Tag Archives: verb


QUERER is the fifty-sixth most common word in the Spanish language.

QUERER is an irregular verb in some tenses and, in the present tense, it is a radical changing verb.

“Quiero” means I love or I want. Technically speaking, this is the first person singular of the present tense. The first “e” from querer has been changed to “ie“. This is what is known as the radical change.

“Quise” means I loved or I wanted. Technically speaking this is the first person singular, preterite tense. In the preterite or past tense, the verb is irregular, meaning that it does not follow the normal grammatical pattern.

The fact that QUERER can mean “to want” and “to love” can seem to be quite odd to the English speaker. My Collins Spanish – English dictionary explains that when the verb is followed by a person it means ” to love”.  When it is followed by an object it means “to want”. Notwithstanding this, is there some cross-over in the Spanish speaker’s mind between wanting and loving? This is not the place to discuss this any further, but it is an interesting point.

Here are two examples of uses of parts of the QUERER. One example illustrates the use meaning love,  and one, the use meaning want.

Te quiero – I love you.

Quiero una casa moderna – I want a modern house

Here then is a tale of two meanings – “to want” or “to love”. QUERER , the fifty sixth most common word in the Spanish language encapsulates them both.

hacer - to do, to make

 HACER is the twenty-fourth most common word in the Spanish Language.

And, oh boy, this two-syllable irregular verb and all of its parts is an absolute must learn for all students of the Spanish language. There is no way of getting around this one – my best advice is to know it and know it well. The dictionary will reveal all of the delights and shades in meaning of this ubiquitous two syllable verb.

A quick count in my dictionary gives well over thirty possibilities of translation of HACER. My aim, though, in these posts is to give a simple overview of the most frequent words in the Spanish language and their meanings and usage and not to compete with the dictionaries (who can anyway?). My favourite dictionary is the Collins English-Spanish dictionary. I have both the hard bound book version and the app on the iPad. Both are superb, but I am now a real fan of the iPad app because it is so quick and easy to use.

HACER, then, in simple terms is best translated into English as “to do” or “to make”.

¿Qué haces? – what are you doing / making?

I am going to leave you with just this one example today.

My best advice and, as a top language learning tip, is to become very aware of this particular verb and note down its various uses as and when you come across it. Its irregularity can be seen as a problem – to me its irregularity and lack of pattern is part of its charm and stems from the bashing about it has received from human tongues (and minds come to that).

So, HACER is the twenty-fourth most common word in the Spanish language. It is a verb which will repay getting to know intimately.


TENER is the eighteenth most common word in the Spanish Language and it deserves our attention.

But this is a very special verb, to use its correct grammatical name. It is a verb and, moreover, it is one of those troublesome verbs, or attractive verbs (it depends on your point of view) which is irregular. No, dear Spanish learners, it does not follow the regular -er pattern. Its irregularity comes from its high octane lifestyle being used so frequently, and has therefore it has really got bashed about over the years.

And, standing above all of this grammatical banter, is the magic of its range of meanings.

Oh, by the way, such was my excitement reaching TENER in the top one hundred words in Spanish podcast odyssey, that I forgot to tell you the meaning. It simple terms TENER means “to have”. But, for the English speaker, it has a large range of meanings. Indeed, my dictionary has some eighteen or nineteen meanings and nuances of meaning.

To keep it simple, however, I am just going for two key meanings.

Here are two simple, key uses of TENER with the translations.

Tengo dos hermanos – I have two brothers

Tengo veintisiete años – I am 27 years old. (Literally I have 27 years old.)

So there it is – TENER is the 19th most frequently used word in the Spanish language. A two syllable battle hardened stalwart which is a “must-learn”.


Estar is the seventeenth most frequently used word in the Spanish language.

Estar is a verb and, to boot, it is irregular (that is to say that it does not follow the normal regular -ar verb formations) and causes no end of trouble to most learners of the Spanish language, especially to maternal English tongue speakers.

So, what’s all the trouble about? To be or not to be, to quote Shakespeare, is the problem. Estar means “to be”. But the attentive to this series of posts and podcasts will know that we have already dealt with a monosyllabic powerhouse verb meaning to be, ser. See post on high frequency word in Spanish number 8 (click here

Estar means to be. That definition is simply stated, but flowing from that is a whole grammar book’s worth of scholarly debate. However, for our purposes here, to be will do.

Examples of use:

Madrid está en España – Madrid is in Spain. (Está is indicating geographic position).

Estoy cansado – I am tired (a temporary state – I am not always tired … if this was the case you would say soy cansado)

Well, it is not easy.

Ser or no ser? Estar or no Estar. I’ll leave it there – the discussion could go from grammatical to philosophical.

So, there you have it – estar the seventeenth most common word in the Spanish language.


Haber is the eleventh most frequently used word in the Spanish language.

The two syllable word (and this is the first two syllable word we have had in the top 100 list).

Haber is defined as an auxiliary verb and an impersonal verb.

The dictionary has a number of differing meanings for haber.

Its key meaning is to have as in I have eatenhe comido (he meaning I have is from haber)

As a teacher I know that this verb can cause all sorts of problems, the main one being the confusion with another verb meaning “to have”, tener. The way to avoid the confusion is to think of using haber only in its use as an auxiliary verb, that is when you have done something.

The other meanings is with the use of haber de giving the idea of obligation, of having to do something, as in

hemos de hacer los deberes (we have to do the homework)

an example of the use of haber as an impersonal verb is

hay que tener cuidado – you have to be careful.

So there it is a bright and breezy look at the eleventh most frequent word in the Spanish language.