Parts of Speech in Spanish

Quick Answer

Las categorías gramaticales(parts of speech) are the building blocks of Spanish grammar, as they help us understand how words work together to create cohesive sentences. By learning the parts of speech, you'll feel more confident building your own sentences from scratch because you'll understand how to properly combine words to create meaning.

Why Learn the Parts of Speech in Spanish?

Knowing the basic parts of speech is crucial to the language learning process—especially when you are learning how to build your own sentences. If the wrong part of speech is used in a sentence, the message becomes unclear and can cause confusion.

Here are some reasons why you should take the time to learn the parts of speech in Spanish:

  1. By learning the parts of speech, you will understand how words should be used together to make sentences.
  2. Knowing the parts of speech helps you use punctuation correctly in sentences.
  3. Using a variety of parts of speech enriches the depth and meaning of a sentence.
  4. When you're looking up a word in a dictionary, you need to know the part of speech of the word in order to pick the right translation. For example:
examples
Vamos a la misma escuela.
We go to the same school.
¿Vas a educar a tus hijos en una escuela privada?
Are you going to school your children in a private school?
A mi hijo no le gusta su uniforme escolar.
My son doesn’t like his school uniform.

All the bolded words in the previous examples translate as school, but they are not interchangeable. The first example uses school as a noun, the second example uses it as a verb, and the third example uses it as an adjective.

List of the Parts of Speech, Uses, and Examples

Now it’s time to take a look at the different parts of speech in Spanish!

The King of All Parts of Speech: El Verbo(The Verb)

What is the most important part of speech? Los verbos(verbs), of course! Every complete sentence in Spanish needs one. The verb expresses an action or state of being of the subject in a sentence. All verbs in Spanish end in either -ar, -er, or -ir, and can be conjugated in a variety of tenses.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of how verbs are used in Spanish!

examples
Lola lee libros en el parque.
Lola reads books in the park.
Mi café preferido está junto a la playa.
My favorite coffee shop is next to the beach.

There are several different verb types in Spanish, including transitive verbs, intransitive verbs, pronominal verbs, reflexive verbs, and reciprocal verbs. It's helpful to know what they are and how they're different. Click here for more information!

Los Sustantivos (Nouns)

El sustantivo is the part of speech used to name a person, place, or thing in a sentence. Nouns are either masculine or feminine in the Spanish language and can be singular or plural. The noun plays various roles in a sentence, such as the subject (who or what is performing the action of a verb), direct object, or indirect object.

For example:

examples
La profesora es muy inteligente.
The teacher is very smart.
Necesito comprar una computadora nueva.
I need to buy a new computer.

Click on the links to learn more about nouns in Spanish, plural noun forms, and noun suffixes.

Los Artículos (Articles)

In Spanish, nouns don't like to be alone, so they are often accompanied by artículos. Spanish articles indicate the gender and number of a noun, as well as whether or not a noun is specific or general.

  • El, la, los, and lasare the four definite articles in Spanish, and they often all translate to the same little word in English: the. Use these articles to refer to a specific noun.

  • Un, una, unos, and unasare the four indefinite articles, which translate to a, an, some or a few in English. These articles are used to refer to a general noun.

Let’s take a look at some examples!

examples
Las flores son hermosas.
The flowers are beautiful.
Quiero un perro.
I want a dog.

Los Pronombres (Pronouns)

The primary purpose of pronombresis to take the place of nouns. Pronouns help simplify sentences by eliminating repetition.

There are many different kinds of Spanish pronouns. Let’s take a look at this list of the most useful Spanish pronouns:

Type of pronounPurposeExampleTranslation
subject pronounsSubject pronouns identify who or what is performing the action of a verb.
Ella toca la trompeta.
She plays the trumpet.
direct object pronounsA direct object pronoun replaces a direct object, which is a noun that directly receives the action of a verb in a sentence.
¿Tienes mi libro? - Sí, lo tengo.
Do you have my book? - Yes, I have it.
indirect object pronounsAn indirect object pronoun tells you to whom or for whom something is done.
Yo le presté mi bici.
I lent her my bike.
demonstrative pronounsA demonstrative pronoun demonstrates, or identifies, the noun it refers to.
Prefiero esa.
I prefer that one.
relative pronounsRelative pronouns are used to refer back to a noun, pronoun, or phrase that was talked about previously.
Esta es la película sobre la cual te hablé.
This is the movie that I told you about.

Los Adjetivos (Adjectives)

There are several different types of adjetivosin Spanish, descriptive adjectives being the most common. As the name may suggest, descriptive adjectives describe some quality of a noun.

¡Cuidado!(Careful!) In Spanish, adjectives must agree with the noun they describe in gender and in number, and they typically follow the noun. Click here to learn more about noun-adjective agreement and here to learn about adjective placement.

Let’s take a look at some examples!

examples
Tenemos un jardín grande.
We have a big garden.
Los modelos son guapos.
The models are handsome.

Click on the following links to learn more about adjectives in Spanish!

Los Adverbios (Adverbs)

Los adverbiosare words used to modify or describe verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. There are many kinds of adverbs in Spanish, such as adverbs of time, place, quantity, and manner.

Let’s take a look at some examples!

examples
¿Has visto a Elena recientemente?
Have you seen Elena recently?
Mi tío aprende idiomas fácilmente.
My uncle learns languages easily.
Siempre almorzamos en la terraza.
We always have lunch on the patio.
No comes bastante.
You don't eat enough.

Las Preposiciones (Prepositions)

Las preposicionesare little words, but they play a huge role in a sentence. They’re used to indicate a relationship between two words or phrases, linking them together. Prepositions are often used to indicate relationships of location, direction, or time.

For example:

examples
Bailé con mi novio.
I danced with my boyfriend.
Quiero viajar a Alemania este otoño.
I want to travel to Germany this fall.

Las Conjunciones (Conjunctions)

Las conjuncionesjoin two coordinating parts of a sentence together.

For example:

examples
Necesitas sacar la basura y lavar los platos.
You need to take out the trash and wash the dishes.
Quiero ir a Las Vegas con mis amigas, pero estoy pelada.
I want to go to Las Vegas with my friends, but I’m broke.

Click here to learn more about conjunctions in Spanish!