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.

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Written By Alberto Otano

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