Verbs and Conjugations
Verbs in Spanish are trickier than in English. In both languages, verbs are conjugated. This means the verb changes depending on who is doing the action. However, while English has two forms of the verb (see, sees), Spanish tends to have five or more. “I see,” for instance, is yo veo, “you see” is tú ves, and “he sees” is él ve. The verb changes according to who does the action that is indicated by the personal pronoun: yo (I), tú (you, singular, familiar), usted (you, formal), él (he), ella (she), nosotros (we, masculine), nosotras (we, feminine), vosotros (you, plural/masculine; Spain), vosotras (you, plural/feminine; Spain), ustedes (you, plural informal and formal in Latin America; formal in Spain), ellos (they, masculine), ellas (they, feminine).
When do I use
Both tú and usted mean “you.” Tú is used in Spain and Latin America to address friends, acquaintances, relatives (usually younger), or children. Usted is used to address someone you want to show a degree of respect to, such as an official, a boss, someone older than you, or someone you don't know well.
Confused? Don't be! In this phrasebook we mainly used the formal forms — usted (you singular) and ustedes (you plural) — which is what you will use to address your patients.
Here are some verbs you will use in the present tense. The infinitive form ends in either –ar, –er, or –ir. To conjugate it, take the ending out and add the endings below.
REG ULAR VERBS
These regular verbs follow a pattern. However, some verbs are irregular and follow no pattern. You will just have to memorize the forms you use the most.
In Spanish there are two ways to say “to be,” ser and estar. The general rule is that ser is used with to talk about general, permanent, or physical characteristics, whereas estar is used to describe temporary or changeable characteristics. For example, Soy mexi-cano means “I am Mexican” (a permanent state), whereas Estoy enfermo means “I am sick” (temporary state).
Every tense — present, past, or future — has its own set of endings. You will see some of them as you read the phrases in this book.
Unlike in English, in Spanish you don't always have to include the subject in a sentence. In other words, you don't always have to say who does the action: “I operate,” for instance, can be yo opero or simply opero. Because the verb is conjugated and has the ending –o, we know it is yo, I, who operates.