The face of misery (Spanish verb conjugation test)

img_3291Learning the rules of conjugating verbs is hard enough — let alone all the exceptions of irregulars. It’s like juggling balls — keeping them all in the air — to be able to remember and apply them all immediately as needed.


Real tears?

My Spanish 2 students just completed the imperfect tense, which is the perfect time to sum up and see if they remember the other conjugations: present, preterit and command forms.


The highest grade was a 69%, from my son, a native-born Guatemalan. (We were missionaries.) Not a passing grade at Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica, where only a C is considered passing.

img_3290Conjugations belong to the branch of linguistics known as morphology, how words are formed. The dizzying array of conjugations in Spanish (there are 302 variations for each verb) frustrates native English speakers since the changes on the verb in English are few and simple. The poor student asks: Why?

Despite marketing (by Pimsleur and others) alleging that reciting and rewriting lists is useless, I still assert that the old style of learning is the best way to mastery. After all, it worked for me. I didn’t just “catch” Spanish by immersing myself in Mexico; I studied before and during my time of immersion at the University of Guadalajara (sí soy chivo, soy tapatío).

What do you think about conjugations? Can you post a more miserable, conjugation-learning face in the comments?

11 responses to “The face of misery (Spanish verb conjugation test)

  1. I just finished the imperfect and preterit tenses, but I think my curriculum is only giving me a few irregular forms at a time. I have 17 irregular verbs along with the -car, -gar, -zar, -uir, -aer, -eer, and stem changing verbs for the preterit and only three irregular forms for the imperfect tense. Even so, it takes me a while to remember them all and it can be quite unpleasant! Good luck to the students.

  2. Japanese grammar isn’t so extremely complicated, but it’s almost totally unrelated to English grammar, which certainly can make things difficult. The kicker for Japanese, however, is the writing system, which includes two syllabaries (alphabets) of almost 50 symbols each and then has Chinese characters on top of that. It is phonetically so simple (just five vowel sounds) that without the characters (which have specific meanings) you might not have any idea of what is being said. That can make for confusion, even between native Japanese!

  3. I feel with them…. I remember my Latin lessons. 🙂

  4. I wish I had a picture of my face while I was learning German conjugations. But–it helped me understand English a lot better, so I guess it was worth it 🙂

  5. Ha ha ha! (¡Ja! ¡Ja! ¡Ja!)
    When I taught the Preterite tense I had this packet I called The Quiz of Death! Some kids hated it, but most came around. It was a mastery style test based off my notes from when I was a student. Want a copy? I’ll look for it.
    I never took pictures of faces, though. That’s the best!!! Good job.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s