A More Fun Way to Learn Spanish Conjugations

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Learning Spanish verb conjugations is a pain. 

I learned them the old school way: lots and lots and lots of written exercises, tests and staring at verb charts. 

And it did work… so there’s something to be said for this approach. 

But the process was painful. 

It doesn’t have to be that way. 

And look, like anything worthwhile in life, you can’t learn Spanish without pushing yourself and going through moments that feel a little painful.  

If your goal is to absolutely master all verb tenses, you’ll probably need to do a good bit of this type of “boring” study. 

But if you are like most learners, your goal is probably more like… 

  1. Conjugate verbs correctly in 9 out of 10 cases
  2. Without having to think about verbs while speaking 

If that describes you, I’ve got some good news: 

Getting quite good at Spanish verbs doesn’t have to be such a pain. 

The key is to make it fun and memorable. 

Lucky for us, there’s something you probably enjoy and that makes verbs more memorable: music. 

Thanks to Señor Rodriguez

My high school Spanish teacher introduced me to this when teaching us the subjunctive. 

The first song I remember us using was Ojalá que llueva café by Juan Luis Guerra. 

The first verse goes like this:

Ojalá que llueva café en el campo

Que caiga un aguacero de yuca y té

Del cielo una jarrita de queso blanco

Y al sur una montaña de berro y miel

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, ojalá que llueva café

I don’t think I’ve listened to this song since I was 17, and I don’t remember any lyrics besides what’s in the title itself. But to this day I think of ojalá que llueva café whenever I say the word ojalá or llueva

After that, I never had to think about how to conjugate llover in the subjunctive again. 

Of course, llover is just one word. 

But like I talked about last Saturday, what we learn in one word or phrase carries over into the rest of our Spanish. 

Learning that llover becomes llueva made it easier to remember other verbs with the same pattern:

volver -> vuelva

resolver -> resuelva

devolver -> devuelva

And then other verbs that are less obviously similar, but still have the same pattern:

moler -> muela

doler -> duela

morder -> muerda. 

How to apply this and make conjugations more memorable

When applying this to your own Spanish, you have a couple options: 

  1. Search for songs that use a certain verb tense (“Spanish songs that use the subjunctive”). 
Google search for 'Spanish songs that use the subjunctive'
  1. Listen to Spanish music that you like and read the lyrics, looking for verbs whose conjugations you aren’t familiar with. I have a free resource for this – more on that in a minute. 

Like with Ojalá que llueva café, all you really need is one catchy line. 

Take the 60’s hit Vivo cantando by Spanish singer Salomé: 

Each chorus starts with: 

Desde que llegaste, ya no vivo llorando

Vivo cantando 

A catchy little line like this makes it more fun and memorable to learn that llegar becomes llegaste when you want to say you arrived. 

Once you know llegaste, it’s 10x easier to remember that tomar becomes tomaste and cantar becomes cantaste

Or consider the song Piel canela by Edie Gorme y Trio los Panchos. The second verse says:

Si perdiera el arcoíris su belleza

Y las flores su perfume y su color

No sería tan inmensa mi tristeza

Como aquella de quedarme sin tu amor

If you’re trying to learn something tricky like the imperfect subjunctive (where perder becomes perdiera), memorizing this first line will help the pattern make sense. 

Later on, when you see entendiera (entender) or defendiera (defender), you’ll recognize them, and the pattern will become clearer, little by little. 

Getting started (5 easy steps)

Applying this to your Spanish couldn’t be simpler. 

  1. Find a song (make sure you like it)
  2. Translate the song into English at least once to make sure you understand what you’re listening to on repeat
  3. Most important step: Pinpoint one line in the song that contains a verb you want to know better
  4. Listen to song on repeat
  5. Bonus points for translating it back into Spanish 

The repetition is what will help the verb itself stick in your mind. 

How well you understand the underlying grammar isn’t important at this stage. The goal is to get this one usage so dialed in that it comes out automatically. 

This will make recognizing and remembering patterns much easier.

But I don’t like any Spanish music… 

It can be hard to find music you like in a foreign language. 

But music you like is out there – you just may not have found it yet. 

Late last year, I put together a guide to learning Spanish with music. It includes my YouTube playlist full of songs with lyrics on screen, plus around a dozen exercises you can try out. 

It’s a free guide that you can access by clicking here

Among the 70+ songs, you’ll hopefully find a couple you like. Use those songs as a starting point to find more music that matches your tastes. Soon, YouTube or Spotify will start recommending music in that same vein. 

Besides drilling conjugations in a less tortuous way, music’s inherent repetition helps us absorb great pronunciation. That’s why we use it a few different ways in my pronunciation course. If building a clear, natural-sounding accent is a goal of yours, you can learn everything I know by joining 140+ students here.

For today, here are your next steps:

If you don’t currently listen to Spanish-language music, dive into it this weekend.

Make it a priority to find at least one song you really like, and use it as learning material — starting with the steps laid out today. 

Let me know how it goes! 



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Hey there, I'm Connor. I help motivated learners speak Spanish without slogging through grammar books or tapping through every new app. I started Breakthrough Spanish to give more people the confidence and focus to learn effectively Spanish from home. Learn more about me here.

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