What’s my actual Spanish level? This is one of the most frequently asked questions by our students on Spanishviaskype.com. Obviously, it has not a simple answer. Evaluating a speaker’s level requires to know how he or she gets along in different communicative situations. In addition to this, we need to keep in mind the linguistic skills (listening and reading comprehension and oral and writing interaction).

Fortunately, the CEFRL (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) helps us. However, today we’re going to deal with a very specific part of a language: verbal tenses. Can you use the past tenses and you don’t know if you are an A2 or B1 user? Do you master the subjunctive but you think you need more than that to reach the C1 level? Keep reading and let’s find out.

Spanish level A1: carpe diem

According to Instituto Cervantes’ curricular planning, an A1 student should know the regular verbs in the present tense before reaching next level. The irregular ones ser, estar, ir and haber are required, as well. So, we can say that at this level, a speaker only lives in the present.

A1 tipical sentence: Soy inglés y vivo en Madrid. En Madrid hay muchas personas.

Spanish level A2: memories

Now it’s time to talk about past. At this moment, a speaker can manage a larger vocabulary and he or she should also master most of the irregularities in the present tense. They are able to talk about memories, events and habits in the past. They should understand the contrast between pretéritoimperfecto, perfectoand indefinido. Only the irregularities of the indefinido can be a problem.

A2 tipical sentence: Cuando era un niño, vivía con mis padres en una casa grande. Un día tuvimos que ir a otra ciudad. He ido muchas veces a mi primera ciudad.


Spanish level B1: hello, subjunctive!

At this level we start a long way to master the subjunctive. Only the present subjunctive is introduced to express wishes, speculations, opinions and judgements (Quiero que vengas. / Quizá llueva mañana. / No pienso que sea tarde. / Es bueno que estudie.). We also need to complete the rest of tenses in indicative: pretérito pluscuamperfecto, futuro and condicional, this last one, only to express advices or to show courtesy (yo iría al doctor / ¿podría decirme la hora?).

B1 tipical sentence: Mañana no iré a jugar al fútbol. No creo que llueva pero estoy cansado. Debería hacer más deporte.

Spanish level B2: what if!

Our goal at this point is to learn secundary uses of tenses in indicative: the present, used as imperative or as a past tense (¡Te callas ahora mismo. / Ayer mi amiga va y me dice que…), the imperfect to tell a dream (Estaba en un castillo y la bruja me capturaba.). The conditional will be very important in order to form all the conditional sentences (real and hypothetical ones). In the subjunctive, we need to learn the imperfect and pluperfect subjunctive.

B2 tipical sentence: Si tuviera más dinero, me compraría un coche nuevo, aunque, si hubiera cuidado más mi coche, ahora no necesitaría comprar otro.

Spanish level C1: specialization

Reaching C1 level is an amazing achievement. You will be able to use the same tenses you’ve already studied but learning new uses for them. For example, the historical present, imperfect with a future meaning, dialectal conflicts between pretérito indefinido and perfecto… Regarding the subjunctive, more uses of the past subjunctive tenses will be learnt.

C1 tipical sentence: ¿no era mañana el examen de DELE? ¡Quién pudiera ser nativo en español!

Spanish level C2: excellence

A C2 speaker must show a total control of the language. He or she should be able to speak about any subject, either slangs or academic topics. A few new tenses will be learnt; however, these ones have a limited usage, because of lack of use: pretérito anterior and future subjunctive.  

C2 tipical sentence: A quien correspondiere, le escribo esta carta, apenas hube tenido conocimiento de los sucesos acaecidos en la mañana de ayer.

In conclusion, verbal tenses are not the only feature to know your actual Spanish level, but it’s a good and quick self-assessment. If you need to improve your level, don’t hesitate and try our Spanish for different levels course.