We all love mnemonics, don’t we? Mnemonics are the magic potion that makes committing seemingly impossible things to memory with little to no effort on our part a breeze. Often, a good mnemonic is the lazy learner’s (unfair?) advantage. And learning Spanish is no exception when it comes to their application. In fact, the number of ways in which mnemonics can enhance your Spanish acquisition capabilities are only limited by your creativity and ingenuity.
The 8 most common verbs in Spanish
Coming back to the subject at hand, it’s the Spanish imperatives, particularly the irregular familiar forms, that we are interested in. Spanish has quite a collection of verbs that go inexplicably irregular in their imperative forms, abandoning whatever pattern they would otherwise follow in other tenses. Let’s see some of the most irregular yet ubiquitous ones:
venir (to come)
decir (to say)
salir (to leave)
hacer (to do, to make)
tener (to have)
ir (to go)
poner (to put)
ser (to be)
Now, these are not the only irregular ones but it won’t take a genius to guess how important these verbs are for regular, real-life conversations regardless of the language. And when it comes to direct commands, instructions, or orders – in a familiar sense – these are the most heavily used words of action. So, mastering their familiar (tú) imperative forms should take care of most of your real-life scenarios in Spanish. And, by the way, we are only discussing the affirmative imperatives (come, go, sit, etc.) here. Negatives (don’t come, don’t sit, etc.) will come at a later time.
The imperative anarchy
Before we even begin with the trick, let’s first review the words that we are dealing with; the familiar, affirmative, imperative conjugations of the verbs listed above. Here you go:
venir – ven (¡Ven aquí! Come here!)
decir – di (Dime. Tell me.)
salir – sal (¡Sal ahorita! Leave right now!)
hacer – haz (¡Hazlo! Do it!)
tener – ten (!Tenlo! Have it!)
ir – ve (Ve a donde quieras. Go wherever you want.)
poner – pon (Ponlo sobre la mesa. Put it on the table)
ser – sé (¡Sé un hombre! Be a man!)
What a persistent pain in the butt, ain’t they? No pattern, no rule, a complete anarchy! Mugging them up appears to be the only option and is perhaps just right if you have to write a grammar test tomorrow morning. But heaven knows what a disaster rote learning is when it comes to learning Spanish for more practical purposes, like speaking with native speakers. So, what would the lazy learner do? Call upon Vin Diesel! Yes, the handsome baldie has just the right weapon to help you assimilate these anarchists with no chances of ever forgetting them again.
Vin Diesel saves your day!
|Vin Diesel has ten weapons|
Photo credit: _mixer_ licensed CC BY-SA 2.0
Vin Diesel has ten weapons
Easy-peasy? Well, how hard can it possibly be to imagine the Fast Five star with an arsenal of ten formidable weapons while he is on a mission to save your day? Let’s see how this line actually works:
- Vin – ven (ignore, for a moment, the fact that the two words don’t sound precisely the same)
- Die- – di (this one should be a no-brainer as long as you don’t pronounce the “die” as “hi”)
- -sel – sal (again, ignore the slight difference in the way the vowels sound in the two words)
- has – haz (do remember that the Spanish z sounds like the English s)
- ten – ten (another no-brainer)
- wea- – ve (they do sound almost similar if you try pronouncing the “wea-” with a German accent)
- -pon- – pon (exactly the same!)
- -s – sé (this one will need your efforts – the vowel, that is)
See a pattern there? This is the magic of mnemonics. They bring order in what otherwise seems to be a chaos beyond repair. We can bet our last penny that you will now have a very hard time trying to forget these irregular words. Learning Spanish couldn’t get any easier, could it? If only you open up your own cans of imaginations, there are mnemonics for almost anything and everything. There’s a pattern in every irregularity. You just need an open and curious mind to see them!