In the last article we started turning our verbs from first person ‘I’ forms to second person ‘you’ forms and we distinguished between tú and usted, that is the informal and extra-polite ways of expressing ‘you’ in Spanish.

Since the beginning of these articles we have been looking at these as part of a particular kind of sentence – that is, linking them to other verbs to express intentions, obligations and preferences.

However, verbs are not always used in this way, so now we are going to remind ourselves briefly of how they can be used in other simple ways and gently extend our range of possibilities. I’ll throw a few new words in, but you should be well able to cope with this by now!

There’s a chance none of that makes any sense at all – so let’s get down to practicalities and give you a range of real examples.

For example – the verb querer (to want).
Quiero viajar a Beijing – I want to travel to Beijing.
¿Quieres comprar un coche nuevo? – Do you want to buy a new car? (informal)
¿No quiere estudiar más? – Don’t you want to study any more? (formal)

But not forgetting the simpler use of this verb:
No quiero más postre, gracias. – I don’t want any more pudding, thank you.
¿Quieres mi opinión? – Do you want my opinion?
¿Qué quiere usted – un café o un té? – What do you want – a coffee or a tea?

In this last example, given that the formal form is being used, the correct translation is really “What would you like?” as that is what we would actually say in English. Notice that the word usted is optional, but it sometimes gets put in to make the sentence sound more courteous.

I can’t resist a little digression here, even though it’s not strictly relevant to what we are looking at! It is in answer to the question – can’t the verb querer also mean ‘to love’? Yes it can. It also means ‘to love’ in the romantic, personal sense, not in the sense of loving fish and chips. Therefore, te quiero means ‘I love you’. It can also mean ‘I want you’. I don’t think we’re going to go any further down this road at the moment.

We can go through the same sort of process with necesitar – ‘to need’.

Necesito firmar estos papeles. – I need to sign these papers.
¿Necesitas un descanso? – Do you need a break?
No necesita tomar más medicamento. – You don’t need to take any more medicine.

This last sentence is more formal and I could imagine a doctor saying it to an older patient or one he didn’t know well personally.
Me gusta ver el tenis de Rafa Nadal – I like watching Rafa Nadal’s tennis.
¿No te gusta la paella? – Don’t you like paella?
¿Le gusta tocar el piano? – Do you like playing the piano?

You can do your own translating from now on.

Voy a la playa mañana.
¿Vas a ir conmigo?
¿Por qué no va al ayuntamiento para preguntar?

This switch through the three forms applies to all verbs, so here is a couple more.

Hablo un poco de español.
¿Cuántos idiomas hablas?
Usted habla inglés muy bien, señora.

Vivo en un chalet en Marbella. (Yeah right!)
¿En qué calle vives exactamente?
Dígame dónde vive usted.

There are many directions these new revelations could take us, but next month I think we’ll start talking about ‘he’ and ‘she’. You will be surprised and thrilled at how easy it is!

Jane Cronin’s “Step by Step Spanish” articles are now available as e-books at where you can also obtain Jane’s brand new “Step by Step Internet Spanish” course.