7 Uses of the Spanish Present Tense
This article contains the final pieces of the Spanish Present Tense grammar. Now that you have learned how to build those Present Tense forms, you would surely like to use them in speech. Here are the 7 uses you can put your Spanish Present Tense knowledge to.
The Uses of the Spanish Present Tense
Anything that you do every day, often, from time to time, or seldom yet steadily can be expressed with the use of the Spanish Present Tense forms. Speak about your job, your responsibilities, your chores, hobbies, routines and other recurrent things you do:
- Voy a dormir a las once cada noche.
Every night I go to bed at 11.
- Paseo a mi cobaya cada día.
I walk my Guinea pig every day.
- Trabajo para una casa editorial.
I work for a publishing house.
Anything you would have expressed with the use of the English Present Continuous can be translated with the help of the Spanish Present Simple Tense. The Spanish Present Progressive can also be used in this case, but we have not studied it yet. Take a look at some examples:
- ¿Cómo se siente el niño?
How is the baby feeling?
- Tiene* temperatura.
He is running a temperature.
*Note the absence of the subject. In Spanish, the Present Tense verb forms have distinctive endings that reflect the person and number of the subject, so it can be omitted if the context permits.
- ¿Qué escuchas?
What are you listening to?
- Escucho la canción “Despacito”.
I’m listening to “Despacito”.
The things you are going to do in the nearest future can be expressed with the help of the Spanish Present Tense:
- Voy al cine. ¿Vienes conmigo?
I'm going to the cinema. Will you come with me?
- Mañana nos dirigimos a Minnesota.
Tomorrow we are heading to Minnesota.
Universal truths are facts or ideas that are not related to any particular time or place. Proverbs and opinions also fall into this category. Read the examples to get a better understanding:
- La Tierra no es plana.
The Earth is not flat.
- Todos elefantes son mamíferos.
All elephants are mammals.
- La vida es demasiado corta para procrastinar.
Life is too short to procrastinate.
Real Conditions (if-clauses)
The Spanish Present Tense forms are used in sentences with conditions and the events they lead to. In fact, this use is very similar to Type 1 Conditionals in English, only in Spanish the Present Tense forms are used in both clauses:
- Si ves abuela Rafaela, manda saludos de mi parte.
If you see grandma Rafaela, tell her I say “Hi”.
- Si está nevando, no vamos al parque.
If it snows, we won’t go to the park.
Lapses of Time
This use of the Spanish Present Tense is similar to the English Present Perfect Tense use. When talking about the events that have been in progress for some time, rely on the following formula:
hace + time period + que + Present Tense form
- Hace dos semanas que no te vemos.
We haven’t seen you for two weeks.
- Hace cinco meses que leo “El Señor de los Anillos”.
I have been reading “The Lord of the Rings” for five months.
Ordering at a Restaurant or Store
When ordering food or drinks at a dinner out or when buying produce from a vendor, rely on the Spanish Present Tense verbs to formulate a correct and polite request:
- Quiero un té con limón y azúcar, por favor.
I would like a tea with lemon and sugar, please.
- Me trae dos bocadillos de jamón y queso con tomate, por favor.
Would you bring me two sandwiches with ham, cheese, and tomatoes, please?
I dare say you have learned everything there is to know about the basics of the Spanish Present Tense. And now, let’s see how many rules and exceptions you have actually memorized. Start the quiz!