How to Form & Use Compound Spanish Sentences in the Present

Instructor: Elena Sacramento Lechado

Elena has a PhD in linguistics from University of La Laguna (Spain). Currently, she teaches Spanish as a foreign language and creates teaching resources.

How is your typical day? In this Spanish lesson, we'll see how to form and use compound sentences in the present tense. You'll find lots of practical examples that will help you express your ideas in Spanish.

Expressing Yourself in the Present Tense

The present is the very first tense we study when learning a foreign language, so it's crucial that you understand its formation to have a strong grammar basis and keep using the language with confidence.

We can use the present tense in different contexts:

  • To make descriptions. For example: Chile es un país precioso y está lleno de contrastes. (Chile is a beautiful country and it is full of contrasts.)
  • To mention facts: Las arepas son un plato típico venezolano, aunque se pueden comer en otros países también. (Arepas are a typical Venezuelan dish, although they can be eaten in other countries as well.)
  • To talk about habits or routines: Normalmente me levanto a las ocho, pero los fines de semana duermo hasta tarde. (Normally I get up at eight, but on weekends I sleep until late.)

Keep reading to find out more about the use of this tense in Spanish. But first, let's have a quick reminder of the formation of regular verbs in the present.

Translation: Chile is a beautiful country and it is full of contrasts.
landscape

Present Tense Formation

To form the present tense of regular verbs in Spanish, just take the infinitive, drop the ending (-AR/-ER/-IR), and add the endings below according to each subject pronoun:

Subject
Pronouns
Translation -AR verbs -ER verbs -IR verbs
yo I -o -o -o
you -as -es -es
él/ella
usted
he/she
you formal
-a -e -e
nosotros/
nosotras
we
we (feminine plural)
-amos -emos -imos
vosotros/
vosotras
you plural
you feminine plural
(Spain)
-áis -éis -ís
ellos/ellas
ustedes
they/they (fem. plural)
you plural
(Latin America)
-an -en -en

This is the conjugation for regular verbs, but there are some frequently used verbs that have a small change in the first person. These are:

  • Estar (to be): (yo) estoy.
  • Hacer (to do/make): (yo) hago.
  • Salir (to go out/leave): (yo) salgo.
  • Tener (to have): (yo) tengo.

Also, ir (to go) is completely irregular and you should learn every form: voy, vas, va, vamos, vais, van.

Notice that in Spanish, the endings of the verbs tell us who the subject is, so you don't really need to mention the subject pronouns, unless you want to be emphatic. Let's see some examples:

  • Estudio español y quiero viajar a Sudamérica. (I study Spanish and I want to travel to South America.)

In this case, the ending (-o) already indicates the subject. However, if you want to emphasize that it is you who studies Spanish, and not another person, you should mention the subject:

  • Yo estudio español, pero mi hermana estudia francés. (I study Spanish, but my sister studies French.)

Compound Sentences in the Present

Now that we've reviewed the conjugation, let's move on to the practical part. Take a look at these examples. Can you spot the verbs?

  • Normalmente desayuno café y tostadas con mantequilla y mermelada. (Normally I have coffee and toast with butter and jam for breakfast.)
  • Normalmente tomo café y leo el periódico antes de ir a trabajar. (Normally I have coffee and I read the newspaper before going to work.)

Translation: I have coffee and I read the newspaper before going to work.
newspaper

The first sentence is a simple one - there is only one verb (desayuno). But the second one is an example of a compound sentence because there are two independent clauses (normalmente tomo café and leo el periódico antes de ir a trabajar) linked by the conjunction y.

So, compound sentences are sentences formed by joining two or more simple independent clauses with:

  • A comma: (,).
  • A semicolon: (;).

Or a conjunction such as:

  • Y (ee): and.
  • Ni (nee): nor.
  • O (oh): or.
  • Pero (PEH-roh): but.
  • Aunque (AH-oon-keh): although.
  • Así que (ah-SEE keh): so.

Examples

Let's keep practicing with María, who tells us about her daily routine:

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