Ella (not pronounced like “she” in Spanish, but like “elephant”) Verbs is a language app that specializes in helping users to understand and conquer their Spanish verb conjugations – if you have any experience learning Spanish, you know that this is a sorely needed resource. In this Ella Verbs review, let’s take an honest look at the app, including what it does well, where it can be improved, and if it’s the Spanish language app for you.
Ella Verbs review: their “Learn, Quiz, Repeat” ethos
Before we look at what it’s like to use Ella Verbs, it’s important to understand the bare-bones strategy of Jane and Brian (the Irish couple behind the app)’s approach: learn, quiz, repeat. This is how these words are executed in your learning of Spanish verb conjugations:
- Journey: Ella Verbs guides you through the major Spanish tenses, in the order that they are most used in conversation, allowing you to put them into practice as soon as possible and get speaking faster – AKA, worry about the fancy “correct” tenses later, after you can have a basic conversation
- Levels: each level is made up of bite-sized lessons introducing a concept, followed by interactive quizzes to test your knowledge*
- Vocabulary: Ella Verbs gradually introduces new popular verbs at every level, so by the time you are finished, you will know the top 300 verbs used in most conversations
- Progress: a detailed progress map, showing you each corresponding CEFR level (A1 – C2), and highlighting the areas you need to focus on to get to the next level
- Personalized: quizzes tailored to you, help you focus on your weak points – be it a certain tense, pronoun, or verb. These quizzes change daily based on your practice
- Custom: learn the way you want and completely customize your quizzes, whether that be typing, multiple choice, or in sentences. You can also add boosts to increase the difficulty
*Consistently quizzing your conjugations is proven to facilitate long-term retention better than reading, so this is one of Ella Verbs’ most important and core ideas.
Let’s take this ethos and see how each point is executed!
First, let’s look at the Ella Verbs journey. Here you can see that users are guided through verb conjugations in the order that they’re actually useful (and as compared to the CEFR levels):
Ella Verbs does this really well! It’s simple, easy, and gets the job done. Plus, I love that it waits for you to spell the words correctly – when you get it right, it automatically continues to the next question (this can be changed in settings if you prefer); if it’s wrong, it’ll wait til you figure it out for yourself (and it won’t ding you for wrong answers!).
This is excellent for Spanish language learners who can be sensitive to negative reinforcement (I will get so anxious about consistently getting these wrong that it’ll ruin my day).
As you prove your understanding of more beginner levels, you’ll slowly be pushed to the more advanced ones. And if you’re already more intermediate/advanced? Just click over at any time, you don’t even have to “prove” your understanding of the conjugations.
Speaking of levels…
Each level is made up of short, easy-to-consume lessons to explain the concepts. When you’re ready, it’s time to quiz!
In the video below, watch as I complete Level 6: Learn, Test, and Vocabulary.
As you can see, while the lessons themselves are insanely bite-sized, they also quickly build up to enough of a lesson that I had to quit early because my brain got tired!
It really only takes a few minutes of truly targeted, active use of these Spanish verb conjugations to get your brain working pretty hard and get this information truly internalized. This is how you know you’re using your time effectively, as opposed to passively pushing buttons because you’re supposed to, not because you’re learning anything (*cough cough* Duolingo).
And that’s how you know this Ella Verbs review is legit! Next up: vocab.
Friendly reminder that Ella Verbs is exclusively a verb app!
As aforementioned, new vocabulary is introduced in the order that is most useful for Spanish language learners. Not only that, though – the verbs you see in your quizzes are insanely customizable!
Like many language apps, Ella Verbs gets better and better at knowing what you need when you need it the longer you use it. One of the (many) features that I love in this vocabulary section is the use of My Verbs.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Tap over to the “Verbs” section of the app to easily personalize which verbs you’re using and learning.
You can easily search for, and practice, verbs based on:
- alphabetical order
- top 100 most commonly-used verbs
- the verbs you’ve saved for later
- top 300 most commonly-used verbs
- regular verbs
- irregular verbs
- most popular irregular verbs
- AR verbs
- ER verbs
- IR verbs
- highly irregular verbs
- irregular gerunds
- irregular past participles
…and if all those options STILL don’t work for you at the moment, you can always search for the verb you’re looking for using the search bar at the top of the screen.
Of course, you’ll still have to find your nouns elsewhere, but that’s just something to be aware of when using a language app that focuses exclusively on Spanish verb conjugations.
Next on the list of Ella Verbs’ list of priorities is Progress. Despite the fact that the straightforward nature of their Journey makes it easy enough to see your progress, I honestly think this section of the app is pretty excellent!
I say this because there’s less (not zero, but less) focus on daily streaks and other fun-but-useless statistics, and more on how you’ve performed and, most importantly, what you can learn from your performance.
I love how this section is focused mostly on how you’ve done on your quizzes and how long it’s been since you’ve practiced – you can see exactly what you’ve done well and what you can work on.
I find it interesting that they mention “Tense Fluency” – the idea being that the tenses you’ve practiced relate to a specific CEFR level, but at the same time, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. You’re not expected to take an official exam and succeed just based on the conjugations you know, but it is a familiar marker.
My favorite part is the Smart Quizzes. It’s one thing to tell you which conjugations and tenses you should be reviewing, a whole other thing to easily practice those exact concepts with one little button tap.
These are great examples of Progress and Personalized, so our last bullet point is Custom.
One of the biggest problems with most language apps is the one-size-fits-all approach. Every app comes with a different approach, and that approach will work just fine for some people. Unless you know how, though, there’s no way to know if that approach will work for you until you try.
This is the beauty of Ella Verbs’ simplicity – because it’s so simple, it’s just as simple to customize your study sessions in a variety of different ways.
Really want to focus on conjugating one verb tense? Okay.
Want to double down on one word and master all of its conjugations? No problemo.
Only in the mood for 5 questions? Or have the space for 80 questions? Cool.
You can quiz any concept at any time as many times as you like, however you like. Excellent!
Ella Verbs review: who it’s for
Point-blank, I think Ella Verbs is an excellent resource for Spanish language learners of any level who want to improve their ability to conjugate any Spanish verb in any tense. There are little mini-lessons that explain the conjugations, but the vast majority of your time will be spent quizzing, which teaches your brain to use the information and figure it out naturally.
And Ella Verbs is reasonably priced, too. You can use the app for free and get limited access:
- 99 out of 1,800 verbs
- 9 out of 39 levels
- 1 out of 16 tenses
- no access to Smart Quizzes
- no access to custom quizzes
- no access to My Verbs
But if you do give Ella Verbs a shot, and you enjoy it, it only costs around $5/month, which directly supports a small family in their side hobby.
Ella Verbs review: alternatives
And if you don’t enjoy Ella Verbs? I’d suggest these alternatives for your Spanish verb conjugation practice:
Kwiziq: the best option for die-hard grammar fans, also teaches Spanish grammar with quizzes (or “Kwizzes”)
Conjuguemos: definitely offers much more variety of things to practice (and ways to practice them), but not nearly as attractive
Clozemaster: for intermediate & advanced learners only; you practice grammar with fill-in-the-blank sentences
Each of these alternatives is primarily desktop-based, which may be better Ella Verbs alternatives if you prefer a different device. They all also touch upon a little bit more Spanish language content than Ella Verbs does, as Ella Verbs does only one thing (really well).
Regardless, I highly recommend giving Ella Verbs a try if verb tenses are something you’re really struggling with. It’s easy to use and incredibly affordable, so you’ve got nothing to lose!