Practice Makes Perfect: Spanish Verb Tenses (Second Edition)
March 10, 2013
Author Dorothy Richmond
Series Practice Makes Perfect
Publication Date 2010
Skill Level Beginner, Intermediate
This book can be your companion for a review of the present tense, reflexive verbs, irregular verbs, present progressive, preterite, imperfect, future, conditional, present perfect, past perfect, imperative, subjunctive, and more. You can be a beginner and use it, but I recommend being in advanced beginnerhood, because there are an awful lot of verbs.
In her introduction to Practice Makes Perfect: Spanish Verb Tenses, writer Dorothy Richmond maintains that “this careful study of the verbs need not be the drudge work so commonly associated with verbs, namely, memorizing a zillion conjugations.”
Wrong. It does. You have to memorize. You cannot function in a language without memorizing stuff. Including a zillion conjugations.
Despite my irritation at that comment, I find Richmond’s writing—yes, there is writing involved, even in a grammar book—to be sly and witty. She says things such as, “Of all the tenses, the conditional perfect holds the dubious honor of being the only one to express no action whatsoever. It is the favorite tense of excuse makers.”
And I was tickled by the range of cultural references. A single exercise contained allusions to Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, El Mago de Oz (mago is “wizard”), Casablanca, George Washington, John Steinbeck, Pinocchio, Martin Luther King Jr., Christopher Columbus, Sears, Gandhi, and Little Red Riding Hood (in Spanish, Caperucita Roja).
Gripes: some of the exercises in Practice Makes Perfect: Spanish Verb Tenses were subjective and answerless. Teach-yourself books should not have answerless exercises. It’s not as though the book comes with a free Spanish teacher to check your work. (This problem was compensated for in part by the substantial number of English-to-Spanish translation exercises, which I love.)
One other drawback for me was that Spanish Verb Tenses includes the forms for vosotros—the plural informal second-person pronoun used in Spain. If you’re going to Madrid, that is ideal for you, but for me it was frustrating, because I learned Mexican Spanish, and there is no vosotros in Mexican Spanish. When your Spanish has existed for years without that pronoun, it’s hard to add it later, and as a New Yorker, I don’t need to!