Today I am going to share with you one of my favorite techniques for mastering Spanish grammar.
One thing that native Spanish speakers always compliment me on is my grasp of Spanish grammar. Even native Spanish instructors have asked me how did I master the “futuro hiptotético perfecto” tense in Spanish or how did I master the “futuro hiptotético perfecto.”
When I tell them it was really easy, they never believe me. Well, it can be very easy if you use the right techniques.
Until now I haven’t really shared this particular technique with anyone. It’s not that I intentionally kept it a secret. It’s just that I never really gave it much thought about what it was that really helped me master Spanish grammar.
How To Master Spanish Grammar
Learn the structure and then create your own drills or exercises. And practice them for about 5 minutes a day, once or twice a day, asking yourself hypothetical questions and answering the questions.
Let me give you an example.
When I was studying Spanish, I wanted to learn how to describe a completed process that depends on a condition. This is what grammarians call “futuro hiptotético perfecto.”
I hate using grammatical terms. So in layperson terms, let’s just say that I wanted to know how to say sentences such as:
1. If I had not found a parking lot, I would have parked on the street.
2. If we had had time yesterday, we would have eaten.
3. If I had saved my money, I would have bought a house last year.
Once I learned the proper way to say these sentences, either from a grammar book or a Spanish instructor, I would make my own drills and practice them once or twice a day for a few minutes each time, by asking myself hypothetical questions out loud and answering the questions out loud.
For example, while in my car, I would have a multi-person dialog going on in my car — even though I was the only one in my car.
The dialog involved a conversation describing a a completed process that depends on a condition (i.e. “futuro hiptotético perfecto”).
Here’s an example:
Out loud, I would ask:
“¿Si no hubieras encontrado un parqueadero, habrías estacionado en la calle?”
(If you hadn’t found a parking lot, would you’ve parked on the street?)
And then, I’d answer:
“No, si no hubiera encontrado un parqueadero, no habría estacionado en la calle.”
(No, if I hadn’t found a parking lot, I would not have parked on the street.)
Of course, I only practiced the Spanish part out loud.
Later that same day, you could spot me waiting on line in the “supermercado.”
To an outsider, I probably appeared to be some crazy guy talking to himself as he waited on line in the supermarket. But this crazy guy — who appeared to be having a conversation with himself in a foreign language — actually had a method to his madness: He was mastering Spanish.
And he did so while waiting on line in the supermarket asking himself out loud:
“¿Si hubieran tenido tiempo ayer, habrían comido?”
(If you guys had had time yesterday, would you have eaten?)
And then he would respond, out loud,
“Sí, si hubiéramos tenido tiempo ayer, habríamos comido.”
(Yes, if we had had time yesterday, we would have eaten.)
Or maybe you’d spot me walking down the street by myself asking myself out loud:
“¿Si hubieras ahorrado tu dinero, habrías comprado una casa el año pasado?
(If you had saved your money, would you have bought a house last year?)
And then I would answer my own question out loud:
“Sí, si hubiera ahorrado mi dinero, habría comprado una casa el año pasado.”
(Yes, if I had saved my money, I would have bought a house last year?)
Some people may not be as bold as I am and may be concerned about what others may think if they see you in the “supermercado” or “en la calle” having a conversation in Spanish with an invisible person.
I never had this dilemma. If it came down to choosing between being concerned about what people thought of me and accomplishing my goal of speaking Spanish fluently, it was a no-brainer. The nosey-bodies were doomed for failure.
But if you are the type that is concerned about what others think of you, then you can have the same conversation with yourself but inside your head.
You won’t get the same benefit as saying the sentences out loud, but it is better than doing absolutely nothing to improve your Spanish.
Just practice these techniques once, twice or three times a day for a few minutes each time, and you will see how easy it is to master Spanish grammar. After practicing a Spanish grammar tense this way for a week or two, you’ll be ready to move on to another topic of Spanish grammar.