not derive from any other and is the basis for the construction of a group of words with a meaning associated with yours. I.e., the primitive word (or part of it) are part of words called derived, which have meanings linked to from its primitive. We can see several examples in the following table:

Primitive Word

Derived Words


Salado, Salina, Salero, Salar, Salitre


Panadero, Panadería, Panecillo, Empanizar, Panificadora


Marino, Marinero, Marea, Marinar, Maremoto


Caliente, Cálido, Calentar, Calentador, Caluroso, Calentura, Calefacción


Although there is a similar concept in English, in Spanish takes more significance due to the extensive vocabulary, so it is important to understand the concept and learn how to distinguish which are the primitives words and what is the root of the word that is being used in derived words. The importance is emphasized because there are other words that begin with (or include) the root, and do not have associated meaning. An example of course, with respect to the table above, would be the words: Salto, Pantalón, Marchito y Calma.

Infinitive form of the Verb.

Another coincidence between the Spanish and the English in relation to verbs, is that in both languages verbs have a primitive form, the infinitive, used to name them. This form is a non-personal form, and is thus defined because the accompaniment of a person is not required ( yo, tú, él… ) to be used.

In English, Infinitive form is expressed with the origin verb preceded of the word “to”, for example: “to drive”. In Spanish, the infinitive form is the own origin verb, and its special feature is that it is composed of a root and one of the verbal endings: “ar” (amar, estar o jugar), “er” (comer, proteger o valer) o “ir” (dormir, salir o venir).

spanish verbs infinitive

Verbal Tenses:

Both the Spanish and the English, are languages  rich in verbal tenses. Especially if compared to languages like most Asians, where there are only a few verbal forms (equivalent to the English and the Spanish infinitive), and the time in which the action takes place is defined by the adverbs of time associated with the occurrence.

In English and Spanish, there are verb forms that appear in the following table:

Verbal Forms Commons to English and Spanish

Name in English


Name in Spanish



to drive



Simple Present


Presente Simple


Simple Past


Pasado Simple


Past Participle


Participio Pasado


Present Participle


Participio Presente



And there are also a number of tenses with their conjugates that are also common to both languages but in some cases, differ in their grammatical construction. We refer to the verbal tenses that require the company to use auxiliary verbs, as it is the case of the simple future (auxiliary “will”), the conditional (auxiliary “would”) and the rest of the conjugations in different times using combinations that make use of the verbs “to do”, “to have” and “to be” as auxiliaries in the construction of the verbal tense.

In the following Posts, we will be reviewing all these forms and tenses.

Custom Search





The hard task of Conjugating verbs in Spanish.

Understanding how Conjugating Verbs in Spanish.

While persons for conjugating verbs agree quite well in English and in Spanish, as we can see in the following table of pronouns:

Subject Pronouns




1st Singular



2nd Singular


3th Singular

He, She, It

El, Ella

1st Plural


Nosotros, Nosotras

2nd Plural


Vosotros, Vosotras

3th Plural


Ellos, Ellas


there are some basic differences associated with the gender in the Plural, where the Spanish language distinguishes the masculine from the feminine with the slight change of a letter.


The real difficulty, and we believe that the bigger one, in learning Spanish by English-speakers, is the fact that each person singular and plural, corresponds a different expression of the verb, and this also is for all tenses.

Let’s look at this with an example. If we take the verb “to love” (“amar”, in Spanish), and we conjugate it for all persons, in both languages, and for the present tense, we would get the following results:

Present Tense

I love

Yo amo

You love

Tu amas

He/She loves

Él/Ella ama

We love

Nosotros/as amamos

You love

Vosotros/as amáis

They love

Ellos/as aman

As we can see, in English there is only a variation in the conjugation for the third person singular, and this variation is very slight, because only added the letter “s” at the end of the verb.

However in Spanish, the differences are notable because each one of the six persons, three in the singular and three in the plural, has a distinct conjugation, which also occurs in each of the of simple tense conjugations, i.e., the present, the past and the future:

Future Tense

I will love

Yo amaré

You will love

Tu amarás

He/She will love

Él/Ella amará

We will love

Nosotros/as amaremos

You will love

Vosotros/as amareis

They will love

Ellos/as amarán

Past Tense

I loved

Yo amé

You loved

Tu amaste

He/She loved

Él/Ella amó

We loved

Nosotros/as amamos

You loved

Vosotros/as amasteis

They loved

Ellos/as amaron


The differences are obvious, and although there are certain rules that can help the learning of verbs in Spanish, the reality is that you must learn all the verbs and their conjugations by means of repetition.

But don’t worry, we will help you with our Tips to overcome this apparent “mission impossible”. Your task is to memorize and practice.

In our next Post we will be laying the groundwork for understanding and learning about verbs in Spanish, so we will enter to review concepts such as those of regular and irregular verbs, infinitive, participle and gerund.

Custom Search








Introduction to the Spanish Verbs understanding.

Verbs in Spanish, a little difficult theme.

One of the major difficulties that has the Spanish language learning for English-speaking persons is to understand and learn the verbs and their conjugations in different times.

This difficulty is caused by the following reasons:

  • As with the vocabulary in Spanish in general where, for the characteristic of Romance language, there are many synonyms for nouns, adjectives and adverbs, the amount of verbs with similar meanings is huge. In this regard, the practical and simplified English language sense, besides the great use that makes the language of “meaning by context”, facilitates learning of English for Spanish speakers.
  • The amount of verbal conjugations in Spanish is huge compared to the English, where the use of auxiliary verbs and the rules of conjugation for different persons of the singular and the plural, makes much less extensive amount of verbal expressions to learn from the student.

clapper verbs


Although sometimes these observations tend to make people believe that we are “frightening” or causing those who are learning the Spanish want to abandon the attempt, the real intention of the comments is to help understand the difficulties in overcoming them. As rightly said the philosopher and Chinese strategist Sun Tzu, in his book The Art of War, “only by knowing your enemy, you can beat him”.

It is precisely because of the complexity of the subject, which we have left on our Blog a category only for respect to verbs, and to help to you, dear reader, get the best “Tips” of learning, we will devote several Posts to the subject verbs.

However, and as indicated by the heading of our pages, we remind you that our goal is not “become” into a one more Spanish Online Course, but provide, in your own language, an interesting amount of Tips that support any of Methods that you are using for to learn our Language.

For our part, we are already working in the following Posts, where we will provide our best analysis and Tips for your learning of Spanish verbs.

Until the next Post!

Custom Search