How to use verb combinations

I know that one of the most difficult aspects of Spanish grammar is verb conjugation.

For people whose native language does not have verb conjugation, it does not come naturally to think of a different form for each person, for each tense.

And even for people who are used to conjugate verbs, it’s still a lot to remember. I learnt French and had to learn all the verbs. Nowadays I’m studying Russian and it’s the same thing, so much to remember.

So, how to start talking when you cannot conjugate verbs?

There is a trick: there are some verb combinations you can use in which you only need to remember one verb, and add a verb in infinitive.

Verb combinations

Let’s see an example:

  • to express need: NECESITO + verb in infinitive = I need to + verb
    • Necesito comer = I need to eat.
    • Necesito comprar un coche = I need to buy a car.
    • Necesito ir al supermercado = I need to go to the supermarket.

There are a few more:

  • to express something you want: QUIERO + verb in infinitive = I want to + verb
    • Quiero cantar = I want to sing.
    • Quiero comer = I want to eat.
  • to talk about something you have to do: TENGO QUE + verb in infinitive = I have to + verb
    • Tengo que comprar un coche nuevo = I have to buy a new car.
    • Tengo que descansar = I have to take rest.
  • to express intention or a plan: VOY A + verb in infinitive = I’m going to + verb
    • Voy a comer en 10 minutos = I’m going to eat in 10 minutes
    • Voy a estudiar español = I’m going to study Spanish
  • to talk about something you just finished: ACABO DE + verb in infinitive = I just + verb
    • Acabo de comer = I just ate / I just finished eating
    • Acabo de llegar = I just arrived

Perífrasis de infinitivo y gerundio

Perífrasis verbales para principiantes

I have prepared a cheatsheet with 9 of these verb combinations (the ones I mention in this post, plus a few more). Print it on both sides (flip on the short edge), and bend it as in the photo. It fits in the pocket!

You can download it for free by clicking here:

Chuleta acordeón con perífrasis impresa

Chuleta acordeón con perífrasis plegada