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Do I have to learn grammar in order to learn Spanish?


Many people who attend language schools learn grammar for years and are not able to say a single sentence in Spanish. Should we conclude that studying grammar is just a waste of time?

In my opinion, when you are a beginner, you shouldnt pay too much attention to grammar (I mean studying grammar with a grammar book). You can  use “Spanish with Ease” by Assimil or another one that allows you to learn the grammar unconsciously.
However, I must say that whatever method you use, you will need to learn grammar. You can do it unconsciously, like a child figuring out patterns, collocations, idiomatic expressions naturally, without making a deliberate effort, or in a more conscious and deliberate way by studying grammar rules.

Learning in chunks can be a very effective way of learning grammar correctly. If you learn words that go together and entire sentences that are commonly used you will reduce your number of mistakes enormously.


However, it is wise not underestimate the importance of studying grammar once you have achieved an intermediate or upper intermediate level.

Before having achieved that level, it is probably more effective to devote the time and effort to talk and learn some gramatical rules. But if you really want to learn how to speak and write Spanish correctly, I recommend that you study Spanish in a more academic way when you reach an upper intermediate level. It will be necessary to learn some grammatical, spelling, and punctuation rules.

In fact, you should pay attention to how a child learns a language. He first learns how to write, and then he learns the punctuation and grammar rules that will allow him to master the language.You can see pre-intermediate students who are relatively fluent, but still struggle with the Spanish conjugations, with the subjunctive, etc.

Would they learn those conjugations and grammatical rules in an inductive way like children with thousands of hours of exposure to the language? Probably so.

Does a student of Spanish have thousands of hours to learn Spanish in an inductive way like a child? Probably not.

Would it be more effective for an upperintermediate student of Spanish to study conjugations and other basic grammar rules in order to master them? Probably so.

When you start learning a foreign language, as Benny Lewis says, it is probably more effective to devote your efforts to speaking and learning a few basic grammar rules.. However, later when you have already achieved an upper intermediate level that strategy doesn´t work so well.


For those who think that it is possible to master the Spanish language without touching grammar, I would say that it is possible, but it takes longer, thousands of hours of reading until you get a solid grasp of the punctuation and grammar rules. It will be faster to use two or three grammar books so that you eliminate the mistakes that you still make.

There are people who go to work abroad. They immerse themselves in the language the whole day. They do not study any grammar and some of them continue making some basic grammar mistakes after having been living in the country for thirty five years.

This indicates that without more serious study of  grammar it is nearly impossible to achieve the advanced levels in Spanish (C-1, C-2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages).

Grammar is the skeleton of the language. If your grammar is solid, you will be confident when you speak and write. For many people  vocabulary is important but not grammar. But the reality is that with a wide vocabulary and faulty grammar you will continue having problems when speaking.


At the early stages of learning Spanish, deliberate grammar study should not be a priority (unless you love it). It is better to learn basic grammar rules and natural collocations inductively.

After reaching an upper intermediate level, I would recommend studying the conjugations, the punctuation and other grammatical rules more thoroughly.

At this moment, intermediate level learners will be able to speak the language and instead of  studying the grammar rules, they will absorb them. In the end, it will save you time and you will reach a higher level of Spanish.


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