Not exactly riveting reading but this best-seller 501 Spanish Verbs is a must on the shelf...

Chris Kendris's 501 Spanish Verbs has not hit the giddy heights of sales without good reason.

For many years it has become the 'must-have' for the Spanish language student, new or advanced, and for the Spanish teacher or tutor. Want to learn Spanish, then you need this book.


But do not expect an easy read. It is written by an academic, for academic students, and unless you enjoy reading dictionaries for leisure it is heavy going.

But ... having said that, it is a very good reference book on Spanish verbs.

Read below the summary of the promotional blurbs on the book, then below that I'll tell you some of the drawbacks.

This is the Lingwhizz'd's choice for most essential Spanish verb book.

501 Spanish Verbs

by Chris Kendris PhD.

Here are the good bits.

  • Verbs are conjugated one Spanish verb per page in alphabetical order. So each page covers just one verb, thoroughly.
  • In a two column format which is easy to follow.
  • In column one are the seven Simple Spanish Verb Tenses.(see below)
  • In column two are listed the seven Compound Spanish Tenses.
  • Common phrases with the Spanish verb in use are to be found on every page. These are really useful.
  • About 1,000 additional verbs are listed in the infinitive form with their English meanings, so despite being called 501 Spanish Verbs, there is actually about 1,500 Spanish verbs available with sample conjugations.
  • Over 1 million copies have been printed.
  • New, updated edition comes now in two colors. (Nevertheless it is still a reference book)
  • Each of the 501 Spanish Verbs is conjugated in all persons & tenses, active & passive.
  • There are many additional, handy references & tips, including a bilingual list of more than 1,250 additional Spanish verbs, helpful expressions and idioms for travelers.
  • There are Spanish verb drills & verb tests with answers.

The Drawbacks of 501 Spanish Verbs

The thing that annoys me when using this book is that it is written by an academic for academics, (like most things written by academics).

Whether they intend to or not, most academics are very difficult for an ordinary person to understand.

What I mean by this is that it is very clumsy and cumbersome and difficult to use. For example here are the 14 headings under which Dr Kendricks conjugates the 501 Spanish Verbs.

The Tenses in 501 Spanish Verbs

The Seven Simple Spanish Verbs Tenses are:
  • Present Indicative
  • Imperfect Indicative
  • Preterit
  • Future
  • Conditional
  • Present Subjunctive
  • Imperfect or Past Subjunctive
  • Imperative

The Seven Compound Spanish Verbs Tenses are:

  • Present Perfect or Past Indefinite
  • Pluperfect Indicative or Past Perfect
  • Past Anterior or Preterit Perfect
  • Future Perfect or Future Anterior
  • Conditional Perfect
  • Present Perfect or Past Subujunctive
  • Pluperfect of Past Perfect Subjunctive
  • Imperative or Command
Also listed are the:
  • Gerund
  • Past Participle
  • Imperative

    The Drawbacks of 501 Spanish Verbs

    Professor Kendricks lays out the above Spanish Tenses in the introductory chapters of 501 Spanish Verbs, and then explains each one is some considerable detail.

    And make no bones about, learning Spanish verbs is MORE DIFFICULT than learning English verbs. (English really gets the Hispanics back when it comes to Grammar, however . . .).

    When it comes however to listing each Spanish verb and its conjugations, one verb per page, with its approximately 100 conjugations PER SPANISH VERB, he very lists them under their Spanish verb names as follows.

    (Don't leave it here, because I am building to something.........)

    The Seven Simple Spanish Verbs Tenses are:

    • gerundio
    • presente de indicativo
    • imperfecto de indicativo
    • pretérito
    • futuro
    • potencial simple
    • present de subjuntivo
    • imperfecto de subjuntivo
    The Seven Simple Spanish Verbs Tenses are
    • perfecto de indicativo
    • plusuamperfecto de indicativo
    • pretérito anterior
    • futuro perfecto
    • potencial compuesto
    • perfecto de subjuntivo
    • plusuamperfecto de subjuntivo
    Also listed:
    • gerundio
    • participio de pasado
    • imperativo

    Well, that is all just great if you know what all those terms mean, but if you are buying a book to help you learn the Spanish verbs there's a very good chance that you don't!

    The English ones might as well be written in hieroglyphics for a huge number of users, who when looking up a word, have to keep going back to the front to find which of the 17 categories the word they are looking for fits.

    To improve his book's useability about four-fold, Dr Kendricks should have written in brackets in small fonts beside each Spanish conjugation title, an English example of a real live conjugate verb. Hopefully he will do so in his next edition.

    For example, beside his title:

    • Present Indicative (or presente de indicativo), both about as comprehensible as the other, he could have in small font, in brackets (I talk).
    • Beside Imperfect or Past Subjunctive (or imperfecto de subjuntivo) he could have written... (that I might talk...).
    • Beside Conditional (or potencial simple...) he could have (I would talk)...

    You get the message. . .

    To make the book useable most new students need to print the definitions translated on a piece of paper like I have laid out above in brief.

    You also need a few post-it notes that you can stick to the pages to which you constantly refer, like some of the Spanish verbs like ir, ser, estar, haber, etc and such as the Spanish subject pronouns (I - yo; you (informal singular)- tú; he, she - él, ella - he, she; you (formal singular) - Usted; we - nosotros; you (informal plural) - vosotros, vosotras; they - ellos, ellas, Ustedes.

    The book is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and all major language book outlets and major bookstores.

    501 Spanish Verbs. Chris Kendris PhD, Barron's Educational Series. Formerly Assistant Professor, Department of French & Spanish, State University of New York.


    For more books on Spanish VERBS click the link below:
    For VERB books other than 501 Spanish Verbs!


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