Spanish Sentence Structure

Spanish Sentence Structure: A Beginner’s Guide (taken from FluentU)

The Basics of Spanish Sentence Structure

Sentence structure involves the word order in a sentence. It’s how you put all the parts together to form grammatically correct sentences.

The typical word order in Spanish is SVO (Subject, Verb, Object). This is the same as in English, but there can be big differences between the two languages, and we don’t always use this formula.

Spanish is a very flexible language, and most of the time you’ll be able to change that order without altering the meaning of the sentence. However, there are times when changing the word order will lead to misunderstandings or grammatical errors.

That’s why it’s important to learn the rules and exceptions of Spanish sentence structure.

Word Order in Different Types of Sentences

In the following points, we’ll go over word order in all the main types of sentences and questions. You’ll also learn where to insert Spanish adjectives and adverbs in the sentence, and how the meaning can be different if you make some little changes.

Spanish Declarative Sentences

Declarative sentences are pretty straightforward because they tend to look the same both in Spanish and in English.

In order for a sentence to be grammatical, we need at least a subject and a verb. Then we can add an object or any other word category we may need. For example:

Yo leo. (I read.)

Yo leo libros. (I read books.)

There are, however, a few situations when a declarative sentence in Spanish can be a little different from its English translation.

(Source has some audio to accompany certain sections.)

Spanish Adjective Placement

When you start studying Spanish, one of the first rules you’ll have to learn is that adjectives usually come after the noun in Spanish.

El perro grande (the big dog)

El libro amarillo (the yellow book)

El niño alto (the tall child)

However, this rule is broken quite often as there are some adjectives that can take both positions. Bear in mind, though, that the meaning of the sentence changes depending on the position of those adjectives!

Negation in Spanish

Spanish negation is really easy. Basically, you just have to add “no” before the verb.

Spanish Adverb Placement

Adverb placement is pretty flexible in Spanish, although there’s a tendency to put them right after the verb or right in front of the adjective:

El niño camina lentamente. (The boy walks slowly.)

Este tema es horriblemente difícil. (This topic is horribly difficult.)

You can place adverbs almost anywhere in the sentence, as long as they’re not far from the verb they modify:

Ayer encontré un tesoro. (Yesterday I found some treasure.)

Encontré ayer un tesoro. (I found yesterday some treasure.) *Still correct in Spanish!*

Encontré un tesoro ayer. (I found some treasure yesterday).

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